Question: Hey, Matt. I just wanted to get your opinion on the series finale of Alias. I have been a faithful fan from Season 1 and have written in to your column asking about Alias all the time. However, I felt the writers wrote a rather depressing ending. I mean, Renee, Nadia, Tom, Irina and Sloane all were killed, not to mention my favorite, Jack! I thought that Jack's death was totally unnecessary and mean-spirited toward the fans who have loved him from the first season on. And Irina, what's the deal? Why did they make her so evil? I mean, she saved the world at the end of Season 4 and then turned into her evil sister, Elena! It did not sync up and felt rather like a betrayal. Yes, I understand Rambaldi "changes you," but c'mon. I mean, I was happy with Sydney and Vaughn ending up together and Dixon as director, etc. But it was the finale. Make the fans happy all around; what can it hurt? I was waiting for Isabelle to run in and say, "Grandpa Jack!"
Answer: For my own analysis (one that didn't please a lot of loyal Alias fans because it was so critical), check out my Dispatch column. My main problem with the two-hour finale, and with much of the final season, was that it often lost focus on what really mattered: the characters. I wasn't as upset with Jack dying as with the mechanics and distraction of Sloane and Irina's plot with the ICBMs. And all that Rambaldi nonsense! A little tragedy at the end of a show like this is not altogether a bad thing. Drama is meant to be bittersweet, and the legacy of Jack lives on in his namesake grandson. At least Syd and Vaughn ended up together, and on the beach, no less. That was essential. And Marshall and Dixon carrying on as well. A totally benign outcome might have negated the pain and poignance that was always a part of Syd's life, from childhood on (as the flashbacks revealed). For Jack to sacrifice himself to condemn his nemesis Sloane to an eternity of subterranean solitude was one of the things I most appreciated about the finale. Irina? A lost cause.

Janice wrote in with a similar gripe: "I still felt cheated by the Alias finale. The fans who wanted to see a good resolution to SpyFam were left with a one-dimensional Irina, who is telling her daughter she loves her as she is trying to kill said daughter. So, Alias ends in the tradition of Moonlighting, St. Elsewhere and Newhart, leaving a large group of fans unsatisfied. I realize it is only a TV show, but I fell in love with the characters in the first season. While there have been missteps, I thought that the writers would finally give the fans what they wanted. The way Irina was written, they could just as easily have not had her appear at all and ended with Jack and Sloane in the cave. I could have lived with that."

Fair enough, but the Newhart finale dissatisfying? That's one of the all-time classics! A great joke that was such a well-kept secret and surprise, harking back to Bob Newharts one true TV wife, Suzanne Pleshette. I don't know anyone who took badly the whole the-show-was-a-dream gimmick, because I don't know anyone who took it seriously.