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Alias is back

The fourth season of Alias started slowly. This was due in part to the need to resolve certain key issues from Season 3, and in part because ABC foolishly decided to air a few S4 episodes out of order. They're now done with the S3 denouement, and have kicked off S4 in earnest: I was pleased with last night's episode. The show is back, replete with Spy Family dysfunction, ambiguous allegiances, and covert investigations.

I know there are some who will disagree with me, but it was nice to have an episode where characters other than Sydney got more than token screen time, especially with the changes to the opening credits that strongly suggest that it's the Jennifer Garner Show.

I was especially glad to see Vaughn getting a little storyline of his own, rather than staying as The Sydney Luv Appendage. It's not that I like the character, it's just that he's even more of a wuss when he's mooning over Sydney. I personally was grateful to have an episode where they weren't together, and where Vaughn demonstrated having an identity outside of her.

Related to that, Jack knew Bill Vaughn, Michael's father. I wonder if he knows:
a) that he's alive (I know, not confirmed) and
b) how long he's known . . . and to what end?
Side note on Jack: loved him standing strong after the corrupted index was revealed.

I'm also curious about the Overly-Optimistic Nurse who became Creepy Mysterious Disappearing Nurse; I want to know what her motivation was, not that we'll ever find out if Vaughn just keeps plodding along. One of several things that bug me about Vaughn is that instead of finding out whose name the locker was registered in and who's been paying for it, he just follows the trail of breadcrumbs exactly as it has been put before him. He's being led, and so far, he appears content to just follow. I just want to yell at him: "Dude! Look more than two feet ahead of you!"

Contrary to his behavior, Sydney and Dix may seem to be a little paranoid right now, but I at least have confidence that they'll look beneath the surface of things. With Vaughn, it's like one of those old cartoons where the natives put a very-obvious blanket over a pit trap, and he just blithely walks right over it. The audience is all like: "Danger, Will Robinson! Stop, don't, nooooooo!" and he doesn't hear us. I hope he'll wake up a little next episode; it's not like he doesn't have the resources to access such information.

Okay, enough about Forehead Wrinkle. I also wonder whether Nadia knows that Jack woke her without authorization, and that he gave her four times the recommended dosage. If she knows, and she rescued him anyway, what was her justification? Love of Sydney? Teaching her sister a lesson? For whatever reason, Mia Maestro and J. Garner did a good job with unspoken expressions in that scene. One could almost see the thought bubbles:

Nadia: You're an idiot, but you're my sister.
Sydney: I was a dumb ass and I'm really sorry.


I still don't know what drives Nadia. I'd like for her to be the incredibly sweet person she appears to be. I'd like to see her and Weiss have a healthy relationship; I think it would provide refreshing contrast to all the conflicted parent/child dynamics. However, given that every single member of Spy Family has exhibited duplicitous behavior in the past, logic tells me that the writers are going to give Nadia a dark side. It's kind of unfortunate; I like the role she's played as Sydney's conscience.

It's too soon to tell, I think. She chose to live with Sydney, not with Sloane. Was this out of affection, or to keep an eye on her sister? If the latter, is she doing it for Sloane, or for someone else? How is it that she has been able to put the way her father tortured her behind her? The latter question has become a recurring one asked by fans.

On the other hand, she could have told everyone at the party about Sydney's snooping, and she didn't. Loyalty? It didn't prove to be something she could hold over Syd's head later, considering the end of the episode.

In short, I don't know what's up with Nadia, and I kind of like that.

As stated, this definitely felt like vintage Alias to me. There were, nevertheless, a few minor things that bugged me.

One problem for longtime fans was the annoyingly frequent exposition for the viewers coming in from Lost. Yes, I know those new folks are helping our show's ratings, and I didn't so much mind the explanation that this was Vaughn and Syd's old meeting place 'cause they wouldn't have known that, but was the line letting them know that Sloane was Nadia's father really necessary? I mean, wasn't that made crystal clear later in the ep?

I also don't quite understand why Hayden Chase herself would go after Sloane, much less include Sydney, Nadia and Dixon on the team to bring them in. I mean, three of the most-identifiable people he knows tailing him? Stretches plausibility in a big way. I'm willing to forgive, though, because it was nice to see Angela Bassett again.

I'll admit it's kind of strange, but late last night as I was falling asleep, something about this idea struck me as being right. It fits.

I've been thinking about APO's code names: Sydney is Phoenix, Jack is Raptor, and Nadia is Evergreen.

At first, I thought this simply indicated the character's almost stubborn hopefulness. Nadia sometimes seems downright determined to try to see the better side of those around her -- an unusual trait for a character on this show, particularly a member of the Spy Family.

Then it occurred to me that the formula that Sloane injected Nadia with was a vivid shade of green. Not blue, not red, not purple, but green. I don't think that's coincidental.

I am wondering if, given the referential nature of other character's call signs, Nadia's code name is a clue from the writers that she is now (for)ever green because of that experience. That is, she has a piece of Rambaldi, sort of, inside her, or that experience means she's been touched by Rambaldi somehow in a way that has permanently changed her. How it changed her, I'm not 100% sure. I don't know if the Rambaldi fluid somehow influenced her to be as generous of spirit as she seems to be, or if it means that there's a hidden aspect waiting inside her that will manifest itself later.

I felt the "touched by Rambaldi" concept was corroborated by the fact that Nadia was the one branded by Anna with the Rambaldi symbol. It's burned into her skin -- a very permanent touch. Yes, the doctor said it could be removed, and presumably, it has been, but still, it happened.

However, it also seems that Nadia is trying to fight it. She asked Sydney about Rambaldi's followers, but she seems very much to be trying to avert being a victim of the prophecy's view of her fate.

I know it sounds a little crazy and goofy . . . call it a hunch, but it just feels like a piece of the puzzle.

On a slightly humorous note, crossing fandoms, I think Nadia and Lex should get together over a nice cup of tea. Not for anything romantic: I just think it would be therapeutic for both of them to discuss wanting the affection of an eeeeevil daddy. :)

In short, we don't know what Jack and Sloane are up to, we don't know if the daughters will triumph over the manipulations of the fathers, we don't know Nadia's true motivations, we don't know if Vaughn is chasing a ghost, we don't know . . . much of anything, really. Which, on this show, is how it should be. Alias is best when we don't know the answers. It's not the greatest show ever, but it's entertaining.

Let the intrigues begin.

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