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‘Alphas’ – Wake Up Call

Resetting the game pieces


This review may contain spoilers.

Eight months after the events of “Original Sin,” the Season 1 finale, Lee (David Strathairn) is incarcerated in a mental institution. Rachel (Azita Ghanizada) is a shut-in in the family rooms over the dry cleaning shop, no longer able to deal with the sensory overload of being in public. Nina (Laura Mennell) is a civilian again and back to her petty larcenous hedonistic ways. Bill (Malik Yoba) and Cameron (Warren Christie) are the only ones still with Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) under Nathan Clay (was Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, now Mahershala Ali).

Last year, the world received the news of the existence of alphas, but no concrete proof, so now alphas are the latest conspiracy theory that most sensible people dismiss and only tabloids discuss. Well, tabloids and chat rooms. Cameron frequents an alpha chat room that Bill believes to be full of posers, but Cameron wants to help his fellow alphas. He feels terrible every time he helps put someone into Binghamton. Bill is able to compartmentalize better and do what is asked without angst. That is, until he discovers Gary (Ryan Cartwright) is in Binghamton, in the highest security Building 7 with a will-deadening chip in his neck.

The NSA was allowed to take Gary where his autism was not properly taken into consideration. Further errors were made to the point that he attacked and hospitalized two coworkers. Deemed a danger, and because he is an alpha, he was chipped and sent to Building 7. There to drop off an alpha, Bill and Cameron discover Gary. Staying to protest, they are caught when their prisoner, Megan Bates (Alex Paxton-Beesly), an alpha with electrical manipulation powers, shuts down all powered security measures including the pacification chips. While the alpha prisoners are contained in the short term by physical security measures, they immediately make hostages of the guards and other officials.

Cornell Sipio (Elias Toufexis), an alpha with short range flame powers, takes control and demands that Lee be brought to negotiate. Lee is released and immediately gathers Rachel and Nina to assist. The hostage situation is a feint, however; it’s a distraction that allows large numbers of Building 7 inmates to escape.

POINTS OF INTEREST
1. Cameron and Nina’s breakup was acrimonious after Nina began to use her powers excessively, including pushing Cameron.

2. Gary also popped into the alpha support chat room. He was in Binghamton for two weeks.

3. Meg was arrested in the course of a grocery store robbery. They had targeted some drugs from the store pharmacy. Her team included a man who powered up (Jameson Kraemer) in a way that appeared identical to Bill, and a guy with a sonic attack (Adriano Sobretodo Jr.).

4. Ted Asher (Dylan Scott Smith), an alpha with the ability to find the weak spot in any target, was instrumental in the prison escape. He also really hates Lee.

5. Kimi Milard (Sarah Slywchuk) has mind control abilities similar to Nina.

6. The escape was orchestrated by Parish (John Pyper-Ferguson), who gathers the troops — plus Dani (Kathleen Munroe) post-escape — and then proceeds to blow up a train.

7. Lee’s continued freedom is purportedly to quietly track down the Building 7 escapees. To do this, he demands and apparently receives a free hand and decision-making power over the disposition of all alphas.

WHAT WORKED
Dani’s gentle affectionate attitude towards her incarcerated father at the same time as she is colluding with his arch enemy is interesting. One wonders if she has any desire or intent to bridge the philosophies or is just turning a blind eye to the conflict for reasons we have yet to learn. Better yet would be if she is, in fact, a third major player that is playing a shadow game with an alternate goal.

How Lee coped with his institutionalization was fitting and intelligent. That his prediction of the circumstances of his release were so on the nose … it seemed unlikely in an event he didn’t actually plan himself.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK
That Rachel collapsed so completely in Lee’s absence and that no one considered her too valuable to allow to languish uselessly was lazy plotting.

When Lee enters Building 7, they don’t even try to use radios, cell phones or other technology. It’s just him speaking to the air and hoping Rachel hears and interprets correctly.

That the tech who was activating Meg’s pacification chip did so with a power line connected to the entire facility was complete foolishness.

Speaking of Meg, her powers of control over electricity were just a little too magical. By holding wires in her fists she is able to create photo-real and sonically accurate illusions to the security monitors?

GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
“Alphas” stars David Strathairn, Warren Christie, Azita Ghanizada, Ryan Cartwright, Laura Mennell, Malik Yoba, Mahershala Ali, Alex Paxton-Beesly, Elias Toufexis, Kathleen Munroe, John Pyper-Ferguson, Dylan Scott Smith, Sarah Slywchuk. “Wake Up Call” was written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe and it was directed by Matt Hastings.

“Alphas” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on SyFy.

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