Sunday, December 16, 2012

Alias: A Missing Link (3.4)

This is the most successful episode in season three thus far, primarily because Sydney is an active participant in the story. That probably sounds a little strange, considering she's still front-and-center of the series, but the lost years arc has so far positioned her as something of a blank slate, drifting around to various clues and trying to piece things together. But A Missing Link drops her straight into her past, forcing her to slip undercover as 'Julia', the identity she assumed during her missing years. The story forces Sydney to 'own' her amnesia, and not merely be a victim of it, and with her character resorting to drastic measures to keep her alias intact, it feels like the most purposeful episode in a while.

Writers Monica Breen and Alison Schapker also play around with Sydney's darkness as a character, or at least the darkness she could get engulfed by if things were a little different. Because she's so casually recognized by a Covenant hitman named Simon Walker, Syd merely goes along for the ride, embracing a bad girl edge as she falls deeper and deeper into villainy -- using her sexuality to get information, robbing necklaces, stabbing Vaughn to prove her worth. It's all pretty slinky and intriguing, seeing Sydney almost enjoying this new found danger in her life, or at least being a little curious about it.

It's a story that also manages to disguise some of the weaker elements of Alias, this week being the generic bio-agent virus heist thing. Alias is at a point where mission-of-the-week concepts are noticeably unassuming, the writers always relying on the same bag of tricks time and time again to create a little tension. But while the previous episodes this season didn't really do anything else to offset the predictability, A Missing Link is firmly focused more on Sydney's darkness and her intriguingly sexual relationship with Simon Walker, as well as Vaughn's jealousy over Syd's sudden recklessness. He doesn't recognize his true love anymore, and it sort of scares him. Even more so when he finds out about her murder of Lazarey.

While it's probably too soon to make grand statements about Lauren, she seems to work better when moved away from the love triangle. She opens the episode berating Vaughn after he fails to tell her everything about the Moscow mission last week and appears frustratingly by-the-book and hostile. But once she's sent off to Zurich and talks shop with Sloane, she suddenly becomes a little more absorbing. References are made to the senator father pulling strings to help her move up in the world, and there seems to be a noticeable vulnerability to her. Since she didn't have the most auspicious of first episodes, it's a welcome decision to see the writers trying to develop her beyond 'other woman' characterization.

Visually dark and filled with a ton of emotional dysfunction, as well as featuring a campy, sexually-charged guest spot from Justin Theroux, A Missing Link utilizes Sydney's lost years to striking effect -- firmly making the story about Sydney's edge, and the darker corners of ourselves that we usually keep hidden. B+

Guest stars
Justin Theroux (Simon Walker); Clifton Collins, Jr. (Javier Parez): Amanda Foreman (Carrie Bowman); Ray Proscia (Laszlo Bogdan)
Writers Monica Breen, Alison Schapker Director Lawrence Trilling

No comments:

Post a Comment