[You're probably thinking this post is full of spoilers for the first season of Alias, and you're probably right.]

OK, so let me get this straight. Sydney Bristow thinks she’s working for SD-6, which works for the CIA. Except that it isn’t — it’s an evil fiancee-killing mercenary organization — so then she is working for the CIA as a double-agent within SD-6. Except that she really just wants to finish grad school and become a teacher of, um, something, and she’s also sick of watching people get killed all around her, so she wants out altogether. Except that her coworkers at SD-6 — even the evil ones — are like family to her, so when they’re in trouble, she beats the crap out of Quentin Tarantino (fulfilling everyone’s long-held wish) to save them all.

So now there’s a spy club even more evil than what Sydney’s used to, although it’s not the spy club that Zoe from Firefly works for, so she’s really working for SD-6 while still reporting on them to the CIA, mostly because she can’t get enough of that cute agent Vaughn. Except that the FBI is horning in on the CIA’s territory and sending Professor Walsh and John Locke to probe her, so she has to run away from the government. But the extra-evil spies have information on her long-lost mother, so she has to keep working for SD-6 and the CIA to get close to them. Except that they’re not really going to help her get what she’s looking for, so she lures her father away from SD-6 and Vaughn from the CIA to help her in some rogue operation, where Vaughn gets drowned in a flood unleashed by a giant water balloon, and she discovers that the head of the extra-evil spies is her mother, who will be but is not yet Lena Olin.

Meanwhile, Sydney is reunited with her estranged father Jack, who coincidentally is also a CIA mole within SD-6. Working for the good guys doesn’t make him a nice guy, though, and he spends most of his on-screen time lying to his weepy-eyed daughter. Except that all along, he’s been trying to protect her, and the only reason he seems so cold is that he’s the only competent spy in the world. That, and his heart was broken when he discovered that his wife was a KGB agent who used him for cover and intel, which actually makes mom the only competent spy in the world. Except that she died when Sydney was a baby in what was either a car crash or a shootout with the FBI. Except that it was neither one, and she’s been in hiding for the last twenty-odd years, which Sydney and Jack’s boss at SD-6, Sloane, totally knew about the whole time, and simply failed to mention to them, being busy betraying his country and killing Sydney’s fiancee while treating her like the daughter he never had. That, and trying to keep his cancer-ridden wife from being offed by his bosses for knowing too much. Except that he ends up killing her himself in return for a promotion.

Meanwhile meanwhile, Sydney has to keep her double (or triple, or possibly quadruple, I’ve lost count) life from her friends Francie and Will, since telling the truth didn’t work so well with her fiancee. This is fine with Francie, who’s free to spend her time on uninteresting sideplots involving her cheating, non-cheating, and then really cheating boyfriend. Will, however, thinks he’s either Woodward, Bernstein, or Mulder, and follows a trail of dead bodies and wrecked lives towards SD-6, spurred on by a Deep-Throatish source. Except that he drops it after Jack (in disguise, natch) beats the crap out of him and warns him off. Except that he doesn’t really drop it at all, and convinces Jack to help him track his source down. This only gets him in trouble, but luckily Sydney’s around to pull his ass out of the fire. Except that the extra-evil spies capture and torture him until he gets rescued again, but not before he gets the living bejeezus beat out of him by professional torturers for sticking his nose into things he has no business involving himself with.

All the while, Sydney plays will-they-or-won’t-they with cute Vaughn and not-quite-as-cute Will. Except that Will is actually a dog who’s sleeping with the nubile intern at his office, despite being totally in looove with Sydney (my favorite moment of the entire season is when Jenny tosses his using ass out of her car). Vaughn has a girlfriend, but then he doesn’t, but he can’t really let himself get involved with Sydney because being her CIA “handler” isn’t supposed to involve any, y’know, handling. Except that he lets himself get emotionally attached to her anyway, which gets him into all kinds of trouble at work, as well as with Jack, who occasionally plays Protective Father, but only when it means he gets to intimidate people. In the end, though, Sydney goes to bed with neither Vaughn nor Will, but with the guy that Linda Fiorentino played like a fiddle in The Last Seduction. Of course, to no one’s surprise but Sydney’s, he turns out to be evil, and of course, he also turns out to be dead.

Got all that? See, now that’s plot.