Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Alias: Spirit (1.10)

Every decision Jack makes ends up confusing his daughter. It's natural that a parent would do everything to protect their child, and Jack going that extra mile to ensure his daughter's safety is powerful and compassionate on its own. But, being Alias, that 'extra mile' involves orchestrating somebody's murder in order to protect Sydney. It's an act of fatherly warmth, but in this twisted, blood-drenched manner. And it ends up being nothing but more ammunition for Syd to use against him. It's how her mind works, though, instantly seeing the negativity in everything that he does. Despite Vaughn's insistence that Russek was a bad man destined to die horribly at some point, Syd doesn't waver.

It's a theme that's also evident in one of Sydney's earliest memories of her dad, in which he repeatedly told her that Santa Claus was real. For ordinary people, this would more than likely be a sign of childhood naivety, the warmth expressed by those around you to keep you innocent and believing in something grand and magical. But to Sydney it was just the first example of his lies. She knew he was lying all along, and repeated the question constantly as a result. It's another strong story in the Syd/Jack saga, something that makes Sydney appear flawed and narrow in her belief system, but also makes her hurt so raw and distinctive. Neither characters are perfect, but the journey to some kind of reconciliation continues to be absorbing television.

Every couple of episodes, Will gets one of those 'huzzah!' moments, this time when his Eloise Kurtz murder recording is analyzed so intently that he hears the term 'SD-6' for the first time. He's getting closer! I also like that he hasn't yet recognized that he's still pursuing this case when he doesn't actually need to anymore. It's no longer a work story, but something that is driving his entire being even away from the office. But it doesn't seem conscious either, it's just become this addiction, despite how eerie the whole thing is.

Great espionage hoodoo this week, too. Jennifer Garner's accents have been a string of hot messes lately, but I still loved the ridiculous Texas heiress she played here, as well as her work at the spa resort, kicking the guard through the wall in her bikini. Heh. It was also interesting seeing Jack in the field, beating the crap out of people and getting strapped to a chair all bloody. Poor Victor Garber, it's not nice seeing him in that state.

Spirit worked because it really pushed the idea that most of the cast are pretty damaged. Jack always comes off negatively, despite his good intentions. Sydney is driven by angst and emotional baggage, failing to see any of the good in her father. Even Sloane folds into this, appearing resentful of the CIA and terrified of the 'coming darkness' that he instinctively knows is right around the corner. These people are hugely difficult protagonists, but it only makes Alias so much more rewarding for us at home. B+

Guest stars
Miguel Sandoval (Anthony Russek); Scott Paulin (Robert Stoller); Aharon Ipale (Ineni Hassan); Christopher Thornton (Nevil); Scotch Ellis Loring (Steven Gordon); Sarah Shahi (Jenny); James Warwick (Severn Driscoll)
Writers J.J. Abrams, Vanessa Taylor Director Jack Bender


  1. I love what you wrote about all the characters being totally damaged. The show doesn't try to dress it up, and runs with all of these weird "quirks". Great reviews again this week.

  2. Thanks. It was something that the show really had at one point, but then it got a little lost after a while. They became a less multi-dimensional. In season three, at least, which I just wrapped. Heh.