2000's, Alias, Alias Season 5, Amy Acker, Élodie Bouchez, Balthazar Getty, Carl Lumbly, Greg Grunberg, J. J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Kevin Weisman, Mia Maestro, Michael Vartan, Rachel Nichols, Ron Rifkin, Victor Garber
I’ve finally arrived at the final season Alias. After an eventful run, here is where everything finishes. I have totally enjoyed watching this engaging show that combined spies and dramas. So the final season of the show has a lot riding on it to wrap things up and provide good closure. I’m happy to report that it does just that. It may not be the finest season of the show, but it successfully provides us with a thrilling finish to remember as Sydney Bristow’s emotional journey in the spy world comes to an end. Caution, big spoilers will be found in this review as it is the last season and a lot happens.
We open right where Season 4 left us with Vaughn(Michael Vartan) opening up to Sydney(Jennifer Garner) about how he has secrets and that his name isn’t really Michael Vaughn. A car crash soon cuts these revelations short as Vaughn is abducted during this. These events leave Sydney reeling as she attempts to fathom everything going on. She learns that Vaughn is under suspicion of being a double agent, which throws her into shock. Vaughn manages to explain his past after escaping. His real name is Andre and he has been investigating Prophet Five, a mysterious and deadly organisation that his late father was somehow linked to. It is a complex network with underling offices such as The Shed, and Vaughn has been pursuing it with the help of known criminal Renée Rienne(Élodie Bouchez) . There is also some unexpected news for Sydney; she’s pregnant. Just as Sydney is processing some of this information, Vaughn is seemingly killed and this leaves an expectant Sydney grief-stricken. Meanwhile, Jack(Victor Garber) has been made director of APO as Sloane(Ron Rifkin) is incarcerated for his participation in the Rambaldi events in Russia. Sloane has undergone something of a change as his daughter Nadia(Mia Maestro) lies in a coma as a result of his actions and he is prepared to do anything to save her. With the presence of Prophet Five hanging over everything and Rambaldi seemingly part of it, it is not going to be easy in dismantling this evil power. New additions to the APO team are hot-headed and unorthodox Thomas Grace(Balthazar Getty) and Rachel Gibson(Rachel Nichols), a computer analyst who worked for The Shed but was duped into believing it was the US government. Though pregnant, Sydney refuses to back down from work as she fights to bring down Prophet Five, with the help of her father, Dixon(Carl Lumbly), Marshall(Kevin Weisman) and just about anyone else who can provide information. This is going to be the most difficult task for her yet and there will plenty of surprises along the way for her and the threat of Prophet Five’s end game looms larger.
As I mentioned earlier, Season 5 is not a vintage season of Alias, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t great. It is in fact very thrilling and driven by characters, all of which I’ve come to love about the show from creator J.J Abrams. The fact that the season is a little shorter than the others brings about an immediacy to the work presented, allowing both excitement and intrigue. And you can never say that Alias is dull because there is always something eventful happening. Alias retains the interest factor that has been with it even when not at its best, and this technique is employed to the fullest here. The incorporation of Sydney’s pregnancy coincided with Jennifer Garner’s real life expectancy and while this could have put some of the show on the back burner, it actually deepens the story as Sydney is protecting not just herself but her unborn child. Death plays a significant part in this last season, whether it be genuine death or simulated death. The ‘death’ of Vaughn is a gripping way to open, as I was just gobsmacked by what we are lead to believe is his demise. Thankfully through the revealing nature of the show, heroic Vaughn faked his death to save himself. There are also the deaths of Nadia and Jack, which are laced with sadness and will be discussed later in this review. Even at the end, Alias displays how inventive and unpredictable it can be having never lost the element of surprise. And I liked how all the villains from the past( like Sark and Irina) came out of the woodwork here for a final showdown of good against evil. There is a few missteps along the way which I will discuss. The characters of Weiss(Greg Grunberg) and Nadia are somewhat secondary this season which is a shame as I like both of them. Nadia has more to do than Weiss, but both suffer from a lack of material for either. There is a sense of repetition going in some of the stories here that is a bit disjointed if I’m honest as some of it has been done better in the past. Some of the episodes are a little up and down, but once the pace is settled it soars. These flaws though are relatively minor and in the scheme of things don’t do harm to what is a very good final season.
The emotional pull of Alias is very much still on show, in between the action and revelations. With it being the final season, there are tons of memorable moments of deep emotion to be discovered. The slick and stylish additions of the show are still in tact and continue to generate excitement. And the music is still a major highlight; this time setting the emotion driven season with a bittersweet core. Episodes of note are plentiful. The opening of ‘Prophet Five’ has plenty of shocks, not least the ‘death’ of Vaughn at the centre of it. The dazzling old school vibe of ‘Bob’ makes for a cool episode of intrigue and double crosses, as an old enemy makes himself known to everyone once again. Sydney gives birth to a baby girl in ‘Maternal Instinct’, while coming to terms with the return of her traitorous mother Irina, whose working for Prophet Five and has some revealing truth for her daughter. This is followed by the superb ‘There’s Only One Sydney Bristow’ which more than lives up to that title and stands as one of the best episodes Alias has produced in its history. And of course I have to talk of the exceptional finale ‘All The Time in the World’ which is eventful and very satisfying as a close to the series. The end game of Sloane, who has used Prophet Five, is finally revealed; through the use of a Rambaldi artifact he hopes to gain immortality. Elsewhere, Irina is orchestrating a devastating attack on major powers around the world. Sydney and the crew suit up for an epic showdown. There is Sloane becoming immortal, yet becoming trapped underground forever with his sins as comeuppance for everything he has done. This is thanks to a dying Jack, who was injured by Sloane, but goes out with a bang by imprisoning him where no one will find him as revenge for the torture he has plagued Sydney with. Sydney does battle with her mother, but her mother’s greed is what ultimately causes her death. In the end with all of the scores settled, we catch up seven years later with Sydney and Vaughn who are semi-retired and living in peace with two children. The ending is such a really moving one that while happy, has notes of sadness as the show has finally finished. There won’t be a dry eye in the house by the end, in the best possible way.
In this final season, the acting is sublime especially in the main cast. For the final time, Jennifer Garner rocks it as the centre of the show that is Sydney. Both physically and emotionally strong, we have journeyed with Sydney thanks to the stunning work of Garner. She has completely become the character whose determination will not be halted by anyone. It’s a complete performance of conflicting emotions and actions that remains immensely memorable throughout. We glimpse Sydney’s desires, fears and heart through the investment of the performance. Jennifer Garner is the anchor that is Sydney Bristow, and it is as simple as that. Michael Vartan, though absent through the first part of the season, provides this season with the mystery and moving moments as Vaughn must fake his death to escape being terminated by Prophet Five. The love shared between Sydney and Vaughn is here in all its glory and it’s lovely to see them together again. Throughout the show, the depth of their connection has never failed to move me and it does more than that here. Stalwart Victor Garber is his dependable self as the dedicated Jack now with an authoritative stamp, yet not above breaking the rules for the good of those closest. Jack has been one of my favourite characters within the show and he shines here. Ron Rifkin plays Sloane at his most sympathetic, yet never forgets the temptations of the man. I don’t know how Rifkin does it but he has this ability to make you really hate Sloane and then moments later feel bad for him. It’s a very good gift to have and Rifkin has it in abundance, as Sloane sets out to save his daughter but is set upon by the darkness around him and within that turns him fully on to the side of evil.
Mia Maestro, despite not being given the best material, at least makes a mark as Nadia again. She invests a lot into the character that causes her eventual fate to be tragic as she is really a victim in all of the darkness going on. It would have been nice to have seen more of Élodie Bouchez as well, even though she did a credible job in her role of the criminal helping Sydney. These are the only two people who aren’t expanded on enough, but thankfully at least the rest of the characters are. Carl Lumbly, with his easy charisma and upright seriousness and Kevin Weisman with comedic antics, are both superb as respectively Dixon and Marshall. These characters have been with the show since the beginning so it was a joy to see them at their best. Rachel Nichols has a very good part as computer specialist Rachel Gibson, a character who has some resemblance to Sydney but thankfully isn’t a carbon copy. The fact that the Rachel character has been through a similar ordeal makes her relatable and even though she isn’t as adept as others, she shows her mettle. Balthazar Getty is impressive as Tom; a man of action who doesn’t know the meaning of by the book. At first his methods are at odds with Sydney’s, but eventually he wins her over as well as the rest of the team with his effectiveness. A very good addition the cast is Amy Acker as the spineless Kelly Peyton; a worker for Prophet Five whose seemingly pleasing demeanor masks a vicious and remorseless person. She makes for one nasty villain who looks innocent when looking at appearance, but is nothing like the sweet surface projected.
- Prophet Five – A
- 1 – B+
- The Shed – B
- Mockingbird – B+
- Out of the Box – C-
- Solo – B+
- Fait Accompli – D+
- Bob – A
- The Horizon – B+
- S.O.S – C
- Maternal Instinct – A+
- There’s Only One Sydney Bristow – A+
- 30 Seconds – B
- I See Dead People – B+
- No Hard Feelings – B+
- Reprisal – A
- All the Time in the World – A+
Season 5 is a great way to finish the trials and tribulations of Sydney and other characters and it nicely bids a nice farewell to the audience who have become so invested in it.
It has been great watching this gripping show and Alias now ranks as one of my favourite television shows. I’m sad to finish it, but happy I watched it and experienced all of the events within it from the characters to the twisty stories. I bid Alias goodbye with fond memories of an inventive adventure that was as thrilling as it was deep and moving.