Nomad (nomadicwriter) wrote in the_retelling,

5x17 All the Time in the World

1. The kid they've got playing flashback Syd is super cute.

2. Jack looks really good in this shot where he's on the cell phone. Must be the outside lighting.

3. Jack's flashback hair dye-job is marginally better here than it was in s3, although I guess that's mainly because it's a fairly shadowy indoor shot. ...Wow, these are substansive comments I'm making here, aren't they?

4. The delivery on Jack telling little Syd the bad news is just fabulous. The cracked voice and the shakiness, and... sniff. Victor Garber, people, awesome to the end.

5. Is David Anders out of practise or something? His accent wanders completely off the map on his first line here. ...In fact, I'm wondering if this whole scene was re-dubbed, because much of it sounds a bit odd, and there is audible background noise. (Is it me, or does this entire finale project the impression that it was filmed on a budget of about $100? For shame, ABC. For shame.)

6. Okay, Arvin, quit fondling the Rambaldi artefacts, it's creepy.

7. Global genocide. Okay, that makes... no sense whatsoever, so I'm assuming it's a distraction tactic of some sort. Sloane and Irina are running a double game even against Sark and Peyton, hiding their true objective. Right?

(I will find some damn logic in this plot, even if it kills me.)

8. So little Syd only proved her skill with the Project Christmas puzzle after Laura died? Huh. I'm not quite sure if that's a retcon or not, but it does makes Jack's decision to give her the training seem much less calculated and more of a desperate measure. If he discovered she was potential project material right in the period when the FBI were closing in and he knew he was facing jail or even possible execution, then I can see how he might leap on it as a way to help her protect herself.

9. Also, this is canon proof that, at least pre-incarceration, Jack was around and making some sort of effort to interact with Sydney, so score one for the theory that Syd has a bit of a selective memory about that.

10. Huh. Jack says, "People in my line of work," to Syd, talking about the indicator test. What sort of cover story does she have for his job at this stage, or is he just not thinking about that?

(Also, I adore the fact that Jack talks to his six-year-old using phrases like "highly developed sense of three-dimensional reasoning". Of course he would.)

11. And look at that proud dad smile. Aww.

12. Despite being super cute, little Syd has, I can't help noticing, the wrong colour eyes, either blue or grey. Oopsie.

13. Using Peyton's fear of snakes! That's entertainingly evil. And also proof that Peyton and Rachel really did have some form of honest-ish friendship.

14. Sloane blowing up cities to profit off the reconstruction? No, I'm sorry, Alias writers Jack, I don't buy it. He's never shown signs of being particularly interested in money, and he believes his destiny is saving the world, not blowing bits of it up to make cash. I'm sticking with the 'fed Sark and Peyton a false plan as a distraction tactic' theory, thanks.

15. "It gets worse: Sloane is in Mongolia," is kind of a hilariously random line considering we, A, have never had any previous indication there's anything of importance there, and B, never do actually get any good explanation why an Italian prophet supposedly executed by the church for heresy should have a tomb there.

16. Interesting not-quite-retcon: that being a teacher like her mom was never really Syd's dream, just her backup plan. I think that does make sense from what we know of her. Also, nice to get the chance to see Francie again.

17. You've got to wonder why Syd never questioned how the 'CIA' picked her. Did Sloane sell her a cover story for how she was 'noticed', or does she just automatically assume they'll know how awesome she is?

18. Oh, boy, when Sloane talks to Nadia, he sounds more nuts than he ever has before. This is distinctly different from him talking to her in I See Dead People: there, he's clearly aware that she's an apparition/hallucination haunting him; here, he's just like 'Oh, hi, you showed up!'

19. That's impressive, Sloane; you're hallucinating the idea of your dead daughter looking up at the Rambaldi fireworks when you're not even looking in her direction. Boy, you really are thorough.

20. Seriously, Rambaldi, what is your obsession with floaty red balls of liquid?

21. But Sloane didn't want immortality, he in fact beat a guy to death for being that small-minded; even if he does want it deep down, he wouldn't just own up to it. (Any more than he would overtly tell Nadia that he doesn't want to choose between her and Rambaldi, AHEM.) So I feel he must have an ultimate goal beyond immortality for its own sake. My theory is that he must think, even if wholly delusionally, that he can either use the immortality serum for some grand world-saving purpose like curing all disease, or to erase all his personal mistakes by somehow bringing back the dead.

22. Okay, now Sark's accent goes wonky again? I seriously think they must have had to film all their outdoor scenes in a limited number of takes and re-dub a bunch of them. I guess it's hard to do a fake accent when you're trying to lip-synch at the same time.

23. I love the way Jack lowers his gun just looking vaguely peeved, like, 'Well, damn, that's irritating.'

24. The desperate way Sloane says, "Come on, take my offer," - he's got his backup plan of shooting Jack, but he doesn't want to use it.

25. "It appears that Vaughn is back." Heh. Not entirely sure that you're not still seeing dead people there, Sloane?

26. I get the impression that triggering Sydney to kill him rather than arrest him must have been Sloane's plan. I know he's fairly cracked by this point, but he's still capable of planning, and I don't see how he can possibly have expected to get away. He had to have the Rambaldi fluid, getting hauled away before he could get it would have ruined everything, so he did the one thing he could think of that would trigger Sydney to take vengeance rather than bring him in alive.

27. I'm also intrigued by the fact that it never seems to even occur to Sloane to shoot Vaughn, which would have the same effect but come at much less personal cost. Is it kindness to Sydney, not taking him away after she's just got him back? Some twisted conviction of Sloane's that he has to sacrifice the people he loves? Or does Vaughn just not even exist on Sloane's radar as a person of significance? I can see all three.

28. "That's right! They're having trouble with their tail-rudder controls." Hee. Jack's cover story voice is so perky.

29. Okay, Syd and Jack's flashback relationship here seems a lot warmer than previously implied. They're smiling! He's joking! Did their estrangement only kick off in earnest when she got recruited? That's fascinating. And tragic.

30. You see Jack blink as soon as she says she's got a job at a bank. He's already thinking it before she says the name. And: "You're already working there," - that's got to be the moment where it sinks in that it was Arvin. Oh, Jack.

31. And ouch, "If your mother was here-" That's got to hurt more than Sydney could possibly know. And then he leaps on school as an excuse and tries to lay down an ultimatum and oh, so not a good choice to take with Sydney.

32. How different would things have been if Jack had been able to handle this confrontation better? But I don't honestly know how he could have. There's no way she would have quit the job no matter what tactic he took. And even if he'd chosen to tell her the truth, there was absolutely nothing he could have done without alerting Sloane except make her a double agent seven years earlier and with no experience. Poor Jack. Poor Sydney.

33. Dude. Vaughn starts that phone conversation with Dixon a little casually there. How about leading with, "We need air support," instead of the totally unhelpful "We have a problem"? Seconds count, Vaughn.

34. "It's just a scratch." Oh, Jack.

35. Syd looks so freaked when she sees the bullet wounds. Aw, Syd. And she just about gets out a totally unconvincing, "You're going to be okay," before turning her head away.

36. "I never wanted this life for you, you know." Wibble. This whole scene is just wrenching. Syd knows he's saying goodbye, and it's just awful. And this is the worst that we've ever seen Sydney break down.

37. And he stands up to watch her go. Oh, Jack.

(...We'll avoid breaking into this touching moment to note that Vaughn survives eighteen million bullets with no apparent long-term effects and Jack drags himself around acquiring bombs and descending two hundred feet of steps after this shooting, but Nadia dies instantly from falling on a table. Oh, wait. Whoops.)

38. Huh. Sloane may or may not have been bluffing and distracting with the missiles, but Irina certainly seems prepared to launch them. Does she anticipate that Sark's going to chicken out and/or that Sydney will stop them, or does she fully intend to go through with it?

39. "Rambaldi is alive, Sydney." Whuh? They're just going to throw that out there and then not actually go anywhere with it? Okay, then. (Was material cut from this finale? Like, the extra hour of plot that would have made the rest of it make sense?)

40. Not only does this missile threat come out of nowhere, it's averted way too easily. It really does feel tagged on there just to give us a random global threat. Sydney has a pointless fistfight to distract her mom and Vaughn points a gun at Sark? Not really epic in any way. That's just typical middle-of-the-episode hijinks.

41. The sound guys kind of failed on Irina landing on that glass roof. She lands with dull thud that make it sound totally solid and substantial.

42. "Yes. She can be very stubborn at times." Oh, Jack. You're just so... Jack, right to the end. I really don't read anger at Sloane from him in this scene: maybe a bit of bitterness, even a touch of vindictive satisfaction in 'winning' by pushing the button, but not hatred. I don't think he holds Sloane fully responsible for his actions: he's just recognising that the madness can't be cured and it's time to stop hoping for that and just bring an end to it.

43. Ron Rifkin manages to project the impression of manic insanity while standing still and talking calmly in a very dark shot. Seriously, that's a gift.

44. Sloane was holding the orb and fell into Rambaldi fluid when Sydney shot him dead. Irina was holding the orb - which had been rolling around in a cave full of Rambaldi fluid - when she fell to her death. Discuss.

45. The framing of this death by glass roof scene is pretty bad, though. Syd's just standing there passively and talking, never in the same shot with Irina, and it just... lacks any sort of energy or fluidity. You really needed to have them both on-screen, Sydney visibly reaching for it to work as a setup (even if that would make the rip-off of Indiana Jones even more visibly obvious).

46. Talking of Syd's passivity... what, exactly, did she do in this finale that was worth Rambaldi making a prophecy about? She was the catalyst for the deaths of both Sloane and Irina, okay, but a gunshot, a punch-up and a fall through a roof? Anybody could have played the same role. There weren't even any 'look at Syd being an awesome super-agent' stunts, just plain old bog-standard shooting and fighty-ness. Not epic.

47. Sloane's ultimate fate is well-done tragedy, but it's hard to find it emotionally satisfying when they spent his entire season four arc very convincingly establishing him as mentally unbalanced. While you might wish eternal torment on an out-and-out villain like Elena, it seems a bit cruel to drop on a delusional guy who didn't think he had any choice. Death would have been a kinder fate.

49. The casting of child Isabelle is good. She's definitely got that Derevko look.

50. "This far from Langley you can just call me sir." Hee.

51. The text on that page underneath that photo of Sark is actually the script. More interestingly, it's titled Authorised Personnel Only, so apparently APO continues. Also, it's typed all in caps. Jack lives!

52. I appreciate that they didn't have Sydney give up the espionage and settle down; it feels right that she continues with it. I'm not so in love with them killing off the entire older generation in one swoop, but at least this tag does us the favour of not explicitly confirming whether any of them stayed dead and buried.


The first half of the finale was fantastic: this half starts unravelling a bit. The missiles are awkwardly jammed in to try and create an apocalyptic threat, and it doesn't really work. The idea that Sloane will go nuts and chase Rambaldi's secrets works fine; the idea that he'd randomly blow up some cities to make money from the reconstruction work has no basis at all in his previous characterisation. And while I buy that kind of ruthlessness from Irina a bit more easily, it's usually more... directed. For my sanity, I'm sticking with the theory that the whole missile scheme was always intended as a distraction.

In conclusion: not a complete, 'OMG, burn the master tapes!' travesty, but definitely majorly flawed. The flashbacks were nice, they carried off Jack and Sloane's ultimate fates well enough, and the epilogue worked for Sydney's character, but the rest of the so-called plot... aieee.

...Of course, it could all be very easily fixed if they just made Alias The Movie, brought the older generation back with Rambaldi fluid, and explained how Sloane and Irina's plan was all a cover for something more brilliant and devious. Still got time to get on that, JJ!

And so here we are at last at the end. What's next? Back round again to season one?
Tags: 5x17 - all the time in the world, discussion post
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