Credit: ALIAS: Scott Garfield/ABC

(This item contains possible season 5 spoilers about Alias. If you don’t want any surprises ruined, stop reading now. Thanks.)

Alias ranks as one of my all-time great TV affairs. Not only have I never missed an episode of ABC’s spy thriller, but I’ve always treated each one with a special brand of tender, loving fanaticism. From the opening seconds all the way to the ”Bad Robot!” signoff, I never utter a single sound — or allow a single sound to be uttered in my apartment — while Sydney & Co. travel the globe battling international baddies. After all, what’s a relationship without respect — and good listening?

Still, I’d be lying if I said that season 4 of Alias didn’t give me something of a roving eye, and now the show’s move to Thursdays this fall pits it against some highly attractive competition. (Ooh. Is that Survivor: Guatemala over by the bar?)

After many hours on my therapist’s couch, however, I’ve decided I can learn to love Alias again — if it’s willing to confront its two most serious flaws:

— First, even though most of the major players put their lives on the line every week, none ever gets killed. How high can the dramatic stakes be when characters survive massive exposures to radiation and biological weapons and speeding bullets?

— Second, the chemistry between Sydney (Jennifer Garner) and Vaughn (Michael Vartan, pictured with Garner) seems to have made like Evil Francie and disappeared. I’m not sure where it went, but considering that even their parachute-clad engagement over Sovogda failed to get my heart racing, I don’t think it’s coming back. That’s why I was so psyched when the lovebirds’ car got sideswiped in season 4’s final seconds: Killing off Vaughn (or whatever his name is supposed to be) would be like killing off Alias‘ two albatrosses with one stone. Hurrah!

An item in the New York Post‘s Page Six gossip column today seems to add fuel to Vaughn’s funeral pyre. And while an ABC spokesman tells PopWatch that Vartan appears in Alias‘ Sept. 29 season 5 premiere, he won’t confirm anything beyond that. ”All I can say is watch the show, watch how it unfolds this season, and enjoy it that way.”

Yeah, I know the possibility of Vaughn going bye-bye saddens the folks at MV Campaign, who think killing off the character is a slap in the face to the show’s loyal fans, but I say there’ll be new life after his overdue death. What do you think?