Alias (“Page 47”)

Season 1, Episode 15
Date of airing: March 3, 2002 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.4 million viewers, 6.6/10 in Households

Can this episode be considered a game changer? Page 47 becomes an item – THE item — and suddenly Sydney becomes the next chapter of the whole Rambaldi mythology, making things more complicated in the process, because how convenient can this new addition into the Rambaldi mythology be, and how much will it employ the writers of the show to either go deeper into that mythology or make Sydney just a pawn of someone else’s game? The writers made sure that the show continues to be about Rambaldi, and the show just undertook one major step into a direction that made the mythology either more interesting or extremely ridiculous. This episode was still pretty good though, and the writers are finally starting to make the missions count, even if all of the SD-6 mission are practically a continuation of the Rambaldi scavenger hunt (and even the CIA is kind of forced to play the game as well, when they probably would have loved to get some actual intel that could blow up SD-6), and Sydney had to acquire the journal for a second time this season. At least the mission in Tunisia was hot and steamy and even a little evil, when you look at how Sydney was making out with an unconscious villain, just so she can continue carry her cover and use her knockout spray one more time. Do you remember that Marshall needed to create a pill to knock out two guys in “So It Begins,” when the spray has been doing it perfectly in this episode? Did Marshall put his blue pill into liquid sprayable perfection? If so, why wasn’t Marshall able to create the spray about six months ago, when it counted?

Obligatory screenshot of Sarah Shahi in a bed.

I noticed that I always say something or criticize an element of a particular show, hope that something would happen in the next episode or in the following ones. And that is because I noticed something during this episode. It seems like ALIAS is another one of those shows listening to me in hindsight, watching me from the future, and this time around it’s a little more creepy. I already know this show, having watched it multiple times, but Will meeting Sloane in this episode is a story that seems to be forgotten every timeI watch this season, which means every time Will and Sloane shake hands here, the moment captures me by surprise. I knew about the page switch, but it was just a little too long ago that I saw this season, and Will in Sloane’s house simply slipped my mind. So, when I said in last episode’s review that Will’s story is completely separated from the rest of the series, that he doesn’t meet other characters than just Sydney or Francie… Well, here he goes into the house of the greatest antagonist of the show, they are shaking hands, and Sloane can finally look his potential troublemaker right into the eye. It’s always fascinating how my brain works when I watch television. The whole dinner story at Sloane’s house was tense, and I loved almost every second of it — maybe not Emily recapping what Will’s award-winning story was about, which by the way is not just a story that fits perfectly into 2019’s American politics, but is also a mirror story of what Sydney’s relationship with Sloane is all about. Sloane’s first real-life glance on Will, Will being the unsuspecting plus one, being eyed by the villain, and the page switch (probably one of the few most tense scenes of the season, maybe the whole series). It was quite an impressive story. And in the meantime the writers even managed to introduce Emily Sloane to the viewers. Who is not only another character in the pool, but instead the other side of Sloane’s character. His good kind, if he happens to have one. The one he cares about other people, if he can even do that.

Sydney is even ore beautiful on the page.

Meanwhile, Will’s story was generally on a roll in this episode. I would have liked this story to pan out at the end and see him realize what SD-6 really is, but Jack risking his own reputation to throw Will off the story (again) was kind of awesome. Will’s kidnapping, Will realizing that he’s being threatened, and Jack even using Sydney as a threat… Yeah, I was about to drop my chin during that scene and see it as a potential to really screw withWill’s mind, even if I didn’t like the fact that Will is yet freaking again thrown off the SD-6 story (I lost count how many times that has happened). But one thing is interesting, and might have been a thing to follow up on: Will had contact with people who wanted him to follow up on the story. Now he just met people who don’t want him to do the story. There is a bit of a difference here, especially since Will doesn’t even know anything about SD-6, while SD-6 doesn’t even know how Will even got this deep into the story in the first place. Let’s not forget that Will was contacted by a Deep Throat-kinda person, and that this part of the story has been kind of forgotten lately. Just imagine how the fire is gonna burn, when Will hasn’t listened to his kidnappers and goes back to his original source, or his original source comes to light to push Will back onto the story — quite the pull Will is in the middle of.

And finally, rest in story heaven, Jenny. It’s a shame that the relationship between her and Will didn’t work out. I didn’t care much for it, when I saw the season for the first time, but now I just think about two words: Sarah freaking Shahi. She is a very attractive lady, and definitely the only reason I ever considered watching FAIRLY LEGAL. I only made it through two episodes, but I’m still thinking about watching the show, and I know how terrible that show was. Well, at least there is THE L WORD, which maybe I should give another shot again, as well as LIFE, which has been waiting for a rewatch for a while now.

Alias (“The Coup”)

Season 1, Episode 14
Date of airing: February 24, 2002 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 8.8 million viewers, 5.7/8 in Households, 3.9/8 with Adults 18-49

This was another good episode. It might not have been much of an exciting hour when you look at it individually, but in hindsight this episode delivered. It has the first appearance of Mr. Sark, and it’s obvious why the producers decided to let him hang around the show for future seasons and make him a recurring character to fight or argue with. In his two scenes, he had a special evil presence, accompanied by the fact that there is a charming youth to him, but still can order to kill a man just by his eyes, as if he has been doing it for all his life. Basically, this man, who hasn’t gotten a first name in this episode, probably because the writers didn’t think that David Anders would stick around, came out of his mother’s womb as a villain already. He probably looked at a random kid in elementary school back in his days, and that kid fought another kid to death, because Mr. Sark wanted it so. It was a pretty cool way to introduce a character, and Mr. Sark is definitely a likable villain, even only after two scenes, and even if his character hasn’t even been established yet.

Will’s first undercover mission is pretty easy on the eyes.

The Vegas mission was okay, but it didn’t really bring much, if you exclude how the mission went straight into Sydney’s private life, as she was the one stopping Francie from getting married. I accept that Sydney had for once to look at the screen and lead Dixon through the mission who was on point for the seemingly first time in the show, and I appreciate that one of Sydney’s mission has been overcomplicated with her private life’s presence, but Francie and Charlie have never been in the spotlight of the show, nor did the writers ever care a lot about the story, so having to follow that story with an insane amount of screentime in this episode was a bit alienating. But at least Francie was resurrected as a character again and given some emotional time with Sydney – I would have expected for Francie to be a forgotten character after the back-9 order was given (she really was the number one character to get rid of after the writers realized what was working in the show and what was not). By the way, consider me disappointed that Sydney had to do all the work when it comes to disrupting Francie and Charlie’s romance. It was Sydney who discovered that Charlie was cheating on Francie. It was Sydney who spoke to Charlie about it. It was Sydney who told Francie that Charlie was cheating. Both Francie and Charlie were hilariously passive in this story, and especially in Francie’s case I would have appreciated if she had been the one uncovering all the crap her fiancé was doing to her, instead of letting Sydney do it all and nothing less.

Meanwhile, I was surprised to see that a TV show shot in 2002 is having a 5-card draw poker game going on. I always thought Texas Hold’em was the game to play back then, yet this episode brings me the oldest poker game I know. Dixon was awesome in his mission though, because he was the one on point and running the mission, and Sydney only behind the computer screen, finally switching roles for once, even if it was part of a plot device midway through the episode (Sydney cutting herself out of the mission to save Francie from the biggest mistake of her life). Also, there was nothing for the CIA to get out of that mission, since Sydney could have never had a countermission for the Vegas mission. In fact, the CIA was kind of underrepresented in this episode. Was Vaughn given a bit of a break in response to his heroic actions during the Tarantino two-parter? He only had two scenes, which I find suspicious. I thought the CIA wanted to cut off the head of SD-6 (so two more can take its place), but I guess the CIA was still on hiatus.

The Moscow mission… Maybe it’s just men, but I found it pretty idiotic to hang right above the security guard, who didn’t even look up, which makes him a crappy security guard. I also found it ridiculous that Sydney was hanging there at the window and no one gave a damn to maybe look out and admire the dark and disgusting view of Moscow. Even more ridiculous was that the wall Sydney was trying to hold onto was one of the older models of walls and that Sydney didn’t realize it. I guess there was no instrument for her to have taken with on the mission, so she would actually be on the wall, instead of just relying on the cable above her head? It seems awfully suspicious and convenient that some of the wall dropped on the security guard’s head, while no one inside the room Sydney bugged noticed.

This is what people look like right before they get insta-married.

Will’s story was pretty short this time, and I kinda hate that he’s almost completely separated from the rest of the series. He has the occasional contact with Sydney and maybe Francie, but other than that he has his own storyline, which doesn’t get him to make contact with any of the other characters, and this is getting a little tiring now. I like that the writers continue the McNeil story though and give Will something of a spy storyline for himself, when he was getting the Dolphin file, but there has to be a way to include Will in the lives of his two best female friends, without sounding ridiculous doing it, or have Will quickly react to the fact that he had a hickey, just so he and Sydney had something to talk about. It’s always dangerous for a character to be accepted by the viewers when said character is barely interacting with the other characters.

And finally, Jack finally became something of a father figure to Sydney, when he convinced her to stay in school. It was a nice move and it brought some attention to the father/daughter story, which hasn’t gotten that kind of attention lately, especially since I feared the “mom was a KGB killer” story would kill that relationship between Sydney and Jack entirely. But here it is again, and it couldn’t have been more touching.

Alias (“The Box”, Part 2)

Season 1, Episode 13
Date of airing: February 10, 2002 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 9.9 million viewers, 6.1/9 in Households, 4.7/10 with Adults 18-49

It was definitely the better part of the two-parter, as it happened to be less ridiculous and faulty and unintentionally funny at times, and it managed to be pretty fast-paced and tense throughout some of the 45 minutes. And in all seriousness, I thank the writers for having decided to drop Vaughn into the plot and fight to save SD-6. Him showing up at SD-6, being the comedic sidekick to Sydney’s John McClane, being the secret helper who in the background of it all saves the day, almost. Vaughn was great in this episode, and for the first time in the show he was an active character, who wasn’t just sitting around and tell Sydney what her countermission is. No, Vaughn was in the thick of things this time around, and I believe he was because the writers just realized that they were being given a back-9 order and the show was unofficially a success on ABC. Now that the writers will have to fill an entire season of television, they also have to get used to using all the characters for active storytelling.

So, this whole episode was just the continuation of “DIE HARD in SD-6,” only better this time around, making this a more memorable episode than the previous one. It also happened to have a few interesting twists that were nice to look at. Beginning with Vaughn and his first scene of hand-to-hand combat in the show, ending with how I felt sorry for Sloane after the climax, when he was looking around his SD-6 office and no one really cared for him, and no one was asking whether he was okay or not. But there was Sydney, his greatest adversary (if only he knew). The moment they shared was somewhat touching, and I don’t really know if it was done like that on purpose. Sloane wasn’t much of a guy getting tortured with needles of fire in this episode (he was pretty much just sweating profusely), since the writers decided to focus on Sydney and Vaughn most of the time, but his final moment was still surprisingly touching — feeling sorry for the big villain of the show is probably not something the audience is supposed to do, but in this particular case of television, the villain was being out into an emotional rollercoaster where became out the victor.

If they had been married for 20 years, this might be a troublesome moment.

I especially like one of the tinier plots involving Toni, who revealed herself as an agent of the British SAS. Yes, it could have been a trick to fool Sydney and Vaughn, but her words happened to be damn true, and Toni was indeed a British secret agent infiltrating an enemy group to find out who said enemy group’s leader is! Throwing British Intelligence into the mix could open up the show even further, although it’s almost predictable that the writers wouldn’t want to care beyond SD-6 and the CIA, because bringing a third Intelligence party into the story for a potential ongoing storyline against SD-6 or an even bigger threat might be a little too much, especially when it becomes clear that Sydney’s private life is somewhat suffering from what is happening on the show. I mean, by this point you could ask who the hell Francie is and why there is a strange black woman appearing in a scene or two per episode. But yeah, with the SAS having investigated for a while who “The Man” is, the writers established a back story, and as soon as “The Man” becomes a character with a name and face, we can all remember how that character has been on the radar for a while now — at least a year for the SAS, and now with the CIA and SD-6 and the Alliance. There better be a race to find out who “The Man” really is and whether we have seen him before.

Sydney and Vaughn deactivating the C-4 charges had something romantic which I liked, and it fit quite nicely to the whole ice hockey plot from the previous episode and this one, and finding time for the two to get a little closer and maybe becoming friends outside office hours, while having to fear CIA and SD-6 watching their every move, should they decide to see a hockey game. The Sydney/Vaughn story was even better at the end, when it was Vaughn who convinced Sydney to stick around and continue the fight against SD-6. Yes, life might be a little harder, now that you know your mother was a KGB assassin, but that shouldn’t stop you from ruining the life of the guy who had your fiancé killed. Also, Sydney and Vaughn are still in the race for becoming a couple eventually, so here’s to hoping that Vaughn isn’t “The Man.”

There’s an alcoholic in this episode.

The CIA’s involvement in the story was cool as well. Okay, the writers helped themselves with a character who has been introduced recently, but with Haladki in the game, who ma or may not have gotten a few too many shots of executive power into him, things are getting a bit more interesting as the writers expand the CIA plot in the show. Before this two-parter, Sydney and Jack didn’t really have to fight to get their will across, but Haladki is a cockblocker and who knows what kind of trouble he will cause over his appearances, if there are any more of those coming around.

Will’s story… Still a little exciting, but also still a little stalling. Because of the fact that the entire two-parter played over the course of one day and its corresponding evening, there wasn’t much the writers could have done with his story anyway, but I find it lame that basically nothing happened, and all Will did at the end was deciding that he was back on the story — which is something he has already done quite a few times this season, after removing himself from the story the same amount of times. Though the moment between Will and Kelly McNeil was teasing a lot, when he gave her the autopsy report, so that she can give it to him and disappear for her own protection. Only if Will would start thinking about his own good. Just because SD-6 murdered someone’s wife and blamed it on the husband, and threatens to kill the daughter as well doesn’t mean the will stay away from Will, because he is “only” investigating them. The fact that Will didn’t even ask himself in what kind of trouble he is getting shows that the writers weren’t really interested in that part of the show at this very moment.

Alias (“The Box”, Part 1)

Season 1, Episode 12
Date of airing: January 20, 2002 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 9.38 million viewers, 5.8/9 in Households, 4.0/9 with Adults 18-49

Hallelujah folks, it’s a two-part episode! I don’t even know how many there were back in 2001 and 2002, but there are clearly not any in today’s world of television and it’s a shame. Okay, serials are basically twenty-two-parters, but still, using two-parters only for season premieres and finales is a pretty boring move these days, because it happens to be a predictable one, with the writers going straight into the excitement of the story only when the season is about to end and the viewers need something to remember the show by come the summer hiatus, or need a reason to tune back into a show. And with a bit of luck, there even are some episodes who start off with a two-parter, because those seem to get rarer with every year broadcast television exists. Here, the two-parter works pretty well, because the writers chose to tell a story that wasn’t supposed to be over after only one episode, or wasn’t about a mission that took half an episode of time and became forgotten as soon as the next mission starts. The invasion of SD-6 is not just an interesting little story blown into two episodes, so the writers have the chance to play with the plot, it also serves wonderfully well in the genre that made DIE HARD one of the best actioners ever, making this episode a homage to the best Christmas movie ever. I mean, a van with “McTiernan” written on it, a safe and vault that has to be cracked, invaders that don’t really seem American (I heard accents), and finally Sydney crawling herself through the air shafts, just because. That’s DIE HARD for the 21st century in television form, and yes, it worked pretty well. It gave me a television boner. It made me wonder if a DIE HARD TV show in the vein of 24 (only not 24 episodes long per season) could actually work. The shows that were close to it did not work, but what if it just needs to be written good?

Man versus Electrical Security Grid.

Then again, unrealistic moves make this episode look a little stupid, which seems to be a recurring move on the show, especially when you look back at the small things over the course of the season so far and how they resulted in a more laughable aspect of the show. For one: Is it really that easy to break into SD-6? Once again I have to mention that this agency is a part of an evil company, and the evil ones are always bigger, stronger and better when it comes to money and weapons and whatnot, so that the good guys can’t just be storming in and ruin your life as an evil company trying to take over the world. Yet the security for SD-6 was hella ridiculous. The break-in into Langley in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE had way more ideas than the generic break-in of this television show. For two: When Sydney and Jack are in the elevator, and it’s about to return to SD-6 after the lockout, they decide to climb up and hide? How sure were they about SD-6 being invaded? How quickly did they even manage to get on top of the elevator? The only thing they knew was that SD-6 was put under a complete lockdown, but not even I would scream “TERRORIST!” in a situation like that. In a way, Sydney and Jack were thinking “intrusion” just for convenience, even though there could have been a chance it was all just a lockdown drill. Who knows what Sloane sometimes does in his off-time during office hours.

For three: 600 cameras are in the SD-6 offices? Does that include all the catacombs and basements and washroom areas as well? And why don’t Mckenas Cole and his guys have control over the cameras, or at least have a look at them? It seems like Jack is the only one knowing about the cameras, even though it would help Cole and his evil guys and woman if they would keep track of what’s happening in the SD-6 offices, just in case. I mean, have they never seen DIE HARD? Number four, and this is just a personal thing: Why the hell was Cole talking about the needles of fire so much? The fact that he needed all the final third of the episode to threaten Sloane with his box and the needles in it, you might think that those beast really are deadly, and that Cole was truly madly deeply in love with those needles, but I don’t believe for one single second that those nasty needles are in fact deadly, and that Cole just had a boner for them. The whole needles thing made Cole a narcissistic and egoistic character, and very much unlikable. Does he think of his needles, when he jerks off? Does he do it with the needles? Is that one of the stories Quentin Tarantino takes home and then amuses himself into sleep over the ridiculousness of it all?

It’s the scene that will change Will’s mind yet again for this season.

Cole doesn’t even have a motive of his own, making him a truly terrible character. Sure, he’s got a boss and he’s working for “The Man” now, and maybe the writers just dropped another adversary into the plot, but when Cole mentions the failed mission five years ago, he better act on his rage and hate towards Sloane. His little “torture session” in the “conversation room” was nothing but getting the code for the vault, and Cole was only working for the new player in town. It wasn’t a scene that could have looked like revenge on Sloane for leaving Cole in the hands of the enemy, it was just a scene to move the plot further and have this hour end with Sydney in peril, because the evil guys were coming closer (thanks to the stupidity of having her audibly move, while she knew that the bad guys were in the vault). You bring in this whole background story about the failed mission, make Cole part of the history of SD-6, but it’s not being properly used. In addition, his team doesn’t even get screentime worthy of being part of the story, which is why there are even more forgettable than all the hostages in this situation, who could easily be redshirts, because why the hell not? Why not depicting the death of a few SD-6 agents, just to show that Cole and his team mean it?

What worked was seeing Sydney and Jack work together saving their biggest enemy. Sydney’s comment of the two saving SD-6 above all things was kinda funny and rang true, especially now that Sydney is thinking about stepping out of the Intelligence job and leading a normal life. Here we have an interesting story setup: What is a former agent of an enemy agency doing with her life, now that she stopped being a double agent for the CIA? That idea would probably be the FELICITY summer J.J. Abrams was originally thinking about. Also, Sydney doing her work in the air shafts was just cool. How she got out of it to get the scrambler in Marshall’s office was a cool little stunt, and definitely something I want to do myself (but I’m not fit enough to do stuff like that — me watching and reviewing television means I’m a little overweight and have to start thinking about exercising). What a shame the producers neglected to make a true DIE HARD homage out of Sydney’s adventures in the shafts. Yes, Cole was shooting holes in it, directly referencing the film, but maybe Sydney could have been a little dirtied up on her way to the vault via Marshall’s office. Or do SD-6 air shafts get cleaned regularly?

Hang in there, Sydney!

The other storylines were okay. It’s great that the writers put more effort into making Vaughn a deeper character, as the show goes on to live a longer life. The fact that Sydney’s mom killed his father has more of an affect on him than it does on Sydney, which is a nice move. I also liked that he’s about to get into some trouble over the Christmas gift thing, which could give the writers an opportunity to throw some bureaucracy into the game and make the CIA look like the real thing here. I also liked Will’s story — mostly because he was conflicted in what he wanted to do. He chickens out yet another time, but at least this time the writers bring him back into the story in a more logical way. Bringing in McNeil’s daughter was definitely a nice move and brought an emotional side to the story, which Will needed to see and experience, but at the end it was just another way to stall the storyline and wait for something better, despite the fact that Will was given an additional entrance into the SD-6 story. It’s not like it’s the first time Will thought about (or actually was) quitting the story, it’s clearly the writers’ way to wait up, hold on, and see what’s coming without going too far too early in the season.

Best part of the episode: The stunt that had Sydney get out of the shaft and into Marshall’s office was rad. Also, it was one of the clear looks into who Jennifer Garner’s stunt double is.
Worst part of the episode: Mckenas Cole, congratulations for being one of the worst characters ever. The only thing that is missing from him is that he is also a rapist and one of the subjects in the #MeToo era.
Weirdest part of the episode: The security at SD-6 is as fine as the security at NeverNeverLand in the show SEVEN DAYS: non-existent. Other shows should learn of those two shows’ mistakes when it comes to securing places.
Player of the episode: Jennifer Garner’s stunt double, just because I still like that move of hers.

Alias (“The Confession”)

Season 1, Episode 11
Date of airing: January 6, 2002 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.7 million viewers, 6.4/9 in Households, 4.6/10 with Adults 18-49

It was a solid episode, considering almost nothing happened and it really just had one suspenseful scene (when Hassan was forcing a protection order out of the CIA, and Devlin’s pen wasn’t working). This episode was very Sydney-centric, and not even SD-6 was important enough for the writers, because there was so much else to deal with and barely any of the stories were hugely developed. Okay, the symbols in Sydney’s books were deciphered and they led to a pretty huge revelation, but it’s pretty obvious that the entire episode was building to that ending, which means everything that came before had to give the viewers enough time to be prepared for that episode-closing revelation, which is definitely interesting by itself, although it doesn’t mean that it elevates the episode.

I mean, the episode was pretty much speeding right past the mission in Greece, which was sanctioned by SD-6 through the lie that one of Jack’s Middle Eastern contacts found Hassan’s weapons stash, yet SD-6 was nowhere to be found during that mission, as it seemed to have been entirely directed by the CIA. And here I was, thinking that SD-6 would have interest in either getting the weapons from Hassan’s stash (so they can sell them on the black market for cash), or play the good guys for Sydney by making sure she is doing the job of destroying the weapons properly. ALIAS has never been known for consistency or logical story choices, but the Greece mission turned out to be one of the more ridiculous ones which the writers did not think about. But the ending really was great on so many levels: With this episode, ALIAS begins its family business drama – Mom and Dad being spies, having brought their only child into the business as well, either directly or indirectly (“only child” only, if Jack or Sydney’s mom didn’t have extramarital activities going on in the 1970s or 1980s, or maybe one of them still made some kids during the 1990s). If somebody thinks that Sydney’s involvement with SD-6 is just a coincidence, you could start thinking about having been deceived. Of course there will be more behind all of it, and the writers have pretty much set themselves up nicely for more personal, hard-hitting and traumatic reveals in the future of the show.

It’s the first time a villain is truly happy to have a gun shoved into him.

Forget the missions, because they were kind of boring again. Though I must say that Sydney looked very attractive in her red dress and shades during the first mission. But yeah, forget all about the Greece mission, thanks to the aforementioned forgetfulness of the writers that this was SD-6 sanctioned, and yet there was no SD-6 to be seen, when Sydney was in danger. In addition, I can’t even believe how easy Vaughn, Sydney, and the whole CIA were following Hassan’s orders, especially when he wasn’t even saying one single word before they got the intel about the weapons stash, but suddenly started talking because Vaughn decided to talk a little more factual about the maximum security prison Hassan was about to be transported to. That was convenient writing all throughout the story, giving me the opportunity to roll some eye every once in a while. And here is a serious question: What is so wrong in accepting Hassan’s wish to bring his family into witness protection, or at least talk about it with the superiors? After all, the CIA wants something huge from Hassan, the agency is treating him like a source of intel for Sydney and their fight against SD-6, and something like bringing his family into safety is not on the menu for a little quid pro quo? Of course, it’s one thing to show Vaughn in kick-ass CIA mode, when he was talking to Hassan about “the package,” and threatening him with proper American prison time (the Egyptian government may have an issue with that, but then again, they might believe Hassan is dead) but it is another thing to depict the CIA in the worst way imaginable during the show.

Checking the tape he just secretly recorded.

Well, at least the KGB back story is getting way more light, especially since it replaced anything involving Sydney’s private life – Francie did not have a single second of screentime in this episode, and Will was only around to catch the tears for a few seconds as well, reminding the viewers that there is supposed to be a “thing” going on between the two. I liked that Vaughn and Sydney were both conflicted about what to do with the decipher of the symbols in Sydney’s books, and I liked that Vaughn was about to go behind Sydney’s back when it comes to reporting Jack. What a shame that the man really is not the CIA agent killer from 20-something years ago, because having a killer in the mix could have been some great drama and/or thriller. Jack would have been out of the business for both SD-6 and CIA, and he would have turned into something of a villain for the remainder of the season. Sloane would have questioned everything Jack did (and probably would not even know that Jack is being held by the CIA), and therefore Sydney would have been in danger again. It would have been a huge story and a huge change for the show, which is something that could prove the writers’ intent to not just write a show with the norms they have been growing up with, but decide to rip the ground from under the show’s feet and completely change the narrative halfway through — not because it was necessary due to cancellation fears and last-ditch rescue attempts to breathe life into the show, but simply because the writers wanted to.

Come here, bad boy, and let me look into your eyes!

Best part of the episode: Sydney in that red dress with those fancy glasses will give me sweet dreams tonight. Although women dressed and made up like that are really not my type.
Worst part of the episode: Why is it that bad dudes in these kind of shows always have to have the hottest women around them in private clubs? Minos Sakulos wasn’t the prettiest boy in town, but the women were flocking to him, needing something. This can only be explained if the women around him were secret agents like Sydney, but only she had the tech to get what she came for. Does it mean every crazy-looking villain in the world who has a harem of women around them only do so, because those women are spies? Is there an article for The New Yorker hiding behind that thought of mine?
Weirdest part of the episode: Well, Dixon must be in tip-top shape again, after almost dying a few episodes ago in Argentina. The writers knew the show would go into the holiday break, so they decided to completely jump over the notion that Dixon had a near-death experience a few week ago. Not really great writing.
Player of the episode: Will had a crying Sydney in his lap. He should have the sweetest dreams of us all.

Alias (“Spirit”)

Season 1, Episode 10
Date of airing: December 16, 2001 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.0 million viewers, 6.4/10 in Households, 4.8/11 with Adults 18-49

This episode was okay. It did only a little when it comes to developing a big storyline, and did a lot to just stay in one place. Of course the mole story in SD-6 gets concluded in a rather speedy way, and of course it suddenly disappeared when Russek was killed as the mole for the K-Directorate. It did nothing to overcomplicate the relationships between Sydney and her father, as well as Sydney and Sloane. And it did nothing to make me sleep a little easier at night, because after all this crap, Sydney still thinks she can play the loyalty card and hold hands with Sloane while smiling, even though logically speaking she should just be around this old fart reluctantly, while continuing to do her missions like a pro. Sloane killed her fiancé, and now he had the audacity to hold her prisoner — why is Sydney still friendly to him?

Also, there should have been something to show as a consequence for Russek’s “involvement” with the K-Directorate, but there wasn’t anything to be found about that. Like, I don’t know, maybe someone in the Alliance putting on a retaliation mission against the K-Directorate for this attempt at an infiltration? In addition, Sloane and SD-6 had Sydney on the radar as the mole for a few weeks, and when the Geneva transmission turned out to be Russek’s transmission, everything is fine? Didn’t SD-6 do a background check on Russek and which missions he might have sabotaged, besides the one in Geneva? After all, the K-Directorate isn’t just an agency, it is the antagonizing party for SD-6 and if I would lead SD-6, I better make sure to find out which missions might have been compromised. Sloane wanted to find out how much damage was being done, but he didn’t ask about the damage at all, when Russek was revealed as the mole. Is it going to take awhile until SD-6 has established the damage Russek might have done as a spy for the K-Directorate?

Marshall tests out his new shades.

The rest of the episode was solid though. There was Sydney, almost being executed, which was the most tense part of the episode-opening story, and there was Jack, doing anything to save her life and creating a conflict with his daughter and the CIA in the process, which happened to be a nice story, since it further complicates Jack’s relationship with Sydney’s handlers. Unfortunately, it was the only move to create an aftermath after the whole Russek debacle, which in hindsight was the conclusion to an arc that began with the CIA putting a computer virus into the SD-6 servers, and that kind of seems like a cheap exit from the story, which has been keeping the writers busy for the past few episodes. I understand you can’t have Sydney be the suspect for the rest of the season, but the end of the mole story contradicts with the whole of the mole story.

The mission in Kenya was okay, but only because of Jennifer Garner in a bikini. Yes, I am still a lonely teenager in mind, and yes, sometimes it’s pretty to look at a pretty woman in a bikini, especially when the directors do their best to showcase the sexy side of their cast, continuing to lure in male viewers. The mission in Havana was also just okay, despite the cliffhanger, but it should be obvious that Jack wouldn’t kill Sydney. If you remember how the mole arc was concluded in this episode, chances are the writers were finding an even quicker way out of Jack holding a gun at Sydney, and Hassan threatening for a death right now, or there will be two deaths. Convenient storytelling will be convenient. It did however work as a chic cliffhanger ending, in case the show was put into the inevitable holiday hiatus.

It’s vacation time on a white African island.

There isn’t much more about the episode left, because the rest belonged to Will only. I’m almost keen to say that he is the one who is stepping in the same spot with his story, but even I have to acknowledge that the SD-6 information drop is somewhat huge and random at the same time. Then again, he didn’t have contact with his contact, and it would have helped a lot, when this episode would have revealed a bit more than just SD-6 to Will. But the back story of David McNeil is quite nice, even though it’s just another way of showing how ruthless SD-6 is and was in the past, when they even kill wives to stop people from talking. But here is why I initially thought that the story was standing still: Neither the lawyer nor David McNeil was saying anything about SD-6, wasn’t even saying anything about anything. Will didn’t find out anything new, and he hit another roadblock despite the SD-6 namedrop. As if the writers haven’t let him hit enough roadblocks already. Eloise Kurtz almost seems forgotten, instead only “Kate Jones” seems to be mentioned every once in a while. I wonder if Will ever thought about the possibility that “Kate Jones” might just be an alias of many; he really can’t think that with the involvement of an Intelligence agency, and all the secrecy going around, that Kate Jones is a real person/name in this story, even if he already found out that Eloise Kurtz just used the name. He is unable to follow the alias backwards, now that he knows Eloise Kurtz might have been a government agent? But hey, I have to applaud that the writers were continuing to find new ways to keep Will busy, since it’s not possible with Francie anymore. She really became less than a secondary character, because she has absolutely nothing to do right now.

Thanks for the visual memories.

Best part of the episode: I am a simple man, who easily gets distracted by attractive women in clad outfits at a pool iron the beach. Sydney on her mission to end Hassan will certainly give me good dreams tonight.
Worst part of the episode: Wow, Vaughn really puts Sydney in danger by giving her a Christmas present. Back when Lambert was her handler for a second, she was bitching about how he wasted her time and her safety by just meeting up to talk. But in this episode it’s cool that Vaughn gives her a present. Way to break the rules, you two.
Worst part of the episode, honorable mention: Sydney was on a mission in Kenya. Barely a black face was to be seen. Was this a whites-only island off of the Kenyan coast?
Weirdest part of the episode: For a skilled spy, Sydney wasn’t at all interested in checking every corner she took when infiltrating Hassan’s Havana castle. If she would have checked behind ever corner, she would have discovered the guard that was knocking her down seconds later.
Player of the episode: Jack Bristow is the father of the year. He doesn’t give a damn about whether you’re innocent or not, but when it comes to his daughter’s safety, you will be sacrificed without hesitation. It’s the best father/child relationship that could exist in the show and I am slightly jealous of that.

Alias (“Mea Culpa”)

Season 1, Episode 9
Date of airing: December 9, 2001 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.0 million viewers, 6.4/10 in Households, 4.2/9 with Adults 18-49

Well, if this wasn’t a pretty good episode, then I don’t what is wrong with television. Who would have thought that the whole mole plot surrounding Sydney could lead to such an interesting story and a well-done, naturally occurring cliffhanger? It wasn’t predictable as thought during the previous episode, and the writers actually made the right choices here by not just circumventing the twist via Sloane’s feelings for Sydney (including a quickly dropped back story of Sydney being like a daughter for Sloane), but actually have her get captured. Nine episodes in and the writers were already intending on closing the main premise of the show, which was probably due to the fact that the back-9 order was uncertain at this point in production. But then again, I kind of feel reminded by FRINGE’s first midseason cliffhanger, even if that episode came seven years later. What FRINGE did back then was killing the story quickly before moving on to the next case of the week. Chances are ALIAS will do the same and give FRINGE the idea in the first place.

From above this situation seems not that bad.

The mole plot really was interesting, because it was something different and unexpected. Dreyer’s “I think we found our mole” had a purpose, and because it wasn’t just for the thrill of it, the writers also used it to bring some doubt in Sloane’s character. While it was just a plot device to have Sloane think of Sydney as his own daughter, so that it’s easily explained why Sloane wouldn’t have a lot of interest in wanting to find out she is the mole, it’s nice when a character develops major doubts about what has been happening lately. It was a nice storyline, although it would have been much better to see a bit more from Sloane, and how he thinks of SD-6 like a multi-billion dollar business, as the leader of an adversary group of people who think they work for the CIA. His conversations with Dreyer showed a little bit of what he thinks, but they also made me think about how it is actually a possibility that a director of an Intelligence agency is so stubborn to realize that one of his trusted agents is a mole, let alone that Sloane let it happen in the first place, which means he might not have control over some of his agents. And even though he gave the bogus kill order, even though he gave the order to kidnap her, that still doesn’t bring Sloane into the “best director of an Intelligence agency” rank, because his emotions were compromised during the situation, and Dreyer would have had any chance to report to the Alliance about it. Was it a forgotten storyline by the writers, or was there just no time to actually think about going into it? Was there no way to have the Alliance doubt Sloane, while Sloane has difficulties doubting Sydney?

The bogus kill order was suspenseful. It didn’t hurt to think about the possibility of what might happen, when Sydney had been extracted in that park, and Sloane had known she is the mole — the possibility of the series premise blowing up into pieces with this episode. But like my thinking during the previous hour, it just wouldn’t happen because it’s just too early for ALIAS to make that change, even if the writers somewhat prepared to prematurely end the show, in case no back-9 was given and ALIAS was a dead show after 13 episodes. At least the bogus kill order also gave Jack the chance to meet with the CIA again. Sydney and Vaughn are always hanging around together, creating the counter mission, so the writers needed a way to bring Jack and Vaughn together and talk spy business, since there is a relationship to be built here, especially when Sydney and Vaughn turn out to be love interests for each other.

Screens are turning off after the mission finished.

The kidnap order was also great, because it literally came out of nowhere. You could have thought about anything, when Dreyer handed the information to Sloane, and when Sloane gave his tiny acceptance smile, you probably weren’t expecting for it to happen in this episode — instead the information that there was a second signal in Geneva could have been used to develop the mole storyline, and bring it to the next episode. By the way, Marshall was unable to check previous missions for additional signals? I’m just thinking back to Berlin, where the CIA was definitely listening in on what Sydney was doing with Anna Espinosa in the Olympiastadion.

Meanwhile, Will is finally there where he belongs. His story started developing nicely, and there is a nice mystery around him now, a great puzzle to be pieced together, with some convenient help from whoever was on the other end of Eloise Kurtz’s bug. Yes, the question about who contacts him start coming up now, the questions about why the guy(s) behind the bug want Will to find out the truth come up. It’s a nightmare for a writer, when you don’t bring plausibility into the plot, but right now, no one could give a damn because it’s an exciting story.

And finally, the aftermath of the Argentina mission. It was very kick-ass for the writers to include a CIA extraction right in front of the bleeding and potentially dying Dixon, though I didn’t really understand why it was necessary for Sydney to explain that she dragged Dixon into the Jeep and drove him to the hospital. Does SD-6 not have international contacts and stand-by agents who could extract one of their injured soldiers, just in case? Are there no Alliance allies in Argentina, who could have helped out one of their agents in need? Also, making the Angel of Mercy hospital an SD-6 hospital was … funny. A cheap way to show that SD-6 has their hands everywhere. That seems a bit unbelievable, since SD-6 is not the only agency in the Alliance. The writers almost treat SD-6 like the real Alliance, with all the other SD agencies being small and unimportant. After all, the Rome section SD-4 was introduced with this episode. Okay, not introduced, but mentioned. Do they also have a hospital in their own town, maybe even international?

Will takes the phone call that could bring him in danger.

Best part of the episode: In the world of ALIAS, things happen that make like a little difficult for the master spy. Sydney barely managed to get the safety deposit box back in, thanks to it getting stuck, and she forgot about priorities at home and going bride-shopping with Francie. It’s not like Sydney is the bestest of agents — sometimes her mind wanders, and sometimes she has to race the clock because of unforeseen and random circumstances.
Worst part of the episode: The hilarious jumpscare moment, when Will was talking to the bug in the stall, was a good moment at first, but in hindsight you could smell the ridiculousness of it all, and how the producers just wanted a bit of a scary moment for Will and the viewers. Also, Will’s dirty car window gave be some ridiculous joy. Damn, what a big message of “check this out!”, which could have been read by anyone else, who was maybe interested in stealing Will’s ugly and cheap car.
Weirdest part of the episode: I’m not sure if Sydney made the proper decision to call for a CIA extraction in front of a still conscious Dixon. It’s a great scene, but it felt more like a plot device than anything else. If Dixon remembers that Sydney used a callsign that might not have been SD-6’s assigned callsign… It’s the perfect soap opera plot, just waiting to get to hit you when the writers can’t come up with any stories for Dixon.
Player of the episode: The makers of satellite phones did it with this episode. Getting retconned into the story, so that Sydney can call for help. That’s some dedication.