Alphas Review, Season 2, Episode 8, “Falling”
Written by Nina Fiore and John Herrera
Directed by Nick Copus
Airs Mondays at 8pm (ET) on SyFy
Alphas has its share of “hell yeah!” moments, but it always pulls back to show that super powers aren’t such a great thing. “Falling” opens with young daredevils taking a drug that allows them to leap off a building and emerge unscathed. This moment feels similar to watching the main characters of Chronicle discovering their new talents. In that case, the skills pushed an unhinged guy towards madness and destruction. This time, the possibly deadly side effects show that nearly everything has a price. This drug isn’t appearing out of thin air and an Alpha is being harvested for it. This revelation is horrifying and shows just how far an unscrupulous businessman will go to give his customers the latest thrill. While Stanton Parish is the main threat, there are plenty of small-time hoodlums using Alphas for their own ends.
Rosen is experiencing a similar torment as he deals with the revelation that his daughter is a mole for Stanton Parish. If he turns Danni in, she’s likely headed to Binghamton for good. There’s a chance she could get away, but would it be worse if he’s not involved in her capture? Danni is naïve about Parish and doesn’t seem to understand his nasty intentions. Her ability to bring Cameron and his son together with her unique skills shows her compassion. This makes the final scenes even more difficult after Rosen gives up his daughter. Rosen’s tortured expression as he tries to explain his behavior is stunning and ends the story on a brutal note. David Strathairn does a remarkable job in showing the serious weight on Rosen’s shoulders. Kathleen Munroe is also great at conveying Danni’s genuine nature despite the misguided loyalties. Parish saved her from nothing, so she’s more devoted to him than her own father. He’s trying to do the right thing, but Rosen’s past behavior doesn’t make him a trustworthy guy for Danni.
The downside of “Falling” is that the main plot doesn’t match the intensity of Rosen’s situation. The drug providing Alpha powers feels too familiar, and the main villain is pretty generic. He’s a one-note enemy who feels like he’s part of a lesser series. The saving grace is the greater involvement of Kat, who goes undercover to investigate the drug. Erin Way has become the secret weapon of this show and is quickly becoming a key player. Kat isn’t a very good agent and lets her emotions get in the way of sound judgment, but she’s still learning. When she has to choose whether to blow her cover or jump off a building, it’s not an easy dilemma. The ultimate revelations about the drug dealer’s manipulations bring an extra layer of sadness to her past. He regularly manipulated her forgotten memories for his own immoral ends. Another fun note is Gary’s consistent irritation at everything Kat does. He isn’t ready for a new kid to take his role as the novice agent. Ryan Cartwright has a nice chemistry with Way, even if Kat drives Gary crazy.
While Kat works undercover, Rachel is nervously preparing for the first family dinner with Bennett. These light moments seem trivial, but they mask her larger concerns about getting serious with a guy. Her conversation with Nina is an interesting callback to her friend’s nasty move in “When Push Comes to Shove”. The easy move is to push Bennett away because of Rachel’s very real fears about getting too intimate. Family issues are prevalent throughout this episode, and she can’t even trust that a true relationship is even possible. Cameron is enjoying some rare time with his son, but they’re having trouble connecting. Having Danni use her ability to bring them closer is a surprisingly effective moment. This scene could easily go off the rails and venture into hokey territory, but Director Nick Copus sidesteps those traps. This is his third episode of the season, so it’s clear he has a clear understanding of these characters. We even get a rare glimpse at Clay’s home life, which shows a different side of the stoic agent.
Looking towards the final five episodes, Danni will almost certainly make a deal and work to take down Parish. She may not believe in Rosen’s ideas, so the prospects of this plan are shaky. Parish is using her as a tool to battle Rosen’s team, so he’d likely kill Danni in a second once she’s no longer useful. Rosen will be placing his daughter in serious risk, which is nothing new to him lately. It’s interesting that his confidante while he struggles to determine Danni’s fate is Nina. Despite her past activity, they seem to share a common bond that’s only grown since her return. He’s ready to help Danni escape the country, but Nina wisely counsels him that it he may just be expediting her demise. It’s the relationships between the team that make even the conventional main plot exciting. Their lives are moving forward and frequently changing, which makes them a lot different than your standard genre characters.