Saturday, January 5, 2013

Alias: Remnants (3.10)

Of the numerous changes that have occurred this season, none has hurt the show more than the removal of Will and Francie. Certain fans may disagree, but their presence really supported the two distinct sides of Sydney Bristow. And while Francie barely featured last season up until she was killed and replaced by a clone, Will became the friend and confidante that Sydney desperately needed, particularly once he learned about her double life. It gave her somebody to open up to, somebody aware of her work life but distant enough to be a somewhat objective presence that she could seek advice from. With Will gone, Sydney has become a little less multi-dimensional, which is unfortunate. The writers have tried to replicate Will's role with Weiss this season, especially in those first couple of episodes, but they only come off as a little phony... Greg Grunberg unable to convey the sense of long-term friendship and tightness that came so easily to Bradley Cooper and Merrin Dungey.

It's something that really struck me in Remnants, Will being pulled out of witness protection to help Sydney discover more about her lost years. You can complain all you want about the sort of contrived means for his presence, especially all the vague St. Aidan/Lazarey hooey, but just having Bradley Cooper around again is a major coup for the show. Sydney and Will immediately re-connect, talking like old friends and allowing Sydney to be cute and vulnerable once again. Jennifer Garner's adorable smile that closes the episode feels like the first time all season that Sydney has been able to just cut loose and be happy for a change, and that's motivation enough to bring Will back for one week only.

Their interaction was fun throughout the hour, from their comedic undercover schtick as ego-driven British pop stars, to the gorgeously casual treatment of their first (and only?) night together. Allison Doren feels like something of an after-thought here, drafted in to be killed by Will and to presumably put this story to bed, but I liked Will's final realization that murdering her would never bring back Francie or actually make him feel better.

Elsewhere, Jack's demand that Vaughn distance himself from Sydney (it's "killing her", apparently) is one of those TV tropes that never works out long-term. So Vaughn is just going to be all cold and clinical around her from here on out? Not talk to her anymore? Did Ross, Rachel and Emily teach us nothing??!! Gah. Sloane also reveals his own agenda this week, to an extent, killing Lindsey and potentially bagging a Rambaldi artifact. This is no surprise. He's always been guided by the old dude who loves talking in riddles, though it's an interesting new angle to have him still denying any kind of villainous motivation. Deny, deny, deny. It's actually pretty fun.

Remnants is a wonderful reminder of how great Alias was at one point. While the show remains generally badass, you can't help but be a little disappointed when Will leaves again at the end. I just hope Sydney keeps that smile on her face. I don't like her being all frantic and miserable 24/7. A

Guest stars
Kurt Fuller (Robert Lindsey); Mark Bramhall (Andrian Lazarey); Bradley Cooper (Will Tippin): Merrin Dungey (Allison Doren); David Cronenberg (Dr. Edward Brezzel)
Writer Jeff Pinkner Director Jack Bender

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