Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Alias: Page 47 (1.15)

Page 47 marks the moment when Alias really blew up. Every writer knows that the greatest way to grant life to a storyline is to make it truly personal for the story's protagonists, and here the writers give the Rambaldi arc something of a face... literally. Rambaldi has been this consistently intriguing but necessarily vague plot device throughout the season, full of shady theories and strange artifacts. With one shocking plot twist, not only does it become something grand and almost supernatural, but it places Sydney firmly at the center of the mystery. What was something mysterious and personally insignificant is suddenly all about her, and all Sydney can do is stare in complete disbelief at the image staring back at her.

Even before that final scene, this is a doozy of an episode. It's biggest success is the consistent blurring of the dueling worlds at the heart of Alias. Not only do we see Jack and Will interact in two vastly different encounters, but we also travel into Sloane's inner sanctum, and see the man behind the image as well as the wife by his side. That dinner scene is almost unbearably tense, Will describing a story he covered about a slave driver who lied and manipulated his illegal employees, something Sloane's wife Emily found incredibly moving. It's a moment that adds additional layers to all of these people, Jack and Sydney noting the irony of the story, Emily becoming this intriguing enigma for hooking up with a man who appears to so go against her morals, and Sloane sat uncomfortable at how close to home it hits.

Will's investigation seemed to come to a close this week, too, after having his friends and family threatened by an undercover Jack at Sloane's request. Not only does this showcase Will's integrity as a person, but it also says a lot about Jack's methods. Time and again he's been shown to be compassionate and caring about the people he loves, but the only way he can comfortably express it is through violence. It's like the job has entirely consumed him. Yet, considering his wounded history with his wife, it's no surprise that he's become so closed-off.

Page 47 is a relentless assault of intensity. While past episodes have featured one or two moments of cast-driven tension, here J.J. Abrams and Jeff Pinkner throw everything into the pot. There's Will deciding his fate while a hitman waits for him outside. Syd stealing documents from within Sloane's personal office while he's dining nearby. Layers and layers of drama. But it's that final shot that pushes this episode into extraordinary territory, suddenly switching the show up and diverting Sydney's drive and determination away from the death of her fiancee and her need to bring down SD-6, and instead making it about the 500 year-old prophecy that very much seems to involve her. This is suddenly so large in scale, about so much more than murder and deceit. It's about destiny. A+

Guest stars
Sarah Shahi (Jenny); Amy Irving (Emily Sloane)
Writers J.J. Abrams, Jeff Pinkner Director Ken Olin


  1. I agree. Such a gorgeously epic turning point for the show. I still remember my utter disbelief the first time I watched this episode and that final jaw-dropping moment. Although I don't agree with people who think the Rambaldi arc went to hell by the end of the show, no one can deny that at its peak beginning with this episode, it added a whole new layer of awesomeness and intrigue to the show.

    And that dinner scene STILL makes me nervous by the way. So darn marvelous.

  2. I remember my reaction to my final scene of the Rambaldi page, I was like what!!! Great episode.