Alphas – Bill and Gary’s Excellent Adventure
As the title suggests this weeks ep of SyFy’s surprisingly deep and dark new show Alphas is a romp, more akin to comedy than the drama of previous weeks; and if seen in this light it really works quite well, though I can understand how it could have some detractors (Namely as I should myself be among them).
The episode starts off by quickly splitting the Alphas up into pairs and giving each couple a different part of the script: Bill and Gary were given the titular adventure to undertake as the plot, Nina and Cameron were given the character work which they were to execute off to the side while Rachael and Rosen, who took center stage last week, were reduced to the role of occasional plot device. While this kind of Min/Maxing isn’t a structure that I can see myself liking for long I think it’s fine to do every now and then, especially in a virginal season such as this one; in fact I’m surprised that the show managed to pull off such strong ensemble episodes at the start without first forming a foundation of this sort.
What is the adventure that Bill and Gary go on? To be honest I’m not really sure, it’s something to do with a kidnapping but the show never really cared enough about this external side of things to even tell us who or why and what was being kidnapped; we’ve seen enough of these sorts of stories before and so we can mostly fill in the blanks as we require. The internal journey though is what the show is interested in and although this is at times still a little too vague for me – I mean, what did we really learn about Bill this episode? I can think of no new layers – it is remarkably enjoyable and from this show that is enough. The pair banter brilliantly as they follow their leads throughout the city and it is this quality dialouge that still surprises me week in, week out; SyFy are known for occasionally getting some interesting ideas and in rare cases some good plotting on screen, but scripting is not usually their thing and so its good to see Alphas change that.
The B-Plot on the other hand does attempt to provide some depth to Nina through her forced interaction with Cameron but it’s all a little meh. The problem with finally going into details about your mystery is that at best the writers can match what you the viewer had imagined, but will more likely falter and offer up something comparatively sub-par (with some exceptions, Breaking Bad for one; A show that consistently offers up something entirely different to what anyone expected and executing these unique plots with a prodigious pizazz); perhaps then this show should stick to leaving things unsaid, but that doesn’t sound like the format for a very compelling future if you ask me.
As for Rosen and Rachael, they basically cameoed, a prop only ever used to further the Adventures of others, which is a shame because Straitharn is doing some fun work in this role, but I understand the need to give him a break.
So all in all this was a very disposable episode of the show, you could skip it entirely and not even need to watch the previously on’s next week to be caught up, but then Alphas as a whole is a very disposable show, you could go without watching it at all and not really have missed anything important; but if this episode is anything to go by you will have missed having a fun fourty minutes to sit down and switch off to once a week and that, in its own way, would be a great loss. That said, they better bring on some more of that big plotting next week; we need to see more Binghamton and less Bill Murray’s Hat.