In the seventh episode of the second season of Alias, OH, NO, DON’T DO THAT AGAIN. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of racism, particularly yellowface.
I am really not sure what this is leading to. Will’s new job—as a research assistant to Vaughn—has led him down a bizarre path. Vaughn’s suspicion about state testing have now been confirmed. In 1982, questions that could trigger a government agency to seek out specific students actually appeared on tests and then were retroactively removed to cover-up evidence that they were ever there. And now that Vaughn was right… what next?
I see two possible storylines here. Either the KGB ran a recruitment effort in the states—which isn’t exactly relevant to the current storyline, since there is no KGB anymore. Or: I suspect that the CIA actually ran a program in the United States, and Vaughn is now uncovering that. If that’s the case, I feel like Will might be putting himself at risk again. THAT POOR MAN. Is he gonna continue doing research for Vaughn, or will this grow into something else? I DON’T KNOW.
I never suspected that Vaughn would actually die on this episode. He’s one of the few characters I believe (at this point) to make it to the final episode. (Including Sydney, Jack, and Marshall. Will they survive the series finale? WHO KNOWS.) Thus, there wasn’t much tension in this threat. He feels like a safe character. (Lord, I hope I don’t regret saying this later.) Most of the tension came from watching the first major heist in the episode. We know that the writers have allowed Sydney to fail at these, which means that at any time, she might not succeed on her mission. Case in point: “The Counteragent” shows us Sydney’s decision to take a major risk while trying to get an antidote for Vaughn. The cost of taking that risk, though, is that Sark nearly kills her and compels her to agree to work together… to hand him Arvin Sloane. Yet prior to this reveal, I was excited to see how Sydney would get out of that facility knowing that she’d tripped alarms. I CERTAINLY DID NOT EXPECT THIS RESOLUTION.
Y’all know I love that trope where enemies or rivals have to team up to fight an enemy they share, so this was LIKE THE AIR I BREATHE. It was surreal, compelling, and exciting to watch how Sydney navigated this! I was glad she told the CIA the truth about what had happened because it allowed the writers to really dig into the possibilities here. If Sydney went along with Sark’s plan, that meant they were handing over Arvin Sloane to the man who would kill him. Sydney would be directly responsible for the death of someone else. She’s indirectly caused deaths—like when Dixon had that secondary ignition last season—but this was not ambiguous at all. (I will say that while I am not really watching Alias for realism, it does feel like a bit of a stretch that Sydney hadn’t killed anyone in all those years. The CIA kills people all the time; why wouldn’t a shadow organization merit murder even more than that?)
Watching the debate over the worthiness of Sloane’s life was incredible, and seeing how they justified it—while keeping it under wraps from Kendall—was just as satisfying. And.
I don’t know if there’s any possible value in dissecting this kind of nonsense because it’s all so terrible anyway, but like… this was a bad disguise!!! It was certainly intensely racist and gross and no amount of internal reasoning could justify something so appallingly horrific, but also SHE LITERALLY LOOKED LIKE A WHITE WOMAN IN YELLOWFACE. She looked like herself! Somehow, Arvin looked her in the face twice and didn’t recognize this haphazard make-up job. And even saying that feels absurd because if the job had been good, it still wouldn’t validate this choice. Oh my god, she couldn’t have been anyone else? They don’t have any Asian people working at the CIA? YOU DON’T HAVE TO WRITE THESE PLOTS. YOU COULD HAVE SET THIS ANYWHERE ELSE AND GIVEN SYDNEY A REASON TO HIDE HER FACE FROM ARVIN. He could have gone to see a doctor instead—thereby granting the scene the same awkwardness because Sydney would see him with little clothing on—and NO YELLOWFACE HAS TO HAPPEN. Again, not a possible justification by any means, but it’s not like there’s an oversaturation of Asian women on this show. THERE AREN’T ANY AT ALL.
It’s a redundant point, I know. But wow, that was… bad. SO BAD.
The video for “The Counteragent” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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