Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Alias: Bob (5.8)

It speaks to Sydney's upright morality as a character that it took Alias five long years for them to do the "one night stand with an unknowingly evil bastard" story, only for it, even then, to happen with an entirely different female spy. Who we're repeatedly told is just sort of naïve and innocent, who ordinarily would never sleep with a guy she's only just met. As much as it's Sydney who encourages Rachel to have a little fun while in Sao Paulo, you could never imagine Syd herself, even in her pre-Vaughn/double-agent days, picking a guy up in a bar for some harmless casual sex. In other words, Rachel remains a little more frayed around the edges in comparison to the woman she's covering for; the show continuing to make the two of them distinct individuals rather than two doppelgangers.

As a character, Rachel can articulate a lot of the internal anxiety that Sydney, for reasons beyond her control, just wasn't allowed to let break through in the early days. Here Rachel exploits her undercover alias beyond the perimeters of the mission itself, still riding with her best Princess Diana accent and cover story even in the company of perceived strangers, talking about her insecurity back at the office, and enjoying being able to let loose for a change. It's another strong use of the character, particularly when Solo two weeks ago almost tried to depict her as the kind of agent she wasn't yet evolved enough to be.

Additionally, there's a lot of obvious fun to Rachel-as-Lydia flirting up a storm with Sark-as-Bob, neither of them aware of their true identities, and both seeking the same intel for very different purposes. It almost operates as a slightly darker variation on a classic romantic comedy, particularly with Rachel snooping around hotel rooms and trying to evade her rival, who she doesn't realize is the dude she'll be shtupping thirty minutes later.

But it's when the episode abandons the "secret identity affair" idea that Bob hits formula city. It's interesting to wonder whether ABC had a specific mandate for the show at this point in time, since it's pretty routine these days to find episodes ultimately winding down to characters being forced to disarm a bomb, or rescue a main cast member put in peril. It's even more noticeable than usual since Bob opens with such an inventive twist on familiar Alias tropes, yet it still devolves into the same kinds of stuff we always see. There are hints of a past romantic fling between Jack and the British intelligence agent he partners up with, but it's all a little too vague to be affecting. Still, those first two acts were fun. B-

Guest stars David Anders (Julian Sark); Caroline Goodall (Elizabeth Powell); Ntare Mwine (Benjamin Masari)
Writers Monica Breen, Alison Schapker Director Donald Thorin, Jr.

1 comment:

  1. All I have to say about this episode is: THERE IS NO BEACH IN SÃO PAULO! Damn it, ALIAS writers, do your homework. (It was Rio de Janeiro they showed, by the way).