In the first episode of the fourth season of Alias, what the HELL is happening??? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias.
Well… that was jarring, y’all. I actually am excited about the new direction of Alias because I tend to LOVE when a show can re-invent itself. (And for what it’s worth, that’s one reason I did love LOST, for all its excess and flaws. Each season was so distinct!) However, some of “Authorized Personnel Only, Part I” is confusing because of the jumps in the narrative.
So, let me start here: Why the hell is this out of order? There is virtually no reason for in media res; there’s no reason for some scenes in this episode to be shuffled about; and it makes no sense that the two major cliffhangers we were dealt at the end of season three are not addressed until the end of this episode. Why keep that from the audience? What narrative purpose does it serve? On the surface, it seems like this was done so that the writers could throw the audience in the deep end, which is not a bad idea! It was exciting to watch Sydney on a mission with God (IT TOOK ME FOREVER TO RECOGNIZE HIM), and then get dressed down by Director Chase, PLAYED PERFECTLY BY ANGELA BASSETT. In rapid succession, Vaughn and Sydney are out of the CIA, and we learn that it was all fake so that they could join a new black-OPs division of the agency. IT’S LIKE SD-6 ALL OVER AGAIN, except it’s legit. It’s such a cool concept! Gone are the bureaucratic oversights, and the team is re-united (minus Marshall and Weiss???), and they’re gonna kick ass doing… stuff? There isn’t an observable arc or Big Bad for this season yet, so I’m curious as to how they’re going to tackle this.
Of course, there’s a huge elephant in the room, and I’m not quite sure I buy this yet, but: Arvin Sloane. I get the basic idea of folding him into the CIA because he has contacts that he can use and he’ll have a good cover story, since he’s not officially employed by the CIA. But making him the person in charge of the main task force at APO? Y’all, that seems like a lot. I am like Sydney throughout this episode: I CANNOT FATHOM HAVING HIM BE IN CONTROL. It seems like such an awful, awful idea, even with the rest of the team keeping an eye on Sloane. He’s going to do them wrong? Like… I have no doubt about that at all??? But even if I were able to ignore that (I can’t!), there’s still a greater issue: Why would they put Arvin Sloane in charge of a team of people who have all been ruined by him? Dixon’s wife is dead because of him! He absolutely destroyed the lives of Vaughn, Jack, and Sydney, and now he’s their boss? That is just a bad organizational structure!!!
I’m not willing to give Sloane a chance, but these other people have to. It’s deeply, deeply uncomfortable, and I do appreciate that the writers don’t shy away from that. (Though part of it is the cast and the director, too, since there are SO MANY unspoken looks exchanged. THEY ARE ALL GREAT.
And speaking of looks: Let’s just acknowledge that Vaughn and Sydney gave one another MANY looks, and there is just so much CHEMISTRY between them. I was not surprised that the show didn’t just immediately stick them together between seasons because they both had a lot of shit to deal with. That’s especially the case with Vaughn, and I’m glad that they didn’t have him suddenly forget about SHOOTING HIS WIFE, who was an EVIL DOUBLE AGENT. At the same time:
WHICH THEY DO! And some more! While it’s an important moment in their tortured relationship, it doesn’t feel victorious. It’s messy, complicated, and emotional, and if that isn’t a summary of Vaughn/Sydney as a whole, I don’t know what is. Yes, they didn’t exactly take it slow, but they’re going to have to examine their own histories and trauma in order to make this work. It’s not just a matter of having cathartic sex, you know? THERE IS SO MUCH WORK TO BE DONE. The same can be said of Sydney’s relationship with Jack, but I can’t really comment on that until I know what the HELL that file says. It’s bad enough that Sydney and Jack are not talking, Jack is ferrying messages through Vaughn, and Vaughn was able to guess what it is Jack did, sooooooo… I STILL DON’T GET IT.
More Angela Bassett, though.
The video for “Authorized Personnel Only, Part I” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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