‘Alphas’ 1.04 Recap: “We Are Better, and That Frightens Them”

After last week’s shockingly intense episode, I have to admit that I expected ‘Alphas’ to ease off this week and give us something lighter, perhaps a routine case-of-the-week with fairly low stakes for the characters. In other words, filler. It’s not unreasonable for a modestly-budgeted genre show on a network like Syfy to pull back and save up its energy for the handful of important episodes sprinkled throughout the season. But that’s not at all what happened. Instead, we have another slam-bang suspense piece – one that also kicks the show’s mythology story arc into high gear. For a cable series only four episodes in, ‘Alphas’ is off to an incredible start.

‘Rosetta’ opens with Rosen’s team leading a SWAT unit to capture a baddie named Milos Kosar. Milos is a key player in Red Flag, the organization of rogue terrorist Alphas. They’re not sure what he’s planning, but it’s certainly not good. The team also swarms into his safe house blind, with no idea what his Alpha power even is.

Milos is holed up with a guy named Purlec, whose tingly spider-senses alert them that trouble is coming. They both ultimately get away. (Milos’ power is to generate an EMP that blacks out the entire neighborhood.) But in their haste to escape, they leave behind a tablet computer and, more importantly, a woman named Heidi.

At first, Heidi appears to be nearly catatonic. She can’t talk or use sign language, or any traditional form of communication. Rosen believes her to be severely autistic. Identifying with her condition, Gary observes Heidi until he deduces that she can indeed communicate by tapping and banging and clicking, and generally flailing around like Jodie Foster in ‘Nell’. She’s invented her own language that only she uses. However, she can fully understand what everyone else is saying. In fact, she can comprehend every language known to man and translate them into her own. She’s a human Rosetta Stone.

Rosen believes that Kosar and Purlec were using the girl to encrypt secret messages for Red Flag. Gary convinces her to help, and she informs them that Kosar is planning to hijack a fuel truck, load it with explosives, and detonate it… somewhere. Once they identify the truck, Bill and Cameron race to intercept it. Unfortunately, once they do, they find that it’s the wrong truck.

Gary discovers that the tablet computer has been programmed to decode Heidi’s noises and translate them into English via a voice simulator so that they can talk normally. He also figures out that she gave him the wrong truck number on purpose. Heidi then reveals that she was never just a pawn being used by Red Flag. She’s the leader of Red Flag. Kosar and Purlec work for her. This is a damn good and unexpected twist.

Heidi tries to woo Gary to her side. When he refuses, she uses her tablet to overload his senses with incoming data until he passes out and she can get away. When he recovers, Gary tells Dr. Rosen the correct truck number so that Bill and Cameron can track it down.

It turns out that the bombing target is a pharmaceutical company that has been developing a new drug to prevent birth defects. This drug would identify the Alpha genes as “defects” and prevent further Alphas from being born. Heidi, it seems, is essentially playing the Magneto role. While officially labeled a villain, her real goal is to protect her own kind from being wiped out, which she’s willing to do by any means necessary.

Cameron and Bill arrive at the drug factory just after the truck. They prevent it from destroying the whole building, but Milos sacrifices himself to detonate it in the parking lot, which causes enough damage to the facility to delay release of the drug.

Once he understands Red Flag’s real mission, Rosen feels conflicted. He sympathizes with their cause, if not their methods. Further decryption of the computer reveals that the organization is much, much larger than the D.O.D. believed. Not just a hodgepodge of loosely connected terror cells, it is in fact a huge worldwide network.

As much as I was impressed with the previous week’s episode, this one is even better. It’s enormously suspenseful, and unveils a very ambitious mythology storyline. I don’t know if every episode of the series can be this good, but I’ll be really impressed if they are.

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