This week's Alias finally had the one thing
that the last few episodes have lacked; an interesting plotline
that isn't just an excuse to throw various characters together
in a room. Novel idea. They should use it more often.
All kidding aside, "Façade" was an action
packed episode with just enough twists and turns to make
the viewer feel like they were watching an actual spy-drama,
rather than the soap opera we have been subjected to recently.
One really great thing about this episode
was that, for once, they touted a guest star that actually
lived up to all the hype surrounding him. Ricky Gervais
(Golden Globe winner for BBC's The Office) portrayed Daniel
Ryan, a next-gen bomb maker whose products are really hard
to defuse. Ryan is supposedly out to make a deal with The
Covenant, but as the episode progresses, we find that his
intentions are more personal than professional.
There's nothing flashy about Gervais, he
is not as wacky as Quentin Tarantino or as good-looking
as Ethan Hawke, but he does something that neither of them
could; make the viewer feel like they are watching a fleshed
out character instead of a big name guest star just going
through the motions. One could argue that this is possible
because Gervais isn't that big of a name over here and his
lower star status allows the us to focus more on the character
than the actor. However, I like to think that this performance
worked so well because Gervais is simply a good actor who
managed to say more about his character with just a few
looks than most of the regulars did after entire lines of
dialogue. Chalk it up to what you will, but the bottom line
is that this guy was great.
Of course, it didn't hurt that Gervais
got to work with one of the best scripts that we've seen
this season. While the opening in Belfast, (a nod to St.
Patty's Day perhaps?), was kind of slow, the episode picked
up as soon as the CIA moved in to take Ryan into custody.
Tricking Ryan into believing that the CIA was really the
Covenant was an interesting idea that led to some great
moments in the episode.
Vaughn actually got to do a little acting
here, and though the Boy Scout wasn't nearly menacing enough
to make a believable Sark, he pulled off the accent pretty
well and it was fun to see someone other than Sydney involved
in the role playing game. Also, when the real Sark got involved
later in the episode, it was amusing to watch Vaughn work
with the guy that is secretly sleeping with his traitorous
wife. I was expecting Sark to throw in a smart assed comment
about Vaughn's marriage somewhere, but, sadly, that didn't
happen. However, seeing Marshall's eyes bug out of his head
when he talked Sark through defusing the bomb sort of made
The use of continuity from past episodes
really worked well here. They didn't just bring up some
obscure reference from an episode that no one remembers
and has nothing to do with the current plotline. They managed
to tie in a detail that not only helped this story to move
along, but also brought what has been the main focus of
the show for this season, Sydney's missing time spent in
Covenant custody, back into the foreground without making
it seem like they were trying too hard.
Jack was, as usual, a fantastic son of
a bitch when he strangled and then revived Ryan in order
to get the man to give up the codes to diffuse the bombs.
Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures and Jack
is always willing to step up to the plate, using just the
right amount of violence to get the job done. Basically,
The only really off moment in the entire
episode occurred when Sydney called Sloane to get information
on Ryan, and we saw him sharing a post-coital embrace with
Dr. Barnett. Last week he's telling her that he could be
Spy Girl's daddy and now they're shacking up? Hopefully,
this will be explained a bit better in a future episode,
because I can't really wrap my brain around what these two
are doing together right now.
Basically, this episode came off as well
as it did because the writers went back to the formula that
worked so well for them in Season One: write a story that
fits into the overarching theme of the season while still
managing to keep the viewer on the edge of their sofa during
every commercial break. Keeping us guessing is a good thing.
It'll get us to tune in for reasons that don't involve seeing
what crazy outfit/hairpiece they'll decided to put Ms. Garner
in next week.