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Alias: In Dreams

Sydney: "So he's simply a delusional megalomaniac with benign intentions?"

We've been waiting forever to find out if Arvin is still evil or if he's truly changed, and finally, we know for sure. Sloane is genuinely trying to redeem himself, and no one could be more surprised than I am. I absolutely believe now that Sloane's devotion to Nadia is genuine, and that Jacquelyn is part of the reason why; it was incredibly moving when Nadia finally called him "Dad," and we could tell that she meant it.

There's finally a reason for Sloane's emotional attachment to Sydney, too, since she would be about Jacquelyn's age. Interesting, that in creating the character of Nadia, they've given Sloane his own Sydney – making Sloane a lot more like Jack. (Making me wonder... if it weren't for Sydney, would Jack be a total villain? I bet he would.)

It seemed odd at first that the young Arvin and Emily were themselves instead of younger actors, but I think the director (Jennifer) made the right decision. Ron Rifkin and Amy Irving were terrific together in past seasons and they're both world-class actors. Two other actors wouldn't have brought the same history and emotional depth to those scenes. Plus they were in Sloane's head, after all.

Arvin Clone served as a mirror for the real Sloane, to see his former self as he truly was. There was yet more creepiness artfully contributed here by Joel Grey, as he talked quite convincingly about how illogical it was for Sydney and Dixon to work for Sloane, and reminisced with Jack about good times in Belize cutting off fingers. (I wonder: did he leave one on each hand, or two on one hand... never mind.)

Project Brainstorm was definitely in the sci-fi arena, but that's fine with me. Ned Bolger must have been a very intelligent man; maybe that's why they chose him. You can brain imprint until the cows come home, but you have to be brilliant to do the kind of stuff Arvin Clone was doing. Right?

I love all this redemption stuff, I really do. But if you're the type of Alias fan who wants Sloane to be evil again, take heart. I don't read spoilers, but let's face it: it would be very much like Alias to finally get us to sympathize with Sloane, and then make him uber-evil again in the finale.

Bits and pieces:

— Jack is a lot better, even though he's using a cane: much more vitality and brutality, like his normal self. Jack and Sydney had a small post-incestuous role-playing moment, but didn't talk much about it. Too bad.

— Sydney assuming Jacquelyn was a mistress was typical, although I think her constant sniping at Sloane has officially gotten old.

— I'm glad we didn't get much with the killer bees because I couldn't help thinking about John Belushi.

— I was downright shocked when Sloane began to not just cry, but outright sob with grief. That was a courageous choice for the actor or the director, or both, to make. It made me see Sloane in a completely different way.

— We never saw them pick up the Pathiopedilum Khan lady slipper orchid in Ugano, Switzerland. Was that a loose string or a scene they won't bother to show us because it didn't advance the plot?

— Marshall is not a doctor. All that exposition seemed odd coming from Marshall when I watched this episode the second time.

— I'm not surprised that Sloane was up to no good with Omnifam. Except, if he was trying to alter the species for the better, maybe he sort of was up to good? In a megalomaniacal kind of way?

— The despicable McCullough from SD-6 returned, and promptly died. Too bad they couldn't take him down to the "conversation room" first. How could two experienced agents like Dixon and Vaughn allow McCullough to reach into his jacket and get anything, much less a fatal dose of cyanide? Definitely a plot reach there.

— No Yelena this week. Maybe she's home cleaning Sydney's and Nadia's apartment and killing random neighbors for fun.

— Rambaldi's favorite number is back; the Vespertine papers were lot 47.

— The "Monte Inferno Monastery?" I pay pretty careful attention to Alias, but I don't remember ever seeing a Rambaldi monastery before.

— Next time you watch this episode, take note of Sloane's clothes. He's wearing black at certain points, and white in others. I'm sure that's intentional.

— This episode was directed by Jennifer Garner. Jennifer, you hit it out of the park. And gold acting stars to Ron Rifkin and Amy Irving. Emily was the first character to make Sloane human, and she sure did it again.


Sloane: "I was a good man once. Now I'm a monster. And monsters cannot be allowed in this world."

Dixon: "Smile and look like a lot of money."
Nadia: "Dollars or euros?"
I loved Nadia doing the Sydney bit with the wig and the dress. I actually thought it was Sydney at first.

Jack: "The world knows his face as Arvin Sloane."
Clone: "He's a CIA stooge with my good looks."

This week's...

... itinerary: A monastery in Umbria; Paris; Buenos Aires; Sloane's brain.

... hot look: Nadia in the business suit, red hair and glasses, strongly resembling big sister.

I'm sentimental, I admit it. I didn't just get teary; this episode made me outright cry.

Four out of four spies,

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

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