Alias, “The Prophecy”

Bad Hair Scully makes Syd’s life hell.

By Sarah Kuhn
March 12, 2002

So, yeah. Sydney looks like some woman from an old-ass Rambaldi prophecy. After partially decoding the writing on the Syd-centric page, the DSR, which is basically the X-Files division of the National Security Agency, decides they need to stick their busybody noses into Sydney’s biz-iz-ness. Incidentally, the DSR is headed up by Lindsay “Professor Walsh” Crouse, who sports straw-like extensions, distracting bangs, and a general ‘tude towards Syd. Let’s just call her Bad Hair Scully.

Though Bad Hair Scully and Co. think they know what at least part of the prophecy says, they won’t tell poor Syd anything, and instead subject her to a whole mess of tests, some along the lines of those “Which picture comes next in this pattern?” comprehension logic type quizzes children are occasionally subjected to in order to test their gifted-ness. Or something. I always hated those. Who cares which arrangement of dots comes next? They’re all just dots, aren’t they? Or perhaps they were early versions of Magic Eye? I don’t know.

Anyway, all this somehow leads to Syd and Vaughn breaking into the Vatican to obtain the decoder for the prophecy. Great first choice, kids! But where do you go from here? Also, could Robber Vaughn (who speaks Italian) be any hotter?

Despite all the testing and illegal activities, the real angst of the episode belongs to Sloane, who has finally figured out the identity of The Man. Unfortunately, he’s not anyone cool that we already know of, but basically just another faceless baddie. Thankfully, we get another, better taste of evil in the form of SD-9 leader Edward Poole (Bond alum Roger Moore). The Alliance, the force between SD-6, is about to meet, and Sloane wants everyone to vote for war against The Man. Poole convinces Sloane that Sloane’s pal, one of the crucial swing votes, is in The Man’s pocket. So Sloane goes and kills him, only to learn, of course, that it’s Poole who is the traitor. Trying to explain the plotlines behind this show gives me more of a headache than the fact that there is a band named “Hoobastank.” At least Pill’s not in this episode very much.

Anyway, what a great hook! Sloane is slowly revealing himself to be a more complicated character than the one-note Evilmeister we thought he was. Hell, there are actually people in the world more awful than he is. Ron “Cookie” Rifkin smolders nicely here, conveying Sloane’s outrage with every pore. He’s mad! He’s betrayed! He has actual human emotions! Well, OK, they’re probably more like robot emotions synthesized to appear as close to human as possible, but still.

The Syd stuff is also good, though it’s a shame she hasn’t faced off with Poole yet. She does, however, get a Bond-esque escape in the beginning of the ep, parachuting off a cliff like nobody’s business. Sydney is kind of like Inspector Gadget without the dog sometimes. In fact, that moment encapsulates the whole ep, which is all action from beginning to end – there are hardly any “Sydney is reflective while non-threatening Lilith Fair music plays in the background” scenes. Even Syd’s supposedly benign encounter with Saint Emily (still suffering beatifically) has a little undercurrent to it, as Emily conveys more understanding of her husband’s work than she is supposed to have.

In the end, Bad Hair Scully fully decodes the prophecy and they discover that Sydney is supposed to be, like, superwoman or an evil-fighting mutant or something. Seriously, I can’t really understand what the big deal is. So Rambaldi was right about her platelet count. Uh…and…? Too many platelets = death to the universe? Anyway, the DSR whisks her off and chains her up as a mournful Vaughn looks on.

I will say that I’m not so sure about this whole Sydney the Superhero thing. I mean, isn’t part of the appeal of the show is that Syd is basically a very-gifted-but-otherwise-regular-gal who happens to have a secret life? Oh, well, the ride’s still damn entertaining – we’ve got more questions, fewer puzzles pieces, and virtually no Pill. That’s a winner, in my book.

Oh, also…I need a nickname for the ratty CIA guy who keeps making life suck even further for Vaughn, but my inspiration is tapped out after Bad Hair Scully and Pill and so forth. Any recommendations would be most welcome.