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''Alias'' Farewell, ''Sopranos'' on the Brink

By RD Heldenfels Published: May 22, 2006

I expected to get more TV watched today but ended spending more time than I expected on a column for tomorrow about ''American Idol'' and on items for my TV mailbag. So it was ''Sopranos'' this morning and ''Alias'' tonight.

(Possible spoilers follow.)

I liked many things about ''Alias,'' even if there were significant amounts of the plot that I did not quite understand, and there were a few more of those moments that make me think that nobody really dies on ''Alias.'' Well, all right, one definitely died, and one appeared to be dead, and one who isn't dead is nonetheless facing justice of an eternal sort. I also liked the flashbacks through Sydney's life, which not only brought her life full circle but took the viewers back to the show's beginnings. And, because I'm a casual watcher of ''Alias'' and a devotee of ''Lost,'' tonight was the first time I was struck by ''Alias's'' use of the faith-vs.-practically parallel. Maybe it had been there before (or at least evident to closer viewers), but tonight it was made obvious.

On the other hand -- and with ''Alias'' I usually end up seeing the other hand -- the ending did not close the door on the spy game forever. (Or, for that matter, on great and mystical forces waiting to be unleashed.) Indeed, its variation on the ''life goes on'' gambit in series finales included a world where someone with Sydney's skills is still needed. And there is that not-dead character to consider. So, in a couple of years if not sooner, when J.J. Abrams comes out with a wowser of an idea, and Jennifer Garner is ready for a bloody brawl or three, let's not be surprised to see ''Alias: The Movie.'' And I might even pay to see it -- if there's no Rambaldi.

(More possible spoilers)

As for ''The Sopranos,'' more terrific stuff on Sunday. Parts of it we could see coming -- Vito's doom was not a question of if -- but of when, how and by whom. The answers to those questions were dramatically apt. And I really liked the way Phil's position in the whole thing proved not to be from his gangland culture but from the far older belief system of Catholicism (and from his own commitment to marriage).

Indeed, the series was steeped in the place that Tony et al. occupy in history, not only in the Vito resolution but in Carmela's journey to France, and her encounter with an older, grander world than the one she occupies. But history is not for everyone. Tony still wrestles with the implications of his own past -- is he like his father or his mother in dealing with A.J. -- and Rosalie Aprile is content to forget the past, except as something to be marked in ceremony.

So good, and yet so deeply covered with a feeling of doom. I kept looking at scenes and feeling that they would end badly -- as they often did. Vito paid for loving the gangster life -- because he ran afoul of the standards of that life, and the men who felt they had to meet those standards. Tony and Phil both seem headed for a confrontation because they cannot forsake the life they've chosen, even if they might want to, and the restaurant fight was purely a result of everyone feeling they had to defend old-world honor and be old-world aggressors. They all should have learned from Vito.

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