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Agent 'X'

Is creator JJ Abrams setting up Sydney Bristow as Mulder plus Scully minus the alien abductions? asks Brian Hiatt -- Talk about it here

Jennifer Garner | I'VE GOT A SECRET Garner as ''Alias'' agent Sydney Bristow
Image credit: Alias: Reisig and Taylor
I'VE GOT A SECRET Garner as ''Alias'' agent Sydney Bristow

Is ''Alias'' the new ''X-Files''? Talk about it here

Is ''Alias'' the new ''X-Files''? I want to believe. As Sunday's series-shaking episode reveals, JJ Abrams is creating a universe that matches Chris Carter's for complexity, weirdness (they stole Sydney's eggs!), and sheer impenetrability to nonbelievers. (Witness such cryptic lines as ''The Covenant got the Cube.'') The Rambaldi prophecies, in which a 15th-century dude predicts that Sydney's destined to carry his creepy baby, are what the alien conspiracies were to Mulder and Scully -- a tantalizing mystery that, ideally, will never get solved.

As with ''X-Files,'' ''Alias'' requires viewers to suspend disbelief early and often. On Sunday night, why did the usually infallible Sydney so easily fall victim to a dart in the back? And why, for that matter, did her old boss Kendall need to shoot her to get her on the airplane? A simple, ''Hey, wanna take a plane ride?'' would have been easier. Meanwhile, the suggestion that the evil Covenant is capable of fertilizing Sydney's eggs with crusty, 600-year-old DNA from Rambaldi is not only nasty -- it's preposterous.

The episode also revealed one of the show's fetishes. Like the infamously S&M-themed 1940s ''Wonder Woman'' comic books, ''Alias'' is obsessed with having the bad guys tie up its heroine. We've seen Sydney kidnapped, tortured, or subjected to bizarre medical procedures so often that it's almost become numbing, though it was hard not to cringe at Sunday's scenes of her six-month-long brainwashing.

Most pleasing was the final twist, which revealed Vaughn's National Security agent wife, Lauren, to be a traitor. That development should fuel a dozen episodes' worth of suspense, and will presumably clear the way for a Vaughn-Sydney reunion -- or, perhaps, his messy demise. More baffling was Russian diplomat Lazare's revelation to Sydney about a mysterious ''passenger.'' Seems incomprehensible -- but the truth, presumably, is out there.

What did you think of the latest ''Alias''?

Originally posted Jan 11, 2004