The second episode of the new season of Alphas titled, “The Quick and the Dead” airs tonight and we’ve got a great Q&A with Ryan Cartwright who plays Gary Bell, the autistic Alpha team member who can patch into electronics by tapping into their wavelengths. During an Alphas conference call, Cartwright gives us some excellent insight into what to expect this season out of Gary. For those who have never heard Cartwright before, or saw him in the third season of AMC’s Mad Men, do not read these answers in his Gary’s voice, but rather a cheeky British accent.
Everyone loves to see characters’ powers grow and shape into different abilities in these kinds of stories, so I asked Cartwright if there will be an evolution of Gary’s powers, something we haven’t seen before:
“It’s almost like a backward step for him,” Cartwright paused, before figuring out what exactly he can reveal. “Actually, I guess it’s a forward step – basically Gary is taken away to a bit of a blind spot with regards to electromagnetic wave lengths and stuff. And he starts noticing other streams and that’s quite a new opening to him, because having like being brought up in the city, I don’t think he knew he had access to certain wave lengths that he experiences in the countryside.”
Cartwright on other changes we’ll see from Gary this season:
“He’s still petulant which I’m sure everyone will enjoy. He’s still outspoken, I don’t think that will ever change. But he’s kind of making some different life decisions that affect that other Alphas quite substantially, he decides to move from his mother’s nest and descend on the office 24/7 and tries to make it his new home.”
“His main struggle is he’s one of those people who if he feels that something’s wrong in his gut, he’ll turn and go the other way and then he’ll have to try and assess it and figure out what’s going on after the fact. He’s very impulsive and it’s difficult for him to understand the literalness of what’s going on and also his own feelings. It’s not that he only has to contend with understanding everyone else’s motives and emotions, it’s also with his own, because certain feelings will flare up that don’t fit the situation or everyone else will be quite neutral yet he’s feeling terrible.
“Gary’s speaking up a lot more and going with his gut a lot more. There was a bit of trepidation before and he would often defer to Bill and the other Alphas and especially Dr. Rosen and to a lesser extent his mother whereas this year he’s kind of accepting his instincts a lot more and following those obviously for the drama, dangerous places.”
Cartwright on the significance of Anna’s (Liane Balaban) death from Season 1:
“Gary tries to keep Anna’s voice alive because when she died at the end of the last season it affected him deeply and made him question his place within the Alphas, people’s motivations, which he’s not very good at figuring out. Definitely once she died it made him question Dr. Rosen and the whole alpha phenomenon and his place within it. He wants to keep her voice and her message alive because it seemed to inspire him and seemed a bit more holistic to him. Moving forward, Gary’s not getting involved in any love trysts quite yet. I guess you know the closest he came was Anna but it wasn’t sexual; it was a kindred spirit kind of thing.”
Gary’s attitude towards new team member Kat (played by Erin Way):
“The main wedge for him is Erin who joined as the character Kat. He hates her to begin with, because it’s like the new baby in the pushchair kind of thing. She’s the new baby in the bathtub and he wants to drown her. He’s intrigued by her, but completely intimidated and just wants her gone, because she doesn’t follow the supposed Alpha code. She’s more of a rebel than anyone, she’s on the outskirt, she comes from a bit of a darker background. He thinks she’s unprofessional; he just doesn’t want this cute little blond girl grabbing everyone’s attention, because he’s the one that needs care and the one that wants all the attention.”
“He loses a lot of the attention, which makes him a little bit more insular as well on top of how he’s already kind of mediating on his position within the new Alphas. So it’s mainly like Kat coming in pushes him away and a lot of people don’t have as much time for Gary this year. Like there was a lot more people that would mother Gary more in the first season than this season. They just don’t have enough time so he’s kind of spinning around out there.”
“That kind of drives a bit of a wedge between himself and Bill. And he doesn’t like it. He starts throwing all the toys out of his cot because Kat is the new baby and Gary’s like put in the backseat. And as we all know Gary likes to be in the front driver’s seat.”
“But I think it’s good for him in the long run to kind of not have people look out for him. He’ll get his hand burned but, you know, he’ll learn. [But back to Kat,] he wants her gone. Maybe he’ll end up liking her, we’ll have to see.”
Cartwright’s biggest challenge:
“I just think it’s keeping the consistency of the character and not coming out of the character to get laughs because, you know, Gary does change as time goes on but in a different way to everyone else and it’s a lot more subtle. Gary’s arc has to be a little bit more concentrated.
“[The challenge] is mainly just keeping his voice the same, the dialog and just how he would react to these different situations, just keeping a close eye on not wanting to abuse Gary’s personality and where he is on the autism spectrum.”
Once he’s taken care of that and you know he’s consistent then it’s just about coming up with funny lines on the day (many of Cartwright’s comedic lines are improvised). Once you know he’s grounded, then you can inflate him with all this hot air and just watch him ascend and annoy everyone. So yes just that.
Catch episode 202 of Alphas, “The Quick and the Dead” on Syfy at 10pm after Warehouse 13.