In the twenty-first and penultimate episode of the first season of Alias, this is too much for any one person to handle. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias.
HELP ME, HOW IS THERE STILL ANOTHER EPISODE THIS SEASON.
This is a masterwork in suspense, and the more I think about all the elements at play here, the more impressed I am. This required a slow burn, except… well, except for Dixon’s plot, NONE OF IT HAS BEEN SLOW. It’s like the only example of a season-long slow burn punctuated by LOTS OF RAPID BURNING ALONG THE WAY.
There’s a lot that crushed my heart here, first of all, and “Rendezvous” has brought us to a precipice with Dixon. And I know that’s gonna break my heart, too, perhaps more so than anything else here. Dixon adores Sydney, and unlike Will, he “knows” her. He works alongside her almost every day. He sees her work ethic, her morals, her loyalty. And now, after LITERALLY FIGHTING HER while she is in a (racist) disguise, the facade is starting to crumble.
Doubt is a powerful thing, y’all. What “Rendezvous” offers us is the chance to watch Dixon begin to question what he knows of the person he thought he knew all these years. I’ve wanted Dixon to know the truth for a while, but now that it’s happening? Oh god, I wish Sydney could have told him herself! This is the WORST way for him to go about it! But he can’t deny that twinge of recognition he felt fighting Sydney at the opening of the episode; he can’t ignore that Sydney’s arm is hurt in the same place; he can’t discard the fact that she is OPENLY LYING to his face.
This is gonna hurt a lot.
I was glad Vaughn provided the means for the text itself to say, “Hey, I get that this is very sad, but maybe we shouldn’t be feeling great Sloane.” I also can’t deny that while he’s the series’s main antagonist, he’s way more interesting because of “Rendezvous.” Certainly, I enjoy hissing or booing when he’s on screen. He’s easy to hate, and that’s generally made easier whenever he’s being weird or gross to Sydney. But Emily is, as far as I can tell, a truly innocent party in all of this. Sloane is part of a life where people are collateral, leverage, or obstacles, and there’s no room for ambiguity there. Unfortunately for him, that also applies to his wife. She broke SD-6 policy, and policy requires containment. It’s through Sloane’s deceptive work that he’s able to gain the Alliance’s favor, thus granting her an exception. But what an exception that is! We won’t assassinate you for knowing what your husband does, but that’s only because we control the hospital you will die in very shortly. EVERYONE WINS, right?
And it’s the type of brutality that is normal for the SD-6 and the Alliance, but which seems heinous to… well, ALL OF US. It’s with this understanding that the writers find a way to dig the knife in just a little bit deeper. I honestly cannot think of an example of a cancer remission reveal being the WORST thing that can happen, but here we are! The very thing Sloane worked for is now his curse because Emily might not die. Which means SD-6 will have to kill her. I don’t feel bad for Sloane—that scene where he expressed regret for having Danny killed was particularly gross and angering. He deserves to suffer, but it’s not fair that Emily is the collateral damage. So what the hell is Sloane going to do? Defy the Alliance? Does he actually care more about another human being over his work?
But let’s be real, y’all. NOTHING IN THIS EPISODE IS A GREATER SOURCE OF TENSION AND STRESS THAN WILL TIPPIN. I am still reeling from just how far this episode escalated this story line. I got used to the fake-out, the near miss, the many ways in which Will was kept away from knowing the truth. Even here, once we learned that Will’s whistleblower was having him meet in Paris, I didn’t think he’d learn the truth about Sydney. Even after he was outside: didn’t think it would happen. Even after he was in the same room as her: nope.
One of the reasons this plot hits so hard is that once Sydney reveals herself to Will, there is no slowing down. We are shown that this is exactly as big of a deal as we thought it was. Will witnesses Sydney in action—and what glorious action that is—as she saves him life from the people who have been stringing him along this entire time. Y’all, Khasinau was behind the calls to Will! I KNEW WE COULDN’T TRUST THEM. And it makes a certain bit of sense: why not take down SD-6–Khasinau’s main competitor at this point—through legal means? Plus, using Will adds a bit of cruelty to it all, right?
And yet, there’s a deeper meaning to this all. I adored that this was how Sydney got to explore her own isolation from her friends and the fear she had that Will would reject her. I mean, who could blame him? Once Sydney exposed her true identity to him, Will started to piece together all the inconsistencies in Sydney’s life. The constant trips. The injuries. The secrets. It’s all given a new context, and he had to have realized how much she had lied to him. So I get that she was terrified of this. It’s not easy in any sense to have to build a life that’s constructed on a secret. (Which, if you’ll allow a tiny bit of projection, is something I understand as someone who lived in the closet until I was 18.)
However, Sydney’s fears, while realistic, are unnecessary, and WOW, I WAS READY TO BAWL WHEN WILL TOLD HER THAT HE UNDERSTOOD. He offered her empathy! He tried to understand just how hard and complicated her life had been, and he didn’t chew her out once for lying!!! HOLY SHIT, I WAS SO EMOTIONAL DURING THAT SCENE?!?!?! It’s exactly what Sydney needed, sooooooo… yeah. I’m gonna be pissed if Sark really killed Will at the end of this episode. Also, could a nice thing happen??? Please?
Who am I kidding? The finale is next. I’m ALREADY freaked out.
The video for “Rendezvous” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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