Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Alias: The Confession (1.11)

Just as Alias' narrative builds and builds, pushing through different episodes as missions blur into additional missions and so on, the characters are beginning to build on each other, too. The relationships between the ensemble are increasing in power so swiftly that The Confession constantly resembles a house of cards. Just when the whole thing is fixed together, something comes along to knock it right back down again. Parental angst has always been a trademark of J.J. Abrams, but one of Alias' major success stories so far has been its ability to constantly shift and evolve the source of that angst. Yes, it's still the conflict between child and parent, but there are these consistent game-changers that radically alter that theme. It's intense.

As soon as The Confession opens up, you just know misery is right around the corner. Jack and Sydney are finally working together in the field, talking openly about their jobs and the reasoning for Jack keeping quiet about SD-6 for so long. Back in Los Angeles, Syd remarks how much she loved their time together, how seeing him in a whole new light really opened up her mind and changed her perception of her dad. So, yeah, this won't end well. Further, it came as no surprise when Vaughn revealed Jack's potential involvement in a KGB-orchestrated massacre of various CIA agents years ago. Instantly Syd's opinions change once more, and she's again stranded, unsure of where her heart lies.

But it only builds from there. Vaughn seems personally affected by the CIA massacre, only for it to revealed that his father was one of the dead, lending the episode yet another child-parent component. Finally, it all leads to that fantastic closer in which Jack confesses that, yes, the codes in those books were KGB instructions and, yes, they were meant for a Bristow. But it wasn't him. It was Sydney's mother.

Jesus freakin' Christ. What I love about Alias is that constant up-ending of expectations, the way the narrative suddenly spins into shocking new corners, and all Sydney can do is watch as the trainwreck around her gets more and more fiery. She's so fractured right now, even breaking down in Will's arms at the horror of it all, and that's before those final revelations. It's just a remarkably confident series at this point, breezing into this elaborate mythology and intently focused on the themes of betrayal and deceit.

Everything else in The Confession is actually pretty incidental, particularly Syd's mission of the week. It's closely linked to the events of last episode, but lacks a ton of energy. There's a bad guy who wants to take over Hassan's turf, and Syd infiltrates a nightclub to get to him. Meh. Even her undercover outfit wasn't a ton of craziness this week.

But the bones of the episode arrive whenever character is positioned above all else. You completely believe Sydney's pain, while you also express a ton of sympathy for both Vaughn and Jack -- Vaughn for his determination to bring his father's killer to justice, and Jack for having his daughter experience these life-changing revelations all at once, previously so unaware of her troubled lineage. A-

Guest stars
Aharon Ipale (Ineni Hassan); James Handy (Arthur Devlin); Francesco Quinn (Minos Sakkoulas)
Writers J.J. Abrams, Daniel Arkin Director Harry Winer

No comments:

Post a Comment