Sunday, December 2, 2012

Alias: Countdown (2.20)

Despite death being all over this show, grief has been an emotion rarely explored up till now, particularly when its external and volatile. Sure, Sydney had to deal with Danny's murder, but it had to be bottled up and insular because of her work with SD-6. Francie is someplace that's else (and I just had the horrible realization that we never find out what actually happened to her body, which is... ugh) and nobody emotionally connected to her actually knows about it. But the murder of Dixon's wife was intensely public, a shocking act of retribution done in the most crass way imaginable. So, understandably, Dixon experiences something of a slow-motion meltdown, becoming rapidly unhinged at how terribly his life has wound up.

Carl Lumbly gives his strongest performance to date this week, perfectly convincing during the moments in which he becomes erratic and violent, and later so understated and destroyed when he finally has his epiphany. It's also a story that brings him and Sydney closer than ever before. They've been separated recently as a result of the SD-6 takedown, but here we see them come back together in the very worst of circumstances, both having lost their loved ones to Sloane. Gosh, there's so much death around these places. Season two is far more depressing than I remembered it being.

At the same time, Dixon's issues with medication leads to problems between Sydney and Vaughn, Sydney covering for her partner during an internal investigation and simultaneously lying to Vaughn about it. But, like her relationship with Dixon, bad circumstances lead her to a closer bond with the ones that she loves: she realizes that her actions now effect those around her in a deeply personal way, and it helps push her and Vaughn's 'thing' into a deeper area of connection.

Elsewhere, the Rambaldi hoodoo feels very much like a placeholder for the big two-hour finale next week. It's all about ambiguity this week, signs leading the CIA to an apocalyptic prophecy that seems to signal mass carnage within the next couple of hours, and a shiny mechanical heart that will inevitably lead to a ton of rainbows and leprechauns... right? Sloane's Tibetan pilgrimage to his Rambaldi mentor (David Carradine!) is reliably nuts, but it's interesting to see his obsession given extra dimension, his motivation set back on track by a promise that his personal journey is an integral part of Rambaldi's plans.

Ooh, and Marshall's gotten himself a girlfriend! Or at least a female human he can sputter over for a while whenever he's in her presence. Aww, it's the cuteness. Amanda Foreman is just quirky enough to make Carrie a fun character, not dovetailing into 'zany' Zooey Deschanel-level goofery, making her a good match for her equally could-be-annoying-but-endearingly-isn't love interest.

Despite the elaborate hysterics and character-based drama, Countdown felt like a quieter episode than normal. But the show is still juggling all those balls in the air, setting everything up for what promises to be an explosive blow-out when the season finally wraps. B

Guest stars
Danny Trejo (Emilio Vargas); Jonathan Banks (Frederick Brandon); Amanda Foreman (Carrie Bowman); David Carradine (Conrad); Patricia Wettig (Dr. Judy Barnett)
Teleplay Jeff Pinkner Story R.P. Gaborno Director Lawrence Trilling

No comments:

Post a Comment