Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Cliffhangers Let Loose

Alias has given us its fair share of cliffhangers. After an action packed episode, with shoot ‘em up gun fights and lives hanging in the balance, Alias writers have always fed us a final spoonful of suspense, such as Vaughn presumed drown or Sydney waking up in a Hong Kong alley with two missing years behind her. These cliffhangers have kept us moving from episode to episode, season to season with certain expectations. We expect to be stunned, shocked and shaken by turn-on-the-dime plot twists and character revelations. We expect to gasp, grunt and grumble as writers leave us begging for more information, one more scene, or a single last clue.

Starting in season 4, Alias began wrapping their episodes up into pretty little packages, solving a case-worth of issues in one forty-minute episode. Wham bam- conflict and resolution in the time it takes to wash a load of whites. Season 5 has inherited this trait, or lack there of. We are missing the jaw-dropping, nail biting final episode scenes that got us hooked on Alias in the first place. Did we not cover our mouths in horror when Sydney comes face to face with her dead mother? Did we not spend several sleepless nights tossing and turning about what could possibly be indicated in the Wittenberg papers? Did we not rock back in forth all summer after Vaughn announced that in fact, his name is not Michael Vaughn?

Aside from where have all the boys gone (Vaughn and Weiss), where have all the cliffhangers gone? For those that might not have watched from the beginning, could they be missing one of the key elements of the original Alias? Could Alias and ABC be dummying up, or down-playing plot ideas to attract a broader audience? If so, is it working? Not working? What are your thoughts? What are your favorite cliffhangers?

8 comments:

M said...

GS - I have to agree - the cliffhangers from the first three seasons are the reason we all got hooked in the first place... even the simple non-Rambaldi ones from Season 1 (will Sydney catch the nuclear core before it falls down the stairs?!?) were awesome and left you aching for next Sunday to come quicker... last season was extra-terrible (yes, I am one of the S4 naysayers) because not only did they leave off the cliffhangers, but they also stopped giving us any information throughout the show... this season seems a little bit better, because although the last scene doesn't always leave you wanting, *some* scene throughout the episode does! Just my opinion!!

Kiki said...

Good points M. There are several cliffhanger scenes in the middle of the episodes that make you want to swear at the commercials. Season 5 is just warming up, but we are used to season openers and the following episodes to be packed with information and now they seem to lack information.

srg-alias said...

It's interesting the way this season is working...they're not giving us drop dead cliffhangers like they did in the first few seasons (Syd getting stuck under ice, falling down the Rambaldi tunnel, etc.), but now they're doing more storyline cliffhangers. This is what keeps me coming back, wondering who put the hit on Vaughn, if he's still alive, who Dean's working for, if Sloane will continue betraying everyone, what in the world is Prophet 5, etc. We get a little more information revealed to us each time and I love picking up the clues and wondering what will happen next. It seems the show has evolved, matured from the "will she or won't she die" cliffhangers to more thought provoking mysteries that carry through the episodes. I think that's where season 5 has the edge on season 4 (at least the first half, I liked the last half of s4) because instead of having separate little stories each time, they're all continuing and intertwine somehow.

I started watching Alias in season 3, so I missed out on the first 2 seasons cliffhanger fun (I wasn't the KGB agent, your mother was...dad, mom's alive...syd, you've been missing for almost 2 years, etc.). Out of the cliffhangers I've seen, I LOVED in s3 when we saw Lauren shoot Lazaray, I was completely surprised, my jaw dropped, that was awesome. And the s4 finale was fantastic, I think I was in shock for a couple minutes after seeing it!

Kiki said...

Nice SRG! You hit the nail on the head! Season 5 is a whole new kind of suspense. It's different than the old Alias, a little more sudtle, but it's all there. Great comments. And my fav cliffhanger, well it's not really a cliffhanger, but when we learned that Sydney knew she was being held by the Covenant and became Julia. The whole episode with Kendall on the plane had me up in arms!

srg-alias said...

Thanks GS!! Yeah I agree, I love that episode (Full Disclosure). I love it when Syd says: "So I became Julia" and they show her in slow mo walking down the street to "It's My Life", awesome!! Then of course it ends with Lauren revealed as evil, man I loved that! :)

Anonymous said...

I would have to say that my favourite cliffhanger, or most memorable, I should say, was in season one when Dixon and Sydney went after the music box in the ice cave in Siberia, and Sydney fell under the ice, and the episode ended there. I had to go to bed right after that (it was 2:00 am) and I had several nightmares about it that night. Needless to say I watched the next episode first thing the next morning to get it off my mind lol.

pkrm said...

I agree, but season 1 was really the only season that ended every episode with a cliffhanger! I liked the one where Jack was being held by Ineni Hasson, and to prove his willingness to go against SD-6, Jack must shoot his own daughter!!! Good thing I had them on DVD when I first saw that or I would have gone nuts for that whole week!

But the lack of cliffhangers at the end of every episode started as early as season 2...it seems to be JJ's style more of late to end the show kind of reflectively with a slow peaceful song, the last episode (5-06) being a perfect example.

Vixen said...

Unfortunately, they have lost alot of fans with this 'dumbing down' way the episodes have been going. I used to live and die for those cliffhangers man! I don't like this season at all, I'm just waiting for hottie totty to come back (even if it's just one epi)