Sydney faces the Man on ”Alias”’ finale
One of my favorite leisure time activities of the past year has been piecing together the intricate jigsaw that is ”Alias.” Many hours have been idled away pondering the identity of Will’s Deep Throat, mulling the Man’s master plan, and wondering where in the world is Sydney Bristow’s mother. The May 12 season finale did much to fill out this slowly emerging puzzle picture. It was an exhilarating hour, packed with plot, action, and touches of priceless detail. And yet is it possible for an episode to be this good and still be slightly disappointing? The answer is yes — but more on that in a minute.
So, of course, Will Tippin didn’t die after getting shot by Khasinau errand boy Mr. Sark in last week’s episode — the gun was loaded with tranquilizer darts. Shanghaied to Taipei, Will was tortured by none other than that nasty Asian man from the pilot episode, the one who specializes in tooth extraction. Sark wanted Will to spill how much he knew about ”the Circumference,” which was next to nothing; if you recall, Jack Bristow had the scruffy reporter name-drop ”the Circumference” to smoke out Will’s deep throat. In one of the finale’s several cliff-hangers, Will’s newspaper decided to run with his SD-6 exposé, per his wish that they do so should he go missing.
While Will got his teeth pulled (painfully), Sark made a phone call to Syd offering a trade: Will for the blank Rambaldi document. Syd went to her father for assistance. Their conversation, in which Syd confronted her father about his cold detachment, established a rich thematic vibe that lent great weight to Jack’s actions in this episode — beginning with his brutal vengeance killing of CIA agent Haladki, who was revealed to be a Khasinau mole. (R.I.P. Joey Slotnick, pitch-perfect as the loathsome Haladki.)
After Vaughn volunteers to join Syd and Jack in their rogue operation, it was off to Taipei. Here, we learned about ”the Circumference,” a giant crimson golf ball that’s some sort of Rambaldi-designed doomsday device. (Or at least, I think that’s what it is.) Jack traded the document for Tippin, who at first looked like he was about to punch Bristow or spit in his face, but instead embraced him. (A nice, touching twist.) Meanwhile, Sydney blew up ”the Circumference,” which caused a cascade of water to flash flood Khasinau’s basement complex. Syd escaped, but Vaughn did not, and we were left thinking Vaughn had drowned in the deluge. (However, methinks Syd’s smitten CIA handler will find some way out.)
The final scene brought the season full circle, with a captured Syd once again bound to a chair. As the shadow of the Man slowly approached, my mind was racing: Who could it be? I considered Dixon, who had earlier confronted Syd with his suspicions that she was betraying SD-6. I even considered Sloane, who finally revealed the truth about his work to his wife, and who slipped… something (poison?) in her wine. Instead, the shadowy figure said ”I’ve been waiting for this moment for almost 30 years,” and a shell-shocked Syd issued the episode’s final line: ”Mom?”
And so, we go into the summer hiatus with the revelation that the man behind the man who has bedeviled Syd much of the season is, in fact, her traitorous mother. So why am I feeling just a little disappointed? Maybe it’s because the big reveal wasn’t much of a surprise at all: ”Alias” has been telegraphing this development for months. (Maybe the mystery villain shouldn’t have been dubbed the Man, a conspicuously gender-specific code name that only begged questioning.) Consequently, the biggest ”Alias” cliff-hanger ever, which should have been a doozy, was something of an anticlimax. That being said, the finale was a rich and (mostly) rewarding roller-coaster ride. I may not be on the edge of my seat for the next season to start — but I am impatiently tapping my feet.