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Season 2 of Alias was a high point of the show, with the way it switched things up and delivered twists. It must have been hard to come up with a season that would measure up. And while Season 3 undoubtedly has its moments of greatness, it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the past two seasons. You can still enjoy the show however, despite the hiccups present in this flawed season. Caution, spoilers will follow.

We arrive back with Sydney Bristow(Jennifer Garner), who has discovered that for two years she has been missing and presumed dead. Alias Season 3 PosterPlus she has been left with no real memory of what happened to her. When she returns to the CIA, a lot of things have changed in her absence. Dixon(Carl Lumbly) has been made one of the directors, her father Jack(Victor Garber) was imprisoned for converting with Irina for information on Sydney( though Sydney manages to secure his release), Sloane(Ron Rifkin) has made a deal with the CIA to give information on other criminals, tech wizard Marshall(Kevin Weisman) is expecting a child. The most devastating of all these changes is that Vaughn(Michael Vartan) is now married to NSC agent Lauren Reed(Melissa George), who helps out in operations. Vaughn temporarily left the CIA following what he thought was Sydney’s death, but is brought back into the fold once more. Sydney, while still strong, is frightened and wants to know what happened to her in those missing years. Having to see Vaughn on a day-to-day basis poses another struggle as she harbors deep romantic feelings that have been thwarted. Unbeknownst to Sydney and everyone else, Lauren is in fact working for a criminal organisation soon to be identified as The Covenant. Sydney Bristow Season 3One thing that Sydney does know, thanks to her father’s digging is that she shockingly killed a man, yet can’t recall how and why she did so. The burden of everything begins to weigh heavily upon a shocked and confused Sydney. Add to that Sark(David Anders) is at large again and the new organisation of The Covenant stirring up the criminal underworld, and it’s yet more complex motives to navigate. Will she discover, with the help of those around her such as good friend Weiss(Greg Grunberg), what sinister machinations The Covenant has and how those two years she lost are linked to them?

While it boasts some well crafted episodes, Season 3 falters and loses some momentum along the way of the journey. Parts of this season are undeniably flawed in the very least. There is a feeling that Abrams and his crew are trying to recapture the greatness of what they have built up, but misfires a bit in their attempts. The uneven tone of this season doesn’t help, as there are good episodes but also just as many sub-par ones. While Alias has always had a somewhat wacky premise to it, the other seasons kept it flowing in a good fashion. Here, they are running out of steam a little and it does show. I think some of it stems from the absence of both Irina and Will. Those two characters were very good and added their own touches to it, with Irina driving the last season. Granted Will appears once, but it’s only a short appearance. The writers try to distance from the formula but this doesn’t necessarily work as it tries to be too different to what has come before. AVaughn and Sydneynd I can understand them wanting there to be drama between Sydney and Vaughn to some extent, but the inclusion of Lauren as the hurdle is not exactly great in terms of a storytelling device. I felt there needed to be more Rambaldi centred episodes of which the first half of Season 3 lacks. But as it progresses, Rambaldi returns once more. All of these negatives being said, I don’t think Season 3 is nearly as bad as some make out. It’s just the lack of focus that marks it down in my estimations.

Now that the negatives are out the way, I’ll talk of the positives to be gleaned. There is definitely many parts of Season 3 to praise as it isn’t a complete disaster; just can’t be categorized as vintage Alias like the first two seasons. Sydney Season 3The visual side of Alias remains intact, with brightly coloured settings and extraordinary costumes a real joy to observe. The editing is quick and frequently inventive as it follows Sydney’s dangerous everyday life. And the music is pretty stellar; having an electronic pulse but expanding into more orchestral and emotive flourishes. Despite some weaknesses with the plotting, Alias remains mysterious and can still grip when it hits the heights. Special mention must go to the following episodes. ‘Repercussions’ has Sydney and Lauren locking horns on how to deal with the case of a Covenant kingpin. Sloane is enlisted as a double agent and though he seems to want to help, Sydney won’t trust him in this fast-paced installment. ‘Prelude’ features the disturbing dreams of Sydney that could link to the past and her past misdeed being possibly discovered. This leads Jack to take desperate and dangerous action to protect his daughter from exposure. It’s one eventful episode that all ties back to Sydney’s missing years. ‘Full Disclosure’ is possibly the best episode of Season 3 as it gives some answers as to Sydney’s past that shake her to the core. It’s a revelation episode that knows how to keep you glued. Lauren’s duplicity comes close to being discovered in the tense ‘The Frame’ and ‘Unveiled’ in which Sydney and the CIA also have to keep tabs on a Rambaldi artefact that could be hazardous for all who want it.

Season 3 has its share of flaws, the acting thankfully from out of the cast isn’t one of them. Jennifer Garner aces it as Sydney, who is more vulnerable than ever. She can still kick ass when it is needed, but this season features Sydney at her most terrified and confused. Sydney BlondeGarner is a dab hand at getting across Sydney’s painful plight to discover the truth, despite her fear of what it may reveal. Garner is the only person who could play the role of Sydney this well and she owns it from head to toe. She is Sydney Bristow from start to finish thanks to her stellar and emotive acting. I continue to be impressed by the acting of Victor Garber as Jack. Given that the character is one who usually sports a poker face and a severely cynical outlook, it is amazing how much Garber can bring out in Jack, particularly his concern for his daughter. Through small gestures, Victor Garber demonstrates an immense subtlety and quiet power in the role that he makes all his own. Carl Lumbly plays with low-key brilliance Dixon, who is now in a higher position within the agency. The down to earth charisma and soulfulness are thankfully still present in the character and the great delivery of Lumbly. Ron Rifkin essays the part of Sloane, who has allegedly come over to the side of good, but is still crafty as a fox. Rifkin is most successful at showing Sloane’s manipulative and creepy tendencies as he knows how to reel people in with his ways and get them to divulge what he needs. Some great scenes are generated from his meetings with Sydney who he toys with, yet can’t beat due to her quick wit and intellect in not succumbing to him. Arvin Sloane Season 3He’s something of a complex villain, who alternates between strangely sympathetic and downright evil holding all the cards thanks to the good work of Rifkin. Michael Vartan continues to grow as Vaughn, who is caught in a moral quagmire between his undying love for Sydney and his new wife. Although he tries to hide it, Vaughn still can’t let Sydney go because of how much history they share. A darkness also colours Vaughn this season that adds significant depth to the latter half. Michael Vartan knows how to hit the right notes of indecision and dilemma as Vaughn is forced to acknowledge his feelings.

The most problematic role of the show is that of the deceptive Lauren. Melissa George is a very good actress, but even she can’t save a woefully underwritten part. Lauren Reed AliasThe character is supposed to be assertive and slightly innocent, but the way she comes off is as a petulant girl rather than cold-blooded agent. None of this is George’s fault as she tries her best, Lauren just doesn’t hold the interest that well in the main frame of the stories. Reptilian nastiness and suave sophistication are embodied by David Anders returning as the opportunistic Sark. Anders can turn the charm on like no ones business but can be devilishly cool as well as cruel, making Sark even more despicable. Kevin Weisman is an utter hoot playing Marshall once more, it’s impossible not to laugh at his comic timing and array of facial expressions. Comic relief also comes courtesy of Greg Grunberg as friendly Weiss. Weiss is the kind of person who you could talk to about anything and he’d have a funny answer to it. With Grunberg in the part, he becomes a good asset for Alias.

  1. The Two – C+
  2. Succession – C-
  3. Reunion – B+
  4. A Missing Link – D
  5. Repercussions – A
  6. The Nemesis – B
  7. Prelude – A
  8. Breaking Point – C-
  9. Conscious – B
  10. Remnants – C
  11. Full Disclosure – A+
  12. Crossings – B-
  13. After Six – B+
  14. Blowback – D
  15. Facade – D-
  16. Taken – B+
  17. The Frame – A
  18. Unveiled – A
  19. Hourglass – B
  20. Blood Ties – C+
  21. Legacy – B
  22. Resurrection – B+

It’s not to say that Season 3 of Alias is horrendous, in fact parts of it are very good thanks to the cast and how it still provides thrills. It just happens to be the most flawed season of Alias thus far. Still, it can be enjoyed, though one hopes Season 4 is a lot more coherent and thought out.