Friday, January 25, 2013

Alias: Blood Ties (3.20)

It's funny that the show is once again returning to the ever-changing concept of family, a theme that brought the show to a whole different level in its first two seasons. Season three, up till this point, never really had a major overarching theme, instead a bunch of storylines drowned out in romantic tension and intentional vagueness. Here, with the arrival of Sydney's secret half-sister Nadia, we begin to see more of a mythology building, pulling in everybody from Vaughn's deceased father to Sloane and his wavering devotions. It goes without saying that the show seems to have a sense of direction once again.

It's also important that the writers are actually acknowledging how the Nadia story is similar to Irina's arc last season. One of the strongest scenes here involves Sydney talking with her father about suddenly having a sister, and how she likes the idea of it and has been somewhat won over by Nadia as a person. Jack's reply? "You assured me you weren't going to make the same mistake twice". It's Sydney once again being taken in by the perception of something, rather than anything actually tangible. Of course, Nadia is far easier to trust than Irina, considering we knew so much about Irina's history, but it also gives Nadia a vibe that could be even more dangerous. She's a blank slate, seemingly sweet and strong(it is Derevko DNA, after all), but still slightly anonymous right now.

Mia Maestro makes a strong impression here. From a purely visual perspective, she could easily be related to Sydney, Irina and Sloane, as there's definitely a facial resemblance there. But she also impresses as a fun doppelganger of Sydney. Just witness her very first scene: she fakes catatonia as a form of protection, before being rattled enough by the idea of somebody being in danger that she immediately drops the act and protects Sydney from harm, despite not yet knowing the mysterious woman breaking her out of a mental hospital is in fact her own flesh and blood.

Sloane remains a question mark, even if it all makes sense from a continuity standpoint. It's been known for a long time that Sloane is a man caught between a rock and a hard place: easily guided by the people he cares about, while also heavily inspired by his obsession with Rambaldi. I absolutely believe that he loves his daughter unconditionally and feels overjoyed at meeting her, but I also believe he'd use her to get closer to Rambaldi's endgame. It's like an addiction though, speaking through the tears as he chains his daughter to a table and injects her with some gooey Rambaldi serum. Shivers.

With so much occurring and the Rambaldi hoodoo firmly back at the heart of Alias, it has an unforeseen consequence of making Lauren, Sark and the Covenant seem like after-thoughts. They're still around, this week kidnapping Vaughn and torturing him for the location of the Passenger, but the character weight given to Sloane, Nadia and the ever-changing spy family leaves the rest of Alias' current villains (Lauren in particular) seeming half-baked. Lauren once again displays entirely homicidal and psychotic tendencies here, happily manipulating her bleeding, beaten hubbie and delivering to him swift kicks to the face... but it's hard to care anymore. I sort of want this whole thing to be off the show.

Blood Ties sees Alias stepping up to the mark, returning to that sense of apocalyptic doom that made those first initial Rambaldi flourishes in season one (the prophecy, page 47) so unnerving. We see Sydney and Nadia as random women thrown together in extraordinary circumstances, and then we hear them described as mortal enemies, the Passenger and the Chosen One destined to destroy each other. It's suddenly so grand and operatic, and it's Alias on fire once again. A

Guest stars
Richard Roundtree (Thomas Brill); Mia Maestro (Nadia Santos); Glenn Morshower (Marlon Bell); Erik Jensen (Phillip Terrance)
Teleplay J.R. Orci Story Monica Breen, Alison Schapker Director Jack Bender


  1. You know, you compliment the show for bringing back that sense of doom related to Rambaldi, but this is really the point on the show where the Rambaldi voodoo crap started to annoy me. It's the key that leads to the map that leads to the artifact that leads to the passenger that leads to the message that leads to another key and another map and so on. It's an eternal cliffhanger*. And the green orb with the magical liquid was too much and completely out of place for this show.

    I love Nadia's introduction, though. She is totally awesome when she breaks out of the fake catatonic state and kicks asses side by side with her older sister. Even better is the scene where they are hiding so Nadia can rest a bit and Syd concludes she is a spy. The look on Sydney’s face is heartbreaking. Here there is someone she wants to love, and yet it’s another member of her family she doesn’t know if she can trust. Great stuff.

    *That critique is not mine. I read somewhere that Alias biggest problem as a show was that it was an eternal cliffhanger.

  2. I absolutely agree on all your points. I feel like bringing Rambaldi back grants the show an automatic sense of purpose or narrative spine that it really lacks whenever it's dropped. It's why I think so much of season three feels so aimless. However, you're correct that it became a story full of small missions like the ones you mentioned: "this goes to that and that goes to this and so forth".

    And, yeah, great Sydney work here. Tragic, hopeful, rewarding, all curled up into one.

  3. I love Alias and i love your reviews, you look carefully and examine every detail, keep doing a good work. Happy new year 2013!!!! :-)

  4. Aww, thank you so much! That's incredibly flattering, thank you for reading.