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On TV Today's Date:

original air-date: 04-27-03

Be Kind. Rewind: It's been a month since the last new episode, so here's a little refresher. Diane and Dixon finally made up and were starting over again. Sloane learned that Dixon killed Emily. The CIA rescued Caplan. Sloane had Evil!Francie kill Diane.

Okay, how many times are they gonna use the flash forward-flash back thing at the beginning of an episode? Because this time, it was entirely unnecessary. They wanted to make us wonder: Would Dixon blow everyone to Timbuktu? Would Vaughn take him out before he had the chance? Fortunately, the suspense wasn't that hard to survive.

So, we flashback to 72 hours before Dixon is about to go postal and take everyone down with him, and we see friends and family gathered after Diane's funeral. Vaughn catches Dixon popping some pills, but Syd tells him it was probably aspirin…uh huh. Sure.

It was kind of cool to see Amanda Foreman (who played Megan on JJ Abrams "Felicity") sans heavy eyeliner and strange clothing as NSA agent Carrie Bowman. She was extremely likeable and cute and almost as flighty as Marshall, who she happens to want to take out for Sushi. My brother's conclusion: she must be a plant of some sort that is trying to get to Marshall and learn all he knows!

Well, plant or not, she had the best line of the night. She asks Marshall if he's gay, because all the cute guys she meets seem to be playing for the other team and then she says, "I'm not stupid. I mean, I'm in MENSA."

He reassures her that he's not gay and promises not to tell anyone that she was crying over a Joni Mitchell song. They were genuinely cute together, unlike some couples in this episode, but we'll get to that in a bit.

Carl Lumbly, who always does a fantastic job playing Dixon, did an exceptional job in this episode, even though he was given a lame suicide attempt scene reminiscent of It's a Wonderful Life and a line about equating a squeaky tree branch to a baby crying. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that one.

The entire flash back/flash forward thing was not only annoying, but also kind of cheap because it was a complete fake out.

"I cut the primer cord," says Dixon after the bomb he was holding was supposed to go off. "I'm not that desperate." He might not be, but the writers of this episode must have been if they felt they had to employ this over-used technique to keep people watching.

The Ramboldi stuff was, as usual, kind of cool and really confusing. We learned that this Porteo Di Regno guy's heart is some kind of machine that could be a weapon of mass destruction and that a monk named Conrad (played by David Carradine of "Kung Fu") was the one that got Sloane started on this whole Ramboldi kick thirty years ago. Who knew monks could be evil?

This episode had no Irina, no Will, and no Evil!Francie, which was a big disappointment Instead, the writers chose to focus on Sydney and Vaughn. I'm sorry, but Spy Girl and her Boy Scout have become too sweet and their relationship is giving me cavities. They fight, they make up. She lies about knowing that Dixon switched his drug test results and then confesses to Vaughn at the end of the episode, which was probably one of the worst conclusions to an episode that this show has ever had. Syd and Vaughn eating ice cream together and then walking off holding hands while a cheesy love song plays in the background as an ending? Lame. The lamest actually.

I was kind of hoping that someone would get shot or they'd cut to something else before the hour was over, but this, unfortunately, was not the case. In short, the ending was sappy and sentimental and not at all the cliffhanger that we expect from this show every week.

This episode wasn't bad, but it wasn't very good either. And did anyone else think that the swordfighting scene was nothing more than an excuse for Jennifer Garner to use some of those sword wielding skills that she learned while shooting Daredevil?

Really though, where were Syd and Dixon's guns? Hopefully next week's two-hour season finale will be ten times better than this installment was.

Oh yeah. My brother was convinced that Syd would have to get in the ring and wrestle before they'd let her and Dixon see Vargas, much like the bull riding scene in "Endgame." Thankfully, the TV gods spared us from that scene.

Rebecca Sparling

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