Alias S01E18-19: Did I ever tell you about the time that I went backpacking through western Europe?

Oof, it’s been a while. Not that I haven’t been thinking about Alias constantly – because I have – but I haven’t had the chance to get over here and tell you all what I’ve been thinking. Yay for school breaks. (Boo for school. Seriously. I’m 33. This is bullshit.)

 

S01E18-19 Recap

In the last episode, Vaughn had an actual idea for once and it was kind of amazing to watch. Who knew the little guy could think! SO. CUTE. AMIRIGHT? Anyways, his idea was that, since Rambaldi’s prophecy said that the horror woman of awfulness who will bring about the end of the world or whatever will have never seen the sun rise over this mountain he thought was super-cool, then if they get Sydney to that mountain and she sees the sunrise, that disproves the prophecy and we can just all get on with our lives. So, they break her out of FBI custody, she climbs the mountain, takes seriously about a single half-second’s glance at the sunrise, then calls the FBI to turn herself in.

When everyone’s back home, Jack tells Sydney that he recently broke into the CIA file room and read about his “dead” wife, only to find out that the CIA had pretty much assumed she’d survived the crash and been alive this whole time. He also found out that Sloane was part of the investigating committee way back when. Jack confronts Sloane, who’s all like whatevs, dude, and so basically, yeah, we’re safe to assume she’s still alive and Sloane’s known about it for decades.

Sydney, always quick with a bad gut instinct, vows to find her. Jack’s all like WHY THE FUCK WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT’S GOING TO DO and damn, Jack, you are sometimes so my favorite.

So, Sydney realizes she can’t talk to Jack about this. As usual when she needs to pout, first she goes to Vaughn, who’s like “ummm….maaaaaaybe don’t talk to me about your mom who killed my dad????”

So, she goes to Sloane. He tells her Jack spent 6 months in solitary confinement when the truth about Laura came out after her “death” and then developed a drinking habit, because he was suspected – like you would be – of conspiring with his wife. Sydney’s like, um, I was alive then and old enough to form clear memories of my father’s presence and behavior, but you know what I pretty much only ever stay focused on me, so this is all surprising. Anyway, Sloane decides to help Sydney and sends her after Khasinau, who it turns out was her mom’s superior officer at the KGB.

 

Dixon accompanies Sydney on the mission and their contact turns out to be Sydney’s ex-boyfriend Noah, who’s been under deep cover for 5 years. Shit goes wrong and they end up extracting him, which suuuuuper pisses Sloane off. Dixon warns Sydney not to get too involved with Noah until he’s been debriefed and they know if he’s, Idunno, evil now or something? The point is, Dixon is smart and knows that Sydney makes horrible decisions, especially about men, but he’s also not quite smart enough to know that Sydney doesn’t listen and won’t take advice, which is why he’s at SD-6 in the first place instead of the real CIA. For some reason, Sydney gets to watch Noah’s psych eval debrief and we get this whole scene where Noah talks about how much he loved Sydney so she can see him say it but he still won’t ever have to say it to her face which is just weird and awkward and anyway get ready for some more patented Sydney bad decisions is what I’m saying.

 

Meanwhile, Jack’s kinda gone off the rails and Sydney’s ready to be just the amazing daughter we know her to be.

 

“Dad, what are you doing here in the middle of the afternoon?” “Drinking, no doy.”

“Dad, what are you doing here in the middle of the afternoon?” “Day drinking, no doy.”

 

Sydney could sympathize, give him some space, offer to be there if he needs to talk about his feelings. Or she could get all “who is he to act in a way I haven’t decided he can” and tell on him to his boss so he’ll be ordered to go to therapy. “Telling on you so you have to go to therapy” was a bad thing when someone did it to Vaughn a few episodes back, wasn’t it? I thought it was, but what do I know.

 

Back at Sydney’s house, which her friends never leave even when she does, Francie borrows (is it borrowing when you just walk into someone else’s bedroom when they’re not home and take their clothes? also, Francie, remember when you refused to borrow Sydney’s clothes because “Thanks, but I have boobs”? No? I’m the only one who remembers what the characters are like from episode to episode? OK. Fine.) a jacket from Sydney, goes through the pockets and finds a ticket from a place where Sydney didn’t tell Francie and Will she was going, and she and Will immediately get all WHY DID SHE LIE TO US??? Then they go to dinner to have a special meeting about Sydney and speculate wildly on why she went to Italy instead of wherever and who she was with and how exactly are they going to confront her – because they HAVE to confront her, I mean, she owes them an explanation of every move she makes – and make her tell them everything, and they even throw in a nice little dose of “if she’s in an abusive relationship, why wouldn’t she just leave?” assholishness for good measure. Ugh. I hate these two. They are the worst.

 

Well, the worst until Sydney and Peter Berg end up in a cabin in the woods and totally do it, at least. But I’m not a huge fan of “we’re running for our lives, so there’s totally time for sex” to begin with.

Then the bad guys show up and they have to run pretty much immediately. Oh, so maybe I am right on this one. Good.

Once they’re back to safety, Noah asks Sydney to run away with him and live off all the money he’s stolen from the Russian mob. And her only problem with this is that she needs to find her mommy first. No joke. “I have a lot of money I stole from scary bad guys. Let’s ditch the different scary bad guys we work for and go think we can hide from ALL the scary bad guys for the rest of our lives! It’ll be great!” “Sure thing, baby, I just need to go find my scary bad mom first, and then we can totally do this!” This show should have just been called Bad Decisions. Even if Sydney did want to run away with him now, though, that’d be too bad because SD-6 has already become suspicious of Noah’s (true story: I mistyped that as “Nah” and I kind of like that better) financial activities and they take him into custody.

 

Also Vaughn mentions something about an assassin called The Snowman that K-Directorate has hired to kill Khasinau, but that probably doesn’t have anything to do with Sydney’s shady boyfriend who’s just reemerged from deep cover where no one really knows what he’s been doing the last 5 or so years and is also being played by someone a little too famous to join this cast permanently. So, it’s a totally good idea for Vaughn to send Sydney after The Snowman as a way of getting to Khasinau. Moving on.

 

SD-6 finds video footage of Sydney’s mom, real name Irina Derevko, being debriefed after Laura Bristow’s “death” and she’s being debriefed by Khasinau and the FBI agent that supposedly died in the same crash. Jack watches the video and makes the Bristow Family Poutface while watching his “dead” wife say things like, “I can tell you one thing: Jack Bristow is a fool,” and BAM! Irina Derevko moves way the hell up my favorite characters list.

 

Sydney cries at Jack until he gets her boyfriend out of SD-6 jail. He’s able to, somehow, and Nah even gets sent along on Sydney’s next mission because it’s not like she already has a partner or anything.

 

Will and Francie confront Sydney about how she’s not allowed to lie to them and they need to keep tabs on her at all times. They’re all “Syd, you can tell us if it’s none of our business” (NO SHE CAN’T) and “But we care about you” (NO YOU DON’T). Anyway, she makes up a really good cover story because for once the writers remembered she’s supposed to be good at lying. Whatever. At least we’re done with her asshole friends for this episode.

 

All the information on Nah’s laptop mysteriously disappears after their mission, and Sloane’s like oh, well, win some, lose some, guess it’s time for you to go back under cover where I can’t keep great tabs on you. Good luck, Nah! You’ve been a stellar employee! Yeah, remember how Vaughn was always telling Sydney that she couldn’t lie to SD-6 about the tiniest thing or withhold any bit of evidence from them because they would immediately be suspicious and have her killed? WHAT THE FUCK, SHOW?

 

So, let’s just finish this up. Marshall reconstructs the laptop data and Sydney gets sent to find the FBI/KGB guy who’s not really dead but SURPRISE! The Snowman got there first. They fight to the death – he falls on his knife because of course we’re still not going to let Sydney murder anyone even when her own life is in danger – and she unmasks him and OH NO! it’s Nah and there was no way to see that coming and yup there’s the patented Bristow poutface again.

 

There is just SO MUCH GREAT POUTING in this one, you guys. It's glorious.

There is just SO MUCH GREAT POUTING in this one, you guys. It’s glorious.

 

Yay-Boo Analysis

Yay!

Boo!

Oh, you still live here.” FUCK YOU, FRANCIE, YOU ARE HORRIBLE AND WE HATE YOU ALSO WHY DO YOU HATE CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES WHICH ARE THE BEST

Oh, man, I love a good Sloane-Jack showdown.

How do you meet up with someone you had a significant relationship with not all that long ago and not recognize their voice? The fuck, show, seriously?

fuck yeah Dixon fight! LET CARL LUMBLY FIGHT MORE, SHOW, HE IS AWESOME

I feel like all the music is wrong, even the incidental music.

Why does Sydney leave anything lying around with such a fucking nosy roommate?

Watching Jack in therapy.

Leaving their particular Alias characters aside, so far Sydney has been stuck for several hours in a woodsy, dimly lit cabin with a roaring fire, having whispery heart-to-hearts with both John Hannah and Peter Berg, and I gotta say, out of the two of them? The one I’d fuck? Is NOT Peter Berg.Bad decisions all around, Sydney.

I will not believe it’s possible to get into leather pants that quickly – and silently – so soon after having sex.

Sloane: “Sydney wasn’t intimate with Tippin. She is with Hicks.”

Jack: “I’m not sure that’s my business. And I know it isn’t yours.”

More wrong music over the “Noah’s free” scene? Honestly, at this point, all the music sounds wrong to me.

Finally, a Sydney-Vaughn showdown that is actually about Sydney being smart and Vaughn objecting on a professional level.

Why does Sydney never pull her hair back before she has to swing upside down for a significant portion of the mission?

fuck yeah Francie smacking Will upside the head!

SERIOUSLY SHOW WHY CAN’T SYDNEY EVER JUST FUCKING KILL SOMEONE DIRECTLY

Total These Episodes: 6 Yays & 9 Boos. Ugh.

Total So Far: 70 Yays & 68 Boos. Still not so bad overall.

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Alias S01E16-17: I can’t believe she cracked your code!

So. Things are finally getting interesting around here. The Yay-Boo Analysis is working, and it’s showing me that I do really like Alias, at least once you get towards the end of season 1. The overall Yays have officially pulled out ahead of the Boos, and I expect this trend to continue until season 3. Seasons 3 and 4 might be a bit dodgy; we shall have to see whether the rest of season 1 and season 2 give us enough of a surplus of Yays to get through.

But we’re definitely getting into the good stuff now! Sloane is starting to be more than just the bad guy in the office. We are getting closer to encountering The Man. Sark and his shifting loyalties are on the scene. And, oh, people, how happy does it make me to think of how close we are to Will hitting absolute rock bottom.

S01E16-17 Recap

The NSA’s paranormal research division is investigating Sydney’s picture in the Rambaldi book and its accompanying “prophecy,” which so far they’ve only half-decoded but even that half says something bad enough that they’re terrified of her. They show up at Vaughn’s office to take all his files and he’s like, “But those are my Sydney notebooks! You can’t take them!” I assume he’s just embarrassed because they’re going to see all the Michael-and-Sydney-in-a-heart notes he scribbles in the margins. I assume that’s what he does when she’s crying about her dad AGAIN and he wants to look like he’s listening to every word.

Then they go after Sydney and she cooperates. They give her a bunch of tests on pattern recognition and stuff, which: I don’t even know why. Then they get to the spinal tap so they can see if she has the Rambaldi-decreed DNA sequence they’re looking for or something and she’s like NO.

SD-6 is tracking Khasinau, who they believe to be The Man behind the recent Tarantinvasion. Sloane extra double wants Khasinau dead, which means getting the Alliance to declare war on him. He calls up his old buddy Roger Moore to make sure he has the votes he needs. Roger Moore is totes on his side, but shows him pictures of Sloane’s other best Alliance friend with Khasinau. Sloane now has to decide whether to kill a good friend or give up his chance at war with Khasinau.

Sydney goes to visit Emily, who intimates she know what Sydney really does for a living and then pours her heart out about what it’s like to be dying of cancer. Sydney starts out in nice mode with her listening ears on, but then she just decides to take what Emily says as a message meant for Sydney personally that she needs to get over herself and submit to the spinal tap and find out the whole truth about the Rambaldi thing. And the writers are doing a little too much forgetting what Sydney’s basic characteristics are these last few episodes, what with the telling her friends where she’s really going on one of her missions and now just completely ignoring her friend’s pain to make it all about her. Sydney has 2 qualities, writers: Nice. In the CIA. Stick with that and you can’t go wrong, I promise.

Basically everyone else is freaking out about the prophecy, too. Minimoose in particular keeps making a huge deal out of Sydney being the woman in the picture and saying stupid shit like, “It’s like 666, guys! You see the writing on the kid’s scalp, you know there’s trouble at home.” Jack is a bit more practical, of course. He and Sydney want to make sure the prophecy has been correctly decoded. He decides – like you would – that breaking into the Vatican to get the original code key is the only solution. His boss is a little iffy on that one, as might be expected. In any case, Jack can’t help Sydney on this one because he has to run SD-6 while Sloane is off murdering an old friend, so Sydney goes to Vaughn for help. He’s all like WHUT until she says she needs him, then he’s just instantly “OK, I’m in.” Then he starts trying to get her to go on a date with him the instant they’re there. (This time she’s the one pointing out that SD-6 would have them killed if they did that and I can’t even with the back-and-forth anymore. And I may have spent a few minutes just screaming OH COME ON AND JUST FUCK IN THE SECRET POPE ART VAULT AND GET IT OVER WITH SO WE CAN ALL MOVE ON WITH OUR LIIIIIIIIIVES is my point.)

In a scene that I really really really love, Sloane goes to meet with the friend he has to kill and the guy immediately pulls out pictures of his new grandbaby and starts talking about how just gol-dang loverly life is these days. That’s the last thing Sloane hears his friend say before he shoots him and walks away and leaves him dead on a park bench. Basically nobody gets an easy time of it emotionally on this show, you guys. At least Sloane can take comfort in the knowledge that he’s eliminated a vote against him and will now be handed his war on Khasinau.

Except that the Alliance votes against war and Sloane’s all OOOOOH SHIIIIIIT while Roger Moore just looks at him like, “Oh. Didn’t you know you were dealing with James Bond? ‘Cause yeah.”

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 5.26.37 PM

And this is what happens when fake fictional spies go up against real fictional spies, Sloane. I hope we’ve learned a lesson here.

Sydney goes out dancing with Will and Francie, where she is promptly arrested by the NSA ’cause they figured out what Rambaldi said and it was pretty much that she’s going to bring about the end of the world. And this is why she should get new friends. Also because Will dances like an asshole.

And then we jump right into another “opening scene/on no!/’24 hours earlier’/it takes half the episode to catch up to the opening scene” deal. Because it’s J J Abrams’ favorite thing, you guys. There’s no other possible thing he could do.

Sydney-in-disguise is leading the police on a car chase. They chase her to the end of a pier, and there’s nowhere else for her to go, so she drives right off it. Because when she’s actually in spy mode, she’s one of my favorite things in the ever of all time.

Flashback! Sydney’s in custody and being interrogated by the FBI asked to recap her backstory for those just hearing about this new Alias show so they’ll be up to speed by the season finale. In other words, go grab a drink, folks. It’s clip show time!

In between clips, Jack and Vaughn meet to discuss Sydney’s predicament. Jack’s worried that Sydney will be held long enough to blow her SD-6 cover and tells Vaughn that she could be held for the rest of her life without any charges or a trial.

 

"But by then we'll be too old to do it!"

“But by then we’ll be too old to do it!”

Vaughn finds a loophole in the prophecy that will clear Sydney from suspicion but they need to find where she’s being held to “extract” her. Minimoose has the secret but Vaughn hasn’t been able to get him to talk. “He’ll talk to me,” Jack says. And I’m like !!!!!!!!!.

 

This is how Jack starts conversations.

This is how Jack starts conversations.

 

Jack, Vaughn and Weiss break Sydney out, we catch up to the opening scene, and after Sydney crashes the car into the water, she breathes out of the tires until things die down enough that she can escape. (And I really wish Mythbusters had tested that part.) Going through this somehow convinces her her mother must have done the same thing and didn’t really die in the accident. She must still be out there and she must the woman in the prophecy instead of Sydney. Now, 2 thoughts on this: Sydney probably could’ve figured this out just from all the foreshadowing, but also: what did breathing tire air under water for 10 minutes do to Sydney’s cognitive abilities? Isn’t it just possible that she has no clue what she’s saying only thinks she has magic intuitive abilities to retroactively read her mom’s mind from 30 years ago? Maybe after your brain undergoes a little light trauma in the form of oxygen deprivation all your desperate parent issues float right to the front of your mind and suddenly they’re the only things you can think about? No, you’re right, I’m being silly. Sydney can read her mom’s past mind and her emotionthoughts always steer her straight. Her mom’s alive. It’s the only logical thought for her to have at this moment.*

 

Yay-Boo Analysis

Yay!

Boo!

We’ve been over that.” “Yes, we have, but not to my satisfaction.”

You move out of my way, or I will make you move out of my way.”

You’re gonna break into the Vatican?!” – Vaughn’s single display of sense in, like, the entire fucking series

retroactive boo – Kobe Bryant is the perfect guy for Francie.

What happens if I need to go to the bathroom?”

We’ll have to extract her.” Oh, Jack

He’ll talk to me.” OH JACK!

Just so we’re clear: you report this conversation, and you’ll never wear a hat again.” OH-HO-HO, JAAAAAACK!!

Seriously, guys. The cops are everywhere.” Yet again, Weiss has all the brains.

just the general fact that they made a clip show in the first place, and specifically that they made a clip show with enough important plot stuck in that we can’t skip it.

 

Total These Episodes: 8 Yays & 2 Boos

Total So Far: 64 Yays & 59 boos

 

 

*Not that I am complaining about Sydney’s mom being alive. No siree, no way, no how. Just that I think Sydney’s methodology’s a little off here.

 

 

Alias S01E14-15: My name is Regina Phalange. I’m a business woman in town on business.

Well, folks we made it through Quentin Tarantino’s unfortunate presence in “The Box” and now we are to be rewarded for our discomfort. It is time for Sark. IT’S TIME FOR SARK! It is the best time (until a little something that happens in S02E01, after which Sark is basically the second-best, but it’s not time for that yet).

So, Sark is just about my favorite Alias character because he’s like a Will you’re allowed to dislike. He has no loyalties, no good side, but he’s the bad guy, so you’re allowed to hate him. He’s also consistent, which makes him only the second character after Will to be consistent, so he’s easy to watch. There’s nothing frustrating about Sark. There’s none of the resentment I feel with Will, where I know I’m supposed to view Will as the good guy but all I see is him being terrible. There’s very little gray area when you’re dealing with Sark, and I respect that about him.

(Also, as a slight aside, did anyone else read this GQ interview with Bradley Cooper where he talked about how horrible it was to play Will because he only worked 3 days a week and eventually got so sidelined that he asked to be written out of the show? I could almost not exactly believe this shit when I read it, because how fucking Will Tippin is that attitude? “But why aren’t I the star of Sydney’s life? This should be more about MEEEEEEEE!” I mean, seriously.)

S01E14-15 Recap

Sloane is showing his team security footage from a break-in at FTL headquarters that took place the same time as QT was performing in his odd little one-man show, oblivious to the plot and script and actors around him, in the last 2 episodes. This break-in was led by a newcomer unknown to any facial recognition databases they’ve checked. Someone who managed to take down the entire security team of the head of FTL, then chase the guy out of the building, then stone cold stare him straight in the eye and shoot him fucking dead in broad daylight.

 

And I already love him.

And I already love him.

 

Sydney wants to quit school because her entire sense of self and all her goals in life are based 100% on “my mom was a lovely person and a teacher and so I’m going to be a teacher like my mom and my dad is a big meanie who lies intentionally to hurt me” and any time those definitions shift even slightly she loses all control on her life and starts making really stupid decisions. She tries to talk to Jack about it and he just cannot fucking deal even a little bit. (Again, when Jack needs to be an emotional wreck, he gets to do it at the office in a suit, not at the bottom of a glass of wine in his robe and slippies.) She talks to her professor about it and, even though all season he’s been telling her her work is slipping and she’s not trying hard enough and maybe she needs to think about whether she should even be in school at all, when she hands him the form he has to sign so she can drop out, he refuses to do it. Because even when Sydney is making bad decisions, she doesn’t get to really make them unless a man on the cast agrees.

 

Speaking of the stupid decisions Sydney makes, she tells Francie that she’s going to Vegas for work. This is a stupid decision because she’s actually going to Vegas. This is the only example I can think of in the show where she actually tells people where she’s going, and it immediately becomes clear why she should never do this, because Francie’s first thought is to climb into Sydney’s suitcase and go with her. Sydney talks her out of it at first, but then Francie and Charlie elope to Vegas and almost ruin everything, because not only did Sydney tell them she was going to Vegas, she told them the fucking hotel she’d be staying at. So, Francie’s calling her all “I’M HEEEEEEERE WHERE AAAAARE YOU WHAT ROOOOM ARE YOU IN????” while Sydney’s running around ten feet away trying to be undercover as a showgirl and at this point I just feel like the writers don’t even remember anymore that Sydney is supposed to be smart and that spies are supposed to be secretive.

 

Anyway, Sydney compromises her mission and almost gets Dixon captured or killed so she can confront Charlie about how she ran into the woman he was actually cheating on Francie with. (Yeah, remember that storyline that got resolved several episodes ago? Well, it’s back for some reason. I guess they all assumed we even remembered that Charlie was ever on the show to begin with so they thought they’d bring him back for 5 minutes to get rid of him for good.) She threatens Charlie into calling off the wedding, then has to tell Francie the truth herself when she finds out Charlie didn’t. Francie, of course, launches right into “You hate Charlie! You just don’t want me to be happy! I hate your job and you’re a terrible person.” And, you guys, I don’t wanna spoil anything here, but I cannot fucking wait until the one where XXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXX XXXXXXX!

 

After all of that, Jack takes Sydney to her favorite childhood carousel to try to apologize for being such an emotionless wall all the time. He tells her how he used to take her here and talk to her mom about his day while Sydney rode the carousel, never knowing that his wife was storing all his work secrets away to pass on to the KGB. And, you know, I kind of love these little glimpses into how Sydney really gets all of her emotionalism and poor personal-life-decision making skills from Jack. Anyway, somehow this is al supposed to mean that Sydney should still be a teacher or something.

 

So, after the whole FTL deal went down, the secret organization that the mystery guy (SARK!) works for set up a meeting with K-Directorate. Sydney is sent to spy on the meeting and this involves her hanging from a wire in an alley while wearing a fur hat and sometimes I really do want her job just for a minute. Except for the part where the bad guys see her and she’s just hanging there mid-air being all shot at and shit. I could skip that part. The fur hat would be fun, though.

 

Back in Sydney’s personal life which they keep making us look at even when she’s not around for some unknowable reason, Will has won an award. His intern-girlfriend tells him about it and assumes he will want to celebrate. He tells her doesn’t want to celebrate, but what he means is that he wants to celebrate with Sydney, whom he immediately calls to brag to and make plans with. Ugh, he is so gross I can’t even sometimes. Then he heads off for a meeting at the jail, after which Jack kidnaps him and fucks with him for a little while to scare him off the story.

 

Now, I’m all for this. I say anything any of these characters can do to teach Will that he’s disgusting and needs to start making different life choices is pretty much the way to go. But then things get even better, because after Jack leaves and Will is stuck in the middle of nowhere, Will calls Jenny to pick him up. And because Jenny is not a horrible person but actually a nice lady trying to have a relationship here, she comes to get him. And he basically gets in the car and says “yeah, I think we should break up,” because that’s something a decent person would say to the person they’re dating who just drove forever to come rescue them. And you know what she does? She kicks him the fuck out of her car and leaves him stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. God, I love that scene. It’s the last we see of Jenny, but, man, she goes out in style.

 

Back in the part of Sydney’s life I care about, Vaughn wants Sydney to use her close relationship with Sloane’s cancer-stricken wife, Emily, to get invited over for dinner and swap out a Rambaldi artifact at Sloane’s house before he has a chance to send it away. He also doesn’t see why she’s upset that she’s being asked to manipulate one of her friends to benefit the CIA. She does it anyway, though, and she brings Will to dinner.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 6_Fotor

That’s Sloane’s “Ugh, not this asshole” face. It’s a great face.

 

During dinner, Vaughn calls Sydney posing as Francie so she has a reason to excuse herself and go steal from Sloane. And I really really really hope this is not indicative of any future foreplay tendencies. Anyway, this scene makes me dream up yet another alternate-reality show that I would watch the hell out of. Because we’re supposed to get all tense in this scene, like “ooooh what’s gonna happen if Sloane catches her,” but if Sloane caught her, Jack would just shoot him in the head and then probably sit down and finish his dinner and I think we all know that. So, yeah, I would watch the “Jack kills Sloane and takes over SD-6” show is what I’m saying.

 

Sydney turns over the artifact (a blank page from Rambaldi’s book) and the CIA makes some magic happen so the ink will appear and this is what they find:

 

DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNNNN!

DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNNNN!

 

 

Yay-Boo Analysis

Yay!

Boo!

No but seriously that opening scene. SARK!

I just wanted to rip his finger right off again.”

Sydney telling Charlie “I will kill you.”

I suppose there are worse places to be stuck,” and then SNACK FIGHT!

Sydney finally has her chance to ruin Francie’s life!

spy fur hats!

mannequin factory fight!

spy banter!

Will misuses “literally”

Total These Episodes: 8 Yays & 1 Boo – Seriously. And my only Boo is a word gripe that I’m pretty much in the minority on anyway. You guys. YOU GUYS LOOK AT THAT! Sark shows up and suddenly I clearly, mathematically love this show!

Total So Far: 56 Yays & 57 Boos

Alias S01E12-13: That was one of the worst things ever. And not just on TV.

(Full disclosure: I watched these episodes weeks ago but haven’t been able to bring myself to think about them. At this point, I can’t read my own handwriting and I may have filled in some of the gaps my notes left creatively. Please accept my apologies for any inaccuracies in this post, but there is just no way I’m watching these episodes again for at least a decade.)

OK, so I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I watched the Quentin Tarantino episodes. I’d been dreading it since I started re-watching, but I powered through. And I think, if it weren’t for the absolute awfulness of QT’s acting, these 2 would be some of my favorite episodes. They explore a really interesting idea: what happens when one of the spies you deem disposable, who works for your secret evil agency and doesn’t know they don’t work for the CIA, gets in a bad situation? Well, if you won’t help them out of it, because you view them as disposable, they might just call the CIA for help. And that could come back around someday to bite you in the ass cut your finger off.

S01E12-13 Recap

But before we get into that interesting situation, we need to wrap up where we left off last episode, with Jack having revealed to Sydney that her mother was not a kind, loving teacher who was the unfortunate victim of Jack’s nefarious KGB activities, but was in fact a super-evil KGB agent who exploited her unwitting husband’s displays of affection in ways that allowed her to engage in maximum amounts of killing CIA agents. This is revealed to Sydney in a CIA conference room, in front of the director of the agency and several other very important people. And Sydney runs out into the hall to have a little meltdown, because of course she does. Ten minutes ago she was all stone-faced, ready to volunteer her father for whatever it is they do to traitorous CIA agents who murder their fellow agents. Now she’s a pouty mess in the hallway who apparently doesn’t care how she just made herself look to her boss, her boss’s boss, and her dad’s boss.

Jack tells her she “can’t lose control” over this, but of course he means “shouldn’t,” because she totally can and she will. In fact, she will go home and tear up old pictures of her mom and toss them into the fire while pouting the poutiest pout that ever was pouted.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 7.34.10 PM

Hey, get me, remembering to grab some screenshots so I don’t just keep saying things like “and then Sydney makes a face” and leaving you to imagine it for yourselves.

Sydney meets with Vaughn in whatever that chain link fence room is they always go to so they can talk about how her mom killed his dad and stuff. She cries, because of course she does, and he has his usual, “Are we sleeping together yet? Am I listening to her? God, is she crying again? What the hell is with all the crying?” face on. Then they share the world’s most awkward hug.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 7.49.02 PM

“God, I hope she doesn’t cry this much during sex.” –Vaughn, who apparently learned nothing about proper hugging in spy school. “Just slap your hand against the back of her head, and manage to look like you’re not actually touching her in any way” is NOT a valid hug technique, buddy!

Sydney decides she’s going to quit SD-6, because everything’s a lie or something. She also wants to go out with Vaughn once she quits so that he can be the one “real” thing she has in her life. Now, this is everything Vaughn’s been pining for, and Sydney’s ready to just hand it to him, so of course he decides he wants the opposite and tells her she can’t quit. Jesus Christ, these two. I swear. He does rightly point out that Sloane will kill her if she quits and doesn’t go into witness protection, so points to Vaughn on that one, because Sydney just…doesn’t think he will. Sure, he killed her fiancé a few short months ago and then tried to have her killed when she tried to quit over that, but he’s been so sweet lately, so he’ll probably be totally cool with her quitting this time.

Anyway. Over at the fake bank, a Mystery Van has arrived, and hiding inside is Quentin Tarantino’s desperate need to inflict his “acting” on audiences and say “behbeh” a lot. Like, a LOT a lot. Shit’s about to get grating as hell around this place, folks. You may want to go pour yourself a drink.

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 10_Fotor

“Punch the ceiling. Knee yourself in the chin. Never blink.” — The QT approach to “believable” running.

Will is having a minor crisis because everyone he talks to gets mad at him for being such an intrusive ass. He’s decided that, since so many people – like, 90 of them by this point – have told him to back the fuck off the Danny/Eloise Kurtz/SD-6 story, maybe he really should. It seriously takes Sydney getting mad at him, Francie getting mad at him, his (female) boss getting mad at him, Eloise Kurtz getting mad at him and then ending up dead because of him, the secret voice on the other end of the brooch communicator terrifying him, and the guy from thirtysomething getting mad at him for potentially putting his daughter in grave danger before Will thinks maybe he’s dealing with something dangerous and should back off. Considering he got into this whole thing thinking he was doing something to help Sydney, Sydney telling him to leave it alone should have been enough. But, no, it takes until Will sees how his actions might negatively affect a man before he realizes things might be getting out of hand.

Sydney storms into SD-6 ready to quit. On her way in, she passes the van and the driver QT left behind to keep watch. He tells her to smile and she gives him such hate face as I couldn’t even capture in a screenshot. As soon as she has her back to him, he points a gun at her head. And I can’t think of anything that’s happened on this show so far that was this realistic.

Jack shows up to talk Sydney out of quitting SD-6, pointing out quite reasonably that even if Sloane let Sydney go without a fight, Sloane is not the top of the organization, so the first thing Sloane’s bosses would do is kill Francie and Will. Again, I say bring it on, but Sydney is really invested in keeping her friends alive for some reason.

In the end, she never gets her chance to quit, because QT has taken over the SD-6 offices and Sloane has initiated emergency lockdown procedures. Sydney and Jack are stuck in the elevator while QT gasses everyone else in the building. I guess the ventilation system in the elevators is completely separate? Because Sydney and Jack stay conscious. Conscious but on their way to the main floor due to the emergency protocol elevator override something or other. They crawl out through the roof and climb down the elevator shaft because they know when the elevator doors open someone will be waiting there to kill them. I don’t believe they needed to worry about this, myself, because this is the guy that was waiting for them:

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If someone could explain this hair to me, please?

I just don’t buy that guy as someone who could take down either Jack or Sydney, let alone the 2 together. (Although, by the end of this arc, we will see QT knock out Sydney while droning on about how “kickboxehz” can’t take a punch, so the vast unbelievability of these episodes probably can’t be overstated and shouldn’t surprise me anymore.)

While Sydney and Jack are crawling around in the SD-6 ductwork, over at the CIA, Vaughn’s taking a moment to deal with the truth about his father’s murder. Don’t worry, though, we’re not going to waste too much time letting one of our main characters feel sad and conflicted over one of the defining facts of his life; that’s mostly Sydney’s deal and the writers know it, so no one else ever really gets much screen time for their inner turmoil. Weiss tries to cheer Vaughn up, and this is when I realize Greg Grunberg should have played Vaughn, because he can act more just by walking through a door than Michael Vartan can mourning the loss of his father.

Then Joey Slotnick shows up as basically Minimoose. We’ve never seen him before but Weiss and Vaughn totally hate him and he seems to have it in for Vaughn for no obvious reason. He’s reported Vaughn for his inappropriate feelings for Sydney, so Vaughn has to see the CIA therapist. I guess this is supposed to make him evil, and everyone certainly plays it that way, but Vaughn actually is way more emotionally attached to Sydney than is appropriate for (a) an agent whose case he handles and (b) someone he’s known for, like, 3 months max. Also he just found out her mother killed his father, which at the very least is going to be awkward to explain to the grandkids, so maybe therapy would actually be a good idea for Vaughn? But when you get Joey Slotnick you’re basically signaling to the audience they should hate him, so hate him we shall.

Back at SD-6, Jack and Sydney are tapping into the closed circuit cameras and sneaking around gathering up Marshall’s spare spy tech and such. QT has tied up all the SD-6 employees and is just speechifying all over the place. We learn that he works for someone called “The Man” now. He used to be a lowly little SD-6 operative, but his last mission went wrong and Sloane essentially left him for dead. When he was captured and tortured he claimed to be a CIA agent but the CIA said they’d never heard of him. So he was tortured some more. He’s a little miffed about all this and so he’s come to drink champagne and spew outdated slang all over Sloane while the rest of his team does some actual work and steals a Rambaldi artifact from the SD-6 vault.

While QT is distracted by his love for the sound of his own voice, Jack uses one of the CCTV cameras to tap out Morse code instructions to Marshall and Dixon, who are the only 2 people at SD-6 with a tendency to sometimes seem actually too smart to have been tricked into working at SD-6. Marshall tries to provide a distraction but it goes badly. Jack ends up having to reveal himself so Sydney can keep crawling around in the ductwork. Dixon tells Jack he wants to contact the CIA and Jack can’t quite come up with a good enough explanation of why that’s a terrible fucking plan, so Dixon does it.

Vaughn, Weiss and Minimoose review Dixon’s message and Vaughn immediately decides it’s true and Sydney’s in trouble and he’s gotta break, like, so many rules to get over there and check it out. He goes to the Credit Dauphine parking garage, where his first order of business is to shoot the “smile” guy in the [dick? do my notes actually say he shoots him in the dick? was that wishful thinking on my part or did it really go down like that?]. He then contacts Minimoose to let him know that Dixon was telling the truth, and Minimoose fulfills his purpose as guy-who-is-on-the-show-so-he-can-be-mean-and-we-can-hate-him by doing fuck all about it.

(Here, my notes utterly fail me. I think the rest of this is correct, but feel free to steer my straight in comments if it’s not.)

Sydney and Vaughn meet up, find all the bombs and defuse them. They meet up with QT’s girlfriend along the way and it turns out she’s a double-agent who apparently drew the short straw on Somebody Here Has to Sleep With Tarantino to Get Closer to The Man day.

Sydney turns herself in to QT to keep him from shooting people. He tells a big story about how he asked her out once and she was too cool for him, then he makes her drink champagne from the same bottle he drank from as some sort of you-made-a-huge-mistake-behbeh revenge thing and I become convinced that J J Abrams let him write his own part for this because everything about it is so out of step with the rest of the show.

QT tortures Sloane for information. It doesn’t work, because Sloane is a fucking badass.

QT’s team is about to break into the vault and there’s a fight scene where we’re supposed to believe he’s tougher than Sydney, who we saw take a guy twice his size back in episode 4.

Jack gets to Sloane and Sloane explains that he gave QT the wrong vault codes and that as soon as his team breaks in the whole place is going to blow up. The only way to override the code is with Sloane’s finger print but he’s stuck in the torture chair, so Jack has to take his finger print. Seriously. Sloane’s all, “Take it, Jack. Take. my. finger. print.” and then Jack just straight-up grabs some, like, bolt cutters or some shit and cuts Sloane’s finger off and carries it back to his office and saves the day with it.

Anyway. Let’s see how I felt about this one, won’t we?

Yay-Boo Analysis

Yay!

Boo!

Jack explains to Sydney that his marriage to Sydney’s mother was basically her mother’s KGB assignment. Nothing her mother claimed she felt at the time was real. “Including wanting to have a family?” asks Sydney, all pouty still. And I want to be, like, “Hey, Sydney, plenty of us weren’t wanted, and you know what we do? We fuckin’ deal.

And I know, I know, that this is more about my own personal feelings and I suppose it really is jarring for someone who always assumed they were a wanted baby to realize the opposite. But whatever. I have also run out of fucks to give on this subject for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with this blog, so Boo it is.

SD-6 has facial recognition software scanning everyone in the building constantly, but Jack is able to bypass bugs to talk openly with Sydney just using his spy pen? That seems like a gap in SD-6’s technological capabilities to me.

Why is Sydney’s spy shit always makeup?

the tiny little fuck yeah Vaughn moment where he defends giving Sydney a Christmas present

QT’s “behbeh” is another example of a not-white spy who does sexy stuff to get her spying done. Meanwhile, in this episode we see that even when all her friends are under attack the show won’t let Sydney flat-out kill anyone, only put them on a path that leads to someone else killing them.

I can’t be the first person to have difficulty taking you seriously, can I?” This is the episode where we really start to see what a fucking badass Sloane is.

Do we ever see QT blink? Like, does it happen even once?

J J Abrams entire musical style consists of just speeding up or slowing down that one sample off his old Casio.

retroactive Boo!: Mythbusters has taught us that C4 is just not as terrifyingly sensitive as all that. Sydney and Vaughn could have lit it on fire and made s’mores to fortify themselves before defusing the bombs and everything would have been fine.

QT has a bad-ass hot chick spy of a girlfriend but acts all surprised that a girl was trying to sabotage his plans the whole time?

Will goes on and on at Francie about all the trouble his inexcusable nosiness is getting him into, and Francie laughs at him! Three times! Francie is sort of alright, for the moment.

I’m not scared of you.” “Well, you should start being scared of me.”

Fuck yeah Sloane! totally breaking QT

But fucking seriously! it pushes QT to murder his girlfriend

Hands-tied-behind-backs kicky fights!

Sloane’s finger!

We’re supposed to believe QT can fight?

WHY DOES HE TALK LIKE THAT THO

Total These Episodes: 7 Yays & 11 Boos

Total So Far: 48 Yays & 56 Boos

That Game Should NOT Be Played Without My Supervision: Romantic Comedies for People Who Hate Them

I like romantic comedies. I kind of totally love them, in fact. But I get that they’re not for everyone. All that meet cute, easily cleared up misunderstandings that no one bothers to clear up, manufactured tension, breaking up only to get back together at the last minute stuff can get a bit cloying. And a lot of them don’t really have the best things to say about the nature of monogamous heterosexual relationships. (Let’s save the underrepresentation of non-monogamous and/or non-heterosexual relationships for another post.) Lots of shrill, controlling women and clueless man-children, except in the ones that are populated with moony women desperate for marriage and the emotionally manipulative men who like to toy with them for a few hours before admitting, oh, yeah, I totally love you and stuff.

So, why do I like them? I like seeing characters connect, find someone who gets them. I like watching actors who have good chemistry fall in love on screen. I like neat, tidy endings and I really like love stories but I don’t like being made sad when it all ends tragically. I also agree with what Roger Ebert said in his review of Norman Jewison’s 1994 romantic comedy, Only You: “There is a fine line between the Idiot Plot, so called because the characters act in defiance of common sense, and what we might call, in deference to Jewison’s 1987 hit, the Moonstruck Plot – in which the characters also act in defiance of common sense, but we don’t mind because it’s fun.” I watch romantic comedies to have a little fun. I like watching the work of people who really know what they’re doing and I’m always intrigued when I end up loving a movie despite the absurdities of its plot.

Another thing I like is sharing the things I enjoy with the people whose company I enjoy and trying to make it all happen in a way that they will enjoy. So, every so often I embark on a quest to introduce someone who does not like romantic comedies to the reasons why I love them. I’m not trying to change their minds, exactly, or—well, OK, I guess I am trying to change their minds, technically, but I’m not trying to force them to like something they hate just to please me. I only do it if I really think there are romantic comedies out there they would like. I want to see their perspective on the things I’m really into and if in the process I get them sort of into it in some way as well, then yay for me and my excellent taste.

I am just about to embark on a new quest. In preparation, I’ve dusted off my old Intro to Romantic Comedy curriculum and I’m making some adjustments. It’s been years since I took someone new through the program and I’ve seen some really good movies since then which I think deserve a place on the schedule. I’m taking the opportunity to watch some new ones, too, and to re-watch some old ones to make sure they still hold up. I like to tailor the order and/or exact movies for each person. For example, this person does not want to watch Meg Ryan fall in love. That’s fine by me, as I think most of her biggest romantic comedies are about terrible people acting in horrible ways and we should not be happy at the end of them, but it does mean finding a suitable replacement for When Harry Met Sally… in the iconic/classic/not necessarily about terrible people being horrible to each other/has some really snappy dialogue category.

The order and the movies can change as needed, but I do have an opinion on the correct order of types of movies for maximum not-hating to occur. I think it’s important to start with a movie that is not a romantic comedy. There is a difference, to me, between a romantic comedy and a comedy with a love story in it. Let’s use Hugh Grant as an example because, come on, we’re talking about romantic comedies here. Notting Hill is a romantic comedy. The entire movie is about William and Anna and how they feel and whether they will get together. Music & Lyrics is a comedy with a love story in it. The entire movie is about Alex’s attempt at a comeback and the fact that he and Sophie end up a couple is incidental. However, the relationships in comedies with love stories in them tend to follow a very similar path to the relationships in romantic comedies and there tend to be a lot of common elements between the 2 subgenres, so I think a comedy-with-love-story acts as a good first, maybe even tentative, step on the road to watching a full-blown romantic comedy.

Within the true romantic comedy category, where everything is about the couple and the will they/won’t they stuff – the stuff that gets tedious if you’re not feeling it – I like to pick out some examples with great supporting casts. If the characters surrounding the main couple are funny enough and have enough going on, then you can sort of ignore the love story that the whole movie’s supposed to be about if you want. Notting Hill again serves as a good example. Anna’s kind of an asshole and William’s kind of a sap. I’m happy when they finally get together and all, but I’d probably enjoy hanging out with William’s friends more than with William and Anna themselves.

Finally, if we’re going to explore lands beyond these ones, I like to make sure there’s some serious good chemistry between the leads because otherwise there might not be enough to distract you from the general silliness and/or offensive elements of the plot. We’ll get more into this when we talk about Only You.

With all of this in mind, I’m setting up a list of movies I want to show my friend and discuss with her. I’m also putting together a little trading-card style preview of stats on each movie so she can see what’s in store (and exercise her veto power if she’d like). Here’s what I’m looking for in each movie:

  • Is it a romantic comedy or comedy w/a love story?
  • Does it pass the Bechdel Test?
  • The number & type of problematic scenes, characters, and/or dialogue.
  • Does the movie present stalking as romance or otherwise normalize dangerous and abusive behaviors within romantic relationships?
  • Does the plot take an hour to deal with something that could be solved via a single, candid conversation?
  • Are there straight girls hating on each other because the writers couldn’t think of anything better?
  • Is jealousy presented as a legitimate rule when neither party has consented to any sort of terms of commitment?
  • Does Meg Ryan fall in love?
  • Are there unpleasant associations to be made with the real lives of those involved in the film?

I’m really looking forward to this quest and I’ll be writing more about it here as we go. There will likely be Strong Opinions flying everywhere. You will probably get several paragraphs on my Theory of the Relative Boringness of Laura Linney and Kristen Scott Thomas. Also my belief that we should elect Richard Curtis President of Romantic Comedies or at least consider not letting anyone else make them without his supervision. So, check back soon, because shit is about to get romantic as fuck around here.

Alias S01E10-11: That is brand new information!

Well, we’re halfway through the season, so it’s time for J J Abrams to show back up and write us an episode or two where everything will change. He’ll be back again at the end, and then midway through the next season, and so on. Now, me, I kinda like the sheer stupidity of turning your show into an entirely new show every dozen or so episodes. I think it shows spunk. But the oh-god-the-entire-world-is-upside-down episodes are also some of the worst written and most laugh-worthy. I guess they sort of provide a concentrated example of everything I hate/love/am confused by about the show.

 

S01E10-11 Recap

So, Sydney has been captured and is being held for questioning by SD-6 about her suspected status as a mole. For once the fact that she goes into every mission with, like, 80 CIA devices strapped to her person caught Marshall’s attention. Sloane sends in Russek, Sydney’s temporary partner, to act like he’s been tortured because they suspect him as well and he will be killed if Sydney doesn’t come clean. Sloane knows this tactic should work because, well, if anyone knows about manipulating Sydney through the use of threats to those close to her…. But she figures out the truth because Russek blinks wrong. No joke.

Sydney refuses to talk. Meanwhile Jack falsifies some data to prove that Russek is a K-Directorate agent and it was his signal Marshall picked up, not Sydney’s. Russek totally gets tortured to death. Good thing Dixon was conveniently out of commission for the last few episodes and Sydney needed a new partner no one really cared about!

Will stumbles across the term SD-6 and meets with an imprisoned computer programmer who is the only person to have ever spoken about SD-6 on record. He is told in no uncertain terms to kindly fuck off. He won’t, of course, but it’s always nice to see someone treating Will with the amount of respect he deserves.

Once Sydney is cleared of suspicion, she’s sent after Hassan once again. She finds that he’s been given a fake nose a new identity, complete with a whole new face that makes him unrecognizable, and is now living in Cuba. Sloane sends Jack to Cuba to kill Hassan, but he’s actually gonna fake his death and turn him over to the CIA, except he gets captured by Hassan instead. Sydney sneaks into Cuba to save Jack, except she gets captured by Hassan too. Jack is ordered to kill Sydney to prove to Hassan he’s telling the truth about helping Hassan fake his death to get SD-6 off his back. Jack – seriously no joke – blinks out Morse code instructions to Sydney on how they can fight off the bad guys together, and then they totally do. And, what with all the blinking that’s been going on and also the retinal scanner stuff coming up later in the episode, I cannot even tell you how upset I am that there was not a single quote I could pull for the title of this post from the episode of Friends where Michael Vartan played an eye doctor. It’s like the universe doesn’t even love me today.

So, Sydney and Jack fake Hassan’s death and then he leads the CIA to his secret bunker of weapons. He intentionally almost gets Sydney killed during the bunker mission as a way of forcing the CIA into providing protection for his family, but don’t worry, because Vaughn is basically never not ready to take drastic measures to save Sydney’s life, so all ends well.

Also, it turns out fighting off bad guys together can bring a girl and her father closer, but – SHOCKER! – just when Sydney starts to think that her dad is sort of OK, she gets information that changes everything she thought she knew about him. The CIA has analyzed the secret codes Sydney found in her mom’s old books and determine they were orders to a KGB agent to kill CIA agents, including Vaughn’s dad. Sloane’s thing about how the best way to get Sydney to act is by giving her The Sads over her friends is spot-on, so she and Vaughn turn Jack into the CIA. But Jack shows up at the meeting to set the record straight. Yes, basically everything that Sydney has suspected about the FBI investigations and the codes in the books and the murder of Vaughn’s dad is all correct. “But, Sydney, I was not that [KGB] agent,” says Jack. “Your mother was.” (DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNNNN!)

 

Yay-Boo Analysis

Yay!

Boo!

I like Sydney’s habit of nervous-talking just before she gets tortured. She always holds up to the torture like a champ, but first there’s all the “w-w-w-w-w-wait!” and, I don’t know, I find it charming, I guess.

Sydney finally yells at Will for his relentless hatred of her job!

Jack don’t blink when he lies. Oh, no.

Neither your experience nor your intelligence gives you the right to question a single thing I do.” Alternate show concept #4 that I would watch the hell out of: the Jack-dresses-down-Vaughn-for-an-hour-every-week show.

Vaughn gives Sydney a picture frame and the first thing she does is look for a picture of her mom to put in it. GOD, SYDNEY, COULD YOU HAVE SLIGHTLY MORE OBVIOUS PARENT ISSUES AND COULD THEY BE A LITTLE MORE LINKED TO YOUR ROMANTIC LIFE? ‘CAUSE IT’S NOT CREEPY AT ALL, SERIOUSLY.

Why didn’t you say something [about SD-6 being evil when they first recruited me or any other time in the last 7 years]?” Excellent point, Sydney! Let’s have more interactions with your dad like this and less of the pouty, whiny stuff, please.

Seriously, Sloane? You’re just gonna let Jack, who’s just gotten back from a trip, sit there with a bullet wound and a torn up face, while you say “we may never know” who killed Hassan? You actually think your staff is as stupid as they really are, don’t you?

Oh, god, stop saying “mysterious package.” I can’t stand it.

No one can rewind a tape to exactly the moment they need on the first try like that.

 

Total These Episodes: 6 Yays & 3 Boos — look at that! I loved this one twice as much as  I hated it!

Total So Far: 41 Yays & 45 Boos

Also, in keeping an eye out for the lack of a threat of rape, which we talked about a bit last time, I did notice there were some rapey moments in this one, but still nothing near the level I’ve come to expect from your average piece of entertainment. One of the bad guys licks Sydney’s face while she’s posing as a dancer auditioning at his club. However, the show does acknowledge how gross this is by letting Sydney be clearly upset about it. Then Vaughn tries to threaten Hassan with “you’re totally getting’ raped in prison, dude, unless you cooperate and I send you to the nice prison where they don’t rape people.” Which I suppose could be attributed to the fact that Vaughn is supposed to be not great at his job and prone to saying/doing the wrong things, but really just comes across as lazy writing to me. I don’t necessarily have an opinion on these 2 scenes, but I want to make sure I acknowledge whenever something like this happens.

 

But seriously, you guys, I’m kind of excited. We’re really starting to get into the stuff I’m pretty sure I love about this show. Shit is about to get so ridiculous you just don’t even know. The best characters are coming up soon. Sark will be here soon! SARK!! SARK IS THE BEST CHARACTER!!!

 

But I’m also less than excited, because first we have sit through the Quentin Tarantino 2-parter. Which overall is not terrible, but he is. Quentin Tarantino is just so terrible when he tries to act. And he’s far from not-terrible in all the other ways, too, but I’m going to stick to the ways he’s terrible on Alias. I’m not looking forward to the next 2 episodes, is what I’m saying.

I just need to remember that Sark is on his way. SARK IS ON HIS WAY!!!!

Alias S01E07-09: Rachel ALWAYS cries!

Imagine that you haven’t eaten in a while. Your blood sugar’s pretty low, you’re getting a little shaky. And maybe you haven’t slept quite enough the last few nights. Imagine how easily and perhaps even extremely you would react to emotionally stimulating events. I know when I get like that, it’s very easy for me to go from THIS IS THE FUNNIEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN to OH GOD WHY DOES EVERYTHING END, THE WORLD IS AN ENDLESS CHAIN OF HORRORS in about 10 seconds. That’s basically Sydney Bristow.

She’s supposed to be this super-capable spy who holds it together even when staring straight into the eyes of the man who killed her fiancé or lying to her very best friends about what she does and where she goes. One would expect a fairly even level of displayed emotion from her regardless of what she really feels. Look at Jack. Jack can have a flashback/hallucination about his former wife and his daughter finding out the truth about her – which is a pretty nasty truth and something he’s spent 20 years trying to ensure Sydney will never find out – while he’s in the chair for a psych evaluation by the evil organization he’s secretly trying to destroy from within, and the only outward reaction he has is to ask to step out into the hall for a sec. Sydney, on the other hand, might start out all stoic but all someone has to do is say, “Hey, remember how your mom’s dead? And your dad’s a jerk? Yeah,” and she will fucking lose it.

I wonder if this is due to the fact that there’s a different writing staff on every episode. Then again, I have been complaining about how Sydney is always flying halfway around the world, doing some pretty intense work wherever she lands, then immediately flying back to L.A. to be emotionally abused by those closest to her, so maybe her not-quite-controlled emotions are just the only evidence of the extreme stresses she’s under at all times every day? Who knows. It’s probably just because women be cryin’.

S01E07-09 Recap

Trapped in the K-Directorate-run psych hospital, having just discovered her SD-6 partner with his throat slit and hearing the bad guys coming for her, Sydney makes all the faces – ALL OF THEM! It’s like the face equivalent of the costumes and stunts; once they knew how much Jennifer Garner could do, they made her do all of it at once. I’m not saying it doesn’t work. This show would have bombed so hard if it weren’t for Jennifer Garner. She is never less than completely dedicated to whatever foolishness the script asks of her.

Sydney gets captured and tortured for information. I was excited to get to this scene because I think it gives us a good opportunity to start exploring something allisor brought up in the comments on the pilot episode. Sydney is regularly tortured, beaten up, or threatened, and most often it’s by men. Bad men. Mean men. But there’s never a threat of rape (that I can remember, at least; we will soooooooo be going over it if that does happen, no worries). The closest I can think of is the weird/gross “I’m going to force you to drink this champagne I also drank as some sort of substitute/revenge for you never going out with me” thing from the Quentin Tarantino episode. (Which, are we surprised that the rapiest the show ever gets is when QT shows up? No. No, we are not.) I’m keeping allisor’s words in mind as I go through the show, and watching this scene again, I was struck by the fact that they change Sydney into a hospital gown and put her in a tub full of water to torture her, and somehow the gown does not become see-through. It’s not even really that short. We have a woman laid out on her back, wearing one rather flimsy garment, chained up, and soaking wet, and there’s no objectification happening. This is an aspect to the show I never picked up on until allisor pointed it out, and I think it’s really going to gain the show some Yays.

Sloane tells Jack that Sydney’s been caught. Vaughn arranges a secret meeting with Jack to inform him as well. Vaughn wants to pull her out, but Jack says no, Sydney wouldn’t want to risk revealing her true allegiances to SD-6. This is basically the same thing Vaughn has been telling Sydney whenever she starts feeling like Dixon should know the truth, but in that case the potential for Sydney to someday sleep with Vaughn wasn’t at stake, so we can see why he feels differently about things now. Jack also takes the opportunity to tell Vaughn he knows Vaughn took his file and basically he’s in charge of, like, everything, and Vaughn needs to stop thinking he’s so special and smart and also Sydney doesn’t even like-like him, so there. And I love Jack, is what I’m saying.

Meanwhile, in Bucharest, Sydney and the K-Directorate guys work out a deal. They both need the location where John Hannah buried someone he was sent to kill, whose DNA is the only way to decipher a code. Sydney’s the only one who knows how to get this information out of his head. K-Directorate lets her go if she can get the location by evening, but John Hannah won’t trust her, because he recognizes her and thinks she’s part of whatever group gave him his horrible nightmares of killing people. He’s also started to suspect that the dreams he’s having are actually memories and that he has killed people, so he wants to stay locked up to protect others. Not that this desire has stopped him from beating Sydney up every time she comes close. Anyway. She tells him he is actually remembering things, they’re not dreams, and in his next dream he remembers why Sydney seems so familiar – he saw her picture at Danny’s apartment the night he murdered Danny.

Back in L.A., Will’s still mad Litvack won’t just let him do whatever he wants. Eloise Kurtz has been found dead and Will believes her murder is linked to Danny’s. Litvack makes some very good points about journalists being discredited when they rush to press with gut feelings and weird coincidences, but Will doesn’t listen because she’s only been doing this for most of his life.

A few episodes back, Marshall found a leak where the CIA had tapped into the network. Sloane has someone working on finding a mole at SD-6 and he tells Marshall that the leak was a test that he passed. Marshall seems a bit suspicious that they would test by leaking real files over an unsecured connection, but he buys Sloane’s explanation eventually, because, after all, one of the advantages of having a staff who thinks they work for the CIA is that you’re gonna hire a lot of people who can be convinced of unbelievable things easily.

Eventually John Hannah does help Sydney escape and gives her the location of the body. Once they get to a place where they can stop and contact SD-6, he tells her all about the things he’s been remembering and she is so sympathetic and calm, telling him it’s not his fault. Then he tells her he was the one who killed Danny and her hair-trigger emotional system kicks in and she runs through the forest sobbing, but don’t worry, she comes back in 5 minutes later and she’s pretty much fine.

When Sydney finally gets home – after, you know, being captured by the enemy and tortured – and walks into her home, where Francie does not live, Francie’s first words are “Where the hell have you been? I called you 3 times!” I’m just skipping this because Francie is horrible and I hate her.

The dead guy’s DNA leads SD-6 to a Rambaldi artifact being studied at Oxford. Sydney and Dixon are sent to confiscate it during a fancy party, and you know how when someone’s using Bluetooth they just look like they’re talking to themselves in public and it attracts more attention than if they just used a cell phone? Yeah, that’s how I feel when I see them talking into their earpieces in the middle of a crowded room. Also, Anna is already at the fancy party flirting her ass off with old professor guys to try to get the artifact before Sydney. Sigh.

Will finally convinces Litvack there’s enough of a story to go with on the Danny-Eloise Kurtz murders, but when she tells him this he says he doesn’t want to do it because Sydney will find out. He keeps digging up info, of course, he just doesn’t want to publish it because Sydney will get mad and there go his chances. We get some of the truth about Eloise Kurtz when we learn Jack sent her to distract Will, but Sloane found out and had her killed. Sloane orders Jack to get the Will situation under control or kill him, and I’m all, “KILL HIM! KILL HIM!” but Jack decides to just start messing with him instead, which is actually better. We also learn that Jack chose Eloise Kurtz because she had the highest rating as a field agent from the psych evaluation guy? She was nervous and weird and took her own car to meet with Will. Is the psych evaluation guy slipping or are potential recruits getting smarter about what is and is not the actual CIA?

Sydney stops by the college for beg for more time and better grades from her teacher. Now, I am partway through an Associate’s from a community college, so I basically know nothing about how education works. I ask you, friends with Master’s degrees: do you get this many chances to fuck up, this many extensions and favors? Do you only ever have 1 teacher? Because Sydney only ever has 1 teacher aside from the old guy who was just in the pilot. And, given the time frame we’re working with, I would assume this is all still one semester and she should still have that teacher from the pilot? She had midterms in the pilot and now it’s Thanksgiving. Maybe the first guy died and Other Teacher Guy took over and that’s why he’s going so easy on everybody? I don’t know, I’m drifting off the point, but I guess the college stuff is just another way Sydney’s life makes no sense to me and I really wish J J Abrams hadn’t needed to just keep hammering in the “What If Felicity Was A Spy??????!!!!!” concept.

But, yeah, so Sydney’s sent to Italy to get a Rambaldi clock fixed and it turns out when you stick the thingy she got from the church in Spain into the clock you get magic! She and Dixon are sent to a mountain to find more magic. Anna shows up, throws Sydney off a ladder and shoots Dixon. Sydney, who for some reason has a special phone from the CIA that she can use on this mission but has no exit/extraction strategy in place with SD-6 should things go wrong, calls the CIA to rescue Dixon. She fakes a cover story for Sloane, but Dixon isn’t actually stupid even when he’s bleeding out, and he hears her contact the CIA.

Sydney tells Will and Francie that she and Dixon were injured in a bank robbery. Will acts like a total douche, demanding details from Sydney because her story doesn’t make sense to him. Francie – FOR FUCKING ONCE, THANK YOU!!!!!!! – tells him to shut his useless mouth. Then he’s all, “Uh, yeah, Sydney, thank…um, god? yeah…you’re alright and stuff,” because he’s disgusting.

Sydney is sent to spy on Hassan from a few episodes ago. Sloane orders a hit on her while she’s on her mission. Vaughn goes into Sydney-savior mode, but Jack figures out that the hit was a bluff that only the CIA saw and orders Vaughn to call off the extraction team. Vaughn doesn’t want to listen, because he is a child. And Jack’s all, “Remember how your dad was a CIA agent who got killed, Vaughn? Ya know who’s still the fuck alive, buddy? SO MAYBE LISTEN?” Or not really, but he still wins and proves his point. The extraction team is ordered to stand down, the hit does not go through, and Sydney has just proved her loyalty to SD-6, or at least a bunch of men who care about nothing but Sydney have proved it.

Even so, Marshall detects Sydney’s CIA communicator signal on her next mission and turns her in to the guy who’s looking for the mole and keeps telling Sloane it’s Sydney but Sloane won’t listen. This time he kind of has to, so he has Sydney taken into custody.

Yay-Boo Analysis

Yay!

Boo!

Jack oh so politely calling Vaughn just as stupid as he is

the unsexy bathtub torture scene

Sydney & her stupid emotions

Francie & her stupid neediness

semi-public proposals are bad too

I love how awkward it gets when Jack shows up at Thanksgiving.

Litvack is awesome, even if she’s unnecessary.

They reused a bag-dropping scene; some of us pay attention to this show, you know!

more sexy Anna

More Sydney being genuinely nice to everyone – sympathizing with John Hannah even after he tells her about Danny, telling Will his date is cute, her reaction to Vaughn saying he broke up with Alice, she’s even nice to her dad for once and brings him Thanksgiving leftovers.

Sydney proves she’s being followed because there’s no signal in the parking garage – the same parking garage where she tricked a bad guy by getting Francie to call her cell in the pilot. Jesus fuck, writers, watch your own damn show sometimes! (Also, 8 episodes in and they’re recycling gags as well as footage?)

I do love watching Sydney stare down Sloane.

And I do have a fondness for Marshall saying he’ll use “the maximum amount of brevity possible.”

ballpoint pen spy signal scrambler!

Why did Sydney get CIA training on fooling a lie detector? Shouldn’t SD-6 have done that first?

You know, I bet if I had a job that sent me on 7 trips a month, my friends would be super pumped I got to see so much of the world instead of whining all the time. Except maybe they’d actually be asking whether I was sick of San Diego yet.

Oh, god, Sydney has too much blood to the “emotional part” of her brain. Women!

Rambaldi stuff makes you live forever!

And they’re recycling gags from before the show – this time it’s Anna’s team who kills a guy with a sniper rifle as soon as Sydney gets the info.

Sydney finds the secret KGB codes because lemonade and candles. Women!

Sydney does the opening-her-shirt-to-show-she-was-wearing-a-vest-thing. I hate that thing.

Why am I even talking to you?” That is basically the only way to deal with Vaughn.

spy spray!

Total These Episodes: 11 Yays & 12 Boos. Hrmm, it’s a close one.

Total So Far: 35 Yays & 42 Boos