Thursday, January 06, 2005
However, last night Alias returned from a seven month hiatus to kick off its fourth season with a two hour episode that essentially served as a platform to relaunch the show.
For those unfamilar with the show: Alias airs on Wednesday nights at 9 on ABC. The show, in a nutshell, is about CIA agent Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) balancing her life with her work as a spy.
I’ve been a fan of Alias since it began: I am a big fan of spy genre stuff. I practically know some 007 films by heart (particularly the Connery films), I loved the first Mission: Impossible movie (hated the second), and if I had time I’d watch MI-5 on A&E. I love the heroic derring-do, the thrill of espionage, the cat-and-mouse games spys play in the movies and on TV. Alias is, as my wife describes it, a female James Bond. Monogamous, no British accent, and with a decent number of Sarah McLachlan songs on the soundtrack, Alias is still very Bond-ish: shoot-outs, lies and deceit around every corner. It’s a great show.
I’d give last night’s episode three out of four stars. Not as good as the post-Super Bowl episode two years ago, but still pretty great. For those not in the know: the third season of the show closed off with Sydney’s on-again / off-again lover killing his treacherous ex-wife, who told Sydney as she died of a safety deposit box in a German bank. Sydney retrieved the box and learned of a shocking secret, of which her father Jack (her boss at the CIA) told her she “was never supposed to find out”.
As I said, the episode relaunched the show: creator J.J. Abrams apparently realized that last year’s dramatic plot twists (Sydney vanishing for two years at the end of season two, Vaughn’s marriage and revelation about his wife’s true allegiance) had wrecked havoc on the show and that Alias needed to re-emphasize Sydney’s personal life. Adding Sydney’s half-sister to the cast is a good idea: lots of family pathos there for them to explore. The big secret was revealed in last night’s show – Jack killed Sydney’s mother (to save Sydney’s life) – is obviously going to be the big plot line of the first half of the season, since Sydney’s sister vowed to avenge Mom’s death. It’s a twisted story and you can see that it is going to end with Sydney and her sister fighting it out.
The genius of Alias, and the reason why it’s still a great show, is its ability to reinvent itself. The Super Bowl episode two years ago stunned fans of the show by destroying the show’s villians and cracking the paradigm plot of Sydney working for the CIA as a double agent inside a terrorist organization called SD-6. Last year’s two-year absence mystery shook things up (for the worse as it turned out, as Vaughn put it, the last year “sucked”). The re-emphasis of family ties and Sydney’s new job working for the CIA’s block ops unit APO (under the show’s former villian, SD-6 boss Sloane) will provide the producers with a lot of interesting stories for year four. I can’t wait to see what happens.
Tomorrow, some baseball.