Season 1, Episode 19
Date of airing: April 14, 2002 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 7.8 million viewers, 4.9/8 in Households, 3.6/9 with Adults 18-49
This was another quite boring episode for my extremely needy soul. Noah’s arc wasn’t working for me here, because I didn’t believe that the writers were truly ready to turn their spy drama into a soap opera for two episodes by introducing a long-lost lover for Sydney, who of course had to be the villain at the end, because the show cannot do it without twists and turns and stomach-twisting episode cliffhangers. It might have ben an interesting love story, but because of the fact it needed to be connected to the spy plot and make a soap opera out of it with the help of the Snowman premise, it became a little eyesroll-worthy at times. In addition, two secret agents were humping each other, and Sloane, who doesn’t appreciate his agents fraternizing like that, isn’t doing anything about it. So much for bosses in office buildings not following the code of conduct and behavior and just let a sex relationship in his office fly by like it’s none of his business.
During the beginning of the episode I was rolling some eye for a different reason though: The extraction scene looked kind of ridiculous, and I mean it in a bad way. I can accept that Sydney and Noah can still defend themselves with guns and perfect aim while riding a bike through the woods at night when you can’t see anything, but this thing quickly turned into a game of chicken when the bike started to drive towards the truck with the Stormtrooper military men on it, and suddenly Noah and Sydney were carried into the air like this where Chris Nolan got the idea of the Chinese extraction scene in THE DARK KNIGHT. Also, when the now unmanned bike and Stormtrooper military truck finally collided, all I could think of was the 21 JUMP STREET movie: “That’s what explodes?”
The general story of the episode wasn’t exciting either, though I was happy that Bentley Calder wasn’t forgotten and put back into the plot, even if it was just for the sake of conveniency to keep the mystery arc of Sydney’s mother alive. When his face showed up during the video footage, I was quite surprised because I was remembering him myself instantly, though it seemed obvious back then that Calder wasn’t really the FBI mole hunter to begin with. Remembering Sydney’s conversation with Calder’s wife (“He was not so nice.”) from one of the earlier episodes makes me think the writers knew what they were doing here, establishing Calder as the villain initially, and keeping him like that during his return, and also establish that in the series universe of ALIAS, KGB agents sent to America were tasked to marry Americans to continue being sleeper agents. While I have no idea why Calder needed to be a sleeper like this, when he was only indirectly involved as a supervisor to Irina’s missions, it’s kind of cool to have a back story here that would essentially turn into its very own show starring the actress who may have convinced J.J. Abrams to create ALIAS in the first place. Full circle?
Anyway, the Calder/Khasinau/Irina Derevko hunt (this time her real name was actually mentioned in a dialogue) was only partly interesting, but didn’t really take up much time, which is a good thing in this case. That Marshall was the one who found Calder was another eyesroll-worthy moment, because it was literally a plot device to bring Sydney to Australia, even though Noah should have made sure that the computer was fried and could not be used to track him to Australia. But hey, Marshall is the super duper op tech guy who can do anything his heart desires and the mission parameter dictates, so there wasn’t much weirdness in Marshall running through the office to happy tell Sloane that he has been a genius again. Those plot devices are starting to become a little annoying for me, as they seem like they were just cheap ways to bring a character from plot point A to plot point B without working too much. It showed through Sydney not fully going into what she planned to do with Calder if she happened to find him first. The episode never went into what the CIA would hope to get out of Calder, why SD-6 would be interested in interrogating him, or if Calder’s extraction was only planned and about to be executed because of Sydney’s will. Yeah, Calder could have led SD-6 to Khasinau, who was a goal, and Sydney could have played along in the hopes of finding out this way where her mother is, but I cannot think about a reason why Sydney would believe what SD-6 was planning with Calder in custody, and why SD-6 wouldn’t just kill the former spy against the United States, just so Sydney won’t get closer to her mother .
The Snowman story was … weird. A villain suddenly dropped into the story, because the writers couldn’t help themselves, and for some reason they didn’t care much about the premise in general, considering the Snowman was being introduced as a killer who had been around for twelve years (or so), which means Noah was at SD-6 while also being the Snowman, meaning he had a bit of a side gig going on, which no one noticed (not even McCullough). It could have been awesome to see that SD-6 had a mole in the midst even before Sydney became aware of the apparent black ops unit of the CIA, because chances are Noah took some of the intel he gathered at SD-6 to get some of his killing done and make some extra cash this way. So many ideas came with the story, but because Noah had to die at Sydney’s hand after only two episodes, instead of maybe carrying the character for a few more episodes and have the Snowman twist hit much harder then, all of them kinda got lost and weren’t bothered with, making the Snowman plot useless. Except of course the writers only needed it to end the Sydney/Noah relationship before it had even begun, showcasing that Sydney’s love life is killer. So, was Noah lying the entire time when he talked about Tuvalu, and he knew Sydney would not want to go, which means he had an awesome cover, just in case?
The Will/Francie/plane ticket plot was also for nothing. I would have wished for Sydney to be more panicked about her friends’ discovery, and I would have wished for the story to somehow lead Will straight back into the SD-6 story he was chasing half a season ago, although I wouldn’t know how it could have been done with just a ticket to Italy. At least Sydney was panicked and shocked in private — crying in the bathroom, because once again she had to lie to her friends, signalling the similarities between how Noah explained his decision to get out of the spy business and settle down in Tuvalu, and how Sydney has been thinking about it since after the pilot.