Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Alias Finales: Season 3

The season 3 finale had it all...a killer opening, action packed fights, plot twists and great acting all leading up to an intriguingly mysterious cliffhanger ending. If you watched the behind-the-scenes DVD extra on how the opener with Lauren posing as Syd and blowing up the Rotunda was done, you can really appreciate everything that went into that seemingly short 10+ minutes of the show. As we've said before, this was movie-quality (or better) TV.

As the episode continued there was even more satisfaction for the audience as Vaughn took out some much pent-up aggression on both Sark and Lauren, only to be stabbed by a mystery enemy, causing Syd to go searching for Lauren and the Rambaldi piece. In doing so she discovers Katya as the betrayer (who actually stabbed Vaughn and almost shoots Syd), and has a knock-out fight w/ Lauren who starts asking her questions. She claims they're both "pawns in the same game", wonders why Syd hasn't talked to Irena if she's been helping her, states it can't be a coincidence that both Syd and Nadia came to be agents, and there's proof of everything in a numbered vault in Wittenburg. Just when it seems she's bested Syd, Vaughn shows up to save the day and shoot the b*@ch dead (while the audience cheers), but not before she gasps out the vault numbers to Syd. Vaughn and Syd finally get in a good make out session (cheering again), and all seems happy, but her curiosity leads her to the vault where she finds top secret files about "Project S.A.B." (which we assume stands for Sydney Anne Bristow, especially since the project's initiation date is her birthday). That's about all we can see, other than its lead officer is none other than Jack Bristow, who shows up and tells a borderline-hysterical looking Syd that she was "never supposed to find this."

There was sooooo much speculation that summer over what Project S.A.B. could be. As I've mentioned before, season 3 was the first season I saw in regular airtime, so I was going nutty waiting for the season 4 premiere. Finally it was time, and we got a special 2-hour premiere, which was even more exciting.

On their own, APO pts. 1 and 2 were pretty awesome episodes. The gang gets back into the black ops sector, Vaughn and Syd reunite, she gets a new roomie in her sister Nadia, and they go after a tricky (and rather steamy) enemy who claims he used to have a contract on Syd's life. All the while we see Syd's hatred of her father and still don't know what happened between them. When it's finally revealed what happened in Wittenburg, it has to be one of the biggest let downs I've ever felt from a TV show. Supposedly those documents showed nothing other than information on Irena's past along with a request from Jack to kill her, which was granted. Nothing, I repeat NOTHING was mentioned about "Project S.A.B." It seemed fairly obvious that when the season 3 finale was written, they had NO idea what was going to happen in season 4. The end of APO pt. 2 still had a good shocker; that Irena had put the hit out on Syd which is why Jack killed her, but still, the disappointment over the resolution of the season 3 cliffhanger overshadowed that by a lot. Every time I watch it I get irritated, knowing how good it could have been. Sigh.


uncle111 said...

I haven't finished watching, but I have to make 2 comments.
1- The reason there was so much speculation about the Project was because of the following:
-- It was S.A.B. 47 Project
-- It began on the day Syd was born
-- Jack was the project manger
-- And, they never explained what it was. The reason for that was (I picked this up from the bonus material) they were fixing to shoot that episode and were not happy with the script. They had to slap a different one together fast. A preview of future dropped balls.

The most logical thing to me as far as an eplanation of S.A.B. 47 Project was:
S.A.B. (Sydney Ann Bristow) 47 (a number sacred to Rambaldi) Project- or, Sydney Ann Bristow, a sacred Rambaldi project.

2- Katya intended to Kill Syd. I assume she was working at that point for Elena.

uncle111 said...

I forgot- my favorite line of S4E1- Marshall to Syd,"Syd. Sloane is here."

Page48 said...

Q: Where were you before that?
A: Buying the sandwich.

Sydney is such a brat. I love that in a spygirl.

When Vaughn breaks the news to Weiss that he's packing it in (again)and putting the agency behind him, he makes the comment that "last year sucked". I remember reading at the time that this comment was supposed to be a subliminal admission to loyal fans that Season Three was no hell. A guilty plea and a hint of better things to come.

However, IMO, S3 was excellent "Alias", in fact, far better than S4 would turn out to be. S3 was frustrating for fans because we had to endure Lauren's terrible mistreatment of Vaughn and the pain of separation inflicted on our gal Syd. But in spite of that, it was full of shock and awe, the way we like it. S4 is where it came off the rails.

3.22 had elements of Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible" with the masks and Sydney's voice modulator. And, like 2.22, it ended with a classic all-girl bitch fight. I wanted to grab the gun out of Vaughn's hand and finish that witch Lauren off myself, but as Jack said, Vaughn needed to do this one himself. The train scene in 4.1 smacked of an "Indiana Jones" adventure. It's all good, dawg.

I agree that Wittenburg was a disappointment. It was clear that the writers took us there for a reason, but what was it? A document granting Jack permission to ice Irina? Do we really think that he would waste his time going through official channels if he wanted to kill the ex? This is the same guy who offered Vaughn the use of his secret facility to make Lauren (and her body) disappear without a trace. Guys who have secret facilities DO NOT bother getting the paperwork straightened out before they go in with guns blazing.

And how DID Lauren know about Wittenburg, not to mention have the number of the box committed to the kind of memory that can be called into service even after taking a whole bucket full of hot lead?

I liked APO. The gleaming brightness, the big plasma screen, the red upholstery. APO was all about the fashion. Not just the facility itself, but the people. Lots of leather, Sloane's funny collar, the neckties left in the drawer where they belong, Syd's hair, her glasses. Unfortunately, much of S4 chose style over substance. They just couldn't leave well enough alone.

There were things that always bothered me here. Syd's constant sniping at Sloane just didn't fit her character. Syd was too professional for that. Syd was also very harsh with Jack (not that we haven't seen that before), but time and time again, she had seen that Jack's actions, however reprehensible in her eyes, were almost exclusively done to protect her in some way. A little benefit of the doubt would not go amiss, Syd. I mean the crack about the stinking cologne was just plain nasty.

In the category of over-the-top, the whole Marshall Flinkman kidnap scene was pointless...but cute. I never get tired of Marshall being reunited with Syd. It's so obvious that he idolizes her. Let's face it, she could have recruited him with a phone call, no need to make him pee his pants in the parking lot. And just where does Weiss think that Marshall went? Didn't he notice the little man was a no-show at work?

"The Wind" is one of my favourite all-time scenes, and I've been known to play it over and over again. It's just gorgeous. It goes back to how well Jen does wounded. She is awesome at looking hurt, and as I mentioned once before, I wanted to throw Vaughn to the pavement and hug Syd myself.

S4 was disappointing in many ways, and I never really took a great liking to Nadia, but I'd take it back, with all of it's flaws, in a New York Minute.

Kendrah said...

Oh, how I love you Shannon! Thanks for keeping the blog alive!! I have been so busy, I will update everyone soon!

Page48 said...

GS is in the house!

srg-alias said...

Thanks GS, hope to see ya back here soon! :)

uncle - thanks for pointing out 47 as part of the project title, that also made you think it was a pretty big deal and had something to do w/ the entire Alias story up to this point. I need to go back into my DVD extras to see where they were talking about shooting a different episode, is that on the s4 DVDs?

page - yeah I love Syd as a brat too. :) Good point about Jack filing paperwork to kill Irena, you're so right that the Jack we know would never do that. I feel silly but can't place "The Wind" scene you're talking about, when/what is that?

Page48 said...

Srg, "The Wind" is the Cat Stevens tune after "you killed Mom...to save me?"

srg-alias said...

ohhh yeah, that scene does make me tear up. She tries to hold it in but finally lets her wall down with Vaughn. It's not often you see Syd completely lose it and sob, but it was just too much for her to take at that point.

uncle111 said...

I don't remember if it was S3 bonus material, but that seems the most logical. It is in a part where they are with the crew while filming or getting ready to film the last episode.

I just noticed on the S.A.B. document that there is a renewal date for the project which is Syd's first birthday. They obviously had some big reveal about Jack and something he was doing with Syd or using her for that the CIA was in on as part of the cliffhanger and to be revealed in S4, but come S4 they changed their minds and went lame on us with the "Jack killed Irina" storyline.

uncle111 said...

I finally thought things through and did a little research on the cliffhanger. Here is what I found about the S3 finale. Apparently, the ending they had planned was scrapped by JJ because before they started filming it ended up in a report by Entertainment Weekly. In it Syd, Vaughn and Jack ended up in some situation where Jack and Vaughn were dangling from 2 separate ropes, both held by Syd. The structure Syd is held by starts giving way. It becomes apparent that for any of them to survive Syd must cut one of the ropes and let either Vaughn or Jack plunge to their death. Syd agonizes over the situation. Jack and Vaughn both plead with her to save the other one. Forced by the buckling railing Syd is held by, she pulls her knife and cuts one of the ropes. We are not allowed to see which one falls. The episode ends.

Good thing they didn't air that ending! It would have meant another lucky save for another main character we thought was dead, or one of the best characters was going to be gone.

The S.A.B. 47 Project document segment was supposedly planned for mid S4, but in the rush to splice in a good cliff hanger they moved it to S3/E22. Making it the cliffhanger of S3 gave it much more mystery than it deserved, or than it needed as a mid-season episode. It also caused me to scrap a very interesting analysis based on deconstructing the episode and speculating about what they originally intended for S4 based on what we ended up with. For instance-
Lauren said:
1- they were both pawns, but that she knew who was controlling her. That means someone was controlling Syd.(who- Jack? S.A.B. 47 Project?Prophet 5 people inside CIA? How is she being controlled, and to what end?)
2- did Syd think the CIA couldn't find her when she was missing (by this point Syd knows Kendall knew, but Kendall had to wait for Syd to contact him. He didn't know where she was. Were there others at CIA who always knew where she was during that period? Who, why, how?)

But, none of that really matters because the leaked ending simply caused them to move less meaningful material to a highly meaningful spot.

Other than that, it was an action packed 3 episodes with good twists, fights, and relationship material.
And, one of the best scenes ever, one that shows just how good JG really is- "The Wind." I had tears again seeing it for the 15th time.

Page48 said...

I'm seriously glad that Syd didn't have to cut that rope. Bad enough they felt that it was okay to whack Jack in the wretched finale, but doing so after S3 would have been a disaster.

It does illustrate, however, that even the best show ever is only a deadline away from taking a twist that would leave a completely different legacy. It must be incredibly difficult to tell a great story when you don't know how long you will have to tell it, or who will want out of their contract, or who will get pregnant along the way.

Another annoying development is S4 was the Dixon/Chase romance that was introduced and never mentioned again. What the hell was that? I expected Angela Bassett to be at least a semi-regular given her apparent importance in 4.1.

In unrelated news, I watched "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" last night, and appearing in the first 10 minutes, is a very youthful looking Suit & Glasses, 17 years prior to uttering that classic line, "Who do you work for, you pretty little girl?" I love it.

uncle111 said...

I forgot a couple of comments.
1- the scene of Syd abd Bodine running down the street was a great scene which I think they should have made the opening S4/E1 scene. It was electric.
2- The episode with "The Wind" scene (I'm fried right now and I can't remember if it was E2) should have ended with "The Wind" scene. Again, powerful scene which was diluted somewhat by the scene that followed.

srg-alias said...

huh, very interesting uncle, thanks for searching out that info and posting it. It just goes to show how it's not a good idea to take a show like Alias and not know where you want it to end up because they can throw in random plot changes that end up being quite less than satisfying. This is why I have hope for Lost because they have a definite end in site, hopefully they won't lead us down the winding road just to come to a dead end.

uncle111 said...

I ran across a couple of notes That I missed.
I noticed them experimenting with the shakey-cam in S4/E1. Glad it wasn't as noticable as it was later, though.

They talked about Nadia's Rambaldi green fluid memory was a genetic memory. How did he get the genes into Nadia? Fits wel into my ideas about some of the Rambaldi things really being Conrad's doing since I have him as her grandfather. He knew who she was and would have been able to set it up with less trouble, hence more realism.

And, Syd's coughing after the water torture was another fine example of how she is the best cougher in Hollywood. She can sound like she is coughing up her lungs on cue.

srg-alias said...

haha I agree uncle, watching the scene w/ the water torture again I thought to myself "man I wonder how they did that, it looks pretty damn real!"

I always figured Nadia was somehow a descendant from Rambaldi, thus having the "genetic memory." I never took the time to try and figure out how she was descended though.

Robetron said...

I completely agree with the disappointment of Wittenburg.

Overt those excruciatingly long months between S3 and S4 I had plenty of time to think about it, and I always though tthat best explantion would like this:

Jack and the CIA knew and maybe even financed the Covenant when they kidnapped Sydney. Jack was the project manager over Syd since "project Christmas," and she had been being prepared and programed to be able to handle the torture the Covenant would inflict, so naturally Jack would oversee the CIA's connection and payoffs. Irena was among those sitting in the shadows siting at the tables, making sure everything was controlled so that Syd would not be perminantly injured.

When Syd came back, Jack being in detention was a set-up secretly between Jack and Devlin in oder to send Syd on the path to look for the Rambaldi artifacts that eventually led to the Passenger. The CIA had always planned to doublecross the Covenant, but Aunt Elena had taken over it and took it in directions the CIA did not intend, so they had to manipulate Syd into these things without letting on that they were involved intially.

This is how Lauren would know that Syd was being manipulated, since she was Covenant, and this explains Jack's involvement, and why Syd would be crushed to find out that her entire life was one huge manipulation by the people for whom she worked (remenecent of SD-6), as well as her own father.

This obviously would have caused Sydney to go rogue, a plot line I had always hoped would develop.

But alas... it was only as simple and anticlimactic as what we actually had. Syds mom put a hit out on her, though it wasn't really her mom, and Jack killed the non-mom for it. Snore.

Oh well. They never hired me to be thier writer.

uncle111 said...

Unless it was an inside joke, the fact that the S.A.B. document lists Jack as the project manager, that the project began on Syd's day of birth and was renewed on her 1st birthday, I think they were headed somewhere dark with Jack and his relationship with Syd.

uncle111 said...

Well, I finally watched Elektra. I didn't think it was too bad. Good to see JG starring in an action role (again...before...whatever). This may have been rogue Syd out on her own.

srg-alias said...

Yeah I saw Elektra in the theater and I'll watch it every now and then when it comes on FX. It was ok, though I liked her role better in DareDevil. We got to see the ass-kicking, vengeance-hunting, wounded yet vulnerable Jen we love (a la Alias).

Page48 said...

I saw "Elektra" a couple of weeks ago, first time I've seen it on the tube. I give it an 'okay' rating, nothing special. I really think Jen deserves, and can certainly handle, better.

I'm really a little put out about her limited interest in anything outside of the light comedy/romance genre, and I must say that filming (as per IMDB) "Cyrano de Bergerac" is an utter waste of time.

C'mon Jen, time to pull up your socks and get serious about this acting career.

srg-alias said...

yeah I agree page, though I did hear good things about The Kingdom, which was definitely more dramatic than her norm (haven't seen it...yet). I loved seeing her in 13 Going On 30 cuz she was still doing Alias and it was fun to see that different side of her, but it would be nice to see her stretch her movie acting legs some more.

Page48 said...

srg-alias, I saw some of 13 on TV last week, and it's quite enjoyable (and, BTW, Jen never looked better). I have no objection to JG tackling comedy, if it wasn't for the fact that she does little else these days.

"The Kingdom" was a nice action flick, but it wasn't a JG vehicle and her role was limited, with the exception of the final 20 minutes or so, where she was heroic. She was short-changed in the dialogue department and her emotional range was narrow (one smile if memory serves).

However, it was good to see her in action for the first time in over a year. Let's hope it wasn't the last time.

Bonkers for Bristow said...

Any thougts on Juno? I saw it last weekend and have to say jennifer was pretty good. And I only say that because I did not like the charcter she played and for JG to make me not like her, just MUST have been acting. :)

I thought the movie overall was good but it never blew me away like I was expecting. I really liked the writing and the actors were good, but when it was over, I was like, "OK." Not like, "that was good!" like I had hoped to be.

On a side note, The Pampered Chef, which is a direct sales company, has a couple pink products for Breast cancer Awareness and they've had celebrities sign their products and put them up for auction. JG is one of them. I think the proceeds all go to the American Cancer Society. If you're looking for an autograph, might be a good place to start - if youo can afford it! The link is
look at the bootom right corner.

srg-alias said...

oh yeah I forgot about Juno! I just saw that recently and really liked it. I agree her character was quite irksome, especially in the beginning, and that is credit to her acting since I automatically love JG. I didn't care so much for Catch and Release...nothing to do w/ JG, just didn't care for the story much.

Bonkers for Bristow said...

I agree. That one did nothing for me either. Definate highlights are 13 Going On 30 and the Kingdom. Now, Jenn, get out there and make a movie we can be proud of!

Page48 said...

I haven't (nor am I likely to) checked out "Juno" or "Catch & Release". I must say, however, that there is an absolutely gorgeous shot of JG in one of the promo pics for C&R. That's the extent of my interest I'm afraid.

uncle111 said...

I liked 13 Going On 30. Han't seen Juno or Catch and Release. The Kingdom was good, but JG part was too small to really stand out, and she was good, but she wasn't Syd. I'm sure she would be tired of hearing that if she hung around here.

Page48 said...

The secrets described on Page 47 are said to be "life altering".

This, according to Nicolas Cage's character in "National Treasure: Book of Secrets". He was referring, of course to Page 47 of the aforementioned Book of Secrets.

Coincidence??? I think not.

uncle111 said...

Now that is cool. I'm going to have to keep from yelping at that point if I watch it with others.

Back In Black just came on the radio as bumper music for some show.

uncle111 said...

What do you guys think about after S4/S5 we watch the series premiere and the series finale and compare. I don't know whether to watch the
S1 or S5 episode first, though. What do you think?

srg-alias said...

I hate to be a pessimist, but the idea of comparing the pilot eppy w/ the final one makes me feel a bit despressed... :-\

uncle111 said...

That was my gut reaction too. I think if we watch the finale first and end with S1/E1 we will end where it all began and will feel better about it. It will also give us a comparison and perspective most fans don't get.
I do think we need a little discussion and anticipation of this one first.

Page48 said...

Oh yeah, I have to agree that viewing 5.17 first and finishing with 1.1 would be a far more uplifting experience.

uncle111 said...

If you need any Alias DVD sets, your local Blockbuster may have their used ones on sale. Mine did the other day for $14.95 per season.

uncle111 said...

I just noticed that my cell phone ID number has a 47 in it. Also, the block I grew up on is the 4700 block. There was also a 47 I saw in something the other day. I meant to remember what it was, but the best I can remember now is that it was something scientific.

srg-alias said...

ok that's what we'll do folks, watch the S5 finale, then the pilot eppy, but first we still have the S4 finale to go over, I'll post on that soon!