Mark Watches ‘Alias’: S02E20 – Countdown

In the twentieth episode of the second season of Alias, EVERYTHING IS SAD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias

Trigger Warning: For discussion of grief, suicide.

There have been a lot of episodes this season with parallel storylines in them, and it really is one of my favorite things in episodic television. This time around, Alias focuses on loss and grief in two very different people, one whom it’s pretty much impossible to feel any sympathy for at all.

Let’s start with Sloane and the Rambaldi arc, since there’s less of it than there is of Dixon. Look, I am just lost at this point. I don’t get how Rambaldi could have known any of what he knows, and I don’t understand how his artifacts fit into a greater picture. And perhaps that’s the point! It’s easy to take my confusion and project it on Sloane’s character, who feels like his obsession with Rambaldi isn’t worth it anymore.

It’s telling, of course, that after murdering countless people and ruining more lives than he can remember, it takes the murder of his wife for Sloane to finally question the path he’s taken. Thirty years, y’all. And he didn’t doubt himself once during all of this? OKAY, DUDE, WHATEVER. Again, it’s hard to actually relate to him after he’s caused such misery in others. But while Dixon is spiraling downwards from the murder of his wife, Sloane is making a journey of his own out of grief, too. That journey takes him to Nepal, where he tracks down someone named Conrad in a monastery. It’s almost comical that some mystical dude named CONRAD is the only white person in a monastery in Nepal. LIKE… YOU’RE BARELY TRYING, ALIAS. Of course, there’s a part of me that feels as if Arvin would be the kind of person who would change the trajectory of their life because another white dude told him to. RIGHT. THIS IS SO REALISTIC.

The issue here, though, is that the writers deliberately keep us ignorant of the context that we need to fully understand Sloane’s journey and his current predicament. All we know is that thirty years prior, Conrad showed Sloan something that convinced him to abandon the CIA, join SD-6, and pursue the Rambaldi artifacts. Now, in the aftermath of his wife’s death, he questions this path… only to be shown a manuscript that Conrad hid THIS WHOLE TIME that reveals Sloane’s next step.

Some questions, y’all.

  1. WHAT THE FUCK DID THAT ONE GUY HAVE IN HIS CHEST? I can’t remember his name, but it’s not like there’s another person it could apply to. That heart looked… impossible. And yet, there it was, still beating, still working, despite that it was in a briefcase.
  2. How was Rambaldi able to predict disasters? This episode’s conflict hinges on the CIA reaching the device that was in that man’s chest out of fear that it will spark an apocalyptic event.
  3. What is on that manuscript, and why is it so important? DID IT CAUSE THAT LIGHTNING? WHAT DOES THIS FUCKING MEAN?

This show is a lot.


Admittedly, this was hard to watch. I still feel better about Diane’s death, and this doesn’t necessarily change it. At the same time, I was glad that Carl Lumbly finally got something meatier and more complicated to work with for his character. He’s the focus of “Countdown,” from his struggle after Diane’s wake to his overreaction on the job to that RIDICULOUS CONFRONTATION AT THE END. It’s an impressive portrayal on the part of Lumbly’s part, and he throws himself into this character. Which is one of the reasons that this is a challenge to witness! I could feel Dixon’s grief throughout “Countdown,” and I ached as he made poorer and poorer decisions. The man needed help, and while I could tell that he wanted it, he also needed to do whatever he could to bring Sloane to justice himself.

And it’s that last point that brings him to such a destructive place. Sloane took away Dixon’s wife. His best friend. His support system. His family. Without this anchor, he is adrift, and the writing and acting truly give us a sense of that, that Dixon literally doesn’t know how to live a life without Diane. Thus, he toys with suicide; he lashes out violently towards anyone who might know where Sloane is; he lies to the CIA and compels Sydney to do so as well. IT’S A MESS, but it’s an understandable one.

I’m glad that Dixon chose to live. I really am. I think I would have been inconsolable otherwise. (Seriously, that would have been dark as HELL, as well as unfortunate for other reasons.) But I also want more depth given to him. Where does he go after this? Will we see his kids again? We aren’t given a sliver of a possible storyline after this, you know?

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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