This review contains spoilers.
3. Anger Management
In my previous reviews, I made a few comments about needing to confront expectations, and put an edge on this show. For sixty percent of the running time of this story, they didn’t do that, and then, magically it happened.
I’ll get to exactly what happened, and to whom later, but Anger Management was a turning point for Alphas, and one that came along just in time for me.
The premise of the story, an Alpha who can send out potent pheromones that send people berserk, seemed, from the outset, just another means to layer the thinly defined characters further.
But worse than that, the Alphas’ impossible boss, Don Wilson, reappeared, even though I’d promised Callum Rennie had got a proper job on The Firm and wouldn’t be back. I was wrong, and it made me feel much like the people driven to attack each other on a train, as per the opening sequence.
Other that these curious events, everything else in the early part of the show we’d already seen, like Gary complaining about the ‘hum’, Bill being an ass, Cameron being broody, Rachel unassertive and Nina looking pretty.
As the show progressed with its derivative detective story, I got more annoyed. A rage grew inside me, possibly fuelled by that accidental exposure to extreme gamma radiation I once experienced. And then, at approximately twenty-seven minutes and thirty seconds into the story, the world exploded.
Okay, the world didn’t explode, but the plot did. We’d been led to believe that the source of these isolated riots was a young woman. It turned out that it wasn’t her, but the young man she’d formed a relationship with.
Confronted by Don Wilson, the man with all the charm of a Klingon with anger control issues, the dangerous pheromones are released into the Alpha offices, causing everyone to go utterly bonkers. And much to the relief of this writer, Don gets what he deserves when one of his fellow agents beats him to death with a chair.
In this one act, the whole show suddenly turned a corner for me, and not just for not having to suffer any more of the Don Wilson character. The threat of character death is one that can drive stories in dynamic ways that can’t happen if you know they won’t do that. This is something that 24 got hooked up on, when everyone realised they wouldn’t kill Jack, but they would top pretty much anyone else.
I’d like to see them kill a more central character, just to prove that this wasn’t a mistake, and that they’re interested in telling a bigger story, with genuine threats.
The only twist to the death of Don was that it was clear, watching her emote, that Nina realised that Mathew, the anger generator, was lying. Yet, she chose not to mention this to anyone at any point. What gives?
The big winner in character development this week was Dr Rosen, who’s developing a duplicitous side to his personality. While he’s saying soothing things to his Alphas, and up the chain of command, he’s also building a dossier on those he’s sent to the Binghampton facility.
Having Nina invite Rachel to live with her might tell us more about those two, although I doubt it’s a budding romance. At the end of the show, they ran a promo showing plenty from coming episodes, which, unless the clips are misrepresentative, show much more Alphas action than we’ve seen so far, and some lip-locking between Nina and Cameron.
I want this show to get better, and it’s edging in the right direction. But will it move fast enough to secure more than the initial order? Time will tell.