With "A Short Time in Paradise," Alphas' producers tried again to provide a self-contained episode allowing them to focus on the team. They failed (again), even with the story line involving the most likeable characters. Rachel's issue with her family was at times annoying, the relationship between Nina and Cameron was as awkward as ever, and Dr. Rosen was dragged into an amateurish sub-plot about guns. Ironically, the Alpha-of-the-week story line — which was probably not meant to be — proved more interesting than the others despite also failing to deliver.
Guest star Garret Dillahunt was appropriately threatening — in a calm serial killer sort of way — as Jonas, the cult leader infusing people with a lethal dose of well-being. The palpable threat helped the viewer connect with Dr. Rosen and understand his sensation of being trapped with no possible escape, but the story also gave the impression it spent too much time establishing that. We had already been through Cameron's, then Nina's, scenes with Jonas, so we could have been spared some of the additional sequences. David Strathairn delivered as usual an excellent performance as Dr. Rosen, even though the good doctor's stance on guns was poorly handled. That detail should have been given in an earlier episode or just before the shooting via flashbacks, but certainly not introduced so clumsily by Bill's seminar at the beginning of the episode.
After eight episodes, the most endearing characters are still Rachel and Gary, and the episode did well whenever they were together. The scene in which Gary explained his whole (irritating) approach when attempting to convince anyone to do anything was arguably the best of the hour. A close-up of Rachel's face clearly showed it was sinking in. Of all the team members, Rachel is the most suited to handle Gary. Besides being less abrasive than Bill, or less irritable than Cameron and Nina, she has a family or maybe a cultural background allowing her to be more patient with the autistic member of the team. Understanding all that is one thing, but watching her face her parents and family is another, especially as it was done here. Most of what passed between Rachel and her father was a little annoying, and to those ready to use the excuse of cultural differences to justify my being annoyed, I insist it could have been written better. The one thing between father and daughter that was flawless was the final scene about the aunt coming to dinner with her mole to be looked at!
Something else that was done wrong is the Nina and Cameron relationship. Unhappy to have their initial scheme thwarted by Rachel who, with her innocence, clumsily stopped Nina and Cameron the first time around, the writers decided to take matters into their own hands and tricked the characters into doing it under influence! I mean, it is so odd that the two can't even talk about it. Our writers are using all the tricks in their tool kit to bring these two together without having an actual relationship. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In this case, I believe it's not working. Many viewers are quick to put male and female characters together, but they still tend to do it when there is enough to support a match. These two still have a lot to share before that jump is taken for granted, and to make things worse, at the moment, the viewer might be justified in thinking that Nina is slightly out of Cameron's league. Speaking of Nina, Laura Mennell has been delivering a subtle but effective performance, incidentally giving to Nina a presence that Cameron lacks.
Though this was by far my least favorite Alphas episode, I should admit that from the moment the absence of the three team members was established, the story unfolded much more smoothly. Plus, I still like what the show is doing with Alpha abilities. They are staying close to the nervous system; therefore, within reach of Rosen's pseudo-science explanations and his competencies as a physician.