Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alias: Color Blind (1.7)

There's a strong recurring theme here that writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman keep coming back to: characters bending their prerogatives over time, or reacting in surprising ways that seem to go against the feelings they may have had up until recently. It's present in Francie's acceptance of Charlie's proposal, as well as in Will's reluctance to investigate Danny's murder following the demise of Eloise Kurtz, but it's most present with Sydney, who expresses so much emotional growth here. We only met her six weeks ago, but she's already evolving as a person.

Just last week Sydney reacted to shocking revelations in this brash, aggressive manner. The possibility of her father being corrupt did nothing but enrage her, while every conversation with Vaughn was fueled by her desire for revenge, not out of any particular involvement with him as a person. But here Syd begins to change, like she's finally moved out of that initial stage of grief over Danny. She's able to have her first quasi-intimate discussion with her father, and while it's still filled with awkwardness and a sense of unintentional coldness (I loved Jack telling her about Danny's killer, and Syd's response being along the lines of "I knew, but thanks for breaking it to me so gently"), there's a real breakthrough there, both parties willing to move past their issues and finally lay their cards on the table. Jack is still a badass (his dress-down of Vaughn is particularly awesome), but he too has the ability to soften.

At the same time, Syd actually has a real conversation with Vaughn. There was that brief moment of vulnerability back in A Broken Heart, but that was very much initiated by Sydney. Here we see Vaughn acting like a friend, asking her about her Thanksgiving and Syd reciprocating with the casual banter. It's just sweet seeing Sydney drop the straight-laced, professional façade, and be a little more unassuming and ordinary. She's been so fueled by violence and anger up till now, it's like she's finally hit that emancipation.

Of course, this whole theme is most notable in the follow-through to the Martin Shepard story. Shepard himself quickly realizes that he was responsible for Danny's murder, and that he recognizes Sydney from a photograph he glimpsed during his stake-out of their apartment. When Sydney finds out, she's initially devastated, crumbling down in tears outside the makeshift safe house they're hiding in. But, in a further reflection of her growth, she also sees how much Shepard too is a victim in all of this, and that he deserves that emotional closure as much as she does. It's such a strong ending to what initially felt like something of a drag story-wise.

Color Blind is unusual in that it doesn't end with a mid-story cliffhanger. While we do still get that last-second shock moment (there's a mole... and Sloane's gonna get 'em!), it's the first episode that allows Sydney to leave our screens in a relatively secure state. On a personal level, things are becoming brighter, and it's a feeling that carries the episode from its opening scenes straight through to the end credits. Sure, it'll inevitably spiral out of control again sooner or later, but right now it's exactly what we at home and Syd herself needed. A

Guest stars
John Hannah (Martin Shepard); Evan Dexter Parke (Charlie Bernard); Elaine Kagan (June Litvack); Eugene Lazarev (Dr. Kreshnik); Sarah Shahi (Jenny)
Writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman Director Jack Bender


  1. Great review, and I loved all the stuff you wrote about Syd really growing as a person. It's all well and good to abide by particular characteristics, but it doesn't always work if there's no growth.

    It's nice to be cliff-hanger-less too, even if it's only briefly. I'm really loving all these Alias posts.

  2. Thanks, Panda. I'm actually trying to make these a little more recappy, too, so people will hopefully remember the episodes a little better. Like I could never remember individual episodes before this re-watch, but I did remember specific scenes or certain stunts, you know?

    Gah. Anyway, thanks for commenting.