Alpha House: Season 1, Episode 7

Alpha House offers us a strangely lightweight and directionless episode seven that ambles along to an unsatisfying conclusion

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his episode picks up where last week’s cliff-hanger left off, with Adriana returning home unexpectedly and catching Guzman in his room with another woman. But Guzman has another dirty secret he is hiding: the woman is his Spanish teacher. The Great Latino Hope doesn’t speak Spanish! Guzman explains that his parents discouraged him from learning his native tongue. Bettencourt consoles him that his house was an ‘Ebonics-free zone’.

Laffer is welcomed home from the hospital with the prayer brunch organized by Rosalyn, but the event is poorly attended; even Biggs has decided not to attend, choosing instead to sit in the back of his car and watch a ball game. The staffers seem more concerned with their love lives than paying tribute to Laffer: Tammy and Aaron slip upstairs together and Laffer’s aide James continues his webcam courtship of Laffer’s daughter, Lola.

As Rosalyn and Laffer’s chief-of-staff, Julie, fight for control of the event, Bettencourt uses the opportunity to schmooze Senator Armiston ahead of the ethics committee, but his pleas of innocence fall on deaf ears. Guzman later walks in on Bettencourt smoking a bong in the bathroom. Predictably, the prayer circle descends into bi-partisan bickering, with Senator Armiston launching into a tirade that brings the meeting to an abrupt end.

This is a strangely lightweight, directionless episode that ambles along to an unsatisfying conclusion; a lacklustre affair that forwards no major plot points and offers no substantial laughs. One of the major problems here is that the episode in centred on characters we have only seen fleetingly at this point and have yet to develop a bond with. Biggs literally takes a backseat here, and this episode serves to underline how integral Goodman is to the show’s success; his absence is felt throughout this episode.

The discovery that Bettencourt is a drug user seems out of keeping with everything we’ve learned about him so far; he is a man who enjoys being in total control and smoking pot doesn’t seem to fit into that. His pot smoking comes across as a lazy plot device to lend some colour to the episode, and I suspect there will be no further mention of it. Brooke Bloom and Ben Rameaka are starting to make an impression as Laffer’s cripplingly strait-laced staffers, but William Thomas Evans steals the show here as Senator Lemar Farkus: his musical tribute to Laffer is one of the few highlights.

Despite being the ostensible centre of the episode, Laffer feels lost in the crowd of characters and does little more than respond to the commotion going on around him. This episode strives to make a point about the rancorous pitch of debate between Republicans and Democrats, but like the town hall episode it never fully exploits the comic possibilities of the scenario it sets up, content to make the obvious jokes instead of going after something more biting or insightful. The end result is disjointed and lethargic, a sign perhaps of the show’s waning momentum.

Best Line: “Worst prayer ever.” Laffer’s blunt response to Senator Armiston’s outburst.

Best Scene:  Senator Farkus’s awkward musical performance.

Best Political Reference: “Do you really think Jesus was non-partisan? Jesus was a Liberal. Jesus belongs to our side.” Senator Armiston claiming Jesus for the Democrats.

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