Today is January 5, 2005, so everyone knows what that means, right? You have it marked on your calendar so that you remember, as if you need a reminder, of exactly where you’re going to be at 9:01 pm tonight. You have it marked, don’t you? It’s only the most special day of the year. Really, there’s no other way to describe it than to say it’s Christmas in January. Alias, The Greatest Television Show Ever™, returns for Season 4 after a long hiatus.
When we last left our heroine, Sydney Bristow, she was sitting in a bank vault in Wittenberg, reading a Top Secret CIA folder implicating Sydney’s father, Jack, in some horrible secret, a present from the presumably
please let it be true but not really dead Lauren Reed. Jack walks into the room as Sydney begins to cry from the newly revealed secret. Moments before, we’d been fooled into believing the world might get a little sweeter. Sydney and Agent Michael Vaughn were embraced in a passionate kiss, standing next to a big hole in the ground dug by Lauren Reed, who’d been looking for a Rambaldi artifact. And the kissing was very open and determined, since they didn’t have to worry about Lauren any more because Sydney pushed her into the hole. The kiss was important, since the two lovers were separated after being taunted by circumstances for nearly three years. And when I say circumstances, I really mean deliciously bizarre chaos.
At the beginning of Season 3 (really, at the end of Season 2, but that’s semantics), Sydney returned from an unremembered journey to find her hard-earned love affair with Agent Vaughn demolished, lost in his struggle to move beyond the perceived reality that she had died two years earlier in a post-fight-to-the-death fire with her evil nemesis Allison, who had taken the appearance of Sydney’s ex-roommate Francie. In his efforts to start his life over, Vaughn quit the CIA and became a teacher. During that time, he met, fell in love with, and married NSA agent Lauren Reed. Ms. Reed turned out to be a double-agent, working with (and sleeping with) Mr. Sark, former independent assassin/terrorist turned leader of the North American cell of The Covenant. The Covenant used Ms. Reed to seduce Agent Vaughn to convince him to return to the CIA so that she could steal secrets and generally be evil.
The plan worked until Sydney mysteriously returned from the dead. Only she hadn’t been dead, she’d been a brain-washed secret agent for the Covenant, which had faked her death after the fire. Allison was Sark’s lover before Sydney killed her. Sark doesn’t like Sydney too much, but that’s okay because she’s not a really big supporter of him either. Their relationship works that way.
So Sydney came back to a life that didn’t make any sense. Her lover, Agent Vaughn was now married to Lauren Reed, so there’s obviously conflict. But Sydney faced a bigger immediate problem. While she was gone, her intelligent, intuitive father knew that she wasn’t dead. When he went looking for her, believing that a conspiracy existed, he became so determined that he skirted the rules. He’s a spy, too, so he’s good at that stuff. Anyway, the CIA didn’t like this, so they locked him up in a scary institution. Jack got all
weird Zen during his imprisonment, growing a beard and speaking in double-speak. Eventually, Sydney got him released because she needed an ally. She’d done some bad things during her lost two years, things that couldn’t come to light if she wanted to stay in the CIA. And since Agent Vaughn was in the CIA again, she wanted to stay. Screw Lauren. So the conflict and back-stabbing continued throughout the season as Sydney (our heroine, remember) worked through every bad situation. Sometimes, she even had to beat people up. It was cool.
And that’s where we left our heroine (and hero, Vaughn, because he kicks ass, too) in May 2004 when Season 3 ended, sitting in a bank vault in Wittenberg with new information about her father. And now, tonight, Alias is back with the two-hour premiere of Season 4, which I will watch in High Definition, which makes me happier than it should. (That’s a lie. It’s Alias, so all other rules of logic and common sense aren’t applicable.)
Of course, I could be a little apprehensive about tonight. I’ve waited a long time for the return of Alias. What if it doesn’t live up to expectations? What if J.J. Abrams is too distracted by his newest creation of genius, Lost? (If you’re counting excellent television shows, Mr. Abrams is three-for-three with Alias, Lost, and Felicity. What can I say, I’m a 12-year-old girl…) Most worrisome, what if the hiatus was too long and not enough people return to the series? I spent less time in my mother’s womb than the eight months that Alias has been gone. But I’m confident and there’s a simple reason: after only 7½ months of gestation, look at how perfectly I turned out. If the new season of Alias is even close to that level, I’m sure we’ll get the best season yet of The Greatest Television Show Ever™.