Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Alias: The Index (4.10)

On the heels of the Sark/Anna return, here's another episode influenced by the Alias of old. As a series, Alias has always been heavily reliant on the same bag of tricks over and over again, be it familial complexity, double-crosses, secret agendas or prolonged scenes of characters breaking in and out of various international locations, but only recently has it felt like the writers have been looking more to the past to recreate the success stories of vintage Alias, instead of merely replicating old ideas because it feels at all authentic.

The Index is another season four episode inspired by the collective lack of trust for Sloane, further complicated by Nadia's presence on the scene. It feels like we've gone to this area a lot recently, but I'm not sure it's ever really developing. At least Dixon gets something to do this week, even if the show is still exploiting the one major thing that's ever happened to him on this show, namely Diane's murder. Is this a good depiction of the lasting effects of grief? Or just something that exposes how little Carl Lumbly has been given over the course of the show?

Whatever the answer, there are some neat throwbacks to Sydney's SD-6 adventures this week, from she and Dixon meeting discreetly in a warehouse like she did with Vaughn years ago, as well as a fun recreation of that awkward Sloane Family dinner party back in season one, this time featuring new character dynamics with the arrival of Nadia and Weiss. Nadia is a dreamer, somebody so hopeful about the future that she's willing to overlook her father's shadiness purely out of hope. It's something that's affecting Sydney, too, at one point noting that she no longer actively wants Sloane to be working against them all, primarily because she knows how much it'll hurt her sister.

There's still intrigue to these conflicts, but it sure is feeling a little repetitive at this point. It may be a product of how small-scale a lot of the action seems to be, too. The "index" of the title is another vague Alias plot device, something that resolves itself with some kicky helicopter stunts, another punky undercover ensemble for Sydney and a shootout in an abandoned warehouse. Things brighten up a little with the Jack twist at the end, but it's still Alias by numbers.

Of the two major cliffhangers, Sloane and Jack's mysterious new partnership is absorbing. Vaughn's maybe-not-dead father less so, but that's probably because it's a story solely carried by Michael Vartan, and he's never been the most engaging of performers. I can't remember where this subplot goes, but I'm expecting it to improve once additional characters are brought into the fold.

Season four is still working, but some of the year's major themes seem to have been revisited too often in these last ten episodes and the show seems to be struggling to find new dimensions to it all. It feels like something big needs to occur, right? B-

Guest stars
Angela Bassett (Hayden Chase); Michael Des Barres (Miles Devereaux); Lynne Moody (Rosemary)
Writers Alison Schapker, J.R. Orci Director Lawrence Trilling


  1. Nice to see you back up again! Will you be posting Annual Commentary soon? Always make for a good read.

  2. Thanks. Not sure about doing huge reviews this time around, it'll more likely be one post with kind of an overview of stuff. My television viewing has been a little off for the past couple of months.