This episode was much better than the previews made it out to be.
See, I hate Fight Club. I can appreciate the anti-materialist sentiment of it, but I really, really hate it. Partly because of the irritatingly inaccurate portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder. Mostly because of the crap notion that only men are dehumanized in a consumerist culture.
So, I see and hear “fight club” and think, “Oh, Christ.”
You’d think I would’ve learned to trust Alphas by now. Of course, he fight club thing is going to make sense and serve the story without falling into mindless, appeal-to-the-rubes action.
In the context of Alphas, the fight club plotline serves a few purposes. There are many escaped, renegade alphas from Building 7 as well as previously unidentified alphas who, because of their abilities, are unable to hold down the trappings of a “normal” life. The fight club in this episode is a way for them to make a bit of cash to get along.
Take Kat. There’s no indication that she was in Building 7. Her ability is learning – she seems to be able to absorb a massive amount of info and apply it immediately. The price is that she can’t hold on to memory for very long. So, she squats someplace and makes money at the fight club.
There’s also the issue of acceptance both on the social and individual level. At the fight club, alphas don’t have to hide their true selves. They don’t have to pretend to be like everyone else.
By the end of the episode, that seems to be the draw for Bill. He doesn’t strike me as a violent person by nature, although is ability can be used for such (BTW, props to Bill for using a vending machine as a battering ram). He has, however, been trying carry on as a “normal” person integrating a disorder into his life – an approach focused on control in order to function like everyone else. This approach has been destroying his heart. It’s interesting to consider that, maybe, not using his ability is what’s been causing his trouble in the first place.
Knowing this, Bill’s return to the fight club after the case had been resolved wasn’t that surprising.
The other big issue in this episode is dealing with parental expectations.
Rachel and Gary are both still living at home, both with controlling parents. But, they’re asserting themselves as independent adults in different ways. Rachel is afraid to move out again, instead asserting her independence by awkwardly asking out a co-worker, who subsequently rejected her.
In Rachel’s defense, that guy was really hard to read. He effing asked her to choose soap for him so his smell wouldn’t distract her. And he was so smiley and good natured about it. He’s either the most professional man in the world, or he digs Rachel.
Gary, on the other hand, just matter-of-factly says, “Mom, I’m moving into my office because my morning screaming routine upsets you.”
Naturally, this prompts some family sessions with Dr. Rosen, in which Mom is understandably distressed. She just wants the behavior to stop, but Gary isn’t going to stop. It’s part of his routine now. And it’s going to be until he’s able to cope with Anna’s murder.
Dr. Rosen, bless his heart, insists that it’s important that they both support Gary in this big, important step, which prompted an incredibly gratifying exchange:
Mom: But, it’s too big a step.
Dr. Rosen: For him? Or for you?
God, I wish I could be that blunt without worrying about parents complaining to the school director about my conduct. You have no idea how many kids I run into who deliberately screw up in school just to piss off their overbearing parents. School is the only weapon those kids have.
So maybe, parents, you should consider not being so overbearing. Maybe, like, trust your kids or something. Even if they have a disability.
It is a beg step, but there’s no in between when it comes to leaving home. And no one is really ready for it. When I moved out on my own, on paper, I knew the ins and outs. Could’ve aced an exam on it. Putting it all together in a real way was entirely different.
At least Gary is able to have a mini-step. He’s living at the office, where he doesn’t have to worry about rent or utilities. He can focus on learning to be independent of his mom without immediate financial distress. Most people don’t have that.