I'm sure it says something about me that my previous obsession with Buffy: The Vampire Slayer has been overtaken by a new obsession with another strong female character, Sydney Bristrow. I'm not sure what that means. Maybe I secretly would like Herself to beat me senseless on a daily basis. If so, I'm keeping it so secret, even I don't know it. I'm sure about this: I love Alias.
I know this, too: it's completely crazy. As a regular viewer, it is easy to forget just how insane the entire foundation of the show actually is, so I'm putting together a handy guide for myself. Obviously, spoilers follow.
In season one, we meet Sydney Bristow, a spy for SD-6, which she thinks is a division of the CIA. When her fiancée is murdered, she finds out that SD-6 is not really part of the CIA and becomes a double agent, now working for the real good guys. She also find out that the father to whom she hasn't spoken in years is also a spy for SD-6, and then that he is also a double agent, really working for the CIA.
And that's just the first episode.
On various missions, she disarms a nuclear bomb and then plays catch with its plutonium core, memorizes pages of seemingly-random numbers within seconds, and constantly battles her arch-rival Anna Espinosa, but the more interesting long-term plot movement is with her CIA handler Michael Vaughn, who (of course) is falling for her, and her good friend Will Tippin, who is privately investigating the murder of Sydney's fiancée and encountering lie after lie after lie. Her other good friend, Francie, has boyfriend troubles of her own.
We are also quickly (episode 3) introduced to 15th-century inventor Milo Rambaldi, who apparently had a marvelous grasp of late-20th-century technology more than 500 years ahead of schedule.
Arvin Sloane, head of SD-6, is told that Sydney is probably a mole, and tests the CIA, but quick thinking by Sydney's father seems to help reassure Sloane of Sydney's loyalty, who kills another SD-6 agent instead.