Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Do the TWIST

Thank you to Blogger Paul, who has closed down his Alias blog and has donated one of his best pieces to Let's Talk! You rock Paul!

Alfred Hitchcock. All we need to do is hear the name and we instantly think of fascinating plot development, intrigue, and unbelievable plot twists that nobody saw coming. Hitchcock was a master of the twist. There's no story-telling device quite as shocking as turning everything upside down, getting the viewer headed down one track, only to flip everything around with a jaw-dropping twist!Now while some people may feel a comparison between Hitchcock's classics and ALIAS might not be a fair comparison, I feel the need to give kudos to the writers of ALIAS who have thrown some masterful plot twists at us! Some of them have been so surprising that nobody could have seen them coming, and only by rewatching the previous seasons and picking up the clues do we see how this could have happened!I read an interview with Jennifer Garner recently at EW, where she said, "We're proud that the people who got the show got it so much and have stuck by it through so many changes and have just gone right along with it. I love that the show has flip-flopped its own idea of itself. I love that J.J. never let us take it so seriously that we couldn't just turn it all on its head." And turn it on its head it did!As a tribute to some of the ALIAS twists that have had us needing the help of our friends and families to close our mouths, I decided to present the top 12 most shocking ALIAS twists from all 5 seasons! Why 12, you may ask? Because I had my article all written up with my top 10, and then realized I forgot a couple! I didn't want to chop off my previous numbers 9 and 10, so I made it number 12. Now of course, these are in order of how surprised and shocked I was, so you may personally rearrange this order or add ones I decided to leave out, and if that's so, feel free to give your thoughts at the end! :)

12: Kendall was never FBI
This may have been more shocking for Sydney than for us, but I definitely was suprised to see Kendall there, especially since that was his first appearance all season. We saw Kendall as the FBI interrogator in Season 1, and as the coordinator of the Los Angeles CIA office in Season 2. However, we always believed that he was FBI as he said. To find out that he had always been in charge of Project Black Hole and that his involvement in the first 2 seasons was in pursuit of Rambaldi artifacts was a surprise! Even more surprising was that he had known what had happened to Sydney the whole time!

11: Sloane's "execution"
I honestly could not believe it when I watched this scene for the first time. Even though Sloane's character was so evil in the first 2 seasons, I didn't want him to be killed off! He was just one of those characters you love to hate, you know? But the execution went forward, and Sloane "died." Just when I was about to be upset, Jack walked into the morgue and woke him back up! How could I have missed the clue where Jack gave Sloane the wine? You should know better than to drink anything in ALIAS!

10: Irina was "the Man"!
I think some people may have put this twist to the plot a little higher on my list, but whether it is because it was so long ago that it happened or because there are so many other more powerful twists, this just doesn't seem to be quite a "shock." Perhaps it was because it was the first really major twist in the series, it sticks out in people's memory, but Sydney had been searching for her mother, and it made sense that we would find her at the end. Hower, it WAS surprising that she was "the Man" that we had been curious about for almost half a season! The look on Syd's face was priceless!

9: Sloane Clone!
We receive information that leads us to believe that Sloane is once again betraying everybody. Everyone rushes to attack Sloane, including a normally level-headed Jack! However, Sloane makes a convincing case for his innocence, and the level-headed Jack returns. They pursue someone who is pretending to be Sloane, only to find out that not only is this man pretending to be Sloane, he IS Sloane, in the form of a clone! The Sloane Clone! Only on ALIAS! hehe! :)

8: Lauren's mother was Covenant!
This one made me jump! We see Lauren struggling with the decision to murder her father as a strategic chess move to keep Vaughn close. Just when we see Lauren not being able to go through with it, Lauren's mother walks in and we are certain that Senator Reed is safe...only to see Lauren's mother take the gun and shoot him herself! "Sark said you might back out!" I found it almost as shocking as finding out Lauren was Covenant. And speaking of which...

7: Lauren was Covenant!
Now we're starting to get into the twists where I quite literally yelped when I saw them! Lazarey is shot, and then the slow pan to the sniper...who we see is Lauren! I couldn't believe this one! I had struggled with Lauren's character all season, from a mild dislike for her character to an outright hatred when she refused to listen to Vaughn when he was trying to keep Sydney safe. Then she redeemed herself in my mind when she helped Sydney escape from Camp Williams, and I really started to like her...only to find out she was working for the Covenant the whole time! And man, she was pure evil, wasn't she? She was sadistically evil! I was thrilled at the end of season 3 to see her finally go down!

6: Jack kills "Irina"!
This was the twist that ended Season 3, even though we were not sure exactly what the twist was. I actually remember thinking that this was kind of a bogus cliffhanger. Yes, we are left hanging when Sydney looks at the papers and Jack walks in and says she was never supposed to find this, but WHAT WAS ON THE PAPERS? Come on! We find out later it was proof that Jack killed "Irina," which we actually got to see later on in Season 4. Now, it's not necessarily a shock that Jack killed Irina, it's not exactly a stretch of the imagination to believe he'd do that, but it was the way it was revealed to Sydney that made it shocking! And of course we later learn that it wasn't Irina at all, but another clone Elena created to get killed and stop people from looking for the real Irina, but for the vast majority of Season 4, everyone does believe the real Irina is dead.

5: "You've been missing for almost 2 years."
Woah! I didn't see this one coming AT ALL! Vaughn and Sydney were finally together, their relationship was progressing, and Vaughn was on his way back to pick her up. Sydney realizes that Francie is actually the Francinator and a tremendous fight ensues! A part of me found the fight almost comical (was there anything else in the house made of glass left to break?), but then had the satisfaction of seeing Sydney win the fight and shoot the Francinator down...only to pass out and wake up in Hong Kong! We know something is strange by how Vaughn is reacting, and then the line..."You've been missing for almost 2 years!" WOW! What happened???

4: Irina works for (or is involved in) Prophet 5!
I actually had this article in the works before last week's episode, and had to change my order! Some people claim to have seen this coming, but I don't believe them...OK, just kidding! I was absolutely shocked to see Irina behind the glass! Who would have believed that Irina would kidnap her own daughter and have her tortured for information! Of course, many speculate that Irina has Sydney's best interests in mind, and we'll see for sure down the road, but the fact remains that it was an amazing twist! Once again, we see that Irina has been involved in something throughout all previous 4 seasons that we had no idea about!

3: Vaughn "killed!"
I of course use quotes around "killed" because of all the speculation we currently have about Vaughn's "death," but this was a surprise! Vaughn has been a driving force in this show since Season 1...in fact, has there been an episode in this series he was not a part of? Who would have thought they'd kill him off in the season pilot? Vaughn was at a simple meeting, the type of which he had had hundreds of times in this series, and all of the sudden 2 cars pull up and gun him down with a hail of bullets! We may see him yet again alive in this season, but this twist certainly had its effect! Has there ever been a more controversial twist in ALIAS history? Some may wonder why this is not #1, but I felt that this was more of a 'controversial' twist than it was 'shocking'...and the next 2 are the big monster shocks, in my opinion!

2: Emily is Alive!
Sloane was behind the takedown of the Alliance! FRANCIE KILLED!
OK, this might look like 3 twists, but in reality, I believe these 3 elements are all parts of the same twist (not to mention I got to put 2 more twists on the list)! All 3 of these twists were elements of the same grand master plan of Sloane and revealed within 2 episodes, so I think it is fair to put them together! Now to discuss the surprise! Emily was alive the whole time?! That whole plot line that took so many episodes to develop about Sloane's blackmail was all a setup to throw the Alliance off??? WOW! And next, I'll never forget watching ALIAS after the Superbowl and excitedly watching as they gained control of Server 47, infiltrated SD-6, and took the bad guys down! We're so happy to see Vaughn and Sydney finally get together, only to see that Sloane maneuvered the leak that allowed the CIA to take the Alliance down! We then see Sark checking in on their new asset...FRANCIE? But then no, the shot pans down and Francie lies dead along the wall in her now profitable and successful restaurant! Just when we thought Sloane couldn't get any worse, he outright kills off Sydney's best friend? If I recall correctly, I sat staring at the TV screen in a daze for the next few commercials...but then again, I don't really remember...I was in a daze! hehe!

1: "My name isn't Michael Vaughn!"
OK, whether or not you agree with me about this being the most shocking, you must admit there was NO WAY you could see this coming! As mentioned before, Vaughn has been a driving force in the ALIAS epic saga since the Season 1 pilot, and he wasn't Michael Vaughn at all?! Now, of course, he wasn't a plant in Sydney's life to steal her secrets, he genuinely cared for her, but he had been lying to her, the CIA, Lauren, etc, for the last 4 seasons!!! This was such a shock, in fact, that many fans complained the idea seemed tacked on with no foreshadowing of such a massive twist! Looking back, however, I think we can satisfyingly reconcile this twist with what we see in the first 4 seasons, especially Vaughn's being all over the place without authorization in Season 3! But the point is we were all as shocked as Sydney was, and then we saw the car coming and WHAM! It cut out! I think I literally screamed...in fact, I know I did! This was the twist of all twists, and I firmly believe it deserves #1 on my list!

Now it is your turn! What are your opinions on the ALIAS twists that have turned the show upside down over and over again? What are your favorite twists? Do you agree with my rankings? And did I miss any twists that you feel should be mentioned? :)


Sam said...

Lauren's mother was Covenant, My Name isn't Michael Vaughan, and missing for two years were the most shocking to be... maybe included return of "Francie". Those I did not see coming , I remember jumping up in shock...

Page48 said...

I was impressed with the writers' sensitivity to us emotionally unstable Alias fans, when they opted not to use Sloane's execution as a cliffhanger. The excruciating wait, whether over 1 week or, heaven forbid, a lengthy hiatus, would have been asking too much of Alias nation. The outcome of that episode left me much less panicky about Vaughn's "death", since Vaughn was clearly seen sipping a cool one while lying in his hospital bed recovering from 326,241 bullet holes (not to mention, quite likely some very tricky nipple reconstruction surgery).

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the NUMBER 1 choice; "My Name Isn't Michael Vaughn..."

I live in Australia, so ALIAS is aired a few months after America sees it.

I got hooked on ALIAS in late Season 4, and I remember being so intrigued by it that I downloaded the final 3 episodes (that's what we were upto).

Anyway...getting to my point; I was watching the season finale and it got to the Santa Barbara scene, and I was leaning into the computer screen, with my hand on the mouse - ready to pause incase of any interuptions. Then; BANG! A car smashes into Sydney & Vaughn and the fright that I got from it actually caused me to pause the episode.

It SCARED THE CRAP out of me! I can't believe that some people actually 'bagged' this finale. Labelling it 'boring', 'unoriginal' and 'used'! I thought it was fantastic! It made me WANT more.

So, thankgod for America being in front -- because other wise I would never have been able to survive. I downloaded the Season 5 Premiere and that leads me to my biggest shock. I NEVER thought that this would happen -- it's great when you remain SPOILER FREE!

VAUGHN WAS KILLED! I could not belive it. I cried & cried & cried. I didn't understand how they could kill him off. Especially since Sydney was pregnant. That was a HUGE shock -- my head was hurting!

Alright, well that's my opinion -- sorry it was so long!

But I do hope you enjoy it.
Love Bree

srg-alias said...

This was a great article, thanks so much for sharing it! The only two big twists I see that were left off were Jack's confession that Irena was the KGB agent to Syd in S1 along with Syd's realization that Irena was still alive. I'm not sure where to rank them though because I started watching Alias in S3 and knew about those plot angles when I rented seasons 1-2 to catch up. I wish I hadn't known about Irena really being evil because I can imagine what a shock that was for first time viewers, very similar to when we found out Lauren was Covenant (my fav shocker moment BTW just because I remember my jaw literally dropping). I think the S4 finale does deserve the top ranking though, I believe I let out a little whimpering cry with my mouth hanging open the first time I saw it, and at that time none of my friends watched the show so I had no one to call about it! Again, great article, I love reliving Alias moments like these. :)

BTW, love the new banner GS!!

kelhat said...

Oooooh, great Alias shockers! The whole "My name isn't Michael Vaughn" is definitely tops with me. Also was shocked when Jack told Syd and Vaughn Irina was KGB. AND when Irina was behind the glass on the freighter...WOW!

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Page48 said...

Uncle, sounds like "deja vu all over again".

Speaking of deja vu, has anyone seen David Carradine in the Yellowbook commercials, looking very much like his Alias character, Conrad (the Rambaldi monk)?

uncle111 said...

Yes. Pretty cool.

uncle111 said...

Updated and corrected. It is more and more similar than I first thought. Check out the additions:

10 years ago I watched a series called The Pretender. I recently bought the 1st season DVD's. I didn't remember much from the series and was shocked by it's similarities to Alias. Here's what I picked up from the pilot episode:
Here is my list of similarities between The Pretender and Alias- just from the first few episodes of The Pretender:
1- A young boy is at a center where he's being studied and his special abilities are being groomed for use by some secret group (Alias- Project Christmas), 2-he builds a tall building out of an erector set(Project Christmas wooden block puzzle)demonstrating his abilities. 3-The man who is directing this use of the boy is a Dr. named Sydney, 4-he who is played by the actor who played Dr. DeSantis in Alias. The boy grows up in the center and eventually escapes. He goes into hiding from this powerful organization, 5-taking on a new alias each week and using his abilities to right wrongs (like Sydney in Alias). 6-He is a combination of Sydney Bristow and Marshall Flinkman. 7-The main character is trying to find out who he really is and what happened to his real parents(Syd and Irina). 8-familiar Alias type phrases, one of which is "decide whether you are going to be a scientist (spy) or a mommy- you can't be both," the female lead says to Dr. Sydney."(very similar to what Irina told Sydney about being a spy and a mother in the last season) 9-He speaks many languages. 10-He flies airplanes. 11-Jennifer Garner once guest starred, playing a chararter named Billie VAUGHN(!). 12-The lead actor is MICHAEL(Vaughn)...(Eric)WEISS, while the name of the actor who plays the creepy bad guy at the Centre trying to hunt down Jerrod is named Richard MARCUS (Dixon).13-The female lead, Miss Parker, who is teamed up with Dr. Sydney is a hard, driven, ruthless Irina type character. 14-Some of the graphics are Rambaldi-esc. 15-A black female director at the Centre(Alias- DirectorChase). 16-Sydney Bristow's mother, Irina, was unquestionably the power behind much of the evil in Alias- Miss Parker's father is the head of the Centre. 17-When Miss Parker was young her mother supposedly killed herself, but as the show progresses she discovers that her father may have killed her, or that she may actually still be alive (Alias- Irina). 18-In one episode the bad guy boss of a law firm is named Mr. Sloane. 19-In the same episode a guy wrongly accused of a murder has the first name Marcus. 20-Sloane goes to jail (also in Alias). 21- Sentence at the end of that episode of The Pretender-"Now you have all the time in the world." (Same last line said to Sloane in Alias).22- A recurring nimber holds the key to a mystery behind the Centre- SL-27 (Alias- 47). 23- Dr. Sydney, who feels responcible for his brother's death, speaks to his brother, who appears to him as Nadia does to Sloane). 24- They start each episode explaining that the main character is a Pretender- someone with the ability to become anyone they wish. That is the essence of creating an effective alias- something Sydney Bristow did every week. In fact, she explained to Rachel that to pull it off you have to become that person. So, the essence of being a Pretender is the same as creating an Alias.