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Season 2 “I’m curious to know where you’re going with this”

Discussion in 'Alias' started by Alias_zerosum, Dec 17, 2002.

  1. Alias_zerosum

    Alias_zerosum Reviewer

    Dec 9, 2002
    “The Abduction” 12/15/02

    “I’m curious to know where you’re going with this”


    -“For a woman to be asked to serve her country”

    Ultimately, perception is altered by desire. What we wish to see, we see more readily. Irina’s performance in Kashmir, her dedication to the mission, her loyalty to her family were all that Sydney needed.

    “I always told myself that my mother would have had those qualities. Though I couldn’t see them. I didn’t know them. I simply believed them.” (episode 02.01)

    Black coats against the bleached rooftop of the C-Block Exercise Yard, Sydney approaches her mother and the two women behold each other, exchanging uncertain smiles. Acknowledging her daughter’s compassion, Irina tentatively moves forward. With a kind of broken desperation, she pleads for her daughter’s understanding.

    “I need you to understand... I was 18 when the KGB recruited me. For a woman to be asked to serve her country... it was a future. It meant... empowerment, independence. I was a fool to think that any ideology could come before my daughter.”

    Overwhelmed by the power of the moment, by the strength of her mother’s confession, Sydney is profoundly moved. She has to look away. It is too much. These passionate words come in such an intense outpouring that, after two decades of living in the silence of loss, Sydney shies away from their utterance. But as she turns, Irina calls her name.


    Irina goes to her. Mother and daughter embrace for the first time in over twenty years, the distance between them removed. But, as soon as they come together, they are forced apart. In the backward motion of their separation, we are left in awe that they came together at all.
    Standing, arms raised, both victims to their past decisions, Sydney and Irina are the same woman. Both recruited in the fervor of young patriotism, seduced by the promise of autonomy and self-assurance, both naive to the sacrifices they would be forced to make, mother and daughter are intertwined by a mirrored history.
    Irina was fully aware that, when she walked in, she possessed no credibility. She knew that she could not be trusted. So, she lay in wait, biding her time, watching for the moment when her affection might be received. But is her sincerity lessened by the careful consideration with which she ensured that her words would be effective? We don’t know.
    Do we think that there is genuineness in Irina’s confession? Yes. Do we think that Irina loves her daughter? Yes. Do we think that this means that she is incapable of exploiting her? No. The truth is, a lack of positive evidence is not sufficient to prove the contrary. And, in this show, love has never been a safeguard against betrayal.

    -“Somehow, I think we’d both prefer the torture.”

    Faye Dunaway’s Ariana Kane, head of Alliance Counterintelligence, is such a fascinating character. Even in a male-dominated organization, she is clearly a force to be reckoned with. She is cunning, she is intimidating, and she wears her power outright. Among other things, she is apparently also proficient at Game Theory, which makes her the perfect match of wits for Jack.

    “With whom have you had intimate contact over the past ten years, Agent Bristow?”
    “I’m curious to know where you’re going with this.”
    “More secrets have been revealed through pillow talk than through torture. If there’s a prostitute or a stewardess out there you think may have heard you talking in your sleep, I need to know about it.”
    “There is... one way... for you to verify if my nocturnal activities are a security risk, Miss Kane, but somehow, I think we’d both prefer the torture.”

    <Insert Faye Dunaway’s impressed “touché” reaction... priceless, really>

    “What happened to that gentlemen I met in Sloane’s office this morning?”
    “He got tired of your baseless accusations.”
    “Good. I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have the sense to know that he’s being insulted.”
    “Are we through?”
    “Yes. For now.”

    Their scenes together are such a delight to watch. Their facetious, sharp-edged, suggestive dialogue is truly enticing.

    -A Tale of Two Cities-


    Sydney’s mad dash through the chaos and panic of the Parisian streets was a spectacularly orchestrated stunt. The frantic drive of the music and the fluidity of camerawork as Sydney leaps from car to car, gaining speed and height, ratchet up the suspense, creating a chase that is visually riveting. This was an impressive job on Nelson McCormick’s part.

    ~London: “I’ve got this unbelievable filmstrip running in my head”

    Kevin Weisman was absolutely phenomenal. He brought Marshall to life with an integrity and impeccable charm that was truly admirable. Who knew that this character was a person waiting to happen? His comic relief has always been enormously entertaining, and watching him go to London and have the opportunity to interact with Sydney on a personal level was immensely satisfying. Marshall’s enthusiasm and naiveté were endearing without seeming contrived or demeaning, and his nervous inexperience was refreshing.
    There is an exaggerated quality inherent in Marshall’s personality but, somehow, Kevin Weisman managed to expose his character’s humanity with surprising subtlety. It is because we are allowed to share this experience with Marshall that his farewell to Sydney is so moving. Walking with an air of confidence that we have never seen in him before, glowing with a degree of pride that he has never known, the innocence of Alias’ tragedy comes full circle.

    “Hey, you know the best part? I’ve never been prouder to be one of the good guys.”

    Listening to Marshall’s unfaltering speech, Sydney sees herself in him. And maybe for just a moment, she wishes she could go back, wishes that she could regain the purity of ignorance. But she can’t. And it is not in her power to save Marshall from the tragedy of the lie, either. Wanting to comfort him from the coming flood, to tell him that it will all be okay, she embraces him. But he has to go alone.

    -“How are your wounds healing?”

    Irina, always the connoisseur of the double entendre, baits Jack as he approaches her holding cell. Though somewhat softened, he maintains a professional exterior. Eyes fixed, they are testing each other.

    “You know, technically, we may still be husband and wife.”

    When Jack says nothing, Irina acknowledges that she has overstepped her bounds and apologizes. But Jack has decided to engage in this dialogue.

    “You were right. Although our marriage contract was founded on fraudulent pretenses, it’s still valid until it’s annulled. Which means, technically, we ARE still married.”

    Any number of conclusions can be drawn from the fact that he looked up this information, but, one way or another, Jack is admitting that he now has some chips in the game.

    “Jack? Thus far I’ve agreed to be debriefed only by Sydney. From now on, I’m willing to talk to you too.”

    -Come undone

    The repercussions of Vaughn and Sydney’s growing intimacy are coming into stark relief. When paths cross in the bar scene, the awkwardness of their glances goes beyond the simple embarrassment of having to manufacture new pretenses. And, in Mikro Self-Storage, when Sydney once again interrupts Vaughn’s imminent explanation, the forced conversation that ensues is simply painful to watch.
    What a fascinating and brave decision on the part of the writers to take us through this discomfort and allow us to experience this evolution in its entirety. We completely appreciate the depth that characters gain when we are permitted to follow their decisions from conception to consequence.

    -Agency within The Agency (i.e. Will’s free will)

    Again with character decisions. We love that, if Will does in fact become employed by the United States government, it will be of his own volition. Had he been summarily placed in service after his extraction, his involvement would have been contrived. By watching him prove himself to the Agency, he demonstrates his competency to us and removes the transition’s potential status as a gimmick.
    As far as Will’s role in this episode, we liked the way that the bar scene played off his curious glances as he watched Sydney and Vaughn’s stilted interaction. It was a nice move, throwing Sydney a rope with an excuse to jump ship.


    -The opening recap was nicely edited and put to some pretty impressive music, but we aren’t entirely sure why it was so lengthy. All episodes clearly affect subsequent ones, but this intro didn’t seem to possess the same segue-worthy relevance that others have in the past.

    -We aren’t entirely sure what purpose Sark’s torture was meant to serve. If Sloane simply intended to put Sark in his place, it would have certainly been effective, though somewhat excessive. Otherwise, it didn’t seem that Sark revealed anything that he wouldn’t have disclosed in normal conversation.

    -It made us strangely uncomfortable to see Vaughn watching Jack and Irina as we pull out of their final meeting. It may have been intended as a clever transition or as a nice repetition of the opening scene, but it came off as disturbingly voyeuristic.


    -In an episode preoccupied with back-stories, the reference to Jennings Aerospace was a nice touch.

    -The contrast between Sydney’s gleaned comfort and the Bristow’s brutal counter-attack nicely underscored the perfect irony of their family dynamic. And Will’s comment (“Yeah, my parents and I sorta went through the same thing.”) was hysterical.

    -Sloane’s “That’s my boy” look when Jack matches wits with Miss Ariana Kane was unbeatable. But, it is such a foregone conclusion to him that Jack isn’t behind the blackmail that the fact that Jack has continually betrayed him to the CIA suddenly seems tragic.

    -We loved how much fun Marshall had with his cover story, and the absurdity of the Sphinx photograph was so... Marshall.

    -“In our line of work we can’t just cry foul when things don’t go our way.” What can we say? We just liked this line.

    -The way the symphony blended into Sydney and Marshall’s London mission was a brilliant diegetic effect. It created a wonderful fluidity.

    -“The illusion of freedom is better than none at all.” This is not the first time that a reference to the importance of illusions has been made between Jack and Irina.


    -A slight modification of format, as we end most acts this episode and, more interestingly, the final cliffhanger on a character other than Sydney.

    -Jack’s Proposal

    Jack makes an interesting offer to Irina: confess and be set free. It’s a strange proposition to a woman whose imprisonment is the product of her own designs. But what can Jack gain from this gesture?
    If Irina accepts, either her plan has somehow been rendered invalid, or her intentions never hinged on her placement in the CIA and she is lying to secure her freedom.
    The fact that, ultimately, she chooses not take the offer does not prove that she has ulterior motives, but since Jack assumes she does, what it should signify to him is that her plans are still on track if not on schedule.

    -Meta dramatic irony

    It was not only unnerving to witness Irina regain her predatory edge in the hyper-surrealist fly scene, but to watch Sydney observe her mother with such absolute obliviousness was unsettling. While we are reminded by visual techniques, Sydney simply cannot see the danger of being caught in this woman’s web. However, our sight is clearly limited as well.

    Zero and E.
  2. Azhria Lilu

    Azhria Lilu Rocket Ranger

    Nov 18, 2002
    Derbyshire, UK
    As always, very good review! (y)

    I agree. I hope she will guest star again :)
  3. vaughneya

    vaughneya Rocket Ranger

    Dec 6, 2002
    san jooooose, cali
    i didnt like ariana kane, i thought she seemed a little predictible.... but again, she did do a good job
  4. Intel

    Intel Rocket Ranger

    Jan 12, 2003
    Thannks for that review, still good as ever :)

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