In the nineteenth episode of the second season of Alias, HELP. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias.
Trigger Warning: For talk of racism (specifically anti-blackness) and fridging/misogyny.
Goddamn it, I WASN’T READY AGAIN.
I have a thing I’m gonna get to at the end that made me upset (and not in the entertaining), but I do want to say that, for the vast, vast majority of “Endgame,” I was thrilled and entertained. This episode deals with the fallout from “Truth Takes Time,” and y’all know I LOVE when fiction addresses consequences, complicity and the complexities that come with that. WHICH IS THIS WHOLE EPISODE. It’s framed both as a revenge story for Arvin Sloane as well as a story of Sydney’s dedication to saving Caplan from Sloane.
So, where the hell do I start with all of this? It’s hard for me to care on any level what Sloane actually feels about anything. I’m sad that a complicated character is gone, and I’ll touch on the implications of that at the end of this. But am I sad for Sloane? Not in the slightest. The dude is reaping what he sowed for LITERAL years. Sloane is only interesting in the way he affects the plot. Here, he temporarily (and I assume it’s a temporary thing, as I see no reason for him not to continue his pursuit) abandons his obsession with Rambaldi in order to find out which member of the CIA shot his wife. And it’s fascinating to me that Sloane views this through such a singular lens, though it’s not surprising at all. He still finds ways to justify his life and his choices, and thus, he is the one who has been wronged here. He divides the world into that kind of binary understanding because it’s always worked for him.
Plus, his dedication and pettiness fuels this revenge quest of his. I’m curious if Irina or Sark will blame their loss of Caplan on this exact aspect of Sloane’s personality. Was he distracted? Do they see that as a possible explanation for how the CIA was able to find the facility they were working in? Or does it even matter anymore? Did they get the specific person they were looking for? (I’m operating under the assumption that Irina wasn’t lying when she said that they needed access to the database in order to find one person’s DNA.)
While the revenge plot unfolds, I kept hoping that something would distract Sloane so that he wouldn’t discover that Dixon was the one who shot his wife. BECAUSE HASN’T DIXON BEEN THROUGH ENOUGH LATELY. For a moment there, I thought Sydney’s relentless pursuit of Irina, Sloane, Sark, and Caplan was going to keep Sloane away. It was convincing enough! Which isn’t to suggest that this is the only reason that this plot existed. I think it’s an important examination of the dynamic between Sydney and her father within the workplace. A good part of the conflict is between the two of them. AND OH LORD, IT’S SO RICH AND DENSE. Look, I was surprised that Caplan’s wife, Elena, was revealed to be a KGB agent much like Irina. Sent to infiltrate America through Caplan and to pass along what she learned of his research, she hit way too close to home for Sydney and especially Jack.
It made a lot of sense that he’d have a far more brutal and conservative take on Elena. He was just tricked and betrayed by Irina, so it’s not even like this brought up old wounds. THE WOUND IS STILL FRESH. But Alias constantly deals with emotional bias, especially since this job is so intensely tied to these people’s lives. Jack and Sydney can’t ever separate the two, you know? So, earlier this season, the writers explored Sydney’s connection to her mother and her strange journey towards a possible reconciliation. That meant that we saw both Jack and Sydney having to acknowledge how difficult it was for either of them to interact with her.
CUE THIS EPISODE, WHICH FEATURES JACK BEING ALL STUBBORN AGAIN EXCEPT…. oh god, what if he’s right? What if Elena is a plant? What if it’s all a trick? It’s not even like Elena is a mystery like Irina; she flat-out admitted who she was and what she’d done. Therefore, it’s really not that hard to see why Jack reacts as he does, why he refuses to let Sydney pursue Caplan to save him. At the same time, I absolutely get why Sydney behaves as she does. EXTRA BONUS: Sydney’s own stubbornness leads to perhaps my favorite alias of hers EVER. She changed in the BACKROOM STORAGE ROOM OF A RITE AID AND TURNED HERSELF INTO A SORORITY GIRL. I just!!!! HOW DID WE GET BLESSED WITH SUCH PERFECTION!
So, look. This episode was incredibly tense throughout, and I’m a huge fan of how tightly plotted “Endgame” was. In that context, it’s brilliant. It’s not easy to have a character-dense episode also feature an exciting plot, so bravo on that front. However, the tragic ending of this episode isn’t just cruel. I wouldn’t have nearly the same problem with Diane’s death without some history/context. It makes sense from the perspective of Sloane’s characterization. That man is precisely as evil as he is presented here, and I did not doubt that he would have Diane murdered because Dixon fired the shot that killed Emily.
However, this is now the second black woman killed off on this show, and she was killed by the other black woman left on the show, who isn’t even the same character anymore either! At this count, that also means we’ve got three women murdered in order to advance the stories of men: Francie (for development around Will), Emily (for Arvin Sloane’s development), and now Diane, who will inevitably be tied to Dixon’s role in Alias. And I’m not trying to present myself as an expert on this specific phenomenon. I had to have this sort of pattern pointed out to me years and years ago, and now that I’m aware of it, it’s hard not to see it. One of the reasons Dixon was so compelling as a character was BECAUSE he had a family. Plus, we were finally getting to explore Diane in depth!
Seriously, though: Arvin Sloane is THE WORST.
The video for “Endgame” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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