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Season 2 "Rambaldi to fill the void"

Discussion in 'Alias' started by Alias_zerosum, May 20, 2003.

  1. Alias_zerosum

    Alias_zerosum Reviewer

    Dec 9, 2002
    “Second Double” and “The Telling” 05/04/03

    “Rambaldi to fill the void”


    -Buried and Revealed

    Allison’s arrival was overwhelmed by a subtle ruin, her presence marked by a slow-spreading decay. There was an inevitability inherent in her dormancy and, in her wake, something was quietly extinguished, a reflection disrupted. As hollow as the void she filled, it seemed impossible that she might surface in any semblance of a human being, that the callousness of her transgressions would not drown her. But, like many before her, she borrows her humanity from a stolen identity, and even as all to which she acted catalyst comes crashing down, she is salvaged by the vestiges of her past.
    A. G. Doren. The weight of a name, even in a world overflowing. Every alias a window to the past, every past a key into the present. And it is the very person whom she has betrayed who christens her, who affords her a self as a casualty of Project Christmas. She was never Francie, nor was she anyone else. She was conferred nothing more than the barren role of a succubus in limbo. But, give her this name, give her this past and she is someone. Standing across from Sark, she is a strangely younger woman, somehow unfamiliar in her nuance. Put her in his presence, make her his peer and suddenly their history expands behind them. Hold an old photograph up to an expression of haunted recognition, make her just real enough so that we ask--what if?
    And now, in the present, we find that she has anchored herself to this ruse so resolutely that its boundaries begin to evade her. Twice she tries to free herself from the masquerade, twice laying her hands upon the neck of the one pretense of comfort this endgame has offered her. But when she must face him, when she must confront Will’s anguished question-- was it always you? -- there is a sudden ambiguity to her resolve.
    Merrin Dungey is utterly transformed. Playing a woman playing a woman who used to be the woman she played, she melts, her mechanical facade receding. From the blatant irony of a double’s skepticism to her unexpected overflow of grief, her shocking sobs of devastation as she both embraces and destroys the man before her, she is at once buried and revealed. When at last she stands at Sydney’s doorway, invoking the name of her mirror’s ghost, there is absolutely nothing to remind, nothing that alludes to the woman she once embodied. She is simply Allison Georgia Doren. And she’s tired of this game.

    -“If Rambaldi's right” (episode 01.17)

    Always already a subject, Sydney lived hostage to others’ back-alley whims, her fate scripted, scrawled across margins, lifted recklessly from empty pages. She spent the better part of twenty years living backwards, working tirelessly to fuse the fragments of her past into some semblance of a future. Over time, the pieces coalesced, converged to form a self-directed life, a patchwork existence fashioned from her mother’s echo. As she at last stepped from beneath the shadow of her splintered childhood, she emerged with two lives, irreconcilable identities each demanding tomorrow’s vow. She made her promise, chose Danny, chose to live with the lie exposed. But with a lie exposed comes truth and the truth changes everything.
    Her future irrevocably altered, the death of her fiancé swiftly unraveling her illusion of independence, she found the bedrock of her epistemology washed away by the very act of confession. All that she labored toward for seven years was devastated by an instant, the cruel revelation that she was the dismantler of her own ideal, that all she worked to know was false. A fraudulent past erased without consultation, the truth changed everything because everything was a lie.
    The more Sydney fought to resurrect the time she lent to SD-6, to reestablish a long-forsaken autonomy, the more she found her choices circumscribed by a life predetermined by man’s cryptic vision and intent. Her only idol is obliterated, transformed from a mother into a murderous unknown. Her father, too, must be reconceived, repositioned as another draftsman of her fate. And, even as she overcomes the manipulations that defined her origins and course, she slips deeper into the currents of Rambaldi’s urgings, her own designs usurped by an enemy’s intentions.
    The Alliance’s destruction is not enough to secure Sydney her freedom. Once more her success is illusory, prepared again by the back-alley men directing her life. An escape that promised liberation only offers fuel to feed her vengeance and she is soon consumed by the frustration of a briefly tasted end. And what they took from her was more than simple victory. In the night, they came and stole her home.
    Living in a moment of perfect ignorance, a lull in the swell and decline of worldly chaos, Sydney again spends a few moments jogging with Will. She has achieved some form of stability in her life, a renewed closeness with her friends, a maturing relationship with her father, the comfort and affection of a man who loves her, and a measure of distance from the man she hates. There’s so much promise here, the familiar potential of a life on the edge of change, planning a future with Vaughn, the man she loves. But when Will is arrested, taken from Sydney’s side, she struggles to vindicate him, a fierce loyalty making Will’s fraudulence an impossibility. Clinging to desperate optimism, she cannot bear the weight of another fallen friend. And so she risks all. And so she loses all. But the truth is, it was over the moment that Francie died.
    What else could she have done? Where else could she have turned but to her mother, who holds every unspoken answer? How can she reconcile the twistings of her myth with the vast uncertainties of an elected path? Does this battle rage on a dialectic field of play, where fate and free will collide as binaries, or is their interplay more subtle, painting the world in an unsounded ambiguity?
    As Sydney sinks into the pile of glass that litters her shattered home, as she at last submits to the exhaustion of so much trust and so much betrayal, she finally lets go, settles into the void of a future unhinged from her past. The eerie hiss of neon summons her from her rest, uncurls her beneath the red throb of a distant city. She awakens in a dream world of illegible words, intangible emblems of time marking her passage. As she awaits reality’s ghost, she surveys herself for some allusion to her travel, for anything that might lend testament to her presence. And as she traces the outline of her scar, Vaughn arrives.
    She embraces him, the truth not yet descended. But the fear in his eyes and the ring on his finger speak the reluctant and enigmatic truth: two more years of stolen choices, another life that is not hers, the final woman resurrected and returned.

    -Go Your Own Way

    From Will’s swift calculations over the phone as he frantically implores Sydney for absolution and exoneration, to his restless paranoia as he peers around the tightly drawn curtains of the false sanctuary of his hotel room, Bradley Cooper was absolutely phenomenal. Having been scarce the last few episodes, his appearance as a crucial player in this narrative was a vital reminder of how deep its workings run. Facing a miserable Sydney as she struggles to reminisce, to find some trace of her friend, Will seems so small and desperately cornered. Entreating Dixon for a measure of faith, he grows so devastatingly soft, so tragically helpless.
    Again he is a stranger in his own life, all certainties undone. A latent bitterness seeps into his words, his dialogue with Sydney expressing an unfamiliar antagonism. He has never before said no to her, never turned on her in any way. But as he clutches the receiver, refuses to hand himself over, for the first time he puts himself before her.

    “Syd, I love you. But I can’t-- I can’t trust you. Not anymore. Meeting you-- meeting you destroyed my life. You wanna help me? Prove I’m innocent.”

    For a second time he calls upon another woman, unable to accept Sydney’s aid. For a second time the woman he loves is unintentionally revealed, unmasked and exposed. There is such a breathless horror as he speaks his panicked warning, such a sense of anguish as he faces his betrayer. As he slips to the ground in Allison’s arms, perhaps his devotion will be enough to break his fall.

    -“Truth, like time, catches up and just keeps going” (Dar Williams)

    “Sydney, I know our relationship is complicated, but I’m your mother and I have to believe that would be the case under any circumstance.”

    Crouched on the ledge, looming above the nighttime street, we rise with Irina above the city, pull upwards as she stands, hands raised. Pointed lights glow beneath her, illuminating her strange farewell. Her daughter approaches, the sorrow of far too many small betrayals burdening her love. The answers laid before her, Sydney pushes forward, the recitation of empty threats drowning out a truth too great to consider.
    Irina is the enthralling fusion of myriad personas, of a thousand strange encounters, each honest in its own right. She arrived as a proficient assassin, the brutal apparition, The Man, head of a rising counter to Sloane’s Alliance. She leaves now as a broken mother, a wife lost to some greater end. Desperate to divorce this woman from the likeness of her mother, Sydney is crushed beneath the haunting promise of Irina’s love. But how long can she refuse the words she longed to hear?
    Irina jumps and for a moment everything freezes on the single thought that she might disappear into the darkness, that she might not have intended to return at all. Sydney flinches, dropping her gun with a sharp intake of breath, every other thought engulfed by the fear that her mother is lost.
    But as she falls, Irina is changed, transformed into her original incarnation. With unmatched ferocity, she carves her own escape, a spray of bullets punching through glass as she plummets. With an eerie patience, she waits for her ascent, reaches back, takes aim, and disappears within. With an incredible, operatic dance of vertical flight, Irina is gone.
    As she vanishes, leaving Sydney with her enigmatic smile one last time, the words reverberate... “My love for you, for your father, was not a contrivance.”
    But how many times are you willing to say goodbye?

    “Ultimately, you do whatever you want. That’s what free will is all about.”


    “I used to feel sorry for you. Could you sense it? That you’d been abandoned, left for dead and disgraced. I pitied you. That you needed Rambaldi to fill the void in your life. It was like a religion for you.”

    As Sloane casually takes a seat before him, a look of acid disbelief betrays Jack’s surprise for just a moment. But, his face quickly closes off entirely, hardened in disdain.

    “I’ve missed your poker face.”

    Jack greets their conversation with glaring condemnation, their first honest interaction in nine years. Sloane plays off Jack’s stoicism with an injured amusement, torn between the potential of tomorrow’s path and the grievances of yesterday’s.

    “So, there’s something I want you to know. I forgive you.”
    “Excuse me?”
    “Your betrayal of SD-6. I’m curious Jack, when exactly did our friendship end?”
    “The moment you recruited Sydney over my objection.”
    “Ah, I thought so. If I had known that decision would cost me our friendship and my relationship with Sydney, I would have done things differently.”

    Invoking their history, Sloane pleads for Jack’s return with an unnerving sincerity. It truly seems that he would have done things differently, that he wishes to make amends. He speaks of a renewed alliance with charged anticipation, exudes the ravenous fixation of a man driven by obsession.

    “Come back to our partnership, Jack. I will tell you everything I’ve learned about Rambaldi.”
    “An obsession I have never shared.”
    “Well, now’s the time to sign up. For years I collected his artifacts as if that was the point. I thought Rambaldi’s work was that window to the past. Today I am one move away form proving to you that it is so much more than that. And this time, Sydney won’t be a pawn in our venture. Jack, sit here for a while. Think about it.”
    “We will NEVER work together again.”
    “The thing of it is, you are going to work with me. Sooner than you think.”

    He leaves his friend in the venom of mutual betrayal, casts aside Jack’s disgust, his anger, his cold condescension with sapient insinuation. Sydney will no longer play the pawn. The very presence that anchored Jack will soon be the absence that haunted Rambaldi’s collectors, that drove them forward through anxious decades. Having relinquished his stubborn denial of his wife’s humanity, what will this man do? Living under an old friend’s ominous pledge, where will this man go? Left with a daughter’s kiss on his cheek, who will this man be?

    -The Reckoning

    The final fight was truly an epic battle. Incredible in scale, breathtaking in its flailing precision, it was a no-rules, no-holds, last-woman-standing war of skilled resolve. The build was absolutely tremendous, beginning with the quiet subtlety of their stolen glances as each feigns nonchalance. There is that moment of stillness in Sydney’s room, silence hanging on Allison’s command. DROP IT. The room explodes. Sydney launches herself, hurtling forward with an almost supernatural surge of power. Glass begins to shatter. She battles her way out of the bathroom, away from Will’s prostrate image. She dives over the counter, bullets and bodies flying. Her house becomes her weapon as she hurls a kitchen drawer, flings a cutting board, and slam’s Allison headfirst into a cupboard door. Gun unclaimed, the two women throw themselves at one another, Sydney’s home coming down from the inside. Seized by Allison, Sydney flies backwards, crashes through the final piece of standing glass, the last unbroken reflection. Groping through the wreckage, she grasps a single shard, lashes viciously at the face of enemy and friend. One. Two. Three. Eyes locked in terror, Allison falls. Sydney falls. Silence descends.

    -Kendall-- Showin’ suckas how it’s done

    We’ve got one more chance to sing our favorite refrain: Kendall’s exasperated wit and constant state of utter disbelief get us every time. He’s quite possibly the only character on the show who seems to realize just how preposterous things can get. And it’s never quite beneath him to comment.

    “Yeah, I know what legit means.”

    “And it didn't occur to you, Mr. Brandon, that a raid on an NSA facility-- “
    “I'm not at liberty to discuss the details of the Nevada raid.”
    “And I'm not at liberty to respect the way that you do business.”

    “Sloane may have most of the pieces to assemble this Rambaldi device, but I don't think he has them all.”
    “The Di Regno heart.”
    “If the NSA’s still got it.”

    Put him with Jack and he’s unstoppable.

    “What did you think, Jack? That I just forged a transfer order on CIA letterhead?”
    “You went behind my back.”
    “That's hardly unheard of in this office.”

    “You know, we can help each other. We don't have to be adversaries.”
    “I appreciate your magnanimity.”
    “Now you're just mocking me.”


    -There’s no drug like Provacillium.

    -There was something so spectacular about the way Allison’s arms extended from behind the cement pillar, a cigarette dangling from her fingers. We loved the way we followed the slow curl of her arm as she pulls her hand back to her body, the way the shot appraised her foreign stance as she, in turn, beheld Sark’s approach.

    -Ken Olin overshot his quota in the finale by one. Mr. Abrams lagged behind, producing but a single bare-chested man in the second installment.

    -There was something fundamentally absurd about Allison’s incredulity concerning doubles. As uncomfortable as the situation was, the way it played out was brilliant.

    -“Francie, I ended someone life... two people’s lives. I am a killer! ... I shouldn’t be yelling this.” The way Will cringes at his own tactless commentary is wonderful. He really shouldn’t be yelling that.

    -We just want to give a quick shout out to Government Issue high-water pants. There’s nothing like vulnerable ankles to break your spirit.

    -With high-profile guests such as Irina Derevko, Elsa Caplan, Will Tippin, and Mr. Sark, as well as various visitors (Jack and Sydney Bristow, Neil Caplan, Marcus Dixon, Marshall Flinkman, and Assistant Director Kendall), Irina’s holding cell was certainly quite the high-traffic, high-demand area. That’s what we call efficiency!

    -Sydney and Vaughn: Have two people EVER looked hotter walking into a building? You have to love the way they simply take over the room when they fall into step with one another.

    -Though Sydney and Vaughn’s relationship was somewhat overshadowed by the uncertainty of their reunion and the chaos that preceded it, Vaughn was once again the steadfast ally that he has always been. We take Santa Barbara as a promise. We’ll be waiting.

    -Jennifer Garner and Merrin Dungey’s fight performances were stunning. They imbued their standoff with an energy and skill that were truly exceptional. We’re still in awe.

    -“Not a problem. My loyalties are flexible." At least he’s honest. Sark really is quite the mercenary. He’s not easily fazed and this line was a classic: superbly nonchalant.

    -Drunken Vaughn™ has our vote as the next Alias action figure. There’s nothing better than a Frenchman wreaking havoc in Marseilles disguised as an inebriated American.

    -Don’t ask why, but we liked the shifty and mildly lecherous contact that met Sydney and Vaughn in the Berlin elevator. He was somehow entertaining. We were also fans of the squealing pants-man upstairs. Very strange. Very very strange.

    -Will’s failed abduction was reminiscent of another scene that Ken Olin shot quite some time ago. He seems to be a master of the finale-highway-nightmare, though we’re glad this show as another season in store.

    -Some principles of Alias that guided our thoughts
    1. You are who you pretend to be.
    2. You love whom you pretend to love.
    3. All women live two lives twice.
    4. Every man has walked to the brink of death, survived something he shouldn’t have, and every woman has gone a little further.
    5. The ones you don’t want to kill... you kill with knives
    6. Blood on porcelain destroys a home.
    7. Those who seek vengeance find destiny.

    Predictions are difficult. Especially about the future. (Niels Bohr)

    Have a lovely hiatus.

    Zero and E.
  2. Alias_Gay

    Alias_Gay Rocket Ranger

    Jan 27, 2003
    You kidding me ... you know how long this hiatus is gonna be ... its making me insane ... its an eternity ... :blink:

    I just need my dose of new "alias" now ... :blink:
  3. AliasHombre

    AliasHombre Rocket Ranger

    Mar 2, 2003
    its only 4 months more....not...that...long...
  4. Azhria Lilu

    Azhria Lilu Rocket Ranger

    Nov 18, 2002
    Derbyshire, UK
    Great as always. I posted something on the portal :)
  5. sydfan2323

    sydfan2323 Rocket Ranger

    Dec 22, 2002
    Thanks for the great review! I love to read them always and have a great summer!
  6. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    Worth the wait!
  7. Azalea

    Azalea Azy in Wonderland

    Dec 28, 2002
    the Ozarks
    Have you ever sent copies of these reviews to JJ Abrams and Co.? I bet they'd enjoy reading such intelligent and in-depth analysis of their own work. It would probably be flattering.....

    Anyway, awesome review! I was starting to aqcuire some patience about waiting for the premiere, but that's all gone now! You made me impatient again...:LOL: But I don't mind.
  8. SpyFam03

    SpyFam03 Scout

    May 18, 2003
    "Irina is the enthralling fusion of myriad personas, of a thousand strange encounters, each honest in its own right. She arrived as a proficient assassin, the brutal apparition, The Man, head of a rising counter to Sloane’s Alliance. She leaves now as a broken mother, a wife lost to some greater end."

    This is the perfect description of Irina. Each persona is vital and, somehow, completely believable. Her brutality is countered by such tenderness that it leaves us breathless. Each different aspect of her personality is vital to portray this woman that is both whole and incomplete. We all know what two people would fill this large but subtle void, for we can see that they are as incomplete without her as she is without them. Irina, Jack, and Sydney all see this, but a past as broken as their trust creates a chasm to and from each other. They are separated by circumstances but irreversably bound together.

    Never before have I seen a character cause such a great controversy. She is like a turbulent sea, causing ripples and disturbance that affect every character around her. Additionally, I have never before seen such a divided fan base. Everyone has their own ideas about her and, because of her many personas, each one is correct in some small way. We've know the woman all season, and yet we know nothing. However, amazing writing, directing, casting, and acting has made the journey to such undiscovery superbly satisfying.

    Thank you for such wonderful reviews. I always enjoy reading and pondering them. See you in a few months.

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