Huh. Last season we had the midseason slump as they went too far into the whole mythology thing with Rimbaldi and Sydney was a potential danger and was locked up by mysterious men and women in black... this season, the midseason episodes kicked ass as they kicked over the status quo and sent the show off in a new direction, and the season finale, while not quite as nerve-wracking so far as last year's, is looking pretty damn solid. Great stuff with a dangerous and borderline delusional Sloane, the new relationship for Marshall is unbelievably cute, loved the tension of minor difficulties in the relationships between Syd, Vaughn and Dixon without just utterly (and stupidly) wrecking their relationships to wring out more drama and I also love that, in 24 style, Alias isn't afraid to have the good guys engage in some questionable torture to get what's needed. And I'm dying to know what the catastrophic event was that took place, because we all know Rimbaldi is never wrong... remember that the prophecy involved Sydney's mom, and we don't know what she was doing at midnight...
In contrast, Fastlane's season finale was a mess, but that shouldn't really be surprising. Van's difficulty in getting close to the latest love in his life rings false given how much of a player the guy is, and my exposure to Jack Bauer's character had me wondering why Nick wasn't just tortured until he gave up the name of the three families the second he set foot in the Candy Store. It couldn't have been a moral objection, because the three cops decided to *murder* Nick at the end of the episode in the flashiest and stupidest way possible, and then they acted surprised by the consequences of having diamonds spill all over the street. I've enjoyed Fastlane as something of a guilty pleasure, and will probably continue to do so, but man I wish they had some better writers. Oh, and it's really, really cheap to end a show on a cheesy cliffhanger the way they did, especially when there's a likelihood the show won't be coming back for season two. There's a difference between a good cliffhanger (like the one Alias ended on last year) and a forced one.
On John Doe:
I can't decide whether the end of John Doe was good or forced. It'll depend on the explanation, although I am a little worried that the Phoenix group and it's machinations and motivations could easily go into X-Files territory. I was hoping for some answers or resolution from the John Doe finale to keep me watching, and there was just enough (Theresa finally back with John, a big revelation about the third possible leader of the Phoenix Group that we've seen and a little more indication of what they're looking for) to bring me back. Especially if they add the NSA agent to the regular cast... I like the guy, and he's proven to be a pretty trustworthy ally and a funny character, which is unusual for the way NSA guys are usually presented in fiction. Oh, and one thing I have to give John Doe... I actually believed that every character was in danger in last night's finale because of their willingness to kill off a great and likable supporting character like Karen. I miss the character, but the notion that nobody is safe is one that I wish more shows would adopt, and one I wish Buffy would have brought back a little more strongly in its last three or four seasons.