Monday, December 12, 2005

Closing the Book on Rambaldi

He’s an uncast character; his 500 year old prophecies have had Sydney and the gang up in arms, and Sloane on a hunt for eternal life. His gadgets stump even the likes of Marshall Flinkman and his ultimate end game is unknown. Sydney is his Chosen One, Nadia his Passenger. His DNA has changed hands more than once, his writings have been passed from the DSR to the FBI and many of his followers are enemies of the State. Milo Rambaldi has been as much as mystery to us as Jack Bristow; his ideas, his designs are far beyond anyone’s comprehension. We have seen his works zap people to a crisp, scratch out pages upon pages of ancient text and the symbol of his great order , has been burned into the hands, and necks of many. Who was Milo Rambaldi, and how will his grand plan play a part in the finale of Alias? Let’s take a look at what we know about the 15th century architect and see if we can’t piece together this ancient puzzle.

We first hear of Rambaldi in episode 1.2 “So It Begins.” Sloane reveals to the group that Mueller’s Device (the small red ball) was actually a prototype of one of Rambaldi’s great designs; Mueller simply followed the manual and was able to piece it together. Rambaldi was the chief architect to Pope Alexander. Rambaldi believed man could use science to better understand and to know God. His drawings and his teaching were viewed as heretic by some and eventually Rambaldi was executed. His writings and devices were dispersed all over the world and sold for next to nothing. Sloane states that many of Rambaldi’s designs were far ahead of his time; sketches for transistors and writings on machine code. It is in the second episode of the series that we begin the journey of discovery, the journey to find Rambaldi’s works and uncover his plan. The deeper we get the more intriguing and the more woven Rambaldi’s work becomes. Hidden codes, hidden artifacts and hidden agendas ensue as Sloane, the Covenant, the CIA, the DSR and K-Directorate become obsessed with obtaining Rambaldi’s work.

The number 47 plays a large part in the Rambaldi mystery. In seasons 2 and 3, more than any other, do we see and hear the number 47. There are 47 Rambaldi devices, the 47th page of Rambaldi’s manual has special significance and on more than one occasion 47 has been part of a code, a password, and a building room or floor. What do you suppose is the significance of the number 47 and how do numbers play a part in Alias as a whole?

Another aspect of Rambaldi and his prophecy is its play on religion. Sloane always speaks of faith. His belief in Rambaldi and the eternal life Rambaldi promises causes him to lose his wife, nearly lose his daughter and ultimately costs him his freedom. A discussion on human nature is brought forth in the 4th season, as the Sloane Clone alters the nature of bees and admits to contaminating the water supply in order to bring peace and harmony to a world full of corruption. Sloane and others have talked about Rambaldi’s endgame as a power source, a weapon, and that Sydney will “render the greatest power unto utter desolation.” Do you believe Rambaldi intended for his work to be used in peace or in war? Obviously Elena’s play on the Rambaldi prophecy is geared toward world dominance, in which she pits sister against sister, leaving Nadia in a coma and Sydney to grieve for her. Now, Sloane holds faith that the group known as P5 will help find a cure for his daughter’s illness.

Rambaldi continues in this, Alias’ final season, in the form of Prophet 5. Bill Vaughn and James Murdoch were recruited into a group to decipher code from a 15th century text. We know Sloane was also recruited, as a member of the Army of Engineers, to decipher that same code. Will we discover Rambaldi’s endgame and to what capacity P5 is involved? Is there a grand Rambaldi finish, or will the show place the prophet on the back burner in order to answer the other mysteries of Rambaldi?

What are your thoughts on Rambaldi? What have been your favorite Rambaldi gadgets and what, in your mind, was the most shocking of the Rambaldi twists?

For more information on Rambaldi please visit this detailed link:
http://www.alias-tv.com/rambaldi.html

16 comments:

srg-alias said...

My thoughts on Rambaldi are rather mixed...on one hand I like the mystical nature it provides to the show, on the other I feel like it's created some plotholes and has been dragged on a bit long. The initial concept of finding the Rambaldi pieces in season 1 that supposedly would lead to a larger discovery was very intriguing, but I don't feel like they gave a satisfying conclusion to any of that...there were always more artifacts and clues to find and we honestly never saw much of a result from any of them until the end of season 4. I thought the power of the big bad red ball and the chaos it could cause was well done in terms of the power that was always attributed to Rambaldi's "end game", whatever that may have been. HOWEVER, 5 years (7 if you include Syd's missing 2 years) of searching for said "end game" is getting a bit tiresome for me. One huge hole is Syd supposedly being the Chosen One, but seeing the mount in the prophecy, so she supposedly was proven NOT to be the one, then proven she was AGAIN by the s4 conclusion. Seeing Syd's picture in the Rambaldi manuscript from s1 was a huge shocker for me, but the plot holes it's caused have diluted that shock a bit...is it her or not, make up your mind writers!! Rambaldi is one of those ideas that I feel the writers never had a direct storyline planned out for, which bugs me. It will be great if the show's conclusion can tie up all the loose ends associated w/ him, but I really wonder how they could do it...

M said...

I thought you brought up a great loophole by mentioning K-Directorate... all we've ever really seen is Ana Espinosa... but who was in charge of K-Directorate? Why were they, too, interested in Rambaldi? And although we get an in depth (albeit mysterious) portrayal of Arvin Sloan, who else was in the Alliance that knew about Rambaldi?

Kiki said...

Good questions M! I wanna know who was in charge of K-Directorate and what happened to them. They were a huge threat in season 1 and then disappeared. We know Ana went freelance in season 4, but what happened after that? Hmmm

Kiki said...

I side on the idea of Rambaldi intending peace not war. People tend to apply their own attributes and motives in interpreting the actions of others. When we hear words like "end game," it sounds like something bad. Why does Arvin or anyone else assume Rambaldi had an end game? Is that line of thought from their own characterizations? Then again, maybe its just my own biases that want to see the good side of things.

The intrigue and mystery of Rambaldi is what got me hooked on Alias in the first place, so I have a definite fondness for that story line, being a major history buff. I for one am hoping to have a satisfying conclusion on that storyline, but I agree with srg-alias that a lot of holes have been punched in the prophecy that are going to make things difficult. In the end, now that we know the series is coming to a conclusion, I'm just trying to soak it all up and enjoy the ride. I'm trying to have faith that the writers won't let us down, and so far, Season five has been fun.

Although what I'm going to do with my own detailed record of Rambaldi artifacts after this... I don't know.

Tammy said...

Hmmm... didn't Sark kill the head of K-directorate and then they fell to the Alliance? I can't remember specifics, but that's what I remember.

As for Rambaldi - the mystery of it is what hooked me in. I have enjoyed the twists and turns and then the returns to them in future episodes. I'm not sure in the short time left if all of our unanswered questions can be answered. I'm hopeful the writers will try to tie up loose ends though - particularly Syd's place in the Rambaldi mysteries!

Kiki said...

KLG, you are hilarious! Maybe you and I can combine and sell our Rambaldi artifacts on E-bay. I agree completely. I was hooked with the Rambaldi and pushed by Sydney's own wonder about the prophet. I think she still is very much confused about her role in Rambaldi and as Irina said in season 2 "truth takes time." I am hoping we will find out what this is really all about in time for the finale.

Robetron said...

Rambaldi is, without a doubt, the greatest enigma in the ALIAS world. Is he a true prophet or is he not? Being that prophets are not supposed to be the originators of thier message, did he ever intend to begin his own cultish religion? Are his "prophesies" really being fulfilled, or is there too much ambiguity to ever say for certain? Only the writers can answer these and the many other questions we might pose.

Personally, I liked the added mystery Rambaldi brought to the story. Like SRG, however, I have been somewhat frustrated at the plotholes that have been left hanging since season one. (I suppose this is inevitable when the writers are not the same all the time.)

One thing I failed to catch with my first viewing of S-5, E-1 "Prophet 5" was the breif origin Vaughn's contact gave regarding that organization. Yes, Bill Vaughn and (perhaps) Arvin Sloane were recruited into it thirty years ago, but who started the organization? It was the man, himself, Mueller. The same doofus who, according to Sloane in S1 E2 "And So It Begins," was killed in a moped accedent. It is highly doubtful that this was an accedent and even possible that it did not happen at all. We may yet meet this man. Nevertheless, it was Sydney's description of the Mueller device that drew Vaughn's attention at the CIA, who had been secretly working with Renee Reanne, whose father had also been involved with P-5. The effects of Mueller building that prototype are far reaching indeed. I have no doubt that P-5 is still after Rambaldi materials because they know Elena's interpretation was not even close.

K-Directorate was dismantled by "The Man" when Sark had its leader murdered and the number 2 man captured.

Clearly, the Alliance was scrambling after Rambaldi artifacts, but we are never told what their motivation was. I had to think about this a while because I do not believe thier interest in Rambaldi was either purely financial, nor was it from an obsession. Being that the Alliance was formed from disgruntled agents from the twelve major Intelligence Agencies, I am wondering if they were reacting to a "betrayal" of sorts, like Sloane also claims. According to the recent revealtion that the twelve major Intelligence Agencies in the world have some faction in control of P-5, it seems that the Alliance had a greater reason for wanting Mueller's device. They were after leverage. Were the Alliance rival bad-guys to P-5? With only 10 episodes left for the writers to work this out, I fear that the questions will overwhelm the time limitations.

The Rambaldi mystery has already proven too much for the like of K-Directorate, the Alliance, and the Covenant. How will APO stand up? Will even the writers be able to handle the magnitude of this puzzle in time?

Let's watch and find out; shall we?
-R

Kiki said...

Oh yes, Robby, you're right. it was dismantled when Sark shot the leader. Right! Syd was hanging outside the building wearing one of those fur hats. HAHAHA! How could I forget!

srg-alias said...

Actually guys, Sark shoots the leader of FTL in s1:14 "The Coup", another organization like K-Directorate. Sark then tries to negotiate w/ K-D, but they refuse and he shoots the K-D leader. The 2nd in command takes over, though, it doesn't result in the unraveling of the orgnization. I don't think they ever told us what happened to it...

Kiki said...

Can we agree that the second in command for K-Directorate was a chicken-sh*t? I mean, he practically kissed Sark's feet!! It was hilarious!

pkrm said...

I assumed K-Directorate was over when Sydney stole the book on the boat...Remember how Sark killed the first in command, kidnapped the second in command, and how if the transaction was not completed, they should "expect more fish in Russia?"

Sydney stole the book and commandeered the boat where that transaction was to take place...we never see as much, but I would assume that was the end of K-Directorate...was it referred to after that?

pkrm said...

It's interesting...it's very possible that some of the Rambaldi "plot holes" that we are seeing are due to writer error...but I don't choose to view it that way...and I believe that this may be the entire point of Rambaldi in this show.

This show has focused on people who are obsessed with Rambaldi, i.e. Sloane, Irina, Elena, Anna Espinoza, etc., however there are other major characters who have never fully bought into it!

Sydney struggles with whether or not to buy into it, as does Jack (who is the least convinced in my opinion), Nadia, and Vaughn. Vaughn was interested in what his father was working on and the conspiracy that led to his death, not Rambaldi himself. And a comment Jack made in the finale of season 4, "You really are through the looking glass, aren't you? When angels start to fall from the sky, I'll start to worry." This shows his lack of belief in Rambaldi. Not to mention Vaughn and Jack's orchestration of getting Sydney to Mount Subasio to prove Sydney was not the point of this prophecy.

One way to look at it might be that many of Rambaldi's predictions came true, but these people were unaware of those prophecies...the future is not written in stone until it happens. Perhaps once aware of a future prophecy, decisions can be made that will change the outcome, thereby making the prophecy wrong. After all, Sydney would NEVER have gone to Mount Subasio unless they had specifically been working against the prophecy...even though the hardcore Rambaldi fanatics continue to believe it is her, to the point of kidnapping her and extracting her eggs!

And perhaps it can all be boiled down to this. You can see what you want to see...isn't that what "Through the Looking Glass" implies anyway? And hasn't Alice in Wonderland and this theme been repeated constantly throughout this series? Personally, I hope the writers DON'T tie up Rambaldi into a nice little package...this will allow us all to look through our own "looking glass" and decide for ourselves what it all means...perhaps Rambaldi knew all...and perhaps he was a nutcase that deserved to be executed? :)

Robetron said...

PKRM
I hate to be contrary for a very nobel effort to help explain the nagging plotholes. Unfortunately, I have to say something about your idea of what a prophesy is. If someone were to make a prophesy and the future might change its outcome, it was never a prophesy, but an incorrect prediction or an educated guess that went awry.

It's either a a prophesy given by a prophet and cannot be wrong in any portion, or it is the flawed guesses and supersitious predictions of a mistake ridden human being. Nice try, though. I'm with you on hoping that the writers are able to explain the problematic information, and even if we must suspend doubt to fill in a plausable scenario, I can deal with it.
-R.

pkrm said...

Very true Robetron, I can see where you are coming from with your line of reasoning.

What I think is interesting about Rambaldi is that he has followers...this is quite literally a religion for them! I believe the idea for Rambaldi came from a mixture of Nostradamus and Leonardo da Vinci.

Many people today put a lot of faith in Nostradamus' teachings and predictions, when in reality only a handful of his predictions came true. Perhaps this idea can be applied to Rambaldi as well? He got some things right, but others, well I mean let's face it, he lived 500 years ago and wasn't God! :) As I mentioned before, many of the main characters do not put any faith in Rambaldi, and those who do may be reading too much into his work?

I'm sure most of our questions will be answered, and those that aren't we will be able to come to our own conclusions.

Robetron said...

That is an interesting line of thought, PKRM; one I was exploring breifly in the post above. Thinking a little more critically about it, the only way a person may BE a true prophet is to receieve the revelations and prophesies directly from God, and therefore, the information (when correctly interpreted) can never be incorrect.

That, however, is the REAL WORLD, not the Alias world. I (or we) may be making a mistake when I try to apply real-world rules to a fictional world where the rules do not necessarily apply. It it hard to suspend my knowledge of reality in order to accept the premises of a TV show without it ruining the realism for me. I loved Spiderman and X-Men (etc.) where the rules of reality do not necessarily apply, but I never thought Alias was supposed to be comic book-like. The realistic characters, the realistic actors, and the real-world situations with terrorist threats and the political wranglings on world governments - all of it was what endeared ALIAS to me. Add the extra suspense of the Rambaldi mystery (for which I can suspend my disbelief when many of the characters also doubt while others believe - that is realism) and I am totally hooked.

All of this is why I expect most of the real-world rules to apply to the show. I need the writers to resolve certain problems or the whole believability of the show is compromised (for me). I will always truely enjoy the show, it needs to make sense.

I agree that it would be okay if the Rambaldi theme is not resolved into a neet little package. I would be thrilled if it led into the spin-off or the ALIAS - "the movie" situations. In order to get away with the unrealistic "fifteenth century prophet" idea, they still need to stay within the bounds of believability.

I hope no one thinks I am argueing with anyone about this. I am simply exploring my own thoughts and feelings, expressing them here for the sake of others who may feel the same way. Whatever the end is, and whatever the case may be with Rambaldi, ALIAS still rocks!
-R.

RUDY said...

"THE" Rambaldi twist, for me, has to be the eggs. My head liked to have it the ceiling. It was the best, worse and scariest one.