So it’s come to this, an Alias season five rant

Yes, even though this is meant to be an anime and manga blog, I’ve made an exception to post my ‘ultimate rant’, not as evil as my as-yet unaired Advent Children rant, only slightly longer than my first Otome article, but nonetheless worthy of the crown. What lies within is a detailed, spoilerific, dissection of Alias, and in particular, its final season. Despite the horrors contained within, it should be noticed that I do still enjoy the majority of Alias, and no doubt one day I will come to rewatch the whole thing on DVD; in fact, although I intend to wait for a price drop or two, I’m hoping that when I do get season five on DVD and rewatch it, it may seem better than it did on its TV run.

And so, without further ado, let the rant begin…

I never meant to come this far down the road of ranting. All I wanted to do was put Jyu-oh-sei episode 4 in its place, but before I knew it, all sorts of things that hadn’t really bothered me before had started to “angry up the blood”, so to speak. And so it is that I must express my dissatisfaction with the fifth and final season of the series that I once labelled as the best thing on US TV (admittedly, not that difficult a goal to achieve).

 

If you came up and talked to me this time last year, the chances are I might have said “excuse me, who are you?” but it’s also likely that, if the conversation had progressed that far, I’d have agreed that Alias was a top notch show. Yes, it stretched the boundaries of the plausible on a regular basis, but that was part of its appeal. It had everything a ‘spy-fi’ lover could want- gadgets, wigs, action, character development, and above all, a script so sharp and well-written that it made every episode a joy to watch.

 

Now, I have to admit I did have a couple of gripes with seasons three and four in particular, and it’s probably best that I get them out of the way before launching into the main event. First, let’s look at season three; the season two cliffhanger had left us frantic for answers when it was revealed the story had jumped ahead two years in the space of a commercial break, and it looked like everything was in place for a cracker of a follow-up. Sydney not only had her lost memories to regain, but she also had to deal with the fact that Sloane had apparently joined the side of good, whilst her boyfriend Vaughn had upped and married another woman. The first half of the season was indeed compelling stuff as we saw Sydney adjusting to this new situation and searching for memories, and even the exposition episode where the missing two years were explained (bar the fact that none of the CIA agents at Syd’s ‘funeral’ questioned why a suspicious looking black van was parked nearby) was a lot better than such episodes usually aspire to be. No, the problems really began in the second half of the season.

 

Lauren Reed

Since exposition is rather dry and tedious, and assuming that anyone reading this will themselves be up to date on Alias, I won’t be going to into a great deal of background from now on. Suffice to say that Lauren Reed was the ‘other woman’ who came between ‘soul mates’ Sydney and Vaughn, and that partway through the season, we discover that she actually working for the Covenant, the third season’s organisation of evil. Now, whilst ‘dark Lauren’ is by no means an uninteresting character, I couldn’t help feeling a little cheated; where all previous plot twists had come out of left field, here was a move that was not only predictable, but an extremely convenient way to clear the path to true love.

 

Sloane, Irina and the long-lost half-sister

For all that, however, Lauren was only a gnat bite compared to the gaping flaw that lay in wait for us a little way down the road. Perhaps in the hopes of stirring things up a bit, the writers gave us a story in which Sloane admitted to his counsellor that he had not only had an affair with Irina, but there was a chance that he might even be Sydney’s biological father. Now, much as I like it when a creative team does something a little daring with their characters, this was one possibility that did not sit well with me; no matter what else proved to not be quite as it seemed, the father-daughter dynamic between Jack and Sydney was something I wanted to see kept intact.

 

Personal feelings aside, the speculation continued for a couple more weeks, until the writers realised that it was about time they came down off the fence and settled things one way or another. Unfortunately, they’d written themselves into a corner, and the only way to get themselves out of it was to play a well-used gambit; introduce Nadia, a half-sister some six years Sydney’s junior. Never mind that this either meant that Sloane was badly off with his dates or that his already implausible affair with Irina must have lasted upwards of six years- there was worse to come.

 

Anyone who made it at least partway through season one will recall that Vaughn’s father was killed by Sydney’s mother sometime in the past, and finally we were about to find out why. For reasons not entirely clear but no doubt pertaining to her role in the convoluted Rambaldi storyline, Bill Vaughn took it upon herself to take baby Nadia away from Irina and set her up in a new place of safety (although, as it turned out, she ended up in the care of her evil aunt anyway, nice going, Billy). For his pains, Irina apparently killed him, but by this point she had already faked her death; if the CIA didn’t think she was alive, how could they know that she had killed Vaughn’s father? The fact of the matter was, no matter how hard you squinted, the sums didn’t square up. The writers knew this too, but instead of trying to dig themselves a bigger hole, they decided to give up season three as a bad job, and move on.

 

Season Four, a convenient new setup

Thus along came season four, replete with promises to return things to the glory days of seasons 1-2, along with a more episodic format that would let new viewers jump on the boat if they so wished. There were a few contrivances, to be sure- practically all the main characters were asked to a join black ops division, former Argentine agent Nadia was somehow accepted into the CIA with little question, and Sloane, of all people, ended up in charge. Nonetheless, the episodic format worked for a while, at least until it came time to get back to the main plot.

 

At this point, one particularly glaring error emerged. In the season four episode ‘The Index’, Sydney and Dixon begin to worry that Sloane was trying to resurrect the old Alliance, only for it to be revealed at the end that it was all part of some elaborate scheme to capture his former comrades of evil. At this point, Sydney admits to Nadia that she should start giving Sloane the benefit of the doubt; fair enough, you might think, only when the main plot kicks in, an extremely similar scenario plays out over again, negating pretty much all the development we saw first time around.

 

As always, however, such minor gripes are really only for the hardcore fans to quibble over- like season three, number four had a more obvious problem; one that centred on actress Lena Olin. To backtrack a little, at the end of season three, we saw Sydney discover some hidden documents in Wittenburg, and as she was reading their as yet unknown but clearly important contents, Jack entered with the ominous words “You were never meant to see this.” During the long 2004-5 hiatus, viewers speculated as to what those documents contained- had Jack committed some unspeakable evil, or been involved in yet another shady project over the decades?

 

In fact, after all the waiting, the reveal was rather anticlimactic- since Olin could not be persuaded to return to the series, the decision was made to kill her character off, and it was this information that Sydney had discovered. Irina was gone, killed by Jack after she put a hit out on Sydney…or was she? Alas, not quite, because somewhere down the road the producers came up with a big enough incentive to tempt Olin back to the series, and so it was time to bring back Project Helix.

 

Although it was apparently destroyed in season two, never let it be said that a convenient plot device isn’t on hand when you need it, and so it was revealed that the real Irina was still alive, and the person Jack had killed was just a double. This whole mess was apparently the doing of Elena Derevko, and whilst, on balance, it perhaps makes sense that she captured her sister for information purposes, and arranged a fake death to destabilise Irina’s organisation and prevent any chance of rescue, it just all felt a little too convenient. And after all, after going to such lengths, why would Elena have kept Irina in a place where Dixon would see her and report back to Sydney and Jack?

 

Season Four had yet more for us to swallow, however- namely Sloane’s additions to global water supplies, and the ‘giant red ball’. I know by now you’re probably thinking ‘why is she so picky, it’s hardly meant to be 100% realistic’, but when you choose to stretch reality, you at least have to have a consistent framework, and I felt that this was really pushing it a bit. Sloane puts something into the water supply that makes people less aggressive- why do I have a hard time believing his master plan is peace and harmony on earth? A giant red ball changes the effect to turn everyone into zombies- why exactly would this be Elena’s endgame anyway? What exactly can she achieve from having entire populations turned into slavering murderers? Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter, for the forces of good won in the end, as they must.

Jacquelyn

I’ll talk about the season four cliffhanger in the opening of the season five section, but for now I want to touch upon Jacquelyn, the stillborn daughter of Arvin and Emily Sloane. If we consider Sloane’s season one claim that he and Emily never wanted children as one of his usual sideways approaches to the truth, then this is a reasonable enough story, except that this marks one of the things that makes me uneasy- that is, simply piling too much tragic backstory onto our characters. Danny Hecht, Diane Dixon, Emily Sloane, Francie Calfo- all of these were innocent bystanders killed because of their links to the main characters- and I’m sorry to say it, but there is a point where you just have to stop putting your characters through ten kinds of hell for every year of their lives, and just let them have an uneventful month or three.

What you thought you were getting when you started to read this- Season Five rant proper begins

Believe it or not, the above sections were just meant to be a prologue, and in fact they cover seasons I enjoyed overall; which should give you an indication of just how much I have to say about the travesty that is season five. It all began with a recap of the season four finale, in which Vaughn makes the somewhat unexpected revelation that his real name isn’t Michael Vaughn at all- and then his car gets hit by a truck.

 

Several adventures, and Sydney’s “oh by the way, I’m pregnant” (necessary due to Garner’s real life pregnancy) later, and we discover the truth of the situation. Michael Vaughn was born Andre Michaud, the son of a French mathematician; unfortunately, due to some project he was working on, said mathematician had to change his family’s name, and emerge as the Bill Vaughn we know and love (or to be more accurate, vaguely know, and care little about). Just like the Jacquelyn incident mentioned above, this felt like one thing too many to lump onto our characters- merely a plot device designed to make sure season four had the customary excruciating cliff-hanger, whilst ultimately not tinkering with Vaughn’s character overmuch.

 

As it turned out, however, Vaughn was to get little in the way of screen time over the next months anyway, since the character was apparently gunned down on the orders of Prophet Five. Although I never truly believed that Vaughn had died in that incident, it did seem as if Sydney and the others were genuinely mourning, at least until a random exchange in a post-hiatus episode revealed that Jack and Sydney had known he was alive all along. As we later found out, it was necessary to fake Vaughn’s death to keep him safe from Prophet Five until he made his return in the last few episodes of season five. Fair enough, misdirection is the name of the game in Alias, but the way Sydney and Jack suddenly acknowledged Vaughn’s status onscreen without any prior explanation was far too abrupt- and the first of several indications that the season had been badly hurt by being cut from twenty-two episodes to a mere seventeen.

 

Coupled with the four month hiatus that broke the season in two, it meant bad news for the year and ultimately, a bunch of plotlines that never went anywhere. For example, to cover up the loss of Vaughn, Weiss and Nadia from the roster of regulars, four new characters were introduced (see the characters section for more detail), one of whom turned out to be as dull as ditchwater, whilst another only appeared a handful of times before being killed off. Even the main attraction of the year, the unspeakably evil and powerful Prophet Five, never seemed to have a fixed agenda, and despite the power they were accredited with at the beginning of the season, they were easily dispatched by the end. I won’t even try to justify the unlikelihood of such a powerful organisation remaining undetected in previous seasons, or of it all boiling down to Sloane and Irina in the end anyway.

 

First place for ‘pointless storyline’, however, must surely go to the return of the aforementioned Project Helix; this time around, Sydney’s rival Anna Espinosa is given a full body makeover that leaves her with the appearance of Sydney herself. When I first saw “evil Sydney” rise out of a chamber of red fluid, I have to admit I gave a sigh of disappointment- not just because it meant no more Gina Torres, but because if there’s one concept that’s been sucked dry, it’s that of the ‘evil double’.

 

Perhaps then it was fortunate that this story did not go anywhere; all we had to endure were a couple of episodes of Anna running around as Sydney before the real Ms. Bristow shot her in the back and briefly infiltrated Prophet Five in her place. One thing that did surprise me was that Sloane didn’t realise that he was now dealing with the real Sydney instead of Anna-Sydney; I’d like to chalk it up to Sydney’s super-spy abilities, but by that point it seemed more due to the newfound cheesiness of the dialogue and the simplistic villain cast that Sloane had taken on.

 

Worst Death Scene ever

Towards the end of season five, Sloane suddenly transforms from a man of complexity into a dull, arcade game final boss and on the way, he manages to kill his daughter Nadia. Admittedly, he hadn’t been the best of fathers, having injected poor Nadia with the Rambaldi serum at the end of season three, but in his own twisted way he genuinely seemed to love his daughter. And yet, despite this, when it came between choosing between her and a page from Rambaldi’s manuscripts, he shoves Nadia aside in order to retrieve said page from a fire.

 

One could of course argue that Sloane wasn’t thinking clearly, or that a man so obsessed with Rambaldi could easily commit such an act, but it wasn’t so much that scene, jarring as it was, as what came next. Even though it looked like Sloane didn’t push Nadia with any great force, she somehow fell through a conveniently placed glass panel, smashing it and slicing her throat open. Poor Nadia; she’d only just woken up from her season-long coma at the beginning of that very episode.

The finale: dear god, what a mess

As I write this, I have just spent the morning watching the last two hours of Alias, and all I can say is- what a horrendous way to completely undo my love of this series. I apologise if this section of the rant turns into an incoherent mess, but if it does, it is only reflecting the structure and quality of the material it covers.

 

So, to briefly recap what we must, in the absence of anything better to fit that description, call the plot, this is the endgame to top all endgames, the conclusion of the utterly pointless Prophet Five story, the realisation of Sloane and Irina’s ultimate plans, the final round of character deaths and of course, the obligatory, “and the survivors lived happily ever after”. From out of nowhere, characters know where to go and what to do, past faces make an appearance simply to satisfy the fans, and the whole things comes across as so compressed as to border on the nonsensical.

 

Commencing all this madness is a brief mission to ID the faces of the twelve Prophet Five leaders. Putting aside the unlikelihood of these men risking themselves being seen together in such an easily accessible place, the mission itself is a pale shadow of the Alias team’s former slick operations. Sydney makes a real pig’s ear of her part, whilst it seems like every other agent is there just to get their share of the screen time. The photography work seems ultimately pointless in the end, anyway, as later on Sloane kills the twelve. After all, they are undeveloped fat men of evil; Sloane is the long term bad guy.

 

And indeed, from being just a pawn of Prophet Five and its extensive network a scant few months ago, Sloane elevates himself to supreme lord of darkness in the space of a few minutes. Next on the agenda, some ‘calm before the storm’ couple moments, before the new subordinates of evil, Peyton and Sark, kidnap Marshall and Rachel so that our resident tech experts can help out with the ultimate endgame.

 

Now, I have to admit that Rachel and Marshall’s resistance to this plan did throw some up some dialogue akin to the quality of the old days, but never let it be said that I pass up an opportunity to complain. In this instance, my gripe is with Marshall’s claim that he feared Sloane, but never liked him; given the ‘friendly’ atmosphere Sloane maintained at SD-6, and the trust he engendered with his employees, I find it hard to believe that Marshall didn’t like him at that point.

 

That aside, this seems to be the point in the story where time becomes rather more fluid than usual. After the kidnapping, Sloane has time to go to LA and get Sydney to advise Marshall to cooperate over the phone, after which Marshall and Rachel surreptitiously give away their location on the pretext of fulfilling Sloane’s demands. Meanwhile, Sloane manages to return in time to get the information he wants from Marshall and Rachel, order their deaths, and conveniently move to the next location, leaving only expendable underlings behind. Oh, and if you’re worried about character deaths, never fear, Sydney and her team show up just in time to save their friends.

 

Anyway, everything is now in place for Sloane, so whilst he sends Peyton to eliminate the twelve men of evil, it’s off to Italy for the ultimate prize. In the meantime, Sark gets to set a bomb designed to destroy APO. Cue an evacuation of our heroes’ HQ, along with the noble (for noble read pointless) sacrifice of Tom Grace after he chooses to stay with the bomb instead of getting the hell out once his job of buying time by slowing down its timer (using the vial of liquid nitro that all good spies keep about their person) is complete.

 

But who cares about such a minor character anyway, Sydney is that star here, and our lovely lady is busy confronting Sloane in the depths of an icy cave. Now, if urged to name a specific point in time where my faith in the Alias franchise was suddenly and irrevocably destroyed, it would be at this stage of the episode- to be precise, the story that Sloane tells Sydney, a story that not only reveals a crack in the Alias continuity, but turns it into a wide, gaping hole.

 

In previous seasons, flashbacks, character discussions, and Emily Sloane’s funeral in particular seemed to have established two things; firstly, that Sydney had been raised by nannies in the Bristow house after her mother died and that her father was only around for brief periods, and secondly, that Sydney did not meet Sloane and Emily until she joined SD-6 at age nineteen. Now, on reflection, I have to wonder why she didn’t meet the Sloanes earlier; if Irina was close enough to have an affair with Arvin, it seems to suggest some kind of contact between the two families, especially as they were both involved in SD-6. To justify this to myself, I reasoned that perhaps they had been close prior to Irina’s death (a time which Sydney does not remember well anyway) and had moved apart afterwards for any number of personal and work-related reasons.

 

Unfortunately, this penultimate episode was determined to spit in the face of my carefully constructed explanation. For now, according to Jack, he designated Sloane as Sydney’s guardian after Irina’s death, and Sloane himself even tells an elaborate story about the time she moved in with him and Emily, albeit only to get a particular point across. I really have a hard time swallowing this given the facts established in the previous paragraph- there seems to be no reason for Jack to hand over guardianship of his daughter (yes, he was away a lot, but he seems to have come home regularly- he even had time to test Project Christmas on Sydney), and if Sydney had indeed lived with Sloane, it negates the whole idea that she first came into contact with him through SD-6.

 

Moving on from that disheartening incident, we come to the end of the first episode, with Sloane acquiring some kind of ultimate amulet after shooting the ice out from under Sydney’s feet and leaving her in a crevasse. At this point, naïve viewers might wonder if it was all over for Sydney, but of course, that was not to be the case; by the next episode Vaughn had located and saved her.

 

And so we come to the second half of the finale, a story so confused and indeed confusing that my recap of it will necessarily be somewhat shorter than the above. From out of the blue, we discover that Sloane has bought missiles that he plans to use to launch attacks on London and Washington so that he can ‘profit from the rebuilding’. I cannot heap enough scorn and derision on this hastily introduced storyline- it seems worthier of a fifth-rate C-movie than the Alias I thought I knew and loved. And as it turns out, the missiles have absolutely nothing to do with the aforementioned ultimate endgame anyway- that’s all about Sloane’s quest for immortality.

 

Yes, the series that had invested such effort getting us to swallow storylines as borderline ridiculous as Rambaldi’s prophecies or Nadia’s genetic memory of his writings had finally jumped into the realms of the utterly nonsensical. Sydney had shot Sloane in the head, but thanks to this special Rambaldi elixir, he was able to heal and revive (admittedly, we had seen a similar thing with Alison Doren, but that storyline was never definitively resolved). Fortunately, though, Sloane’s reign of terror was cut short when the dying Jack blew himself up to trap the lord of evil in a cave-in; his final fate- to spend eternity trapped under a rock, begging all sorts of questions about the properties of this immortality. Can he still die from lack of food and oxygen? Will he still age? The writers don’t seem to know or care, so why should we?

 

And what of the other ‘great evil’ of the show, Irina Derevko; yes, she too was to die, choosing Rambaldi over her daughter and falling to her death when a glass roof gave way. Sark fared somewhat better, however, when Vaughn let the great survivor go, whilst Kelly Peyton’s fate remained unresolved.

 

So, all is said and done (or at least left with no intention to address it further), and thus what better way to end it all than to skip ahead seven years? Sydney and Vaughn now live a happy quiet life with their children Isabelle and Jack, Marshall and Carrie have four children (after all, if fiction has taught us anything, it’s that happiness is pumping out as many kids as possible), and Rachel is on a deep cover assignment (the last refuge of the unmarried). On the day we rejoin them, Dixon shows up to give Sydney one last mission- involving none other than Sark, and as a coda, Isabelle proves she has the Project Christmas super spy potential, but no one notices. Coming soon, a sequel set twenty years later? I hope not.

 

Characters and where they went wrong

Sydney Bristow

To be fair, Sydney didn’t suffer all that much until the final few episodes; maybe it was the strain of being a mother but she seemed a lot less skilled and professional in the last few episodes, messing up a couple of times and needing to be saved by men when before she could hold her own.

Michael Vaughn

Poor Vaughn; he had his name in the opening credits for four years, and then at the beginning of season five they killed him off. Only of course they didn’t kill him off, and in fact we randomly find out that Sydney and Jack faked his death and knew he was alive all this time, at which point it’s back to the front lines for our absent hero.

Jack Bristow

Surely one of my favourite characters and resourceful to the end…one might even say superhuman as multiple gunshot wounds didn’t hinder his ability to get up, strap explosives to himself, have a little chat to Sloane and then trap him in a cave-in.

Arvin Sloane

Now he’s evil, now he isn’t…Sloane continued in this vein across the whole five years. In seasons 1-2, he was the villain you loved to hate, slimy, manipulative, a touch creepy- and the along came season 3. Sloane’s beloved Rambaldi device had apparently spat out a message of peace, and from that day our arch-villain became a changed man, first setting up a worldwide charity, Omnifam, where he tried to eliminate world famine whilst introducing a chemical cocktail that would make people embrace the aforementioned peace. By season 4, he was even in charge of the black ops APO unit that Sydney and the others had signed up with.

 

So, was he really a changed man? Probably not, because by the end of the season he was working with Elena (albeit for his own ends), and next season he had to face the rap at a tribunal. Fortunately for Sloane, Prophet Five fished him out of hot water, on the proviso that he become an agent of evil for them; nonetheless, Sloane became a double agent and remained on the side of good for a time, until he suddenly neglected his character depth, and turned into a disappointing two-dimensional villain who even went so far as to kill his beloved daughter in the worst death scene ever.

Nadia Santos

‘The Passenger’ and a descendant of Rambaldi, Nadia was the convenient plot device introduced to resolve the “Sloane X Irina” revelations, although personally I always favoured the subtle undertones that indicated Jack was her real father. Despite the unexpectedness of her introduction, I liked Nadia as a character, and was even able to accept that a) she had been duped by a rogue agency in the same way as Sydney was with SD-6 and b) that the CIA would admit an Argentinian agent into their top secret black ops division, APO.

 

Unfortunately, all was not to go well for poor Nadia. At the end of season three, Sloane injected her with a green fluid that forced her to write out Rambaldi’s equations (a bit of a stretch to attribute a scientific explanation to that, but apparently it was a genetic ‘muscle memory’ reaction); in season four she found out that the woman who raised her was her evil psychotic aunt, Elena; she got turned into a red-eyed ‘zombie’ in the season four finale, and finally spent a good chunk of season five in a coma. Fortunately, after the mid-season hiatus, she was revived- only to get killed within the space of an episode thanks to the aforementioned ‘worst death scene ever’. She did get to see out the season as a hallucination of Sloane’s, but it’s just not the same.

Irina Derevko

Remember what I said about Sloane periodically switching sides (if you don’t, then you may need to start worrying as it was only a few paragraphs ago) – well, the same goes for Irina. First, she was an evil Russian agent who faked her own death, then she re-entered the story and turned herself into the CIA, before planning her escape and allying with Sloane. She did, however, leave behind a message saying “Truth takes time”, and perhaps it was foolish for me to do so, but I took it to mean that she wasn’t a two-dimensional character of evil, and that the end would justify the means.

 

And indeed, following her onscreen absence and apparent death, Irina seemed willing to cooperate with our heroes, at least until season five, where she too became an insipid villain character with lines as cheesy as “I learned long ago that the only currency that matters is power”. Shame on you, Alias writers, for undoing the emotion I felt at that powerful scene where Irina and Sydney hug and then the prison guards point their guns at Irina and tell her to stand down.

Julian Sark

If there’s one thing you could count on, it was that no matter how tight the security, Sark would find a way to freedom. It was one of those inevitable things that made you sigh (like the continual return of Gauron in Full Metal Panic), but Sark was such a sharp and amusing character that you let it slide…at least until the infamous closing episodes of season five, where his dialogue was reduced to “try anything of the sort and I’ll cut your tongue out and shove it down your throat” (apologies for mangling that quote).

Rachel Gibson

What do you do when the lead is heavily pregnant and can’t kick arse the way she used to? Introduce a few new characters, of course! Rachel was the proto-Sydney, and whilst it was interesting to see her transform from rookie into accomplished agent, I still have something to moan about. Just like Sydney and Nadia (and of course Dixon, Marshall, et al), Rachel was fooled into thinking she was working for the government whilst actually working for criminals- how many times does this actually happen? How likely is it that three prominent characters would fall to exactly the same ploy, other than for obvious plot convenience?

Marshall Flinkmann

The kind of character you hated at first because of his verbal diarrhoea, Marshall actually became more likable as the seasons wore on. In fact, apart from the TV convention of his hacking being incredibly easy to accomplish, and the “I never liked you” exchange with Sloane mentioned somewhere above, he remained pretty inoffensive all the way through.

Renee Rienne

Another new character introduced for season five, Renee was a wanted criminal who had nonetheless been working with Vaughn (off screen) to uncover the mysteries of Prophet Five. There was a short arc about her father early in the season (one of those arcs where you don’t really understand what’s going on) but for the most part her inclusion was fairly pointless, and her surname makes me laugh since it means “nothing” in French; coupled with the alliteration, it just sounds cheesy.

Tom Grace

Yet another pointless season five character; the most generic and uninteresting man since Jonas Quinn graced the title sequence of Stargate SG-1. Tom had been on (in? under?) deep cover for years after his wife was killed, he had contacts to a nameless villain called “The Cardinal” (presumably some kind of obese feline in the spirit of Stratos 4’s The Admiral) and precious time at the end of season five was spent wrapping up the tiresome arc about his wife’s killer. Why would anyone even care?

Kelly Peyton

Frontline woman of evil, Peyton was certainly adept in her manipulations, but at the end of the day she was there to be the kind of villain who gets foiled by the heroes before shaking her fist ineffectually and swearing to return next week. She also participated in the ‘cheesiest torture scene ever’ in the series finale, in which Rachel is brought forth with an “I know what you fear” (in this case, snakes). Why would someone as sly as Peyton bother to assist in tricking Rachel into believing she was working for the government, but confess her actual weakness to her? Yes, it’s another sloppy plot convenience.

Epilogue

  1. Rambaldi and his many endgames

Rambaldi, that bizarre combination of Nostradamus and da Vinci, whose predictions were eerily accurate, was never my favourite part of the story, simply because his works were a bit too hard to swallow (this guy knew about binary code and DNA before their official discovery, knew the key to immortality, and eve made a prophecy about Sydney and Nadia). And yet, his story was dragged on and on for five seasons. At the end of season two, Sloane assembled what were supposedly all of the Rambaldi artefacts into some great whole and obtained a message of peace, but over the next few seasons yet more Rambaldi related pieces kept turning up. There were the equations from Nadia, the giant Mueller device (red sphere) of pointlessness, various other bits and pieces, and finally the elixir of immortality. True, many of these creations were well designed, but by the end it all felt like a bit much. Not to mention the fact that, like the plot of season five, the world’s many Rambaldi followers all boiled down to Sloane and Irina.

 

  1. A man in disguise? Wear a pair of glasses

Sydney is the mistress of disguise- wigs, accents, backstories, you name it, she’s done it. So what do the men of the series wear whilst on undercover missions? Well, every so often they get to slap on a disguise, but for the most part they stick to the tried and tested suit and tie, perhaps with a pair of glasses to alter their appearance. Perhaps disguise classes are separated by gender, in which case the lecturer in charge of the men needs to put on a better show.

 

  1. The defibrillator, aka the curse of having relatives in the medical profession

Just a small thing really, but in season two, when Sark used the defibrillator on Irina to short out her transmitter, it would also have stopped her heart and so he would have had to have used it again to restart it (not seen onscreen). Interestingly, Abrams must have learned his lesson because in Mission Impossible 3, Ethan is about to do the same thing with a defib, and he is informed that this will stop the woman’s heart. And yes, I know there are many more small errors of this nature in Alias, but this one particularly irks me, and besides, the hallowed ten pages have been reached.

 

Oddly, despite all this, I still lay claim to enjoying Alias. From now on, however, I may well pretend that season five does not exist. And now, with a dramatic flourish, I proclaim this the end…at least until I think of something else to write.

2 thoughts on “So it’s come to this, an Alias season five rant

  1. Hi, I thought I’d write and let you know I read everything you had to say. I too felt so unfulfilled by the ending of Alias and was searching for answers when i came across your article.

    I have all 5 series. I really loved series 1 and 2, 3 was okay. 4 was really bad – zombies!…..nothing more to say there really and 5, well 17 episodes was wrong, and vaughn all of a sudden being alive? what’s that about? they should never have killed him in the first place!
    In the end there were still many unanswered questions for me. That is my feelings in short. I felt the plots just got so fake. It’s amazing but i would still say i really enjoyed it.

    I am currently watching LOST. It too has many questions which are rarley answered and i’m worried it will go the same way.

    I read an article on LOST. It was an interview with another director, not JJ Abrams. The name escapes me. Anyway, he/she said that american sitcoms go on until their popularity fades, then they end. Which makes me think it definatley will go the same way. A comment that does leave some hope was that the concepts behind LOST and the island do exist and are kept under lock and key. I have kept on watching it, but series 3 seems to be getting no further in revealing any answers.

    Mission Impossible 3 was a good film. I thought, giving how much of Abrams work i have seen, i would figure out the twist, but i didn’t. I am still a huge fan.

    Thanks for posting your RANT. I enjoyed it. It gave me a sense of peace i suppose. Knowing that someone out there wasn’t satisfied just like me. Thank you

  2. I’m also glad to see I’m not the only one to feel that way about Alias season 5…after reading all the positive letters in Alias magazine, I wondered if I had missed something.

    In case you’re interested, I have been covering Lost season three on my B-side blog.

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