Mark Watches ‘Alias’: S04E03 – The Awful Truth

In the third episode of the fourth season of Alias, THIS WAS TOO STRESSFUL, Y’ALL. Intrigued? then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias.

This was a lot??? WHO ALLOWED THIS??? 

As I said on video, I was delighted by how straightforward this episode felt. It is a thriller from beginning to end, and it’s a convincing one, too. I JUST HATED MARTIN AND EVERY WORD OF HIS WAS TERRIFYING. But that’s why this felt so stressful to watch. It’s not that I doubted Sydney’s abilities. The tension comes from knowledge: At what point was Martin going to figure out that Sydney was not who she said she was? That’s what is teased to us throughout the episode, and very early into this mission, it was clear that we should fear Martin, a wife-killing creep who could have easily made Sydney his next target even before the CIA raid went belly-up. 

So there’s an obvious terror to watching “The Awful Truth,” one rooted in this notion of the unknown. As a heist story, it’s effective and brutal, especially since I didn’t even care about the VALTA, the object they were trying to locate and destroy the whole time. No, I cared about the people within this episode far more than the goal. It was just a means to an end! AND THAT END IS SO, SO FUCKED UP. 

But before I get there—and I really do want to talk about The Thing more than anything else—let’s chat about how season four really does mirror the first. BUT IT DOESN’T REPEAT IT. And that’s important! It allows casual viewers a way into the show, yet I don’t feel insulted as a “long-term” viewer. There are still tons of plots to be resolved from past seasons! However, the creation of APO brings us back to a form of purity as the show simplifies itself down to its roots. It’s about the struggles of a team of secretive operatives who must navigate a challenging job. I saw a direct parallel to season one in Weiss, for example, since the entire team had been publicly removed from the CIA except for him. Thus, he’s now the outsider, the person everyone else has to lie to. 

Thus, I was impressed that the writers didn’t keep up this charade beyond the first three episodes. We’ve seen this specific drama unfold before, so this gave me a sense that the writers knew it couldn’t last that long. Plus, it was such a great moment to have Sydney wake up and see Weiss sitting across from her. IT’S GREAT STORYTELLING. There’s more tension; there’s an emotional component to the scene that otherwise wouldn’t be there; and now, Weiss has a more natural way into APO. IT’S SO GREAT.

Let’s just get to the big issue in this episode though, the one the title refers to. As a story, “The Awful Truth” is mainly the thriller, which isn’t a problem. Yet it has one hell of an ending, one that I did not see coming DESPITE IT BEING HINTED AT THE ENTIRE FUCKING TIME. What is most astounding—or at least what sticks out to me more than anything else—is the fact that Nadia isn’t even Jack’s daughter, and yet he “protects” her in exactly the same way he has historically protected Sydney. It’s insidious, of course, to see how methodically he manipulates her out of some misguided, fucked up sense of duty. He organizes that whole psych test so that Nadia will believe that she’s ready for the fake intel that Jack feeds her. Thus, she never questions why it is so convenient that Martin is her mother’s killer, and JACK KNEW SHE WOULD REACT THIS WAY. He pushed her to the edge, and she willing leapt into this trap, and it is no surprise that Sydney is furious about it. SHE WAS VICTIM TO JACK’S MANIPULATIONS SO MANY TIMES BEFORE. 

Y’all, aside from this being ethically/morally gross, it’s just a terrible idea. Which is actually quite in character for Jack, let’s be real, since he loves bad ideas. And he’d made so much progress with Sydney, too! But in the end, Jack goes with his instincts. He follows what he knows, and he’s such a secretive asshole that this makes sense to him, despite that every time he tried to keep secrets from others in the past, it has literally always backfired on him and been worse than if he had told the truth. Believe me, Nadia is gonna find out the truth, and it will not be pretty. I just hope that Sydney is the one who gets to tell her, you know?

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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