Sunday, December 16, 2012

Alias: Repercussions (3.5)

Repercussions works like a reminder of how strong Alias can be. After an opening stretch that felt more 'off' than 'on', it's almost like the writers finally stood up and wanted to prove something: "See, we're still here -- doing our thing". There's too much to love this week, Jesse Alexander's script rapidly spinning through subplots and stories that grant every cast member something crazily fun to do, working like a kind of assault of awesome as the Covenant arc heads into some intriguing new directions that grant an anonymous force of evil an actual face and agenda.

It's actually the love triangle hooey that is most on fire this week, though it doesn't open all that well, with Lauren being all shocked and appalled over Sydney stabbing her husband, in spite of Syd's assurance that he would have been shot in the head if it weren't for her quick-thinking. Then there's an even worse moment in which Lauren demands that Sydney request a transfer to a different department, as she can't take any more of this PMS-driven girl-on-girl sniping. Ugh. But, soon after, Lauren begins to come into her own. The elaborate car chase after Sloane's kidnapping is technically masterful already, but Lauren's giddy excitement is hilarious, and I liked that the show is exploring the funnier side of the Syd/Lauren rivalry (with Syd's double-takes, and Lauren's loud annoyance with her hubbie's ex) instead of just drowning it all out in a bunch of unprofessional yelling.

At the same time, you get a strong vibe of Lauren's insecurities. She knows she's only in her position because of her dad, and you know that she's intimidated by Sydney and Vaughn's long history together. So while she's frustrating at times, it's hard to actively dislike her at this point. Particularly as we now know that Vaughn, deep down, believes he's made a mistake in marrying her. His nightmare, in which Sydney stabs him again and declares "how could you do this to me?", implies how much guilt is wracking his conscience. There are parts of this story that remain annoyingly predictable, but the writers are at least trying to add depth to an old TV trope.

Elsewhere, Sloane has also been granted a better role on the show, now working as a double agent for the CIA while he partners up with the Covenant. It's irony at its finest, Sydney still trusting him about as far as she could throw him, and Sloane's allegiances ever-doubtful. He appears genuine, and it sort of makes sense on an agency level, but... really? Sloane? Watch your back, girl. Justin Theroux's campy British villain gets a little less to do this week, but Jack's badass takedown is intense, casually shooting him dead just after he starts making cracks about Sydney's ability in the sack. Spy Daddy is ruthless!

Finally, we got another comedy mission with Marshall, going undercover with Sydney as a brash Texan millionaire. There's something so special about the two of them working together in the field, as well as weirdly intimate. Sure, she's appalled when he slaps her butt while a little too 'in character', but she also makes sure his fuzzy mustache disguise doesn't make him sneeze during a heated moment. These two are so cute together.

Repercussions is the finest episode this season so far. It's busy to the point of frantic, darting all around the world for a variety of different missions, but it utilizes the show's ensemble cast perfectly and frequently puts a smile on your face. It's the show at its silliest and most action-driven, but there's still that character conscience underneath. A

Guest stars
Justin Theroux (Simon Walker); Clifton Collins, Jr. (Javier Parez); Djimon Hounsou (Kazari Bomani)
Writer Jesse Alexander Director Ken Olin

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