Alias: Almost Thirty Years

"Trust is a tricky thing."

Extremely dense episode. Let's take all of these developments one step at a time.

It actually makes no sense that the Alliance would expect fidelity and also expect its members to kill people they love. Like Sydney continuing to work for SD-6 after Danny's death – it makes no sense. Does Sloane have a plan? An anti-Alliance plan? Sloane rented a place that wouldn't be bugged so that he could tell Emily... what, exactly? And is she dead? She knew what was in the glass; did she die willingly for his sake? How can a man that ruthless truly love anyone?

Will has guts and nerve. What a spy he would make. He had to be terrified, being tortured for information he didn't have, and he may have been genuinely weeping – but he was thinking at the same time. And he got Chinese Torturer Guy! I loved him hugging Jack at the end; that was so cute.



Things with Dixon were left up in the air. He knows she's not telling him everything. Will he take it all on trust?

Am I surprised that Jack was capable of killing Haladki in cold blood? Not at all. Haladki was a traitor to his country who endangered Sydney's life. Haladki was working for Khasinau all this time.

Vaughn was so attuned at Sydney that he knew she wasn't telling him something, just like last week when she knew he was keeping something back. Vaughn went to every place Sydney's ever told him she likes. That's love. And Vaughn has a conscience. He's a loyal, principled man. And he's cute, too.

The water in the final moments was like a scene from Titanic. Is Vaughn dead? Only if they don't renew his contract.



Bits and pieces:

— The credits started at the beginning of the episode, after the "previously on."

— We came full circle this season; we opened with Chinese Torturer Guy and ended with him.

— The circumference was in Room 47.

— Francie is opening a restaurant.

— Why was Sark calling Sydney at home such a shocker? It's the mix of secret life and real life, bleeding into each other.

This week's...

... itinerary: Taipei again. What goes around comes around.

... hot look: Loved that periwinkle blue hair and the outfit and collar she was wearing with it. Magenta hair in the pilot, blue hair in the season ender. What goes around magenta comes back periwinkle blue?

Quotes:

Sark: "Do you feel comfortable trading priceless documents for a low grade reporter?"
Jack: "You should read Tippin's stuff. It's not so bad."

Sark: "She has her mother's singing voice."
Sark knows Mom. He works for Irina, "The Man," not for Khasinau.

Outstanding. Five out of four spies,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

8 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

Yes, outstanding.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the theme of this episode is friendship. Sydney asked Jack about it, Jack got defensive but later asked Devlin if they were friends, and of course friendship and the trust we have in our friends is what got all the pieces moving.

It makes sense that Sydney would plan an off-book mission to save Will. And how far we've come in understanding Jack! It makes sense he would help save Will, and possibly learn something about his own ability to form emotional ties in the bargain. That wouldn't have made any sense even 10 episodes ago.

CS Lewis talks about friendship in his book The Four Loves, and he distinguishes between friendship like Will and Sydney have, and the comradeship of organizations like the Alliance. He characterizes the alliances we form in difficult situations (like war-time) as two or more people standing side by side, staring not at each other but at a common goal. That is what an alliance is, after all. A friendship manufactured out of the needs of the moment. An agreement to be a team rather than a deeper, less intellectual fondness for others.

It actually makes sense to me that the Alliance would ask its members to sacrifice so much, because that is how they 1) make sure that eventually the members have no one but the Alliance to rely on, and 2) determine who can make the grade. It's a fairly standard practice in cults, I think.

But if we look at Sloane and Emily as a particular kind of friendship, that's the great tragedy. He's killing her, as far as we can tell, in order to stay in the Alliance, and she's willing to die in order to help him realize his dreams. He's participating in, and choosing, the wrong kind of friendship.

Dixon's in an equally sticky situation. He and Sydney must have started as comrades: that's how most work partnerships begin. But obviously their relationship has moved onto real friendship, and Sydney asks Dixon to remember that when he asks her for a reason not to report her. But just as Sloane prioritized the Alliance over Emily, so does it look like Dixon will prioritize country over Sydney.

Weiss made the same choice when he decided to report Vaughn to Haladki and Devlin. And I can certainly see where he's coming from: unless you knew Sydney like we do and like Vaughn does, this would seem like a terrible idea. And, let's be frank, it didn't end well.

Vaughn and Sydney haven't had much success on their missions together, have they? The Vatican--they almost got caught. Denpasar--they lost Sark, and the vial, and Sydney almost got discovered by Dixon. And now it appears that Vaughn has gone to his watery grave. "It's the size of a shoe"? Not so much.

On the Evil side of things, the trifecta-plus-one (quadrecta?) of Mama "The Man" Bristow, Khasinau, Sark, and Haladki (may he rest in uneasy peace) is a strange mirror of the family dynamics among the non-evil Bristows. Khasinau sounded bittersweet when he talked about "The Man." How did he go from being her handler to her employee? If her daughter is any indication, Mama Bristow must be a forced to be reckoned with. And Sark clearly answers to her--how like him to rub Jack's face in it.

All in all, this was an incredible season. With the minor exception of the Noah episodes, it was note-perfect every time. So much of the credit for that goes to Jennifer Garner, who has such an expressive face and such a winning smile that it's impossible not to root for her. And Vaughn. He's okay, I guess. :-)

Jess Lynde said...

Very interesting insights, Josie. Glad you are enjoying the rewatch so very much!

Plus, it gives me great peace of mind to know I'm not the only one who occasionally ends up writing their own review in the comments. :)

Josie Kafka said...

I am enjoying this rewatch far more than I thought I would.

I got into Buffy and Angel in 2003-2004 after years and years without television. The next show I watched was Alias. I'm starting to think that's why I'm so picky about standalones, lack of development, etc. Buffy, Angel, and Alias is a fairly awesome group of shows. My reintroduction to the genre of TV might have set the bar too high.

sunbunny said...

The thing that drives me absolutely INSANE about this episode is that Vaughn is supposed to have driven from Griffith Park out to Santa Monica, over to the bluffs and then to downtown to find Sydney. All at peak traffic time and during Lakers season! I'm sorry there is no way that trip could possibly take less than two hours. It might even take three depending on traffic.

I do have to give the show kudos for actually hauling their cookies down to Union Station and not just redressing a random part of the Disney lot as they usually do.

I'd forgotten they hadn't cast Irina yet when they shot this. Her voice sounds so un-Lena Olin-y.

ChrisB said...

Really interesting comment, Josie. Love the Lewis book.

This show had an incredible first season. A plot that is convoluted, but followable (if that is even a word); and, characters that are flawed, but whom we can root for.

But, of course, if Sydney was not a character that we cared about, the show would fade into nothing. Gardner is fantastic in the role and makes this young woman one I wanted to follow for a long, long time.

Karen Swift said...

A great series opener and an equally great season finale!

First, Sloane and Emily. I absolutely love the scene at the beach house. We don't hear anything they are saying, but it was such important scene. Kudos to Ron Rifkin and Amy Irving (who is just lovely) on the amazing acting! I'm sure that Sloane loves Emily, but that he (and she) must have realized that if he didn't kill her, then there would be worse things for them in the future.

Second, Jack and Vaughn both prove their love for Sydney. And, Jack is finally starting to respect Vaughn. There is a difference between doing what's right and what is acceptable. Vaughn has finally learned that doing what is right may include deceiving the CIA. I love the train station scene, especially when the camera pans back and you see Sydney and Vaughn facing away from each other, but clearly on the same side. He cannot possibly be dead. I think Vaughn has become too important to the storyline. If he were to die, Sydney would fall apart, which is not acceptable for this show. But, what happened to him?

Third, poor Will. He definitely got more than he bargained for. Tooth guy was back, but I was so glad to see Will fight back, despite being scared out of his mind. Hilarious that he hugs Jack, of all people!!!

Fourth, Mom is the "Man"??? Wow!! This is a great example of how well-written this show is/was. I don't remember a better season-ending cliffhanger than this one! This actually made me forget about Vaughn's current dilemma, it was so shocking!

Anonymous said...

well, it is 3+ years after the last comment about this episode. in this 3rd (or is it my 4th?) re-watch of the series the thing that really got me wasn't Will hugging Jack, but Jack hugging Will back.

Mallena said...

Oh yeah, a perfect end to a perfect first season. Run faster, Vaughn, what's the matter with you, don't just stand there. One of my favorite moments in the whole first season is when Will hugs Jack. Mama Bristow is coming. I love her, such a complicated lady.