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'Alias' nostalgia react: Vaughn goes all field agent on us

Season 1 | Episode 12 | “The Box (Part 2)” | Aired Feb 10, 2002

Michael Vaughn and Sydney Bristow might both be CIA agents, but only one of them is a superspy by trade. Vaughn is handler, a man with a desk. In this episode, he had to give up that desk and jump into the field to help save Sydney and the rest of SD-6. And he’s not bad at it, considering he’s going off seminars and lectures and we’re used to watching people (Syd and Jack and Dixon) with years of hands-on experience. I’ve been waiting for this shift, for Vaughn to become less of a handler and more of a partner for Sydney. That’s the dynamic that’s going to lead to all of the mushy-gushy romance that I’m sure is on the horizon for them.

McKenas Cole (remember, he’s played by Quentin Tarantino) is still trying to get into the SD-6 vault to steal “The Box,” a Rambaldi artifact of some kind. Sloane activates the fail-safe when Cole’s people take over because that’s what you do when you’re the leader of a covert operation and something very important is about to be compromised. The “fail-safe” is an absurd amount of C4 hidden in three locations under SD-6 that will blow when the vault is opened and destroy everyone and everything. It’s the ultimate “If I can’t have it, no one can.”

The mission: To disable the three bombs so that when Cole gets into the safe, everyone doesn’t go kablooey. Vaughn gets his moment to shine here. He helps Sydney. He does his part. All good. I’m sure this aspect of the mission is going to leave him really jazzed to work in the field more. What I’m a little worried about is the dead guy in the parking garage. In order to gain access to SD-6, Vaughn has to take out the one guard (really, Cole? Just one?) in the parking garage, and the confrontation ends with a bullet in the guy’s gut. Vaughn moved on pretty quickly, but was it because he had to? Are we blaming adrenaline and endorphins from his Sydney love for that one? Or is he really okay with killing people? I wouldn’t have pegged him as the okay-with-killing-people type.

There’s a lot going on in this episode—none of our usual plot downtime. When Cole threatens, over the speaker system, to kill Jack, Sydney gives herself up (Cole never really knows how many people are working against him; he always expects it to be just one more) and has one of the most uncomfortable scenes I’ve seen in all of Alias so far (including the finger amputation that I’m going to get to in a second). Cole is all, “Hey, I remember you. I hit on you when I was an SD-6 freelancer and you told me to go to hell.” He taunts Sydney about making bad decisions (which isn’t untrue—she does make some bad calls, but turning down his date invite almost definitely was not one of them) and forces her to drink is backwashed champagne as vengeance for her refusal to make out with him. It’s so weird and skeevy and uncomfortable, but it definitely makes me believe in just how unhinged Cole is.

Eventually, Cole is ready to break into the safe. He orders his men (via walkie-talkie, of course) to kill all of SD-6. Too bad for them, SD-6 is full of grade-A badasses and that doesn’t go so well. Jack has to get Sloane to help him override the fail-safe because Sydney didn’t finish disabling the C4. Sloane is bolted to a torture chair, though, and the keyboard is biometric—it needs his fingerprint to work. Jack has no choice but to bring the finger to the keyboard. I was super-impressed by the choice to definger Sloane, but it sounds like he’s getting it back (the digit is on ice and the medic is on the way as of the end of the episode).

Vaughn and the better-late-than-never CIA backup stop Cole before he can make it away with The Box, but it’s still lost to SD-6 (whatever it is), so Sloane is probably going to get reamed about deactivating that fail-safe.

Meanwhile, in “Bradley Cooper is About to Die” news, Will Tippin has decided to go all-in with his double life (but he weirdly waxes poetic to Francie about how easy she and Sydney have it, with their “normal” little lives; have I mentioned that I cannot wait for the moment when they realize they’re both involved in this, probably while pointing guns at each other?). I hope his subplot becomes more prominent soon. I’m actually pretty invested in it.

What did you think of Tarantino’s guest spot on Alias? I feel like he’s going to return—that interaction with Syndey was just too weird to be the absolute end of his arc. Discuss 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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