Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alias: Passage Part 1 (2.8)

It goes without saying that Passage exploits the Bristow family dynamic for all its worth. This is crazily entertaining television, the three characters forced to work together on a mission to India, and behaving exactly how a complicated, dysfunctional family would behave while on vacation. With that in mind, there's a lot of juxtaposition here between regular family activity and the twisted Alias variations on it. It's normal for a husband to buy his wife jewelry and place it around her neck. On Alias, Jack gets his ex-wife a necklace, only its set to trigger a bomb if she ever misbehaves out in the field. Then there are the two parents warring over their daughter's love life, Sydney trying hard to not blush as her mom talks about the guy who is clearly interested her, Jack warning of the dangers it would entail. Only it's another wrinkle of complicated because the mom killed the love interest's dad a million years ago. And last-minute vacation bonding? Not a dinner or a day trip, but taking down an army of militants with a bunch of machine guns. This is batshit badassery at its finest.

Prior to this episode, Irina was stuck in her jail cell, reciting ambiguous information like a very sexy Hannibal Lecter. But here the show places Lena Olin directly in the action, and she unsurprisingly relishes the opportunity to flourish in the real world. Irina continues to show tenderness towards her daughter, but its her flirtatious interaction with Jack that raises the stakes. She strips to her underwear in front of him, plants a huge kiss on his lips to keep up appearances -- and it works so well because it's Irina playing a character, merely participating in a job. What it isn't, she insists, is something serious. But she knows that it reads like something deeper, and that manipulative, self-aware quality makes the character so ridiculously powerful.

Something that's been operating in the background for the last couple of weeks has been Will's investigation into Project Christmas, or at least the standardized test papers that Vaughn is intrigued by. It's been a strong use of his character, and I continue to adore his moments with Sydney, in which she's now able to discuss her espionage life with somebody aware of both sides but still relatively ordinary. It's cute, though I love how Francie literally has one line per episode nowadays, usually related to a cooking sauce or whatever. Aww. Man, it's like she won't have anything to do all season. Cough.

There's also continued intrigue with Sloane's zombie wife, her finger getting delivered to SD-6 and blackmailers supposedly holding her captive. Then there's the ramifications of Sark's arrival at the offices, with Sydney proudly disgusted and even her SD-6 colleagues a little perplexed. Sark continues to be a riot, and that hate-sex chemistry between him and Syd is still there, I tell ya!

This is the most fun episode in a while, the greatest use of Irina so far, and a wonderful dissection of how entirely confused and ridiculous this family continues to be, parents feuding at every opportunity and a daughter who is so over it already. Genius. A+

Guest stars
Terry O'Quinn (Kendall); Pasha D. Lychnikoff (Zoran Sokolov); Shishir Kurup (Saeed Akhtar)
Writers Debra J. Fisher, Erica Messer Director Ken Olin

1 comment:

  1. Wow!!! Seeing Sydney and her family and their emotions, and how everything turned out for them is really sad, poor Syd, although I didn't want to admit, I knew they would never be the happy family that once was. at least Syd had Vaughn and her new family in the end. :)