Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Evil Ones Part 2: Irena

Part deux of blogger Paul's series, sure to stir up some tasty discussion, enjoy! -SRG

Now this is quite a conundrum. Of all of the character shifts that happened in ALIAS, it seems the one most people had the hardest time swallowing was Irina turning into a completely horrible person. Throughout season 2 and her brief appearance in season 4, we see Irina as a conflicted person. In Season 2, we see her battling with previous choices, fighting between her obsession with Rambaldi and love for her daughter, a character who we never really see as trustworthy, but deep down who we believe really loves Sydney. In season 4, we see an almost reformed and trustworthy Irina, one who helps Jack and Sydney, and even agrees to come back into custody without flinching. An Irina who seems to be working in the best interests of Sydney by telling Vaughn to reveal his activities, and an Irina who has garnered enough trust for Jack to let her disappear again. And then POW, by season 5, she kidnaps her own daughter, betrays her in the bank, and then tries to kill her at the end! Now while I think most of us had a hard time swallowing this, I do believe (after my mulling) that this isn't as much of a stretch as we may have previously thought.

There is no doubt about it that Irina is a manipulative person with no loyalties. After all, who DIDN'T she betray? She betrayed Jack and Sydney on multiple occasions. She skillfully manipulated Sydney's desire to have a mother, toyed with her emotions by pleading guilty at her trial, and then betrayed her trust when she disappeared with Rambaldi's research on the human heart. Even though Irina makes some heartfelt speeches, she clearly puts Sydney in second place. She seems to be interested in giving Sydney many opportunities to get out of the spy trade, but was this out of love for Sydney or a desire to have Sydney out of the way???

Even in Season 4, when Irina seems to be a wonderful and reformed person, can we really believe this? While I do honestly believe Irina loved Sydney and then Nadia, it was clear that neither were as important to her as power and her own twisted beliefs. It could easily be argued that Irina manipulated Jack, Sydney, and Nadia at the end of season 4 for two major reasons: first to get revenge against Elena, and second to stop Elena from destroying the world that Irina one day hoped to rule! We can see some love for Sydney and Nadia; for example her telling Vaughn to reveal his activities. However, it makes perfect sense that the only way Irina could have known about those activities was if she were involved in what he was investigating! Even this may not have been as selfless as we initially believe. By telling Vaughn to reveal his activities, she would effectively be involving Sydney in what Vaughn was doing.

I did feel the whole "nuking all the cities to profit from the reconstruction" was a little over the top. And it DID seem that we saw a whole new Irina. But I think we can see throughout the series a woman who put Rambaldi and her own power and the dream of everlasting life ahead of her love for Sydney, and manipulated everyone to get her own way. Throughout the series, she had something to gain by appearing to be on their side, and honestly, she probably did love Sydney enough to try to get her out of the way. But at the end, there was no reason to continue to manipulate Sydney. She had the choice between everlasting life and power and her daughter, and I don't think the fact that she turned on Sydney there is quite as shocking as it may have initially seemed.

What do you think?


Paul Kremer said...

Hey all, just a comment so that I can get followup comments e-mailed to me! I'm curious to know what you think of my article. :)

Page48 said...

Truth takes time...

But will we ever know the truth about Irina? She was a brilliant woman, able to push the emotional buttons of everyone around her and seemingly able to change the rules at will, always to her advantage.

Sure, she turned herself in, but she knew that was only temporary. Once inside, look at how she played Sydney. Maybe Jack was right all along, that Irina was poison and should be eliminated, because look at how well she played him, too. It wasn't long until the Bristows were reunited and working as a team. Wasn't it Jack himself who turned a blind eye after Svogda and let Irina disappear into the dark zombie night?

So, did Irina fool all of us, including super duper spies like Syd and Jack? Or was she just re-written for the rush-job finale? How could a woman of her intelligence turn into the wack-job we saw in 5.17? Once in possession of the Red Juice of Life, what more power would she need? How do you get more power than to have in your possession a liquid that will postpone death forever? Is destroying major cities for eventual profit worth the trouble for a woman who could sell a drop of Red Juice for the price of a dying billionaire's fortune?

Did Irina really need Sydney out of the way or was this just a tying up of loose ends? Irina could have nailed Syd with a tranquilizer gun and disappeared with the fresh-squeezed, vitamin enriched Rambaldi Juice, on her way to fame and fortune, sending Isabelle birthday cards from far-flung places. No need for all this violence.

Yup, Irina was a baddie, but too smart for the fate that awaited her in 5.17. She could have had immortality, a huge wad of cash, and life as a Mom and Grandma, too. I think this is what Irina would have chosen for herself, but alas, not what the writers wanted.

Of course, I could be all wet.

Page48 said...

JJ confused by impenetrable "Alias" storyline, promises to go easy on casual viewers with "Fringe".

Technically, I think we call that "dumbing down".

srg-alias said...

I agree that Irena fooled everyone, including me. After the season 5 finale I was pretty irritated with what the writers did to her character, turning her from the caring and concerned mother we saw in the season 4 finale into a power and money obsessed villain. It seemed to be a knee-jerk reaction to the show ending, writers who didn't know or understand the show's past using her as the scape goat enemy.

After reading Paul's article, however, it did make me really think about what we saw of Irena in season 4. One of my favorite episodes from that season is Search and Rescue where Syd and Nadia find Irena alive in Elena's custody. I love the scene on the plane where Irena realizes who Nadia is, and overcome by emotion, takes her into an affectionate embrace. Later in the episode Nadia says that maybe when all this is over they could spend some time together, to which Irena replies "I'd like that." Fast forward to the end of the s4 finale, Nadia's a zombie and shot in the back by Sloane. Irena says what seems like heartfelt goodbyes to Syd and Jack, though mentions nothing about Nadia or any concern for her current or future condition. She never makes any effort to find a cure even though w/ Sloane she's partially responsible for it having helped Elena build the big ass red ball of zombiedom. We never hear one peep from her in s5 until it's revealed that she's the one who captures and mentally tortures Syd. So maybe it wasn't too far fetched to see her do a complete 180 back to Evil Irena, though I agree w/ page that she seemed too smart for that. I guess obsession overcame logic for her in the end.

Girlscout said...

HELLLLLOOOOOO, it's ME! Girlscout. Remember me? Me either.

Can I just say BRAVO to SRG for keeping the blog up to date and flowing. I hard have time to go to the bathroom these days, and I miss this little blog-o-mine. Great topic!! I love the baddies! Who doesn't?

OMG I have missed you guys! HI PAUL! Hi PAGE!! HI HI HI!

Page48 said...

Let's hear it for the blog-momma herself, the girl with the wonky eye! Now if we could just locate Kiki and Kendrah!

"The Dark Knight" rolls tonight. I've read a number of very impressive reviews of this flick. I won't be seeing it anytime soon, but I'm anxious to get a look when the chance comes up.

I was always so disappointed with the modern Batman movies, as much as I like some of the actors involved. These films were always so far removed from any kind of reality that I found them unwatchable. They tried too hard to be motion picture comic books. For my taste, that problem was corrected with "Batman Begins" (with personal favourites Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman), and TDK is supposed to be a much superior sequel to BB, so I'm a keener to check it out for myself. For now, all I have to go by is the gorgeous HD trailer on my hard drive, which makes the Keaton, Clooney era look like the old Adam West days by comparison.

Of course, if you don't like Batman in the first place, then I guess you're screwed.

Was that really Girlscout or have we been punk'd?

srg-alias said...

We miss you too GS!!! Hope you can visit us again soon and weigh in on some of our fantastic guest blogger articles!

I watched one of my fav S5 eppies last night, Bob, and just finished watching it w/ the audio commentary. If anyone hasn't watched that yet, you should, it's hilarious!!

Back OT I can't believe we haven't had more feedback on this article. Where are ya uncle, robetron, bonkers?? :)

ilovealias4ever said...

Oops, sorry I stuffed up above...

Sorry for this OT post, I just wasn't sure where I could send this.

I just wanted to share this picture I found of JENNIFER GARNER (who is supposedly pregnant again) and GINA TORRES hanging out...

Totally not funny how they've written; "Jennifer Garner and a friend..."

uncle111 said...

I've been busy the past few days and just now checked in to see if anything new was up.

Irina- You hear the name or see her picture and you want to comment, or watch, which ever it is. She was in no way a two dimensional villain. In a way she was like Sloane- bad, then good, then bad again. With Sloane there was always an illusive good he was doing bad to achieve. With Irina we never really knew what she was after, or at least why she was after it. Was she after power, money, or Rambaldi's mystic? When it looked like she was softening and becoming good, she was really just using everyone to further whatever it was she was after. And yet, you still wanted to believe there was more to it than that and that she was going to turn out at least somewhat good. Even those she kept betraying wanted to believe that.

In the end, though, she was willing to kill her daughter for power and immortality. I do believe the case is strong for the idea that much of what she did regarding Syd was to get Syd to quit the spy business: 1- so Syd would be safe, and 2- so Syd would be out of the way. I think she knew that Syd was really the only one who could keep her from her goal.

That having been said, I think the S5 treatment of Irina was a rush to close off that storyline and the idea that she was nuking DC and London for money was an out that was so rushed it was desperately cheap. It didn't make sense even in the middle of the madness of the series' end.

Irina Derevko- there was never a character like her before.

uncle111 said...


Page48 said...

As much as I enjoyed the badness that was McKenas Cole, I have to fess up that I firmly believe that Tarantino is the maker of the worst movies in all of recorded history.

My local tax-dollar-sucking public broadcaster, the CBC, is showing "Pulp Fiction" on every channel tonite. Unwatchable garbage. And the thing is, PF is not a one-off. All of his movies are unwatchable garbage. I can't get over the praise that this guy gets for putting unwatchable crap on film.

Another member of the "Alias" alumni, David Cronenberg, is equally useless at movie-making. I mean "Crash"??? Are you freaking kidding me?? His movies are unwatchable crap.

How did 2 of the worst movie-makers in history wind up with juicy bit-parts on the best show ever? Makes me go "hmmmmmmmmmmmm"!

uncle111 said...

I've never even seen a QT movie. They just never looked like anything I'd be interested in. Looks like my gut was right on that.
If that is a true story JJ told, then what in the heck was he doing? How could he at least not know what was going on with Alias...unless it was just another project that brought in cash and he didn't really care. Which may mean that Alias was just a once in a life time happy accident.

ilovealias4ever said...

That comment from J.J. Abrams actually made me really mad.

'Alias' basically gave him his name!

And to read that he was 'confused' by an episode -- that he was lost -- really pisses me off when I thought that he might have cared for the show.

Heh. Guess it makes sense why he left 'Alias' for 'Lost' then...

srg-alias said...

wait, I'm confused, is this some JJ interview you guys are talking about where he makes some comment about Alias? Did I miss a post somewhere?

I haven't seen many QT movies, I didn't enjoy Pulp Fiction but I love Kill Bill, to each his own. :)

Page48 said...

Srg, follow the link in the 3rd comment.

While in one breath, JJ is being described as FOX's newest 'superstar', the story goes on to suggest that his masterpiece, "Alias" was seriously flawed in as much as he himself, the chief architect, was unable to follow the plot.

Sounds to me like he's trying to pander to a broader audience, and if all it takes is throwing "Alias" under the bus, he's down with that. That may also explain why he gave us "What About Brian?" more of us could follow along.

Robetron said...

RE: Paul's Badie-article.

Paul, I think you have done a yeoman's job at trying to make sense out of the senseless. If there were any justification for the character-swap that occurred with Irena, that would have ot be it. I suppose there could be other hypothetical explanations, like the Irena of 5.17 was just a rogue double on a power trip, but there are not going to be any more shows to fill it in and make us happy, so suppositions are ultimately unsatisfying.

Even in earlier episodes of season 5, Irena was concerned over the health ans welfare of Sydney and the baby when she kidnapped her. In the bank as Syd was about to give birth, Irena was able to get free and could have run away, but she came back to help Sydney before fleeing. It was just not in Irena's character to decide that Syd was just in the way too many times, so she had to die.

Try as we might to explain it to satisfy our aching hearts, the end was botched, and there is nothing we can do to fix it. Everyone is entitled to opinions, but I just cannot try to persuade myself that the reality of it did not happen. I watched too closely for too long and invested too much of myself to allow it.

Truth Be Told, the makers of the show never cared as much about it as we did.


Bonkers for Bristow said...

Sorry, guys. I was on vacation. Paul, congrats on another thought provoker. I can't say I'm completely convinced in the change in Irena's character being a natural progression, but I admire the thought you put into it and the way you explained your theory. I personally agree with robetron- the ending was botched.
I can't wait to see who you write about next! Sloan? Anna? Lauren?

Paul Kremer said...

Well, Robetron, honestly, the article was written in that fashion. A botched ending kind of takes my enjoyment away just a bit, so I wrote the article in such a way to leave out "writer errors" and "network interference."

In all honestly, I agree with everyone. The ending was botched. ALIAS deserved better. However, this article was written with "suspension of disbelief" in a big way. I wrote it as though it had to make sense, and overall this at least pulls the sting away for me. hehe!

Bonkers, I wish I had more time to write. Honestly, I could probably find the time to write, but it has been so long since I have rewatched ALIAS that I don't think I could do the other baddies justice. I actually found these articles buried on my hard drive 2 weeks ago, written just after the series finale, and then forgotten for 2 years.

Perhaps in the coming months, I will rewatch and write other articles, but don't expect them in the next few weeks. Thanks for your comments and discussion, everyone! :)

uncle111 said...

I have a great idea- an article by Page48!

srg-alias said...

that would be fun, let me know if you're interested page. :)

Page48 said...

I suffer from a condition similar to Paul's, in that I haven't watched any "Alias" in 2 years (with the exception of Uncle's series of 'bookend' episodes).

If I had something brilliant, I wouldn't hold back, but I'm already running my "Alias" rhetoric flat-out and what you see is everything I've far.

uncle111 said...

Page- I think if you focused on a single topic or aspect of Alias. I don't think we've really done a good piece on Jack Bristow before. Now there's a red meat character.

Maybe beer would help get the process going?

Page48 said...

While I wait for that beer-fuelled missive to pour out of me, here's the explanation I offered to the L.A. Times audience regarding JJ finding the "Alias" storyline impenetrable and promising no such hardship for "Fringe" viewers.

My comment is the last on the page.

I get a little sensitive when JJ starts dissing "Alias". His bad.

uncle111 said...

I just added a couple of comments myself.

Robetron said...

RE: Tarentino's movies.

Admittedly, I thought McKinas Cole was one of the coolest visiting characters on the show, but every once in a while Tarentino makes a decent movie. Someone else mentioned liking Kill Bill, which I also liked, baring the foul-language barrier.

But, have you never seen "Hero" staring Jet Li? Yes, you have to appreciate martial arts movies, and you have to either overcome the problem of subtitles or rent the DVD and put up with the English dubbing not entirely matching the actors lips, but it is not bad enough to give up on this masterpiece.

I loved Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but "Hero" is even better. It is worth your time some evening this summer when you have nothing else to watch, and you need something new. Common, give it a try. You may like it after all.

Have Alias-fan recommendations let you down very often?


Bonkers for Bristow said...

Here, here, Uncle and Page. I read your comments on the LA Times Page. My opinion of JJ has been slowly going down hill and I'm afraid it just fell even farther. How can he diss his own show - the one people still reference when they speak of him? I think it only proves my theory that he has the attention span of a gnat.

Page48 said...

Another thing about JJ's comments that irks me is that "Lost" doesn't get honourable mention for denseness of plot.

In other words, it's okay to throw darts at "Alias", since it went dark 2 years ago, but let's not say baddies about "Lost", because that gravy train is still rolling. I'm assuming that crapping on your own show is verboten while it's still in production.

Martial arts movies??? Ooooh, don't know if I can go there (and dubbed in English at that...double whammy). Seems to me "Crouching Tiger" was on the tube a while back, but I see a title like that and I roll right over it without even stopping. Next time I'll have to reconsider. Until then, I'll stick to getting my culture-shock from watching "Globe Trekker".

"Kill Bill"? Uma Thurman's tongue in my ear couldn't get me excited about KB. I'm just not a Tarantino kinda guy.

uncle111 said...

Ebay has some Sydney wardrobe items in case anyone is interested. Here is the link:

uncle111 said...

Calling Dr. Page. Calling Dr. Page.

It looks like it's up to you to breathe some life into us.

srg-alias said...

now now, I don't want to pressure poor page hehe. :) Anything in particular y'all want to chat about? Right now I'm finishing up watching season 5. I don't think JG got enough acting kudos for that season, especially toward the end where she's playing Anna as Syd's double, then playing Syd pretending to be Anna as Syd's double, and man she nailed it.

uncle111 said...

Just think- she was playing Syd playing Anna, playing Syd. That was tough.

Hey- did anyone bid on the Syd items on eBay today?

Page48 said...

I'm going on 2 frickin' weeks without a home computer. Had to hand my less-than-two-year-old laptop over to the manufacturer last Tuesday, and if I'm realllly lucky, they'll have it back to me somewhere down the road. Did I mention it's less than 2 years old?

Downloaded last week's "Burn Notice" today. Had to burn it to a DVD so I can watch it on TV tonite. It's like living in the stone age.

BTW, I see JG is up the stump again. No action flicks for her for another year (at least).

Bonkers for Bristow said...

What does "up the stump" mean? Is that pregnant? Are the rumors confirmed? Just last month I heard they were breaking up. Ah, Hollywood. Got to either be breaking up or having a baby or you are old news.

srg-alias said...

haha yup she's preggers again, I was happy to see that because I had also seen the rumors about them splitting up. That rumor seems to have died so that's good. Up the stump is a new one for me too... :)

uncle111 said...

I can't imagine being without mu comuter for even a few days, but that may be because 80% of my business is online now. If it was my primary source for TV I'd really be out of sorts. Most of my viewing is DVD's, however. My brother tapes Burn for me since I don't have cable (on purpose- if I had it I'd spend WAY too much time in front of the TV) and we watch it during lunch. Do I have a great job, or what? (Except for the fact that I almost never get to watch anyting uninterrupted.)

Just saw Denzel Washington's Deja Vu. Great movie!

Page48 said...

Denzel is one of those guys you can count on to put out a good movie. He's got that "screen presence", but I must say I don't like it when he plays the bad guy.

I watched "Deja Vu" a few months back and also thought it was excellent. Nice sci-fi touch for those of us who like a little suspension of disbelief in our entertainment.

Also enjoyed his remake of "Manchurian Candidate", as well as "Inside Man", "Great Debaters", "The Bone Collector", "Pelican Brief", "Out of Time" (can't go wrong co-starring with the stunning Eva Mendes).

Another good sci-fi flick of his is "Fallen".

Go Denzel!