Sat, Feb 17, 2018 09:31 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-10-08 life & times
Alias producers right not to join Sydney and Vaughn
Cletus Turner

Alias (click for larger version)
Alias, ABC's critical hit, had several nominations for an Emmy, but was unable to convert on any of them. Maybe the Emmy voters got a load of the season finale last May and decided the show didn't deserve any.

In the finale, Sydney, played by Jennifer Garner, awoke with a scar on her belly and a massive headache to discover that she had disappeared for two years.

Fast forward to the season premiere. Now, we have a second blow. It seems that Vaughn, played by Michael Vartan, has moved on and gotten married. Last season, Vaughn and Sydney had begun to admit their feelings for one another and the audience liked it that way. Now, the writers have decided to throw another stumbling block in the couple's way, as if being spies and being shot at and blown up weren't enough.

At first, I thought this was perhaps one of the most contrived plots I had ever seen. Disappear for two years, your man gets married and now you have to pick up the pieces. However, after I thought about it, this could be a stroke of luck for the show. After all, if Sydney and Vaughn had gotten together, the series would probably have lost some of its punch. Female characters are usually turned into victims after they become romantically involved and their male counterparts become the hero. This won't be the case in Sydney's case. She isn't bitter and doesn't hate all men. Instead, Sydney will be the tough-as-nails spy she always has been. Plus, the interesting angle of having a mom and dad who were spies helps make this seem even more of a tangled web. Mom, played by Lena Olin, and dad, played by Victor Garber, were spies with mom being the enemy. Now, Sydney has to try to find a way to forgive her mother who shot her at the end of season one.

I thought we had seen the last of Sloane, played by Ron Rifkin. However, he just keeps popping back up every episode. Sloane is the former head of SD-6, a spy organization that posed as a black operations part of the CIA. But, finally, Sydney and Vaughn were able to bring the organization down. Now, a new, even more fierce network has filled the vacuum left by SD-6's demise. The Covenant is a group of Russian nationals and probably other interested individuals. The audience and the CIA are not sure what the group is up to, but the introduction makes us want to know more. The fact that the Covenant might have something to do with Sydney's disappearance certainly makes us care why they exist. Add to that the fact that they might have coerced Sydney into killing a Russian ambassador, and suddenly, the Covenant is an important part of Alias.

The premiere also saw Sydney attack Vaughn as he was explaining to her that she had been missing for two years. My first question was why she attacked Vaughn. Last season, Sydney was trying to find a "double" who would be posing as someone close to her. Now, we are left to wonder if Sydney herself might not be a double.

Perhaps the saddest part of the whole premiere is that Will and Francie, Sydney's best friends, are now gone. Will is gone after the CIA found out he was innocent. Francie was killed at the end of last season. In many ways, I think this could hurt the series because one of Sydney's greatest assets was her friends. Now, she has only a father and mother that has lied to her and an ex-boyfriend who is married. Having friends also added tension because for most of the first and part of the second season neither friend knew that Sydney was a spy. Now, she has no tension in her personal life because her personal life is devoid of any real people.

Where will Alias go from here? That is a very good question. The series has certainly survived the downfall of Sydney's enemy, SD-6. Now, a new network threatens the world and Sydney looks to be in the thick of that new plot. Vaughn is certainly still in the mix, but now that he is married he isn't as important in Sydney's life.

The question of how Sydney can work with Vaughn and her parents is certainly a good one. In future episodes, the writers have said they will address the issue. I think Irina, Sydney's mom, will play a significant role in the future of the series. Lena Olin was nominated for an Emmy for this role and certainly deserved it. She plays Irina with a hint of vulnerability with a lot of icy calmness. Most actresses couldn't get away with that. Victor Garber was nominated for his role as Jack, Sydney's father. He was excellent as a man confronting the wife he believed dead for so many years. His anger and quiet hatred are evident in all his dealings with Irina.

With excellent acting and good story, Alias looks to be set for another fantastic season.

4 suns

Notes from the couch:

Hey, NBC. Whoopi is still on the air. Can we PLEASE take out the garbage already? If you had told me I would be saying that about a Whoopi Goldberg sitcom a year ago, I would have said you were crazy. Strange what a year can do. Oh, and CBS? Yes, Dear is still on the air, too. I don't know what YOU are waiting on, but I can't wait for the replacement.

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