I've been using the lack of summer TV worth watching to catch up with old shows that I loved. The current one on my list was "Alias", which I started over the 4th of July holiday weekend. I'm currently up to Season 4, which means I just passed what I have to consider to be the most frustrating moment in the series for "Alias" fans.
Each of the first four seasons of "Alias" ended on a cliffhanger, and the ones for the first two seasons were both reasonably resolved. However, season 3 ended like this:
Now, in Season 4, we learn that one of those black pages contained the information that Jack (Sydney's father) had asked the CIA for permission to execute Irina Derevko (Sydney's mother) without telling Sydney. And sure, that's something that would upset Sydney, no doubt, but it makes ZERO sense as a resolution to the end of Season 3.
First of all, earlier in the episode, Lauren Reed -- the double-agent who was married to Vaughn and betraying the U.S. government -- had made insinuations to Sydney about who was controlling her. And since Sydney's father wasn't a director at the CIA at the time, that doesn't really make sense with the resolution we were given (nor does it seem likely that Lauren would have had access to that order).
Also, it's painfully clear that the first black page has Sydney's name and date of birth on the front, with Jack listed as the project leader. If the pages at all related to the death of Irina Derevko, there'd be no need for that information. They try to explain it away in Season 4 by having Sydney say "one of the pages" contained that information, but that doesn't explain the rest of the pages (the more interesting mystery) at all, nor does explain why Sydney is emotionally breaking down long before she gets to the later pages.
Most long-term "Alias" fans realize that what happened is between Seasons 3 and 4, it became clear to the creators of the show that they weren't likely to get Lena Olin back anytime soon and they had to write her character out in a convenient way. I even wrote about that exact thing back in 2005. That's fine. But I'd still, five years later, like to know what the ORIGINAL plan was for those pages and that mystery.
When I was rewatching the start of Season 4 the other day, I finally decided to listen to the audio commentary on those first couple of episodes, hoping they'd address this issue, or even acknowledge it, but they don't. All they mention is that they didn't think they'd be able to get Lena Olin back, then talk about how great it was that they did (even though that created ANOTHER continuity issue that was explained away by a stupid cloning story). When re-watching the series so close together, as I am now, it becomes even more obvious that the end of Season 3 was never really resolved properly, which makes it hard to enjoy the beginning of Season 4. That's compounded by the fact that early in Season 4, they went to standalone episodes without any Rambaldi-related backstory. I know they were trying to build a bigger audience, but the episodes themselves are weak, and I'm glad that I'm already into the part of the season where they got back to what they did best.