Before the heavily mystery-driven adventure shows like LOST, Fringe, Once Upon A Time, Revolution, and the like, there was JJ. Abrams’ first serious shot at a serialized mythology fest, i.e. the highly ambitious espionage series, Alias. It established the Abrams team’s signature style, their distinguished approach towards sci-fi influenced by the big titles of the 60’s and the 70’s, complete with cliffhangers, time travel, nonlinear narrative, eccentric scientists, unimaginable character connections, twisted backstories and of course a good load of MacGuffins.
Sure, it could get over the top at times, yeah, it had its fair share of loose ends, contrivances and unresolved mysteries that’d drive most fans to the edge probably even more so than his other productions, but it also paved the way for his superior future works, which are arguably more consistent in tone and quality; simply put, it’s the cornerstone of what you’ll instantly recognize as the ‘Abrams sci-fi style’. Olivia Dunham’s unmatchable dedication, her interrupted childhood, Ben Linus’ mad quest for dominance and redemption, Jacob’s great plan, Locke’s revelations and many other similar elements and stylistic approaches all have significantly stemmed from the characters and plotlines of Alias.
Let’s figure out what’s made Alias an almost-unheralded influence in the modern TV action/sci-fi, through examining some of its themes, symbolism, stylistic elements and character motives whose traces are found in Abrams’ future works (whether for the small or big screen) and more recent works of the genre. Has the creative team simply repeated the same formula over and over, or have they reconstructed it into tasteful, polished and even timeless material?