After a few non-formulaic weeks, Alphas went back to the Alpha of the Week in “A Short Time in Paradise.” Garret Dillahunt (Raising Hope, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) guest-starred as Jonas, an alpha who has an ability to overcome people under a hypnotic spell, where they feel connected to each other and the rest of the world. Jonas believes he’s been blessed back in 1980 when he “illuminated” his reverend father, who shortly after illuminated his congregation in flames.
In the present day, news of Cameron’s (Warren Christie) ex-wife and son moving to Nevada sent him back to his Alcoholics Anonymous meetings where he meets a grown-up Jonas, who takes the entire group under his control. Jonas doesn’t believe what he is doing is bad, he believes he is blessing people with his ability, to give them a taste of the “truth” and saving them from the darkness of the world. In time, Jonas hopes he will be able to deliver world peace.
Cameron lures Nina (Laura Mennell) out to the compound and immediately she discovers her push powers don’t work on Jonas. (It’s happened to Nina a lot this season.) While Cameron and Nina are in euphoria, being one with nature and making a mess of the new flower bed, one of men under Jonas’ spell comes out of it and into withdrawl, undergoing some type of toxic shock withdrawl. That’s when Cameron calls Dr. Rosen (David Strathairn) to help and when shit gets real.
Dr. Rosen: How long has this man been like this?
Jonas: A week or so…
Dr. Rosen: These people need to be in a hospital… For this starters this man needs IV fluids, he’s extremely dehydrated. This woman is… this woman is dead. She’s been dead for hours.
Jonas: I’ve seen it so often. I try to stop it. I tryyyy to keep them from the world. I show them the truth behind the world. It’s my gift, I let them see the light, the interconnectiveness of all things–all people.
Dr. Rosen: Perhaps you could describe what it is you do to them.
Jonas: Perhaps I could show you. It will make you happy and content?
Now Dr. Rosen didn’t say it, but you know he wanted to say, “Hellllllll No! You best back the F away!” But he didn’t. He was much more polite. And that’s why the episode lasted an hour. He could have wrapped this up in 30 minutes but noooo….
Seriously though, the science behind this episode was built around the pineal gland, located deep in the brain and the affect of Jonas’ alpha ability to affect that gland by putting these people on euphoric highs but he can’t sustain it forever. Eventually, they drop to a state where a type of encephalitis takes over.
It can be be reversed, unless of course you’re one of these radicals who believe that what modern medicine does to prolong life is part of the dark world, and just don’t believe in seeking medical attention. They really exist, in fact there are plenty people who choose not to subscribe or trust in science and have faith in destiny, but honestly, how can someone buy into that when they’re dousing a house in gasoline and preparing to ignite it all in one flick of a lighter.
What’s grounds this episode in the real world are all of the religious cults, evangelists, and zealots who kill in the name of religion. I’m not judging, but people do take these beliefs to radical levels and that’s why this episode works. It’s why it’s plausible to believe that people could lead and be led into their own deaths, unknowingly. At some point you ask yourself, ‘How do these people allow themselves to be caught up in this?’ It gives a new meaning to being blinded by the light.
Alphas puts that twist on the public perception of a certain group which makes you think about them differently. Like in the episode, “Rosetta” and how that episode made one pause and think about children with autism, this episode made me think about people who can make such a drastic leap of faith, and how they can close themselves to logical thinking. Bad things can happen.
As for Dr. Rosen, he was pretty shaken up from the whole ordeal. It’s not every day he killis a man.
Dr. Rosen: Am I okay? I killed a man, Bill.
Bill: No. You killed a bad guy. And saved a whole lot of people from being barbequed. That’s the part you hold on to.
Dillahunt always plays a freakish antagonist, especially one who is disguise. The cardigan sweater, the tucked in shirt, and the buttoned collar makes for a frightening image, especially when delivering the light. Before he opened his mouth, I’d start running away. Strathairn puts in another strong, solid performance who doesn’t overdo the confident leader or the helpless non-alpha. He plays the role smart but maybe this episode is the beginning of a different Dr. Rosen. Hopefully he’ll appear less surprised in these situations and becomes a true leader at some point in the distant future.
Even though this episode didn’t add to the overall mythology of the show, it did developed the Rosen character more and perhaps brought him up to speed with the rest of the world. It gave some resolution to Rachel’s family problem to a certain degree (She’s the child of first generation Asian immigrants so her parents will always be a problem) and finally put Nina and Cameron in the same bed. For a brief moment, one could see this as paradise.
• A few suplots were planeted in this episode. First is Bill (Malik Yoba) needling Dr. Rosen about combat and tactical training mandates coming from the Department of Defense. It’s nothing that Dr. Rosen wants to be a part, as he has made a conscious effort to steer clear of guns. So it was appropriate that a gun would find its way and used it appropriately given the situation. This is Bill’s chance to outfit the team with weapons needed to defend themselves from Alphas–at least those who can’t push them.
Bill: Next time aim for the chest.
Dr. Rosen: I was aiming for his chest.
• Gary (Ryan Cartwright) helps Rachel (Azita Ghanizada) with some of her troubles at home when he posed as her boyfriend for her sister’s engagement party. It felt like a scene out of Bend it Like Beckam with everyone buzzing about Rachel and who she brought as her date. But once again Gary helps another team member with their problems, helping them come out of their defensive shells. Gary badgered Rachel to get her dad to the hospital to get screened for cancer. He helped Bill last week, and got Gameron to open up. Gary continues to be the key character in the show.
• Nina is asked to give away some of her personal belongings that she obtained from pushing people to rid her life of reminders of her bad habits. She had better not give away that Stripes hat from when she pushed Bill Murray.
• Before their group “meeting” Cameron and Nina agreed to keep their tumble between the sheets to themselves. Cameron said that they can pretend it never happened but Nina had a look on her face that had nothing to do with forgetting.
• Rachel’s warnings were finally taken seriously and her father said that the cancer he has is never caught that early. It at least opened the door for there to be some real back-and-forth discussion between Rachel and her parents. She’s not a freak after all. Finally, her family respected her.
Rachel’s father: “You’re a miracle. Now, you’re Aunt’s coming to dinner… she’s got a mole she needs you to look at.”
OK. Maybe not.
• Speaking of Rachel, here’s another reminder of Alphas star Azita Ghanizada (Rachel) in Los Angeles at The Nerdist Theater on August 30 with Matt Selman, executive producer/writer of The Simpsons. Tickets are $8 and doors open at 7:30PM. Details and Admission can be found here.
Alphas will return with a new episode in two weeks and will have Brent Spiner, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Data and Rebecca Mader from Lost. Syfy Monday nights at 10/9C.