Season 1, Episode 16
Date of airing: March 10, 2002 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 8.4 million viewers, 5.5/8 in Households
Considering what this episode was all about, it was pretty mediocre and a little too fast-paced, and almost too complicated, as the writers added the Alliance into the narrative and made it look like just another business run by men in dark conference rooms. Sure, you can’t fill the entire hour just with Sydney trying to prove that the prophecy is not about her, and you can’t fill the whole hour just showing how Sloane gets punked by Edward Poole, but the story could have at least focused pushed some of the story into the next episode, since I can’t take anything from Poole’s efforts to manipulate Sloane into killing the deciding vote, because all of it happened way too fast. Similar things can be said about the prophecy story, as the writers were just waiting to deliver the end twist, and that the DSR (and now the CIA) is considering Sydney to be the one who Rambaldi was writing about, turning Sydney into a potential villain of her own story. Besides that, this episode pretty much showcased that the CIA starts believing in prophecies now. ALIAS turned into something of a science-fiction show here, and although that isn’t a surprise, considering how far and out the show went previously, it does create a bit of a sour taste. Eventual storytelling grounded in reality have now been killed off for real, now that Sydney is smack in the middle of a freaking prophecy created 500 years ago. Is ALIAS about to turn into RELIC HUNTER with Tia Carrere, with the characters on the lookout for more Rambaldi artifacts?
Yes, the episode wasn’t really a highlight for me. The political side of the Alliance’s efforts to either go to war or try to broker peace with the enemy was kind of nice to see though, despite their members being old white farts resembling all the cliches of old white villains. I’m sure there are SD cells all over the world – US, London, Rome, and judging by some of the faces depicted in the dark conference room, even Japan (or China) and India – but the villainous organization didn’t have a room for a black supervillain? Bu hey, we actually saw the Alliance members for the first time in the show, even if that didn’t lead to a lot, although it’s nice to see that the writers cared at last a little bit about getting deeper into the back story of SD-6, trying to figure out if there is a story worth telling in a future episode.
It’s interesting to see how easy it seems that a guy like Khasinau (even though nothing is known about him at this stage of the show, except for his face, his name and favorite brand of cigars) can buy himself into the Alliance. As if he knew that the Alliance would have a vote, and that he could play some of the members to get the heat off of him for a little while. Khasinau knows too much, that makes him the perfect villain we don’t know anything about, and it also means he must have an inside man in the Alliance. Maybe that inside man has always been Poole, but it’s kind of hilarious that the Alliance is currently fighting with a mole inside their ranks like SD-6 has been. Sloane’s story has been a little weird for me though. Besides the fast pace it has been told with, the guy wanted revenge way too hard, not even thinking about what could happen after he pulled the trigger, not even expecting that his finger might have been pulled here. Great, he killed a member of the Alliance, but did he ever think about repercussions? If Khasinau really bought his way into the Alliance, wouldn’t Sloane be screwed if Khasinau suddenly took a seat with them? Is Sloane not in trouble, now that the Alliance lost one of their own? Is the Alliance not in trouble, ow that they lost one of their own?
Sydney’s trip through world history to proof that something is wrong with the prophecy page was okay in retrospect, but it wasn’t a story that really levelled up the episode much. The mission to Rome, to get the real codebreaker, didn’t get a lot of excitement out of me, even if it happened to be the first CIA-sanctioned mission that had Sydney and Vaughn team up, as the latter is slowly turning into a character who takes action and doesn’t just sit in offices or in debrief hideouts, because the viewers needed to be reminded that Sydney is a double agent and needs countermissions. It was great to see though that Sloane brought back the page 47 from Rambaldi’s journal, and how Sydney was switching that page very recently. With Sloane being worried that he was also punked by Sydney, the “we have a mole” story from the first half of the season could return and this time around it could look a little more dangerous for Sydney.
Now ALIAS is almost pure science-fiction, with even more mythology and mystic than ever before — and this after a little more than half a season. The thing is just that the writers never really knew how far they were going with the story, and every new twist didn’t seem to be enough for them. It’s one thing why I find the Rambaldi plot to be extremely and utterly annoying in later stages of the show. In the meantime, the introduction of Dr. Evans made sure that at least some federal agencies are being seen as a joke, which should always be the case, both in scripted television (and films), as well as real-life. Fringe science was mentioned, and the DSR was almost literally handled like a crazy party in all this mess, who gets to have the fun to investigate paranormal and supernatural events of this planet, like it’s just another episode of SUPERNATURAL or FRINGE. That might be exciting, and with the Rambaldi mythology, it might even be fitting for the show, but that’s not how ALIAS started off. It began with the execution of a fiancé, and two-thirds into the season the writers have come to create a witch hunt.