Thursday, January 10, 2013

Alias: After Six (3.13)

As a character, Sydney is becoming far too reliant on Vaughn. Every one of her recent actions seems driven by him, and following the uneven resolution to the lost years arc, Sydney's main goal is seemingly trying to get back together with him. She tells him that she doesn't want to be "the other woman", but it's still all she ever talks about. The story is just another thing making Sydney a little less absorbing this season, especially as Vaughn isn't all that interesting. She's become more and more one-note, at least compared to how multi-dimensional she once was.

After Six is another episode with a thin principal story, something that's only perked up via some showy guest spots and cool stunts. The CIA wants to get its hand on a disc holding a who's who of the Covenant, and Syd and Vaughn need to break into a Swiss chalet sealed tighter than Vivica A. Fox's new face. Vivica herself, pre-surgery, is a hoot here. She's always been an actress who melts the screen with a tough charisma (Set It Off for life!), and makes her security specialist Toni Cummings a ruthless badass with a taste for the green. Toni is the only element of surprise here. Besides a couple of cool CGI devices that Sydney uses to break into the fortress (the explosive balls, the weird goo thing), this is generic as they come -- particularly as it winds up a fruitless mission, anyway.

Lauren's evilness is still a bitter pill to swallow, considering she's become so outwardly hostile at work and her casual violence is such a 180 to what she did pre-twist. Sure, that could have all been an elaborate hoax, but Melissa George almost made it too convincing, that's if she was even aware at that point that Lauren was a bad mutha-bleep. So to speak. Regardless, her scenes with Sark bring the heat, the two of them getting off on all kinds of bloody murder as they take down Covenant leaders in order to stage a coup.

Thrown into this is Quentin Tarantino, once again playing a thinly-veiled version of himself (only QT can make a toast to a haircut so sinister), now working as a go-between for the Covenant. With the Covenant itself still so shapeless and vague, it's neat to see the writers giving this story some color, particularly with Tarantino chewing the scenery and, as contrived as it may be, Lauren and Sark being so sadistic. The story itself still feels awkward, but I'm not totally disliking it right now.

Moments of comedy this week, too -- Marshall getting married just as Carrie goes into labor, and Weiss talking about his inability to choose between Posh and Sporty Spice back in the '90s. Even though that's ridiculous, since Sporty was such a wreck back then with all the shiny sweatpants. Ugh. Then again, I had a major thing for Ginger when I was a kid, only recently realizing that she once looked so draggy. Which may mean something. Eek. If we're talking today though? Man, I just couldn't choose. Posh Beckham rules all, naturally, but Scary at the Olympics? Damn.

Oof. Right. Alias. Blah. The triangle vibe is dragging this season down, and Sydney is a major victim of it. At least Lauren has these squicky extra-curricular activities, Syd is left just walking around looking miserable all the time. There's fun here, intriguing psychobabble between Dr. Barnett and a goo-injecting Sloane (?), and great guest spots -- but a lot of Alias is still in the pooper. B-

Guest stars
Vivica A. Fox (Toni Cummings); Quentin Tarantino (McKenas Cole); Amanda Foreman (Carrie Bowman); Ian Buchanan (Johannes Gathrid); Patricia Wettig (Dr. Judy Barnett)
Writers Alison Schapker, Monica Breen Director Maryann Brandon

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