This week’s episode of Alphas, “When Push Comes to Shove,” gave us a chance to look at Nina from a slightly different perspective.
Nina had not been featured much in recent episodes of Alphas, but the few times we did run into her, she was increasingly unpleasant. It was more of the same bad attitude tonight as she pushed strangers for personal gain and frivolously abused the trust of her former friends.
She pushed Hicks, Rachel, and Rosen to do things she knew they’d never be comfortable doing otherwise, and she didn’t seem to mind if they hurt one another in the process. We saw just how easy it was for her to turn an innocent bystander into a thief or a murderer.
We were somewhat familiar with Nina’s history on the Alphas team, but as spiraled down the path to madness, we saw flashbacks of the childhood that only Rosen had known about before. While it didn’t necessarily excuse her abusive behavior, understanding her background made it much easier to see her as a broken human being rather than a super-villain in the making. Her background helped us understand how Rosen could be so forgiving and patient with her when she seemed to be a hopeless case.
Any child would be prone to lingering psychological issues after growing up in a home like Nina’s. Her struggle was compounded by the fact that she had an ability to manipulate and control the adults around her, rendering the normal parent-child relationship null. Rather than finding ways to cope with the issues that were beyond her control, she had a means to change the course of people’s lives.
She may not have been directly responsible for her father’s suicide, but she was never able to let go of the guilt that accompanied that moment in her life. All throughout her life, she had periodically stolen people’s free will. As much as she wanted to ignore the gravity of that sort of theft, she would always carry that guilt with her. That guilt eventually overcame her and had it not been for Hicks’ intervention, she would have followed in her father’s tragic footsteps.
That final scene in the hospital room between Rosen and Nina was particularly moving. To any rational person, it was clear that Nina needed to be restrained. Even Nina realized that she could no longer trust herself to control her abilities. Despite everything that had happened, Rosen chose to remove her eye covers so he could speak openly with her. In that simple, gentle act of trust, he showed her that he still believed in the person that he knew Nina could be.
Back at the office, Kat was just getting started in her treatment program with Dr. Rosen. Rosen clarified that her ability was a form of extreme muscle memory – her body could retain learned skills even though she had no recollection of when, how, or where she learned those skills.
Rosen’s treatment plan involved Kat recording moments of her daily life to try and retain some kind of personal history. Initially, Kat seemed uninterested in her memories and history. One of the things I actually like about Kat is that she doesn’t spend her time feeling sorry for herself because she can’t remember her past. Instead, she seems to be completely content to be the person she is at that exact moment. She’s a walking example of what it means to live in the present.
As she discovers more about her past, I hope that her recovered memories will somehow liberate her even further. The entire Alphas team can be a little too serious at times and Kat’s brightness is a welcome break from the constant drama.
Rachel and John’s romance continued to develop and we got to know the real reason why John had been resisting Rachel’s advances. There’s something so dorky about Rachel and John’s flirting that makes me love them as a potential couple.
They don’t really do the straight up sexy flirting thing that Hicks and Nina were constantly doing last season. Rachel is almost uncharacteristically forward in pursuing John, and John seems to be thrown off by how frequently and directly Rachel wants to talk about the two of them dating or not dating. Their conversations end up being a little bit awkward which makes their flirting seem much more realistic and sweet.
Beyond getting some much needed background for Nina’s character, the events in tonight’s episode really showed us how it was possible for the “guys upstairs” to constantly feel threatened by our protagonists on the Alphas team. Unchecked, their abilities are powerful and dangerous and Dr. Rosen has made it his personal responsibility to make sure these Alphas live healthy lives so they can continue to contribute positively to society. I just wonder how long he’ll be able to carry the weight of that burden on his own.