Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Alias: The Shed (5.3)

Everything new is old again. The Shed brought to mind the old adage that just because you acknowledge that history is repeating itself doesn't mean it's all that fun to watch happen all over again. Rachel Gibson is Sydney Bristow 2.0, obviously -- a young woman absorbed into espionage, trained to believe she's one of the good guys, only to discover that she's been used for years by very bad people. It goes without saying that it's difficult to care a ton about Rachel's betrayal due to how little we know her, but it's important to remember that, like so much of season five so far, Alias is still adjusting the chess pieces somewhat. This is a show trying to become something else, and with that comes some inevitable growing pains.

With Jennifer Garner pregnant, it's easy to assume that Rachel is being set up as her replacement in the action stakes. At the same time, you can't help but wonder why, in that case, said replacement had to essentially be the same character -- only younger, blonder and played by a less interesting actor. But there are a couple of areas that seem promising, in spite of all the potential problems. One is how Rachel pretty much compromised herself with Dean, her shiftiness noticed within thirty seconds of arriving back at the Shed, leading to what appears to be a bunch of innocent people getting blown up. Then there's her interesting dynamic with Amy Acker's Shed colleague Peyton. The two are friends, but Acker is appropriately sinister even before she has reasons to suspect Rachel's allegiances. Plus underlings are always more exciting than the men they do the dirty work for.

Thomas Grace is the other Alias newbie given more to do this week, and while Balthazar Getty is a fine, capable actor, the character himself is the kind of cocksure 'rebel agent' written to be all edgy and unpredictable, but who's more just sort of annoying. So far only Elodie Bouchez has made a particularly strong impression when it comes to the new regulars.

Sloane's subplot is a reminder that Nadia is still out there, and an indication that the hunt for her cure will presumably drive much of the season. Sloane's guilt also plays an important role here, as he's again confronted by his past misdeeds and struggling to earn forgiveness. It's an idea that works, until the story sort of trails off after a strong start.

The Shed is more scene-setting for Alias, continuing to explore the season five landscape from the edges, waiting for the moment it can actually jump in and tackle grander ideas. What continues to work, though, is Syd's vulnerability. There's a futility in Jennifer Garner's performances, a lack of surprise when she realizes how Rachel had been lied to, a dignified weariness when canceling Vaughn's magazine subscription. She's becoming closed off, but it's still coming from this place of unimaginable grief and pain. It's not particularly fun for us at home, but I like that the show is taking the character in a new direction, even if the rest of season five has been a little messy so far. B

Guest stars
Amy Acker (Kelly Peyton); Tyrees Allen (Gordon Dean); Jack Laufer (Alexander Dolzhenko)
Writer Breen Frazier Director Tucker Gates


  1. So glad you're back Max :) I read every single review even if I don't always comment. Can't wait to see your thoughts on the rest of the season (and other shows as well hopefully).

  2. Thank you Nadim! Hope you're good.

  3. Aw, I like Rachel Gibson. And I like Rachel Nichols, too. Have you been watching Continuum, max? It’s a very good sci-fi series. I like Nichols there, she makes for a nice lead actor, even though she’s not as good as Garner or Gellar where on their shows.

    Back to ALIAS, I don’t remember much of this episode aside from all the new characters it brings to the table. I can say I’m not a fan of Thomas Grace. I love Amy Acker, but while her Peyton is decent, she’s not among my favorites. I definitely don’t like her boss, he’s one of the most boring ALIAS villains ever.

    The Shed, just like Renée’s cover last episode, is blown as soon as it’s introduced, although I can see the story purpose here.

  4. I grew to really like both Rachel and Rachel Nichols over the season, too. I haven't seen Continuum, but I hear good things about it. I'm surprised Nichols didn't become bigger though, she seemed to have a moment back around 2007/2008 but it never really built to anything major.

    Also agree about both Peyton and especially Gordon Dean. Peyton has a couple of flashy moments that work really well, but ultimately I found her character pretty weak. There's just nothing there. Dean, too, built to nothing.