Mark Watches ‘Alias’: S04E02 – Authorized Personnel Only, Part II

In the second episode of the fourth season of Alias, Sydney reveals her father’s secret, only to have it upended. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias. 

Wow, this opener really is a re-invention of the show as a whole, and I really am enjoying it! LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS.


At the very least, there’s a purity to this re-invention, and it comes in the form of secretive, ridiculous heists. Since APO is an off-the-books, black ops production, it means that they get to do ALL KINDS OF SHIT they hadn’t been able to in past seasons. Thus, that’s how we get a mission where the team is just straight-up stealing a samurai sword. I mean… I guess they were going to give it back at some point? (To the wrong people, for the record, because there’s no way the British Museum acquired that sword by ethical means.) Regardless, it’s so fun to watch because it feels unfiltered and ridiculous. Granted, it was also stressful for other reasons, some of them artificial, others much more emotional and intense. For example: a good heist has to have logistical concerns that make it difficult to pull off. Otherwise, it’s no fun, right?

But throughout this episode, we’re forced to deal with the specter of Jack’s past deeds (which I’ll get to in its own section), the presence of Nadia, and Tomazaki’s shocking reveal, all of which add a texture to these heists. It makes them so much more intense than usual, and it’s one reason I enjoyed “Authorized Personnel Only, Part II” as much as I did. Everything is interconnected, and it makes for compelling television.


I figured that the show wasn’t going to just ignore her or her potential role in the adventure, so it wasn’t exactly surprising that the writers used that whole trope of putting someone in danger so that the character who refused to come back to the job was suddenly compelled to return. There’s just too much potential for her, both in that she’s Sloane’s daughter and in her relation to the cast of characters. At times, I even got flashes of Irina in Nadia’s face, as if she really was her daughter, and it allowed me to believe the fiction. 

I still want to know what she found with Sloane after the end of last season. There’s a hesitation, a reluctance, in Nadia that’s not just related to her desire to stop being a spy. I suspect that she doesn’t want to be around Sloane anymore. WHO CAN BLAME HER, HE’S THE WORST. And something happened to keep her away from Sloane, right? On top of it all, there’s Nadia’s dedication to finding her mother’s killer, who is actually Jack, and THIS SEASON IS GONNA BE A MESS, I CAN’T WAIT. 

The Secret

I admit that it’s strange that one of the series’s biggest moments happened completely off-screen. And it’s not just the event itself; the assassination of Irina Derevko was planned, and not one moment of this story—from Jack’s discovery that Irina took out a contract on Sydney, that he somehow tracked her down and successfully assassinated her with the explicit approval of the U.S. government—was seen on screen. I… kind of get it? It’s the only real way for this to be a secret, one that the writers can tease us with and then reveal like a brick to the chest. But the shock of that reveal only works to a certain extent. I’m then left feeling cheated. Exactly when did Jack execute this plan? During the events of the season three finale? Earlier than that? The timeline makes no sense to me. It could, but we’re given such little information that I can’t even construct one that would resemble the truth. And why the fuck would Irina take a contract out on her own daughter??? Sydney didn’t pose a threat to her, did she???

It’s very strange, and I suspect there’s a possible explanation to this that’s being kept from me. For the moment, the one part of this reveal that does work is Jack. Because of course he would allow Sydney to believe that he did something awful for no reason at all so that she could direct her ire at him. Once again, he tries to “protect” her, even though it’s a misguided act. (Like most acts of fatherly love from Jack, for that matter. He’s not a great father, but he’s also trying really, really hard. Even I can admit that his relationship with Sydney is practically unrecognizable from where they started at in the pilot episode.) He decides what she’s able to tolerate, despite that she’s shown the resolve and power to handle pretty much anything life has thrown at her.

So… what the fuck happened, y’all?

The video for “Authorized Personnel Only, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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