Season two of Alphas has been all about mindgames. On the one hand, we've been dealing more than ever with the consequences of Nina's mind-control power. And on the other, the main storyline has involved two masters of manipulation, Stanton Parish and Lee Rosen, trying to destroy each other by controlling people.
And it's no accident that as Alphas gets more and more brutal, we're seeing the mind games get more intense and raw. Spoilers ahead...
To some extent, last night's episode involved a few different mind-control scenarios. There was Vincent the sleazy guy keeping Skyler and her daughter trapped in an imaginary dollhouse, while they're actually chained to scuzzy bunk beds on drugs, in a garage full of schematics for doomsday gadgets that Skyler has been drawing. There was Nina pushing her abilities to the limits interrogating Scipio, using drugs first on Scipio and then herself, trying to break through his mental blocks to get info on Stanton. And finally, Mitchell the memory-storing guy is used as a sort of football by Rosen and Stanton, who throw him back and forth and use his "memories on demand" power as a weapon.
Last night's "Need to Know" was a ramping-up-to-the-climax sort of affair, in which we finally learn the details of Stanton Parish's plan to kill millions of people and change the world. And meanwhile, Lee Rosen manages to marginalize himself and drive away half his own team, through his increasingly deranged quest for vengeance.
So what's Parish's plan? In a nutshell, he's created a ton of tiny photic stimulators, miniature versions of the one that supercharged Jason Miller, the kid in the coma a while back. Any Alpha who comes into contact with one of these stimulators when it's turned on will gain a huge power boost and gain more control over his or her powers, probably awakening a lot of latent Alphas. But any normal person who's nearby when the stimulators are turned on will probably die. It's sort of similar to the kinds of plans Magneto hatched in the Bryan Singer X-Men films. Also, Parish has been blowing up power junctions all over the place, causing people to install the photic stimulators in the guise of new and improved surge protectors.
There's apparently some part of Parish's plan that's not complete yet, since he still needs Skyler to design something for him, and he's starting to freak out that it's not done yet. Skyler is trapped in a surreal domestic nightmare, where nothing quite makes sense and she can't think straight. But when she tries to escape, the nightmare only gets worse — lucky for her that Gary is trying to contact her through her wasp-controlling arm implant, and she's eventually able to send a signal back, allowing Gary and Bill to track her down and rescue her.
Parish seems like he's going off the rails in this episode. He's lost his aura of total calm and self-assuredness, and has started snapping at people like a stereotypical supervillain who's surrounded by idiots. Something about his remorse for killing Danielle, or the way Rosen's been chipping away at all of his stuff.
But meanwhile, Lee Rosen is also way off his game — his superpower has always been manipulating people, but now he can't even keep his own small team together. He alienates Bill Harken, who ought to be his right-hand man, by suggesting they go rogue just a day or two before Parish's doomsday plan is supposed to go into effect. He obviously cares way more about revenge for his daughter's death than saving millions of lives, and it slowly drives away all the people he needs to complete his crazy plans. By the end of the episode, it seems like only Cameron Hicks remains on Lee's team.
And Nina? After claiming he was going to help Nina to control her abilities and stop overusing them, Rosen has started using her as his go-to blunt instrument in every situation, to the point where he's drugging her up and practically destroying her in last night's episode.
And when all of the mind powers wind up failing, Rosen just uses Scipio's own powers to set him on fire. Horrible, but apparently effective.
And the whole episode is full of Rosen showing an amazing lack of strategic thinking, including allowing Mitchell to fall back into Parish's hands, risking getting Kat killed by having her guard Mitchell's convoy, and then going to Parish's HQ with just one man and one gun. It's pretty much no wonder that Lee gets himself shot at the end of the episode.
Except that Lee Rosen does come up with one masterstroke of vengeance: by wiping out all of Mitchell's stored memories, from Parish and everybody else Mitchell has touched, Rosen is doing the next best thing to erasing Parish himself. How do you hurt an immortal? By erasing his past. The fact that Lee Rosen apparently assumes Parish will get Mitchell back — and makes sure to ruin Mitchell's value to Parish first, even if he also massive reduces Mitchell's strategic usefulness in the process — is sort of awesome.