Saturday, January 5, 2013

Alias: Full Disclosure (3.11)

When a series has teased its audience for so long about the possibilities of a certain mystery, it's unsurprising that the audience at home builds up a greater explanation on their own than the one employed by the writers. I bring this up because Alias' big exposition episode, in which we finally discover what actually happened during Sydney's lost years, can't help but feel underwhelming considering all the ambiguity of the previous ten weeks. Surprisingly, I had no issue with Kendall being used as exposition fairy here, or that Sydney sits in open-mouthed shock for the far majority of the hour. The actual disappointment only arrives once we discover the truth, and we're left in open-mouthed shock at how half-baked it all is.

Considering all the build-up, it's frustrating that Full Disclosure reveals a lot that we've already sort of gleaned. Sydney was Julia Thorne, she killed people, and things got screwy. Kendall goes into a little more detail than that, with Syd for the most part willfully going undercover as Julia to infiltrate the Covenant and faking Lazarey's death in that initial recording. We also learn that Sydney herself got her own brain wiped, in order to prevent the Covenant from somehow extracting all she'd learned about the Rambaldi cube, which... eh. I'm sure the writers could have come up with something a little more chilling than that. And they sort of skipped over the potential ramifications of Sydney prostituting herself by sleeping with Simon, and a move that major deserves some kind of follow-through. That's if the writers even remembered that by this point?

Finally, Sydney's eggs were taken from her in order to create some superpowered mythology baby with Rambaldi's million year-old sperm, something that sounds squicky and badass... but gets resolved ten minutes after it's introduced. With all of this, there's definitely a feeling that this was tossed together in a hurry. I don't have any legit details or anything, but did ABC intervene in what they perceived to be another over-complicated Rambaldi saga? Because this seems too abrupt an ending for a story that had been aggressively pursued all year.

Either way, the season takes a sharp left-turn with that cliffhanger twist revealing that Lauren is all murderous and evil now, pumping Lazarey full of bullets. Again, I wonder if this was always on the cards? Because it doesn't feel like it was a story that had been planned from the beginning, and also grants a convenient resolution to a character and subplot that the Alias fanbase was vocally hateful towards. At least it gives Melissa George a little more to do than simply spar with Sydney, but I sort of liked her recent evolution from desk-duty lapdog to gun-toting adrenaline junkie. Meh.

Full Disclosure is crazy absorbing as an episode, and writer Jesse Alexander nicely navigates around the various problems exposition-dump storytelling can bring. Jennifer Garner sells the material, and it was neat seeing Kendall again. But you can't help but feel underwhelmed by the resolution to the lost years story. If a lengthy mystery resolves itself with a whimper, can it ever really justify its existence? C

Guest stars
Terry O'Quinn (Kendall); Bill Bolender (Oleg Madrczyk); Mark Bramhall (Andrian Lazarey)
Writer Jesse Alexander Director Lawrence Trilling

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