ALPHAS “Anger Management” Review

ALPHAS (Syfy) "Anger Management" Episode 3 (4)

ALPHAS “Anger Management” Season 1, Episode 3 – There were some particularly intense and graphic moments in tonight’s episode of Alphas that made me think that I was watching a show on premium cable instead of on Syfy. Given that Alphas is aiming to be science fiction rooted in reality, the violent death of Agent Wilson only three episodes into the series successfully made the Alphas world tragically authentic.

This week’s Alpha released strong pheromones into the air which caused the people around him to react aggressively towards one another. The use of the video clip showing the ants attacking the scorpion was a creative way to succinctly explain Dr. Rosen’s theory behind the pheromone reaction. Rather than spending a lot of time using scientific lingo to give us some background, we were filled in on it by watching a short video clip of something most of us had probably already seen in high school science classes. Later, when he explained that certain people’s brains might produce sufficient levels of serotonin to counter the pheromones and explained that Bill was immune because he could control his fight or flight response, Rosen’s reasoning was equally intelligible. There was enough simple science mixed into his dialogue to make the Alpha ability believable without having to decipher complicated terminology.

I really liked the way Rachel’s abilities were visually conveyed in this episode. She was originally introduced as having synesthesia, but in the first two episodes the focus was on her heightened senses and the consequences of her focusing her efforts onto a single sense. There were a few visual cues in prior episodes, but this week the synesthesia became a little more noticeable. It is sometimes still difficult to tell which sense she is using, but maybe that’s part of the sensory confusion of being a synesthete. Rather than having her stand around sniffing the air in the train or having her eyes zoom into the microscopic fibers of fabric, we saw the scene from her point of view and saw how she experienced her senses. As a synesthete, Rachel’s olfactory experience is not what it would be like for most of us and it is not even similar to what it would be like for someone with a heightened sense of smell. To me, it seemed that Rachel could see scents in different colors, so when she took in a breath of air, she not only smelled the noxious remnants of Matthew’s pheromones but interpreted the scent as a greenish colored haze which was distinctly different from the colors that were linked to the smells of blood or sweat.

Gary and Bill were great in this episode and lot of the humor in Alphas comes from the scenes with the two of them bickering. Once again, I appreciate that the humor is not at Gary’s expense. Gary is smart, stubborn and he isn’t in the dark about anything that is going on around him. He communicates his perceptions differently and he does it in a way that drives Bill nuts. Bill and the others happen to communicate in a way that drives Gary up the wall, so their irritation is often mutual. Rosen seems to be the mediator, working with Gary to encourage him to be more mindful of the etiquette of social conversation, while helping the rest of the Alphas gain a better understanding of Gary’s candid form of communication.

We get a brief glimpse into the hostile Binghamton facility when the uncontrollable Alpha, Matthew, is taken there for treatment. Rosen hears a scream in the background and it is pretty obvious that there are some seriously bad things happening there. Biologically, the Alphas are human beings, but the fear of humans that are different, coupled with an uninformed perception that differences are a threat, have sometimes lead to groups of people being treated like livestock. The conversation that Rosen had with Binghamton’s tactical agent, Nathan Clay, about treating the dangerous Alphas at Binghamton humanely, set up another provocative theme for the series. I’m looking forward to seeing how that will be explored over the course of the season as we get to know more about what has really been happening in the Binghamton facility.