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On TV Today's Date:

The Orphan
original air-date: 03-23-05

Be Kind. Rewind: Vaughn discovered that daddy dearest might have been a little more heroic than golden boy had originally thought.

Oh good, flashbacks. Don’t get me wrong; flashbacks are useful in series television from time to time. They allow viewers to recall important details that they might not have remembered from episodes past, or they can give us insight into a character’s past that we might not have otherwise gotten a chance to see before.

So, yeah, I can see why we might like to use the flashback gimmick every so often to help out the story or even the viewer. However, Alias seems to be perpetually stuck on the flashback as one of its most important devices. This is understandable considering the fact that viewers of the spy-drama are often forced to recall minute details from previous seasons that suddenly pop up in a new episode, but when an episode seems to use the flashback as its focus, then one has to question the use of it.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy learning more about Nadia and her past. It was interesting to see how she got involved in the spy world, but wasn’t there a better way to do this? If memory serves me right, shows like The X-Files would set whole episodes in the past as opposed to using the flashback mechanism every five minutes. Because of the movement in between the past and the present, the episode had a more disjointed feel to it than Alias usually does.

Aside from my vehement dislike of this technique of episode making, the episode wasn’t terrible. It allowed the viewer to connect more with Nadia in a way that we hadn’t had an opportunity to before.

Of course, it seems that the Nadia of the past and the present Nadia are two very different people, and the transition between these two was not made explicitly clear. We’re led to believe that the current Nadia is a result of finding out that she wasn’t working for the government after all and that she was really employed by a criminal, (sound familiar to anyone else?), but the passion and anger that she used to have is only hinted at now and she’d be more believable if it came to the surface more often.

Nadia wasn’t the only focus of this episode; Vaughn’s quest to learn the truth about his father was a subplot of the episode, pretty lackluster until the end. It was only then that we learned that the address that Boy Scout had found in his dad’s journal actually led to the orphanage where Nadia had been brought up.

The headmistress explained that Vaughn Senior had arrived one day at the orphanage, covered in blood, with the baby Nadia in his arms. The only other bit of information that the woman was able to give Vaughn was that his father had said the word “nightingale” in a phone conversation.

This is all very interesting, but right now there’s very little for us to ponder over. Obviously Vaughn’s father was still alive after he had supposedly died and he had some involvement with Irina or some of her associates (how else did he get his hands on Nadia?), but other than that we are just as lost and confused as Vaughn is about exactly what’s going on there.

This episode wasn’t a standout, at all, but it moved things along a bit so I guess I can’t totally hate it. But I’m still mad about the flashback thing. It’s all too much for one episode, guys. Time to get a new gimmick.

Rebecca Sparling

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