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ALIAS

COLOR BLIND


EPISODE NO. 07
Season 1, episode 07
Series 107
1st release: 11-25-01
2nd release: 05/26/02
Production number: E636
Last update: 08/09/03


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REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY by Adriane Saunders
SAYS WHO?


REGULAR CAST
Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow
Victor Garber as Jack Bristow
Ron Rifkin as Sloane
Merrin Dungey as Francie
Carl Lumbly as Dixon
Kevin Weisman as Marshall
Michael Vartan as Vaughn
Bradley Cooper as Will

GUEST CAST
John Hannah (Martin Shepherd)
Evan Dexter Parke (Charlie)
Elaine Kagan (Will's boss)
Eugene Lazerov (Kruschnik)
Sarah Shahi (Jenny)
Mark Galasso (Ed Davis)

CREDITS
Written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
Directed by Jack Bender

Broadcast on ABC, 9-10pm, Sunday nights.




TV GUIDE PROMO

Sydney finds out Shepard is connected to her past and the truth about her father's involvement in her mother's death. ClickTV

Sydney helps Shepard (John Hannah) escape from the asylum; Sloane learns that moles may have infiltrated SD-6. ExciteTV

Syd uncovers a shocking truth about Danny's murder while trying to break Shepard (John Hannah) out of the K-Directorate's asylum; Sloane comes to the realization that not all of his agents are on the up-and-up; Charlie gives Francie a Thanksgiving she'll never forget; and Will hits the deadest end of all in his search for Kate Jones. TVguide.gom


SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser

Scenes from the last few episodes, culminating in Sydney finding Fisher's dead body in the Romanian psychiatric hospital. She runs through the corridors, pursued by guards. They catch up with her in a lab area. She fights them off, but Kruschnik shoots her in the back with a tranquilizer dart.

Sloane tells Jack that Sydney and Fisher have missed their scheduled contact. They agree that Sydney has gotten through worse situations than this could be.

Sydney is immersed in water and attached to electrodes. Kruschnik tells her he knows exactly who she works for and why she is there. He just wants to know if she got the information from Shepherd. She says she got nothing, but Kruschnik doesn't believe her. The voltage is turned on.

Vaughn contacts Jack, telling him that they've discovered that the K-directorate is involved, and he wants to pull Sydney out. Jack knows this would blow Sydney's cover. Vaughn says to pull her out of the service, then. Jack: "Taking down (SD-6) is what gets her up in the morning. Or did you think it was those meetings she has with you?" Vaughn wants to know what Jack's problem with him is, and Jack tells him he knows Vaughn pulled his file. They do not appear to part friends.

After some time of torture, Kruschnik decides Shepherd must really have told Sydney nothing. He orders her killed. Sydney tells him that he won't be able to get the information from Shepherd -- it can't be tortured out of him because he's been programmed to forget it. She is still his best chance to get the location of Parkishoff's body. He gives her til lockdown.

Sydney finds Shepherd on a roof patio of sorts and tries to talk to him. He tells her he's seen her somewhere before, but she knows he hasn't. She tells him they will both be killed unless they help each other get out. He says he would rather die than leave there the way he is now.

Act I

Sydney tries again to talk to Shepherd. He is drawing a landscape and has colored the sky yellow. Sydney says she knows he can't see colors. He accuses her of being one of the people who made him the way he is. Sydney says that he was programmed to follow orders -- to kill people. Shepherd doesn't want to believe her -- he thinks the things he's been remembering are delusions, not real events. He can't stand hearing what she's telling him and pushes her away, calling for the guard. Sydney tells the guard to tell Kruschnik she has the information.

At work, Will sees a report that a young woman was found dead in the park. He recognizes the picture as Eloise Kurtz. He tells his boss that now another murder is linked to Danny Hecht's. He wants to put in more time on the story. She says to leave his notes on her desk and she'll decide.

In his cell, Shepherd dreams of seeing a banner that says "Happy Birthday, Sydney" with her picture below it. He wakes up, eyes wide with the horror at what he's remembered.

The guard is taking Sydney to see Kruschnik, but she overpowers him and gets his keys. She dresses as a janitor and works her way to the exit. The door has to be opened with two keys simultaneously. She fits one key on the mop handle and almost gets the door unlocked when she is grabbed by Kruschnik and a guard with a stunner.

Act II

As they drag Sydney down the corridor, Shepherd appears and knocks Kruschnik down. Sydney takes out the guard and then uses the stunner on Kruschnik: "Hurts, doesn't it?" They get the keys and open the door. Outside, they hijack a police car and take off.

Sloane tells Marshall that the worm he found in the SD-6 computer was a security drill. He congratulates Marshall on catching it faster than they anticipated he would.

Sydney and Shepherd reach a safe house, and Sydney calls Vaughn's number. Jack answers because he's had her calls forwarded to him. He's relieved to hear she's safe and gives her directions to the airport where they will be picked up. Shepherd wants to know why she came looking for him, and Sydney tells him about needing to find Parkishoff's body. Shepherd tells of discovering that his dreams were not nightmares but memories of people he'd killed. That's why he put himself into the institution -- so he couldn't kill again. Sydney says it wasn't his fault. He calls her by name, and Sydney asks how he knew what her name was. He confesses that he saw her picture, and tells of the night he went to her apartment and killed Danny. He says he is so sorry for what happened. Sydney has to run outside because she is sobbing with grief and horror.

Act III

Sydney finally returns to the house. She tells Shepherd that Danny was killed because of what she told him about her job. She says that McCullough, the neuro-tech of SD-6, was probably the one who programmed Shepherd. She tells Shepherd she is a double agent and will be one until SD-6 is brought down. He asks if finding Parkishoff will help take them down. Sydney says yes, and he tells her where to find the body.

Back in LA, Sydney reports to Sloane, giving him the location of the body. She says she helped Shepherd escape in exchange for the information, but that he killed himself when he started remembering what he had done. She later tells Vaughn she was planning on lying to him too, but instead tells him the truth -- that she let Shepherd go because he was as much a victim of SD-6 as she is. She tells Vaughn that SD-6 has retrieved DNA from Parkishoff's body and will have broken the code soon. Vaughn says they will download it from the SD-6 computers afterward.

Sydney returns home to find Francie burning the Thanksgiving turkey. She is impatient with Sydney for not returning her calls, but Sydney just hugs her, glad to be home. Charlie, Will, and Will's co-worker Jenny join them for dinner. Jenny obviously has a crush on Will and has conned him into bringing her along. During dinner, Charlie proposes to Francie, and she accepts. While all are celebrating, there is a knock at the door -- it's Jack. He offers Sydney the FBI report clearing him of involvement with the KGB. He admits that Sydney's mother's accident was his fault, because they were after him. Sydney says she doesn't need to read the report. They part on a somewhat lighter note than usual.

Act IV

Sloane tells Sydney that the encoded messages revealed the location of a Rembaldi artifact in Tunisia. The FTL had apparently removed the artifact from the dig site and, not really knowing what they had, had turned it over for study at Oxford University. Sydney is to attend a reception there posing as a grant candidate recruiter and try to get the artifact.

Will's boss gives him the go-ahead for his investigation, but now Will gets cold feet and tries to get out of the assignment, knowing Sydney doesn't want him to pursue it. His boss asks him if he's on drugs. He says he's having second thoughts, but his boss says if he doesn't do the story, she'll get someone else to.

Vaughn tells Sydney that when she gets the artifact, to photograph it with a camera they will plant in her hotel room. He also warns her that Ana Espinosa seems to be involved, so Sydney should watch out for her.

At home, Sydney gets a postcard with the picture that Shepherd was painting in the hospital, but with blue skies this time. It's not signed, but says, "I owe you."

Sydney takes Jack some leftover turkey dinner.

Sloane confirms to his superior that he believes there is a mole. He plans for McCullough to "draw them out". They intend to "make an example" of the traitors.



COMMENTARY

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

Wow! This show just keeps getting better and better, fast forward all the way. So much happens in this episode! Surprises are opened at every door--and even a window, the one Syd climbs through to confront Shepherd in the mental hospital courtyard.

The action, as usual, unfolds at breathtaking speed. But what keeps me breathless in this episode is not action, but dialogue. I keep holding my breath so as not to miss a word. The twists and turns of plot, the shocking revelation of the identity of Danny's--Syd's fiance's--murderer stun me.

Kudos to the entire Alias crew, for the scriptwriting, editing, direction, camera work, continuity--and of course, the acting. Everything flows perfectly in this episode. The action and the emotions portrayed, especially by Syd (Jennifer Garner) and her father, Jack (Victor Garber) and Shepherd (John Hannah) are compelling and memorable.

Start from the beginning. Still in the mental hospital in Romania, Syd reacts to Fisher's bloodied and very dead body in the K-Directorate agent's office by trying to get out of the hospital asap.

Syd realizes her "alias" is blown, and, she runs for her life. Guards are on her heels--figuratively at first, then literally as Syd kicks and fights to get away. Unfortunately, a tranquilizing dart gun brings her down.

Back in Los Angeles, SD-6 Sloan is talking to Syd's father, Jack, about Syd not "checking in" at the appointed time. Sloan then makes an interesting comment about Syd's ability to get out of difficult situations.

"I believe in her as if she was my own daughter," Sloan says. Though Jack appreciates the words, this statement rings warning bells in me. What exactly does Sloan mean? That he does not in fact believe in Syd? He is, afterall, not her father. Or, is he? Surprise happens on this show. Truth can become lies, and lies truth in a blink on Alias.

"When's her next scheduled contact?" Jack asks Sloan. And Sloan replies, "Ten hours. Then we'll know how hot the water is." Segue directly now to Syd strapped into a tank of water in the Romanian mental hospital, electrodes to her forehead, and a guard ready to hit the switch for electroshock.

"This can't be the best version of this conversation," says Syd to her K-Directorate interrogator, in an effort to forestall the shocks. This girl does well under pressure. Ever, the wit. And, though, Syd gives the information her interrogator wants straight away, she of course gets zapped anyway. Just to be sure.

As this happens the scene segues to ingredients being dropped into a hot frying pan in a restaurant, a restaurant where CIA Vaughan breaks protocol to meet with Syd's father, Jack. (See DIALOGUE HIGHLIGHTS.)

These segues, or connections, between scenes are seamless. The camera angles are unexpected and intense. Not a shot is wasted for story, or characterization. Appreciation for the contrasts of light and color and movement throughout this episode. The visuals are first rate.

An example is Syd and Shepherd in the mental hospital's outside courtyard. The camera moves back and forth then straight up into the sky. Their two heads are foreshortened dramatically against the receding skyscape of the tall buildings. A startling view.

That shot alone could be a painting--or photograph. Definitely a few artist's eyes are behind cameras--and direction--on the set of Alias. A visual treat.

And these visuals play so cleverly in the remembrances of the mind controlled assassin. Shepherd sees only in black and white. This is effectively done, adding suspense and a certain creepiness to Shepherd's attempts to remember, and to break the grip SD-6's biotech specialist has on his memory.

The simplicity and directness--and the totally unexpected revelation that Shepherd is Danny's killer gets me half out of my chair in shock. "Oh no!" I say aloud to the TV. Syd is ahead of me on this, and all but flies out the door to collapse into gut wrenching sobs. Talk about emotional pressure! Incredible punch!

She has already said to Shepherd, in effect, that both of them are "victims" of SD-6. And, she does not blame Shepherd for killing Danny. She in fact forgives him. A remarkable feat, and a remarkable scene is played out between Syd and Shepherd in front of the fire in the CIA safe house.

Cheers to Syd for her astonishing "mental and emotional health". To be able to forgive and move on, that is real strength of character. Xena, long time warrior princess so often stuck in long-time-over grievances could take lessons from Syd.

Something else Xena could learn from Syd is how to have more than one friend. Syd is affectionate and open--as much as any double agent can be open, with all her close friends. Syd gives lots of hugs.

Thanksgiving dinner for Syd and her friends is full of warmth and good spirited fun. Charlie proposes to Francie at the table while everyone looks on in surprise and appreciation.

Syd is genuinely happy for Francie, and, that can not be so easy, having recently lost her own fiancee. A great scene around the Thanksgiving table. This show certainly knows how to do engagements that play as real.

Another surprise is Syd's father appearing at her door on Thanksgiving. (See DIALOGUE HIGHLIGHTS.) Syd revises her view of her father and his actions, and her responsiveness to his unexpected overture is touching.

A nice touch, too, is the postcard from Shepherd with his latest landscape painting on the front. There is only one difference from his painting in the courtyard of the Romanian mental hospital. Instead of a yellow sky--which had tipped Syd to his color blindness, the sky on the postcard is blue.

His message to Syd is this: "Blue skies again. I owe you." A nice touch, and Syd's answering smile speaks again to the genuineness of her forgiveness of the used-to-be assassin, Shepherd.

After thanksgiving, Syd brings leftovers from the dinner to her father at SD-6. This draws the first real smile he has shown Syd. In another room Sloan tells Sd-6 elder statesman Christophe that, though more than one "mole" is likely in SD-6, "I'm taking care of it." Unaware of this conversation, Syd--still with her father--smiles.

As usual, the episode is over way too soon. More, more --I want more.

Alias is, for sure, not a "formula" show. Unlike a show like Relic Hunter for instance, where plots are predictable and more or less interchangeable, Alias changes continually. Every episode is different. Sometimes the theme gallops ahead through action, sometimes through character, sometimes dialogue. This episode is driven by emotion.

Each episode of Alias has a different spin, like movements in a symphony. The only consistency is the high quality of all aspects of production, the accessibility of the visuals, and the acting--and the breakneck speed through which every plot unfolds.

And, this episode is particularly dramatic, richly layered--in character and plot, and solidly constructed. Some really important conversations happen, which not only move the story forward but add further depth and breadth to characterizations and relationships, especially the principles.

DIALOGUE HIGHTLIGHTS:

1--In the restaurant Syd's father Jack says to Vaughan, Syd's CIA handler, "Taking SD-6 down is what gets [Syd] up in the morning--or did you think it was those meetings with you?" Ouch! No equivocating from Jack. Perception and directness definitely run in the family, like father, like daughter.

2--Vaughan's response to Jack is this: "What were you doing checking up on me checking up on you?" So, there!

3--"Seat belt," says Syd to Shepherd, reminding him to buckle up as they pile into a stolen police car to flee the Romanian mental hospital. Did she really say that? A little humor.

4--In front of the fireplace in the safe house, Syd says to Shepherd, "It's not your fault." No blame, and later, forgiveness, from Syd, for Danny's murderer. Remarkable.

5--"If I could give her back to you I would," Jack says to Syd on her front porch Thanksgiving evening. He has just admitted his investigation by the FBI may have made him, if not responsible, at least culpable in her mother's accidental death. And Jack offers Syd proof, a document, in which the FBI clears him of any involvement with the KGB. He says, "Take it," but Syd shakes her head. "I don't need to," she says, but the appreciation and understanding of this "olive branch" from her father shows in her eyes.



SAYS WHO?

11-18-01. This episode was moved to 11-25-01 from 11-18-01 after the preemption of 11-04-01 episode. So there.

11-18-01. From 11-02-01 ZENtertainment:

Hannah Guests On ALIAS
- - - - - - - - - - -
John Hannah (The Mummy, Sliding Doors) makes his first of two scheduled guest appearances on ABC's ALIAS this Sunday night at 9. The episode finds Sydney (Jennifer Garner) going undercover as a patient in a mental institution to get information from a man (Hannah) who has no idea he's been programmed to be a deadly assassin.
He'll again appear in the November 18th episode, as Syd discovers the man's connection to her own past when she continues to investigate her belief that her father was involved with the death of her mother.
http://www.abc.com





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