In the fifteenth episode of the second season of Alias, we learn just what the show’s refocused narrative means. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias.
Well, the shape of Alias makes a lot more sense to me now. It would be interesting to get some sort of flashback to detail exactly when Arvin Sloane began to extricate himself from the Alliance, when he began to realize that he could do what he wanted on his own. Indeed, Alias long ago told us outright that Sloane had no obsessions greater than his need to solve Rambaldi’s puzzle. It was a common motif across both seasons thus far, and now, we are seeing that plan actualized. This is now a show about Arvin Sloane unhinged, free from the Alliance, free from pretending he cares about his country, free from maintaining the lie that SD-6 is the CIA.
And what he does with that freedom is terrifying. The events that unfold over the course of “A Free Agent” make little sense to an outsider. If you watch my video commentary for this episode, you’ll notice that I kept harping on the same point: Why didn’t Arvin just ask Neil Caplan to work for him? Surely, he’s amassed a massive fortune at this point. Why not free Caplan from his stressful and time-consuming job? Offer him tons of money? Allow him free time to spend with his family? Attract him to the project by appealing to his own scientific curiosity? That seems like it would require far less than kidnapping, right?
But the thought never seems to occur to Sloane. No, he jumps right to the most dramatic and violent option because he is a man who takes exactly what he wants. And when you’re used to theft, to force, to viewing people and things as obstacles, then you continue doing just that: you take. You steal. And there’s no one he is accountable to anymore! He does exactly what he wants, and that makes him all the more intimidating.
Yet freedom isn’t always a good thing. There’s a devastating parallel within this episode that contrasts how various characters have dealt with the dissolution of SD-6. The CIA considers it a stunning victory; Marshall is viewed as a technological hero and marvel. And then there’s Dixon. Look, I expected that when he learned the truth, his story would be the most upsetting. To watch someone so pure and good discover that they’ve been contributing to something so horrible was DEVASTATING. It was the one thing I wanted to see after the events of “Phase One.” How would Dixon’s life change?
YEAH, THIS IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED EVEN THOUGH I EXPECTED EVERYTHING TO BE UPSETTING.
But I understood this. Dixon made a conscious choice to tell his wife the truth because his professional life had been nothing but lies. It is incredibly within his characterization to do this! After so much time within a massive deception, the last thing he wants is to perpetuate it with his wife, despite that he had to lie before because of his job. It’s a horrible situation, but at least Dixon tried to do what he thought was best. Unfortunately—but completely understandably—his wife saw things differently. And I’ll just repeat what I said on video: this all just gave me a new reason to despise everything about Arvin Sloane. He ruined Dixon’s life. It’s hard to see the destruction of the Alliance as a purely good thing when some of the ramifications of its dissolution are just so wretched. Can Dixon give up an offer from the CIA or give up on his family? The answer might seem obvious—DUDE, YOUR WIFE AND KIDS ARE IMPORTANT—but what else could Dixon possibly do? Is he trained to do anything else? His life has been so heavily wrapped up in the world of espionage that it’s hard to imagine anything outside of that. I
I FEEL A LOT OF THINGS ABOUT DIXON.
I also worry about just how far Sloane will go. This episode ends on such a frustrating note because Sloane has no one checking him. He can spite as many people as he likes because that’s what he does, you know? So the idea that he’s willing to sacrifice all the people within a block of that bank isn’t outlandish to him; it’s a price to be paid for getting in his way. Taking Sydney as his driver is insurance, too, but I’m guessing he wants to taunt her more. I say that based on his phone call to her on her graduation day. He still thinks he gets to feel betrayed, despite that HE is the one who lied to Sydney and so many others. His entitlement is RIDICULOUS. So I’m preparing myself by expecting the worst. I’M SCARED, Y’ALL.
The video for “A Free Agent” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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