Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Evil Ones Part 1: Sark

Blogger Paul wrote up this great series about our favorite Alias baddies, enjoy part 1! -SRG

For a long time (since the final episode aired) I have been mulling over some of the "bad guys" in ALIAS. Many have complained that the characters in the final season took on qualities they had not displayed during the first 4 seasons. After quite a few months of thinking about this, I have come to some conclusions, or at least ideas, about how these character changes may not be as shocking as we had first thought.

My perception of Sark is that by the end he is no longer truly evil. Don't get me wrong, he is definitely not a "good" guy. After all, he was willing to murder, lie, cheat, and steal. Also, even though he is clearly showing signs of regret and hesitation at destroying major cities and murdering Rachel and Marshall, he goes along with it. However, in spite of these bad actions, Sark really seemed to progress to developing a conscience by the end of the series. By the end, we can clearly see the conflict within him over what he is involved in, but feels that he is too far in to stop now. As he states in the finale, "Mass murder isn't exactly my passion! I'm a businessman. I simply wanted to come out on the winning end."

You can see this character development throughout the series. Throughout the beginning in seasons 1 and 2, Sark is truly a heartless person with no loyalties. He sells out his employers without compunction at even the hint of torture. To me, however, Sark was most evil in season 3, where he truly displayed his nastier qualities. Even Lauren Reed, who was quite possibly one of the most vicious characters ever in ALIAS, gets upset with Sark when he sarcastically verbally abuses poor Dixon while his children have been kidnapped. He even tortured and burned his own father!

After the death of Lauren Reed and Sark's capture, however, you can see some progression of the conscience Sark seems to develop by the end. After he was incarcerated, he eventually agreed to help the CIA bring down the Covenant (even if he did maneuver some "bubbly"). He even helped Sydney and Vaughn capture Anna. At this point, he disappeared until season 5, where we see his true business qualities. Sark in season 5 was no longer the completely heartless and vicious human being we saw for the first 3 seasons. While by no means reformed, we learned in "Bob" that he had actually tried something more stable (perhaps even legal?) for a while. Of course, he got bored with it and got back into the business, but at this point, Sark was much more of a businessman than an evil character. Sark in season 5 was definitely not the Sark we had in the beginning, but I feel this was an example of excellent character development. Sark was never and will never be a "good guy," as we learn right at the very end as Dixon asks Sydney to help stop him yet again, but I don't believe Sark is truly evil anymore, maybe more of a "dubious-activity" businessman.


Bonkers for Bristow said...

I agree. I never put Sark and Sloan in the same category. Sark was oportunistic but always a follower. He made have had illisions of granduer but he was always working for someone else. It may be semantics, but doing the things he did for his bosses do not neccessary reflect his own desires.
You mentioned that Sark changed after Season 3. I wonder if his falling hard for Lauren and losing her flipped a switch for him. He did seem to lose some of his gusto and ambition after that. Remember the tension when he was viewing Lauren's body? He had his same old arrogance, but you could see that he was really affected by her death.
By the way - great start! Sark was definately the bad boy we all loved to hate. Plus, he's super hot. :)

uncle111 said...

OT- Sorry, I logged on not knowing there was a new topic. I'll read and comment later.
Wanted to state the obvious on a couple of matters + another.
1- Just watched the end of TBT. What a great ending- music, cemetary scenery, Jack and Syd. How great was that?
2- Burn Notice starts tomorrow, which is a great...
3- ...birthday present for me.

Page48 said...

Sloane was the evil, ruthless bugger we loved to hate, while Sark was the evil, ruthless bugger we loved to, well... love. Go figure.

I think Lauren's death was a turning point for the roguish one. Periods of 'super-max'-type confinement probably sapped him of some of his evil inspiration, as well.

Sark was a very resourceful and skilled kind of guy who could have easily plied his trade for the good guys if he wasn't so morally bankrupt most of the time. I think that Sark, being of Syd and Vaughn and Rachel's generation, actually formed an uneasy bond with his adversaries after years of 'gentle' sparring and probably envied them for being part of such a mutually supportive team. Sark knew that his team mates would ice him the second he was no longer useful to them, not much comfort there.

Obviously, the bond worked both ways, as Syd and company always let Sark get away without paying any serious price for his indiscretions (read treacherous, serial-murdering ways). Lets not forget that Sark essentially murdered Tom Grace, and yet Vaughn let him go his merry way in the finale.

Sark mellowed with age, and along the way, charmed the pants off not only us viewers but the CIA's elite as well. Clearly, the writers felt that viewers could more easily accept the death of Jack Bristow (serious good guy) than the death of Julian Sark (seriously flawed British rogue).

Uncle, my "Burn Notice" clock is ticking, too. Unfortunately I have to download from a torrent site to watch it and lately the ISP's have taken to throttling (a nice word for jamming peer-to-peer traffic), so who knows if I'll be able to stay current or not. Will know soon enough.

Oh and Happy B-Day! Those fireworks last week must have been for you. I wondered what that was all about.

uncle111 said...

Those fireworks have been going off a few days before my birthday for as long as I can remember. I guess I've always been famous.

srg-alias said...

happy bday uncle!!

I agree that Sark's main turning point was the death of Lauren. Vaughn didn't think someone like Sark could be capable of love, but we could all see it as he fell to his knees with tears in his eyes looking at her dead body. Perhaps this loss softened him, as did his feelings for Rachel, letting APO off the hook for paying him.

Sark was a business man, not inherently evil, just very driven w/o much of a conscience. I always got the impression that he wanted money and success, but not necessarily power (unlike Sloane or Irena). Getting those things usually meant there were some casualties, but it wasn't until Lauren became one of them that he understood the consequences.

uncle111 said...

Don't worry, I will get on topic soon. But for now:
1- We just watched 13 Going on 30, including some of the bonus features. Going back to a previous discussion of what JG is really like, I said I thought there were signs she had a "goofy" side. In a 13/30 interview she said when she told the Alias cast about being asked to to 13/30 they told her,"You're really 13 anyway, you might as well make a living at it this summer." She said she could play the "spy chick," but the 13 year old was more who she really is. Says to me that she may be a tough business woman and a driven, superior actress, deep down, she is a playful, innocent sweetie who grew up in a normal, well adjusted small town home.

2- This about Burn Notice that begins tonight:
In tonight's season premiere of Burn Notice, Michael discovers that he's been recruited by the people that burned him. His new handler, Carla (Tricia Helfer), makes it very clear that he's going to do as he's told or suffer the consequences.

They want Michael to help Jimmy, a computer security tech, heist some data from a private security firm, and they're holding Jimmy's family hostage as an added incentive for both of them. With help from Sam and Fiona, Michael must come up with a plan to pull off the heist and save Jimmy's family.

It's Michael's first step down the road to finding out who his new employers are... and what they intend to do with him.

And- thanks for the birthday wishes!

Page48 said...

I watched the BN preview that is running on their website. That's all I'm gonna see until I find out if I can successfully download it at work on the weekend. Would be nice if it was a 2-hour S2 kickoff, cuz there's just precious little on the tube these days for spy-junkies.

I'm a little ticked that BSG opted to break up the final season with a multi-month hiatus. I gotta say I like the "24" model, where they run shows for consecutive weeks until the season is over. 22 eppies and no freaking multi-month hiatus. Yes, we have the technology.

srg-alias said...

uncle - I love 13 Going On 30, not only cuz it's JG but I can totally relate to it, having been a dorky awkward teenager myself. Jen portrays a kid in a grownup's body perfectly and you really see her comedic side shine in that movie. Anyone who doubts her acting ability needs to watch the season 3 finale of Alias where Syd's out for revenge on Lauren, then watch 13GO30, then watch Juno. All three characters are so deliciously different, and I didn't care much for her character in Juno, which in of itself shows how good of an actress she is since I instinctively want to like her.

uncle111 said...

You can watch last night's BN at
I just checked it and it's working.

uncle111 said...

For some reason it didn't all display:

Page48 said...

Thanks, Uncle, I got the download this afternoon (widescreen this season, wooo hooo!, last year had to watch the whole season in 4:3).

The U.S. networks don't make their streamed eppies available outside of the country, so unless one is clever enough to spoof one's location (count me out), watching shows online isn't an option. All they are doing, of course, is insuring that peer-to-peer (aka public enemy number one) thrives.

Page48 said...

I watched a clip of JJ hyping "Fringe", describing an important element of his formula for success as assembling a cast of characters that viewers actually would love to hang out with in real life. While JJ has no connection with "Burn Notice", this formula is clearly at play in BN.

Aside from gorgeous outdoor visuals (sunshine, bare midriffs, and baby blue shoreline scenes), the characters themselves are people the viewer could easily sit in with at the outdoor patio, knocking back cold drinks on a hot afternoon. They look like people we went to high school with. They aren't doing so well financially, they don't live like kings. They wear T-shirts and Hawaiian shirts and don't always shave every day. And they're out there helping the little guys, the downtrodden, the victims. They argue and drink too much beer, but when push comes to shove, they'll do the right thing and they've got each other's back. My only real beef is that they don't advance the plot as quickly as I would like.

Speaking of JJ, apparently he will put pen to paper and script the 2nd episode of "Fringe" himself. He is also working to punch up the pilot episode before it debuts in September. A good idea, IMO, since the version I watched just needs a little something to get me out to the edge of my seat.

Former "Alias" writer Drew Goddard ("There's Only One Sydney Bristow") is teaming up with Joss Whedon ("Firefly", "Dollhouse") for a movie called "Cabin in the Woods". Drew Goddard was not my favourite "Alias" writer and I thought "Cloverfield" was an over-hyped exercise in shaky-camera nonsense, so CITW is no guarantee of a blockbuster. However, these are 2 guys who have been involved with great shows in the past, so who knows?

uncle111 said...

Glad you got BN. Let us know how you like it.

BristowVA said...

Can we get back to the baddies?

I personally have always loved the character of Julian Sark. You could make an entire tv series based on his rise and never quite fall of a life. Think about it, we follow young Julian as he is placed by his single mother into a snooty prep school where he becomes the ridicule of the upper crust boys for not having a father. Little do they all know, that he is a decendant of the Romonov royal family.

It's during these difficult adolescent years that young Julian hones his evil skills. This could be a goldmine for material!

Page48 said...

Interesting to note that "Heroes" chose to keep Sark/Anders as a British bad-ass (typecasting?). Obviously he made an impression with the braintrust over at that show.

"Heroes" is a show that had better get back on track in a big way this year or people just won't care anymore.

Uncle, I watched BN last night. It was very much the equivalent of an episode 1.13. I was hoping for a ratcheting up of the 'burn' portion of the plot, but it fell right in with the formula of season one. Still very easy viewing, though.

uncle111 said...

BN- yes, I was hoping for a higher level of intrigue re: the burn. Hope they don't keep the same level the whole season.

Sark- We did see a "softening" of him over the coarse of the series, and yet he was still willing to torture a girl he's interested in in order to help commit "global genecide," but just because he wanted to be on the winning side. Not much of a sign of a soul. Admittedly, he isn't as two dimensional as he started out, but you still don't want your sister dating him.

On the Zepher Avenue board we did a continuing group authored story (very fun) and someone invented an interesting storyline for Sark where we discover that Katya Derevko is his mother. I think you could do a couple of Alias spin-offs- one on Sark, but my favorite would be one on Jack.

uncle111 said...

Another comment about Sark-
"we learned in "Bob" that he had actually tried something more stable (perhaps even legal?) for a while."
I believe the "more stable" thing he tried was his time locked up in CIA custody.

srg-alias said...

yes that's what I thought too uncle.

uncle111 said...

Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment, but that's what nostalgia makes of us.

I watched the five years after segment twice today. Some observations.

1st, the Sark tie in- Sark has done something again that is bad enough that the CIA is after him.

2nd- I mentioned this in a previous topic, but the folder Dixon hands Syd about the mission to get Sark is in reality a cheat sheet- the words typed on the page next to Sark's photo is Dixon and Syd's dialog. I had the feeling that is was primarily for JG, that she was reading from it at one point rather than reciting her lines.

3rd- When Syd was at the front door waiting for Isabelle to join her for the walk on the beach, once Isabelle steps out of the house Syd looks back to where Isabelle had been. The look on Syd/JG's face was this:
1- she wondered, maybe with concern, what Isabelle, who had been putting together the Project Christmas tower puzzle(which I think was a tip of the hat to those on ABC Alias board who thought it was possible Isabelle was really the Chosen One), had been doing.
2- her expression changed to one of looking back over the 5 years of Alias, then she smiles, turns and joins the others on the beach.
I think that was Syd and JG looking back at Alias with fondness, but then turning away and moving on.

Wrestling with the feelings this stirred up in me gave me the best word I can use to describe the ending- melancholy.

Page48 said...

Melancholy for sure, and soon we'll be looking back 10 years instead of 2. We'll see JG at the Oscars and she won't look so much like Syd anymore, the way Tom Hanks doesn't look much like Tom Hanks anymore.

Okay, so maybe that will take more than 10 years, but when it happens, we'll look back with true melancholy at the years that have passed since JG read her lines from that cheat-sheet, and wonder if she couldn't have spared us a few more years.

uncle111 said...

I am absolutely certainty that if JG, or anyone else involved with Alias, were to read our remarks here they would think,"Get a life! It was just a TV show." And I'm trying to be a well adjusted adult about this and keep it in perspective, but it's really tough, even after two years.

I have a customer in England who bought some of my reproduction props from the TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I'm afraid that his wife's comment to him about his 40 year affection for that series is going to be pinned on me with regard to Alias- "You're a sorry bastard."