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

 

Yay!

Boo!

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.”

STOP CALLING HER MOM, SYDNEY. IT IS NOT HELPING YOU HEAL.

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.

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