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On TV Today's Date:

original air-date: 03-08-04

Be Kind. Rewind: Marshall became a dad. Sloane had a secret he was unwilling to divulge to the CIA's shrink. Lauren and Sark teamed up to create an evil and sexy duo.

Alias fans waited three long weeks for a new episode and all their patience was rewarded with was an episode that can be summed up in one word: disappointing.

Not only did we have to suffer through another car chase that was little more than a shameless promotion for Ford cars and trucks ("Quick!" Syd shouted, "The F-150!"), but we were treated to an episode that repeated half a dozen scenes over and over. Whereas this season's "Full Disclosure" repeated scenes from episodes past, "Blowback" repeated several scenes told from different points of view.

Now to some this may have seemed inventive, telling the story through the eyes of different characters, but, in my opinion, it didn't work in this episode. The general purpose of structuring an episode in such a way is so that the audience can get the entire truth from various perspectives, only in this case we didn't need the writers to come out and give us all this extra information. We knew that the person that had called Lauren early in the morning was Sark, and we knew that wifey and her new partner were the ones that had been at the facility infecting the CIA's system with a virus.

The shifts in perspective didn't allow us to learn anything significant that we couldn't have learned from this episode being structured in a more normal manner. All this little trick really did was confuse and frustrate the viewers by overlapping scenes where fresh material could have been added to help flesh out the plot.

The only good thing about seeing some of these scenes more than once was that Lauren and Sark's antics were the focus of most of them, which is a blast to watch. Speaking of the couple, which, ahem, consummated their relationship in this episode, their lively banter and searing chemistry were what made "Blowback" interesting. You can just tell that Melissa George and David Anders are having a great time playing the backstabbing twosome because it comes across on-screen.

Props must also be given to the writers for adding a bit more jealousy to this love triangle/square/rectangle thing they have going on here. At the end of the episode, Vaughn holds a disguised Lauren at gunpoint while Sark has his own weapon trained on Sydney. Sark tells him that if Vaughn loves SpyGirl, he'll drop the gun. He does so and the look in Lauren's masked eyes is one of rage. She doesn't really love him, but it's obvious that she sure as hell doesn't want him to love Sydney.

Lauren isn't the only one being possessed by the green-eyed monster. Sark calls Lauren while she's out with Vaughn and eggs her on, saying that it must have killed her to watch Vaughn drop the gun for Sydney. Obviously, Sark is feeling a little left out of the complicated quadrangle and feels the need to let Lauren know that he isn't going anywhere.

Marshall, for the 1000th time, served as this episode's comic relief. The poor guy got zero sleep thanks to his newborn son and the pressure to find out where a plasma charge weapon is being shipped, and he still managed to be amusing, despite the exhaustion. In between pictures of the estimated damage this bomb could cause, he throws in pictures of his baby boy and when Vaughn is trying to diffuse the weapon, all he can say is "You can do it" over and over again. He provided just the amount of funny that was needed in this disjointed episode.

Sloane's little revelation to Dr. Barnett was not even worth all the build up surrounding it. If they do go this route and we find that Sloane is Syd's daddy dearest, then it will be regarded as little more than a cheap, borrowed plot device from Star Wars rather than a shocking twist. Hopefully, the writers have more sense than that and there's something else going on here that will be revealed in episodes to come.

With a preview announcing that the show is "All New" for the remainder of the season, all fans can do is sit back, watch and hope we won't have the misfortune of hearing Sloane say, "Sydney, I am your father."

Rebecca Sparling

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