Episode Title: 'A Short Time in Paradise'
Writer: Michael Chamoy
Director: John Showalter
Back in 1980, a pastor sets his church a flame with a full congregation inside. Back at the present day Alpha HQ, Hicks (Warren Christie) tells Rosen (David Strathairn) about his custody drama and Rachel (Azita Ghanizada) tells Nina (Laura Mennell) about her desperate search for a date to her sister's engagement party. Gary (Ryan Cartwright) becomes the obvious last resort.
Meanwhile, at his AA meeting, Hicks encounters a man with apparent supernatural powers. At her sister's engagement party, Gary and Rachel realize that her father is very ill, but he refuses to seek help. Hicks shows up at Nina's apartment the next morning, claiming to have had a life-changing experience. He takes her to meet his new friend Jonas (Garret Dillahunt) at his estate, the man from the AA meeting. She unsuccessfully tries to "push" Jonas, who instead uses his powers on her. The two soon fall under his euphoric spell as a man nearby succumbs to a seizure.
Nina and Hicks ask Rosen to come to the estate to help. Jonas takes Rosen to the makeshift infirmary filled with his afflicted followers. Rosen then encounters Nina and Hicks, now in bed together and praising Jonas' powers. Rosen tells Jonas about a medication that can help the sick.
Back in New York, Rachel implores her father to seek treatment for his throat cancer. At Alpha HQ, Gary, Bill (Malik Yoba) and Rachel begin to wonder where the rest of the team is.
At Jonas' estate, one of the patients responds to Rosen's medication. Moments later, Jonas takes the medication away, claiming it's robbing his followers of his "gift." He challenges Rosen to find another method to treat his followers, or the rest will die in turn.
Rachel, Gary and Bill arrive outside the estate and Bill stealthily makes his way inside. Bill tells Jonas authorities are on their way. Jonas, in turn, confronts Rosen about interfering with his "gift." Now under Jonas' spell, Hicks, Nina and the rest of his followers pour gasoline throughout the mansion.
Rosen medicates the Alphas as Jonas prepares to torch the place. Just before he can use his powers on the group, Rosen shoots him dead. The Alpha team evacuates Jonas followers from the mansion before it goes down in flames.
Back in New York, Rachel's father tells him he's seeking treatment for his cancer. At Alpha HQ, Bill comforts Rosen, who's distraught over shooting Jonas.
When I first learned that 'A Short Time in Paradise' was a Hicks/Nina-centric episode, I was less than excited to sit through it. However, a creepy performance from "Deadwoods'" own psychotic geologist, Francis Wolcott (Garret Dillahunt) more than made this episode one of the strongest of "Alphas'"' freshman run.
Aside from watching Dillahunt's cult leader Alpha, Jonas, work his monotoned magic on Nina and Hicks (leading to a groan-worthy gratuitous love scene) we learned a bit more about the personal lives of Rosen's flock of freaks, as well as Rosen, himself.
It turns out, while the good doctor can get behind Bill's ability to roid rage at will, Hicks' acumen with a sniper rifle and Nina's use of the power of suggestion, he's no fan of guns. However, as a man of science, he's also capable of an "ends justify the means" response when the math demands it. On the verge of sending his entire following up in flames, Rosen took necessary action. However, he's racked with guilt over taking a life.
As for Rachel, her family issues continue to compound. Not only do her parents desperately want to marry her off, her father is suffering from throat cancer. She and Gary make a very likely unlikely pair. Definitely a cuter couple than Hicks and Nina, though.
And while 'A Short Time in Paradise" featured a much more original premise than episodes past, it still felt a bit forced. Hicks goes to an AA meeting and just happens to encounter an "evil" Alpha? At times it feels as if "Alphas" is attempting to shoehorn a procedural into a show that begs an exploration of its deeper mythology.
Gary remains the only character I'm genuinely invested in. If the writers can go a little deeper with the rest of the Alphas team, like they did in this hour, we may just be on to something.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.