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TELEVISION REVIEW

`Alias' ends with tears, and answers

It was nonsensical. It was overcrowded with incident. It was a twisted family soap opera drowning in tears.

It was ``Alias." And it will be missed.

Last night, ABC forked over two hours of precious May sweeps time so that ``Alias" fans could have resolution regarding the mysteries that have fueled the show during its five-year run. And the episode did succeed in providing a sense of resolution, if not real resolution, since the all the spy-versus-spy complications and the Rambaldi science-fiction plot had long ago reeled so far out of control as to be inexplicable.

By the end of the episode, when the producers flashed ``Thank You for Five Incredible Years" on the screen, you felt that a long chapter in Sydney Bristow's life had truly come to an end. The endless duplicity, parental manipulations, and shocker twists were clearly over.

Sydney's mother and father both died, he trying to save the world and she trying to destroy it. The 12 members of Prophet 5 were also dead. Meanwhile, Arvin Sloane, the villain with the taut face and the fashion glasses, got his due -- both the eternal life he fought for and eternal entombment, thanks to the dying Jack's final act. ``You beat death, Arvin," Jack proudly told him, ``but you couldn't beat me." And Sloane will live completely alone, as the ghost of his daughter, Nadia, deserted him.

Oddly, Victor Garber delivered a surprisingly cold performance as Jack. As he lay dying, trying to be brave for his daughter, he spoke with even less affect than usual, merely breaking up his sentences with breaths to indicate suffering. Of course, that didn't stop Jennifer Garner from giving her usual all, sobbing with heartbreak as she left her dying father at his urging, to finish her work. You've got to admit, Garner can really do tears.

The episode's epilogue offered a bittersweet view of Sydney and Vaughn. Set a few years after the deaths of Jack and Irina, it showed them living in a beach paradise with their two children, Isabel and her younger brother, named (get out the hankies) Jack. They're in happy retreat from the world of spying, but who's that coming to visit? It's Dixon, hoping to entice the couple back into action. Judging from Sydney's frumpy dress, I'm thinking she may be willing to go back into the business, if only to pick up a few new outfits and cool wigs.

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