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On TV Today's Date:

The Nemesis
original air-date: 11-02-03

Be Kind. Rewind: Vaughn survived Sydney's stabbing, Jack offed Simon, and Sloane is now a double agent for the CIA.

The episode had it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Let's start with the good and the return of Evil!Francie/Allison. The idea that Allison actually survived the shootout that left Syd with a two-year gap in her memory may seem a bit far-fetched, but, then again, this is Alias, the show where CIA operatives can bring drum sets into work with them. Resurrecting the character of Allison gives fans the chance to see the ousted Merrin Dungey back in action and brings the mystifying Milo Rambaldi to the forefront of the show once more.

We've heard very little concerning Milo since this season opened two years in the future, save for Sloane's claim that the device he assembled from Rambaldi's inventions told Arvin to switch sides and pursue peace, an idea that this fan still finds hard to believe. But, Allison's revelation that a medicine created using this dead guy's formula not only saved her life but possibly made her some kind of super-villain is the coolest plot twist that this show has had so far this season. What the medicine could have been and what exactly it did to Allison are questions that we'll all be pondering over the next few weeks.

Bringing back this evil version of Syd's former friend also has another effect. Now that Sloane has decided to don a white hat, the only bad guys that Spy-Girl has had to deal with on a weekly basis are Sark, who despite being suave and easy on the eyes is really a mere thorn in Sydney's side than anything else, and the Covenant, which is little more than a faceless entity at this point.

If the writers play their cards right, reviving and reinventing Allison might be more than a Sweeps plot device used to get us all to tune in. Instead, she might be the nemesis that this show needs to make it the Spy-thriller it once was, rather than the angst-fest it has started to become.

Also, Dungey must be given some credit for making Allison's return the most memorable part of the episode. It's obvious that she's having a good time playing a bad girl; note the gleeful and sickening smile she wore while extracting Lang's tooth. This shows through onscreen and makes watching her all the more fun. Hopefully, Mr. Abrams will use Dungey to the best of his advantage and think twice before letting her get away again.

More of the good includes hearing Dixon say that he wants the bitch that murdered his wife dead, seeing Syd giving Sloane some orders, and finally learning why Lauren has that damned accent even if the explanation was a little lame.

Moving on to the bad and poor Marshall, or should we say poor Kevin Weissman? If the scenes involving Agent Flinkman seemed drawn out and annoying last week, then the subplot the writers concocted for the geeky technician this week were just down right irritating.

Never mind the fact that bringing a drum set into CIA headquarters is well beyond the realm of believability, the whole scene involving Marshall's plans to propose to Carrie VIA drum solo was totally pointless and had no place in this episode. Expanding Marshall's storyline is a fine idea, but it seems the writers are using him as filler for time rather than giving him more depth and dimension, and Mr. Weissman, who has great comedic potential, is the one that will suffer by having his character made into little more than a poorly placed eccentric.

More of the bad includes Syd asking Vaughn to put on the spy-cam necklace for her, which was a pitiful excuse to get the tension filled twosome to interact physically; Sydney calling Lauren's idea to use the x-ray pictures they took of Lang to find out why Allison took his tooth "brilliant", which seemed lame and extraordinarily fake; and Sydney's little run at the beginning of the episode. Two words need to be said concerning that last point: sports bra.

I know what you're thinking, where's the ugly part of this episode? Well, think back to the before picture of Mr. Lang and the whole plastic surgery aspect of the episode. Granted, Lang wasn't the prettiest of characters beforehand (even Marshall smirked when his picture was brought up), but did Alias really have to go all Extreme Makeover on us? There's an X-Ray camera that allows our favorite spies to see who has had a little nip here or a tuck there and Vaughn uses it to ogle some chick with fake breasts? The show has ascended to new heights of lameness with this plot device.

Thankfully, the good parts of this episode outweighed the bad and the ugly parts making it not only a decent episode, but also one that actually entices viewers to tune in next week for reasons that don't involve love-triangle related angst.

Rebecca Sparling

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