In the fifth episode of the first season of Alias, I can barely fathom just how fucked up this is. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias.
Well, first things first: there was clearly a super obvious way to get Patel to buy his surgery: just tell him he had heart problems and needed a Pacemaker installed! OKAY, SO YES, THAT TAKES CARE OF THAT. It is just one moving part in about a THOUSAND that all comes together in the ridiculous set of chase sequences that comprised the extraction of Patel. Y’all, I still feel a little weird about the pacing in “A Broken Heart,” BUT I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT HERE. This is a breathless, relentless episode that leans heavily on the nature of duality within Alias, and it’s SO SATISFYING. Of course, before we even get to the Schiller plot, I had a lot of fun with “Doppelgänger,” as the whole ambulance sequence was WAY TOO MUCH for ONE PERSON to deal with. (Me. I’m talking about me.)
I’d argue that it was vital for another reason, though. We needed to see how well Sydney and Dixon worked together. We needed to see that even amidst a fucking nightmare scenario, they had one another’s back. It’s evidence that they’ve been partnered for years, that they understand one another and their strengths, that these two people are real friends! It’s why it makes perfect sense that Sydney wouldn’t even balk at inviting Dixon to her Halloween partner or why he would say he loved her without hesitation. It builds to the crux of the problem within “Doppelgänger”: should Sydney tell Dixon the truth? He’s loyal and supportive. He cares deeply about Sydney. HE TRULY BELIEVES HE IS WORKING FOR THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT. But is it worth the risk? Can they all risk bringing another person into the fold? Obviously, I WANT THIS TO HAPPEN because one of my absolute favorite tropes in the universe is watching people learn about the BIG SECRET THING that has been happening all around them. (Like Fusco on Person of Interest.) But y’all, this is not exactly the same circumstance as the show I just finished watching. The risk is different here because Sydney is a double agent. She has multiple goals operating at any given moment, and the balancing act she puts on is half the goddamn suspense.
Of course, it’s heartbreaking watching her lie and deceive him because he’s just such a pure character, you know? I don’t see a bad bone in his body (PLEASE DON’T LET HIM BE DECEIVING ME, I WOULD BE SO HEARTBROKEN AND EMBARRASSED), and what he’s tricked into doing… GOOD GOD. But that’s one thing I admire for the writing of this episode. There’s so much commitment to the horrors of this job. It’s not just Dixon’s complicity in murder (more on that in a second). Look what Jack does with Kelvin, the CIA doppelgänger used to secretly swap out with the real Schiller. THAT ISN’T FAKE. He breaks his arm!!! To make the con believable!!! WHAT THE FUCK, IT IS DONE SO CASUALLY, HELP ME, I’M NOT READY FOR THIS SHOW.
It’s that same casual nature that makes the final scene of this episode so disturbing. After getting a chance to meet the CIA team involved in the bait-and-switch, we watch in horror as Dixon excitedly pulls out a back-up detonator and blows up the lab with the CIA team in it. And he has no idea what he’s done. The real inhalers were destroyed, actual CIA agents were killed, and he helped make the world worse.
So is it worth it to keep him in the dark? Because this is the cost of keeping him ignorant: he will unknowingly and gleefully work against the CIA’s best interests all while thinking that he’s employed by them. IT HURTS, Y’ALL. IT HURTS SO MUCH.
Which leaves me with Will. I said this during the video for the episode that I love that we get to see Will and Francie be friends independent of Sydney, which supports the notion that they’re an honest-to-gods group of friends. They both give one another really good advice, too! Francie advises Will to stop pursuing information on David’s death against Sydney’s wishes because Will knows she is going to be immensely angry when she finds out. And I’ll echo Francie’s sentiment: SHE WILL FIND OUT. Then, Will helps Francie deal with her complicated feelings on Charlie. Y’ALL: WHAT DID CHARLIE ACTUALLY DO. We still don’t know!!!
But because Will is Will—tenacious, curious, and stubborn—he doesn’t follow Francie’s advice. I think my theory still holds: SD-6 set-up an entire identity for Sydney—Kate Jones—complete with another agent or a hired actress so that if anyone did any digging, they would discover that the story holds up. EXCEPT IT DIDN’T. AND WILL KNOWS THAT KATE JONES ISN’T A REAL PERSON AND THAT THE WHOLE STORY IS BOGUS AND WE ALL KNOW HE ISN’T GOING TO STOP PURSUING THIS.
Oh my god THIS SHOW.
The video for “Doppelgänger” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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