Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Alias: The Coup (1.14)

It was inevitable that at some point down the line Sydney's path would cross with one of her friends during a mission. Surprisingly, The Coup doesn't actually exaggerate this to its fullest effect, instead using it to grant additional material for Francie. There's a little bit of fun with Syd dodging her best friend in Vegas, but generally it's a pretty non-espionage affair this week. A lot of people violently dislike Francie, and it's a given that she doesn't exactly need to have her own subplots, but I feel like her presence is welcome on Alias, a nice reminder of how mundane the real world is, where the only 'double lives' involve infidelity and cheating and not, you know, international spy hooey.

So it turns out that Charlie has been unfaithful, only not with the blonde from a couple of weeks back. It puts Sydney in an unfortunate position, but at least allows her and Francie to grow a little closer by the end of the episode, especially with Syd pledging that she's always going to be in Francie's corner, and that their friendship is still strong despite Sydney's frequent absences of late. It's a wacky situation, naturally, but these two are gonna survive it.

It was actually the other soapy material that really worked this week. It's ridiculously sweet seeing Jack try and connect with his daughter, particularly his awkward fumbling when asking her how school has been lately. That block is still there, but the way they visit the fairground and Jack begins to open up about his own hurt following his wife's deception marks an important development in their bond.

Developments also occur between Syd and Vaughn. They're not really talking like CIA agents anymore, Vaughn having adopted this genuinely sympathetic tone whenever they meet. He asks her how she's feeling, if she's physically stable following the events of last week, and actually expresses that he wants to go on a date with her. I was never a huge fan of these two, but they're working for me this time around. Vaughn's eagerness to actually look at her for once, instead of only talking to her through CIA procedure with the lack of eye contact and clandestine meets, was adorable.

In terms of espionage, The Coup is more of a bridge episode than anything truly interesting on its own. The Vegas operation was a little flat as a mission (that card game dragged on for what seemed like a century), presumably because Dixon was doing the heavy lifting for a change. What does work is the introduction of David Anders' dead-eyed, baby-faced hitman Mr. Sark, a chilling antagonist who instantly freaks you with his cut-glass accent and fixed stare. He just seems so soulless at this point.

The Coup isn't popular due to the overdose on the 'ordinary life' stuff, but I never had a huge problem with it taking center stage for a week. It's nothing compared to the relentless action Alias usually offers, but sometimes it's necessary to sit back and take a breath every once in a while. B

Guest stars
Evan Dexter Parke (Charlie Bernard); David Anders (Julian Sark); Allison Dean (Stella Campbell); Keone Young (Professor Choy)
Writers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci Director Tom Wright

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