Alphas:Catch and Release_S1_Ep7
“What if the X-Men worked for a quasi-government agency?” That’s this show in a nutshell, which makes sense since Zack Penn is behind it. So this is going to be a review of this ep and some commentary on my feelings on the show in general. Of course it took Summer Glau for me to watch it.
So Summer is excellently cast as Skylar Adams, whose extraordinary ability seems to be creating incredible tech, often in a hurry or on the spot. And of course since she’s not a part of the team, she’s being hunted. In Jersey no less, ’cause god forbid we could have an X team from Oregon or anything. Summer does an incredible job here of playing the rebel, and continues to rag against the established order throughout the ep. This is what Summer does best, play girls that are outsiders, often running from something. She also does incredibly nuanced work in creating Skylar, with her tones of voice, and nervous ticks; kudos to her for not being the same character every time she appears on a show. She’s got her place rigged for quick escape and easily takes out the “idiots” that are after her. She’s even got spycam flies.
Herein we see one of the innate problems with the show. There’s nothing but cliches & tired ideas everywhere you look. Generic government boots on the hunt for special abilities people, and in this ep, we’ve got three, count ‘em, THREE such agencies. Whatevs. There’s no tension in that because we already know they’re not going to catch anyone of importance, and if they do, nothing significant will happen. If they were to take chances, it would be revealed that one of the team is a traitor/plant and someone would die. But this of course isn’t Firefly.
Also, the theme music to Alphas? …Is totally wrong for this show. Just completely off. This kind of show needs a lot more mystery and tech sounding thematic material for its intro.
So SkySky goes on the run. Dr. Lee RosenBORING and Ms. We-can-foodfuck-but-this-is-business are having a boring convo about budgets and take out and world travel, and….whatever I’m asleep now. Big Bill and his wife are having a convo about having kids. Great. I’m officially counting the seconds until Summer comes back on the screen.
Here’s yet another befuddlyness about this show. DC characters are about godlike, larger than life heroes who often have to, or choose to, have a human anchor to ground them. Marvel characters are about ordinary but quirky and distinct people that get thrown into extraordinary circumstances and both rise to the occasion and still keep their very human issues. But when you put it all in the middle…you get Alphas. People that don’t really seem to be anything more than ordinary folks, nothing to really distinguish them in any fashion from anybody else, and oh yeah, they have powers. Generic nerds, generic black people, generic hot guys & girls(and the girls even have a very similar look), with powers that we’ve all seen before. Watching them operate reminds me of Ultra Boy from Legion of SuperHeroes…one power at a time.
Also, here’s where you see how important good casting is. Smallville had sense enough to put strikingly beautiful people as its leads. Firefly is a perfectly cast show, as is Angel. Both visually and character wise, with those casts there is nothing generic or unremarkable about the actors and/or their characters. David Boreanaz, Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Charisma Carpenter, Amy Acker, John Glover, Annette O’Toole, Alexis Denisof…they all have distinctive looks, and it makes their characters. Not so here.
So Doug Ramsey…I mean, Gary Bell is having the standard angsty, coming of age with super powers convo with his mom. Is Summer back yet? And back at the office, the two pretty people that we all want to end up in bed together(and we already know they will) are doing the preliminary mating ritual. Could the scruffy white guy and hot brunette girl type BE any more cliche here? Cameron and Nina, whatever, get on with it, because we know where it’s going. And then when they break up, they’re gonna hook up with someone else in the group, just to create some more drama. La la la.
So the X-Alphas get to Summer’s Batcave, and I have to admit, every time generic brunette/slightly Persian/middle eastern looking/Jasmine clone AKA Rachel uses her powers, I just laugh, because they’re so useless. Super senses are normally good in combination with something else, a la Wolverine, Superman, or Martian Manhunter, but in isolation, they are just LAME. Gawd these people have no personalities. Just think about the first time we saw Chloe, or Wesley. Fred, or Cordy, or Jonathan Kent. Anyway. So Nina aka Jean Greyish gets the info from rebel guy via her mental “pushing” powers.
Skylar is again making a drop for cash in exchange for her tech, and has the characteristics of a junkie, which plays really well. The boots catch up to her as the gang arrives, and let me also state that for the boots to be looking for people with special abilities, they sure seem to be unprepared to deal with them if they catch them. Cameron again channels Eli Manning, Bill does his crunch n’ punch, and they whisk SkySky away. She’s more interesting then all of them put together.
Seems that Nina and Dr. Rosen aka Professor X-tra boring and Skylar all have a history together, so they have the standard conversation of “we want to help you but you have to tell us the truth.” Skylar is just like the audience, she can smell the bullshit, because there is never anything else in the world of suits and bureaucracy. Period. Gary doesn’t seem to serve any purpose in this episode but diversion from the main action. To do this character justice, they need to give him an edgier storyline other than his mother is unhappy that he’s a mutant.
Skylar and Nina re-bond, even though only Skylar has a personality. And it’s official. I see that Josh Friedman and Joss Whedon have completely spoiled me. Anyway, Skylar spells it out…flunkies and the system. The boots catch up with her again, as observed by Gary which is now getting pervy, and Skylar makes a great escape, and I love how she screams “Later, flunkies!!!” as she releases her metal Dazzler/Banshee strobe. If you’re not going to have the costumes, you have to at least have storylines that we haven’t seen before, and can’t predict from a mile away. The thing I do love about this ep is how Sky is always one step ahead of them all.
So yada yada Sky’s working for the boots and someone named ‘Z’ and she’s so dangerous and wait are all black men on TV bald these days? Anyway Sky convinces Nina that they are the Mutant Thelma & Louise and off they go.
Rachel, by the way, is still worthless. Oooh Nina tosses her phone! She’s so rebellious and free!! Sky says she needs to kill Bob. Now it would be really interesting if it was a real person, just to see if she’d go through with it, and if Nina would let her…but no such high dramatic tension here folks.
“Bob,” as it turns out, is an automated Cerebro, that Sky built, which is how they keep finding her. Nina uses her Jedi boob powers and they’re in. Have you noticed since the advent of Bella how many white girls in lead roles are brunettes now? But I digress. Skylar go bye-bye and Bob go boom.
Gary finds a SkyFly and tech reads it to track the girls. Nina in the Sky with diamonds has a moment of truth but of course Sky is ready with contacts that nullify Jean Greyina’s powers. Gary finds them, but once again, Sky is ahead of the curve and throws out some electric dice no less, and gets away. I love this girl. It takes ALL of them and they STILL can’t stop her.
So, we find that the big ‘Z’ reveal of the show is the grandest irony and wink of them all:Summer, playing Skylar, is protecting a little girl named Zoe, who is actually a River. Do tell. And other than Skylar, have you noticed that there aren’t that many “oooh damn” moments? Like, is anyone really impressed with the powers on display here? Clark sure gave us some moments like that. So anyway, lil’ ZZ Top is of course the real genius behind the genius, and of course the idea is to protect her because otherwise she gets owned, cloned, and boned by the gubmint boots. Super encryption from a little girl. Shades o’ Joss. So the obligatory talk between XRosen and Nina about duty and rules vs. heart and morals, but at least he lets SkySky and Z escape. And gives the bullshit report to Sullivan, ratcheting up the tension. So Sky goes on the lam, off the grid with River Jr., in Canada no less, and gives Nina a batphone to give to Gary. Rosen again does the right thing and smashes Blue Cerebro, showing us his “rebellious” side, and alls well that ends well. Ish. The gang then pretends that they have lives and personalities with their jokes and mail and cappucinos and thangs. Next week’s Cromartie’s an angel.
So most other comments I’ve read said that they think this was the best ep yet, and I can see why: because of Summer. I’ll say it again…think of the distinctiveness of a Chloe Sullivan or a Winnifred Burkle or a Tess Mercer or a Lilah Morgan or a Shepherd Book or a Kaylee. Then look at these guys. So maybe I’ll watch it again, no promises.
Ideas to improve the show:
-Latent powers that they’re currently not aware of.
-More powers out of control.
-Someone or someone(s) on the team are traitors or double agents.
-A main character needs to die and be replaced.
-Some of the characters need to have a deep seated hatred for each other.
-Somebody’s got an accelerated aging process because of their powers.
-Cliche, but a power switch episode is always fun.
-Cameron & Nina are suddenly magnetically repellant to each other and can never touch.
-An episode where they work with the Russian or Japanese version of the team.
-A line about an Alpha they couldn’t keep on the team because her mutation was super-horniness and she kept banging everybody.
-Cliche, but their version of The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants…the Omegas.
And let me say what everyone’s thinking: They should make Summer a regular.