Nomad (nomadicwriter) wrote in the_retelling,
Nomad
nomadicwriter
the_retelling

5x16 Reprisal

1. I love the parallels of this introductory voiceover to the season one opening VO. (And yeah, Syd really doesn't have much luck with fiancés being gunned down, does she?)

2. I can't say I'm buying Prophet 5 as the ultimate big bad they're trying to make it out as, though. It just doesn't have the established history within the show. Which I guess is why they went with Sloane and Irina as the real bad guys.

3. I also love the location flash being Sydney. I'm glad they waited until the finale to pull that one.

4. Is Jack wearing his leather jacket again? This finale is starting out with many omens of great awesome.

5. I also like all the quick intercutting to locations across the globe, and Jack as the spymaster at the centre of it all.

6. And Marshall in the steam room in his T-shirt. Hee.

7. "Why do I always get the assignments that involve hypothermia?" / "Because you're always late to briefings." Hee. I love you, Jack.

8. And Jack getting a photo for Isabelle. That's so cute. I guess he's adjusted to the idea of being a 'very young' grandfather? And he totally doesn't react to the instruction to "Smile!" Heh heh heh.

9. And then we get a classic Alias roof leap! This opening sequence is all gold.

10. Yay, Sloane recruits Peyton! He always has had an eye for talent. And hmm, Peyton and Sark? She is totally his type. Pity they didn't bring Sark back a few episodes earlier so we had a chance to see the two of them interacting.

11. Is this the first time we've seen Syd seriously studying Rambaldi's work? I think it actually might be. Even with everything, she's never taken it seriously before.

12. Hey, it's Carrie. I kind of like this scene, because we finally see them being vaguely couple-y instead of Carrie's harranguing played for comedy. Even though the affection is still mostly on Marshall's side. Seriously, I know Marshall is designated comic relief character and I'm down with that, but he's also a complete sweetheart, so it would be nice to have some evidence now and then that he actually has a happy home life.

...Also, it has taken me this entire time to make the connection between Carrie being a fan of Joni Mitchell and their son's name. I are alert and perceptive.

13. The Grace/Rachel stuff is quite sweet, really. ...And then he flees from the prospect of emotional connection. Cementing my impression that whatever line they might try to sell us about Vaughn, Grace is definitely the one who qualifies as Jack Bristow Junior.

14. Having just noted Marshall's role as comic relief... he gets to be totally kickass in this scene with Sloane.

15. And yay, they remembered that Carrie was herself part of the NSA's Rambaldi task force.

16. Jack sounds so emotional when he says, "You were right about him." He's so devastated by the idea of giving up on Arvin, even after everything. Wibble.

17. And then he outright says as much. Damn. And confirmation that Sloane was Sydney's designated guardian, as only makes logical sense. Who else did Jack have? Oh, even though this scene is supposed to be striking a death blow for the Jack-Sloane friendship, it manages to confirm its existence so strongly that I love it with all my heart. And it's doubly tragic because I still don't believe that Arvin's betrayal was something in any way guaranteed to happen. If Nadia hadn't died, could he have saved himself for her as he did before? I really do think he could have.

18. I like Vaughn's little, 'Hi, yeah, not dead, etc.' awkward smile when he meets Carrie. He must be pretty used to that reaction by now.

19. And Marshall gets to be really awesome again. This was actually a truly inspired choice of character to confront Sloane with, because he gets through in a way that yet another speech from Sydney or Dixon really could. And he does get though, as we see from the next scene.

...That said, "I never liked you" is a pretty annoying retcon. Marshall did like Sloane, and was even saddened by the idea of him being executed back before there was any hint of him being redeemable. There's no need to cheapen his moment of standing up to Sloane by pretending away the previous character dynamics. 'I was the guy who was willing to give you a second chance,' would have been just as powerful, if not more so.

20. And then Sloane just shows up in the parking lot to meet Sydney; full marks, I was not expecting that. (I notice he's wearing his sunglasses of evildoing - he doesn't want Syd to be able to read his emotions.)

21. How much do I love that Sloane waves and mouthes "hello" at the baby immediately after threatening Sydney? A very lot. Especially since he's avoided taking that kind of liberty in his humbled APO persona. Now that he's joined the dark side again, he clearly figures 'what the hell'. ...I love him so.

22. Actually, taking advantage of Syd's compassion to get her to convince his captives to give in is pretty smart. Oh, Arvin, genius to the end.

23. Sark actually looks a bit guilty for torturing Rachel. Evidence of conscience!

24. What the hell is up with Vaughn's spiky hair?

25. I like that they have Carrie be the one to actually decode Marshall's message, as well as just recognising that it is one.

26. "Good work! As usual." *dismissive wave* Oh, Sloane.

27. "Eliminate them." Cold, Sloane. He's in full s2 ruthless mode again.

28. Wow, the effects on this whole mountain sequence are pretty bad. The snow is bad, the green-screening is bad, and that cave is totally made out of plastic. Did they run out of budget right on the finale? Ouch. Shame on you, network guys, you couldn't even splash out for a special occasion?

29. "Sydney. You came." Now that's an interesting thing for Sloane to say. Is he just completely raving by now, or did he plan all along for Sydney to follow the trail? Judging by Sloane's previous form with intricate plans, it's not impossible that he fully factored in Marshall passing a message and Syd rescuing them in time to get the Mount Subasio clue.

30. "Remember when you were a little girl and you came to live with Emily and me?" Well, she obviously didn't in the SD-6 years, Arvin. Which makes her, "I try not to dwell on it," response a bit of a retcon. I guess we must presume Sloane took the time to have a nice cosy little chat with her about it at some off-screen opportunity? (I can think of no time when it wouldn't be horribly inappropriate given the state of their relationship, but with Sloane, that is no barrier.)

31. Also, it's very telling that Sloane says "came to live with" rather than "stay with". That said, is it me or does this retcon actually make Sloane's paternal pretensions towards Sydney considerably less creepy? If he was effectively Syd's foster father for perhaps a full six months, that's a very different thing from just random possessiveness towards someone else's child.

(It also makes it weirder that Syd didn't remember the Sloanes at first, but, eh. I have no damn clue what I was doing for most of the year I was six, and that's without the loss of a parent and top secret brainwashing techniques in the mix. So I think we can probably let that one slide.)

32. Plus, it seems to me that the most likely timeline is that Emily's pregnancy with Jacquelyn came fairly soon after they had to give Sydney back up to Jack, making it a bit of a double-whammy of child loss there. No wonder Sloane has issues with a capital Ish.

33. The image of little Syd determinedly rescuing stuffed animals from drowning is both very sad and so perfectly apt.

34. "You can't rescue everyone," is an interesting line for Sloane to have been building up to in this speech, especially given that it was triggered by her telling him she's taking him into custody. You could interpret it as him telling her not to blame herself for the APO bomb that's coming up, but to me it kind of feels like he's talking about himself, the fact that his soul can't be saved. (Which, if he believes it, is pretty much self-fulfilling prophecy.)

I kind of have a theory that Sloane, who presumably knows he has to die to trigger off his immortality ("Death is a necessary sacrifice, necessary to complete the final leg of this journey") believes it has to be - or just wants it to be - Sydney who kills him. And therefore all of this - giving the kill order for Marshall and Rachel, the bomb, the nukes, and ultimately shooting Jack - is intended to push her to the point where she will actually pull the trigger instead of trying to bring him in alive yet again.

35. In fact, here, see... Sloane left behind a schematic of the LA subway system? I can't believe he would have done that by accident. That's a warning. Not a guaranteed warning, but nonetheless one he could easily have avoided giving. He let Marshall pass Syd a message; he pulled Sark and Peyton out of the room together to discuss plans, leaving Marshall and Rachel alone; he left clues to his plans for APO in the safe house... I think you can definitely make a case that Sloane's plan requires him to appear one hundred percent committed to destroying his former allies, but he's willing to leave them chances to save themselves.

36. The Twelve don't have precautions in place against being machine-gunned down? Lame, Twelve.

37. Oh, Grace. Yikes. We don't actually get to see the timer on the bomb when he decides to stay, so I sat there and checked it with my watch. It's almost exactly one minute from the time he makes the last spray on the timer to when the bomb goes off. He had the time to get out. And it was timing that killed him, because if he hadn't been handed the perfect suicide opportunity this soon after learning the circumstances of his wife's death, would he have got over it? We can't know.

That was another death done right. They've all been done right so far except Nadia's, which... makes it bug all the more, frankly.

+++

Credit where it's due: whatever the flaws that come before and after, that right there was a fantastic episode.

Next week... it's the end, folks.
Tags: 5x16 - reprisal, discussion post
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