Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Alias: Reckoning (1.6)

Something that has set Alias apart from other series is the very thing I complimented it on just a couple of weeks ago, how the show is so forceful in its narrative that standalone missions blur into two separate episodes at a time. Reckoning, while still fun and absorbing, gets a little lost between the constant shuffling of various storylines, losing sight of where the focus should be. Last episode was more successful at that, especially as all the disparate stories were linked by one key theme. Reckoning, on the other hand, feels too disorienting at times to totally work.

Where the episode really succeeds is in Sydney's now aggressive distrust of her father. After linking his investigation at the hands of the FBI to similar Danny-style murders, Syd begins to suspect Jack's secret agenda lead to her mother's death all those years ago, creating an immediate void between the two of them. It's worsened by the fact that Jack is now working alongside her at SD-6, making the tension that much more intimate and unbearable. Syd is stubborn and volatile here, but you can understand where she's coming from, even if it's all based on circumstantial evidence. Here's a lady whose entire existence is filled with lies and betrayal, and the mere hint that the same events killed two of the most important people in her life is enough to make anybody fly off the rails. Great work by Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber, too, both of whom have already made these two so believable in their angst.

The rest of the episode is a little choppy, stalling in the Francie subplot (I like her, but Charlie being a *gasp* secret musician just doesn't do a whole lot) and stumbling its way into an SD-6 mission to infiltrate a Romanian mental hospital. It's all fine, generally, but lacks the cohesion that made last week's complex narrative so affecting.

Will's investigation, however, remains intriguing. He gets a ton of "oh, shit!" moments this season, and his discovery of Eloise Kurtz's abandoned apartment is the first of its kind. He's long been aware that something shady is at work, but the idea of somebody just vanishing without a trace sends immediate terror his way, Will suddenly realizing that he's fallen into deep hooey where people can just be removed from existence if they get too close to the truth. It's a scary position to suddenly find yourself in.

I'm probably being a little harsh on the spy stuff this week but, if I remember correctly, I wasn't huge on the John Hannah story. But it at least pushes Syd into greater danger than ever before, now that she's cut off from both of her respective agencies in an asylum, no less. Which can't be good at all. B

Guest stars
John Hannah (Martin Shepard); Nancy Dussault (Helen Calder); Evan Dexter Parke (Charlie Bernard); Lori Heuring (Eloise Kurtz); Eugene Lazarev (Dr. Kreshnik); Sarah Shahi (Jenny); Maurice Godin (Agent Fisher)
Writer Jesse Alexander Director Daniel Attias


  1. I absolutely adore the Romanian prison stuff. Syd getting trapped there with no backup just creeps out to no end and I just always find those scenes horrifying. The music, the set design, the attention to detail, SO impressive.

    But God the Francie-Charlie stuff was always atrocious. Probably the only glaring flaw of the year.

  2. I'm with both of you on the Francie/Charlie stuff. It has a point come mid-season, but it's a drag until then.

    I loved everything else, though. And that final sceen in the asylum is unbelievable creepy, and really well produced.

  3. I don't edit these reviews in retrospect or anything, so I kept my last comment about the Romanian prison story intact, even though I ended up really liking how they used it in Color Blind. My issues with Reckoning were more about the episode's structure, even if I can entirely recognize how intense the last scene was.

    Thanks, guys.