“Alpha Dogs” was set up to seem like the usual Alpha-of-the-week episode, but it quickly became clear that the mysterious Alphas fight club the team was investigating was only a backdrop for a set of much more relevant developments.
Rather than following the typical trope for fight club centered TV plot lines, “Alpha Dogs” really only used the fight club as means to introduce Bill to Kat, an adorable and quirky Alpha who described herself as a “quick study.” Through Kat, Bill learned how to relax his way to his ability rather than trying to control it by force as he had been doing all his life. This release method allowed Bill to use his adrenaline surge without all those pesky side effects he had been medicating for.
We saw the changes in Bill’s ability and we relaxed along with him when he let his ability come to him naturally. The camera movements slowed and swayed with him rather than speeding up and jerking around the way we’re used to when Bill is using his ability. His rapidly contracting heart was not in the picture and this time his ability seemed graceful despite its incredible destructive results.
Aside from the physical and stress related issues that Bill struggled with because of his ability, he was probably the most “normal” on the Alphas team. Bill’s unexpected return to the fight club at the end of the episode seemed to signal a new set of challenges that Bill will have to face now that he’s been released from his physical limitations. Has he become addicted to the freedom of his adrenaline rush? If someone like Bill were to become an adrenaline junkie, how much risk would he be willing to take to get that rush again? What happens when fighting isn’t enough of a fix?
While Bill, Hicks and Kat were busy mingling among the Alpha fighters, Rachel was stirring up a little romance with the new lead tactical guy in the office, John. I really enjoyed being able to see Rachel’s synesthesia visualized again in this episode. She’s been used a lot as a human hound dog recently, and I was starting to miss the cross-sensory aspect of her ability. In early episodes of Alphas, we saw the storm of colors associated with the scents Rachel encountered. We got a bit of that again when she was tracking the puce colored saliva scent. I would have loved to see a bit of the color that John’s scent carried before and after he ditched the Old Spice bath she accused him of.
Rosen seemed to be struggling to balance his desire to track down Stanton Parish with meeting the psychological needs of his Alphas team. In particular, Gary had developed a new habit of screaming every morning as a means to cope with the frustration and anger he still held on to about Anna’s death last season (it’s probably worth noting that Syfy hinted at a conspiracy with “#Anna_Lives” being flashed during promos for Alphas during the commercial breaks – I wonder if Gary is aware of the hashtag yet.)
The relationship between Gary and his mother was handled beautifully in this episode. I wanted Gary to take that big step into the world and be in control of his own life, but I also sympathized with his mother’s anxiety over the thought of him leaving the safe environment she had built since his childhood.
Like most children, Gary might never really understand the scope of his mother’s sacrifices. We saw how much she had changed her life to make Gary’s daily routine as comfortable and successful as possible. Despite her panic about Gary’s new adventure, she’s willing to suffer and struggle on her own if it meant that Gary might have a chance to thrive.
When they weren’t figuring out Gary’s living situation, Dr. Rosen and Gary were trying to track down more background about Stanton Parish. The information about Parish’s history seemed to fall right into Rosen’s lap and we got a couple of flashbacks of Parish’s life after the Civil War. I’m still not sure why Parish seemed to be so fixated on Rosen or why he wanted Rosen to know about his origin as an Alpha. I’m curious to find out what role Parish has in mind for Rosen in his master plan for the coming battle between Alphas and average humans.
There was a lot going on in this week’s episode of Alphas and at times it was overwhelming trying to keep track of all the different plot lines. I think the episode would have felt less hectic if they had spread out some of the Stanton Parish background and the Rachel and John flirty business over the next couple episodes instead of cramming it all into one hour. Still, I like the direction that all the stories and character developments are taking, and I’m really excited to see Kat join the Alphas team, because I agree – she’s awesome.