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Season 2 "Welcome to the CIA"

Discussion in 'Alias' started by Alias_zerosum, Jan 8, 2003.

  1. Alias_zerosum

    Alias_zerosum Reviewer

    Dec 9, 2002
    “A Higher Echelon” 01/05/03

    “Welcome to the CIA.”


    -Narrative Bravado

    This episode was ridiculously intense. The velocity of narrative movement, the sharpness of dialogue in an incredibly tight script, and the ever-present force of the beat fashioned an amplified tension that kept our eyes wide Clockwork-Orange-style for the entire hour. From the opening shot of the orbiting satellite, as we weave through the labyrinth of the server room and dive into the hard lines of communication, an audacious pace is set.
    Mr. Eisendrath crafted an immensely suspenseful story that in many ways had very serious implications but, at the same time, its quick wit and cleverness kept us laughing and allowed us to enjoy the idiosyncrasies of this universe. Jack’s haste to substantiate counterfeit evidence in his defense, his rushed handling of documents and strangely out-of-context objects, was spectacular, as was Kendall’s sarcastic “I just got off the phone with the director again, and he asked me, again, if I knew we were in the intelligence business.”
    This was some amazing storytelling.


    Despite the overriding tension, much of this episode is concerned with the reestablishment and maintenance of the status quo. The attempt to return Marshall to SD-6, the endeavor to sustain a balance of power by withholding Echelon from exterior organizations, and the effort to keep Jack’s secrets secret all strain to uphold a secure equilibrium. But, as much as it was about stability, its forward motion left Jack’s secrets exposed and placed countless situations in precarious stages. This episode is absolutely brimming with information and misinformation, so we can’t even say what we know, what we’ve learned, only that we’re waiting for the storm that’s been building for months.

    -The Intelligence Community has gone to seed (And there’s a grapevine a-growin’)

    Much of the communication in this episode is indirect, conducted through relay and surveillance. A disappearance of private space is manifest in the unchecked free-flow of information as circumstance and choice further intertwine these characters.

    Sydney finally sits down and talks with Francie on an intimate level and for the first time professes her attraction to Vaughn.

    “And he’s ... I don’t know how to describe him ... he’s smart, and he’s funny. He’s so cute.”

    The conversation is really quite endearing in its simplicity. Francie, once again voicing her concerns about Sydney’s “bank-job,” reminds us that she is one of the only character’s unaware of the her friends’ duality. Later, the news is passed on when Francie chats with Will. She quizzes him on his knowledge regarding this “Michael” fellow and Will, proving to be a loyal confidant, denies the acquaintance. The spread of information continues, however, when Will reports to the post office and seeks to clarify Vaughn’s intentions.

    “And what you guys have or don’t have means a great deal to her. I want to make sure you respect that.”

    Having once reacted jealously to Sydney’s personal affairs, Will now seems more interested in his friend’s happiness than in the possibility of a more physical relationship. And, though there was no direct encounter between Vaughn and Sydney regarding their relationship, a movement toward a future confrontation has been set into play.

    ~Access Echelon
    The sequence of intel-sharing regarding Quicksand is important if for no other reason than the fact that Jack is now willingly receiving information from Irina and disclosing it to the CIA. The chain of indirect communication is furthered with Sydney’s comment during her meeting with her Mother.

    “Dad fought for you on this. Don’t make him regret it.”

    The enigmatic smile that creeps across Irina’s face, as Sydney informs her of Jack’s growing acceptance of her role as an asset, is curiously intriguing.

    ~”But I do have secrets.”
    In one of the more spectacularly intense scenes, Jack faces the arsenal of Ms. Ariana Kane. Though she is clearly out for blood, her first shot seems easily parried, with Jack’s phone already on its way to CIA alteration. Ms. Kane’s second attack elicits a nearly undetectable moment of hesitation.

    “Who is Steven Haladki?”

    Jack’s answer is unfaltering, but anyone who knows what’s at stake cannot help but cringe. Inside the CIA van, surveillance of Jack’s ensuing revelation causes more than just surprise. Vaughn, distressed and distracted, is undoubtedly caught off guard, and the shock prohibits him from maintaining focus. Meanwhile, his partner makes a costly decision and, though it appears that Jack has successfully evaded exposure, the last, most minute detail fails to be perfect and the flaw is all Ms. Ariana Kane needs. Jack Bristow is hiding something. Sitting across from Vaughn as they make their exit, the two men exchange meaningful glances. Judgment, however, remains unspoken.

    ~”Do not turn on the lights.”
    In the final scene, Jack waits in the darkness, as if in quest of sanctuary. But as he hands Sloane the list of leads, Jack must know him well enough to suspect that he will relay the information to Ms. Kane.

    “Can I trust you to do that?”
    “Of course. This will stay between us.”

    Under heavy surveillance and with his status as an officer downgraded, this may very well be Jack’s best means of redirecting Ms. Kane’s suspicions and weakening her vigilance.

    -Operation: friend don’t need no help

    Okay, so maybe Marshall did need some help in the end, but he certainly didn’t need the assistance of the ABC promotions department. What we absolutely love about Marshall’s scenes is that, even in the most harrowing of moments, he never loses his sense of humor. Throughout, he was clever and brave, burying audacious pranks beneath a feigned ineptitude. How ingenious was his game of ping-pong, one-half clandestine signal and one-half classic arcade, a brazenly extended finger to our old friend Mr. Suit and Glasses? Marshall’s obligatory crazed defiance of the epoxy-wielding Taiwanese dentist was superb and absolutely gratifying. It was fantastic that, in the end, Marshall J. Flinkman was the one to save the day.

    -Here by my side

    Just a few episodes ago, Sloane was defending “his people” to Sark. Suddenly, blinded by his strange obsession with Echelon, he is willing to sacrifice his most loyal agent without hesitation or remorse. And, whatever Sloane’s suspicions lead him to believe about Jack, he has turned one of his oldest friends over to his ruin. It has been a while since we have seen Sloane so wholly unfeeling. The humanity that once seemed so inseparable from this man is beginning to erode and we are left to wonder if he can still believe that he is working toward some greater good... or if he ever did.


    -Watching Jack cover his tracks with a surly walk across the green screen and some zip-lock-sealed fingerprints was truly classic.

    -“Fran, you know how much that used to bug me, right?” Will takes over Sydney’s role of justifying the amount of loyalty she dedicates to her job and it’s good to hear Francie’s concern for Sydney’s well being again.

    -We love that Will’s cover is as a journalist. He’s a periodical boy through and through.

    -Will’s friendly banter with Vaughn is a nice light-hearted lead-in to the more serious tone he takes later on.

    -Dixon’s “I speak nine languages and Techno is not one of them” was hilarious. It’s good to see him back in action.

    -The coffee exchange was a magnificent relay of looks. From Kendall to Vaughn to Irina. She DEFINITELY takes her coffee black.

    -“It won’t always be like this, right?”
    “It will end.”

    From day to day, it is so easy to lose sight of hope amidst the chaos. It is absolutely crucial that Sydney believes that this will eventually all be over, that Vaughn continues to reaffirm her purpose. And it’s a beautiful moment, really.

    Zero and E.

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