Wild 'Alias' finale leaves us hanging
Fri May 2, 7:40 AM ET
Always leave 'em wanting more.
No show is more faithful to that old show-business bromide than Alias, one of TV's best serials -- and certainly its most breathless. Over the past two seasons, Alias' clever creator, J.J. Abrams, has written his heroine into a dizzying array of inescapable corners, only to pull her out at the last moment and spin her off into some new peril and direction.
Prepare to be spun again, in an unflaggingly entertaining two-hour season finale that once again launches the show into uncharted territory. In true serial fashion, secrets are revealed and mysteries are solved (though not all of either), and old dangers lead to shocking and unanticipated complications.
Does it all make sense? To the extent anything on Alias makes sense, yes. This is, after all, a show that asks you to believe in the existence of a 15th-century seer who invented a nuclear device while predicting Hiroshima. Let's just say Sunday's twists are more satisfying and convincing than David Carradine's cameo last week as a Lost Horizon monk.
The early focus is on Will (Bradley Cooper), who is suspected of being a spy, thanks to the work of a genetically altered ''double,'' Francie (Merrin Dungey). The plot expands to reunite Jack (Victor Garber) with Sloane (Ron Rifkin), and Irina (Lena Olin) with her daughter, Sydney (Jennifer Garner).
As always with Alias, some of the twists are a bit hard to follow, and many of them seem designed simply to get Garner into yet another out-there outfit. Not since Charlie's Angels has a series been as amusingly upfront about the market value of its star's feminine allure. And few stars have ever complied with as much style and humor as Garner.
Still, the key to Alias' success is that while the plots are bizarre, the characters basically are not. Alias isn't camp; the emotions and performances are meant to ring true -- as you'll see in the outstanding performances this week from Cooper and Carl Lumbly. But the entire cast works as one to invest these stories with depth, from the delightful Garner to the invaluable Garber to the charismatic Michael Vartan.
Naturally, this high-class serial ends with a cliffhanger, and as hangers go, it's a beaut. From here, there's no telling where the show is headed -- or how it got there. You'll just have to return in September.
Which is the entire point of leaving you wanting more. Alias
ABC, Sunday, 9 p.m. ET/PT
* * * * (out of four)