Saturday, January 5, 2013

Alias: Crossings (3.12)

I think this is around the time that an in medias res opening begins to mean not that a shocking twist is right around the corner, but more that you're about to watch something assy. Crossings tries to explore the Sydney/Vaughn relationship and how it's changed this year, and I feel this is as good a time as any to talk a little about season three itself. While I haven't got a total downer on the show, there seems to be a real lack of direction this year, the Covenant arc remaining vague, Lauren's evilness so sudden that it becomes a little jarring, and characters changing dramatically or being killed off before they really do anything of note (Simon Walker, Allison Doren). The first two seasons were so tight in terms of narrative, and it's wildly different to season three, which feels a lot like a show made by committee and lacking in a connecting thread, especially with the lost years arc bottoming out like it did.

A similar problem is occurring with Sydney and Vaughn. It's inevitable that an endgame romance will become increasingly soapy as a series goes on, but Lauren's presence and the "I don't want to talk to you anymore, Syd" thing that launches this episode are both so different in sensibility to what the show has done with the two of them in the past. It's hard to entirely care either, when both have acted like bratty children at various points this season.

Lauren is also at a stage where the writers have shown their hand but are still working out what to do with said hand. A similar thing happened last year with Fauxrancie, the big reveal giving way to a couple of weeks' worth of blather, the character eventually kicking into gear a month in or so. Here Melissa George is told to wear an expression that practically reads "Yes, I'm evil now", looking all shifty as Syd and Vaughn's plane goes down and she has to act all concerned. I vaguely recall Lauren getting better, but she's really at her worst here.

It goes without saying that Isabella Rossellini steals the show this week, even if her entire character only reminds you that Lena Olin didn't want to come back. Katya is at least different to her sister, somebody who puts all her cards on the table and is almost prideful of it. Just look at Rossellini's slinkiness as she kisses Jack and plays it off so transparently. Girl's a fox! She's equally badass, too, threatening Sloane and sticking chopsticks into the hands of shady Korean criminals.

But Crossings remains generally tiresome -- the North Korea crisis, Sark's involvement, the defected Covenant official and Syd and Vaughn's kiss all being more than a little uninteresting. It's also concerning that the writers don't seem to have a handle on where the season is going. C-

Guest stars
Griffin Dunne (Leonid Lisenker); Isabella Rossellini (Katya Derevko); Arnold Vosloo (Mr. Zisman); Byron Chung (Colonel Yu); Francois Chau (Mr. Cho)
Writers Josh Applebaum, André Nemec Director Ken Olin

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