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On TV Today's Date:

A Missing Link
original air-date: 10-19-03

Be Kind. Rewind: Jack prevented Marshall from identifying Syd as Lazarey's murderer, Lauren and Sydney clashed for the first time, and Spy Girl and Boy Scout embarked on a mission together just like old times.

While this week's episode has some major issues concerning believability (we'll get to that soon enough), it did entertain and helped expand on this season's big mystery: what exactly happened to Sydney Bristow?

At the beginning of the episode, we're right where we left off. Syd's conflicted about killing Lazarey and Jack tells her that keeping her involvement a secret is the only way for her to really learn the truth without being subjected to mind-numbing pain. Spy Girl later tells her father that maybe she should have told the CIA what happened immediately after she found out because she thinks the procedures the government would perform on her can't be any worse than the pain of not knowing. Jack counters with an emotional, "Yes, they can."

Obviously, the writers are hinting that Jack might have first hand experience regarding the techniques the CIA uses to recover memories. Perhaps, they used some of them on the senior Agent Bristow after Laura/Irina died/disappeared.

Of course, Jack's superb parenting skills are called into question later in the episode when he reveals Syd's crime to Dixon. Yes, it was a smart idea to tell the truth after Sydney was assigned to a deep cover case because Dixon cannot inform Laura or the NSC without jeopardizing the mission, but what happens when the operation ends? Won't Spy Daughter then be subject to the very practices that Daddy was trying to protect her from?

It's possible that Jack believes that Sydney will recover her memory so that the CIA won't have to go to extremes to find out what happened, but all in all this just seemed like a huge leap in reasoning for the normally level-headed Jack.

Speaking of things that didn't make sense, why was Vaughn called into Dixon's office with Sydney when it was revealed that she was Lazarey's murderer? There was no reason for him to be present, he was not involved in concealing the tape at all, and the scene would have worked just as well if he hadn't been there. The main purpose of exposing Vaughn to Sydney's indiscretion was so that he'd have to lie to Lauren and the writers could create even more tension between husband and wife and further complicate the Syd-Vaughn-Lauren triangle. Because, you know, there just wasn't enough angst between the three of them to begin with (insert eyeroll here).

The best part of the episode had to do with the mission to stop a group of criminals from getting their hands on bio-weapons. The head of this group is Simon Walker, a British man who seems to be in league with Sark and the Covenant in some capacity or another. Walker also knows Sydney not as her Spy Girl self, but as an assassin named Julia. Syd, whether she is just a really good improviser or subconsciously remembers how her alter ego behaved, has little problem slipping into the role of Julia.

The fact that Syd was not just a mindless killer being controlled by some outside source, but had an actual identity and relationships during the two years she can't remember is very intriguing. She obviously was used for someone else's purposes, but it seems that she was also capable of independent thought and decision-making. This will most likely cause Syd to feel double the guilt, which will up the overall angst factor of the show. Goody.

While we're on the subject of angst, the number of tormented looks exchanged between Boy Scout and his former love peaked at four this episode. Doesn't seem like too high a number, does it? But, when you consider that the show is an average of 42 minutes in length, divided by a total of four looks, that forces us viewers to sit and watch one of these longing-tortured gazes every 10.5 minutes. Add in the factor that the tension between the two is rapidly increasing and we may soon see a show that has no dialogue; it will just be a show about two people staring at each other. Man, I knew math would come in handy some day.

Let's move on to my favorite part of this episode; the sheer ridiculousness of the scene where Syd has to steal a necklace in order to become a part of Simon Walker's team. First of all, there's no way Spy Girl would have walked away from a dive off a balcony that high into a pool that wasn't that deep without so much as a scratch on her. And, second, there is no way that all those people around that pool wouldn't have reacted in some way to her death-defying jump, and I mean other than a pool boy handing her a towel. Third, the necklace is seen wrapped around Syd's ankle when she gets back to the team's van, but it is not shown on her anywhere when she dives and it's highly unlikely that it would stay of her ankle in this situation anyway. So, the question is: Was this simply another scene created to get Ms. Garner to strip down to her skivvies?

The answer is an emphatic yes, and the sad part is they have accomplished this task with more believability in past episodes, so you'd think they'd have it down to a science by now.

This week's cliffhanger, Vaughn passed out in the woods after Sydney stabs him, is really no cliffhanger at all. We all know that Spy Boy will live to see another day and share many more deeply meaningful gazes with Syd and wifey (if any one wants to place bets on exactly how many, feel free to email me). Learning the truth about Sydney's disappearance and finding out exactly what her split personality Julia was up to while Ms. Bristow's brain was on sabbatical is something to look forward to. Seeing more of the already tiresome triangle is something to dread.

Rebecca Sparling

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