Alias S02E14: Damn it, Carl!

Ugh. Do we have to talk about Alias? I know, I do it to myself. OK. Fine. Let’s talk about Alias. But let’s talk about other stuff first. For example, how I just finished back-to-back re-watches of Leverage and Scandal, and thus am filled with thoughts about how genuinely good TV works, especially compared to TV that’s mostly crap (albeit occasionally enjoyable crap). I think next I’ll re-watch Farscape to further refine my theory (also my theory of how Leverage is if Farscape took place on Earth and replaced the wormholes with insurance fraud). So, with all these thoughts swirling, of course I needed to test them by going back to Alias for exactly 43 minutes and not a second longer. We’ll get to that in a sec but first, here are all the things Leverage and/or Scandal (and/or Farscape for that matter) do better than Alias:

  • daddy issues
  • mommy issues
  • spy shit
  • guest stars (exception: Elaine Kagan on Alias > Wil Wheaton on Leverage + Lena Dunham on Scandal #Litvack4eva)
  • remembering things that have happened on previous episodes that would have an effect on the current episode, and writing that episode accordingly
  • plotting
  • pacing
  • dialogue
  • flashbacks
  • cliffhangers
  • 5th seasons* (just guessing on Scandal there, of course, and Farscape‘s 5th “season” was a movie, but still)

Although all three of them have far less Ethan Hawke than is generally acceptable, so we can give Alias a point for that this time.

S02E14 Recap

I firmly believe that all TV shows should have alternate edits that cut out the opening recap for DVD/Netflix release since both outlets lend themselves to binge watching, thus rendering the “previously on” unnecessary. However, I’m granting a temporary approval just to this one episode because we get a recap shot of Francie with a bullet in her head, which is absolutely in my top 5 moments of the entire series and I never get tired of watching it. Unfortunately, this is followed quickly by a reveal that Sloane is still wearing those fucking glasses, which apparently aren’t sunglasses since he’s inside now and still wearing them,

Why are they? Also I had to crank the exposure like all the way up just so you could see a single detail. I don't understand how you go all the way through making a TV show and just forget to hire someone to do lighting.

Why are they? Also I had to crank the exposure like all the way up just so you could see a single detail. I don’t understand how you go all the way through making a TV show and just forget to hire someone to do lighting.

but I can’t have everything I want, which is a lesson I learned pretty much by watching Alias the first time around and really thinking for a few seasons there that there was going to be a point to the whole fucking thing. But I digress.

Ethan Hawke and Olivia d’Abo are in a hotel, she says a thing that’s obviously an “I know you’re an impostor” trap but he still gives her a chance to try to expose or kill him. Also why do people who should know better about how to sneak always get up and start a-sneakin’ like the instant they hear the shower? Why do they never take whatever communication device they’re going to use to reveal the impostor and their gun and then run out the fucking door to reveal the impostor from a safe location that also provides them a clear line of sight to the door the impostor is going to come out of soon and try to kill them? Why do they turn their backs on the place the impostor went? Why should I be sitting here on my couch in my jammies as someone who’s so far at age 34 proven themselves largely incapable of understanding the size and shape of my own body or finishing a degree that pretty much just required me to read at a 9th-grade level or dealing in the slightest with how much and how often my cat throws up as direct revenge against me (this morning it was in a ring around my yoga mat!) but still believing deep down that I could spy better than some of these assholes? Maybe those things aren’t all related. I don’t know. I just know that mistakes were made by certain guest stars on this episode.

Back in L.A., Vaughn picks Sydney up at home and Sydney’s all excited to show him to Francie, who she does not yet realize is Evil Francie because she hasn’t yet donned her Evil Character Signifying Eyeliner. Still, Francie acts weird (I guess if you find the transition from screaming whiny baby all the time to essentially a robot particularly weird), and you’d think by now Sydney would know that when someone acts a little differently than you’re used to, you should shoot them in the head and worry about why later, but no.

So, Sydney goes to work at the CIA for realskies and fake Ethan Hawke blows up Olivia d’Abo in the middle of the street and then they find real Ethan Hawke by Sydney wearing a bikini in front of the right guy and that’s definitely when I start wondering how Olivia Pope would have handled things. I’m pretty sure she could have had Huck get the real Ethan Hawke out of his torture chair and back to the CIA without anyone even having to leave the OPA office and they all could have stayed clothed. Fuck, if this were Leverage, it would at least be Eliot flirting to get information. But I have to watch the show I’m watching, so.

They rescue the real Ethan Hawke but maybe he’s not the real Ethan Hawke because the doctor that was torturing him has just developed this DNA-altering thing that changes your body into someone else, so we know we have 2 Ethan Hawkes, and there’s a showdown with both of them and normally I’d be a fan of twice the Ethan Hawke, but those special effects must have cost too much because there’s not really much of the both of him screaming IT’S MEEEEEE IIIIIII’M THE REAL ONE before Sydney has to King Solomon her way into getting the real one to shoot the fake one because again Sydney does not kill. They also find out that 2 people had the secret body changing thingy done to them but who could the other one be??????

Then Sydney cooks Vaughn dinner while he makes what I guess is supposed to be some kind of “oh we are totally about to get it on” face?


Or maybe he's bored? Or...Idunno, queasy? Maybe he just saw her add something to the pot that he's allergic to but this is such a new relationship that he doesn't want to start it off with complaining? 'Cause that can't be his aroused face. I just won't have it.

Or maybe he’s bored? Or…Idunno, queasy? Maybe he just saw her add something to the pot that he’s allergic to but this is such a new relationship that he doesn’t want to start it off with complaining? ‘Cause that can’t be his aroused face. I just won’t have it.

And then Francie watches them from the next room through the camera she put in Sydney’s TV while making what I’m guessing is some kind of “oh yeah I am totally evil now” face?

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 2_Fotor

Why she needs to watch this when she’s also recording it or why Sydney sleeping with Vaughn is news now that SD-6 no longer exists is an entirely separate issue that I’m not even sure the series ever addresses. Just…Francie’s evil now, OK?



Yay-Boo Analysis, I guess?

I mean, this one was pretty boring, but I’ll give it a go.



I know I yayed Francie dying last time, but they showed it to me again, so I get to yay it again.
No Will in this episode. Like, none at all.
Plus Ethan Hawke.
And Olivia d’Abo. She was on The Wonder Years!

That’s it. That’s all I got.

Total This Episode: 4 mild yays & no boos

Total So Far: 110 Yays & 92 Boos.



*If Alias had had a 5th season WHICH IT DID NOT.


Alias S02E13: I’m very excited we’re going to have all the sex.

So! Sark has joined SD-6, Weiss is back from getting shot in the neck, Sydney and Vaughn are starting to be about 2% less vague in their admitting-we-like-each-other, Sloane has disappeared to the secret island where his wife isn’t really dead, and it’s halfway through the season, so it’s time for JJ Abrams to show up, put Sydney in her underwear and change everything you thought you knew about where this show was going.

S02E13 Recap

We open with a ridiculously long scene about how well Sydney wears lingerie, and then of course we cut to 24 hours earlier.

Now that Sloane has disappeared, Rutger Hauer has been put in place as the new head of SD-6. Kendall orders Jack and Sydney to immediately become super-besties with him, because that won’t look suspicious at all. Sydney actually tries it! And Rutger Hauer’s all “yeah yeah whatever could you please just recap your backstory for the new viewers and then get out of my office?”

Sark lets slip to Sydney that there’s a secret server no one knows about that runs all the SD cells. She takes this to the CIA and they just sort of immediately figure out where it is even though even Jack never knew about it until 10 minutes ago. Anyways, it’s on a plane with like 1 guy whose job it is to live with it on the plane and so Sydney has to pose as one of the escorts he is supplied with twice weekly as apparently his main motivation for keeping this ridiculous job and sometimes I feel like a lot of JJ Abrams’ sensibilities didn’t develop further even as he himself aged beyond jr. high.

So Sydney gets on the plane and we catch up to the opening Victoria’s Secret ad and Sydney does the most minimal amount of sexytime spy stuff that the show will let her I mean she straddles the guy for half a second and doesn’t even get her arms all the way around him and Anna Espinoza flat-out fucked guys for information but it’s OK we don’t really need to rehash that.

Sydney finds out where the server is and then knocks the guy unconscious. She gets what she needs off the server and then goes after the server guy’s bodyguard. I guess the plan was that she would incapacitate both of them and the pilot wouldn’t notice and then when the plane landed to refuel she’d just waltz back off? Or was she going to incapacitate the pilot and land the plane herself? Why was the plane going to land at all? They said it only ever landed to refuel and that the guy was supplied with a new woman twice a week, which led me to believe they refuel twice a week and that’s when the ladies switch out? If the whole point of putting the server on a plane is to keep it secure then why land so much? Why land at all? Why not just do the Air Force One thing and refuel mid-air? Why do I bother, none of it matters, Sydney gets into a fight with the bodyguard and then with the server guy himself when he regains consciousness because she didn’t tie him up or anything, and then she shoots out the door of the plane, grabs a parachute and gets home that way.

(Vaughn and Weiss are watching all of this through her earring cameras – because girl – and when Sydney lets herself get sucked out of the plane and parachutes to safety, Weiss just sits back and says, “She’s all yours.” Because apparently this whole time Sydney has just been, Idunno, auditioning for the part of literally just anybody’s girlfriend and that was the moment Weiss decided she was too much of a handful for him? Which isn’t a vibe we have ever gotten from Weiss previously? And it could be viewed as a joke if this show didn’t insist on only letting the men in her life make decisions for and about Sydney?)

Will and Francie make out while making lobster for dinner one night and I mean they literally have just had live lobsters in their hands and then they make out and it’s so gross. Then they tell Sydney about it and Sydney wants to know what it all means and Will’s like I don’t even know it was just a thing. These scenes are complete wastes of air time.

Back at the actual fucking plot of this show, Jack needs to get a code from SD-6 to match one from the files they pulled off the sex plane server to prove this is all real, but Rutger Hauer has found evidence that Sloane knew Jack and Sydney were double agents. He takes Jack into custody but Jack is able to warn Sydney. Sydney tells Will to get Francie out of town and then she enlists Dixon’s help to get the code since she can’t go back to SD-6 herself.


Dixon is seriously fucked up to find out his entire career has been a lie and that lie has been willingly perpetrated to his face by his partner. But he gets the code and he gets it to Sydney and then he calls his wife to say he loves her and he doesn’t know when he’ll be home.

Now the CIA, along with a million other intelligence agencies, can move in and take down all the SD cells. Sydney is literally the only woman on the “take down SD-6 team.” And it’s not a small team. And we get several angles and a nice wide shot of the whole team just to be sure.

So, they take over SD-6 and as soon as they’re inside Sydney heads straight to rescue her dad. Which, OK, fine. She has the personal connection and motivation and it makes sense that she would go do that. But it also means she misses the main “taking over SD-6” action because she’s running after her daddy. She bursts into the room where Rutger Hauer’s holding Jack just in time to shoot him as he is about to kill Jack. So, we finally get a confirmed Sydney kill, and it’s in defense of her daddy.

But I don’t want to dwell on the negatives. Because I really do love this episode. I think JJ Abrams is the last person in the world who should have been allowed to write Alias but the acting in this one is pretty great and stuff is actually happening for once, and two last things that happen on this episode are just so amazing that I’m willing to let some stupidity pass.

First, Sydney and Vaughn realize that with SD-6 destroyed they can FINALLY get together. And I mean that exactly the instant the last SD-6 agent is led out the door, they just straight-up start making out in the middle of the ruins of SD-6 while Weiss tries desperately to get their attention.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 4.17.12 PM

It’s one of the most ridiculous things they’ve ever done and I love every single second of it.

Also, my runner-up title for this post was “Well, we made out for 10 minutes and now we’re talking to our friends about it, so I guess this is eighth grade.”

But then! Oh, then! Then the BEST thing happens!

So, it turns out that Sloane was behind this all along and wanted Sark to leak the info about the server so that the CIA would bring down the Alliance. He tells Sark to put the “new asset” in play for “phase 2” and we cut to Francie on the phone with Sark. Wha-wha-whaaat? Has Francie gone evil? Been evil this whole time?


God, I love it when Francie dies. I wish they’d done it in a way that left us with fewer Francies than we had before, but I’ll take what I can get when it comes to Sydney’s friends getting shot in the head.

Also, great job getting Francie out of town, Will! You really came through on that one!

Anyway. We’ll move on to the yay-boos but all the sexist bullshit in the episode reminds me that soon we need to talk about Leverage and its treatment of women and its ideas about how to easily signal an evil character to the audience in contrast with how Alias handles this stuff. I have Many Thoughts about this.

Yay-Boo Analysis



What. was wrong. with the black one? Do you think it’s comfortable wearing clothes like this?” It’s like for 1 second JJ Abrams lets Sydney address him directly.
Computer security sex plane.
We see Sydney kick the plane guard’s ass and then we have to go back and watch the scene again so we can see Vaughn coaching her through it because it’s not like Sydney knows how to fight or anything.
She’s all yours.”
Dixon protects Marshall when shit starts going down.
What the fuck even are these glasses Sloane is wearing?

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 4.34.22 PM

Will’s still alive and now we’ll have to deal with “evil Francie” tho.

Total This Episode: 5 Yays & 5 Boos.

Total So Far: 106 Yays & 92 Boos.


Now I need a little break before I continue, because up next is the Ethan Hawke episode, and once I watch that I’m gonna have to rewatch the Before trilogy. Also the next one has Olivia d’Abo and so there is probably going to have to be a little tangent about how on The Wonder Years she totally married Ross Geller.

Alias S02E03-12: I wish I could, but I don’t want to.

OK, so it has been a while, but I have a really, really good reason: I don’t actually give even the tiniest fuck about anything that happens in the first half of season 2. Also the end of the fall semester was tough and then my husband and I watched “Agent Carter” and then we finally got around to “Scandal” which took over my entire life and when you have actual good TV shows consuming your every waking thought it is way harder to go back to The Bristow Family Pout Hour with anything approaching enthusiasm.

I do, however – assuming I’m remembering things correctly – give a few fucks about the second half of season 2. So, with that in my mind I decided to just plow through the first half and get it all out of the way in 1 post. Full disclosure: I mostly accomplished this by letting it play in the background while I did a lot of unpacking and cleaning and organizing in the kitchen, so this is going to be a pretty high-level overview since there wasn’t a whole lot happening that was compelling enough to make me stop and actually watch for a minute.

S02E03-12 Recap

Let’s recap by character.


These episodes have Sark fighting Sydney, then teaming up with her to kill Sloane, then it turns out he was just tricking her to get to Sloane, and then he joins SD-6. I’m on board with all of this. The world just plain needs more Sark in it, and anything that teaches Sydney how bad she is at deciding who to trust is a plus for me.


There is so much whiny back-and-forth in these episodes that I just want to slap everybody. Sydney is willing to trust Irina’s intel because it has not been wrong yet and the more she gives them good stuff the more trustworthy she seems. Even Vaughn is on board with this plan, and maybe if a guy tells you he’s willing to trust the woman who killed his father that should lend his recommendation some weight. Jack is still really not over the whole thing, though, and as we’ve covered already Jack is actually the emotional mess of a parent that Sydney gets all her bad-choice-making from, so he just flips out every few minutes for like 9 episodes straight. At one point he frames Irina for trying to kill Sydney and Kendall pretty much immediately sentences her to death. That all gets resolved through a lot of Sydney running up to authority figures and whining but my daaaaaaaaad! or but my mommmmmmmm! which I’m sure happens all the time in the real world when the CIA is trying to have a terrorist executed.

There is some good stuff in the episodes where the 3 of them have to go on a mission together, though. They have to break into a base that Irina is intimately familiar with, so she is released to Jack’s custody and of course things go wrong and they end up fighting side-by-side and Irina earns a little bit of Jack’s trust. There’s a really good scene on a train where they’re passing a bottle of liquor back and forth and Jack starts reminiscing about the time he almost burnt the house down through drunk toast making and they laugh and it’s lovely and then Jack realizes what he’s doing and it gets awkward and Victor Garber is just wonderful, really.

This is literally the best thing that happens in this entire run of episodes, though:

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 12.22.30 PM


Sloane confides in Jack that he killed Emily to get into the Alliance and now it turns out someone got to Emily first and kept her alive, tried to blackmail him, and then killed her anyway. Faye Dunaway comes in as some sort of SD-whatever investigator to find the blackmailer. She goes after Jack and by extension Sydney for a few episodes but it turns out she was really the blackmailer. Except then it also turns out that it was really Sloane framing her and he never really killed Emily he just sent her off to an island somewhere. Then he goes to see some tech guy somewhere that he apparently hired months ago before all of this started to make him a special ring that blocks the tracking device the Alliance planted into his neck so that he can go be on the island with Emily.

So…if he had successfully “killed” Emily in the first place and he was already planning to get this special ring, then…what the fuck was that whole thing in the middle with Faye Dunaway? Why did he need to do any of that? This fucking show.


Anyways. These episodes are just overflowing with will they/won’t they tension! And mission objectives that could be mistaken for really bad flirting. (“When the mission is over, make sure you’re holding the gyroscope.”) Also at one point Vaughn almost dies from the bleeding fingernails disease you apparently catch from the red spinny ball thing. At one point Sydney tells Francie about this guy from work she has a crush on. “He smart and he’s funny and he’s so cute” and she’s 1/3 right. I hate these 2 right now, and I need them to start fucking so I can get on with my life.

I think that’s it?

Oh, no, wait. We also find out that Jack ran super secret mind control exercises on Sydney when she was 6 to basically ensure that she would grow up to be a superspy. The whole program that Jack designed for doing this to kids is what Irina was sent to steal from him. Sydney gets mad and pouts all over everything when she finds this out.

Also Marshall gets to go on a mission!

Yay-Boo Analysis



They’re on a mission in Siberia, where it’s so cold the ice will freeze over in 4 seconds if they fall through it, but Sydney’s in just a headband and Sark shows up with nothing on his head at all. Sydney spends something like a minute under water but is doing absolutely fine…until she comes this close to rescuing herself and then she’s suddenly blue and shivering and weak so that Dixon can save her.
I’m so stupid.” Yes, Sydney. Very good. Glad you’ve caught up to the rest of us.

Isn’t anesthesia dosed by weight? How could they know everyone in the operating room would pass out at exactly the same moment and no one would have a chance to send for help?

The last “soundtrack telling me what to feel” lyrics I need to hear over a Sydney-Vaughn scene are “Slumber, my darling/Thy mother is near.” I am so fucking over this show’s parent issues.

I’m definitely on Sydney’s side in the whole “Dude, seriously shut the fuck up about your girlfriend, I don’t even care how much you need to unburden your soul about this” scene tho.

Bristow family machine gun adventure!

Every scene with Irina in her cell is the best. She’s always coiled on the floor and there’s this sort of caged animal vibe to it.

Did Vaughn just not notice that Minimoose had disappeared? Is he actually surprised that Jack killed him?

I like the scene of Sydney rescuing Jack in the parking garage, even though it’s only there because JJ Abrams can’t do anything but rewrite old scenes he’s already written.


If Vaughn’s only move is to ask Sydney out literally every time they leave the country together, how did he ever get a girlfriend that lives in the same city as he does?

I don’t buy the “Faye Dunaway was this close to torturing Jack for the truth” scene one little bit. Jack went to SD-6 knowing he would likely be captured and questioned, and we know that Jack has a supply of something that counters the effects of Sodium Pentothal, so.

I like the “Marshall’s first mission” arc and how it completes the circle for creepy dentist from the pilot.

Total These Episodes: 6 Yays & 4 Boos.

Total So Far: 101 Yays & 87 Boos.


Oof. OK, so, I did that. Here’s hoping the rest of the season actually works out the way I remember. I know there’s at least 1 event in the next episode or 2 that is one of my absolute favorite things that ever ever happens ever. I am not going to say what it is now, but we will talk about it at GREAT LENGTH soon!

Alias S02E02: Remember that time you made him cry using only your words?

So. One thing I am finding with this Alias analysis project is that when you really break things down and watch the show intently in small doses, it’s really fucking uneven. I mean, I knew it was a pretty uneven show already! I swear I did! But it’s also a show that invites marathoning, and, aside from when it was still on and I was watching it weekly, marathoning is how I’ve always watched it. I have all the DVD’s* so as a rule I’ve always watched at least a disc’s worth at a time. I’m realizing, now that I’m watching one episode at a time and then really thinking about it, that it’s kind of hard to enjoy it that way sometimes, and also that if it weren’t for marathoning I never would have gotten into the show in the first place. I started watching with season 2, and I remember the day of the season 2 premiere ABC did an all-day Alias-thon running the second half of the first season. I had been hearing good things about it so I figured it would be worth checking out, and by about 2 p.m. I was hooked. When you watch this show for several hours straight, you get very caught up in the cliffhanger-y-ness of things and pretty much glide past the bad stuff. When you slow your pace, there is really no avoiding the bad stuff.

All of which is to say that while the last episode had some pretty lovely stuff in it and even though it wasn’t perfect a lot of things actually happened, this episode was so deadly boring that I didn’t even notice whether I was looking at the TV or not through most of it and I pretty much did not care at all what was happening at any moment, except the few beautiful moments when Irina Derevko was on the screen. Normally, I would just push through a really boring spell and make this one post about 2 or 3 episodes so that it could include something exciting, except I thought this lull in interestingness would be a good opportunity to talk about a few thoughts I have about the show.


First, go read this piece at The Toast and then come back here so we can all talk about Irina Derevko.

Because she should be on that list, shouldn’t she? If your whole plan is to get secrets from the CIA via your cover story husband, is saddling yourself with a kid going to be all that helpful? Especially if you’re just going to abandon the both of them in a few years, so it’s not like you’re trying to make the marriage seem more stable or anything? And I hardly imagine that Jack-back-then was all “we need a baby! let’s have a baby!” so I would think that NOT having kids would have actually made the fake-marriage go more smoothly? And also this show would be much better if Sydney weren’t on it? I know, I know, that ultimately Sydney exists to serve some higher Rambaldi purpose and fulfill all the prophecies and shit, so from that perspective there is no show if Sydney was never born. However, considering the fact that J.J. Abrams has literally no ability to follow through with the plots he sets up – spoiler warning and whatever – and that by the end of this series all of that will have been forgotten and in its place will be a CIA procedural with a bunch of talentless stand-ins looking at the camera while trying to remember their lines, I think I’m on pretty solid ground here saying that Sydney could have never been born and the first only 4 seasons would have been way better if they were just the Jack and Dixon and Sark and Derevko show.

So, there’s that. The other thing is how much I hate Sydney’s extreme self-centeredness and the willingness of everyone in her life to support and enable her point of view once we get down to talking about her mother. Sydney thinks she’s a special snowflake in all aspects of her life, and I can at least ignore some of it, but not the stuff about Irina. When you’re a super secret double agent, I think it’s understandable you might start to feel like you’re the only one of your kind. When you’re constantly lying to the people closest to you and carefully managing which stories you tell to whom, I can see how you’d end up feeling like you were the only one who knew what was going on. But when you’re confronted with evidence that you’re not the only one and you still refuse to change your stance, you’re just being a selfish asshole. Sydney’s not the only one who was hurt by Irina Derevko, and she has 2 other people – arguably the 2 most important people in her life, the 2 she’s closest to right now – reminding her constantly that they were hurt by her too, and she doesn’t care.

And the thing that irks me most about it all is that I kinda think what Derevko did to Jack and Vaughn is worse than what she did to Sydney. Granted, I’m speaking as someone who had really terrible parents and also now has exactly zero interest in working things out with them or sentimentalizing them in any way and that definitely colors how I view all Sydney-Jack-Irina interactions, so. But in the grand scheme of things, what Derevko did to Jack was wage an extended campaign of lies and manipulation against him over many years, then disappear, leaving him under suspicion of treason, and pretty much lead directly to his drinking problem. What she did to Vaughn was deprive him of as far as we know a pretty decent dad when he was a very vulnerable small child. Twenty or 30 or however many years later this is, he is still wounded by it and on top of all of that he has to confront not only the fact that the woman who killed his father is his work crush’s mom but also literally has to confront the woman herself as part of his job. What Derevko did to Sydney is just make it so she only had to grow up with 1 shitty parent instead of 2. At the very least, Sydney could be a little more sympathetic to the fact that she is not literally the only person on the planet who has ever been negatively affected by Irina Derevko’s actions, is all I’m saying. I mean, even besides Jack and Vaughn, there are all those other dozens of people she’s murdered, for instance.


Anyways. On to the episode itself.


S02E02 Recap


Irina, in chains, is led to her cell.

Terry O’Quinn is back! He’s great on this show! Yay!

Sydney tells Jack, “I don’t support the death penalty, but I hope she dies for everything she’s done,” and I’m all IS SYDNEY EVERY STUDENT IN MY ETHICS CLASS RIGHT NOW?!

Sloane gets his place in the Alliance. He also sends Sydney on a mission to get Irina’s “blackmail disc” so he can take over all her old blackmail…accounts, I guess you’d call them?

Kendall interrupts a Sydney-Vaughn meeting and we learn that apparently the chain-link fence room has a receptionist and a buzzy-in door system? What the hell even is that room? Will someone please explain? Anyway, he wants Sydney to talk to Derevko, who has refused to speak to anyone else, about what Sloane could be using the blackmail disc for. Sydney pouts and storms out so Kendall tries to blackmail Vaughn into forcing Sydney to do it. Kendall doesn’t realize Vaughn’s standard reaction to “Sydney probably won’t like this fact about her life very much, but maybe that’s just too fucking bad for her sometimes” is “why don’t I really put myself out doing a bunch of unnecessary stuff that might backfire somehow to see if I can not only spare Sydney the pain of having to deal with her own problems for once but also make it so she never finds out about it.” (This might be a good time to remind myself to write a longer piece one of these days about how Sydney is basically Cosette if I hated Cosette slightly less than I do.) Well, I mean first he tries to tell her she should give it a shot because she’s “good at compartmentalizing” and I just LAUGHED AND LAUGHED.

So, Vaughn decides that he will speak to Irina and of course he’ll just totally be fine.


Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 1.16.31 PM


Two amazing things here: 1. The way Irina slinks on up to that window and then just leans against it all oh-so-casually, like she’s not being questioned by a CIA officer about her involvement in massive amounts of blackmail. 2. The sheer terror Vaughn clearly feels in this scene. I really want to believe it’s an excellent acting choice on Michael Vartan’s part, but I fear it’s more likely that what was going through his head at the time was, “That’s Lena Olin! Don’t make eye contact! You’re not good enough to make eye contact with Lena Olin!” In either case, it really works, because Vaughn thinks he’s gonna walk in all tough but one glance at Derevko and he’s basically made out of pudding and it’s glorious.

And, OK, 2 more amazing things: 1. When she tells him, “I’ve given you a gift, and all you get from me…is one.” 2. When he’s walking away and she calls after him, “You look just like him.”

Irina Derevko is like a champion of fucking with your head, OK? Don’t even try to go up against her on anything because you will not win.

And then there’s a rest of an episode, with a spy mission and Irina giving Sydney good intel that she doesn’t trust and so SD-6 gets the thing instead of the CIA so there’s another mission to steal the thing back and blah blah whatever who cares.


Yay-Boo Analysis




That opening scene with Francie, and just how deliciously awkward Jack is any time he tries to interact with Sydney’s friends.

Getting really sick of how every Sydney-Vaughn conversation is just:

S: I think A!

V: Well, it’s clearly B!

[Stuff happens.]

V: Because I mean obviously A!

S: Shut up, it’s B and you’re stupid!

I’ve given you a gift…”

You look just like him.”


Francie has worked in catering for how many years but Will the journalist knows more about starting up a restaurant? Fuuuuuck yoooouuuuu Wiiiiillllll.

Irina tells Sydney that Sloane will go after Peter Fordson first, so the CIA sends Sydney after Peter Fordson and then everyone is SHOCKED I TELL YOU when Sloane is there with Fordson?????


Total This Episode: 3 Yays & 4 Boos.

Total So Far: 95 Yays & 80 Boos.


*All the DVD’s that count. I have seasons 1-4 and that is all the DVD’s anybody needs, and in fact they don’t really even need that many but you kind of have to buy whole seasons if you’re going to go the DVD route.

Alias S02E01: I hate it when they make me see the shrink at my office.

OK! For anyone who doesn’t remember, here is where we are: Will has been humbled, Vaughn has probably been drowned, Sydney has been taken captive, and Sydney’s mom has turned out to be pretty much the opposite of dead-for-20-years.


S02E01 Recap

For some reason, we begin with an all-new backstory-explaining opener – by Weiss! Remember Weiss? I guess they figured last season we had too much of a woman being allowed to tell her own story, better get a man to tell it.

But then we pick up where we left off, with Sydney tied to a chair and pouting, “Mom?!” as Lena Olin steps out of the shadows and instantly makes the show 10 times better than it has any right to be.


“You must have known this day would come.” Well, we did, Irina, but Sydney can't follow clues.

“You must have known this day would come.” Well, we did, Irina, but Sydney can’t follow clues.


They chat a bit, Sydney sasses her mom in a moment that I feel like I would love if I were reading it – “You must tell me who you’re working for.” “Or what, I’m grounded?” – but on this show just comes across as yet still even more Sydney whining when things don’t go her way. So Irina shoots Sydney in the shoulder for her back-sass and I am like MARRY ME IRINA DEREVKO YOU ARE THE MOST GLORIOUS FUCKING THING!

Then we cut to Sydney in therapy and it’s like oh, great, we’re gonna tell this one in flashback.

Sydney wants to be out helping search for Vaughn, but thirtysomething therapist tells her that everyone else is doing that, so she needs to sit there and talk about her feelings under direct CIA orders, and I wonder, does coerced therapy ever really help? There is, like, an entire fucking genre of filmed entertainment telling us that it does, but I just don’t really buy it, no matter how great Timothy Hutton is.

Sydney narrates her escape from her mother because I guess we couldn’t just watch her escaping and know what happened. It really takes away from what would otherwise be a pretty badass escape scene.

In the flashback, we see Sydney contact Jack once she’s escaped & explain she’s going back for Vaughn. Jack’s with a bloodied and just-rescued Will, who asks, “Who’s Vaughn?” and we see the real reason for Sydney to go to therapy – because heaven forfend the people just tuning in for the first time be asked to catch the fuck up on their own. Nope, gotta waste entire whole episodes recapping previous episodes. This fucking show is like the Golden Girls of spy shows sometimes, I swear.

But here’s my real problem with them making Sydney go to therapy for all this recapping. Did you see the thing I just wrote about how Will asks who Vaughn is? Yeah, Will. is. right. the fuck. there. AND DOESN’T KNOW ANY OF THIS SHIT! So, why not have Jack and/or Sydney explaining it all to Will? If you want to bring in a character to be the Exposition Receiver, then Will is the perfect choice for that. His life is at this very moment being ruined by Sydney’s entire backstory and he doesn’t really understand the depth of it yet, so when he asks who Vaughn is, then fucking tell him who Vaughn is, don’t just use that as an excuse to cut to the lady from thirtysomething who is married to the producer. Gah!

Anyways, flashback-Sydney can’t find Vaughn and is forced to retreat to the meet-up point with her dad. Jack bandages her wounds and they try to piece together what just happened. And we have another moment where Will becomes the perfect person for them to explain season 1 to, but the show just ignores it and has Sydney and Jack talk to each other like Will isn’t even there.


Francie calls Sydney, who has never adequately explained to me why she keeps her personal cell phone turned on at all times when she is on her super secret spy missions, and tells her that there’s a story on the news about Will and SD-6 and how Will has gone missing. So, Jack & Sydney have to tell him the truth. Except of course what we get to see is Sydney telling the CIA therapist about how she and Jack told Will the truth. But we all already know that truth because it happened on the show, so I’m just gonna move on.


When they all get back to LA, we find out that while they were in Taipei, Dixon turned Sydney in to Sloane over the whole Freelancer thing. Sydney and Jack had prepared for this on the plane, and Jack decided he would tell Sloane that he gave Sydney the Freelancer codename as a “paternal instinct” but that of course he is loyal to SD-6. Sydney asks “What about Will?” and Jack looks straight at him and says, “You’re gonna have a hard time.” And I clap and maybe even squeal a little every time I hear that line.

But Sydney’s therapist isn’t interested in the “hard time” Will was going to have after pretty much accidentally stumbling on a world-wide secret organization of evil fake spies or how Sydney and her dad managed to outsmart the leader of that organization and make him believe they were both loyal to him so he wouldn’t murder both their faces even though he has been given every reason several times now to believe that they are disloyal. No, what she wants is for Sydney to say something about her mother, and if I had popcorn this is when I would be throwing it at my TV. “What is there to say?” Sydney asks, and we find out the answer is every single fucking thing we just spent half a season learning about Derevko, which, again, I’m not gonna recap because I am not JJ Abrams and so I trust that if you don’t know what I’m talking about you’ll either pick up enough for it to make sense or you’ll go look it up.


Sydney gets sent to crash a party at some bad guy’s house in France, which seems to be SD-6’s preferred method for her to infiltrate the enemy’s operations but then I guess they have kind of limited their own options by insisting on giving her almost entirely makeup-based spy gear. Anyway, they chose the location well because at the party Sydney sees a bad guy from Taipei and follows him into the basement and it turns out to be Khasinau’s torturesurgery lair because apparently he’s a creepy torturesurgeon too? Sure. OK. He seems like he has time for that. Anyhoo, Vaughn’s the next one to get his chest cut open.


While explaining how she saved Vaughn (it involves the predictable adrenaline shot to the chest and also entirely too little of shirtless Michael Vartan), Sydney gets all defensive in therapy about how she and Vaughn have a professional relationship, there’s nothing going on between them, blah blah blah, and her therapist is all “Oh, I wasn’t insinuating that! Goodness no! I just was wondering how Will is doing! I mean, why would you even think I was assuming there was an inappropriate relationship between you and Vaughn? Silly girl!” EXCEPT THAT SHE WAS THE ONE VAUGHN WAS FORCED TO SEE WHEN MINIMOOSE TURNED HIM IN FOR HIS INAPPROPRIATE FEELINGS FOR SYDNEY LIKE 3 WEEKS AGO!!! And basically therapists who fuck with their patients in this way are assholes who should not be allowed to talk to people in any capacity let alone a professional one.


Regardless of whether the therapist cares, we find out what Jack meant by a hard time when he turns Will into a fake drug addict so that he can be exposed as a fraud, losing him his job and discrediting him as a reporter, so that no one will believe what he wrote about SD-6.


The CIA goes after Khasinau but Irina’s already there with a sniper rifle. We find out that Sydney can run thru a hail of bullets (being shot at her by someone who has very recently shown she has no problems with shooting Sydney) and emerge unscathed but Weiss can’t hide from one behind a big fuck-off car, so he totally gets shot in the neck and I’m guessing at this point Greg Grunberg was regretting telling his neighbor “sure, I’ll do a little guest spot on your show, why not, you probably won’t just treat me like something between an extra and a piece of scenery for 3.5 seasons until you realize I can act, it sounds like fun!”

Sydney tracks down Khasinau* and has him held at gunpoint when Derevko shows up. Derevko shoots Khasinau over Sydney’s shoulder and then gives her this cute little smile and OH MAN NEW FAVORITE CHARACTER TIME.


Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 9.47.27 PM

(Oh shit but I forgot to tell you, when Derevko first shows up, we get a Sydney Reaction Pout!)

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 9.47.00 PM

“Ugh, MOM, I am TRYING to kill your old KGB boss/current evil secret fake spy underling, DO YOU MIND?!”


Derevko gets away, life goes on, and then Sydney speaks at Emily’s funeral. I didn’t cover this last time but last we saw Emily she was telling Sloane she forgave him and drinking a glass of wine we had earlier seen him lacing with some sort of drug. So, now we can assume he killed her to secure his place in the Alliance but Sydney is still going to attend the funeral and speak and pretend like everything’s OK because if she doesn’t have at least 5 different parent figures to spread out her whiny, pouty, neediness among at any given time, she might be in trouble, and so she’s willing to overlook Sloane killing A LOT of people she cares about in order to hold on to her tragic little worldview. And I know I go on about Sydney’s parent issues, but seriously her entire eulogy for Emily basically boils down to “My mom died. My dad was emotionally distant. I have no idea what to do without a parent figure. Emily said the vaguest polite thing to me shortly after we met for the first time, and suddenly she was my new mom. Now my new mom is dead and I am rudderless.” And I tell you this, if anyone had the goddamn nerve to eulogize me like that, they would get the fuck haunted out of them so fast.

After the funeral, Jack tells Sydney that Derevko has turned herself in to the CIA – just like Sydney did in the pilot! It’s like JJ Abrams has exactly half the ideas needed to make a season of television, so he just cycles each of the characters through them in turn, hoping we won’t notice he’s recycling his old gags as long as it’s a different actor this time. But I’m off topic. The point is, this is what does Sydney in. After all the I AM FINE, THERAPIST, REALLY, we got for this entire episode, Sydney shows up at the therapist’s door in tears because her mommy turned herself in to the CIA. Knowing she’s alive, finding out what she did to your father and his colleagues and your bestfriendworkhusbandcreepyparentsurrogatecrush’s father, having her shoot you, watching her kill a man right in front of you, none of that’s a problem. She turned herself in and wants to cooperate? Sydney turns into a pile of tears.

Ugh, this show sometimes. I can’t.


Yay-Boo Analysis



Jack: “What happened to the guy who shot you?”

Sydney:“There was no guy. It was Mom.”

Will: “Excuse me, did you just say you were shot by your mother?”

Jack: “Sit down!”

I should have had Tippin killed months ago.”

Isn’t Smashmouth supposed to be playing when Sydney crashes the party? No Smashmouth is a total yay in my book.

Ugh, Michael Vartan and his “acting.” He can’t even make me believe he’s incoherent.

And the old adrenaline in the chest trick

He made reference to something called ‘The Bible.’” “What is it?” “A book.” NO DOY JACK

Why does Vaughn always try to get Sydney to go on a date with him the instant they’re in another country like that changes anything?

Will is just happy to be alive. When Sydney asks him if her makeup covers her bruises, he says, “This is your life, huh?” with so much sympathy and then whispers “no bruises” when Francie walks in so she won’t hear him.


Total These Episodes: 4 Yays & 4 Boos.

Total So Far: 92 Yays & 76 Boos.



*Guess where. No, seriously, guess! Did you guess “an empty warehouse”? WHOA BUT SERIOUSLY HOW DID YOU KNOW?

Alias S01E21-22: Joey. Where did you learn that word?

So. Jack is coaching Will to try to draw out the brooch-voice, both to get Will out of trouble and to figure out who at the CIA is trying to expose his and Sydney’s status as double agents. Dixon has just fought and injured Sydney-in-disguise while she was making a deal with Sark, who got away but then Vaughn caught him but then Vaughn got distracted and Sark got captured by SD-6. Sloane’s wife, Emily, has revealed to Sydney that she knows her husband never got out of the intelligence game, which has put SD-6’s “kill all who know the truth about SD-6 but aren’t part of it” squad on her trail. Francie is off in her own little world somewhere being terrible and has done nothing of consequence in like so many episodes it’s not even a thing anymore.


S01E21-22 Recap

Sloane interrogates Sark and it is lovely. I can’t even describe how lovely, but what happens is Sloane explains very calmly that Sark is going to lead SD-6 to Khasinau and then they seal the deal over a decidedly oddly drunk glass of wine.

Will gets contacted by the brooch-voice and told to go to Paris to be questioned on what he knows about The Circumference.

Sydney – coincidentally enough – is sent to Paris to steal Khasinau’s blank Rambaldi page. The mission is successful because she’s Sydney so I won’t go into that. What I want to focus on here is what happens with Will. Because what happens here with Will is very, very important and I love it so much and so we are going to talk about it.

Jack accompanies Will to Paris. He gives him something to take that will counteract the effects of the Sodium Pentothal he knows his interrogators will give him. The interrogators turn out to be Khasinau’s men and they bring Will to the same nightclub where Sark is helping Sydney get closer to Khasinau. Sydney sees Will being pretty much dragged into a secret back room and goes after him. Will’s all drugged up and scared and not really able to pay attention and he can’t tell them anything about The Circumference because he doesn’t actually know anything about it. Sydney breaks in and saves him from certain torture and probable death, and his reaction when he looks up and sees who just saved his ass (it’s at about 0:20 here) is very possibly my favorite moment in the entire series.

The only way out is back through the bar. Sydney has to drag Will out – sometimes literally grabbing him by the shirt and pulling him because he can’t even move – while fighting off bad guys.


C'mon, load.

C’mon, load.


My favorite thing about this scene is how it’s filmed sort from Will’s point of view. We’ve seen Sydney do stunts like this a million times, but Will never has, so in this scene we see Sydney as Will is seeing her – as this super total badass surprise. She’s running across the tables to launch herself into the air and spin-kick a gun out of a bad guy’s hand before he can shoot Will in the head, and it’s shot from below and in slow-mo as drugged-up Will looks up in shock to see her flying towards him. She’s disarming a guy, then flinging him down a staircase, then she’s already halfway out the front door before he’s even at the bottom, all while Will makes these doofy WHUT faces and tries not to pass out.

This glorification of Sydney isn’t just a stylistic thing for the scene, either. We’re actually witnessing Will learn a lesson here, people. Maybe his first one ever? After Jack gets Will out of Paris and into a CIA safehouse, Sydney confides in Vaughn (and no, I don’t know why she keeps confiding in Vaughn who is no help whatsoever) that she’s worried Will will hate her, that she’ll lose one of her only friends (and no, I don’t know why she keeps thinking Will is her friend) now that he knows the truth about her, that he’ll see her as a stranger. And really I’d be fine with that. It would be a shitty way for Will to react to this situation, but we have been given no reason to expect Will not to react in shitty ways. But it’s not what happens.

What happens is Sydney visits Will in the safehouse, gives him a well deserved I told you not to pursue this story, and tells him that Danny was killed because she told him the truth about herself and that she wishes she could tell him the truth because she’s sure he has questions, but she can’t. And Will – the same Will who, every time Sydney can’t explain something about herself pushes and pushes and pushes for an explanation until even Francie tells him to shut up, the same Will who dug and dug and dug into Danny’s death despite numerous people telling him multiple times to stop, until it literally gets him tortured – that Will tells her that on the plane back from Paris he just thought about how hard her life must be because she has this secret she has to keep from everyone and that he just wants to be her friend because he loves her and he will never ask her anything because he gets it now. And that’s why I think of Will’s season 1 arc as Will Goes To Nice Guy Reform School. And, even though he’s learned his lesson, he’s still going to get tortured more before the season ends! Finally we can just sit back and enjoy Will! Also because we get to see him in his underwear for a bit in this one.

Jack explains to Sydney what he’s been doing with Will, trying to draw out this mysterious CIA agent who has it in for SD-6. She tells him there were no intelligence officers in that nightclub, it was all Khasinau’s men. Jack then figures that he and Sydney specifically are the target of all this stuff as opposed to just exposing SD-6 in general.


Meanwhile, Dixon is getting suspicious of Sydney. He thought the woman in Denpasar looked familiar, he’s noticed that Sydney has a “hiking” injury in the same place he injured the woman in Denpasar, and he’s started having flashbacks to when he was shot and Sydney radioed for help and identified herself as “Freelancer,” which was not her SD-6 code name. But also the code name thing is pretty inconsistent, don’t you think? Like sometimes she has one and sometimes she doesn’t but then on any given mission she’ll end up running down a hallway shouting “DIXON! DIXON! DIXOOOOOONNNNNN!!!” into her earpiece. So, why with the code names in the first place? Does Dixon not get one?

Sloane reveals to the SD-6 team that even though Sark slipped away after the Paris meeting, the wine they had shared earlier had a radioactive isotope in it. SD-6 is tracking Sark right this minute courtesy of the isotope in his blood and as soon as his plane lands they’ll have him back in custody. Except when they get to the…empty warehouse, maybe? Idunno, every building they ever go to looks like an empty warehouse to me…all they find is medical equipment and evidence that Sark has had a transfusion. A transfusion to literally replace all of his blood, I guess? And it was done so quickly that by the time the SD-6 team shows up there’s just no trace of Sark or any of The Man’s people, and I mean it must have taken a few people to pull this one off? And how did they know they’d need to have blood ready? And where did they get the blood? Do they run all their secret operations out of a blood donation van too? Is the entire blood donation system worldwide just a front for intelligence agencies? And if they knew that far in advance, why didn’t they just do this in Paris so it looked to SD-6 like he disappeared after the nightclub instead of at least giving them a good starting point for their search by clearly showing where he landed after he left Paris? And I just don’t buy the whole transfusion thing in any way at all is what I’m saying.


But. Now that Sark is free and can’t be tracked, his first order of business is to kidnap Will! He takes down the CIA team guarding Will, then shoots him point-blank with a tranquilizer gun, prompting my husband to comment how fun it is “watching your favorite character shoot your least favorite character.” It’s true. I could watch Sark shoot Will all day.

Since SD-6 found out Emily knows at least something about what Sloane really does, Sloane has been trying to negotiate with the Alliance to save her life. She’s dying of cancer in an SD-6 hospital, he tells them, there’s no danger of her doing anything to harm the agency before she dies in a few weeks. They’re willing to accept this argument at first, but then Emily’s latest round of tests reveals not how many days she has left to live but that she is in remission. Since she’s going to survive her cancer, Sloane will need to kill her. If he does this it will secure him a place in the Alliance, which is a little short on members these days since Sloane killed his old friend and then the Alliance found out the James Bond tricked him into it. And if he kills her and gets his place in the Alliance, that means he gets his war with Khasinau. Sloane has some decisions to make, folks.


Once she’s out of the hospital, Sloane tells Emily the truth. Two things about this scene: One, there was the right music on the Netflix version! Yay! Even though it’s Natalie Merchant whose music I really fucking hate most of the time, I’ve always like this particular song over this particular scene. And two, it’s entirely without dialog. We see Sloane talking to Emily, we know what he’s saying, we see her reaction, but it’s essentially a pantomime, and it’s really amazing. I know I keep saying it, but the acting on this show you guys! It’s also amazing to me how this show manages to show us so much about Sloane’s emotional pain and really flesh him out and still never makes us sympathize with him. It’s almost like the writers could actually write when they felt like it!



Now that Sark has Will again, Sydney & Jack need to get the page Sydney stole from Khasinau back from SD-6 and the vial from the CIA to give to Khasinau in exchange for Will. Sydney takes the SD-6 job and Jack breaks in to the CIA. Dixon follows Sydney and watches her steal the page from SD-6. He confronts her but she can’t convince him he hasn’t just watched her betray the government and he’s probably gonna report her for this.


Due to Jack’s suspicions regarding Minimoose, he has advised Sydney not to talk to anyone about their efforts to get Will back. She actually listened to him for once, which is shocking, and has not told Vaughn anything. It weirded Vaughn out how she WASN’T pacing and scheming and demanding that he help her find Will, and he starts to suspect she wasn’t being honest with him. He talks to Weiss about it, and Weiss is basically done with Vaughn’s disregard of rules where Sydney’s concerned and turns him in to Devlin. Devlin calls a meeting which includes Minimoose because why not, and Vaughn is forced to admit that he thinks Sydney is probably going after Will outside of the CIA or SD-6 and that Jack is probably helping her. Devlin calls Jack just as he’s finished robbing the CIA and tries to get him to back off, telling him that Minimoose has lots of excellent points about why Jack’s been acting so out of line lately, like why is he just telling civilian reporters about The Circumference, for example?


Now. Minimoose is not supposed to know about The Circumference, because even though he and Devlin seem to be total besties and he’s got some kind of auditing power over Vaughn’s work, he’s still pretty low-level? I guess? But, yeah, he’s not supposed to know about it and Devlin, who runs the fucking CIA, isn’t perceptive enough to have picked up on that, but Jack is, so now Jack knows that Minimoose has been the turkey all along, so to speak, and I’m going to refer you to Youtube for what happens next, because it is genuinely one of my favorite scenes in the entire series and I could basically watch Joey Slotnik get shot in the neck forever, and yeah spoiler warning and whatever, but just watch it is what I’m saying.


Also, one of the best parts of that scene is that we find out Jack has a secret torture storage unit! I mean, I never assumed he didn’t, but it’s just nice to have confirmation. And the other best thing is how Jack takes a moment to compose himself before shooting Minimoose in the neck. It’s not an “I lost control” moment, it’s a “you endangered my daughter’s life and I am very calm in my certainty that that makes me mad enough to shoot you in the neck in my secret torture storage unit” moment. Have I talked about how much I love Jack? Because so fucking much is how much I love Jack.

In other news, Will is being tortured by the creepy dentist from the pilot! They do the usual teeth-pulling stuff but that doesn’t work, so the creepy dentist gives him a truth serum which leaves 1 in 5 men paralyzed. While it’s lovely to see Will being tortured, he does get in a good moment when he grabs the syringe and jams it in the creepy dentist while shouting “ONE IN FIVE!” (Well, that’s how I choose to remember it, at least. He actually shouts “ONE IN FIVE, YOU LITTLE BITCH!” but we all just have to pretend some things never happened to get through the day sometimes, you know?)


This all takes so long that Will’s friend from the paper goes to Litvack with the secret story and Litvack decides to go to press with it.


Before making the trade to rescue Will, Sydney and Jack use the ink-appeary stuff on the page so they know what Khasinau wants, and it’s a schematic of the device Sydney stole from Taipei in the first episode. So, wait, how did those guys build it if they couldn’t read the page before? Or is this supposed to just be the instructions for using it, and the schematic for building it was always available? What is even Rambaldi’s problem with all the secrecy and the party tricks I don’t even.
But Jack meets with Sark and trades the now visible page for Will. Awkward hugs! And Will officially graduates from Nice Guy Reform School!


This show is like the king of awkward hugs.

This show is like the king of awkward hugs.


Meanwhile, Sydney and Vaughn – who has decided for reasons I can really get behind for once, because they are not about wanting to get into Sydney’s pants, that it’s more important to him to help Sydney on this mission than to just blindly follow the rules and be a company man – need to destroy the new device that Khasinau has built. This shouldn’t be a problem because as we learned in the pilot it’s “the size of a shoe” but it would appear that was a prototype because this one is actually, um, super huge. And Sydney remembers how when you switch this thing off the red spinny ball part turns into water, so that means a lot of water here, and we get an intriguing new twist on the Patented Bristow Family Pout when Sydney sees the device – the Oh Shit Poutstare.


Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 9.54.08 AM


But she is Sydney, so she destroys it and it floods the whole place, leading to this particularly awesome moment of Sydney staying just ahead of this wall of rushing water, running full speed down a hallway towards Vaughn, pointing and shouting GO GO GO!!!! (or, well, she would be shouting if we could hear her over J J Abrams’ Casio, but at least it’s not “No Man’s Woman” again but I digress) while Vaughn just stares at her like “huh? wha? I don’t…”


Also you don't notice until you start taking screenshots but this show was basically just not even lit at all.

Also you don’t notice until you start taking screenshots but this show was basically just not even lit at all.


Aaaannnnd he gets caught behind a locked door and as far as we can tell drowns while Sydney is so distracted trying to save him that she gets captured by The Man. And Sydney makes terrible. decisions. when it comes to men.


But anyways, that’s not even the best thing! No, even after Will getting tortured! and Minimoose getting shot in the neck! and Vaughn maybe drowning! there is still yet even one more additional thing that is really the best thing! Because captured-Sydney meets with Khasinau and she’s so ready to interrogate The Man (even though Khasinau is the one who has her tied to a chair, but whatevs)…except it turns out that Khasinau is not The Man. And then we get to learn who The Man is and while it may not be a surprise to anyone who has been following the foreshadowing (Sydney has not been following the foreshadowing), the moment Sydney looks up at the mysterious figure in the shadows and says ”… Mom?!” we get this:


Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 10.05.50 AM


Look at that glorious pout! You guys, it’s what we’ve been building towards all season! It is the ULTIMATE POUT!


Oh, man. I’m tired after all that pouting. Really I gotta go take a rest. Let’s do the Yay-Boos and then get ready for season 2, people, because with Sydney’s mom back in town, the pouts are gonna get overfuckingwhelming.



Yay-Boo Analysis



Like a truth serum? They’re gonna give me that?” “I would.”

I love how on the nightclub mission, Sydney can sing, but she can’t SING. I like that they didn’t dub in some super-slick trained singing voice for that.

The way Dixon doesn’t unclench his fist after he punches a guy out.

I’m not going to trivialize your relationship with her by calling it a crush.” Fuck yeah Weiss!

If that sounds selfish to you, I was hoping to retire fully vested.” Seriously fuck yeah Weiss!

The right music for once!

every single thing Carl Lumbly does or says in the finale

the Abrams eps always have Sydney in her undies

Minimoose gets shot in the head!

And Jack had a minute to calm down and really think about it before he pulled that trigger!


ooooooho yessssssssss Jack-Sark showdown

You should read Tippin’s stuff. It’s not so bad.”

I don’t like Vaughn’s weird attachment to Sydney but I do like his reasoning behind defying his agency to help her on a personal mission.

Vaughn’s little smile when Jack says he respects him fro the risk he’s taking for Sydney

I also like Will fighting back

but I could live without him calling creepy dentist a “little bitch”


Total These Episodes: 15 Yays & 2 Boos.

Total So Far: 88 Yays & 72 Boos.

Alias S01E20: He’s so cute I’m thinking about jamming this pen in my eye.

Oh, people. Something amazing happened this week! I watched the last 3 episodes of season 1 and remembered why I fell in love with this show in the first place. In fact, I got so distracted at points by how into it I was that I forgot to take notes, and I ended up watching these episodes twice to make sure I documented everything properly. It felt so good to just watch the show and enjoy it, and I don’t think it would have been so lovely if I hadn’t just spent all this time breaking down all the stupid in the previous 19 episodes. (Don’t worry. There’s still stupid in these episodes, it’s just more the gloriously fun kind than the “sure, yeah, Quentin Tarantino can act” kind.)

But before I talk about how much I love these episodes, I’m going to complain about the last one a little more. Specifically, the fight between Sydney and Noah where he falls on his knife. The more I think about this, the more I think, why didn’t Noah just take his fucking mask off when he and Sydney were fighting? ‘Cause, I mean, that would have ended it right there. It’s just the 2 of them at this point, since he’s killed everyone else in the place, so he’s not risking too much by revealing his identity. We see during the fight that he isn’t willing to hurt her, so the fight – a fight which would really have to continue until one of them is dead, given that one of them is an assassin – continuing until one of them dies is really the easy way out, if you ask me. (OhgodyesIknow I am criticizing the makers of Alias for taking the easy way out on something. Let’s just pretend I didn’t just say that and move on.) Anyway, my point is, after he has her pinned down on the counter and he has a chance to cut her throat but doesn’t, the logical next thing is for him to step back, take off his mask, and say, “Whoa, babe, hey, let’s talk about this,” before Sydney has a chance to push him onto his knife. He could still disappear after that, because maybe it could turn out that “oh and he’s an assassin” is where Sydney draws her moral relationship deal-breaker line, which we’ve already seen is way past “oh and he stole a ton of cash from the Russian mob” but whatever. Nothing else had to change in the plot if he revealed himself. Noah revealing his identity to Sydney doesn’t do anything to prevent Peter Berg from not joining the cast as Sydney’s new-old boyfriend spy AND it would have saved us yet another (though admittedly fantastic) Sydney-and-her-dead-boyfriend reaction pout, which – especially considering what’s going to happen at the end of the season finale – we’re kind of overloaded with here.

But anyway. Onward! We’ve got A LOT to get through.

S01E20 Recap

We begin with pouting. Sydney is super sad over killing her boyfriend and also suuuuuuper conflicted, what with the wanting to find her mom and Sloane being the only one who will help but finding her mom means finding Khasinau, which would be a good thing for Sloane, and does she really want to bring Sloane to justice for killing Danny or does she just want revenge at this point, etc., etc. Vaughn’s pretty much no help, but he does this charmingly quasi-abusive thing – which he will do more than once before the season’s out, by the way – where instead of recognizing that Sydney is upset over having caused the death of her second boyfriend in less than a year, he just keeps telling her, “Noah Hicks was an assassin. He was a bad guy. He would have killed you.” And it’s hard not to hear an unspoken, “I’m a good guy. Me. MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!” there, too.

Will gets a call from the brooch-voice insisting that he continue work on the SD-6 story. He’s too scared after being kidnapped and he refuses to help any further. The brooch-voice tells him it was Jack who kidnapped him.

At Sydney’s apartment, Francie makes an exterminator appointment for a time when she is working because she just assumes that Sydney – about whom her main complaint is that she’s always away working – will be home, then gets mad when Sydney says she has to work. I hate Francie.

Will stays for the appointment because I guess Francie lives there now since she broke up with Charlie but Will doesn’t but we wouldn’t want to build any extra sets so that our characters could hang out places other than Sydney’s kitchen (see also: Sydney and Jack always have their secret double-agent talks right smack dab in the middle o’ SD-6) because that would cut into the wig budget, so. Anyway, while the exterminator’s there, Will figures out that the brooch-voice wasn’t lying about Jack when he goes digging through Sydney’s “plastic wrap, markers and pictures of my dad” drawer, which: OK, sure. Fine.

Screen Shot 2014-03-07 at 8.02.04 AM

But also:


Over at the SD-6-run hospital, Emily tells Sydney she knows the truth about SD-6. Or, what she thinks is the truth, because I guess after working at the State Department and being married to a legit CIA agent, she naturally figures it’s perfectly OK that her husband would fake-retire from the CIA and then lie to her for decades about fake-running a fake-bank. In any case, she’s sure it’s safe to talk openly about it with Sydney and that she’s not being recorded and basically speaking her own death sentence because why else would it have been kept a secret from her for all these years? But Amy Irving is SO GOOD on this show, you guys. Really. This show got actors way out of its league, for reals.

Will decides to confront Jack about the whole kidnapping-him-and-threatening-his-friends thing, which seems like an example of extreme(ly characteristic) Will stupidity, but when the moment comes he actually sort of goes into hurt-kitten mode and asks Jack for help in bringing down the brooch-voice. And I’m all, wait. Is Will getting smart? What is happening here? He even gives his SD-6 story to a friend at the paper and makes her promise that if he disappears she’ll publish it.

Jack figures if the brooch-voice knows he was the one who kidnapped Will, then it must be someone inside the CIA. He goes to Devlin with a request to investigate Minimoose but Devlin has about had it up to here with Jack suddenly for some reason and so he’s all, “What, that new guy no one’s ever heard of before that just showed up a few weeks ago, knows everything about you and is super suspicious of and inexplicably hateful towards Sydney? He seems nice!” So, Jack just sidesteps Devlin to help Will out on his own. He tells Will he works in intelligence and that he wants him to tell the brooch-voice he’s back on the story and that he knows about something called “The Circumference.”

Sydney’s sick of waiting around for Khasinau to just show up so she designs a mission to draw him out and gets Vaughn to convince Devlin to go along with it. She knows Khasinau wants the vial of liquid that will reveal the ink in Rambaldi’s precious little blank pages. Problem is, Khasinau thinks that SD-6 still has the ink, since QT’s unwelcome intrusion into the show was thwarted. In fact, the CIA has it, but in any case they need to come up with a believable reason someone might have an authentic vial of the stuff that didn’t come out of SD-6’s vault. They’re going to fake a robbery at a museum known to have Rambaldi artifacts and then send out false information that there was another vial of the Rambaldi stuff there. Vaughn finally gets to go on a mission, you guys! Instead of standing around in a suit in the chain-link fence room or standing around his CIA office in a suit, which so far has seemed to be the limit of his job skills, he gets to go undercover as…a guy standing around in a suit! Also he gets to pretend to be French! Which…Michael Vartan actually is, so I guess that’s not a stretch either. Oh, that poor, pretty man. This show worked his acting ability to the absolute brink.

Fucker looks goooooood in a suit, though.


Or out of a suit.


Or with a dog.


Or wait, what was my point again?


So, yeah, anyway, Sydney and Vaughn finish their mission and start spreading the word that there’s another vial of Rambaldi juice out there. They’ve been very smart and blocked any communications equipment at SD-6 that might allow Sloane to find out about this, but they didn’t count on the possibility that Sloane had tapped into James Bond’s phone and can now listen in on communications between him and Khasinau. Sloane hears about the new vial as well, and hears that Sark will be meeting with some mysterious strangers to get it, and sends Dixon off to intercept the whole deal. Too bad Sydney’s on vacation, or she’d totally be going with him!

And then…well. Sydney wears brownface for the meeting with Sark, and the show comes up with reasons for it but I don’t care. I’m going to refer you to TV Tropes for an intro on this subject should you need it, and then accept that I am not qualified to speak authoritatively about it beyond acknowledging that it is problematic as hell and that there had to be a better way to send Sydney on this mission and keep Dixon from recognizing her.

So, Sydney’s mission goes terribly wrong in many ways. First, Sark challenges her to a dance-off fight to prove she is who she says she is. Dixon shows up, thinks the woman making the deal looks awfully familiar, and injures Sydney in a fight. Sark runs and Vaughn goes after him, captures him and takes the vial back, but SD-6 manages to grab Sark while Vaughn is distracted saving Sydney (shocker!). So, at the end of the day, SD-6 has Sark and Sydney has a gash on her arm she’s going to have a hard time explaining to Dixon once she’s back from “vacation.”


Yay-Boo Analysis



clipboard fight!

Again, show, plastic explosives aren’t that sensitive. Watch some Mythbusters.

Jack just plain cops to all the shady stuff he’s done lately to protect Sydney from the CIA when Devlin confronts him about it. Yes, I held a gun to Minimoose’s head and threatened FBI agents to free Sydney, and I’ll do it all again if I have to. DON’T TEST ME, BUDDY! I love Jack.

FOCUS! Mr. Tippin.”

Brownface. Seriously.

Total These Episodes: 3 Yays & 2 Boos. That seems low, but (1) this is just one episode and (2) I actually love these episodes so much that I felt like true Yay! column would have just basically been a transcript, so I’m only going for the highlights. I’m a bit worried about how this will skew the final results, but we’ll deal with that later if we need to.

Total So Far: 73 Yays & 70 Boos.