Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alias: The Getaway (2.12)

This was all about crossing into unknown territory, and characters taking that next leap into the unknown. It's ridden with bullets and bodies and bad memories, but it's something that has to happen for anybody to be able to move forward. Sydney and Vaughn went to dinner, ignoring all the warning signs and intent on being happy and romantic for once; while Jack turned to Irina for help, not with any initial concern or worry over her allegiances, but because he needed her in the moment, and knew that her information is invaluable. Not only does this mark a real push forward in terms of Alias' season two narrative, but it also develops new character beats that are alien and strange at first, but only make these characters more human in the long-run.

Sydney was sort of obnoxious at the start of The Getaway, all bitter over Vaughn apparently 'coddling' her and keeping her father's investigation a secret. But it's totally high school drama, making a certain thing an issue when it's really a whole different issue that's really bothering her. They both want to date each other, but the obvious road blocks are getting in the way. Hell, they can't even look at each other in public, so any kind of longing of intimacy is naturally a problem. But they do it anyway, heading to a restaurant in Nice, something sweet and romantic until the bullets start to fly.

There's a jarring sensibility here, primarily because The Getaway is so concerned with the two characters being a 'couple' rather than just two people working together. But the show handles the frivolity of it pretty well, especially with the return of Weiss and the way he is brought into the plot as a humorous instigator for romance. Greg Grunberg adds some easy charm to the generally straight-laced CIA scenes, and it's a story that also allows Vaughn to cut loose a little, too.

The Ariana Kane investigation winds up crossing paths with the Syd/Vaughn story midway through the episode, and it's here that the hour perks up in a big way. What started out as a pretty routine mystery saga with a special guest star suddenly takes that trademark Alias left-turn here, spiraling into additional plot twists as it goes along. I remember being genuinely surprised by Emily's resurrection at the end, Sloane having faked her death, then faked her possible survival, then her kidnapping, and then his blackmail, all to keep her alive so they can be together. It's a strong closer to the story, once again exploring Sloane's ambiguity as an individual (he really does have the ability to love), and tying various characters together in that last act of twisty carnage, Ariana the fall guy for the whole thing.

It's also a story that brings Jack and Irina together, in a sense. This is the first episode in which they fail to snipe at one another, but Victor Garber and Lena Olin play their scenes in such a way that you can almost sense the fear ticking away inside their heads. It's not a bad memory, but a feeling of calm, which is scary and unexpected, but also something they don't want to verbally address. There are so many levels to these characters, and it's a step in a really interesting direction to see them working together as willing allies, instead of just reluctantly.

This was a very different episode of Alias, but it's carried off well. I'm not a huge Sydney/Vaughn shipper in general, but their courtship is cute and charming, and was successfully tossed together with all the espionage angst and violence that the show does so well. Jeff Pinkner's script also spirals into various unexpected directions as it goes along, from the vacuous highs of the filler mission (Syd all punky and hot while No Doubt plays over the scene) to the elaborate fake-outs and revelations at the end. It's a very strong episode. But you'd be hard-pressed to realize that, based on The Getaway, everything was about to change in a big, big way. 4... 3... 2... A

Guest stars
Terry O'Quinn (Kendall); Courtney Gains (Holden Gemler); Greg Grunberg (Eric Weiss); Faye Dunaway (Ariana Kane)
Writer Jeff Pinkner Director Lawrence Trilling


  1. The first time I watched The Getaway, I thought Syd and Vaughn were so stupid! A restaurant? Really? I mean, they're spies, good at lying, just be secret lovers already. Instead, they go on a traditional date, risking their entire operation? Stupid!

    Last time I watched this episode, though, I thought they were immensely adorable together and loved all the cute little restaurant scenes. Maybe I became more romantic over the years? Also, it’s just so cool when Ariana’s investigation crosses with Sydney’s double life and Syd and Vaughn get attacked. “Syd, behind you”. Damn, that entire sequence rocks.

    Another couple of standout moments include:

    - As you pointed out, Jack and Irina working together (I love the recap on TWOP explaining why Garber and Olin deserved every award there was).

    - Sloane saving Jack, and the irony of it (from what we know so far, that is).

    - The airport scene. Man, Jennifer Garner sold it every single time, didn't she?

    Great, great episode.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Lamounier. I think every episode from this period has at least a couple of stand-out moments, notably the ones you mentioned there. And I totally echo the "getting more romantic" thing. I still don't care all that much about the two of them, but they didn't bore me this time around like they did years ago.