Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Alias: Snowman (1.19)

This and the preceding episode have been frustratingly standalone in spirit. While a lot of Snowman is concerned with Laura Bristow (or, as I'll now be referring to her, Irina Derevko), most of it is distracted by the titular assassin, an ambiguous hitman with a reputation for bloody carnage. The problem with this is that it's clear from the very first mention of his name that it'll turn out to be Noah Hicks behind the mask, both since he needs removing from the series, and because what he offers Sydney is too earth-shattering to permanently stick. So most of the episode feels like waiting for your train to hit its intended destination, and that's a little underwhelming.

The problems I had with the Hicks story parallel those I had last week. So much of his character is an enigma, and everything he and Syd had years ago is only spoken of rather than visually depicted. A similar thing occurs here, too, only this time with the future. He proposes to Sydney an escape from espionage, the two of them out on their own investigating her mother -- but again it's all hypothetical. Just like their past relationship is all vaguely implied, his pledges are similarly vague. This isn't a huge problem for Hicks as a character. Knowing that he winds up being the Snowman, it actually makes a lot of sense. But I'm not sure the show sold Sydney's willingness to join him all that well.

It's another story that explores Sydney's eagerness to escape her life, though -- something she expressed back at the start of The Box and something she thought about in regards to her education in The Coup. But her dithering doesn't register as well this week as in either of those episodes, despite it being an actual person who is proposing it this time around, and not just her subconscious.

So there's definitely a sense of treading water here, anchoring an episode on a relationship that I'm not sure the show could effectively develop in so short an amount of time. There's naturally a lot of fun, regardless, the teaser sequence escape scene (with Syd and Hicks getting sucked up into a rescue helicopter) being crazy and the low-low-budget Mission: Impossible riff with the dangling Sydney only made more exciting with the inclusion of Marshall's noise-removal device. I also liked seeing more of 'wounded Jack', here watching old K-Directorate footage of his wife (played by some unknown lady) which sees her ridiculing her hubby and calling him a fool. Bitch cold!

But, I don't know, the Hicks thing didn't totally work. There was a lot of potential there, but it wasn't executed very well, despite the best efforts of Jennifer Garner and Peter Berg. Like I stated last week, it seems more of a narrative issue than anything the actors did... or didn't do. Let's just call it a momentary blip. C+

Guest stars
Peter Berg (Noah Hicks); Natasha Pavlovich (Irina Derevko); Stephen Spinella (Mr. Kishell); Boris Lee Krutonog (Igor Valenko); Angus Scrimm (Calvin McCullough); Paul Lieber (Bentley Calder); Patricia Wettig (Dr. Judy Barnett)
Writers Jesse Alexander; Jeff Pinkner Director Barnet Kellman

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