Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Alias: The Counteragent (2.7)

When Sydney first became a double-agent, she was only truly motivated by revenge. Joining the real CIA, she wanted to fight back against Sloane because of her fiancee's murder, along with all the lies she had been told for so long. She was very much a lone wolf of sorts, the woman equals the mission. But it's interesting to see how much more stock Sydney now has in other people. While she was once so alone among a sea of traitors and betrayals, she now has her father's welfare to worry about, along with her personal investments in Vaughn and her friends at SD-6, the ones that are just as in the dark about their true motives as Sydney once was. This week we saw Sydney abandoning any form of protocol to save Vaughn's life, in one great moment being completely uncaring about telling Sark how she truly feels about Sloane, offering his head on a platter in exchange for a cure for Vaughn's ailment. It's just another example of how layered she's become.

It's also fun to see the intriguing power play between Irina and Vaughn. Their scenes bookend the episode, their dialogue mirroring the others' as they both acknowledge the cause that drives them: Sydney Bristow. They both recognize it, but it's interesting to analyze where that cause is directed from. Vaughn's care for Sydney gravitates from his love for her, that thing that he doesn't dare articulate out loud, but is clearly desperate to. Irina, on the other hand, seems to be using Sydney for emotional leverage. Like I always say, it's problematic to try and source where she's actually coming from, but I always feels like there's something ulterior about her. Nothing ever 'is'.

I wrote earlier this season about the missions becoming almost incidental, and it's never more apparent than with The Counteragent. Honestly, the whole "race to save Vaughn" thing didn't inspire a huge amount of interest as anything other than a plot device. It's not that I don't like Vaughn, I'm just not exactly shipping him and Syd at this point in time. They're cute, but not at all one of the best things about the show. Thankfully John Eisendrath's script seems to intentionally make the whole deal pretty incidental, using it as a jumping-off point for various inter-character conflicts...

Just look at how Sark is used here. He opens the episode as a routine dastardly bastard, before elaborating on his scheme of the week. But that doesn't turn out to be his actual goal, leading to a surprise ending where he's insidiously maneuvered his way into SD-6 by way of a fancy partnership with Sloane. It really struck me how clean and precise this was, particularly Sloane proudly showing off his new associate to Syd, as if he isn't at all worried how becoming suddenly friendly with the guy they've all been pursuing for so long will reflect on him. But it's intricate and smart storytelling, like a twisty maze of plot.

I wasn't enamored with Vaughn's plight on an emotional level, but The Counteragent only furthered the elaborately-drawn storylines that have been building all year. It's not operating at a break-neck pace just yet, but the elements are all there for a season that will eventually explode into intensity. B

Guest stars
Terry O'Quinn (Kendall); Austin Tichenor (Dr. Nicholas); Petra Wright (Alice Williams); Chris Ellis (Agent Chapman); Victor McCay (Agent Rudman); Stephen Davies (Associate); Stephen Mendillo (Henry Fields)
Writer John Eisendrath Director Daniel Attias

No comments:

Post a Comment