Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Alias: A Man of His Word (4.9)

Running just thirty-eight minutes, and featuring a nearly three minute long "Previously on..." sequence, you'd be correct in thinking there was something a little long-winded about A Man of His Word. Where Echoes built over time, A Man of His Word feels like a slow stumble downhill, at least when it comes to events of great consequence. As it is, this is an episode that feels like greater fan-service than its predecessor, single-handedly built around a brief partnership between Sark and Anna, but lacking in the character-centric drama that last week's episode seemed to be building toward.

Sark is of course playing on Vaughn's vulnerabilities, both in demanding to see Lauren's corpse, as well as arranging an undercover gig with Sydney posing as his British chippy of an ex. It's unsurprisingly calculated and dastardly, but I'm not sure the story ended up pushing any real sense of change. Vaughn is still carrying around this Lauren baggage, and both he and Sydney don't seem any closer to reconciling. Like the central "find the bomb" thing, it's a story that bottoms out long before it finally wraps up, and it's easy to assume it's all headed to far more interesting places than the ones it actually reaches.

Of course, once Sark and Anna partner up, A Man of His Word sparkles with banter and sexual chemistry, both characters intrigued by the other and seemingly turned on by the reckless carnage both have orchestrated on their own. But it's a partnership that doesn't extend beyond one or two striking scenes, and as great as David Anders and Gina Torres are during those moments, you're left crying out for more, and not in a good way.

Where the episode feels more alive is in the continued conflict between Jack and Sloane. It's an interesting angle to add to their relationship, Sloane now a man with a daughter in constant peril, and struggling to navigate around that. As Jack reminds him, though, it's something he himself has to live with every day, so there. It's also interesting to see Jack's fluctuating involvement with Nadia. He seemed bitter at first that she symbolized this crushing act of infidelity between his ex-wife and his closest rival, and here risks her life in order to save the day. There's compassion, of course, but he's absolutely treating her as a commodity, and less like a person.

A Man of His Word is a standard season four episode. There are a variety of strong individual moments, but the action is rote and the story struggles to raise much sympathy, or any real emotion at all. Like Melissa George in her five-second cameo, it's all pretty cold. B-

Guest stars
David Anders (Julian Sark); Gina Torres (Anna Espinosa); Nick Jaine (Dr. Maneesha Jain); Ilia Volok (Ushek San'ko); Anthony Cistaro (Michel Guinot)
Writer Breen Frazier Director Marita Grabiak

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