Alphas episode 2 review: Cause And Effect

Alphas continues to show promise, but the second episode has still left behind problems that need solving...

This review may contain spoilers.

2. Cause And Effect

Even when I’d got over the unintentional hilarity of the pilot episode, where the Alphas took on Evil Mr Monk, and won, I was still curious enough to watch the second helping of this show.

Cause And Effect tries quite earnestly to layer in some characterisation, in an effort to make some of the team seem slightly more than a cliché. This week they focused on Dr. Rosen, who rather incredibly is a ‘ladies’ man’ (spoken in a voice deeper than I can manage), and they also provided Rachel with a problematic mother. It would seem prudent to assume that other Alphas will be fleshed out later, as the main story arc unfolds. We can hope, can’t we?

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Thankfully missing from events was the Don Wilson character, played by Callum Rennie, and given he’s now got a gig on the TV version of The Firm, it’s entirely possible that he’ll not be back.

The first production episode contained a number of things I really liked, and another few that I didn’t much care for. The good elements first.

What was most lacking from the pilot was any sense of where this all might go, because other than setting the scene, we weren’t shown any significant paths or even directions that the Alphas might travel. This story provides exactly those, when you realise that Dr. Rosen’s work with Alphas is being taken in an entirely different direction by those in authority, creating a situation where he’ll be forced to take sides at some point.

In a show like this, conflict is ‘good’, and cosy relationships make me yawn.

The mechanism for revealing this is the character Marcus Ayers, played very effectively by Will McCormack. His Alpha power is to predict sequences of events in such a way that, with a tiny intervention, he can cause massive impact, and even death to occur.

So many shows like this one will introduce a bad guy early on and then let him escape, to return later if the audience reaction to them is positive, and that’s exactly where Marcus fits in the bigger scheme. But what’s interesting is that how he’s presented at the end is entirely different from what we’re led to understand up to that point, and it creates a moral grey patch into which David Strathairn’s Dr. Lee Rosen is nearly embedded.

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He’s ninety percent of why I’m watching this show, and I was also pleased that he got to do most of the acting here, and looks more relaxed in his character than in the pilot.

What was less embracing was the way that Bill, Gary and Cameron were treated, which was to mostly be ignored. Both Bill and Gary were less annoying, but their characters didn’t evolve in any meaningful way either. Other than looking great, I’m not sure what Nina’s purpose was in this story, as I don’t recall she used her powers once.

She repeated the reference to what she did in the past, but I’m confident that, by the time it’s revealed exactly what she did do to her ex, we’ll be sick of hearing about it.

In the end, the first real episode of the show was a mixed bag, where things moved on somewhat, but hardly in a riveting fashion. I’m desperate for the show to do something totally unexpected, as, so far, it’s too formulaic for this geek.

The next story revolves around a troubled teenage Alpha, which sounds like the plot of a dozen shows I’ve already seen, and mostly forgotten. Let’s hope that Alphas can build on the good, and purge some of the less interesting aspects they’re still cultivating.

Read our review of the series premiere here.

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