Nomad (nomadicwriter) wrote in the_retelling,

5x13 30 Seconds

AKA the one where they took what was mostly a pretty good episode and inexplicably crammed the Worst Scene Ever in it.

1. Is Sydney's blonde wig here supposed to look unrealistic? I hope so.

2. Heh. I see Renée went to the Sydney Bristow school of improvised solutions. When in doubt, take hostages and rob the place.

3. Hey, if they pardoned Sloane - twice! - and let him work for APO, then why not Renée?

4. The CIA have these super-whizzy incredibly zoomable satellites, and yet they don't get colour footage? That seems like an oversight.

5. Um... if their copy of page forty-seven is, well, a copy, couldn't they, you know, make another so Jack could take it with him and they could analyse it? Just a thought.

6. And why does Marshall look so surprised that Jack's going to see Sloane, given that Sloane works with them? Unless he's just surprised that Jack is consulting him about Rambaldi. But, uh, they did that last episode, and nobody seemed overly concerned. They're telegraphing Sloane's upcoming return to the dark side a bit by having people preemptively be more suspicious of him than they have been for months now.

7. Aw, Sloane. The suffocation of Nadia scene is really awful to watch.

8. And Jack rushes desperately, if misguidedly, to Nadia's defence. Not a man who comprehends the idea of euthanasia at all, Jack. To him, survival of a daughter is everything. Another bit of proof, I think, that he would never have done what Sloane did at the end of s4 if their positions had been reversed.

9. ...You know, thinking on it, it would have made a much more compelling and believable reason for Sloane's return to the dark side if Nadia really had died at this point. Sloane would have blamed Jack for stopping him in mid-cure, Irina might well have blamed both of them, and Jack would have had angst over whether it was truly his fault or the cure had been fake all along... really, the whole thing would have made a lot more emotional sense than the motivations we actually got. (Not that we ever did get any for Irina.)

10. I love how, when Nadia stirs and starts to wake, Sloane's first reaction is to look at Jack, like, 'hey, did you just see that?'

11. Um, Syd, I know you're eager to see your baby sis and all, but if Jack and Sloane are both waiting outside the room, and Jack says, "She's with the doctor now," does that really translate to 'so go ahead and barge on in there'? Although I guess Nadia did slip back into zombie mode before Syd got a chance to see her last time.

12. Someone has thoughtfully done Nadia's makeup for her since she first woke up. So do you think it was Jack or Sloane?

13. Sloane is sitting very elegantly on that bench there. The man has a gift for striking a pose.

14. This is actually a very lovely little scene in the middle of an episode full of forced moments. The slight awkwardness between them where they're fishing for things to say; Sloane's silent disappointment that Nadia's staying with Syd and not him; the way Sloane is both so pleased to see Nadia interacting with Syd and the baby and immediately excluded by that... it's all great and subtle and rings very true.

The Sloane-Nadia arc of this episode desperately needed to be played out over a stretch of at least three. Episode one, the cure and the happy reunion; episode two, Sloane feeling excluded and abandoned now that Nadia is better and much more interested in her relationship with Syd than him; episode three, the return to Rambaldi and the tragic end. Even that still feels a little bit rushed - the whiplash speed at which it all plays out here is just crazy.

15. The real tragedy of this is that of course Sloane isn't working with Prophet Five any more, and wouldn't even have turned his attention to page forty-seven if Jack hadn't told him about the hidden message in an attempt to entrap him.

16. Syd sticks up for Sloane's good qualities to Nadia. Aw, Syd. You're so determined to be a hardened professional who cannot be swayed, and you so can't help your impulse to be fair to people.

17. And then she's honest with Nadia about their suspicions. This is an unusually sensible move for a member of the Bristow family.

18. Zurich! Huh. I wonder if Omnifam continues without Sloane at the head. And if it's doing halfway as well.

19. Oh, God, most blatant advertising plug for Ford ever? I am embarrassed for them both for having to say this dialogue. Not cool, Ford people!

20. "Regardless of what we find, I believe your father's feelings for you are genuine." / "I wish that was enough for him..." The caption people mistranscribed this as "I wish there was enough room." This caused me no end of confusion until I located a transcript.

21. "Sloane's... not the only family you have, you know." Awww.

22. And then we have a dramatic close-up on the Hybrid logo. Butt out, Ford, you're stepping on an otherwise nice moment.

23. Okay, it seems bizarre for Nadia to refer to her father as "Sloane" here, even if she's trying to distance herself from him. You could call it careless writing, but I prefer to use it a launchpad for my wacky conspiracy theory. This is not Nadia, but a fake Nadia. Prophet 5 only ever had a temporary cure, so they swapped her for a helixed operative to make Sloane believe it worked and are keeping the real Nadia in a secret facility somewhere. And Sloane figured this out, and teamed up with Irina to go after the immortality formula which would be the true cure... You know it makes sense.

24. I have no doubt all this clinical trial data is legit. Of course Sloane would have been trying alternate routes to try and do an end-run around Prophet 5, and it's very much his style to use a facility in the same place he's going for more dodgy reasons to cover his own tracks.

25. "Very well done, but a fake." It's not that well done, dude; when Rachel was reading it the other episode it had entirely the wrong wording on the prophecy.

26. Whoa, shaky-cam is shaky. Was that necessary? Really, guys, Victor Garber is perfectly capable of making looking at a box full of documents seem dramatic all by himself, you don't need to resort to camera tricks for urgency.

27. Despite what's coming up I kind of love that Sloane has gone out and bought himself a cuddly 'dad' sweater. It's not like anything we've ever seen him wear before. (Insert your Sloane is a clone theory here if desired.)

28. Sloane always has these awesome houses with awesome offices... do the CIA just let him keep all the money he makes from his criminal activities?

29. ...Hiding the manuscript page under a folder? Wow, that Rambaldi stuff rots your brain fast, Sloane. That's not exactly superspy behaviour. You didn't have time to lock it in the safe and pretend you were just in the bathroom when the doorbell rang? Our word of the day is CONTRIVED. Get ready to hear it a lot.

30. Holy crap, look at that house. Sloane is doing damn well off those ill-gotten gains.

31. Ron Rifkin's mouth kind of quivers after the "I need to admit something to you". Goddamn, he's good.

32. Why the hell is Nadia still wearing that hospital bracelet X number of hours/days later? (Exactly how well did Jack babyproof Syd's apartment? Were there no sharp things left in the building?) It was daylight approaching evening when Nadia arrived at Sloane's, and she and Jack went to the warehouse the night before; therefore she has supposedly slept a night in between and spent most of the following day without taking it off. CONTRIVED.

33. We're supposed to believe that Sloane didn't just shove the stolen manuscript that could potentially get him executed under something to 'hide' it, he LEFT A CORNER STICKING OUT? There are no words.

34. Really, Sloane is actually somewhat on the level when he says "It's not what it looks like", since he's apparently had the manuscript in storage without touching it for years - until Jack went and baited him with the news there's a hidden message Prophet Five wants. Which would make this extra tragic if it wasn't so CONTRIVED.

35. Much as I love and adore Ron Rifkin and never, ever thought I'd say this - I really don't feel that he's playing this argument scene with very much conviction. Not that I can blame him at all, because it's both poorly written and out of character. Do I buy that Sloane would, in the heat of the moment, push Nadia aside to rescue a burning Rambaldi page? Okay, fine, I think you could sell me that. Do I buy the preceding crap where he begs her not to make him choose? No way in hell. Not only have the events of s4 proved that he is capable of choosing Nadia over Rambaldi, but even if he didn't make that choice, he would still say he was doing it. He would tell Nadia that she was more important to him than Rambaldi - and probably believe himself that he truly meant it, even if it later turned out to be BS. That's the way Sloane rolls, and it always has been.

36. All right, so, the Glass Table of Death is A, cheap and crappy and totally at odds with every other piece of furniture ever seen in Sloane's possession, and B, not even freakin' there when Nadia walks through the office at the start of this scene. There's a wooden table with chairs, beyond that there's the desk. The glass table isn't seen when she walks through and there's no logical place in the room that it could possibly be standing near enough for her to be pushed into it. This has gone beyond contrived and into completely embarrassing. I mean, God, they couldn't even fit it into an establishing shot? It's NOT THERE!

In summary:

- It's ridiculous that a man as devious as Sloane would hide the manuscript so poorly.
- It's hopelessly contrived that Nadia, who's been out of the hospital for at least one full night and day, would wait until she got to Sloane's to remove her hospital bracelet.
- It's out of character for Sloane to overtly tell Nadia that he doesn't want to choose between her and Rambaldi.
- The coffee table that kills Nadia is not properly integrated into either the scene (we never see it in any establishing shot before the death) or the setting (it doesn't fit with the rest of Sloane's furniture).

So to work, the scene relies on Sloane doing something really stupid, Nadia waiting an implausibly long time to do something simple, Sloane saying out of character things, and the random appearance of a method of death that's neither signposted nor appropriate to the setting. I think this undoubtedly wins the series award for Worst Scene Ever.

37. Marshall briefing Jack on the plan with toys is pointlessly silly, but I'm more confused by the fact that he's briefing Jack at all. This plan doesn't appear to have any technical component that requires Marshall's expertise, and Jack is both the boss and resident game theorist, so... shouldn't he be the one giving out the plan? Or at least having it told to him by, say, Dixon? This whole scene makes no sense.

38. I love Syd's little nod when Renée says, "I trust you; it's everyone else that's the problem," like, 'Oh, boy, I hear that.'

39. The killing of Renée, in comparison to the godawful Nadia scene, is flawlessly done, and therefore a lot more shocking even though I have next to no emotional investment in Renée and plenty in Nadia.

40. "Death is a necessary sacrifice, necessary to complete the final leg of this journey" is a very interesting phrase for Sloane to use in his message to Jack, considering what happens in the finale. It doesn't seem to refer to Nadia's death, but rather the fact that Sloane has to die to trigger the immortality serum. Does he still think he can save Nadia somehow? Is he leaving a clue for Jack about his intentions?

41. The scene where Syd finds Renée is beautifully done, too. I don't understand how this can be done so well and the Sloane-Nadia plot so badly. Was it forcibly jammed in at the last minute to set up the finale?

42. Oh, and Jack's face on finding Nadia. That helps finally bring in the horror that the earlier scene should have had but didn't.

43. Sloane is wearing his green glasses of evil. Does he pick out frames according to his mood?


That was... mostly not a terrible episode, and thematically Nadia's death could have worked, but the actual execution - no pun intended - was dire, dire, dire. It's the pivotal scene that every bit of Sloane's series-ending arc hinges on, and they screwed it so badly that even Ron Rifkin's acting couldn't save it. Yeouch.
Tags: 5x13 - 30 seconds, discussion post
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