I didn’t think it was possible, but Season 2 of Alias actually makes Season 1 look straightforward and sensible. Between the lying, the scheming, the dating, the double-and-triple-crossing, the retinal scans, the hidden agendas, the hidden cameras, the hidden cabanas, the kidnapped coworkers, the blown-up offices, the living wives, the dead wives, girlfriends as plot devices, girlfriends as double agents, stunt doubles, stunt cameos, family heirlooms, family bonding, filial betrayal, and more freaking clones than you can shake a Rambaldi artifact at, the plot defies description.

At a certain point, I stopped trying to follow the plot at all; after all, they went to the trouble of working long, tedious recaps into every other episode to keep me caught up, so why bother? In addition, the trick of framing an episode with an extra-tense scene, then having most of the episode be a flashback that leads to an inevitable twist of that teaser scene just amplifies the problem that every suspense/action series has: how do you surprise the audience when they come in expecting to be surprised?

This isn’t to say that Season 2 wasn’t good watching, just that the plot was a total and absolute mess. If nothing else, watching Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan make kissy faces is cute, if nowhere near as hot as watching Victor Garber and Lena Olin smolder at one another — actually, Garber smolders at Olin, and Olin just plain burns a hole in the TV every time she shows up on screen.

And they even managed a trick I had thought impossible: making Will and Francie useful. Or at least, making Francie useful and Will harmless. Who woulda thunk it?