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Alias: The Telling

"Stop being as stubborn as I am."

They went and changed the whole series again. How about that?

The season finale was basically the resolution of both the Will/Francie plotline and the uncertainty about Irina. The last two minutes were an absolute knock-out. I don't think I've ever seen a show do something like that. I give Abrams a great deal of credit for taking such extreme dramatic chances; it certainly keeps the show exciting.

I kept feeling throughout that Will was the only one who had enough data to figure out that it was Francie. I was mildly disappointed that he found out by stumbling over her medication instead of through research and deduction, although the cell phone message and the scene with Syd, Francie, and the ice cream was just excellent. The Will/Francie scene with the knife had me on the edge of my seat.

Merrin Dungey did her best Alias work in these last two episodes, without a doubt. She kept scaring me because I never knew what she would do. Her expressions changed constantly. And that final scene with Will was stunning; Allison/Francie had developed feelings for Will. Didn't stop her, though.

Sark was just delightful. My favorite line in this episode was, "Not a problem. My loyalties are flexible." He's such an interesting character, loyal only to himself, ready to change sides at a moment's notice. And how interesting that he was romantically involved with Allison, and jealous of her relationship with Will ("You don't fancy him, do you?"). Come to think of it, Will and Sark are much the same physical type, so it sort of makes sense.

One major issue has finally been resolved. Sydney's parents may be twisted individuals, but they both love her. I'm glad that Irina has been sincere about her love for Sydney all along. The way she showed up at the ice rink was a shock; and when she jumped off the building, I thought she was going to kill herself. I still don't understand why Irina didn't just tell Sydney outright who the double was. Alias plots are so convoluted, though, that I'm sure there was a reason.

What is sad is that Sydney has clearly become close to Jack, finally, or again, and I bet that's going to be an issue when the series returns next fall – if, as I'm theorizing, Jack has changed sides.

Of course, the big unanswered question is what happened to Sydney. Where has she been? Did someone take her and keep her in a coma for two years? Did the shock of losing both of her best friends cause a traumatic memory loss? Or did the Rambaldi device "Il Dire" cause it, perhaps? And what exactly is "Il Dire?" What does it do? Dan thinks it might be a time travel device, but that may be too sci-fi for Alias.

Finally, was it the end of the Vaughn/Sydney relationship? Vaughn was wearing a wedding ring in the final scene; the character of Alice was probably set up earlier this season for just this moment. He also said, "They asked me to come back." Did Vaughn leave the CIA after Sydney disappeared?

Bits and pieces:

— Alt-Francie's real name is Allison G. Doren, and she was one of the children from Project Christmas who was presumed killed long ago.

— In the final scene at the Hong Kong safe house, Vaughn said Will was okay. But Vaughn didn't say anything about Allison/Francie.

— Jonathan Banks' character was shot. Is he dead?

— Sydney found Will in the tub, just like she found Danny.

— There is mention of a U.S. Government Rambaldi stash in Nevada. 23 pieces plus 24 pieces equals 47 pieces.

— Now we know: Sydney is the one in the prophecy, according to Irina.

— Marshall and Carrie went out for sushi and a mission in Zurich. Looks like Marshall has a honey now.

— Will's file password is "Sydney."

— Eric Weiss has the same name as Houdini. Also, it looks like Will and Eric are simpatico. I like Weiss. I hope he returns next season.

This week's...

... itinerary: Zurich, Stockholm, Mexico City, and Hong Kong.

... hot look: The blond wig and black dress in the club in Stockholm.

What a stunner. Definitely a water cooler discussion episode. Four out of four spies; I was impressed, and very entertained,

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


  1. This was a great episode, and the fight scene between Sydney and Francie was incredible. I watched the commentary on the DVD, and Merrin Dungey did a lot of those stunts herself, which makes it even more impressive.

    (Also on the commentary: the restaurant that Vaughn mentions to Sydney is apparently real, or was back when this was made. Ron Rifkin and JJ praised it mightily on the commentary.)

    Anyway, back to that incredible fight scene: wow! It was beautifully choreographed, particularly the movement from one room to another and the Quest Object (the gun). The shift from couch, where Francie and Sydney spent so much time as friends, to kitchen (which is typically a place of changing relationships, including kisses, on this show) to the patio where Sydney used to go to have private phone conversations, to the bathroom (where Syd saw Will looking just like Danny), to the bedroom, that most private of spaces. Each room has important symbolism, and we can chart the changing relationship of Francie and Sydney according to the movements throughout the fight.

    Francie stabbing Will was fairly incredible, too: knowing that she had started to fall for him added an incredible layer of emotion to both her actions and to the fight scene with Sydney.

    Lena Olin jumping off the building wasn't too shabby, either.

    And that last scene? How many things can I say about that last scene? A billion. But, above all, props to JJ for being willing to take that risk twice in one season. It's easy in hindsight to see Alias as a model for some of the radical stuff Lost did, particularly in that both shows were willing to change the premise in a way that didn't radically alter the format. That's a fabulous compromise, and the impact of it is still being felt (and will still be felt) in TV today.

    One last thing: Jack helping Marshall woo his new girlfriend. That was adorable.

  2. Words can not express how MUCH I adore this episode. It's such a brave, thrilling, and powerful hour that guts you on every level.

    There are simply no words to describe the awesomeness of the Sydney-Francie fight scene. I don't think I've ever watched a fight this creatively choreographed on a single TV show that rivals the quality of this one. I've also watched the behind the scenes featurette and the two actresses practically did EVERYTHING so it's a really phenomenal achievement. I love what you wrote Josie about every room's symbolism. I never really thought of it that way and it just makes it even cooler.

    As for the final scene, I still think to this day it's my most favorite twist on any show. It just comes so out of left-field but yet it's so intriguing and compelling. I really couldn't stop thinking about it the whole summer through and it gives me chills every time I re-watch it.
    It gave season 3 such a driving purpose and while that season undoubtedly faltered a bit, this episode set the foundations in a brilliant way.

    Much like Buffy's "Becoming", I view "The Telling" as the gold standard in how a finale should be crafted. It perfectly resolves some issues from the season in a stunning climax and sets just the right amount of intrigue for next season. Utterly stunning.

  3. OMG this episode is a shocker can't believe Sydney.had been missing for like 2 years! this people are.amazing for creating this decisions! Alias please return to television.again!

  4. Like you all, I agree that this is one of the great season enders of all time. To change the game so completely, after changing it only half a year ago, was a brave decision. Just glad we don't have to wait all summer now to see what happens next.

  5. I was expecting the frustration around no one figuring out Francie wasn't Francie, but rather having it shoved in their face, due to a much more irritating plot on another Abrams show (I'm trying not to spoil anything!) but at least it's finally come out now. And words cannot express how happy I was that Will is apparently OK, I thought he was a gonner for sure, especially when he got shoved in Danny's bathtub!

  6. I can't agree more with the comments posted here. Never have I been so thrown by a season finale!

    Irina - awesome!! She loves Sydney (and even Jack), but she knows she can't be the person either of them really need her to be. Instead, she does the best that she can within her limitations.

    And Vaughn is MARRIED????? This has always bothered me though. It seems that he mourned Sydney, met someone new, and got married in less than two years. Seems fast to me, but having no experience in that area, maybe I'm being too judgmental. It is just a TV show after all.

  7. Hey guys, i just finished watching the second season, and this episode was great. Especially the twist in the end. A friend of mine told me to watch Alias a month ago, and he only told me to watch the first two seasons, because the rest of Alias isn't good. So my question to you guys is that, is it worth watching the third season up until the fifth? or should i stop now?

    I know it wouldn't make sense to stop now, since i want to know what happens next, but i also don't want to waste my time and watch a show i like get worse along the way... So what do you think guys?

  8. Tarek, people have a point that seasons 3-5 aren't as strong, but there is still a lot to like in them. I watched and reviewed the entire series until the end, and don't feel comfortable suggesting that newbies not bother with the rest.

    That said, if you start three and it doesn't thrill you, well...

  9. Alright thanks Bille, il give season 3 a s hot :)

  10. One more thing, is there a way to edit comments on the site? i mean if i make a few typos and i want to fix them, i don't seem to be able to edit my comment. Is there a way to edit it? or is the option not available at all? thanks.

    I love the site, but one thing i don't like, it's the commenting system, but that's my opinion. It's just that it's not a straight forward system, if you know what i mean.

  11. Tarek, there's no way to edit comments. The only thing you can do is delete them and start over. I wish it were a better system, but it's pretty much what comes with Blogger.

  12. Yeah, i understand. Even though Wordpress is a hell lot better than blogger, and would be much better for your site overall, it's your choice in the end :). Thanks for the reply!

  13. So... they went to Stockholm. Only this is Amsterdam. I paused the image to gaze... still miss that gorgeous city where I’ve lived for many years.


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