"Alpha Dogs" introduced us to an engaging new character and took us on a fascinating journey into Stanton Parish's past. Kat, the newcomer, helped open a new window into the world of alphas, and Parish left breadcrumbs for Rosen to find in an episode where the case was, once again, not designed to stand out on its own.
Not too long after the episode began, the very short scene with the dead body of the season premiere escapee wasn't so much about the investigation as it was about showing off Rachel's skills, and showed them off it did, with style. By the time we got to the underground fight club, the story and characters had brought us to a comfortable point, we were ready to meet Kat.
There is something straightforward and genuine about Kat that made things very easy for Bill (and for me) right from her first appearance. Some characters have ulterior motives that make us doubt them, but even though it was obvious we didn't know much about her, trust came easily, which is why Bill eagerly listening to her and following her advice seemed right. Surrounded by members of the "fight club", she clearly appeared as a loner who hangs around but is friends with no one, not really. The episode aptly showed this with the way Bill was more amused, intrigued, and worried for her, rather than feeling betrayed when she moved in to fight him. His attitude during their fight was protective, and there was no trace of anger, even after he was defeated by her. And, as soon as he realized she was in danger, he risked everything to save her. All that was right because their relationship came easily and because Kat's persona lends itself to such a bond.
Even Dr. Rosen chipped in when, after the rescuing, he couldn't resist gravely telling her what they do, to which she replied in an endearing way: “You want me on your team, I am awesome.” If she sticks around, which I hope she will, she can be a breath of fresh air in a series where other regulars, except for Cameron maybe, can be at times very intense.
"Alpha Dogs" started with a window into the lives of Rosen's alphas, walking us through some of their old demons. In fact, the episode subtle achievement is that it managed to reintroduce those main characters while plowing ahead with the story, as if the writers wanted us to set aside whatever we carried over from the freshman season. I personally prefer this season's warmer, at times tougher and definitely shrewder approach in exploring our heroes. Bill's journey in the episode was remarkable, from the early bathroom scene where he left a confused wife, to that office scene where he welcomed his worried wife and reassured her. It took us through those moments with Kat which allowed him to overcome some of what made him so insufferable in the first season.
Gary's quest for independence was portrayed here as it never has been before, with Rosen's smart analysis stirring the young man's frustrated mother in the right direction. I liked that the story didn't ignore the effects of incarceration on him, and rather built a storyline around some of the effects. The lead tactical's offer to Rachel to pick his soap made sense, but I didn't see it coming, and it was the sweetest thing. Their whole storyline was cute and although her awkward invitation was predictable, it was done so well, and so well rejected that I am eager to see what comes next.
The episode didn't shy away from Stanton Parish and gave us as close an origin story as we are ever going to get, I suspect. Last week, I said the story wanted to portrayed Parish as a tortured multidimensional villain, but here, the man himself seems to want Rosen to see him as such. Hopefully, there's more to it than just wanting to avoid being frowned upon by the great Rosen. "Alpha Dogs" was very good entertainment because it was ambitious without trying to do too much. It showed it could listen to its characters and gently follow them wherever they would go, instead of creating or maintaining unresolved tensions.