Alphas – Original Sin
And so the first season of Alphas ends; not with a whimper, as many might have expected, but with a bang. As the title suggests, for the Alphas this is the first step, nay the setting off point in what will likely be a long and tragic journey, one that will culminate in an all out war. For us viewers though it was something else entirely, it was the handshake sealing what the show has promised thus far. So while Original Sin may not have been the biggest or the best episode that this surprisingly enjoyable show had to offer in its debut year – it far more frequently fell into the traps of trope and cliche than lithely skirting them in the way it’s best efforts did – but it was by far the best finale, and in the end isn’t that what matters most?
Traditionally there are three things that a good finale does, and they are ad follows: Tie together the past, exaggerate the present and promise thee future, and to my mind Original Sin did all of these and it did they rather well. The episode brought together a whole host of events from previous episodes, events that had at the time felt a little forced (The Hairbrush Messenger or ambiguous (The M.K.V. files, the Assassin’s instructions, etc.) and turned them into the spine of a solid story.
Where the episode faltered though was in the fleshing out of the story around these beats; the Alphas writers have never been at their strongest when working outside of formula and given just how much content needed to be crammed into this episode there simply wasn’t time to establish any sort of strong structure, so at times the show faltered in its pacing and in its plotting.
One of the most interesting elements of the episodes plot though was in fact an entirely new element, that of Dr.Rosen’s daughter. On the surface her story is a very tired one – intellectual’s daughter rebels by running away and into the needle – but the way in which it was given that ole’ Alphas twist was quite clever, yes she is addicted to drugs but she takes them only to control her abilities, lest they control her life.
Straitharn is for sure the show’s strongest actor (though Ryan Cartwright is doing some amazing work too) and so it is superb to see the show finally finding a stronger focus for him and the stronger material that goes with it, though it is quite strange that it has taken so long for it to happen. More Straitharn sans shirt is of course, always a good thing for an hour of television to include, but it is the powerfully emotional moments that he shares with his daughter, and eventually with the whole world, that most stand out in Original Sin. It’s episodes like this that makes you understand why the man signed onto the show in the first place ( also, an understanding of economics helps).
The way that shows exaggerates the present is usually just by raising the stakes – the doctor himself will become sick, the criminal will takes the cop’s own family hostage, etc. – but Original Sin does things a little differently in that it is different simply in the fact that it finally sets stakes. All season we have been given hints and brief histories of the major players in this world -Red Flag and the DoD – but it’s not until now that either of them have ever actually been actively working against one another in plain view, instead all we’ve really gotten is shots of people setting up their chess pieces. What made Original Sin more exciting than an ordinary episode is the fact that we finally start to see these pieces moving across the board, though what made it truly great is that way in which we’re now unsure as to who is Black, who is White and just which side our team is on.
Moving Red Flag from the position of evil antagonist to that of victim in one fell swoop was a brave move, though not an entirely new one. Shows have shown this kind of thing before, though usually the bad guys are filming events and use them to show the world that the good guys aren’t actually as good as they had imagined. Here though no-one is filming, or are they? We see what happens and so do our characters and in a way this makes the bloodshed all the more brutal and the plan all the more effective; it actually manages to reach out of the show and turn the audience against the government.
This turn towards darkness and towards complexity may seem at odds with what the show has succeeded at in the past, but if Original Sin is anything to go by then I have to say that I’m excited to see how the writers handle it. So you could definitely say that they also promised the future well enough, though personally I’d just say ‘ Bring on Season Two already!’