This article was written by Alias fan and fellow blogger Jennifer. Thank you Jennifer for your contribution!
Episode 2.13 Phase One
I love this episode of Alias. To me, this is überAlias. Every aspect is heightened and enhanced – more sex, more intense fight scenes, more action and more emotion. There isn’t another TV show that, in the span of just one hour, can completely change premise, potentially eliminate beloved characters, create a cliffhanger ending and do it so well that the series continues for three more seasons. This episode could stand alone as the pinnacle achievement that all other TV shows should pursue.
In the following paragraphs, I have attempted to explain why I am so drawn to this episode. Why I feel that it may be the best episode of Alias and possibly, any other show on television. I picked the three characters I felt made the biggest impact on the viewer and wrote why I thought they were the stand-outs of the hour.
Imagine the writer’s room when JJ announced his vision for episode 2.13. They must have initially thought it was career suicide. There were still story lines that could be written involving Sloan and SD-6. Although there had been close calls, Sydney and Jack’s covers were holding up. Why change all that and start over? Why fix something that wasn’t broken? And yet, that’s exactly what they did. JJ was able to not only explain his vision but also convince the entire cast and crew that his idea was brilliant. It could have been a disaster and the end of Alias if just one person had not been convinced; if the writers had not pulled out all the stops; if the director did not believe; or if even one actor, big part or small, had not given everything they had to their role.
JG does some of her best acting in “Phase One." It starts with Sydney walking down the hall in nothing but her skivvies towards the most vile-looking man, all the while knowing that she has to get close enough to him to use the wire in her bracelet and choke the shrimp cocktail right out of him. In the same episode she has to convince us that she is fighting incredible cabin destabilization while holding onto a door frame with her feet and donning a parachute before letting go and cannon-balling her way to safety. Although both of these scenes showcase her physical attributes, her real strength is the emotion she shows when Syd receives the phone call from Jack telling her he has been compromised or when trying to explain to Dixon the truth about SD-6, knowing that her father’s life depends on Dixon believing and trusting her. More quietly, but no less powerful, is her scene in the flirting corner with Vaughn. When Vaughn starts talking, we can see in her face that Sydney is desperately hoping for him to express his feelings while holding hers back in case he doesn’t feel the same. And last, but certainly not least, JG knows that this is the episode that will be watched by more people than any other in the history of the show, as it airs immediately after the Super Bowl. The hopes and dreams of all her fellow actors, JJ Abrams and the entire crew ride on that walk down the hall. Even with all that pressure, the Sydney strut never falters.
Dixon has always been the rock that Sydney needed in her life. While all her other relationships were rocky at one time or another, Dixon was solid. Sure he suspected her of being a traitor once but a little explanation and his blind trust in his partner convinced him he was mistaken. In this episode, that blind trust is pushed almost to the breaking point. Sydney asks him to meet her and then breaks his heart. He had been right; she was a traitor to SD-6. But worse yet, SD-6, and himself, have been traitors to his country. All his pride in his job and his life was pounded into the ground by the giant arms of the oil well behind them.
Dixon is a thinking man. You see him in briefings, taking in all the facts and digesting them before acting. He is methodical in his movements. Sydney’s revelations leave him no time to digest, he must act and act now or his partner’s father, a friend and co-worker, will die. After seeing the truth with his own eyes, he calls his wife. She is oblivious to his shock, asking innocently when he will be coming home. His pained “I don’t know” speaks volumes. His “home” has been shattered, he is about to be taken into custody by the CIA, the people he thought he had been working for. He has no idea when he will be home again, in any sense of the word.
Marshall has only a few lines in “Phase One,” but the episode would not make as much of an impression without him. He reminds us of ourselves, the average Joe at his day-to-day job. He offers Dixon some pigs-in-a-blanket “fresh from the oven” just after Dixon finds out the truth of SD-6. “Fresh from the oven” is an important line. It implies that SD-6 is more than an office where people work, it’s a “home” for Marshall. It implies an office kitchen where workers stash their brown bag lunches in the fridge, greet each other while getting coffee, warm up leftovers from dinner out the night before – a comforting place. Those like Marshall, who are not field agents, are separated from the real workings of SD-6, their lives are computers and gadgets and technology. This is why the destruction of SD-6 is bittersweet. The viewers are thrilled that the bad guys are going down – that Sydney and Vaughn will no longer have to avoid being together – but also sad as we see Marshall’s confused look and his plea for Dixon to explain and comfort as they are handcuffed and lead to custody.
Do you agree? Do you believe a different episode is über Alias? While Girlscout is on hiatus, write your own analysis and share with those people who will appreciate it most – us!
Thanks Jennifer, again. Great article and I whole-heartedly agree. One of the best, action packed, character driven episodes of all time.