Mark Watches ‘Alias’: S04E17 – A Clean Conscience

In the seventeenth episode of the fourth season of Alias, desperation forces Sloane and Jack to tell their daughters the truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias. 

Hahaha, wow, this got fucked up? Which wasn’t what I was expecting from “A Clean Conscience” because, until the final ten minutes or so, this felt a little unconnected from other events this season. I admit to being confused initially that this episode did not address Arvin Clone, which felt like such a huge story to me. I’m guessing, then, that this character will come back, and hopefully this season? THERE IS SO MUCH UNRESOLVED, AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT. So, once this script began to immerse the audience in the story of Thomas Raimes, I just accepted that this was probably going to be a one-off. Even that plot, however, felt… typical? Like, situationally interesting, but not exactly the most astounding thing that Alias has ever given us?

AND THEN WE STARTED GETTING INTO THE IDEA OF SACRIFICE FOR THE GREATER GOOD AND THEN THIS EPISODE WAS VERY, VERY QUICKLY NOT OKAY. There’s certainly a vague sense that Raimes and Dixon knew one another, and I appreciated that chemistry because it helped their final scenes have a weight that would have otherwise been hard to pull off. Here, we learn that Raimes dropped contact with the CIA and let this terrorist group bomb an embassy because he wanted a crack at the more “important” aim. So, as detailed by the episode, it was a matter of the end justifying the means. If Raimes could track this group and get them to reveal this terrible weapon, then he could stop hundreds of thousands of people dying. It’s pragmatic mathematics, and Raimes felt it was the more moral system.

As many times as the writers have misused or not used Dixon, his appearance in this plot was perfect. Raimes detached himself from the reality of his decisions. He knew fifteen people died because he didn’t alert the CIA about that bombing, but what does that actually mean? For Dixon, sacrifice in the name in the job has a HORRIBLE MEANING for him because he lost HIS OWN WIFE. Thus, this argument isn’t theoretical at all; Dixon is well aware of what this job asks of him.

All of this leads to that RIDICULOUS confrontation near the end of “A Clean Conscience” in which Raimes must make his moral decision extremely personal. In an ironic twist, he is asked to identify himself as a double agent so that Dixon can shoot him and possibly kill him. Doing so would allow the mission to succeed. So, does the end justify the means anymore? Or does that only apply to other people?

I DID NOT EXPECT THIS EPISODE TO GO THIS FAR. We don’t even know if Raimes survives, y’all, but Dixon is certainly agonizing over his own decision to shoot Raimes. WHAT THE FUCK, THIS WAS SO DISTURBING.

The same goes for the subplot with Sophia, who ran the orphanage that Nadia grew up in. Her presence was confusing and unexplained (right up until it wasn’t), so I found it a little hard to get invested in it. Like, I was glad that Nadia got to reconnect with Sophia, but what did this all mean? Who was coming after Sophia and Nadia? Look, at this point, the season-long mysteries at play in Alias have been hinted at and teased for a majority of the run-time, so I think I was just fatigued by this notion that I’d get more clues and no answers. STOP MAKING THE MYSTERY WORSE, I AM BUT ONE PERSON. 

Yeah, I didn’t expect that the subplot with Jack’s sacrifice (very applicable as a parallel to Dixon’s and Raimes’s story!) to intersect so shockingly with the Big Secret of season four. And look, I’m certain that I still don’t have all the pieces, so I’m not going into this believing that I now have all the answers. I DEFINITELY DO NOT. Namely, I don’t know why Elena Derevko has been surveilling Sydney for the last decade and has kept tabs on Nadia for almost her entire life. I don’t know how this relates to Irina’s murder, or why Jack and Sloane just had to keep this all a secret for as long as they did.

It’s character work for Jack, though, and I’m wondering if his impending death will inspire him to be truthful about other things. Like maybe he’ll actually stop treating Sydney like she’s so delicate and unable to handle reality??? WHAT A CONCEPT.

Whew, y’all, how the fuck is Sophia really Elena? That came out of nowhere. I still don’t know how I feel about it? I kinda wanna see where it goes before I say anything further, but like… this feels strange, right? PLEASE TELL ME I’M NOT ALONE.

The video for “A Clean Conscience” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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