In the eighth episode of the fifth season of Alias, Rachel’s next solo mission puts her in a brutally awkward position. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias.
Oh, this episode was a LOT. Which is the case with most of this show??? Okay, I’m five seasons in, I’m a broken record at this point. Like “Fait Accompli,” I began to anticipate certain outcomes from the plot, and the script cackled at me for even trying to do so. And once again, Rachel’s character does a lot of the heavy lifting for the episode, given that Sydney can’t do as much, and IT IS STILL COMPELLING.
(Seven episodes without any sort of information on Thomas Grace, for the record. I swear, I feel like I’m being punked, as if this character is only in my copy of the show so that I can be tormented by his mediocrity.)
So, I’m gonna start with Jack and Elizabeth, the only real crack in the armor of this episode. (If you ignore Grace, which is SHOCKINGLY easy to do.) I love parallel storylines, and I feel like the writers intended to have Jack and Elizabeth play a parallel or a foil to Rachel/Sark. She’s a face from the past, someone Jack hasn’t seen in a long time, and the pulse bomb brings them together. We start to get a sense for the chemistry that they have with one another, but I never felt like the show went as far as they should have. These glimpses were not enough, especially since we’ve seen Jack interact with other past characters more meaningfully. What does Elizabeth bring out in Jack? Why is he nearly willing to give up his employer for her when we’ve seen him resist torture many times in the past? Simply put, this wasn’t bad, but we could have gotten more from it all.
It doesn’t help that Rachel’s interaction with a past character differs in more substantial ways. Firstly, we’d never seen Elizabeth prior to “Bob.” Sark is an iconic character from the show, and Elizabeth was very new and most likely won’t appear again. In addition to that, the writers drown us in the unbearable tension of coincidence: both Rachel and Sark are after the same target, and neither knows who the other is or who they work for.
Even worse, of course, is their growing attraction to one another. There’s a fascinating bit early in “Bob” in which Sydney gives Rachel advice about responsibility and leisure. The show has allowed Sydney to guide Rachel, rather than compete with her, and it allows for SO MANY fantastic scenes. Sydney knows exactly what it’s like to be without a social life, to devote her everything to the job. Given how new Rachel is to this, Sydney just wanted to help nudge her away from the kind of obsessive schedule she kept in her early years. (Hell, she still keeps it, doesn’t she?)
It’s because of that advice that she sleeps with Sark and actually enjoys herself. And I can’t fault her for that because she LITERALLY had no idea who he was. Why shouldn’t she enjoy herself??? Yes, this also meant that I was on the edge of my seat the SECOND he appeared, so bravo for keeping me engaged. But it was nice that even in the end, Rachel wasn’t shamed by the narrative for making this choice. She certainly regretted having sex with Sark, and she’ll probably think twice before ever having fun while on a job.
BUT THEN SARK GETS HIRED BY APO TO TAKE DOWN BENJAMIN MASARI. Y’all, I expected Rachel and Sark to figure out what was happening BEFORE they left Brazil, but NOPE. I had to completely adjust my expectations, and “Bob” ended up going to a much more interesting place. Y’all know I love the trope of enemies being forced to work together for a common goal, so HERE WE ARE, right in the midst of that exact trope. It’s just so satisfying??? Why do I love this trope as much as I do??? I’m predictable, I know it, but the way this trope appeared here was not predictable. Despite working on the same side, though, Rachel doesn’t have to let Sark off the hook. I appreciated that, too, because she still had a pretty reasonable reason to dislike him. AND I LOVE THAT SHE GOT THE LAST WORD, TOO.
Basically: this a solid episode with one misstep. Do I know where this season is going? HELL NO.
The video for “Bob” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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