Mark Watches ‘Alias’: S01E16 – The Prophecy

In the sixteenth episode of the first season of Alias, the ramifications of the newest Rambaldi document hit Sydney the hardest. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias

WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHOW BECOMING.

(If it’s not clear: I am absolutely fine with Alias shifting its own genre as often as it wants. JUST KEEP FUCKING ME UP.)

Sloane

I’m actually gonna start with this plot because I found it just as surprising as the Rambaldi storyline. There are just so very many antagonists and villains within Alias, given that Sydney works for the evil organization she was tricked to believe she was working against. So, within this framework, I found it refreshing that the show dropped us further into Sloane’s life to see how he navigates a world full of backstabbers, schemers, and traitors. Initially, that glimpse comes in a brief scene between Sydney and Emily Sloane. AND I NOW FEEL COMFORTABLE ENOUGH TO PROPOSE A THEORY. Y’ALL. Emily knows. Emily knows exactly what her husband does. And for a brief moment, she let that slip when she commented on how hard it must be for Sydney to do what she does. She covered pretty well, but Y’ALL. SHE KNOWS!!!!

Which presents us with an intriguing scenario. Why is it okay for Emily to know, but Danny could not? That contradiction makes up a small portion of what we see here, of course, since “The Prophecy” covers Sloane’s personal life in bits and pieces. I mean, it’s hard to imagine Sloane having friends—particularly in the Alliance itself—but even that is fraught with the secretive dynamic we’ve seen at SD-6. But the real surprise for me came in the eventual reveal that Edward Poole manipulated Sloane to his own end. On the one hand, Jack and Sydney have collectively been fooling Sloane for years now. But we hadn’t seen his own people turn against him! Watching him fall for the same horrific bullshit he’d perpetrated on others was oddly fulfilling, wasn’t it? He fell right into Poole’s trap and took out the only person who would have voted in favor of retaliating against The Man. AND HE DID SO WHILE WORKING FOR THE MAN THE WHOLE TIME.

I also found it surprising that The Man’s identity was revealed so casually. But I like it. His identity isn’t that important; watching Sloane get destroyed was BETTER.

Identity

I gotta admit that it’s risky for the writers to introduce the Rambaldi prophecy so early into the show because I know folks who are very particular about the genre stuff they watch. In short: they hate when they mix. They want their fantasy to stay within those boundaries; they want their science fiction to avoid magic; they don’t like combinations between genre and contemporary. I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. I adore the mixing of genre. (Which is one reason I’m digging the Young Wizards series over on Mark Reads; Diane Duane’s magical system is practically indistinguishable from science. AND THERE ARE ALIENS.) And the start of Alias gave me no indication that this show would get so strange, yet here we are. We have confirmation that Rambaldi’s 500-year-old manuscript contains a drawing of a woman who looks just like Sydney, that it describes a woman with three specific physical anomalies that Sydney also has, and that this woman’s anger will bring about something akin to the apocalypse. Which… maybe we do need a fresh start, JUST LET HER DESTROY EVERYTHING.

The script for “The Prophecy” is clever in that it uses this framework to explore what this prophecy means for Sydney. It’s remarkably intimate, in the sense that I felt like we were in Sydney’s head most of the time. Initially, it’s an absurdity! She just goes back on another mission because… well, what can she do? At the start, it’s just a drawing, and it’s entirely possible that Rambaldi didn’t mean her. But this episode brilliantly displays the creeping suspicion that comes over Sydney that something is terribly, terribly wrong about all of this. Oh gods, that moment where Sydney nearly slips into panic was WAY TOO AMAZING. (At least in one sense, since it LOOKED like how panic attacks manifest for me.) It’s so creepy!

It was also fun to watch because I could see tiny seeds of ideas that would later blossom in shows like LOST and Fringe. Which, interesting enough, are shows that combined genres, too! But I loved this because Alias managed to introduce a wildly ridiculous new story arc, but it was grounded by Jennifer Garner’s performance. We get such an incredible view of how Sydney struggles with this new reveal. She goes from intense annoyance with the DSR to acceptance of their tests because she just wants to know the truth.

BUT THE COST OF THAT DESIRE IS HER OWN FREEDOM. I just… how??? How is it possible that Rambaldi knew about her? WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT PROPHECY MEAN???

The video for “The Prophecy” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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