I have a dilemma. Any time I really enjoy an episode of TV but also find quite a few faults with it, my review of it ends up sounding more negative than I intend. I only have myself to blame, of course, due to the “It was fun, but here’s a long list of things that didn’t work” format of my write-ups. However, I’m a creature of habit, and I’m not going to change my writing style now. So let me issue a disclaimer before I proceed any further: I liked “Catch and Release”; it was fun, it featured a cool Alpha ability, Summer Glau was surprisingly not cringeworthy,1 and I enjoyed it on the whole. Now here’s a long list of things that didn’t work:

For the first time, Alphas didn’t surprise me this week. The only way in which “Catch and Release” could have shocked me is if Skyler had actually turned out to be evil. But doing so would have required Rosen to have made yet another error in judgment, and since he has already made a few of those, he would have looked really stupid if he had made another one. Thus, the writers were kind of in a corner here, and I suppose they did a decent job of writing themselves out of it. Unfortunately, they did so in a predictable way.

My other major problem with “Catch and Release” is a problem that I’ve been having with the series as a whole, but it was more pronounced here than ever before. Alphas clearly wants to build a narrative and let us learn about the characters bit by bit. The problem is that the show tends to go about doing so in a clunky, ham-fisted way. Take Nina’s story in this episode as an example. I really liked the idea that she and Skyler were cut from the same cloth, but made different choices and ended up in different places. However, the episode kept bashing me over the head with it. The same goes for the storyline about Bill considering parenthood. I really liked the idea that Bill would hide the real reasons for his apprehension from his wife because she doesn’t know about his abilities.2 It kind of tied in with what I talked about last week, which is the notion that Alphas is about people who lead inherently sad lives, and the fact that Bill wants to start a family but is afraid of what that could mean for his kid is part of that sadness. But the manner in which Bill’s conflict with his wife was introduced was clunky, and Bill’s wife came off looking like a jerk, which bugged me, because if she had brought it about in a less blunt way, then I would have thought it a valuable discussion for a married couple to have. There were a lot of good ideas in this episode. I just wish that the show didn’t feel it necessary to hold my hand and explain them to me explicitly.

My final complaint about “Catch and Release” has to do with the technical side of things. Alphas is clearly starting to test the limitations of its cable budget. We never actually saw a shot of Skyler’s mechanical insects attacking her pursuers, for instance. All we saw were shots from the insects’ perspective and shots of the pursuers cringing in pain. (I assume that human-CGI interactions are expensive to produce.) And when Hicks used his acrobatic abilities to climb into Skyler’s uncle’s house, Warren Christie was clearly not using a stuntperson; we didn’t see any shots of the actual acrobatics, just rapid-fire cuts between the ground and the roof.

But overall, despite those flaws, “Catch and Release” worked for me. As usual, the series’ blend of action, humour, mystery-solving, and sci-fi won me over. So please consider this a positive review, even if it doesn’t seem at all like one.

1 I know that a lot of people really love Summer Glau. I don’t, mainly because she was awful on The Cape (or at least the four episodes I saw of it). ^

2 I’m confused as to why Bill hasn’t discussed the possibility that he could pass on his Alpha ability to his kid with Rosen. A deleted scene, perhaps? ^