In the second episode of the first season of Alias, Sydney has her first double-agent mission, and it goes SPLENDIDLY, meaning EVERYTHING IS A MESS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias.
Oh, this was a great way to give us an idea how this show is going to work. Obviously, that could change over the course of these five seasons. Lord knows I just finished watching a show whose story was wildly different by the time I got to the end of it. (I miss you so much, Person of Interest.) But LOOK AT WHAT IS IN THIS EPISODE ALONE.
I feel like there’s no one who knows me who also doesn’t know that I love heists SO VERY MUCH. They are my bread and butter, my oxygen, and I am deeply, deeply enamored with watching them executed. (Y’all don’t even know my joy over Ocean’s 8. DON’T EVEN KNOW.) Now, I’m not going into this expecting that every episode will involve some sort of extraction, but holy shit, THERE ARE THREE OF THEM IN THIS EPISODE. And the structure of “So It Begins” allows the story to leap from one thrilling moment to another! I love that because it doesn’t feel like what you would expect from a television show. Plots are resolved here, but they bleed right into another element of the story. It’s less episodic and self-contained, which means Sydney’s and Dixon’s attempt to steal those files wasn’t the sole story here. We also get her disarming a nuclear bomb IN A GRAVE and she infiltrates a secret base in Cairo. All in the same episode!
Oh god, this story is so rich for potential. I can already barely deal with the tension that exists in all the SD-6 scenes because the audience knows the truth: Sydney is a double agent. So, I’m looking for meaning and danger in everything. Exactly who does SD-6 work with? Do they suspect anything? Is there any significant meaning to Sloane’s lingering gaze on Sydney’s father when he lies? Is Dixon gonna learn the truth? What about Marshall?
But this isn’t the only thing the writers have to exploit. Sydney is somehow still trying to manage to have a “normal” life as a woman in her 20s, and even that is already being stretched at the seams. Do her friends suspect anything? Maybe so, but it’s only Will who inches towards the truth, only to pull away when he thinks he’s hit a nerve. Well, he did, but not in the way that he expected. Will is only interesting as a character as much as he’s a way for the show to build up Sydney’s characterization. On his own, he’s not quite as compelling. It’s obvious he has a crush on Sydney, one that she does not reciprocate, and this fuels his need to do something for her. It’s also how he discovers that Danny had a flight to Singapore booked for the same night. Yet it is in this moment that Sydney comes up with a compelling lie, which both deflects Will and pushes him to stay away from investigating Danny. And this is what she has to do all the time! It’s why she’s so good at her job! She becomes a believable version of herself in a split-second, and she uses it to navigate a thorny situation.
I somehow believe that this won’t be the first time we’ll see this with people in her personal life.
It was a bold choice for the resolution of “Truth Be Told” to be given to us, only to lead to a second plot—the location of a seventh nuclear bomb hidden somewhere on US soil. It’s in this that once more, I was surprised because, in the eyes of the CIA, Sydney failed. And it’s hard to argue with that when we learn, along with Sydney, that because she called SD-6 to help diffuse the bomb, she alerted them to its existence, and they sold it to an arms dealer in Egypt. It’s also the first significant bit of evidence of what it is the SD-6 does that’s so terrible. Given that we still don’t know what the Alliance is, it helps to know that they’re telling their agents that they’re stopping crime while actually causing it. Thus, both Sydney and Vaughn, the CIA agent who she had previously reported to, are reprimanded for this. IN THE SECOND EPISODE. And I genuinely didn’t expect that! Sydney has to navigate the internal politics and procedures at two different organizations, and we just saw how that will forever be complicated. At times, she’s going to have to make a choice, and that choice will have ramifications for the other side.
Which is why I desperately need to know more about Sydney’s father. His past is still a mystery to the audience and—apparently!—to Sydney herself. I understand why he’s been so secretive, but we’ve now seen multiple instances in which he’s been willing to do things to reach out to his daughter. Why not before? Did it take her life being threatened for him to finally become involved? Or—as I suspect—has he been involved in other parts of her life, but he never revealed him? Regardless, I’m glad the show isn’t having Sydney immediately and completely forgive the man, nor is she opening her arms to him either. It’s going to take time and demonstrable acts of favor for Sydney to feel like she can trust him again. Is it possible? Maybe, but I also need to know more. SO MUCH MORE.
Also WHO TOLD THIS SHOW IT COULD HAVE A CLIFFHANGER IN THE SECOND EPISODE. Rude!
The video for “So It Begins” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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