Mark Watches ‘Alias’: S05E13 – 30 Seconds

In the thirteenth episode of the fifth season of Alias, I AM SO ANGRY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Alias. 

I get it. I really do. From a storytelling standpoint, there is a justification for what happens here. I still dislike it, especially for Nadia’s character. LET’S TALK.


I didn’t really think about the uncomfortable optics of having Anna become Sydney, and it’s even more glaring within an episode that kills off Nadia. But I’m also viewing this through the long history of Alias really not treating their non-white characters as well as their white ones. So, on the one hand, it makes me angry. Gina Torres won’t appear in these final episodes because of this, and that’s a huge negative for me. At the same time, I have the same issue as I do with Nadia’s story. I can recognize why someone wrote this. There’s an unbelievable tension in there being two Sydney Bristows, and “30 Seconds” does not waste a bit of the potential. The entire final scene is astounding because we aren’t sure if Anna is going to step out of that car and accidentally reveal that she is now Sydney’s double. And with a second Sydney in the world, Rambaldi’s endgame is now possible. They can bring about the ruin and devastation he predicted by… yeah, I still don’t know that part. BUT IT COULD HAPPEN. 

Anyway, I’ll miss Gina Torres, and I expect the show to continue to mess with the audience now that Sydney’s double is out in the world. 

Complicity and Desperation

The bulk of this episode deals with Arvin Sloane, and as I anticipated, his efforts to save Nadia backfired on him. Initially, I was very happy with this story. Nadia’s discomfort with Arvin was given space; she was allowed to be angry at him for causing the events that took a year of her life from her. When she chose to stay with Sydney, she wasn’t demonized for that, either. Of course, Arvin’s arrangement with Prophet Five hung over everything, and it became an inevitability: When would they all learn the truth? When would the team (and especially Nadia) discover that he’d been manipulated again, that he was directly responsible for Prophet Five’s success? 

I thought that Jack and Nadia’s investigation into Arvin’s actions would reveal the truth, and I braced myself for that. I now understand that, aside from page 47, he had nothing to hide. He really must have funded alternative routes to cure Nadia, and that storage room supported his story because it was the truth. Still, it’s not like I can give him credit for being honest; he still had major secrets to hide. Hell, how can I even determine which of them is the worst? They’re all so terrible, from his private allegiance with Prophet Five to the fact that he’s continued his obsession with Rambaldi. It’s that second one that unravels all of this, though, that pushes Arvin towards a decision that was upsetting but—unfortunately—incredibly expected. 

Here’s the thing: like I felt about Anna’s story, I get why this happened. The only thing that kept Arvin from pursuing a fully selfish path, from chasing his terrible indulgences, was Nadia. For the entirety of this season, he’s had a singular goal, one that motivated him to secretly turn on APO out of desperation. So when Nadia discovers that he still has Page 47, that he’s still going after Rambaldi’s secret, SHE HAD EVERY RIGHT TO GET PISSED OFF. That obsession took both of them to a dark place at the end of season 3. It nearly killed Nadia and ended the world in season 4. And Nadia suffered for a year while in a coma, and for what? So that Arvin could devote himself to Rambaldi again?

If the show wanted to push Arvin to openly working with Prophet Five, then he had to lose Nadia. She was the only thing that stopped him from his Rambaldi obsession. So, yes, I recognize this. In order for his characterization at the end of the episode to make sense, this was necessary. At the same time: wow, I hate it. I HATE IT SO MUCH. Nadia has been unconscious for the whole season except for ONE EPISODE. In the episode where she comes back, where we’re given the tiniest sliver of hope that she might rejoin APO and help stop Prophet Five, she’s killed off. That’s not to suggest that it isn’t sad that Renee was murdered, either. I don’t like it, despite that it’s a means to show us just what Anna is capable of during these final episodes. But this show has killed off every person of color but Dixon at this point, and he’s barely contributing to the overall show. UGH, KNOCK IT OFF, ALIAS WRITERS. Yes, I know this criticism can literally affect ZERO THINGS on the show, but I felt I had to say something. I really looked forward to Nadia’s return, and this upsets me a lot.

The video for “30 Seconds” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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