"Love After Death" wasn't a stellar episode of Alphas, but it was much better than I anticipated. I was expecting the episode following the death of Rosen’s daughter to be mired in a general sense of loss, which it was, but it was also smart enough to use the themes of parenthood, hope, and even love to segue from grief in an effective way.
Watching characters express their grief for a healthy part of the first half of the episode was mostly painful, and that wasn’t because I missed Dani Rosen in any way. I believe the series never did a great job with Dani, Cameron, or Dr. Rosen, so I knew beforehand that I might have some issues to relate to some of the unavoidable material here. While Cameron’s grief was right in line with those expectations (down to his request to be pushed), Rosen’s was more intelligently dealt with. Cameron’s reaction seemed disproportionate compared to what we saw of his relationship with the deceased, while Rosen’s was more measured and actually provided some insight into the father-daughter relationship. The two men ultimately decided to choose revenge over other options, but at least for Rosen we saw a journey leading up to his choice.
“Love After Death” gave us a look into Rosen’s introspection by having him try to reconnect with a daughter he had lost even before she died. In that, it was more honest than the previous two episodes which, at times, tried to make the relationship into something it wasn’t. Showing him purchasing a coffin or moving around Dani’s things was subtle and effective, but the best part was his interview with Nathan, his FBI handler. The interview hit all the right notes because it allowed Rosen to distance himself from his daughter by treating her as the “subject”, and because the questions were designed to spark his introspection. When asked who he felt was responsible for the death of his daughter, he did not say it was Stanton Parish, and his indignation at being asked such a question spoke volumes. David Strathairn portrayal of Rosen was immaculate in every respect. Without having questionable outbursts like Cameron, we saw Rosen move from grieving to questioning himself, then pushed by Cameron’s anger and his own conclusions regarding the responsibilities of parents, he slid into the revenge frame of mind.
Rosen’s brush with parents’ responsibilities came from the case of the week. It was designed to fuel the grieving process while adding more to the wealth of information on experiments conducted by Parish to “improve” the human race. After each team member expressed their sadness at the loss of Dani, and Rachel was sent away to pursue her own particular coping mechanism, the alpha baby was literally brought in. The storyline was well put together and had enough twists and turns to keep us interested, and surprisingly, even included some good one-on-one alphas fights, all of which happened within the confines of the team’s office cubicles. The story did well to put Gary at the center of everything because of his personal condition (autism) which played well with the baby’s alpha-ability of inspiring care and protection . As usual in Alphas, the ability could be very well explained “scientifically” and in the course of doing so, Rosen realized what had been his responsibilities toward his daughter, and what he believed he owed her now.
Unlike Cameron’s coping mechanism, which was basically translated into being angry with everything and everyone, Rachel’s required a healthy amount of consoling, but to me at least, it initially produced the same result. I said initially because by the time her “baba” got home and the storyline had taken us where it wanted to, it was much easier, even if some of it still reeked of bad taste. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that Rachel is the one character who is in need of comfort in a situation like this (and many others as a matter of fact), but it is one thing to want to have comfort sex to forget, and quite another to pursue a character development on the heels of such a tragedy as if it (the tragedy) didn’t happen. Everything that happened in the Pirzad’s household between Rachel and her boyfriend was absolutely oblivious of the rest of the events and that was a bit odd. I should add that a part of me thought it had the honesty to recognize Dani wasn’t such an important part of Rachel’s life, even by proxy (through Rosen).
“Life After Death” was at times right on the mark and at times off it (as Alphas often is), but it managed to go through the loss of a person important to at least two of our heroes with a minimum of damage to the show overall storyline. Rosen’s journey throughout the episode was done extremely well, and setting him up on a quest for revenge might be interesting for what’s to come. A personal favorite was the understated scene with the Harken family bringing home the wonder baby. It was remarkable in the way it addressed one of their personal problems “in passing” and also because it could be the beginning of an interesting family drama.