REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders
COMMENTARY 2 by Zero and E
Terry O'Quinn (F.B.I. Special Officer Kendall)
Janet MacLachlan (Jane Banks)
Patricia Wettig (Dr. Judy Barnett)
Mark Colson (ops director)
Endre Hules (Vashko)
Strahil Goodman (techie no. 2)
Tom Kiesche (Agent Cooper)
Keith Lewis (Agent Novak)
Ilya Morelle (techie no. 1)
Weston J. Blakesley (barfly)
Joel Guggenheim (agent on call)
Paul Mendoza (bartender)
Alex Morris (homeless vet)
Kavita Patil (desk attendant)
Written by Alex Kurtzman-Counter and Roberto Orci
Directed by Dan Attias
Broadcast on ABC, 9-10pm, Sunday nights.
TV GUIDE PROMO
Sydney must outwit Sark to retrieve a piece of intelligence. GIST TV
Jack takes action to abort Syd's continued work with Irina, who holds the key to cracking Sark's plans for a Russian satellite armed with heavy-duty abilities. Meanwhile, Will comes face-to-face with Vaughn, who needs him to revisit his ordeal in Taipei; and Sloane gets the creepy suspicion that his late wife may not be so late, after all. TV Guide On-Line
Sydney must outwit her enemy, Sark, in order to find a crucial piece of intel. Meanwhile, Jack faces Sydney's mother for the first time in almost 20 years, Will finally meets Vaughn and Sloane is haunted by his wife's death. TVTome.com
Sydney must outwit her enemy, Sark, to find a crucial bit of intelligence; Jack faces Sydney's mom for the first time in nearly 20 years; Will meets Vaughn at last; Sloane is haunted by his wife's death. TV Now
Sydney must outwit her enemy, Sark, in order to find a crucial piece of intel. Meanwhile, Jack faces Sydney's mother for the first time in almost 20 years, Will finally meets Vaughn and Sloane is haunted by his wife's death. Official Alias Site at ABC.com.
This synopsis is by Sally Dye.
Sydney reports to Kendall and Vaughn that the camera they took in Helsinki was only an early prototype. The real t-wave camera is to be launched into orbit. SD-6 is sending Sydney to Sri Lanka to hack into the satellite, which is being launched by Sark, who has assumed control of Irina Derevko's operation. Kendall wants Sydney to ask her mother what Sark could be looking for.
Jack goes to see Barnett, hoping she will help him persuade Sydney not to have any contact with her mother. Barnett says she will not help him manipulate his daughter, even if his intentions are good. Jack refers to Irina as Laura, which interests Barnett.
Sydney goes to see Irina and asks her about Sark. Irina says he is looking for a Rambaldi music box that has an equation for zero-energy (a fuel source) encoded in the notes it plays. Irina says that when she left twenty some years ago, Sydney was going to be in her school's Thanksgiving play. She asks what part Sydney played. Sydney says she doesn't remember -- she had just been told her mother was dead and everything else was a blur.
Sydney asks Jack what part she played in the play. He says she played a turkey -- the only one to be spared to celebrate the harvest. Sydney says she knows he doesn't want her seeing her mother. Jack says he trusts her judgment.
Marshall gives Sydney a briefcase which converts into a hydrolic luge. He tells her to be sure to be out of the exhaust tunnel by the time the rocket is launched, or she will be incinerated, and he would miss her.
Sydney goes to see Sloane, who gives her an antique seed box of Emily's. He says that Emily's rose garden just seemed to have died with her. Sydney: "It's not your fault." Sloane gives her a shocked look and then recovers and wishes her good luck in Sri Lanka.
Vaughn gives Sydney a circuit board to attach to the satellite so that the CIA will get the same info that SD-6 does. He says that Will is being called in to see what he remembers about the flight to Taipei. Later, Sydney tells Will how to meet Vaughn and what to expect.
Sloane goes home and is stunned to see Emily's rose garden in full bloom again.
In Sri Lanka, Sark arrives at the operations center to observe the launch. Sydney also enters the center, disguised as a proposed investor. She drugs her escort and prepares to enter the exhaust tunnel while Dixon disables the surveillance cameras. The briefcase-turned-luge shoots Sydney through the tunnel at speeds in excess of 120 mph. She arrives at the launch site and begins attaching the circuit board to the satellite. Meanwhile, Sark is suspicious when he sees the problem with the surveillance cameras and insists that the launch be moved up. Dixon sees the countdown begin and radios Sydney to abort. The rocket will launch in one minute.
Sydney says she is almost finished. She gets the circuit board connected. At 30 seconds on the countdown, she gets back in the tunnel and shoots back toward the exit. The launch sends a fireball down the tunnel, which she just barely avoids as she flies out of the exit. As she leaves the facility, she is asked if she enjoyed the launch. Sydney: "It was a thrill."
Back in LA, Will meets with Vaughn. Will: "I thought you'd be, um, older." They arrange for Will to come in the following day and undergo hypnotherapy. Will asks about the picture frame Vaughn gave Sydney. Vaughn says it was just a gift.
Sloane says that they have learned that Sark is looking at an area of Siberia. There appears to be a system of caverns there, which contains some sort of metal object. Sydney and a team are to get the object before Sark can.
Sloane asks Jack to monitor him to see if he begins acting irrationally as a result of Emily's death. He says that the day before she died, Emily had reserved a suite at their favorite bed and breakfast in Sonoma. He says that even then she was planning for their future. He says he constantly feels Emily's presence around him.
Will undergoes hypnosis and remembers being on the plane. He is afraid he is about to be killed. Sydney wants them to wake him up, but the hypnotist reassures Will. Will sees Sark working on his laptop and finally is able to see a list of names -- names of Russian authors. The hypnotist wakes Will up. Vaughn says Sydney needs to ask Irina what the code is, so she can play the music box and record it, and then destroy the box. Sydney goes to Will to see if he is okay.
Sydney asks Irina to decipher the code. Irina does so. She tells Sydney that Sark won't hesitate to kill her, and she doesn't want to lose the chance to explain herself someday. Sydney starts to leave, then says, "About the play -- I was a turkey." Irina smiles. Jack, watching on a monitor, looks grim.
In Siberia, Sydney and her team trek through a snowstorm to the cavern. Dixon says to be careful not to fall through the ice -- it will freeze over again in four seconds. Sydney: "Good to know." Sydney enters the cave while the others guard the entrances.
In his study, Sloane gets a phone call. He hears nothing but static, so he has the call traced. It came from the bed and breakfast that Emily had made reservations for before she died.
Sydney finds the metal box. She goes radio silent on her SD-6 frequency, and contacts the CIA that she is ready to try the combination Irina gave her.
Irina is exercising. She turns around, and Jack is standing there. They stare at each other. She says that she might have been ordered to fabricate a life with him, but the illusion of their marriage was sometimes as powerful for her as it was for him. She says that, looking at his face, she can see that the illusion is finally gone. Jack says there are some who believe that she can pay her debt, but he doesn't. He says if Sydney is hurt, he will kill her. Irina: "You haven't told her what you did to her after I disappeared, have you?" Jack leaves.
Sydney gets the music box open and enters the code. Outside, Dixon and the others see figures approaching on radar, but can't confirm visually. Sydney plays the music and records it and then destroys the box by spraying a corrosive into it. Two of the guards outside are killed by gunfire from under the ice. Sydney turns her radio back on just in time to hear Dixon's warning to get out. She turns and sees Sark standing in the entrance. He gets the box and says that he would offer her a ride back to civilization, but his submersible only seats four. Sydney: "It's the thought that counts." She throws a pick at him and hits him in the leg. He fires his gun wildly, and Sydney crashes through the weakened ice. Instantly, the ice freezes over her head.
This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.
"The true loyalty of Agent Bristow's mother is unknown." That is important, that tagline, heard now as 'lead in' to every Season Two episode. Irina Derevko's 'unknown loyalty' underlines her every interaction.
"Circadian Meditation," Irina tells Syd, "all the benefits of sleep in a fraction of the time." She offers to teach the technique to Syd. But Syd declines.
Lena Olin, the actress who plays Irina, has extraordinarily expressive eyes. Huge sparkles of light dance in those eyes, and no small amount--I suspect--of personal charisma. Syd is not immune. Irina asks Syd "what part" she played in a Thanksgiving play, 20 years ago. Syd tells her she does not remember. Though Syd retains her composure while facing Irina, she breaks down when she is alone.
This query about the part in the play is the first time Irina touches her lips with her fingers, or exhibits any kind of uncertainty in any interaction. More usually Irina is controlled and still in her responses, even when speaking. No nervous gestures.
When next Syd comes to Irina for the cipher to decode Rimbaldi's music box, Irina remarks, "You haven't even asked me how I could shoot my own daughter." To which, Syd replies flatly, "No, I haven't." Irina also says that Sark will not hesitate to kill Syd, and "I don't want to lose my chance to explain myself to you someday."
Wow! What astonishing admission from this oh-so-keep-her-own-counsel woman! What is she up to, apart from thawing out Syd sufficiently to find out Syd was a "turkey" in the Thanksgiving play? When Syd tells her that, she says, "Thank you," softly, tears in her eyes.
Jack, watching over closed circuit TV, tells Irina later, "If Sydney, in any way, becomes victim to your endgame, I will kill you." This face off occurs after he interrupts Irina doing pushups in her cell--off her toes even! This Irina/Lena Olin is fit! And, she is full of surprises.
In one fluid motion Irina gets to her feet, and facing Jack, tells him, "There were times when the illusion of our marriage was as powerful for me as it was for you, especially when Syd was born." This woman knows all the emotional strings to pull in people. Her parting shot, as Jack leaves, is "You haven't told her what you did to her after I disappeared, did you?" Gotcha!
Interspersed between Irina and Syd, Jack and Irina, are Syd's SD-6/CIA assignments and Sloane's 'twilight zone' after death of wife Emily, grief prompted 'happenings', or ploys. I am not sure which, still believing as I do Emily will turn out to be alive later in the plot.
Sloane asks Jack, as a favor, "to monitor" him. He thinks his grief about Emily's 'death' is having a more profound effect on him than anticipated. Jack tells Sloane, "Trauma can bring feelings of metaphysical familiarity"--great phrase, that--"but then again, who's to say she isn't with you." Maybe more directly than anyone expects.
These interactions, between Irina and Syd, Jack and Irina, Sloane and Jack, are all riveting, intense and realistic. Entirely believable. The same cannot be said for Syd's two SD-6/CIA assignments for Episode 3.
Syd dons another great red wig for her 'alias' at an Asian rocket launch site.Her suitcase opens into a 'luge' SD-6 tech expert Marshall designed. After Dixon shuts down serveillance of the rocket about to be launched, Syd 'rockets' herself on her luge through tunnels. Close to the launch, Syd re-wires circuit boards on the outside of the rocket. Is such wiring really so easily accessed? Maybe in a cartoon? Or a James Bond film from the 60's? As Syd leaves, receptionist asks Syd, "Did you enjoy the launch?" Syd says, "It was a thrill," meaning the fireball that chased her out. But the acting does not really match the words. I am unconvinced, and anything but 'thrilled'.
Fast forward to caper number two in snowy 'Siberia'. More 60's James Bond, complete with unconvincing ice walls and blizzard conditions. Siberia looks all too much like a movie set. "Watch your step.If you fall through the ice, it'll freeze over in four seconds," Dixon tells Syd before she goes inside the caverns to retrieve Rimbaldi's music box. Dixon is 'pretend' shouting over the wind and snow storm. Hoaky and unrealistic, almost embarrassingly so.
The snow and ice is all too clean looking to be a real glacier. It's all the same color, puffy-looking sprayed on white. Whoever designed this set clearly has never stood inside a glacier or an ice cave. And the whole setup: Dixon seeing opposition approaching, shouting, talking to other operatives back and forth, everyone shouting at the entrance to the caverns is totally unbelievable and thoroughly unsuspenseful.
Supposed counterpoint is Syd in the cave playing Rimbaldi's music box to the CIA over remote mike. No reception problems whatever. Considering her 'under ice' location in the middle of a Siberian snowstorm, that is remarkable. Dixon keeps shouting, from outside, "Do you copy, Sydney?" as Sark--the bad guy--arrives. Though Syd's face and jacket are highlighted with frozen snow, Sark's face and jacket are clean. Apparently snow does not stick on the 'bad guys'.
Syd heaves an ice axe into Sark's leg, forcing his machine gun to fire wildly, straffing the ice beneath her feet. Syd falls through the ice, which instantly re-forms in the earlier mentioned 'four seconds'. She is trapped. But, I am not worried.
That is not freezing--or probably even particularly cold--water Syd falls into, and definitely not real ice over her head. Real 'freezing' water paralyzes the body, (and, yes, I speak from experience). Even breathing stops. As if clamped in a huge immovable vise, catching even a single breath is impossible for several seconds or longer--depending how quickly a regroup from shock kicks in. This 'under the ice' at the end of Episode 3 is not believable. No one clued the actress to what happens when a warm body falls into ice water. If this scene had been 'for real', Syd would already be dead.
But, fortunately for us--the viewers, Syd and Garner both are 'alive and well' and likely back next week for more action, particularly to be relished, more encounters with the inimitable Irina Derevko. No 'cold water' can be thrown on my enthusiasm for that.
This commentary is by Zero and E."I trust your judgment. You're doing fine."
THINGS THAT WORKED:
Where do we begin?
-Vaughn meets Will-and has the upper hand... Again... where do we start? Their encounter was brief, succinct, and beautifully executed. The genius of this scene was in the subtext. With every carefully chosen word, Vaughn established and even flaunted his relationship with Sydney, which was something Will was clearly not prepared for. Vaughn starts with the upper hand by default and is surprisingly subtle in his manipulation. He knows the stories: the dinner at Sloane's house, Francie's engagement and subsequent breakup, as well as all those private meetings in Mikro Self-Storage that WIll knew nothing about. However, Vaughn is also aware that while he knows the intimate stories of Sydney's life, he doesn't know her intimately. But as long as the limits of Vaughn's relationship with Sydney are unknown to Will, the balance of power remains the same and Will will continue to think he is at a disadvantage.
This is a crucial moment for Will: although he has forgiven Sydney for the conceptual sum of her deceptions, he must now deal with the reality of these lies individually. For the first time he is actively confronting the part of Sydney's life that he was not allowed to know. And once again Will's intuition only gets him hurt. Bradley Cooper was amazing in this scene. There is something incredibly genuine about watching Will pull the pieces together, swallow, and then ask those uncomfortable questions to which he already knows the answer.
-Will's regression-a change of hands
The regression scene was absolutely stunning. Both the acting and the cinematography were flawless and possessed an amazing degree of intricacy on multiple levels.
Mise-en-scene (everything but the acting): The transitions between Will and his hyperrealist projection of himself were visually and technically seamless. The grainy over-saturation of light and movement perfectly captures the pervasive sense of terror, while the percussive rise and fall of the score only increase the intensity. Not to mention the reverse shots that nicely depict Sydney's concern and make watching Will's suffering even more uncomfortable for the viewer.
The acting: Bradley Cooper is ridiculously consistent in his subtle gestures throughout this scene. His facial expressions, as well as his tone, convey Will's painful journey in a completely coherent and overwhelmingly convincing manner. The scene never loses its fluidity and we were wholly ensorcelled, not once doubting that we were seeing precisely what Will was experiencing.
After the regression: Here there is a distinct shift of power in Will's favor. Vaughn's attempted discussion with Sydney is awkwardly interrupted by her need to be at Will's side. Watching through the window, a reflection of Syd and Will's closeness playing on the glass, Vaughn is again reminded of the distance that still separates him from this woman. Vartan's brooding sincerity wordlessly speaks of Vaughn's jealous longing.
-Irina-the disparity between past and present (Oh yeah... and she ALWAYS has the upper hand)
The mystery deepens. In this and previous episodes we are continually faced with images of Irina as a woman of subtle emotion and vaguely expressed regret. There is a huge and irreconcilable difference between what is reported and what we actually observe. She has shown no signs of her supposed vindictive intentions apart from the non-lethal wound she inflicted on her daughter, the motives to which she has already alluded.
The fact is, we know very little about her true nature as of yet, even less than the characters that inhabit her sphere. It is highly intriguing to watch Sydney's black and white compartmentalization of her mother slowly break down into something much more ambiguous, as we ourselves struggle to keep from mentally polarizing Derevko.
Having said this, we must acknowledge that a shadow of her purported mendaciousness is evident every time a character turns away from her. She plays her cards with calculated skill and the theatrical way in which she is able to reverse a situation in her favor is fascinating. She truly is the master of tossing the final blow.
-Reflections-As a literary theme and cinematic style
The use of this technique can be traced back to, at the very least, Will's interviews with McNeil and has taken on a new level of significance this season. It is a very subtle and effective way of drawing character parallels.
Sydney and Irina - During their scenes together we can often see the subjective interplay of their reactions, one in flesh and one in echo. In Mr. Eisendrath's words, "Thirty years... opposite sides of the Cold War... betrayal... death... AND STILL THE DNA STRAND IS UNBROKEN." The intertwined visages of mother and daughter capture this sentiment perfectly.
Jack and Irina - Perhaps more difficult to interpret, their bodies are often superimposed on the glass in a more direct clash of images. This produces an interesting effect in that it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the two.
Will and Vaughn - After Will's regression this technique is used in a different but equally effectual manner. Here, Vaughn looks out from behind glass beneath the shadow of Will and Sydney's reflection. It is a clever visual metaphor for the insecurity the two men feel in each other's presence.
This technique is expertly crafted. It is a visually beautiful and an unintrusive mode of interrelating characters on a thematic level.
-A renewed sympathy for Sloane and an invitation to Jack
D*mn*t. We feel sorry for him again. Yes, he had Sydney's fiancÚ assassinated. Yes, he murdered Jean Briault. And yes, it looks like... he may have killed his wife. But we'd lying if we didn't say that at some strangely fundamental level we understand and sympathize with his grief. We clearly don't know Sloane. There are missing pieces in his past, decisions he's had to make and circumstances that we don't understand. And though this aspect was omitted from the first two episodes, its reintroduction was powerful and in no way fraudulent.
Ron Rifkin is amazing. What other actor has the versatility to portray a man with such a truly horrific past in so compassionate a manner? Who else could peel away such a sickeningly heartless exterior to expose a depth so movingly human? It comes down to this: whatever judgments are placed upon him, Sloane ardently believes that he is working towards some greater good or, at the very least, against some greater evil. This unexpected vulnerability comes across in this episode in Sloane's emotive plea for Jack's help. It is striking to see men of Sloane and Jack's composure interact on such intimate level. In a world where they must be ever vigilant and wear a constant mask, the fact that they are able to speak to each other as human beings is beautiful.
Also as a purely technical side note, Sloane's confession to Jack puts Mr. Bristow back in the SD-6 inner circle.
-Jack and Dr. Barnett-keeping him in line
Jack is slowly opening himself up to his daughter and to his emotions, but struggles to deal with them in a nonprofessional manner. He is accustomed to deception and manipulation as a way of molding associations and, in reality, is quite naive and out of practice where real relationships are concerned.
Coming to his therapist in order to "devise a strategy" is significant on two levels. First, his intention to maneuver his daughter is telling of his social and emotional immaturity. Second, his eagerness to enlist her help in his ploy is indicative of his growing trust and respect for Dr. Barnett.
Patricia Wettig's Dr. Barnett is a fantastic counter for Jack. Although she may not possess his strategic genius, she is as adept at recognizing his motives as he is at concealing them.
-Jack and Sydney-Approval
"We'll just have to learn to trust each other."
"I trust your judgment. You're doing fine."
What a difference a year makes. To be honest, this is what we've been waiting for. Though the show was never "about" Jack and Sydney, for us that's --exactly-- what it was about. The father-daughter relationship is timeless, complicated, beautiful and, above all, real. It is truly amazing in a show of intrigue, explosions, romance, mystery, and myth, that the struggle for reconciliation between parent and child is explored with such care and depth when it could so easily slip into the background.
"I trust your judgment. You're doing fine." This says EVERYTHING about the relationship that Jack and Sydney have been building. What a moment. Isn't this every child's wish: to receive acceptance and confirmation of selfhood from a parent? Though he paused, perhaps considering another route, he spoke with a sincerity that was completely void of the formalism that is the trademark of his calculations.
-Sark-Back in Black
Sark is the perfect rival for Sydney. He is young, physical, smart, and unpredictable. Also, he displays a strange professional respect for Sydney and admiration of her skill and wit that laces their interactions with a warped tension. Sark is a creepy mixture of Bronte's Heathcliff and Irina Derevko; he's got that fierce enigmatic aura. We think David Anders adds a great dynamic that can only get better. Welcome back.
THINGS THAT DID NOT WORK:
-Haladki-We miss you...
Narratively speaking, weeks have gone by without a mention of Haladki or his presumed death. We wouldn't mind the writers taking their time or leaving the situation ambiguous, but there has been no indication that there is any awareness whatsoever on the part of the CIA concerning his disappearance. During the first two episodes such an omission was understandable and admissible, as there were more pressing matters. Now, however, it seems unlikely that the CIA would shrug its shoulders and say "Meh. I'm sure he'll turn up." The consequences of pivotal decisions have been a crucial aspect of the Alias universe. So, regardless of whether Jack has committed murder, at the very least, an acknowledgement of Haladki's existence as a character must be scripted.
-Devlin-We miss you too...
We are fully aware that Kendall has assumed the authoritative role that Devlin once occupied, but during the end of last season some serious implications were made that need to be dealt with this year. In the finale, Jack has an important conversation with Devlin concerning their friendship. Because we see so little of Jack's personal life, this small exchange took on great significance. In the wake of Haladki's disappearance and Irina's reappearance the question remains: are they still friends? If there are consequences to be had (and there are), Devlin will be the source and, if Devlin is Jack's only "true" friend, the ramifications of Devlin's course of action will be huge.
DETAILS WE APPRECIATED:
-Kevin Blank (affectionately called Kevin Blank blank blank blank) did a fantastic job meeting (and exceeding) the ambitious demands of this episode. An Ice Cave? A Rocket Launch? Are the writers mad? Certainly. But it seems as though the crew has no trouble keeping up.
-Sloane's "drinking problem" has become more serious. He's gone from fairly innocuous fluids such as water and wine to drinking hard liquor. We don't blame him; he's just buried his wife. But it's still frightening... and it won't help his kidney problem.
-Sydney's snatching of Will's beer was reminiscent of her stakeout with Francie: nothing huge, just a small reminder of the details that can't escape a spy's notice.
- As soon as Vaughn informs him of his next S.O.P., Will realizes the implications behind every wrong number at Sydney's apartment. And from there it is no stretch of Will's reasoning to recognize that Vaughn is the mysterious gift-giving coworker. It's so refreshing to see television friends that don't succumb to sidekick status. Will's ability to make sometimes subtle connections is the reason his character has become so deeply involved, and we love that we don't have to take this cleverness for granted, as we see it every time he speaks.
-Though Sydney has sworn she won't take Irina's advice at face value, she doesn't hesitate to act on her mother's warning about Sark. At the very least she's listening to Irina on a subconscious level.
-Something to watch for in the future: What will be the first thing to faze Irina? When we are allowed to see a portion of her designs crumble, we will have a better idea of what her intentions truly are. This will be the initial indication of the borders of Derevko's ultimate plan and the limits of her control.
-Although Sloane does not consider himself a spiritual person, past events speak of a metaphysical presence in his life: the darkness that he saw coming on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, his obsession and unyielding belief in Rambaldi, and the surreal aftermath of Emily's death.
In the future, this section will feature an in-depth analysis of a central aspect of the Alias Universe. (For instance, last week's review included an essay entitled "Dispelling the Corporate Myth Behind the Writers") However, we're a bit pressed for time this week. So we'll simply conclude by saying that this episode was fantastic. We extend our full admiration to Alex Kurtzman-Counter, Roberto Orci, and Dan Attias.
J.J. Abrams, "Alias Theme"
Saint Low Song, "Spanish Moss". Label: Lovecat Records
Synopsis from Official Site
Television without Pity review
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