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“Bill and Gary’s Excellent Adventure” was a break from what we’ve been accustomed to from Alphas. There was no Alpha-of-the-week and not even a passing reference to Red Flag. Over the five preceding weeks, the series managed to let us know a lot about its many leads, but here character development really took center stage. It worked reasonably well even though the choice of characters made it hard for the writers to draw us all in, or lead us smoothly to the predictable ending.
The title is actually misleading as this was Bill’s adventure, with Gary coming along for the ride. It was Bill’s because the (writers’) goal was to get him to commit to the team. Gary was the perfect companion for the ride because he embodied better than the others the difficulties Bill had with the team — frictions between the two being more open and more frequent.
Of all Dr. Rosen’s Alphas, Rachel and Gary are the most known to the viewers, and for good reasons. They are so far without a doubt the most endearing characters in the series because of their personal issues, and I believe also because of how their powers work. It obviously doesn’t hurt either that they are portrayed by the very talented Azita Ghanizada and Ryan Cartwright respectively. Rachel will probably never be as independent or as bold as Nina, but the writers have set it up so that the viewer is eager to see how the character grows. We would equally like to see if and how she will find someone (to share her life with) in spite of the big hurdle her powers seem to represent now. Gary will obviously always be autistic, but his quest for independence and even personal happiness (see “Rosetta”) are likely to always get the viewers’ attention. So, in part because of those issues, episodes centered around Rachel (“Never Let Me Go”) or Gary (“Rosetta”) had a lot going on for them.
Bill on the other hand failed from the very beginning to win the viewers’ seal of approval. Not only did he often voice his feeling of superiority and his wish to get back to the FBI, but he made it his duty to bully the above fan favorites as much as he could. All that explains why the backdrop for this story was compelling, but at the same time it explains why the writers needed to work harder to get us smoothly to the predictable ending. They didn’t quite succeed, but the ride had its moments. It was good to start with Bill watching the video of his outburst over and over again and follow that with a chase showing the benefits of teamwork and then segue into the main storyline. That was good storytelling.
Whether with his past and present colleagues or with his lovely wife, Bill is not written as a likable character. He is quick to say things that might not be well received, which is somewhat understandable given his internal struggle and his pride. Because of the latter, even his apologies after his mistakes felt — to me at least — held back. As an example with his wife, he didn’t go all out but he said enough for her to realize that there might be more. Such characters or husbands are not easy to like, but if written well enough, they eventually grow on the viewer. What the episode succeeded in doing, however, was mending the fence between Bill and Gary. It was good to show that Bill was not thinking seriously about his promise initially, which made the very last scene in the car much better.
The kidnapping story itself was not handled with care, and although the writers initially did well with Nina, throwing her into Cameron’s arms (so soon) was a bit sloppy. Nina’s personal story is gradually being revealed and it shows — like it did here — great potential. This episode, just like the previous one, showcased the producers’ professed goal of trying to avoid a heavily serialized storyline or the Alpha-of-the-week formula. I find it devilishly ironic that those two happen to be the weakest episodes so far…