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Truth Be Told

 


Alias Season 2 Reviews by Billie Doux

Alias: Season Two

2.1 The Enemy Walks In
2.2 Trust Me
2.3 Cipher
2.4 Dead Drop
2.5 The Indicator
2.6 Salvation
2.7 The Counteragent
2.8 Passage (1)
2.9 Passage (2)
2.10 The Abduction
2.11 A Higher Echelon
2.12 The Getaway
2.13 Phase One
2.14 Double Agent
2.15 A Free Agent
2.16 Firebomb
2.17 A Dark Turn
2.18 Truth Takes Time
2.19 Endgame
2.20 Countdown
2.21 Second Double
2.22 The Telling

2.1 The Enemy Walks In

Irina: "Tell me, Sydney. Who sent you here? You must tell me."
Sydney: "Or what? I'm grounded?"

Fun and exciting, although I was mildly let down.

This episode was mostly a resolution and re-set of last season's cliffhangers, with a good deal of material aimed at bringing new viewers up to speed. Which is okay; I really do want this show to acquire a big audience, so I don't have to fret about it being picked up every year.

It did include an intriguing introduction to Mommy Deadliest, a.k.a Laura Bristow, a.k.a. Irina Derevko. It was clever of them to have her shoot Sydney right at the beginning; it made her seem capable of anything, and every time she showed up, I had no idea what she would do. (Plus I thought it was extremely creepy the way she intimated that she should have killed Sydney as an infant.)

The rest of it was a little too pat. Dixon is no longer a threat to Sydney's cover, because Jack covered for Sydney. Sloane is also under control again, for the same reason. Will's expose has been negated by portraying him as a heroin addict... yes, Jack again. Spy Daddy is quite the fixer here.

The one plot point I found myself most intrigued by is, what the hell really happened to Vaughn? Sure, great, he can swim really well, he got himself out of danger... but then what happened to him? Why move Vaughn to France if they were going to harvest his organs? Was Khasinau about to surgically implant a homing device?

Bits and pieces:

-- Same cast, with the addition of Lena Olin as Irina, and David Anders as Sark, and a new saga sell. I liked last year's intro by Sydney better, though.

-- Did Irina really kill Khasinau, or was it a red herring? Is Vaughn's buddy Weiss really dead, too?

-- There were some grossout moments: Khasinau with the scalpel on that guy's forehead, followed by Sydney stabbing Vaughn with the adrenalyn needle.

-- This week's most romantic moment was Sydney and Vaughn after his rescue, gazing speechlessly at each other.

-- So Sloane *did* kill his wife, Emily. Possibly with her consent. He supposedly loved her deeply; how can this turkey live with himself?

-- Here's a question. Are Irina and Jack still married?? I must admit that Jack is probably my favorite character, and I can't wait to see these two people alone in a room together.

-- Are you telling me that a non-Asian woman with blue hair isn't going to be noticed in Taipei, even in a hazmat suit?

-- Vaughn (or Vartan, the guy who plays him) has a tattoo on his upper left shoulder. What was it? If you know, email me!

-- The basic re-set of characters and plot had one major change. Will, Syd's friend, will never be the same again, and she no longer has to lie to him. Plus, hey, his life is totally ruined. Lots of plot possibilities there.

-- The scenes with CIA shrink, played by Patricia Wettig, might be a fun continuing plot line this season; Jack and Sydney are going to be dealing with major trauma, with Irina back in their lives.

-- This week's itinerary: Cliffhanger clean-up in Taipei, short trip to Cap Ferrat, France to plant a bug in Jean-Marc Ravais' office. (Ravais is an associate of Khasinau's, right?) And a trip to the Port of Barcelona (looking a bit like the Port of Los Angeles) to get the Bible.

-- This week's hair report: Jennifer Garner's hair has been lightened a bit and looks longer. Loved the blue wig from the last season ender, and the blonde wig with that incredible dress in Cap Ferrat.

I'm intrigued, and waiting breathlessly for next week. What does Irina have planned for our heroes? As she said at one point, "Truth takes time." Wanna bet it takes the rest of the second season?

Very good episode,
Billie

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2.2 Trust Me

Vaughn: "Guess it's two-for-one day on blackmail."

And I thought *my* family was dysfunctional.

The very dislikeable Assistant Director Kendall is back, played by the very talented Terry O'Quinn. And he's the one holding Irina, and pressuring Sydney to interact with her. Getting in to see her was like visiting Hannibal Lector, wasn't it?

It was very touching of Vaughn, who has his own issues, to go confront Irina in Syd's place. (And it was creepy that it only took Irina about ten seconds to figure out whose son Vaughn was, and that Vaughn cares for Sydney.)

Sydney said at one point, "I don't support the death penalty, but I hope that she dies for all that she's done." Sydney may think that she's on top of her feelings for her mother, but she's lying to herself. That final scene where Sydney was laying down the law to Irina was terrific, but I get the feeling it was just what Irina wanted all along - to get a rise out of Sydney. Am I completely off base thinking Darth Vader here? Is Irina there to turn Sydney, or possibly Jack?

One scene I absolutely cannot wait to see is Jack and Irina in the same room for the first time. He can't talk about her without exploding; I love it.

So SD-6 has Irina's blackmail disk, and the CIA doesn't. Sloane is already using it, as poor Peter Fordson now knows. Plus the Derevko Operations Bible is still out and about. Bet we'll hear about that again.

Sloane is now a full-fledged member of the Alliance. What did they inject into him as part of the initiation procedure? A remote-control caplet that will kill him if he turns or is captured? Or was it something else?

Bits and pieces:

-- Weiss is still alive and is going to be okay. Khasinau is reportedly dead, though. Why exactly did Irina kill him?

-- Was anyone else shuddering when Sloane took Sydney's hand and said he was there for her? Eeeeee...

-- On the home front, Will gets probation, treatment, and community service, Francie decides to paint her new restaurant red, and Will offers to help her get a legal liquor license. Francie has always seemed like a pointless character to me, but I realize that her function is to inject normalcy into Sydney's life. Francie is there for contrast; she's living the life Sydney can't have.

-- May I say that Vaughn looks way hot in all black?

-- This week's geographical highlights: Rabat (where's that?), Helsinki, and London.

-- This week's coolest moment: Sydney jumping off the balcony right before Sloane saw her.

-- This week's hottest moment: Jack reacting to Irina's intel instructions for Sydney.

-- This week's hair report: we got Jennifer's own hair, piled up and sexy, plus a cool, black, flippy wig.

-- This week's language: Syd's very impressive Italian.

Four out of five stars, and I'm very much looking for a Mommy/Daddy scene next week,
Billie

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2.3 Cipher

Receptionist: "Did you enjoy the launch?"
Sydney: "It was a thrill."

So, let me recap.

Sark, who is now in control of Irina's organization, planned to use a special camera launched by the Asiatic Space Agency to find yet another weirdo Rambaldi artifact -- a music box. Vaughn used induced regression to take Will back to his near-death experience; Will came up with the combination to the music box from Sark's laptop. Irina decoded the combination for Sydney, and Sydney (1) played the music box for the CIA; (2) destroyed it before SD-6 or Sark could get to it, and (3) ended up trapped under the ice in this season's first whopping cliffhanger.

Irina continued to manipulate away, and I think she's making progress with Sydney. But she certainly isn't getting anywhere with Jack, at least not yet; whatever Irina was trying to sell Jack with that speech about their marriage, he wasn't buying. I was sorta hoping for more fireworks. Ah, well; the season is young.

The whole Sloane grieving for Emily thing made my skin crawl. How dared he elicit sympathy from Jack and Sydney? One can only hope that he is experiencing crippling guilt; I found it amazing that Sydney was able to say to him, "It's not your fault," with a straight face. (Wow, Rifkin is good, isn't he? He hits all my buttons.) We may be moving into supernatural weirdness, too. That call from the bed & breakfast certainly had a Twilight Zone feel to it, and her "dead" garden is now blooming; looks like Emily isn't "gone". I hope she haunts the holy hell out of him.

Vaughn and Will finally met, and Will almost instantly picked up on Vaughn's feelings for Sydney. Will seems to be handling the complete obliteration of his former life with humor and aplomb. He's also bunking with Sydney and Francie; that's a situation fraught with possible peril.

The big unanswered question, other than how Sydney will escape from the ice, is: Sydney has gaps in her childhood memories, and Irina knows that Jack "did something" to Sydney after Irina disappeared. Jack even tried unsuccessfully to enlist the CIA shrink to help him cover it up. What did Jack do to Sydney all those years ago, and how will it affect this dysfunctional family circle?

Bits and pieces:

-- The Thanksgiving play thing was exceptionally cute and made me laugh out loud. Jack almost smiled. I saw it.

-- When talking to the shrink, Jack at first referred to Irina as Laura. Very interesting.

-- It sounds like Will and Vaughn aren't the only ones with a thing for Sydney; Marshall cares for her, too.

-- This week's majorly cool gadget: Sydney rocketing through the exhaust ducts on her portable suitcase luge. I want one of those; it might be the perfect way to beat the L.A. freeways. Of course, I would have crashed into the sides of the exhaust ducts and died a fiery death.

-- This week's itinerary: Sri Lanka and Siberia. And they even rhyme.

-- This week's hot looks: A curly red professional do, and a Siberian snow jumpsuit with a snazzy fur-lined hood.

Pretty good episode, but somehow it wasn't what I wanted.

Three out of five stars,
Billie

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2.4 Dead Drop

Sydney: "You heard me tell her I was a turkey?"

Sydney managed to escape from the ice with Dixon's help, and didn't suffer any lasting effects, which is just miraculous. Personally, I'm surprised that she was able to grip the gun and the mouthpiece.

And she retrieved the map with Irina's help, and in the process fielded a very interesting job offer from Sark. :) Irina even decoded the map -- she's incredibly helpful, huh? -- but when Sydney and Vaughn went to retrieve it in Madagascar, Jack managed to have a friend blow up the building it was in and make it appear that Irina had tried to kill Sydney. A confused Irina was taken away for questioning, and Jack did the happy dance of triumph. Well, okay, he didn't dance, but he almost smiled.

This was like the Dysfunctional Spy Parent Superbowl, which makes poor Sydney the football. Irina makes a move, Jack makes a move; this week, Jack won. But Jack just made a serious mistake. Sydney is eventually going to find out that Jack set Irina up, and it's going to blow up in his face, so to speak. When it does, he's going to lose whatever ground he's gained with Sydney; how could she ever trust him again? Even though my sympathies are with Jack, it's hard to tell which of them is the worst parent.

On the home front, Will did an absolutely fabulous job coping with an SD-6 agent sent undercover at an NA meeting to try and trip him up. Will is certainly finding the cup half full; he's happy that his new exploded failure of a life has brought him closer to Sydney. He's got it bad.

On the supernatural front, it is starting to look like Emily is haunting her killer. Or someone is making a serious effort to make it appear so. Personally, I hope it *is* Emily and I hope she makes Sloane miserable. It occurred to me that Sloane could be faking all this for some unknown reason. That would probably be too devious, even for Sloane.

Bits and pieces:

-- Jack is a frightening man. It was cool that he gave Richter morphine instead of torturing him. Just a tad more sympathetic than usual, huh?

-- Conspiracychick.com. :)

-- Okay, why did Irina want the earrings? Really?

-- Loved the scene where Vaughn reassured Sydney that while parental craziness was surrounding her, he was there for her, and always her ally. They looked like they were dying to fall into each other's arms.

-- I'm sorry, but I'm a librarian; a first edition of "War and Peace" would not be that easy to retrieve from ANY library, and they certainly wouldn't allow a machine to drop it into a chute. It would be in Special Collections under lock and key and temperature control.

-- Does the explosion at the end mean that the Operations Manual is now toast?

-- This week's itinerary: Siberia; Moscow; Madagascar. Plus we got a short bit on Sark in the Falklands.

-- This week's cool look: short, black wig and Russian military uniform with lockpicks posing as service medals.

-- This week's impressive language skill: Russian!

Very good. Four out of five stars,
Billie

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2.5 The Indicator

Sydney to Jack: "You took away my choices in life. You programmed me to be a spy. I will never forgive you for this."

Sydney learned a couple of very interesting facts here: that she had been subjected to spy kid testing -- by Jack; and that Mom's original mission was to spy on Jack because of his involvement in that very project, called Project Christmas. (Which of course gave Jack another excellent reason to set up Irina.)

Vaughn figured out that Jack framed Irina, and confronted Jack about it, which took some major cojones; not too many people would have that kind of nerve, but Vaughn seems capable of doing just about anything when Sydney is involved.

Sydney has now lost all the trust and faith in her father; she's pretty much an emotional time bomb right now. I'm wondering if all of this emotional yo-yo-ing is going to push her right into bed with Vaughn. He's the only person she can trust now, and she certainly seems to turn naturally to him when she's in turmoil; if she made the first move, would he be able to resist her?

Moving on to the Emily subplot, Sloane actually confided in Jack about killing Emily. (I can't imagine anyone choosing Jack as a confidant, but Sloane probably doesn't have a lot of choices out there.) We now know exactly what Sloane did to Emily... and how Emily might have evaded it with a drug called VTX. Is Emily alive? Or is an Alliance competitor faking this haunting? Hey, maybe Jack is doing it. Jack is Machiavellian; I wouldn't put it past him.

On the home front, Francie's restaurant opened successfully, thanks to Will inviting a number of his AA friends. Will still seems to be doing fine. I think I'd be in analysis if I'd been through what happened to him.

Bits and pieces:

-- Irina wasn't in this episode at all. Understandable; this was a Sydney/Jack episode. She did, however, leave her earrings in her cell, probably for Sydney to find.

-- Is Jack in serious shit now? Or is he too valuable as a double agent to punish for what he did?

-- This week's itinerary: Vienna, Budapest, Buenos Aires,

-- This week's impressive language skill: Hungarian!

-- This week's cool look: short blond do with glasses.

-- This week's fun gadget: Marshall's lip gloss/flying camera.

This was a dramatic, powerful episode, moody and somewhat sad. Very good. Four out of five stars,

Billie

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2.6 Salvation

Sydney to Jack: "If you hadn't been so gullible, I never would have been born."

This episode was heavy on the plot twists and the emotion, and light on the spy stuff. I loved it.

Jack and Sydney went undercover at a hospital in Geneva to obtain data on Sark's virus and a blood sample from patient zero. Their cover, ironically enough, was as a loving father and daughter. That was fun to see, because they were both too professional not to do it well. I also loved the cool shoot-out in the corridor. It was chilling, hearing patient zero call Sydney "Irina," and discovering that Irina had deliberately ordered Sark to infect her own operatives.

I completely believe Jack's take on Irina, by the way. I think she did indeed plead guilty so that Sydney wouldn't hear the details of all of the terrible things she has done. But I also think that Jack, by confessing to Devlin and testifying as he did at the Joint Intelligence Committee hearing, was continuing to manipulate Sydney as well. This is still the parental manipulation Superbowl, Alias fans. Who will win?

These strong emotions are what I love to see in this show -- Sydney and Jack, who really do love each other, clashing at such an intimate level. And Sydney and Vaughn are continuing to project a strong connection and attraction to each other without ever referring to it directly. (Although when they were in quarantine, what *was* Sydney going to tell him when they were interrupted?)

Ron Rifkin, as Sloane, is also doing a bang-up job with the Emily subplot, which advanced quite a bit here as Sloane glimpsed a woman who could have been Emily on the street, and went to the extreme step of disinterring her body. The fact that it wasn't in her coffin isn't conclusive, though, because if someone is indeed doing this to bring down Sloane and SD-6, they could have removed her body. I certainly do hope that Emily is alive, because it would serve Sloane right. Whatever is happening is certainly having its desired effect on Sloane, because he's losing it. I love it.

We now know that Jack taught Sydney the "Project Christmas" techniques, hoping she would join the CIA out of college. And as we all know, Sloane got to her, first. This contradicts my earlier impression that Jack didn't want Sydney to be a spy. I'm confused.

Vaughn wanted to investigate the possibility that a KGB "Project Christmas" test for first graders was administered in the U.S., but Devlin didn't seem to care. In a nice little plot twist, Will was desperate enough for money to ask Vaughn for work, and now he'll be researching the test for Vaughn on the sly. I'll bet Will, with his background, will do a bang-up job, and what a great way to bring him back into the story.

Sydney, by lying to Senator Douglas, managed to save Jack from a prison sentence and Irina from lethal injection. Wouldn't it be ironic if her lie about a senator in SD-6's pocket turned out to be true? (And what if it were Senator Douglas himself?)

We got a cliffhanger this time -- Vaughn has the virus. Somehow, I get the feeling that in the next episode, Sydney will be doing anything she can to get Irina to help her save Vaughn. Do you think?

Bits and pieces:

-- Sydney talks in her sleep ("don't frost the pie"). Isn't that a dangerous characteristic for a spy?

-- This week's itinerary: Geneva and Washington, D.C.

-- This week's look: Sydney in fluffy Harlow-blonde hair and giggles. And Jack looked damned good in that dark suit and red tie.

-- This week's cool gadget: Marshall's anti-anesthesia with synthetic caffeine.

Five out of five stars,

Billie

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2.7 The Counteragent

Sark to Sydney: "You and I were destined to work together. I truly believe that."

Another excellent episode.

I noticed Sydney didn't hesitate to disobey the CIA when it came right down to Vaughn's life in the balance -- not to mention her willingness to set up Sloane! That decontam scene was pretty powerful; I was a little shocked that she gave in to Sark's proposal so quickly, but she hates Sloane with a passion, and what else could she do?

Sloane, after losing his cool while having Richter tortured, and desperate for a hit to keep the Alliance from closing down SD-6, was thrilled to be able to flaunt his new partnership with Sark, while Sark seemed to be a lot more fascinated with, and fixated on, Sydney. Sark and Sydney make an interesting pair. He is clearly interested in her (transferring a fixation on Irina, perhaps?) and she despises him; he brings out the worst in her.

Sydney and Jack seem to have a working truce now; he surprised and pleased Sydney by helping her kidnap Sloane. Jack clearly doesn't want Sydney to carry the guilt and responsibility of committing murder, though; he doesn't want Sydney to become the person that *he* is. She *thought* she was doing it, though, so even though she didn't take that step in fact, she took it emotionally.

On the ghostly front, Sloane now believes that Emily is alive and that she knows he tried to kill her. When Sloane was on the massage table, he was about to confess everything about Emily to a disguised Sydney... or was he? Sydney still doesn't know about Emily, and hearing Sloane confess to killing her could have been explosive.

Sydney's relationship with Vaughn is becoming more emotional, and more romantic, every week. Twice in this episode, I thought Vaughn would tell Sydney that he loves her; in the hospital bed, and later at the end -- and he didn't. He did tell Irina, though. They had the same conversation twice, in reverse: thank you for saving my life... and, I didn't do it for you, meaning, they both did it for Sydney. How interesting. Well, she made him do it, but still...

Bits and pieces:

-- Syd told Will about Project Christmas, which could have been tried on five million American children in 33 states. Wow.

-- I knew something had happened to Vaughn in Cap Ferrat. My original thought back at the beginning of the season was that he had been brainwashed in some way. Now we know; he'd been exposed to the virus, and Khasinau was experimenting on the victims. To find a cure, according to Irina.

-- Vaughn has a good-sized tattoo on his top left shoulder. He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would have a tattoo... so either Michael Vartan has one and they decided not to cover it, or there's stuff we don't know about Vaughn. ;-)

-- Vaughn also has a girlfriend, Alice, who was listed as his emergency contact. Very interesting. One doesn't think of Vaughn as having a life, since we only see his contacts with Sydney.

-- This week's cool device: propulsion boots that zip Sydney through the water

-- This week's itinerary: Paldiski, Estonia; Tokyo, Japan;

-- This week's language and disguise: Sydney, almost unrecognizable as a geisha, and even speaking Japanese.

Five out of five stars; excellent.

Billie

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2.8 Passage (1)

Jack to Sydney: "I'm not about to let Irina Derevko near six nuclear weapons, supervised only by you."

This episode was tremendous spy family fun; I loved every minute of it. My favorite moment was when all three of them were in the train, with the James Bond music in the background, arguing about who was going to jump off the bridge first. :)

Irina is definitely working on Jack, isn't she, with the bra thing in the sleeper compartment (did you get the stunned look on his face when he saw her half naked) and the kisses in the train station? And she's smiling at him in the most beguiling way. I'd love to know what's going on in Jack's head right now.

So what's up with Sark, and do I care? Well, I sort of care. Sark knows that Sydney tried to kill Sloane, so he has something on her. Also, he may very well know that Sydney and Jack are double agents. Irina said that she never told Sark, but hey, Sydney may be falling for Irina's game to the point of finally calling her "Mom," but I'm not. Jack even pointed out the fact that Sark and Irina are both in infiltration mode; can this be a coincidence? I don't think so.

Vaughn finally managed to tell Sydney that he loved her, in an incredibly convoluted, indefinite kind of way involving his father's watch. Does Sydney love him back? Is that what her "me, too" meant? English, people! And for goodness sake, why is Irina trying to get Vaughn and Sydney together? What does she have to gain by it?

On the home front, Vaughn was forced by Devlin to fire Will... but it looks like Will isn't going to stay fired. The investigative reporter once again has the bit between his teeth, and he's going to find those forty kids who might be Soviet sleeper agents. We all know how well his last obsession went.

On the Emily front, Sloane finally got a ransom demand... and ewww. The "kidnappers" want account numbers for all SD-6 investments, or they tell the Alliance Emily is alive, which would be very bad for Sloane. But is she alive? They could have stolen her body, kept it on ice so that they would have convenient access to body parts, put an Emily ringer on the street for Sloane to see... I'll admit I'm completely perplexed.

Bits and pieces:

-- No saga sell this week.

-- The opening Sydney/Sark car scene had one of my favorite places in L.A. in the background: the Griffith Observatory.

-- Marshall, upon being introduced to Sark: "Hi. Welcome. Don't kill me."

-- Loved Jack faking out Kendall by agreeing with Sydney! Machiavelli has nothing on him.

-- Sydney, to Irina: "Stop baiting him." To Jack: "And stop being such an easy target."

-- We're seeing a lot more of Kendall now than Devlin, and I very much approve. The talented Terry O'Quinn is an asset to any show.

-- This week's itinerary: an opium den in Uzbekistan, the People's Revolutionary Front prison camp in Kashmir, a train station in New Delhi.

-- This week's cool looks: first a corpse in a body bag, complete with a bullet hole in Sydney's head, and then the wavy blond, no-brain look in New Delhi.

-- This week's cool gadget: the C4 necklace-slash-decapitator that Jack put on Irina.

Five out of five stars. Can't wait for part two,
Billie

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2.9 Passage (2)

Sydney: "You know, some people go miniature golfing with their parents. We go to India and look for nukes."

I liked this one a lot, even though I felt a bit let down when it ended and the status was once again quo. But I guess things have changed a little: Irina may be back in the slammer, but she gained a pillow and blanket, as well as serious ground with both Sydney and Jack.

I enjoyed the Jack/Irina interaction; Garber and Olin did darned well with conveying the anger and the sexual tension. The two of them have found a place where they connect -- their daughter, of course -- and they're allowing themselves to remember and even reminisce about their marriage. The extremely cute toaster story was one of the few glimpses we've gotten into Jack and Irina's past relationship; it implied that they had a passionate connection. I also enjoyed seeing Sydney lecture the two of them about dealing with their "issues" later. I certainly want to see the two of them work out their issues; bring it on.

Even with Irina's tearful explanation to Sydney about why she had to shoot her in the season opener, and the fact that Irina could have gotten Jack dead more than once in this episode without consequences to herself, I still can't quite believe she's sincere. Maybe she needs Jack alive for some reason. Maybe she wants to sleep with him again before she kills him, or some twisted thing like that. And hey, we didn't actually see Irina getting caught in the prison, now did we? What really went on with Irina and Cuvee, who was her KGB supervisor as well as her lover? Are the two of them and Sark all playing some kind of complex game with the CIA *and* SD-6?

All that carrying on about a possible India-Pakistan nuclear exchange and the PRF rebels having the SD-6 launch codes, and it turns out not to be about the nukes at all -- it's a 600 year old flower that is proof of Rambaldi's theory of self-sustaining cell regeneration. (I hope you all appreciate that I have to take notes in order to get the plot points straight in these Alias reviews, you know. :)

On the Emily front, I'm not at all surprised that Sloane went right to the Alliance with the ransom demand. If he was evil enough to kill her in the first place, why would he hesitate to make certain she dies again? And hey, is Emily finally dead now, or were the photos a fake-out?

Will and Francie only showed up for a few minutes of miniature golf at the end of the episode. There was also very little Sark; he just stopped by to mispronounce the word "nuclear" as "nucular," which is one of my pet peeves.

Bits and pieces:

-- Jack is indiscreet enough to brag about Sydney to associates? I don't believe it.

-- Sloane: "This is about money?" Kidnapper: "Everything is about money."

-- Irina to Sydney, in the minefield: "So Sydney. How is school?"

-- We learned that Vaughn was stationed in India for two years, and he has a contact who knew his father. I'm willing to bet that real secret agents don't have quite so many family connections in the workplace.

-- This week's itinerary: New Delhi and Srinagar.

-- This week's cool look: Sydney and Irina both in Indian garb. Jack didn't look quite so hot in that bushy beard and turban, though.

-- This week's cool gadget: Marshall's invisible liquid tracer. Too bad it didn't keep working. I wonder why? Marshall's gadgets always work. Hmmm.

Four out of five stars,

Billie

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2.10 The Abduction

Sloane: "That's why you're going in with Marshall."
Marshall: "Marshall who?"

This was Marshall's episode, and it was long overdue. He was very cute throughout, I must admit -- the bad British accent, the parachute in his jacket, telling Sydney he loved her while under the influence. But poor baby! Seeing Sark in the torture chair didn't bother me much, but Marshall? It was like watching them torture a Muppet Baby.

Sydney is completely under Irina's spell now, isn't she? ("I was a fool to think that any ideology could come before my daughter." Wow, she's convincing.) And now Irina is working on Jack. Isn't it interesting that they're still married? I was wondering about that. Jack believes that Irina's scheme is a long-term one, and that Sark is in on it with her. Jack's a sharp guy; he may be right.

Sloane has set Faye Dunaway to catch his blackmailer, and she's zeroed in on Jack. So who *is* blackmailing Sloane? It isn't Jack, is it? Or is Ariana/Faye just picking up double agent vibes? (And was Jack actually *flirting* with her, or was it business? Hmmmmm?)

On the home front, Will has, understandably, become Sydney's confidant, and they're inadvertently closing out Francie. I'm sure Will can pass that psych test; he seems to have taken the complete implosion of his entire life with such aplomb. Very funny that he had to take the test at the post office.

Bits and pieces:

-- Syd went on a mission with Sark, and then with Marshall. Not her usual partners. Where is Dixon, by the way?

-- When Marshall gave Sydney that camera, I thought it was a listening device and that Sydney and Sark had given away the assassination attempt on Sloane.

-- That bar scene with Vaughn, Alice, Will, and "Rita" was very intriguing. Lots of jealous vibes going on there.

-- Sark said, of Irina: "In some ways, I think of her as a mother, myself." Was that a hint? You don't suppose Sark is a member of super spy family, too?

-- Ariana: "Men always call women crazy when they're caught with their pants down."

-- Sark looked very French in that gendarme's outfit.

-- The opening credits get later every week, which I find amusing. This time, they were nearly twenty minutes into the episode, which I believe is an "Alias" record.

-- This week's itinerary: Paris and London.

-- This week's hot look: an auburn do and formal black dress.

-- This week's unexpected language skill: Marshall speaking Ewok.

Pretty good. Three out of five stars?
Billie

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2.11 A Higher Echelon

Francie to Sydney: "No one in the free world works as hard as you."

This episode was delightful; Marshall was actually up to the challenge, outwitting Cuvee's Chinese Torture Guy, getting himself rescued, and having that parachute in his coat. Go, Marshall! I guess he's not a genius for nothing, huh? Too bad they didn't kill Chinese Torture Guy when they had the chance.

Sloane's utter disregard for Marshall's life and safety was chilling. This man is *evil.* As if we didn't know that already.

It looks like Jack is now in major trouble with both SD-6 and the CIA. Vaughn looked stunned when he heard about Jack killing Haladki; what is this going to do to Jack's standing with the CIA? And Sloane must think that Jack really is the blackmailer. So who did kill Emily, and who is the blackmailer? Is Emily even dead? We still don't know. Maybe Emily herself is the blackmailer.

Mom continued to make inroads on Sydney, Jack, *and* Kendall by having exactly what they need when they need it. I laughed out loud when Irina asked Vaughn to fetch her some coffee.

"I have a crush on a guy at work"? I thought it was a hoot, watching it go from Sydney to Francie, Francie to Will, and finally Will to Vaughn; very high school. It's normal for someone to confide something like this to her best friend, but it's also a sign that Sydney and Vaughn are heading toward something dangerous. But then again, Sydney risks her life every day; how much more dangerous could it be? Doesn't she deserve a chance at love, a little pleasure in her life? A raucous liaison in a basement storage room, perhaps?

Bits and pieces:

-- Marshall was held prisoner on the forty-seventh floor. There's that number again.

-- Sark fits into SD-6 as if he'd worked there for years.

-- Will now has a job as a CIA analyst. This is a good development; it brings him further into the main story lines, leaving only Francie out in the cold. It's Francie's function as a character, though, to show a contrast to Sydney's job, so it's probably best that Francie stay out in the cold.

-- Sydney's mission in Vietnam was again inadvertently sabotaged by Dixon, who thinks he's serving his country. Dixon is Sydney's partner; it would sure be a lot easier on her if the CIA brought Dixon in, too.

-- Sydney was a little blase about Echelon being okay because it's the government; I'm much more with Will's opinion of Echelon "shamelessly violating the constitution."

-- I'm not the catty type, but Faye Dunaway looks like she's had too much work done on her face. I noticed that her lips looked a bit stretched, shall we say.

-- This week's itinerary: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Mexico City, Mexico.

-- This week's cool look: Jennifer Garner as her own stunning self in a black dress with her hair up. Actually, Dixon gets the cool look this week, with a pale blue ensemble, jewelry, and dreadlocks. :) ("I speak nine languages. Techno is not one of them.")

Four out of five stars -- lots of fun,
Billie

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2.12 The Getaway

Weiss: "I'm three months past a near death experience. What the hell are you listening to my advice for?"

And I thought Sloane was devious and manipulative *before* this episode!

I have to give him some credit for loving Emily enough to betray the Alliance for her sake; I should have seen it coming, but didn't expect it. And framing Ariana? Couldn't happen to a nicer girl. Sloane also used Jack shamelessly -- he needed Jack to discover Ariana's link to Brio and the planted ransom booty. Could have been disastrous, and Sloane probably wouldn't have cared; he certainly didn't think twice about killing that programmer.

Vaughn and Sydney have passed the point of no return. No smoochies yet, but they took three big steps closer to succumbing to their mutual attraction: (1) that fight they had about Jack (and Alice); (2) their massively stupid "date", which almost ended in an upstairs rented room; and (3) agreeing to cover up their mutual lapse so that they could keep working together. I think they should forget dating and just have clandestine, surrepticious sex.

Jack and Irina are connecting in a big way, too. He needed help, he wanted someone smart and experienced to bounce ideas off of, and whom did he go to? He even went back to tell her what happened at the end, and they were smiling at each other. *Ooooooh.* Can parental hanky-panky be far behind?

Bits and pieces:

-- In the full circle department, Sydney got to rescue Jack the way he rescued her at the beginning of the series. And speaking of coolness, Vaughn, with the knife in his boot and the cool moves in the alley? Way to go, Boy Scout.

-- Jack got a (mercifully brief) turn in the torture chair. Heavy scene, although I did pretty much expect Sloane to show up and rescue Jack.

-- Marshall: "I'll just stop talking." Sloane: "I appreciate that."

-- I may have mentioned this before, but I live in L.A. and it always makes me smile when they show a clear, smog-free view of the city.

-- Vaughn to Sydney, as they mutually peruse an available room key: "I think we should have an open mind about this."

-- This week's itinerary: Nice, and the Philippines.

-- This week's cool looks: Dixon as a French priest, and Sydney in purple hair, dog collar, tattoo, and fishnet stockings. In fact, that whole airport security scene was priceless; Jennifer Garner just makes it work, every time.

This episode was one hell of a lot of fun, and had more than one "omigod" moment. Five out of five stars,

Billie

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2.13 Phase One

Sydney: "What was wrong with the black one? Do you think it's *comfortable* wearing clothes like this?"

Holy series-changing episode, Batman! I said "Whoa!" out loud more than once, and I think my jaw actually, literally dropped at the end. When they decide it's time to shake things up, they sure don't fool around.

SD-6 is history, and Sloane has brought down the entire Alliance. What a shock. I mean, SD-6 and the Alliance were at the center of the entire plot of this show until this point. And that wasn't all; just about every major plot element got twisted and shaken up:

1. Jack got caught by Sloane's replacement and exposed as a double agent; he wound up back in the torture chamber. Looks like the rift between Sydney and Jack is now gone; she was pretty upset about him getting caught, wasn't she?

2. In order to rescue Jack, Sydney told Dixon the truth, and he was pissed. And who could blame him? (Carl Lumbly did some excellent work here. And Jennifer Garner was terrific.)

3. After dancing around it for far too long, Vaughn finally brought his feelings for Syd out into the open. How about that kiss, huh? How conscientious of both of them to wait until their official mission was complete before locking lips!

4. And speaking of locked lips, poor Francie! I liked Francie, and I'm bummed that she's dead. How long can a false Francie stay unexposed, especially since the real Francie and Will started smooching? Is the actress being written out of the show at the end of this year, and are they letting her go out with a bang? And by the way, Sydney told Will to get Francie and leave town. What was Francie still doing in the restaurant?

All this, and I haven't even mentioned the server-47-on-the-airplane sequence, which was extremely cool -- the outfits, the explosive decompression, the parachute, and even Vaughn, jealous and worried and suffering from an overdose of aftershave.

As much as I was enjoying the (way too short) guest spot by Rutger Hauer, I was very much aware that Sloane was unaccounted for... but I was still surprised at the end, when we discovered that Sloane was behind the whole thing. What also surprised me was that Sloane knew about Jack and Sydney being double agents. How long has he known?

This was like an end-of-the-series episode, but this isn't the end, thank goodness. I can't wait to see where it goes from here. What is Phase Two? Bringing down the CIA? Could that be why Irina turned herself in?

Bits and pieces:

-- The server was number 47 again, that magic Rambaldi number. And it was even *on* a 747.

-- Sark: "When I met with Geiger this morning, I left his office feeling as unstrung as you look." Sydney: "Just so you know, I'm fully strung."

-- Weiss to Vaughn: "There's no way that guy smells as good as you."

-- Geiger: "Both your files... there were so many red flags, I thought I was in a Russian airport."

-- Lena Olin wasn't in this episode.

-- This week's itinerary: "Over the Atlantic." :)

-- This week's hot look: Do I even have to spell it out? I bet that fans who are hot for Jennifer Garner had to put their tongues back in their mouths after that opening scene. (Speaking of which, it's too bad that Vaughn didn't get to see her in either of those outfits.)

-- Just a brief plug. If you like sci-fi and you've never seen Rutger Hauer's incredible performance in "Blade Runner," you should. He should have gotten an Academy award for it. There are several versions of "Blade Runner"; the U.S. Director's Cut is by far the best.

What a slam-bang episode. Six out of five stars,

Billie

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2.14 Double Agent

Sydney: "I was thinking... I can actually go to the CIA through the front door."
Vaughn: "And I can actually give you a ride."

So we had two Ethan Hawkes' running around and causing confusion, which gave us an explanation of where alt-Francie actually came from. And we had Sydney and Vaughn finally hitting the sheets... while being observed, ick, by the previously mentioned alt-Francie.

I don't care much for Ethan Hawke, but I think he did well here -- at least as poor, real Lennox, who lost his fiance, made a drunken pass at Sydney, was tortured, and broke his own hand. He wasn't all that threatening or believeable as fake Lennox a.k.a. Markovic, though. Why did Sloane duplicate Markovic? Was Markovic just testing his own invention on himself?

If the ocular scan won't detect the duplicate, the only way is by tripping up a duplicate's prior knowledge, then. Alt-Francie seems to be faking it well, although Sydney was unsuccessful in getting a reaction from her about Vaughn. It occurred to me that if the "Helix" prototype was really destroyed, alt-Francie is now stuck in her current form permanently.

Bits and pieces:

-- The opening scene with Emma and the bubblewrapped C4 in the street was effective, and sad.

-- A new character was introduced: Christine Philips, a clandestine services graduate. That was sure a fun first day, seeing a workmate blown up in a Berlin street.

-- Lennox was held in Room 47.

-- Irina, Will, Dixon and Marshall weren't in this episode. I guess they had to make room for two Ethan Hawkeses.

-- Weiss: "You like Italian food?" Christine: "I have a boyfriend." Weiss: "Yeah, me too." I like Weiss. I'm glad he's back. (I also love Kendall. Please keep him!)

-- That final train yard scene with all of the Ethans running around made me think of Star Trek. ("Kill us both, Spock.")

-- This week's itinerary: Berlin, Somewhere in Poland, and Cayo Concha. (Where is Cayo Concha, by the way?)

-- This week's cool language skill: Sydney speaks German.

-- This week's cool look: champagne-colored hair on top of a champagne-colored pant suit.

Three out of five stars,
Billie

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2.15 A Free Agent

Vaughn: "When the hell did you have time to take a class this year?"

It's the morning after for Sydney and Vaughn, with very little time for pillow talk. Good question -- when *did* she have time to take a class this year?

Clearly, Sydney is not free and can't quit the CIA because Sloane is still on the loose; you could practically see her changing her mind throughout the episode even before the confrontation at the end. That phone call Sydney got from Sloane was chilling. Why did he tell her that *he* was behind bringing down the Alliance? Must be part of the master plan somehow, because Sloane never does anything without a reason.

Dixon finally got some screen time, and wow, he's still majorly pissed at Sydney. He meant it when he said he never wanted to see her again. And now the poor guy now has to choose between his wife and his career, and it's not a simple choice; a man like Dixon must be thinking of all the bad he inadvertently did, and that he owes his country. It would be in character for Dixon to choose the job.

Marshall is, predictably, having a ball now that he's part of the real CIA. He's such a fun character. I must admit I'm enjoying seeing him help the good guys for a change.

A long time ago, people used to believe that the last thing a person saw before they died was imprinted on their retinas. The subplot with the intra-ocular retinal implant reminded me of that old belief, with the guy Sloane murdered actually being able to implicate his own murderer with his implant.

And we got a closing cliffhanger; Sydney is now Sloane's prisoner. This can't be good.

Bits and pieces:

-- Christian Slater had a smaller part than Ethan Hawke's, but it looks like it may continue to the next episode. I wonder if this Caplan guy is going to be able to assemble the Rambaldi artifacts for Sloane. If he does, what sort of weapon will Sloane have?

-- How about Kendall blackmailing Sydney to stay in the CIA by threatening to remove her access to Irina? ("Legally, he's right. Ethically, he's an ass.")

-- Irina said that Jack had told her about Sydney's success. Is Jack visiting Irina regularly, now? Hmmmm?

-- According to this episode, Sloane's obsession with Rambaldi goes back to when Sloane was in the Army Corps of Engineers and was told to study a Rambaldi manuscript.

-- Sloane has bought a Tuscan villa, and is planning to stash Emily there.

-- Propeller scene, ick. I hate bloody propeller scenes.

-- This week's itinerary: Mojave desert; Zurich, Switzerland.

Pretty good. Four out of five stars,

Billie

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2.16 Firebomb

Sloane: "This is bigger than SD-6, Sydney, than the CIA. Than you being deceived by me, and me being betrayed by you. If things were different..."

There was a lot of plot in this one.

Sloane still cares about Sydney. I actually shuddered when he kissed her on the forehead. And he's even more devious than I gave him credit for. I thought he was trying to build a new alliance, and that he planned to make a partner out of Kabir, but all he really wanted was the manuscript that Kabir had.

The "suitcase neutron bomb designed in the sixteenth century" was extremely freaky, and the scene in the church was hard to watch. I think they did well not sensationalizing it; just showing all those people burning to death was sad enough. Sark was unhappy that Sloane kept him in harm's way. Am I projecting, or was Sark a little freaked by the Doomsday Device as well?

Dixon made his choice; he was unable to let Sydney die, and he's finally forgiven her. I'm glad he's back in the story, but I wonder if he is going to lose his wife because of it.

I loved Sydney's tirade at Kendall. Did you notice that Sydney chose *not* to incinerate innocent people, but not doing it allowed Sloane to do exactly that? I also really enjoyed Will's big scene briefing Kendall and outshining the suits from Harvard. (Vaughn: "No suit, huh?" Will: "It's been awhile since I tried it on...or worked out, apparently... which makes me overwhelmed, and fat.")

Vaughn, Jack, and Kendall all showed impatience with Marshall in this episode, but Sydney never seems to become impatient with him. Even when he says things to her like: "They read heat signatures, which is kind of a problem, 'cause, well, you're incredibly hot."

Bits and pieces:

-- Sydney and Vaughn found that audio and (gulp) video bugs, originally designed by Marshall, were planted in Syd's apartment. This might put a damper on their extracurricular activities.

-- Alt-Francie is a smart one, going on the offensive and telling Syd that Syd has been acting weird?

-- The Kennedy School is Harvard? Is that a common expression, or CIA weirdness? Speaking of which, is it true that there are 35 people CIA agents are legally allowed to kill on sight?

-- I was a bit taken aback by the Ford Focus commercial written into the plot. Not that anything would make me buy one.

-- Lena Olin wasn't in this episode.

-- Is it me, or does Jennifer Garner look noticeably thinner? I guess that can happen when you're making movies and starring in a one-hour action series at the same time.

-- Caplan (Christian Slater) was referred to in this episode, even though we didn't see him. Do Sloane and Sark plan to keep the guy permanently?

-- This week's itinerary: Switzerland; Kandahar; Mexico City.

-- This week's hot look: Sydney as a little old lady, complete with pearls, a cane, and a hat with a net.

-- This week's cool device: The "cold suit" that was invisible to infrared security cameras. Cool idea, no pun intended.

Complex, moody, and intense episode. Very good.

Four out of five stars,
Billie

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2.17 A Dark Turn

Jack to Irina: "Sydney can be stubborn. Where she got that from is anybody's guess."

This was a couples episode: Irina and Jack, Sydney and Vaughn, Will and ... who is that woman wearing Francie's face?

As Jack was cutting the homing device out of Irina's shoulder, Dan was yelling, "Don't do it, Jack! She's playing you!" She was so obviously getting ready to split; she said goodbye to Sydney in the prison when she said, "I love you," and to Jack on the plane when she thanked him for raising Sydney. (Not to mention their farewell fling in the hotel room; I just knew she would seduce Jack before she took off.) Did Jack know? Did he do it on purpose?

Irina said to Stuka (right before she knifed him), "You know me. I love games." What game *is* she playing? I don't understand why she turned herself in in the first place, and why she picked this particular time to leave; her motivations are still clear as mud. I thought she was trying to turn Sydney to the dark side of the Force, but if she is, why leave now?

Moving on to Syd and Vaughn: I absolutely did not believe that Vaughn could be a traitor, and of course, he wasn't; he's simply still suspicious of the woman who killed his father, and he has good reason to be -- even though he wasn't able to find anything bad about Irina's current motives. It was nice that both Sydney *and* Weiss were ready to defy the CIA to support Vaughn. I wonder if that will come back to bite them.

Finally, how about the situation with Will and the woman wearing Francie's face? That dream sequence shocked me (clearly, Will's subconscious was trying to tell him something); and then the second scene in bed where Francie was questioning a hypnotized Will about CIA secrets just blew me away.

Sloane has some kind of personal connection to Rambaldi; I don't think I realized that before. The latest Rambaldi artifact is about immortality. I keep wondering when Rambaldi himself will show up.

Bits and pieces:

-- The opening scene was a ripoff of the opening scene of "Speed." Except that the elevator actually *did* get stopped by the basement. And I noticed that there were only 47 floors.

-- Michael Vartan must have been a hockey player at some point. You think?

-- Richard Lewis played an obnoxious counter-intelligence threat analyst; his interrogation of Sydney was meant to grate on us, and it did.

-- More yellow tint photography during the limo-chase scene.

-- Kendall: "Jack, when the hell did we switch places?"

-- This week's itinerary: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Panama, and a smushed elevator somewhere in Russia.

This season has just been wonderful so far, and it keeps getting better. Four out of five stars,
Billie

---------------

2.18 Truth Takes Time

Vaughn: "No one should have to hunt down their own mother, no matter what the circumstances are."

About halfway through the episode, I realized that it was Emily, not Irina, who would be killed -- but it was still a good red herring. One thing has changed for me, though; I now believe that Irina really loves Sydney -- possibly much as Darth Vader loved Luke, because of (1) Irina tellling Sloane, "Never talk to me about your love for Sydney again," and of course, (2) because Irina called Sydney's name in order to get her out of the building. To further the Darth/Luke comparison, Sydney and Irina have now both shot each other, and even in pretty much the same spot.

Jack now has operational control of the task force, and wow, is Kendall pissed. It's clear that Jack's first priority always was, and still is, his daughter. I was very relieved that Jack wasn't fooled by Irina after all; it would have been out of character for him. I'm also very amused by Jack and Irina having sex in the last episode, all the while thinking they were outwitting the other; Jack must have injected Irina with the passive transmitter somehow when they were in bed. I'd give money to see that. :)

This episode makes Sloane's character even more interesting. What a compartmentalized man he is -- able to love Emily to the point of giving up his quest for immortality for her sake, but still able to do tremendous evil. I was actually relieved that Emily couldn't go through with her betrayal, because I found it difficult to believe that she would do it in the first place. That last scene with the two of them together was very powerful; he even forgave her for wearing a wire. What is he going to be like now that she's gone? And will Dixon pay a price for killing her, even though it was an accident? (Poor Dixon!)

Sydney has now had both of her mothers return from the grave, and she has lost Emily twice. Is she also going to lose Irina twice?

Bits and pieces:

-- The Morse code through the earrings was exceedingly weird. I think it would have made more sense for it to say "trust no one" instead of "truth takes time." (Although Sloane at one point also says, "What I'm pursuing is truth." I've been assuming it's immortality, but now I wonder.)

-- The Sark/Vaughn scene on the stairwell was very well done, even though we all knew Vaughn had to be wearing a vest. Also, it looks like Vaughn's problems with "internal affairs" or whatever last week are now a non-issue, since all that happened was that his clearance was downgraded.

-- The opening credits, absent for weeks, are back.

-- It was great to see Will at the conference table again. I like it.

-- Alt-France has bought a present for Vaughn. How weird is that? If it was a tie, what possible reason could she have? What's wrong with the tie?

-- Poor Emily. At least they won't have to buy a new burial plot for her.

-- This week's itinerary: Tuscany, Stuttgart, Florence.

All in all, a standard good Alias episode. Four out of five stars,
Billie

----------------

2.19 Endgame

Weiss to Vaughn: "If we end up sharing a cell in federal prison, I'm not giving you a drawer."

Interesting parallel plot line here, with returning character Neil Caplan (Christian Slater), still a prisoner of Sloane's, turning out to be NSA -- and his wife Elsa turning out to be another Irina. Except that Elsa loves Neil, of course.

The Irina parallels were very cool; they even put Elsa in what looked like Irina's cell, and Sydney communicated with her in Morse code, which is how Irina communicated with Sydney in the previous episode. I thought the 48 hour delay in activation of the cyanide capsule was contrived, though, although it would have given Elsa an opportunity to get out of town and not be implicated if they had done it while the two of them were together... okay, maybe not so contrived.

Speaking of loving one's wife, Sloane was seriously grieving here. (He's out of control; not that he was Joe Restraint in the old days.) Diane's death at Francie's hands was one of those "oh my god" moments, although I should have seen it coming since Diane had done a 180 in attitude about Dixon staying on the job -- a big hint that something would go wrong.

What Sloane did to Dixon was more painful than simply killing Dixon himself; Dixon is certain to feel incredible guilt. It will also make Dixon even more determined to get Sloane, which didn't give Sloane pause for a moment, did it?

Jack having Sydney followed was actually funny. She outwitted him twice -- once in the very cute drug store scene, and again by calling Vaughn on Weiss' phone. She put Vaughn in the middle, though, and Jack and Vaughn are seriously butting horns. Jack mentioned Vaughn's relationship with Sydney in a way that made me think that he's uncomfortable with his daughter's love affair.

And finally, if the genetic database has all of those zillions of DNA samples and they're looking for one specific person, could it be Rambaldi himself?

Bits and pieces:

-- "Keep in mind: I should use a slower roll." I-S-U-A-S-R.

-- Weiss to Vaughn: "Jack is going to shoot you in the face."

-- Kendall wasn't in this episode; Jack was the boss for the first time, all by himself.

-- Caplan: "Unless you want to kidnap a smarter genius than me, it's going to be a little while."

-- We finally got a really good look at Michael Vartan's tattoo. :) And Sydney gave Vaughn a drawer. Couples have drawers, as Buffy says.

-- Will is still inadvertently giving information to Francie. That scene with them kissing absolutely creeped me out.

-- We got a little piece of Sark's past: school in England. And "What I want is that which I never had." What could that be?

-- Marshall to Jack: "You can relax. The Death Star plans are not in the main computer."

-- Caplan was alive at the end of this episode, making it possible that Christian Slater would return to do more guest spots.

-- This week's hot look: Syd in a contact paper skirt and drug store wig using a Valley girl accent. Isn't Jennifer Garner originally from West Virginia? I also loved the Russian Cowgirl outfit; very sultry in a way, but where did Sydney get 50K so quickly?

-- This week's itinerary: was it just Russia, or did I miss something?

A standard excellent Alias episode. Four out of five stars,

Billie

---------------

2.20 Countdown

Carrie: "The last thing I need is some fifteenth century dork telling me I got a day and a half to live."

The title of this episode should probably be, "Dixon loses it."

Dixon was understandably upset about his wife's brutal murder; out of control, self-medicating, rigging a required drug test, and refusing to talk to Dr. Barnett. Except it seems that Dixon really *was* in control, since he made things work out in Cartagena. He's on the edge, but still functioning. I think.

Jack and Sydney were ready to bend over backward to keep Dixon on duty, while Vaughn pushed hard to make Dixon to stay home. And herein lies the conflict in our little episode. Sydney now has a tragic life experience (Danny) in common with Dixon, which will only bring them closer, and she barely hesitated to lie for Dixon. (How could she not stand up for Dixon, after all the time that she hated lying to him about SD-6?) Interestingly, she lied *to* Vaughn. This does not bode well for the Sydney/Vaughn relationship.

Okay, so let me get this straight. Rambaldi drew pictures of DNA strands on his documents; they point toward one specific guy, an art restorer in Panama City named Proteo di Regno, who had a machine in place of his heart. That heart is now in a briefcase, and it looks like an alien artifact.

Di Regno's DNA fingerprint also allowed the decryption of page 94 of the Rambaldi manuscript that gives the dates of past apocalypses, along with a final apocalyptic date that actually occurs in this episode. Does the apocalyptic date refer to the removal of the machine heart thing, or to Sloane's strange pilgrimage into an episode of "Kung Fu"?

We learned that David Carradine's character, Conrad, is the one who set Sloane on this pilgrimage thirty years ago. And Sloane's journey has just begun? Does he have to lift a large brazier with dragons on it to leave Nepal?

Bits and pieces:

-- Will, Francie, and Irina did not appear in this episode. Kendall appears to be gone, and now we have Jonathan Banks ("Wiseguy") as NSA Deputy Director Frederick Brandon, who is the head of the interagency Rambaldi task force.

-- New character Carrie Bowman seems to be warm for Marshall's form. She's very cute, with the nose stud, and crying over Joni Mitchell ("I shouldn't bring her to work; it just makes me fatalistic.") We even got a small glimpse into Marshall's logical, agnostic childhood.

-- Sydney to Vaughn: "It makes me insane when you patronize me."

-- Sloane said, "I killed the wrong person." Somehow, I don't think he meant killing Dixon instead of Diane.

-- In this week's hair report, Dr. Barnett lost about a foot of it. The shorter do looks good on her.

-- This week's itinerary: Panama City, Guadalajara, Cartagena, and Nepal.

-- This week's hot look: Sydney dressed as a flamenco dancer, although it seemed like a caricature costume to me.

Good Dixon episode, but the whole Nepal thing just seemed weird. Three out of five stars. And we're getting a two-hour finale next week. I'm not ready for this season to be over,

Billie

-------------

2.21 Second Double

Kendall: "Now you're just mocking me."
Jack: "Yes."

Shuddery episode. The Sydney/Francie scenes were totally creepy, and Francie setting Will up to take the fall for her was inspired.

I was bummed at the beginning when I thought Will was going to be tortured again, and glad it didn't happen that way. I was also waiting for the obvious during the ambush on the road -- for Will to be captured by Sark's guys, or for Will to prove his innocence by helping Dixon. Instead Will defended himself and got away. Go, Will.

Will said: "Syd, I love you, but I can't trust you any more. Meeting you destroyed my life." He has a point; poor Will has been victimized two years in a row. If there are innocent bystanders suffering in this story, it's Will and Francie. Will has been through so much terrible stuff, extreme torture, arrest, losing his career, and all he ever did to deserve it was become Sydney's friend. The real Francie was murdered for the same reason.

Kendall showed some very interesting hostility toward Sydney throughout. He said to her at first, "I'm getting bored with your hunches." Later, he said to Jack, "We can't keep letting your daughter's personal relationships take precedence." What's going on there? Is he just pissed at Jack for "taking his parking space" or is there more going on?

The Sloane/Jack scene at the outdoor cafe was delightful. ("I've missed your poker face.") Sloane seemed different, much calmer, not visibly grief-stricken any more. Whatever he learned in Nepal must have changed him. Irina said that Sloane believed he was "chosen." But we didn't get an explanation.

The Vaughn moments were even better, if that's possible, and Vartan got to do some fun stuff. I got a kick out of Sydney spraying Vaughn with champagne for his "cover," and the way he smirked at her when they decided to go get Dr. Jurgens at the leather club. I also thought the "Hello, honey." "Hello, dear," when they had Dr. Jurgens tied up was very cute.

Bits and pieces:

-- There was an interesting parallel here. Last season, Jack didn't want Will killed, for Sydney's sake. This season, Irina did the same thing.

-- Nothing quite like having hyour employer find tapes of you having sex.

-- Looks like Will was in the same cell as Irina and Elsa. I guess that makes sense. How many cells are they going to have?

-- When Sydney kissed Jack, he almost smiled. I saw it.

-- Jack: "I'm not cut out for management, anyway."

-- Another Ford Focus ad. Sorry, I love "Alias," but I have no desire to own a Ford Focus.

-- This week's itinerary: Berlin and Marseilles.

-- This week's hot look: The dominatrix outfit was pretty far out there (Vaughn: "I'm glad I'm not the one in leather." Syd: "You'd look cute in a teddy").

I have to give this episode five stars just for the scene in the leather club. (The rest of the episode was excellent, too.)
Billie

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2.22 The Telling

Irina to Sydney: "Stop being as stubborn as I am."

They went and changed the whole series again. How about that?

The season finale was basically the resolution of both the Will/Francie plotline and the uncertainty about Irina. The last two minutes were an absolute knock-out; I don't think I've ever seen a show do something like that. I give Abrams a great deal of credit for taking such extreme dramatic chances; it certainly keeps the show exciting.

I kept feeling throughout that Will was the only one who had enough data to figure out that it was Francie; I was mildly disappointed that he found out by stumbling over her medication instead of through research and deduction, although the cell phone message and the scene with Syd, Francie, and the ice cream was just excellent. The Will/Francie scene with the knife had me on the edge of my seat.

Merrin Dungey did her best "Alias" work in these last two episodes, without a doubt; she kept scaring me because I never knew what she would do. Her expressions changed constantly. And that final scene with Will was stunning; Allison/Francie had developed feelings for Will. Didn't stop her, though.

Sark was just delightful. My favorite line in this episode was, "Not a problem. My loyalties are flexible." He's such an interesting character, loyal only to himself, ready to change sides at a moment's notice. And how interesting that he was romantically involved with Allison, and jealous of her relationship with Will ("You don't fancy him, do you?"). Come to think of it, Will and Sark are much the same physical type, so it sort of makes sense.

One major issue has finally been resolved. Sydney's parents may be twisted individuals, but they both love her. I'm glad that Irina has been sincere about her love for Sydney all along. The way she showed up at the ice rink was a shock; and when she jumped off the building, I thought she was going to kill herself. I still don't understand why Irina didn't just tell Sydney outright who the double was. "Alias" plots are so convoluted, though, that I'm sure there was a reason.

What is sad is that Sydney has clearly become close to Jack, finally, or again, and I bet that's going to be an issue when the series returns next fall -- if, as I'm theorizing, Jack has changed sides.

Of course, the big unanswered question is what happened to Sydney. Where has she been? Did someone take her and keep her in a coma for two years? Did the shock of losing both of her best friends cause a traumatic memory loss? Or did the Rambaldi device "Il Dire" cause it, perhaps? And what exactly is "Il Dire?" What does it do? Dan thinks it might be a time travel device, but that may be too sci-fi for "Alias."

Finally, was it the end of the Vaughn/Sydney relationship? Vaughn was wearing a wedding ring in the final scene; the character of Alice was probably set up earlier this season for just this moment. He also said, "They asked me to come back." Did Vaughn leave the CIA after Sydney disappeared?

Bits and pieces:

-- Alt-Francie's real name is Allison G. Doren, and she was one of the children from Project Christmas who was presumed killed long ago.

-- In the final scene at the Hong Kong safe house, Vaughn said Will was okay. But Vaughn didn't say anything about Allison/Francie.

-- Jonathan Banks' character was shot. Is he dead?

-- Sydney found Will in the tub, just like she found Danny.

-- There is mention of a U.S. Government Rambaldi stash in Nevada. 23 pieces plus 24 pieces equals 47 pieces.

-- Now we know: Sydney is the one in the prophecy, according to Irina.

-- Marshall and Carrie went out for sushi and a mission in Zurich. Looks like Marshall has a honey now.

-- Will's file password is "Sydney."

-- Eric Weiss has the same name as Houdini. Also, it looks like Will and Eric are sympatico. I like Weiss. I hope he returns next season.

-- This week's itinerary: Zurich, Stockholm, Mexico City, and Hong Kong.

-- This week's hot look: The blond wig and black dress in the club in Stockholm.

What a stunner. Definitely a water cooler discussion episode. Five out of five stars; I was impressed, and very entertained,

Billie

- Reviews by Billie Doux

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ALIAS SEASON ONE
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ALIAS SEASON TWO
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ALIAS SEASON THREE
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