Part of me thinks that “A Short Time in Paradise” was reverse-engineered from a very dated Weezer reference. Another part of me thinks that it was designed simply to be as strange as possible. This episode was probably about eighteen shades too weird. It played like a serious version of the well-known Simpsons episode with the Movementarian cult, “The Joy of Sect,” so that might explain why it felt a bit odd. On the other hand, I liked it, so maybe I just like weird things.

Alphas is usually directed, shot, and edited in such a way as to make it seem as if the show is taking place in a version of the real world where there are people running around with superpowers. It’s a fitting style for the show, especially since it’s about dealing with criminals who affect regular people, not just Alphas. So when this episode opted for a blurry, dreamlike cinematographic style in some of the scenes set at Jonas’ mansion, I felt as if the show were veering too far into the surreal. The director, John Showalter, made a slight misjudgment here. The episode would have been better-served using this show’s usual style the entire way through. It would have made me feel as if I were witnessing the victims’ bliss, not semi-experiencing it. As it was, I couldn’t see what was so entrancing about Jonas’ ability, but the episode was directed as if I was supposed to buy into his power. So the whole thing ended up feeling kind of silly. (I kept waiting for Hicks to yell, “I love the Leader!” …I’ve watched The Simpsons way too much.)

But even if this episode’s main story was a little too strange and silly, “A Short Time in Paradise” got all the little things right, and they added up. I had been wondering for a while why Rosen’s team wasn’t getting any sort of tactical training, and Bill finally addressed it in this episode. This gave Rosen a chance to ponder his own views regarding violence, which culminated in his using a gun to kill someone for the first time in his life. We know Rosen to be a peaceful person, not intent on harming anyone if he can help it. It will be interesting to see if his views change after this experience. On a more practical note, the overall arc for Alphas’ first season seems to be about Rosen’s Alphas developing into a legitimate crime-stopping team. If Bill’s tactical training gives a chance for Nina, Rachel, and Rosen to get in on the action, then I’m all for it.

I also appreciated that “A Short Time in Paradise” subverted my expectations in more subtle ways than in episodes past. There was no big twist to be found in this episode’s main story, which was a relief, seeing as I was starting to be able to anticipate the big twists before they happened. Rather, this episode used a few little surprises. When Bill asked Gary and Rachel to stay in the car, they actually stayed in the car. (It’s kind of a sad commentary on television these days that that was surprise. Or maybe I’m just recalling the first two seasons of Chuck.) It was also surprising to see that Nina and Hicks are hooking up in Off-screensville, which was good because it avoided pointless romantic drama that the show doesn’t need right now, and it allowed the show to focus on more interesting things. (I’m aware that the two of them had a “love” scene in this episode, but we fortunately didn’t waste any time with those two discussing their “feelings.”) A slightly bigger surprise was the episode’s Rachel-centric subplot. What seemed like it would be another dumb plot line about Rachel’s controlling family ended up being a surprisingly sweet story about Rachel asserting herself not just to look after herself but also after others. It also developed Rachel and Gary’s friendship, which felt sorely needed, seeing as Rachel seems to be the least patient with Gary out of all the members of Rosen’s team.

In any case, despite some silliness, which was mainly due to some odd directorial choices, and a probably unintentional resemblance to an episode of The Simpsons, “A Short Time in Paradise” worked as an enjoyable hour of television. It presented some interesting developments not only for Rosen and Rachel, but also for the team as a whole, and I hope that those developments are addressed in future episodes.

Advertisements