In the eleventh episode of the first season of Alias, ALL YOUR FAULT. ALL OF THIS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias.
How do you tell the truth in a world built on lies?
I’m becoming more and more fascinated with the way Alias twists around the concept of honesty. Indeed, this is a universe built on subterfuge, and it’s impossible to ignore that. Sydney is living two sets of double lives; her father lived a multi-layered existence as well. So what exactly does it mean to tell the truth? What cost is paid to be honest?
Look, I generally don’t like miscommunication or misinformation as a plot device. And it’s kind funny to me that Alias manages to get around this preference of mine because a later Abrams show would use it far too often. (Some of those narrative-delaying episodes/plots were SO AGGRAVATING on LOST.) Here, though, the act of not knowing creates tension. What exactly is the truth about Sydney’s past and her messed up family? Was her father really an agent for the KGB? To make matters more complicated for her, Sydney has finally made significant progress in her relationship with Jack Bristow, so much so that she is ACTUALLY HESITATING ON TURNING HIM IN TO THE CIA. Which is a huge change, given how ready she was to turn on him!
That struggle, though, is emblematic of a pattern I’m seeing in this first season: Sydney has been given a complex puzzle to solve, and for every piece she adds to her collection, the puzzle doesn’t get closer to completion. It simply gets larger. It’s not just within the parental relationship that this applies. Even if you examine the twisting plot that follows Anini Hassan, the concept of the truth still works as a narrative device. How much can Hassan trust Jack when he offers to turn on SD-6? How much can they trust him to provide the information they need? WELL, NOT ENOUGH BECAUSE HOLY SHIT, HE NEARLY GETS SYDNEY KILLED. (I was pleased, though, that in the end, that gross dude who LICKED HER FACE was the one to perish in the destruction of Hassan’s weapons cache.) Thus, they learn the cost of the truth: Hassan wasn’t willing to offer the CIA the truth until he got what he wanted. AND HE ACTUALLY GOT WHAT HE WANTED, FOR THE RECORD.
Yet the major struggle here concerns Sydney’s relationship to the truth. Once more, she’s faced with the endless complications of lies. Dixon succeeds at his mission at the expense of the CIA because SYDNEY CAN’T TELL HIM THE TRUTH. So he still thinks he’s doing good when he just helped SD-6 get closer to acquiring Hassan’s weapons, all because Sloane wants to get revenge. I HATE SLOANE, NO ONE IS SURPRISED. Ugh, that whole line where he said that they’d never know how Hassan died was HORRIFYING. He casually lies all the time? AND IT’S SO EASY FOR HIM? Has Sloane ever told the truth???
Okay, so I’m exaggerating. But when it comes to Sydney and Jack, this episode really felt like a monumental struggle. Sydney had a strong emotional reaction to Vaughn revealing the decoded Cyrillic messages, and I GET IT. I get that her missions with Jack are giving her these tiny chances to reconnect and understand someone who has largely been a stranger to her. So her hesitation isn’t out of character; it’s her trying to decide how much time she needs before she participates in turning him in. Because she was going to turn him in. I didn’t doubt that. Sydney is a deeply moral person, so I never felt like she was conflicted on the fact that her father had done something terrible. That’s also not why Vaughn revealed that his own father had been killed by Jack. That was Vaughn’s attempt to show Sydney that this was deeply personal for him, too! Both Sydney and Vaughn lost their fathers at a young age, so to speak. But Sydney’s is still around, and Vaughn’s reveal is his reminder of that.
So yeah, I was not ready for that final scene, despite that I had assumed that Jack might have had an explanation for the coded messages. I JUST DIDN’T EXPECT THAT IT WAS SYDNEY’S MOTHER. Y’all!!!!1 WHAT THE FUCK. I can already see how many gaps this might fill in, but still. This show pulled the rug out from under me and then set the rug on fire and everything’s burning and HELP.
The video for “The Confession” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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