Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Alias: Trust Me (2.2)

This episode was all about power. You would think that the CIA would have the upper hand with Irina in their custody, but it's quickly made clear that she's still holding all the cards, enforcing her power as quietly as possible. She's already such a strong character, projecting this ownership and strength despite, once again, having barely any lines. But as Trust Me builds, the ever-shifting balance of power is tipped over into Sydney's favor. While Irina is still orchestrating something, Syd makes sure to stand strong and promote herself as a willing ally. Despite their genetic ties, they are not friends, nor will Sydney bow down to her mother's rule. Like Janet Jackson once said, this is about control, and despite the current messy circumstances for the Bristow family, Sydney is standing her ground.

And it's with that last smile that Lena Olin totally kicks into gear. Yeah, she totally shot her daughter last week -- but this was maternal appreciation, something like... pride? God, it's so fascinating to see unravel. Her other jail cell encounter this week involved Vaughn, Irina instantly recognizing his love for her daughter (he called her 'Sydney', something she finds interesting) and telling him that he looks just like his father, the man whose death she was responsible for. This lady is so ruthless and so cold, yet with slivers of warmth and humanity. There's little there that's concrete right now, no clue about where she's headed, but you know it's going to be somewhere interesting.

What's surprising me right now is how conventional season two has been so far. I sort of always had this image in my head of Alias' second year hitting the ground running, but things have been surprisingly generic in these first two episodes. And I really ought to find a different word instead of 'generic', since that automatically implies something negative. While this show is still crazily fun, it's still cycling through the same tropes: like the party infiltration, or the vague deus ex machina that Syd has to steal for SD-6 and copy for the CIA. In that regard, I enjoyed the fanciness here. We had two cool break-ins with two different undercover outfits, and I particularly liked Syd's high-wire trip down the side of that building in Helsinki. Nothing's too surprising right now, but there's always this generally happy medium with Alias.

What pushes Trust Me further is that feeling of Syd taking control. She refuses to cooperate with her mother when she was merely asking to see her, and instead enforces her own power over the situation at the end. At the same time, she demands respect from Kendall, and has become more verbally volatile when discussing Sloane, even remarking this week that she wants to cut his hands off every time he touches her. Touché. Season two is lacking real narrative urgency so far, but the power play between the Bristow trifecta is already incredible. B+

Guest stars
Terry O'Quinn (Kendall); Tony Amendola (Tambor Barceló); Wolf Muser (Ramon Veloso); Joseph Ruskin (Alain Christophe); J.D. Hall (Judge Freid); Wendle Josepher (Vicki Crane)
Writer John Eisendrath Director Craig Zisk

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