Last night's Alphas — "Catch and Release" — gave us a brief appearance by Summer Glau as Skylar, Nina's partying buddy turned government fugitive. In this episode, Skylar's a technosavant who can invent futuristic devices using household devices within minutes. In short, she's a modern Ada Lovelace with Siouxsie Sioux's hairdresser.
And unlike Dr. Rosen's cadre of Alphas, Skylar's ability has no apparent drawbacks...except for the fact that the American government wants her on permanent retainer. Here, Alphas offers us an interesting hypothetical — what happens when your powers are too good to be true?
Unlike some of the more sociopathic Alphas we've seen before, Skylar's deemed dangerous because of her potential (ditto goes for her daughter, who's a mathematical superprocessor in the form of a kindergartner). After all, we see her build a machine that can convert eight hours of sleep into a mere ten-minute snooze. What if Skylar decided to hook up with the disgruntled Alphas of Red Flag, who are willing to harm normals to achieve their goals?
Also, "Catch And Release" made it clear that the US government has no clue how to deal with the Alphas. Which agency is in charge of recruiting Skylar? And what sort of crisis will it take for the agencies to formulate a cogent protocol for dealing with Alphas? The agencies' confusion is an underlying narrative here — barring tagging up with Dr. Rosen's merry band of misfits, the only other option for Alphas is to ship them off to Binghamton for imprisonment.
On a similar note, Alphas is pushing the untenability of Rosen's little operation. When Nina's hypnotizing people with impunity and Rosen's lying on Skylar's behalf so she can escape to Canada, it's unclear how long Hicks and the gang will be in the government's good graces.
Like the previous episodes, "Catch and Release" was breezy summer television. It pushed the moral ambiguity of the Alphas' mission and provided an honest assessment to how the government would react to spontaneous, genetically imparted superpowers — that is, scattershot and with a sense of bureaucratic befuddlement.
Also, there were some entertaining character bits here, namely Gary's $800 cab ride. Hey, he was pursuing a lead! Alphas is laying the groundwork for some solid upcoming stories — let's hope the season closes out with panache.