was a show that constantly reinvented itself. And its fifth and final season was no exception, as the creative team behind the espionage show worked to pull together the labyrinthine plot elements that had existed over the years, as well as tailor the show around the pregnancy of star Jennifer Garner. The results were somewhat tinged with melancholy as everything was wrapped up, but also had a maturity and respect for its characters--which is not to say that Alias
lacked in action. In fact, the season started out with a literal bang, as a truck slammed into the car carrying Sydney Bristow (Garner) and her co-worker and lover Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan), right after Vaughn had made a mind-blowing revelation to Sydney. What followed was a mind-trippingly enticing blend of fake identities, false fronts, blind alleys, and new characters with dubious intentions, with the importance of the enigmatic Rambaldi device hanging over it all. Just another day at the office for Alias
, you say? Not this time--for long-time fans of the shows, the true natures of all characters would finally be revealed, and Sydney would at long last discover the powers of the dreaded Rambaldi device, as well as who was behind the machinations to obtain it for world domination.
What Alias did best was mix its outlandish plotlines with accessible characters who were more than just pieces on an espionage game board. The final season did have a few false starts, as it juggled the departure (and reappearance) of established characters and the introduction of new ones, but by the time it had reached its 100th episode, "There's Only One Sydney Bristow," battle lines were drawn as the core characters hurtled toward the show's conclusion. Not to be too cryptic, but the less you know the better, as part of the fun is puzzling out who's doing what to whom; suffice it to say that the ever-capable Garner, along with Victor Garber and Ron Rifkin as the dueling father figures in her life, laid a groundwork of personal drama that held the show together amidst all the shootouts, tech gadgets and costume changes. While (literally) everyone from Sydney's past made an appearance in the show's 100th episode (including an outstanding turn by Bradley Cooper as Syd's erstwhile friend Will), there were a couple great additions too: Rachel Nichols made a fetching Syd-in-training while Amy Acker, who played the daffy good-girl Fred on Angel, was a menacing and captivating adversary. We will answer one question for die-hard Alias fans: Yes, Lena Olin does return as the lethal Irina Derevko. Sorry, we're sworn from saying anything more. --Mark Englehart
ALIAS: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON