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On TV Today's Date:

Breaking Point
original air-date: 11-23-03

Be Kind. Rewind: Lauren found out Syd's murderous secret and Vaughn helped SpyGirl escape to Rome where the NCS took her into custody.

Main characters are the foundation upon which television shows are built. Even so-called ensemble dramas such as ER have a standout character that is the glue that holds the show together. And while the Alias world does seem to revolve around Sydney, this episode showed us that the rest of the cast is up to the challenge of shouldering the weight of the show.

True, Sydney wasn't absent for the entire episode and the plot was driven by her capture, but the best parts occurred when she wasn't onscreen.

I said it in my last review and I'll say it again: Put Victor Garber and Michael Vartan together and good things happen. While scrambling to save Sydney might seem like a very serious task, the writers managed to make it funny by having Spy Daddy and Boy Scout banter a bit. The best line of the evening had to be when Jack told Vaughn that he was smarter than he looked, causing this viewer to crack up for a good five minutes.

Throwing Sloane into the mix was even more brilliant, and allowed Ron Rifkin to make his hateful character appear almost likeable. Even Jack and Vaughn showed some concern for Arvin when he was shot and didn't take the chance that they had to kill the man that caused them both a lot of pain and suffering. Perhaps Agents Bristow and Vaughn are going soft, but it seems more than likely that this is the start of a set up for some big betrayal that will come later on when Sloane goes over to the dark side again.

Speaking of characters that seemed almost likeable, Lauren nearly managed to redeem herself in this episode from being whiny and insufferable these last few weeks. Standing up to the loathsome Lindsey and then becoming a part of the effort to extract Sydney from NSC custody showed us that Ms. Reed is not completely without feeling even in matters that don't directly involve her husband.

Her entire involvement in the plan just reaffirms my belief that if they put wifey out in the field and let her be a real spy who has an agenda that doesn't involve protecting Vaughn or brining his ex to justice, she might not be so very despised and could possibly grow as a character.

You can't talk about Alias without at least acknowledging Sydney's scenes, no matter how boring they were. Yes, there was action and horrible things that SpyGirl had to endure, but they seemed to drag on forever. The only worthwhile thing that we learned from watching them was that the NSC wants some kind of coordinates, found in Syd's alter ego's apartment, decoded. Throwing in the creepy guy from Identity as her cellblock mate didn't help matters all that much either, and it was easy to tell that he was a plant.

The true test of any show is to see how well it performs when things are shaken up a bit. Sydney will always be the focus of things on Alias, but this episode shows that the rest of the cast and their characters are just as much a part of what makes this drama great as Ms. Garner's Agent Bristow.

Rebecca Sparling

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