Alias Season 4
It's always amusing when writers find a way to "communicate" with their audience. In Season 4 of Alias it's clear that the writers had heard the complaints about Season 3. Right in the first episode they have Vaughn say "last year sucked!" It was one of those air-clearing moments that lets you sit back and have fresh hope for a new season of quality viewing.
Season 4 was definitely better than Season 3. You had a bit of touch-and-go (which seemed a bit phony) between Syd and Vaughn but they settled into a comfortable routine after a while. You had the great acting and power of Sloan and Jack. I really loved the dynamic of Syd's sister being in the mix, and her relationship with Erik. I liked the locations and stories in general.
There were a few "this is really stupid!!" moments in here - one that stands out in my mind is when Vaughn is questioning a guy who he needs information from - and the guy very openly puts some tablets into his mouth and swallows them. DUH! Thank goodess, though, there weren't any super-blatant product peddling like the infamous Ford F-150 episode in Season 3.
On the down side, the first set of episodes are really disjointed and some make very little sense. There are several issues that barely sustain belief - and many plot items are brought up and then promptly abandoned. You've lost the great story arc that defined Season 2. They're doing little firefights that have little real meaning. The whole Rimbaldi thread is very weak now. A giant artifact that Sloan and daughter found is ignored. It does come back later in the series, but after 4 years of build-up, it really doesn't seem to be an "ending" when it happens. It's more like a fizzle. I suppose you could say "this really wasn't the 'end clash' - that comes later" but after a while that drags on. Also, in some episodes they say "both will die" and in other episodes they say "only one will survive". Which is it?
I *really* missed Syd's mother - it was like she just "vanished" from the show. They barely mentioned her, just saying "Oh, she's dead." She was a great character and I think at the beginning of the season they should have spent more time on the events surrounding her.
Things do get better later in the series - the story starts to come together and characters get some really amazing moments to work with. You get "under the skin" of several of them which is great. Still, though, like I said, the end just isn't very satisfying. The Rimbaldi resolution is weak.
In particular, the "cliffhanger" is one that both made no sense at all to me and upset me. It used a device seen on the Sopranos and a few commercials that is more shock-value than emotional-depth. I really compare this with the ending of Season 2. With Season 2 it was a shock - but it was amazingly brilliant, with emotional power and leaving you really pondering what was going to happen. With Season 4, it was more of an in-your-face power hit with pretty much no emotional depth at all. Given the 4 years of history, it really came out of nowhere. It was a classic Deux Ex Machina where apparently the writers, not having "seeded" this event at all in any of the storyline, said to themselves "OK what if THIS became true?" It would be like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings going through the entire 3 movies and then at the end saying "OK I'm actually a goblin spy for Mordor".
In any case, there were many good moments in this season, far more than illogical moments. I am sad to hear that Season 5 will be the last, and wish they could have kept up the momentum of Season 2 throughout the show. If they had, we might have had this series for many more years to come.
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