Monday, December 10, 2012

Alias: Succession (3.2)

That sigh of relief you hear is a collective response to the Alias ensemble coming back together again. Something that impacted on the season premiere was the scattered feel to it, Sydney the only character recognizable compared to the last time we saw them. But Succession goes out of its way to unearth the sense of teamwork that was absence last week, with Vaughn returning to the CIA, Jack bonding with Sydney on clandestine operations, and Sark once again at the forefront of trouble. Season three still lacks any real sense of urgency, but at least the writers are slowly getting things right again.

This episode's mission of the week is designed to advance most of the season's long-term arcs more than anything else, ending on another ambiguous cliffhanger involving Sydney's lost years -- this time a gloomy proclamation implying she was a 'project' of the Covenant. It's also revealed that the man she killed in last week's security footage was a Russian diplomat who happens to be Sark's father, the murder itself now being investigated by Vaughn's perfectly-coiffed new wife Lauren Reed. Phew. There's definitely a soap opera sensibility to season three, only confirmed with this collection of interconnected storylines tying together a whole bunch of rivals, both romantic and sexually ambiguous. Decide for yourself which character applies for those descriptions. Heh. It's different, for sure, but not exactly alienating.

Elsewhere, we had another tense reunion between Jack and Sloane, Jack just as sure as his daughter that Sloane's goody-goody makeover isn't what it seems. I love Jack, particularly his crack about fortune cookies. Less successful is his online communication with Irina, in which he asks for her help in investigating Lazarey, the man Sydney murdered. It feels like a strained attempt to keep Irina's presence on the show intact, in the doomed hopes that Lena Olin would reappear for sweeps or whatever. It probably worked on initial viewing, but winds up a little underwhelming when you know what's to come.

Nothing here is particularly challenging, and the writing definitely feels more low-key this year, but the Covenant are growing in their intrigue and it's always a strong decision to keep Sydney firmly at the heart of whatever mythology is currently at work. It helped personalize the Rambaldi story in season one, as well as the familial conflict last year, so it's no surprise the writers are going there once again. B-

Guest stars
Kurt Fuller (Robert Lindsey); Brad Greenquist (Otto Edel); Al Sapienza (Tom); Ilia Volok (Ushek San'ko); Andrew Borba (Jim); Stephanie Venditto (Cathy)
Writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman-Counter Director Daniel Attias

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