Mark Watches ‘Alias’: S04E12 – The Orphan

In the twelfth episode of the fourth season of Alias, Nadia’s past complicates a mission. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias. 

I’m thankful that this show is willing to give Nadia’s character space within the larger narrative so that she doesn’t just feel like an odd addition. “The Orphan” isn’t this season’s best, but it’s a solid story, and it puts Nadia into a greater context. Namely? She has way more in common with Sydney than Sydney will ever know. And for a show that’s about secrets coming to life, I found it intriguing that, even by the end of this episode, Nadia doesn’t reveal her secret. As far as we can tell, she’ll never share the truth about what she did in Argentina with anyone.

So why is that? From a logistical standpoint, it’s not until the final moments of “The Orphan” that it even seemed relevant. Why did Nadia have to tell anyone the full story of her complicated history with Cesar? Yes, it proved important that she tell them something. But everything? Look, she hasn’t even known these people for a YEAR. She doesn’t know all the fucked up shit they’ve been through, so admitting that she killed her mentor is a bit of a big deal to her and not exactly something you reveal casually. But there’s also a sense that Nadia’s life is disconnected from the narratives that we see otherwise on the show. She spent a great deal of her childhood at an orphanage, only to violently leave that life behind and survive through desperation and craftiness on the streets. It’s a narrative that resembles nothing else on the show, and so it’s easy for me to assume on a very basic level that Nadia doesn’t want to tell these people the details from her life unless she has to. Look, when your own experiences differs so vastly from the norm, you’re not exactly eager to share, you know???

Of course, the quiet tragedy is that Nadia might actually have had someone to relate to in Sydney if she’d told the truth about Cesar and Roberto. In Cesar, you have Nadia’s alternate path. She could have continued in that life instead of pursuing a career in intelligence. But what I appreciated about that is that the show doesn’t say that Nadia lived a squeaky-clean life, that this was nothing more than a moral dichotomy. Seriously, she was arrested after stealing from someone and then hitting a cop. And even then, the reveal that Roberto, her mentor, was actually corrupt and not a member of Argentinian intelligence, made matters even worse. It’s such a familiar story, isn’t it? NADIA’S OWN FATHER DID THE SAME FUCKING THING TO SYDNEY.

So, again, why keep that a secret? Why not find a way to bond with someone who went through a similar experience? Well, I don’t know that the text itself provides much in the way of an answer. This is a show deeply tied to the concept of secrets and the affects they have on people. But I have to keep reminding myself of just how new Nadia is to all these people. She’s not years into her relationship with anyone here, and thus, you can see her own reluctance to tell the truth, even to people she trusts. She openly lies to Sydney, and Sydney knows she is lying about her life! But you can’t force this shit, y’all, and in the end, Nadia chooses to bear this pain by herself. In that sense, this is a sad episode, one about how Nadia was betrayed multiple times. How does that make her view herself? Is she a good person? Redeemable? Or forever lost?

I feel like she’s in a good place regardless of her decision to tell anyone the truth about her past or not. Which makes me wonder WHAT THE FUCK VAUGHN’S DAD HAS TO DO WITH NADIA. Like?!?!?! What the hell? Bill Vaughn was the one who took Nadia to the orphanage all those years ago? WHY??? WHY WAS HE BLEEDING FROM A GUNSHOT TO THE SHOULDER? Oh god, this is going to unveil something terrible, isn’t it???

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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