ALIAS

Season One

Season Two

Season Three

Here we go again!

4.1 – Authorized Personnel Only, Part 1
[ Talk about opening with a cheesecake bang! A blonde Jennifer Garner in a white baby-doll seducing some bad guy, then kicking a little ass before falling to a certain death… Ok, it’s just like the classic Superbowl episode on a train instead of a plane, and they even do the “72 hours earlier” thing again, but it’s still damn hot. I also love how they reboot the show again, recreating the dynamics of Season One with Sydney, Jack, Dixon, Vaughn and even Sloane back working together. Where the hell’s Marshall, though? ]

4.2 – Authorized Personnel Only, Part 2
[ Oh, there he is. “We’re back!” And we’re stealing a samurai sword to lure out a “modern samurai” who works for the new super-villain… Or does he? Things are never simple in “Alias”, whatever answers you’re given raise new questions, in this case involving a character from Season Two. Good stuff. ]

4.3 – The Awful Truth
[ Mía Maestro, who plays Nadia, Syd’s half-sister, is lovely, as Garner continues to be, of course. Then you’ve got the rest of the regular cast who remain enjoyable but story-wise, there’s nothing new here. Pretend to be someone else, hack into something, etc. It’s still suspenseful and there are hints of more exciting things to come, especially around the more cold than ever Jack Bristow. ]

4.4 – Ice
[ It Only Hurts When I Think. Man! Logic often takes the backseat, but when you let yourself enjoy Jennifer Garner’s beauty, the exotic locales and suspense, it’s all good. The “ice” stuff is kinda ridiculous, but it’s also pretty cool, no pun intended. Kelly MacDonald and her scrumptious accent guest star, but this is mostly one of the most dramatic and emotional episodes for Vaughn in a long time; it even makes you reconsider Michael Vartan’s limited acting abilities. ]

4.5 – Welcome to Liberty Village
[ Sydney and Michael infiltrate a terrorist cell of Russians training to pose as Americans. A military compound made to look like suburbia, this is not unlike “The Prisoner”, which makes for a nice change of pace for the show. No world-hopping, glamorous settings and complicated break-ins here, Syd and Vaughn just have to be convincing as a couple of newlyweds… which is not that simple considering their history together. I wish they’d made this a two-parter, though, as is it felt like they rushed into a finish just when it was getting good. ]

4.6 – Nocturne
[ Huh. Did Syd just get bit by a… vampire? Why don’t they have her jump a shark while they’re at it? The hallucinations are effectively creepy but seriously, what the hell? ]

4.7 – Détente
[ Despite last week’s jump-the-shark episode, it seems the show is still capable to move and intrigue. Syd finally acknowledges how screwed up it is that she has to work with the man who took her fiancé and best friends away, she gets a nice little Sloane-hating moment with Dixon then the whole hour is basically a mental confrontation between Sydney and Sloane. I also dig Nadia and Syd posing as rich party girls, Paris Hilton-style, and there are some neat twists and action scenes – everything on the boat, particularly. Don’t count out “Alias” just yet, it’s still got juice. ]

4.8 – Echoes
[ “Anna Espinosa.” “She’s supposed to be dead.” “So are a lot of people.” Ha! I love this comic-book/spy-show nonsense where people die and come back to life at random. I also love that they’re finally bringing back the Rambaldi visions, making the Bristow sisters’ relationship even more complicated. Then there’s a lot of suspense, Jennifer Garner posing as a hooker, some pretty hardcore violence and the return of Sark, still as devious as ever. ]

4.9 – A Man of His Word
[ Oh, Sark! He’ll cooperate with APO, but only if he can go to his late girlfriend Laura Reed’s grave and have her corpse exhumed – by Vaughn. What a sick bastard move… Anna Espinosa’s also still being a bastard, trying to kill a defenseless Nadia, then fleeing by tying a fire hose around her and jumping through a window, “Die Hard”-style. Then you’ve got Sydney dressing up as Lauren to get to one of her former contacts, which means Vaughn has to see his current girlfriend looking like the woman he married then killed… Disturbing, but it makes for great drama and tension. Then there’s Jack’s latest questionable move and the impact it has on Sloane and their mysterious pact, the meeting of two of the series’ longtime villains and a growing sense that J.J. Abrams and company are building up to something big. This is by far the season’s best episode so far. ]

4.10 – The Index
[ “He’s using us. Again. And that’s not something I’m willing to let him do.” The more Dixon the better, and it’s interesting how his suspicions about Sloane put Sydney back in the position of doing double agent work, seemingly going with the mission but corrupting the results, etc. Making things more ambiguous is that this time, Syd would rather not Sloane actually be guilty, for Nadia’s sake. Add a few good twists and a few good stunts and you got a pretty good episode. ]

4.11 – The Road Home
[ Pretend, swipe, interrogate… Eh, nothing special, but then you got an oddly touching little thing going on with a busboy who didn’t ask for trouble, he just happened to be working in the bad guy’s nightclub (“What is it with these guys and nightclubs?”) and fell for Syd’s dimples. It makes you realize how rarely shows or movies actually take the time to stop and consider the fate of the random henchman. I’m not sure what to think about the mystery Vaughn is investigating yet and the thing with the killer toy helicopter was pretty dumb, but I loved the subplot in Angola offering further proof that Jack is more of a coldblooded mofo than any of the actual bad guys! “You… betrayed… ME!” ]

4.12 – The Orphan
[ Nadia’s origin story, from an orphanage to teenage delinquency in the streets of Argentina to being recruited by a spy agency, is brought back into the present when the team has to steal some hi-tech gizmo from an old acquaintance of her. This is a little different from what we’re used to, and it’s nice to get to know more about Nadia. ]

4.13 – Tuesday
[ Yeesh, they’re not playing around this week. Just in the pre-titles sequence, you got salsa dancing, a car crash, two people getting shot in the head and a biochemical attack! Sydney being buried alive is a “Kill Bill Vol. 2” rip-off, but how it’s Marshall who has to go to Cuba and rescue her is totally unexpected and cool. Emotional, suspenseful, gruesome and often hilarious (hey, this is Marshall we’re talking about), this one of the best “Alias” episodes in a long time. ]

4.14 – Nightingale
[ “We always thought my mother killed your father, but…”
Gawd, I love this shit. Syd and Vaughn talking about these insane things like it’s everyday stuff… And I love how it finally seems like the season’s building up to something big, involving not only our favorite spy couple’s parents but also Nadia and the secret alliance between Sloane and Jack. Plus, I’m sure Rambaldi’s got something to do with this whole mystery, can’t wait to see where this is going. In the realm of more immediate pleasures, this ‘sode cleverly references Lewis Carroll, has Jack interrogating some poor bastard and puts Jennifer Garner in high heels and fishnets. Rowrrr! ]

4.15 – Pandora
[ Vaughn’s gone rogue, he’s being chased and shot at by his former CIA partners, he shoots back and… kills Dixon?!? Of course, this is just a tease quickly followed by one of those “48 hours earlier” tags. But that’s ok, because there’s plenty of other intriguing stuff to go through before we go back to that cliffhanger: the return of Isabella Rossellini (“Last time I saw you, Aunt Katia, you tried to put a bullet in my head.”), Jack’s mutation, even some Rambaldi business. ]

4.16 – Another Mister Sloane
[ Whoa, we’re really back into the Rambaldi stuff, big time. They even wheel back in the hovering red ball thingie from Season One! I don’t know what’s the deal with this “Arvin Clone”, but I am loving Joel Grey’s pointed impression of Ron Rifkin. Good show. ]

4.17 – A Clean Conscience
[ This is a bit too all over the place. Multiple storylines are okay, but not when none manage to really connect. A mysterious lady from Nadia’s past, an undercover agent who might have gone rogue, Jack breaking apart – there’s something in each of these, but the cross-cutting undermines any eventual payoff(s). Plus when are we gonna return to Arvin Clone and Rambaldi? There’s some good Dixon slow-burn moments, but this remains a mixed bag. ]

4.18 – Mirage
[ Huh? I wasn’t sure where they were going with Michael McKean’s guest starring role, but I certainly didn’t expect this! The Sophia thing is pretty old-hat, though – this is the third season in a row in which a friend/wife/etc. turns out to be a spy for the bad guys. The second half of the episode is kinda contrived and creepy, but it allows for a moving scene in which Sydney’s childhood and the way her father felt about it come into play. ]

4.19 – In Dreams…
[ The pre-titles opening sequence is awesome-o, with Arvin Clone visiting shotgun-carrying monks who’ve found a way to strip bees of the “need for aggression” and Rambaldi’s red ball of doom finally being put to use. We also learn more about the pact between Jack Bristow and Sloane but of course, in good old “Alias” fashion, all answers do is raise more questions. The whole thing with Jacqueline is heartbreaking, it humanizes Sloane in a way he’s rarely been – the virtual return of Amy Irving definitely contributes to this, and Ron Rifkin himself is amazing. This is the season’s best episode so far. It further positions the series as not only the complicated saga of the Bristow/Derevko family but the tragic tale of one Arvin Sloane, a monster in search of redemption. And it’s Jennifer Garner’s directorial debut! ]

4.20 – The Descent
[ “You think you can control this power, but it’s poisoning you. You don’t have to do this.” No, Sloane does not have to do this, but try as he might, it’s his tragedy not to be able to resist the lure of Rambaldi. We’re such suckers to still believe he can be redeemed when his endgame reveals to be the same again and again. Or is it? There is one or two scenes a bit too dense with let’s-tie-loose-ends (the Covenant, all three Derevko sisters, etc.) exposition, but still pretty damn intriguing. ]

4.21 – Search and Rescue
[ GIANT RED BALL! GIANT RED BALL! GIANT RED BALL! This is some goofy comic book shit, but I love it. Anyone else reminded of the end of “Watchmen”? The return of a long-unseen character makes for good drama and a cool jungle action scene à la “Rambo”. Can’t wait for the big finale. ]

4.22 – Before the Flood
[ Supervillains are about to destroy the world, people are turning into rabid zombies, the Russians want to blow up everything, prophecy says one of our heroes is gonna perish at the hand of one of the others… Can you say edge-of-your-seat? And of course, the season ends with one giant bitch of a cliffhanger. A happy ending? It’s never that easy on “Alias”! ]

***

5.1 – Prophet Five
[ Who the hell is André Michaux? Is everything we thought we knew wrong? Do I still care enough about all this nonsense to plan every week this season around watching a TV show? Oh, there’s still plenty of action, international intrigue and 15th century conspiracies, and Jennifer Garner’s pregnant glow should keep me coming back… But what the hell did they do to Vaughn? How many horrors can you put these characters through before it just gets depressing? Granted, I was already bummed down about the state of the world before I started watching this episode, but still… ]

5.2 – …1…
[ Bing. Bang. Boom. Ooh. Ah. Seriously, I might just stop watching this, wait for the DVDs maybe… I love the Garner, but this barely feels like “Alias” anymore. It used to be a great action movie every week, but now it’s down to being good TV, barely. ]

Ok, I give up: I won’t review Season Five until it’s on DVD. Maybe.