Monday, December 10, 2012

Alias: Reunion (3.3)

Doesn't everybody hate Melissa George? It sure seems that way, folks rolling their eyes and yelling "boo, it's Melissa George!" whenever she pops up on a TV show somewhere. Me? I actually think she's really, ridiculously great (okay, maybe not on Hunted) -- but I can understand where the hate comes from, considering she first truly came into the public's consciousness playing a role that was doomed from the very beginning. On Alias, she has the misfortune of playing 'the other woman', the third wheel intruding on Sydney and Vaughn's epic love story, lingering around on the fringes of the show like some manipulative homewrecker. She's also been saddled with this wonky 'international' accent that is so often confused with a 'bad Australian actress can't do an American accent' accent, which only gives extra credence to those who can't stand her. In short, poor Melissa George.

What sucks is that it's sort of hard to like Lauren at all, even removed from the whole 'love triangle' thing. Her very first scene is confrontational and aggressive, she and Syd literally screaming over each other as they argue over how to best handle Sark. It's entirely unprofessional. Then again, Sydney herself isn't coming off so great in this story, either. While it's understandable that she's devastated over Vaughn's new marriage, she seems intent on yelling at everybody until they bend to her rule, while she doesn't seem to recognize that Vaughn believed she was dead for two whole years, and that he couldn't have been expected to stay celibate for the rest of his life or whatever. In short, it's a ton of girly whininess that feels jarring for a show that was at one point aggressively feminist.

I liked the quieter moments between the two of them, as well as Sydney and Vaughn's romantic slow-motion looks of mutual appreciation during their nudity-filled mission to Moscow. But the story itself just feels so damn obvious. It's an inevitability that another woman would momentarily break up the show's 'endgame couple', and it's so generic for both women to hate each other, while the man sits around begging both of them to give the other a chance. Grr. Those neurotic, unpredictable women and their seething jealousies! Time of the month, ladies? Those crazy chicks! Reeeer, catfight! Snore.

Reunion disappointingly isn't that great anywhere else, either. The writers are still getting mileage out of the Lazarey murder surveillance footage, this week Marshall slowly picking up an image of the killer in question, pixels coming together piece by piece. It's a traditional potboiler story, only made unintentionally hilarious by the fact that the blurry woman is so obviously Sydney Bristow in a blonde wig. It's all kinds of silly.

Elsewhere, the mission of the week involves Sydney and Vaughn trying to stop the purchase of a satellite-destroying device that is about to fall into the hands of Mr. Sark. There are fun moments, notably a child-in-peril stand-off in Mexico City, but it doesn't disguise the fact that this is major Alias filler material, every element of the story (Sark being dastardly, shady technology, gala infiltration, Sloane snidely-ness) having been used before to far greater effect.

I came into season three determined to keep positive and not ride the obvious wave of complaining, but it's hard not to recognize how underwhelming every episode has been so far. The show remains pretty cool and tightly-performed, but the writers are playing way too safe at this point in time, making Alias itself a better-than-ordinary, but still pretty derivative, action TV show. Boo. C

Guest stars
Mark Ivanir (Boris Oransky); Scott Adsit (Pierre Lagravenese)
Writer Jeff Pinkner Director Jack Bender


  1. I really do like Melissa George but she really does know how to land herself some bad gigs. I'm not even talking about Alias, because I actually loved Lauren after the first few episodes.

    But her arc on Grey's Anatomy a few years ago made me dislike her for a while. Everything about it was a mess from top to bottom, and she was written out in the most absurd way, making it difficult for me to understand why the character was even there in th first place. None of this was really Melissa George's fault though since the writing was horrible, but for a while after that everytime I read about the backstage drama on Grey's there would always be a little "co-star Melissa George says this..." in seemingy every article written about that show at the time which was pretty irritating.

    I really like her though and wish she would get a decent gig somewhere. I didn't even bother to watch Hunted past the first episode, and I'll be surprised if that show goes ahead. Yeah...

    None of that is really about Alias but I actually really like the first arc of this season, despite having very little memory of it. Also, I think you really will enjoy Felicity season one. It's one of the better shows of its kind that I have seen and it was pretty well received at the time.

  2. I heard about the Grey's thing, actually. I had stopped watching by that point but I was still reading about it and stuff, and all I remember is some weird self-administered underground surgery thing that she was involved with? Plus an annoying bisexual thing with Meredith? Yeah, I remember it went down terribly.

    She deserves better work, though, absolutely. I thought she was incredible on In Treatment and in the movie Triangle.

    And, yeah, excited for Felicity. Haven't started yet, but into it.

    Thanks for commenting, tvfan.