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October 9, 2015

'Alphas' Sets Season 1 Marathon and Extra-Long Season Finale

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 23rd 2011 2:45PM
Just a heads up for 'Alphas' viewers -- the show's season finale, which airs 10PM ET Monday, runs 63 minutes. If you're recording the show, make sure your DVR is aware of the overrun.

Another thing you should be aware of: Syfy is airing a marathon of the entire first season of the show, starting at 11:30AM ET Monday. So if you haven't caught up with 'Alphas,' now's your chance.

I wrote here about how the drama grew on me over the course of its first season. Its last couple of outings were particularly good, and it's heartening that the show got more confident and interesting as its debut season progressed.

But if, in this busy fall season, you don't have time to check out every episode of the show, I'll give you a list of the selected episodes you might want to check out before the season finale arrives.

Keep in mind, I don't think watching all or most of the season is a bad idea or a waste of your time (there's only one episode, 'A Short Time in Paradise,' that didn't really work for me at all, despite a guest performance from Garret Dillahunt). 'Alphas' isn't perfect, but every episode either added to the show's mythology or character portraits in important or intriguing ways.

In any event, here's my list of 'Alphas' episodes to watch, if you don't have time to check out the whole season. If you don't catch the marathon, there are also five episodes of the show up on Hulu and on Syfy's site, though the pilot is not one of them. The episodes with * beside them are my personal favorites:

- 'Pilot': You kind of need to see where it all began. My review of the generally solid pilot, in which we meet a group of investigators with special powers and Dr. Rosen, their government-sanctioned handler, is here.

- 'Rosetta' (Episode 4): A nice showcase for Ryan Cartwright, who plays Gary, the show's breakout character. In 'Rosetta,' Gary meets another Alpha with whom he forms a special connection and we learn more about Red Flag, a group of rogue Alphas (the Magneto faction, if you will).

- 'Bill and Gary's Excellent Adventure' * (Episode 6): Two Alphas who don't particularly get along -- Bill and Gary, unsurprisingly -- are forced to work together on a case. A classic odd-couple pairing that works.

- 'Catch and Release' * (Episode 7): A crisply paced, well-plotted episode about a lone Alpha with a very valuable skill. Summer Glau is the guest star, but the episode's strengths go well beyond her typically good performance.

- 'Blind Spot' (Episode 9): If I have one critique of this generally good episode, it's that it didn't give Brent Spiner more to do. But both he and Rebecca Mader ('Lost') did good work in this hour, which found the crew trapped in their offices with a crafty attacker.

- 'The Unusual Suspects' * (Episode 10): The show was generally cooking with gas as the season drew to a close, and this hour, which harkened back to classic sci-fi "bottle" episodes, found Dr. Rosen's charges trying to figure out if they had a mole in their midst. If you've seen the entire season, you may have more investment in the Alphas' relationships, which are put to the test here, but even if you've grazed through the season, this variant on "Twelve Angry Men" should work for you.

And there you have it. Watch those half-dozen episodes and you should be primed for the season finale (you could also throw in episodes 3 and 5, if you're feeling ambitious).

As I said when I wrote about the show previously, it's not perfect, but it's certainly not a retread of 'Heroes' (thank God) and it's more a solidly entertaining take on superhero constructs than I had expected. Dr. Rosen and the rest of the team have been enveloped in interlocking layers of loyalties and conflicts, and that aspect of the 'Alphas' story has been satisfyingly and intelligently told.

Some episodes are better than others (and the starred episodes above are quite entertaining), but at no point did I think that watching an 'Alphas' hour had wasted my time, and I'm quite keen for the show to return for its 13-episode second season. David Strathairn may have been the reason I began watching the show, but, while I acknowledge that Dr. Rosen and Gary are major reasons for sticking with it, I'm also watching 'Alphas' for the interactions within the motley crew at the center of the drama.

In the finale, the group finally confronts a Red Flag visionary, who's played by John Pyper-Ferguson, and in season 2, which has already been ordered, we'll learn even more about the rogue group. Here's hoping season 2 can build on what season 1 did right.

'Alphas' fans, let me know if you take issue with my "must view" list above. If you think there are episodes I should have included (or excluded), let me know.

And finally, here's a clip from the season finale, which contains some interesting information about Rosen:

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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I watched the pilot episode and thought a couple of the characters were interesting (the pusher and Gary) but dropped it because my Monday was getting too busy with television. As I watch Warehouse 13 I did not want to watch too much Sci Fi-Lite. I had some particular qualms with the pilot which I will address a little bit later.

I picked the show back up on Your (Mo's) and Todd Van Der Werff's recommendation. I watched the Garret Dilahunt episode and was bored in the first fifteen minutes and did not return for that episode. I watched the Summer Glau episode still had the same problems and waited for the next episode which was supposed to be great. So here are my problems with the show

1) David Straithairn I understand he is there for gravitas but his delivery of exposition is boring and his interactions with the other actors does not induce him to change his intonation or his dialogue delivery. In this respect I finds Saul Rubinek to be far superior because he tries to make exposition interesting and has chemistry with everyone. The recent doppleganger episode with Straithairn made me think a little diffferently. I also watched Straithairn as Oppenheimer in a PBS American Experience special and I had a hard time distinguishing the two roles of Rosen and Oppenheimer. I found it both dull.

2) Directing- I find the over reliance on one shots to be hinderance to developing character interaction in really tense scenes. I want to see the characters interact more as this is a team of superheroes an ensemble

3) Writing- has been subpar, the plots are procedurals/case of the week and are uninteresting. Most disturbing of all is they feel the need to underline basic scientific concepts seemingly one after the other and concepts that are not that hard to grasp (Rosen's discussion of Brent Spiner's characters sonar abilities). Red Faction also seems distant in that their actions seem to affect the group in the periphery and not directly. Some of the characters are stereotypes (Bill and Indian girl) that have not risen above those characterizations (in some ways they have but I wish they were abandoned wholly)

4) Acting most of the actors are subpar Gary and the girl who can mentally push people are an exception but I haven't really noticed many interesting performances so far.

I need to see more interesting exposition, more contact from Red Flag, more character interaction and slightly better directing (that acting will be fixed as a result of this) to get me fully on board with this how. Right not it is middling and given Syfy's record of being serialized-lite I have little hope that what we learn this season will impact the characters in the future.

September 26 2011 at 1:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eddie willers

I enjoy "Bones" and I was upset when they killed Vincent Nigel-Murray as he was my favorite squintern.

That Ryan Cartwright must be one heck on an actor as it was about 8 episodes into Alphas before I finally figured out where I had seen this Gary guy before.

He is nailing the character!

September 25 2011 at 12:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pasha Bahsoun

I love Alphas too but I HATE the character of Rachel. I've had enough of watching her smell things and look anxious all the time. Hopefully she's killed off in the finale.

September 24 2011 at 12:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Great to have your support for this show, Mo. I just want to add my affection for episode 2, Cause and Effect, which I still think best posed the moral dilemma Rosen faces. I find myself VERY sympathetic to Red Flag, especially given the thuggish behavior of the DOD. I guess the Bill of Rights is just passe post 9/11. And Red Flag, at least so far, are not clownishly evil like Magneto's group in X Men. Looking forward to the finale.

Now off to see Fringe, with my fingers crossed.

September 23 2011 at 9:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mo -

The ALPHAS season finale is Monday, not Sunday. You may want to edit your article. And thanks for the alert to the Alphas marathon.

September 23 2011 at 6:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to TVDIVA's comment
Mo Ryan

Yes, you're right. Sorry!

September 23 2011 at 7:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I presume "10PM ET Sunday" should be "Monday".

September 23 2011 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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