original air-date: 01-26-03
that sweeps are over and many shows are in re-run hell for
the next four weeks, TV addicts like myself are being bombarded
by countless reality series and stupid specials that anyone
with a microscopic speck of taste would avoid like the plague.
re-watching this week's Alias repeat of the post-Super
Bowl episode "Phase One" has reminded me that there
is still good TV being made amongst all the crap producers
and studio heads are chumming the waters with these days.
I would have a heart attack if the writers of a high-quality
show like Alias took the entire concept of the show
and turned it on its head. But series creator J.J. Abrams
managed to do this so effortlessly that it was nothing short
of a stroke of pure genius.
knew that the whole double agent thing would only work for
so long. So what does he do? He destroys SD-6 and the Alliance
(Spy girl Sydney Bristow's main nemeses) in a mere 44 minutes
time, showing us in the process that Arvin Sloane was an even
bigger bad than any of us, including Sydney, ever imagined.
played her like a freaking violin, knowing that she would
leak the information about server 47 to the CIA and that the
Alliance would crumble as a result, allowing him to do just
as he pleases without any higher ups looking over his shoulder.
The mastermind got just what he wanted, and so did Abrams
whole lot of shocked, yet mostly satisfied, fans.
creator also knew that there was only so much more unresolved
sexual tension between Sydney and her oh-so-hot handler Vaughn
that his viewers could take (think Mulder and Scully) before
they would be ready to throw whatever object was closest to
them at their television sets. So, after the super spies successfully
squashed SD-6, they shared a kiss worthy of the silver screen,
thus beginning a romance that will probably be rocky at best.
I mean, four episodes down the road, she's questioning his
honesty. Then there's the whole her-mother-killed-his-father
the destruction of SD-6 and the Syd-Vaughn hook up weren't
enough to totally blow the minds of everyone watching this
episode, Abrams had one more trick up his sleeve. Francie,
Sydney's in-the-dark best friend, had been little more than
filler for the past season and a half of the show. The character
was weak; the viewers knew it and so did Abrams.
to make her worth watching, Abrams had her share a kiss with
reporter-turned-CIA-analyst Will half way through the episode.
Then in the last five minutes he had her murdered by a Francie
look-a-like who's in cahoots with Sloane and bad boy subordinate
get killed off all the time, but never have I seen one have
a more thrilling or mind-boggling exit than this. Plus, Merrin
Dungey, who played Francie and now plays her dark double,
gets to keep her job and play an even more interesting character
as a result. Everyone wins here.
This whole episode was a big risk and whether or not it was
in the best interest of the series as a whole has yet to be
seen. The episodes that have followed have been just as good
as "Phase One," revealing interesting new plot twists
every week (Evil Francie sucking information out of a hypnotized,
post-coital Will was inspired in my humble opinion).
shocker came at the end of the last new episode "A Dark
Turn" when Irina (the lovely and talented Lena Olin),
on a CIA sanctioned mission with Spy Daddy Jack (played to
perfection by Victor Garber, always at his best when alongside
Olin), suddenly switched sides by joining Sloane and handing
over a pivotal piece of the Rambaldi manuscript to him.
telling Sydney that she loves her and kissing ex-husband Jack,
could it be that Spy Mommy has been deceiving us all along?
We'll have to wait for this Sunday's all-new episode to find
out, but one thing's for sure: On Alias, nothing's
what it seems, and that's one of the best things about this
Powers That Be can keep throwing their Joe Millionaires
and Bachelorettes into the shark-infested waters that
are TV Land. As long as there are shows like Alias
to act as life rafts, it's smooth sailing as far as this girl's
eyes can see.