Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alias: The Abduction (2.10)

It's easy to rag on Marshall Flinkman. He has a very specific schtick that's used in practically every episode and rarely develops beyond that base level of nerdy goodness, so it's not like he's really bringing anything new to the able nowadays. But I always loved the guy, Kevin Weisman coating his delivery in half-starts and awkward stumbling, conveying a man so excited by things that most people aren't, yet constantly embarrassed at the tracks he verbally goes down. He's just a fun character, and pushing him center stage in The Abduction only made him more adorable. We learn a lot about Marshall here, from his lack of exposure to the outside world, the fact that his best friend seems to be his mom, to the elaborate lie that he's crafted for her, implying that he's a big-shot doing great, positive work.

But there's an underlying tragedy to all of this, Marshall's mission to London only making him more proud of what he's accomplished and how it'll inevitably help others. And all Sydney can do is run with it, even if she's so aware that everything Marshall has ever worked towards is a huge betrayal. There's also Syd's initial upset that the mission will mean that Marshall will have to be removed from SD-6, before realizing that this too is something inevitable. Marshall, Dixon, the other non-evil members of the organization -- they'll all eventually have to find out the truth.

The mission itself is hilarious, Marshall being wildly attention-grabbing while intending to fade into the crowd, his gleeful delight over the opera, as well as the sitcom hoodoo with the tranquilizer dart. Additionally, and I know this is stale humor, but hearing anybody do a bad British accent is naturally funny, Marshall being all "'allo, cheerio". God, he's fun.

Faye Dunaway, before she got those toothy veneers and began to resemble something Sigourney Weaver would shoot things at, has a neat little guest spot this week as an Alliance agent brought in to investigate Sloane's wacky blackmailer. She has some sparky chemistry with Jack, Victor Garber keeping his tiny little mouth so tightly shut despite the fact that she's saucy and flirtatious and looks like Faye Dunaway.

I should also note my enjoyment over the Will and Francie stuff. Will is getting closer to becoming a serious CIA agent, while Francie's suspicions are growing about the amount of time Will and Syd are spending together and their newfound shadiness. So they hold a surprise party for Francie to throw her off the scent -- it's still a cute use of her character. Yes, she's so unnecessary that she's practically wallpaper at this point, but Merrin Dungey has such a nice, human presence that I can't help but like whenever she pops up in her apron and asks to collect drinks... which I think is all she's done this year.

The Abduction is light and breezy at the best of times, but with that trademark Alias intensity lurking beneath the surface. It also has the most terrifying cliffhanger in an age, Marshall kidnapped and tied to a chair, creepy Asian torture dentist all up in his face being creepy and Asian and torturous. Gah. A

Guest stars
Petra Wright (Alice Williams); Ric Young (Dr. Zhang Lee); Faye Dunaway (Ariana Kane)
Writers Alex Kurtzman-Counter, Roberto Orci Director Nelson McCormick

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