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'Alias' nostalgia react: Three failed relationships and some spy stuff

Season 1 | Episode 4 | “A Broken Heart” | Aired Oct 21, 2001

After watching the fourth episode of Alias, I know that some spy stuff happened. It had to have, but I barely remember it just a little bit after the episode is over. There was something about a bomb being sewn into a Peace Prize winner, which seems huge, but is so far from the focal point of the episode, it practically doesn’t matter.

What does stand out? Lots of failing relationships; maybe the episode title, “A Broken Heart,” should have been a giveaway that this episode was going to be more about character development than superspy badassery.

Basically, the episode takes three of the show’s relationships and puts them through the ringer.

Francie and Charlie

Let’s start with the non-Sydney drama, which is, frankly, kind of the most intriguing. Finally, a month into the series, we get to know Sydney’s best friend, Francie. This makes Francie the first and only person we get to know from Sydney’s life who is neither a relative nor trying to sleep with with her (at least, it doesn’t seem like that’s what Francie is after). Their relationship doesn’t pass the Bechdel test this week, but at least Sydney is interacting with someone who didn’t cause her daddy issues and who isn’t trying to cash in on them … or someone who’s trying to kill her. That’s her third type of interaction.

Francie suspects Charlie of cheating on her, and in her defense, it seems a lot like Charlie is cheating on her. She found a matchbook with a girl’s name and number along with a message about having a great time with him. Sydney tries to talk her down (which leads me to believe that Charlie will actually turn out to be innocent of infidelity), but Francie decides to go for a little light stalking instead. She spies on Charlie when he’s supposed to be going to his law school study group, which he skips to hang out with a hot girl instead.

The evidence against Charlie is pretty damning, but Sydney still doesn’t seem to think anything is up. Is she just playing dumb with Francie to throw her off the CIA/SD-6 scent? Or does she know something we don’t know? I’m no Alias expert (yet!), but I have sinking suspicion that Sydney is always right about things like this. She probably has special spy intuition, which would explain why she was recruited for spy work even though she’s not the best at that whole “keeping secrets” thing … or that whole “following orders” thing.

Anyway, when Francie confronts Charlie, he’s all, “You just gotta trust me, baby.” And she’s all, “Like hell,” and storms out of the restaurant. I feel very invested in this soapy subplot.

Sydney and Will

Remember how Syd and Will kissed last week? Well, I guess she thought better of it, because when he goes in for kiss No. 2 this week, she is grossed out like a little girl being sneak-attack-kissed on a playground. #SorryWill

Another damning little development for Will? Sydney and Vaughn share this bonding moment at the Santa Monica Pier.

She calls him to talk about her daddy issues (see broken relationship No. 3, below) and he comes running because he’s a good handler/future boyfriend.

I have to say, for the record, that I hate everything about this scene. I’m sure there are some Sydney/Vaughn shippers (Saughn? Vydney? Let’s all take a sec to be thankful that Alias premiered before the massive rise of couple names) who will hate me for that, but it’s true. Why do I hate this scene? Let’s list it:

  • Sydney lectures her ex-handler on the immense danger of social calls. SD-6 is watching. They have a whole team, she says, of people working specifically to identify potential double agents. She’s putting her life (and Vaughn’s) in danger by meeting him to cry about her dad.
  • If you HAVE to meet up, for the love of god, don’t hold hands. I promise you, no SD-6 agent believes you’re just both gazing out into the Pacific, enjoying the view separately.
  • Sydney throws her beeper into the ocean. Why? What good did that do? She is trying to raise as many red flags as possible at this point.
  • I totally respect that Sydney and her dad have a very complicated relationship and that they will probably spend much of the series repairing and rebuilding, and that’s all awesome. But Sydney knows that her dad is about as emotionally open as a block of wood, and she’s been all over the place with how she’s treated him for the past few weeks. Could it have really been that shocking that he bailed? Get it together, Syd!

Sydney and Her Dad

Sydney asks her dad to get dinner with her. He says okay, but clearly doesn’t want to, and has no intention of actually following through. He bails, making up a polite excuse about work. Sydney has a breakdown that calls all of her powers of observation into question.

The whole scene is very dramatic and we’re clearly supposed to feel for Sydney—and I might, if she handled it at all like the badass government agent I’ve started to expect. I don’t care much for regressed-to-childhood Sydney.

Also that Sarah McLachlan song from the ASPCA commercials when Syd’s dad stands her up. I can’t even.

Of these three pairs (four pairs, if you count Sydney and Vaughn), I care the most about Francie and Charlie. Is it worth rooting for those crazy kids? Does Sydney work through her daddy issues? Who were you shipping her with in season 1? Sound off in the comments!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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