Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Alias Finales: Season 2

In the commentary for the season 2 finale episode "The Telling," they talk about how they filmed a few different reactions for Syd hearing for the first time she's lost 2 years of her life in addition to the love of her life. Screaming, denial and violence were all options, but in the end it was sheer shock registering on her face before the ALIAS credits appeared. IMO it was the best way to handle the scene, considering that's how the fans must have felt. How did you all react the first time you saw this cliffhanger ending?

The entire finale episode is packed full of action, tension and suspense. Will comes so close to figuring out who the second double is, Syd is on the verge of capturing both Sloane and Irena, and Jack is taken hostage and is helpless to stop Sloan from finishing the Rambaldi Device. In a way, the one stable thing throughout the episode is the relationship between Syd and Vaughn as they try to plan a vacation to Santa Barbara. This certainty is torn away when we see Vaughn struggling to tell Syd what's going on at the end and happens to wipe his face with his left hand, revealing a wedding ring.

The beginning of season 3's "The Two" gives the viewer a false sense of relief as Syd beats the crap out of Vaughn thinking he's a double as the real Vaughn would never be married to someone else. Unfortunately Dixon informs her of the truth in the hospital; Vaughn is indeed married, she's been presumed dead for almost two years, Jack is in solitary prison and Will is in witness protection. There are many heart wrenching scenes in this eppy, from Syd's visit with Jack (you probably know this, but I love you), to her confrontation of Vaughn in the hospital (you wanna know how I am?? I am HORRIBLE...ripped apart!) There is a small amount of resolve at the end when Jack is freed and reunited with Syd, only to show her a video of a woman slitting a Russian diplomat's throat who turns out to be her. Can you even imagine seeing yourself do something like that and not remembering??

Overall I think the flow from season 2 to 3 was smooth, though heartbreaking given Syd's new life. The only let down I felt was the build up of the Rambaldi Device in season 2 and finding out all it did was rumble and shake only to write out the word "Peace." Ah well, what did you all think?


Page48 said...

Oh, man! Some shows have one or two moments during an entire season, if they're lucky. How many moments did "Alias" have in just these 2 episodes?

The final 10 minutes of 2.22 were about as tense as a guy like me can handle. Syd is so cool under pressure and so friggin' resourceful. She gets the phone message from Will while she's on the sofa with what she still thinks is Francie. Rather than panic and tip her hand, she immediately formulates a plan to out the doubled Francinator. And then moments later, probably the best bitch fight I've seen in my entire life. If it was glass, these girls broke it...glass doors, glass mirrors, glass coffee table, glass windows, they fought indoors, they fought outdoors, they moved it back indoors. Wow.

I had forgotten how much it troubled Francinator when she incapacitated Will. She really had the hots for the young Tippin lad.

2.22 cast off the last remnants of Sydney's carefree home life with Will and Francie. Then she loses Vaughn and her father before she even knows Will and Francie's fate, yet she maintains enough clarity of thought to focus on her priorities and calls on that spy-chick resourcefulness which is there for her on a 24/7 basis. Sydney is a locomotive that will not be derailed.

Several little things bothered be about 3.1, mostly relationship issues. I thought Dixon and Weiss were un-naturally cool with Syd when they saw her for the first time in 2 years. It was like they hadn't seen her since breakfast. I would have been all freaking over her, to the point where we would both be embarrassed and she might have even thought about pressing charges. Marshall, IMO, was the only one who did an adequate job of making her feel welcome.

I've also never gotten over the idea that people as powerful as Team Alias would not find a way to spring Jack from solitary confinement. I mean, these are people that can make things happen. And let's face it, it took Sydney, as confused as she was, about 36 hours to get him out of jail. Nobody can convince me that Dixon, Vaughn, Weiss and Marshall couldn't have worked out an angle if they put their collective genius to work.

Nobody tugs at the heartstrings like JG when she goes all wounded on us. The encounter with Vaughn in Hong Kong, especially when he popped her in the neck with that tranquilizer, and she begged him not to (presumably) finish her off, was amazing.

Something missing from JG's movies (the one's I've seen) is her being angry. Syd is great when she's angry. The way she put Sloane over that desk was priceless. More of that, please. Even though Jen was pretty tough in "The Kingdom", it was more about survival than hatred or anger. I like it when she's just plain pissed off.

All things considered, this is as close to perfect as a TV show can get. It's incomprehensible to me that "Alias" could not find the audience to keep going.

uncle111 said...

Page 48,
Wow! There's not much that can be said any better than you said it. But here are some other things in my notes:
We get Irina's explanation as to what she was doing all the time she was in custody- her plan to link up with Sloane and bring all their Rambaldi parts together. This was a significant Rambaldi episode. And I never believed that "peace", or Irina, was all Sloane got from the machine. He had 8 yards of "leader" paper before Peace? I think not.

Kendall dissing "the NSA" was great. This was a good episode for him.

Syd AGD fight- superior. Longest fight of the series.

Syd missing nearly 2 years?! A sledge hammer in the head! Wow! And I spotted Vaughn's wedding ring, and before Syd said anything I started thinking,"Uh uhhh!" Two great lines-"You've been missing almost two years," and "Why are you wearing that ring?" A really incredible cliff hanger.

S3/E1- Ditto Page 48.
Jack looked like someone from Castro's staff. His and Syd's scene was great.
The episode is filled with action and change.

LOVED the scene where Syd blows up the car to obtain the chip.

Loved her blackmailing Lindsay even more.

One of the best scenes of the series and an example of just how good JG is- when Vaughn stops by to "see how Syd is." Acting that rips your heart out and brings you to your knees.

There were moments equal to these in the series, but nothing was any better than these two episodes.

srg-alias said...

ooo loved reading your assessments gentlemen! Page - so glad you mentioned evil Francie's anguish as she stabbed Will, I also meant to bring that up as just one of the extra Alias tidbits that adds so much to the characters, acting and story. The fight with Alison and Syd is one of the best I've ever seen, in TV or movies. Choreographed, directed, shot and executed to perfection.

I liked the introduction of Lindsey in 3.1 as a new good guy baddie. That was one of the great things about Alias, there was no definitive line between good guys and bad guys, just because you work for the US Government doesn't mean your on Syd's side. That guy was a total jackass, I loved Syd's immediate distaste for him when he called her "our girl." Um, no, she's a woman, thank you, and certainly not yours.

Page48 said...

Note the sequence where Syd goes rogue and retrieves the chip and then marches into HQ in slo-mo (BTW, how much is Dixon loving this?). Is that not almost a carbon copy of the red-haired Syd in the pilot marching into SD6 and announcing to Sloane "I'm back"? Syd does some of her most inspired work when she's out there on her own.

The red-dress-in-the-alley scene is one of those iconic "Alias" moments that never gets old.

Syd is most at home with her classic girl-next-door look, but she has a very good grasp of her sex appeal. She uses it to gain entry to parties she has no business attending. In 3.1 I absolutely love the scene where her contact suggests that if she plans on stopping an armoured vehicle with security detail that she will need backup. Syd, without blinking, simply states "no I won't...but I will need some clothes". Syd knows how the game is played.

srg-alias said...

hehe yeah she definitely knows how to play up her sex appeal. One of the things I actually liked about season 5 was hearing Syd coach Rachel on how to be an agent and take on an Alias. I remember her saying that when you put on the wig and the clothes you are THAT person, not yourself, so say what that person would say and do what they would do. That's definitely her mentality when she's playing up an alias, whether it be the sexy redhead with a flare gun in her back pocket, or a geek rattling on about the oncoming alien invasion in the S3 eppy "Blowback" (one of my favs).

Page48 said...

Vaughn absolutely deserved the "I would have waited" speech. I love the 5 second staredown before Syd lets him have it. I love the way the whole thing was whispered. It could not have been any more effective if she had screamed it at the top of her lungs. Syd is the one in control and she's the one who walks away with her dignity intact.

The second that Vaughn got the call to go to HK to retrieve Syd, he must have known he had made a huge blunder. I feel for the guy, I mean he really didn't know she was alive, but on the other hand, I WOULD HAVE WAITED. There's no way I could have made the transition from Syd to Lauren, and certainly not in as little as 2 years.

Srg, Lindsey certainly was a jackass, and I too winced at hearing the words "our girl". He had some hard lessons coming to him and they were obviously long overdue.

BTW, I watched "Cloverfield" a few nights ago, and it was time wasted, IMO. Of course, I knew going in that it was all handheld camera, eyewitness, living the nightmare stuff, but I gave it a whirl because it was JJ.

I had no use for the characters, who were all self-absorbed, well-heeled twentysomething brats, who, as far as I was concerned, couldn't die soon enough. I can't believe there is already a sequel listed on IMDB.

Also of note, this movie has a running time of (get this) one hour and thirteen minutes. This is a 73 minute feature film. Get outta town.

Kendrah said...

Best cliff hanger EVER!! EVER!! So amazing. I still hold my breath. "You've been missing for 2 years." Ahhh the way he says 2 years gets me. Like its been a life time. I love Vaughn.

BristowVA said...

Everyone writes so eloquently that it's sometimes intimidating to post my thoughts but here goes.

This show emits so much emotion that I as the viewer feel the angst coming from each of the characters, especialy in these episodes. I felt Sydney's anguish at learning that she'd lost the man of her dreams to another. I felt Vaughn's despair when he realizes that he too lost the love of his life in that fire. I also felt his disbelief and shock to know that she was back but now painfully out of reach. It was the raw emotions of the characters that did it for me in this episode as well as those before and after it. I absolutely freaking loved this show!

srg-alias said...

aw bristow, no worries at all, and I think your point about the "raw emotion" is dead on, definitely one of my favorites parts of these episodes and the show as a whole.

I agree page that it seemed a bit unrealistic for Vaughn to have gotten over Syd, found a new girlfriend and get married in less than two years. I guess when you learn later on that Lauren was manipulating Vaughn, using his grief to get close to him, it's maybe a bit more understandable, but still...

Bonkers for Bristow said...

I know it's been mentioned before, but I have to reiterate. The absolute best written monologue in the history of TV is Sydney's response to Vaughn saying he wanted to see if she was alright. How many of us women have been in the situation where the boy we love has left us and then wanted to be friends - wanted to make sure we were ok. How many of us watching that scene wish we were able to express our feelings as Syd did. The writing was beyond words but what really made it gut wrenching was the delivery. I truly feel that JG pulled her heart out and laid it for all to see in that scene. I've written before about how much I love Phase 2 and the acting in that episode. But this one scene in 3.1 is by far the most raw, most realistic, most perfect acted scene of the show.
This is why I love Alias and die a little bit every time I see one of those Nutrogena commercials.

srg-alias said...

ugg, I hear ya on the commercials. :-\ Like page mentioned, no one does anger like Syd, and oozes with every word and facial expression the emotion her character is feeling. Phase 2 is also my fav eppy, and one of my favorite scenes solely because of the awesome acting is where she tells Dixon the truth about SD-6. They both are incredible in that scene, you can see Syd's desperation as she pleads with him to listen to her and her veins are popping out of her neck. The fact that she never won an Emmy kills me...

Page48 said...

Maybe one of the reasons JG never won that Emmy is because the world is full of clowns like this guy at dvdtown.com, who spoke with utter cluelessness these words, while reviewing Jen's movie "Juno":

"Garner is without a doubt the biggest name attached to "Juno," but this is mostly from her marriage to actor Ben Affleck."

This guy's obviously smoking too much weed. Ben Affleck is famous for what exactly? "Hollywoodland"? "Gigli"? "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (has anyone seen that piece of shit?). If I had to go to my grave today, would I want to go with "Alias" as my legacy or Silent Bob? I'll give you one guess.

Bonkers for Bristow said...

The reason Jen never won an Emmy is because the people in charge are too busy nominating and voting for the same peices of crap year after year. They don't notice new shows unless they have sexy stars cat fighting or cliche New Jersey mob men thinking of new and gory ways to kill each other. And then they continue to nominate those shows because if they were "good" one year, they must continue to be good or else they might be seen as having made a mistake.

Alias was far and away too smart for the general public. And that includes most of Hollywood.

Page48 said...

Bonkers, let's name names (because it's fun)..."The Sopranos". Absolute POUC (piece of undiluted crap).

uncle111 said...

As many things as there are that I love about Alias,the emotion that comes from the ups and downs of the relationships is at the top of the list for me (well, next to the Rambaldi storyline).

We have to admit that if you weren't tuned in from the beginnig, and consistantly, Alias was hard to follow. I think the spoof that ABC did about Alias using the cast and "Columbo" was so funny because it was true.

Page48 said...

The relationship aspect is what set "Alias" apart from pure adrenaline flicks like the highly entertaining Bourne trilogy.

I recently read comments on a forum which asked the question "JJ Abrams: Genius or Hack?". Aside from the fact that most respondents didn't even mention "Alias" (which makes me wonder if they even know who JJ is), one astonishing comment (paraphrased) claimed that the reader quit watching "Alias" after a couple of seasons because the whole father/daughter thing was tedious. This lends credence to Bonkers' comment that "Alias" was too smart of a show for a large chunk of the public to appreciate.

Now, speaking of JJ, he has brought yet another "Alias" body on board for his upcoming sci-fi paranormal investigation show, "Fringe". Jeff Pinkner, a veteran writer/producer/etc...of "Alias" and "Lost" joins writers Kurtzman and Orci. Wouldn't it be nice (insert wishful thinking here) if they could generate some "Alias" magic here, so we can have something decent to watch for five incredible years?

And, you can't tell me they couldn't find room for some unemployed "Alias" actors while they're at it. Marshall and Dixon both appeared in "X-Files". This thing sounds X-Filish enough that they should fit right in.

uncle111 said...

I started to comment on the average (low) I.Q. of the average TV viewer in my previous post, but just wasn't satisfied with any adjectives I came up with. I do think that was a major problem with Alias- it was too smart for the over-marketed suckers who gravitate to the living room anesthesia of average programming.

Robetron said...

I am obligated to set the record straight about "leader tape" coming from the Rambaldi device.

I prefer to believe that you all just don't remember than to think you never caught it.

The leader-tape story was a lie that Sloane told to cover up his return to the legitimate business world/ philanthropy. What the El Diray (sp?) machine actually gave was the brain pattern of "the Passenger." Sloane became a philanthopist to cover up his illegal search through global medical records. he was searching for Nadia. Remember?

We were never really supposed to believe in the leader-tape excuse. Is this theme not so close to your hearts that it could never disappear through time or neglect?

Y'all are my peeps, regardless. :)


uncle111 said...

I just always thought there was more on that 8 yards than Nadia's brainwave pattern. I've seen my own and I don't think that would take 8 yards. Besides, it's more intriguing to wonder what else it could have been.

Robetron said...

Telegram for SRG - telegram for SRG!

Hey, I just re-watched ep. 1, 2 of this season's Lost, and saw some things I never saw before. I made some observations on the Lets Get Lost blog, and I thought it might makea good new thread to try to keep things alive over there. You can use it if you like.


srg-alias said...

haha thanks robby! I'm at a conference this week so I won't have much time for blogging, but will check it out and post for discussion. :)

Robetron said...

I've made even more observations for Lost Ep. 4.05 "The Constant," and placed it in the comments section. If you Alias lovers also like Lost, please check this out. My mind is melting from that show.

Page48 said...


My earliest glimpse ever (1998) of JG tonight on eppy 1.9 of "Felicity". I kept waiting for Syd and Weiss to interact, but they were in separate scenes throughout the show...until the closing minutes.

The final scene, set to music, had Syd and Weiss seated on opposite sides of a table sharing Thanksgiving dinner with their friends. No dialogue, no contact between them, no hint of the awesome destiny that awaited them. Just the simple sharing of a frame on my humble TV.

Just 3 years later...who could have seen it coming???

srg-alias said...

aw, how cute, to see them before they became our beloved Syd and Weiss. :) One of the many great things that came from season three of Alias was the closer friendship between them. Completely platonic, unlike her friendship with Will, but very meaningful, especially since she had lost all her friends from her old life.

Page48 said...

Couple of "Alias" references in this piece I've plagiarized from televisionaryblog.com

Playing with Dolls: An Advance Look at Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" Pilot Script

I am still trying to catch my breath.

I'm talking about my reaction last night after reading Joss Whedon's brilliantly evocative script for his new seven-episode drama series for FOX, Dollhouse.

If there's one thing that Dollhouse has been this development season in Hollywood, it's been THE script to try to get your hands on. After weeks of conniving, begging, and bartering, I finally managed to get my greedy mitts on the script and hungrily devoured the 54-page script in about fifteen minutes, seemingly without pausing to breathe.

While I had extremely high expectations for Dollhouse (I always trust in the Joss), I was worried that, after all of the hype and hoopla, it wouldn't quite live up to my preconceived notions about the project. I am happy to say that not only were those expectations matched but they were exceeded. This isn't latter-day Alias by any stretch of the imagination: while there are still costume changes and choreographed fight sequences, it delves into bigger issues of morality and mortality and asks hard questions about the ethical ramifications of science and technology.

Yes, there is much more to Dollhouse than meets the eye and Whedon succeeds here by filling his script with a multitude of morally grey characters engaged in one of the most sickening and intriguing displays of human trafficking ever devised. I don't want to spoil anything but I will say that there there's an unexplained back story (referred to as Alpha) that will likely come into play down the line and the power structure within the Dollhouse is a fluctuating, living thing unto itself. As for the Dollhouse itself, it certainly didn't "look" anything like I expected it to based on the information that was trickling out during casting: it's not a draconian prison nor an icy SD-6-type operations hub; instead it's more like a serene, Japanese-influenced, high-tech spa for the Actives.

But there's a real undercurrent of danger lurking here and the staffers--from jokey and amoral tech Topher and gruff handler Boyd to the physically scarred Dr. Claire Saunders and manipulative overseer Adelle DeWitt--engage in a high-stakes game of human chess, with the Actives little more than expendable pawns. Or, well, dolls.

As for Dollhouse's lead character Echo, this is quite a role that Whedon has written for Eliza Dushku, allowing her to play a variety of personalities and moods in a single episode. In fact, we get to see Echo in no less than five (off the top of my head anyway) identities in the pilot episode alone. As we all know, Echo is struggling with self-awareness, as she begins remembering things from her previous "engagements" that she shouldn't, things that should have been wiped clean from her memory by Topher. Things that her "captors" don't want her to remember.

So is it an action-adventure yarn? A story of science gone mad? A tale about a cop determined to get at the truth no matter what the cost? Or a metaphysical drama about the nature of memory and identity? Why can't it be all of the above?

In the gifted hands of Joss Whedon, Dollhouse is a beautiful enigma wrapped in a riddle, a gripping conspiracy story for the ages filled with urban legends, memory tampering, and long-buried secrets coming to the fore. It's a Shakespearean story of hubris and likely vengeance, filled with sound and fury and signifying, well, lots.

I'm hungry for more.

Joss Whedon's seven-episode drama Dollhouse launches this fall on FOX.

This is a show I'll be checking out in the fall given my infatuation with Whedon's "Firefly".

Bonkers for Bristow said...

Sounds like another Alias fan! Who writes that blog?

Page48 said...

Bonkers, televisionary is the product of some dude named Jace, apparently an industry insider of some sort. Very well done, but doesn't generate a fraction of the feedback of LTA.

Further to "Dollhouse", "Alias" bitch-girl Amy Acker (Kelly Peyton) has just secured a starring role, having worked for Whedon in his Buffy spinoff, "Angel", a show I've never seen.