REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders
COMMENTARY 2 by Zero and E
NON-ORIGINAL MUSIC SAYS WHO?
Derrick O'Connor (Khasinau)
Greg Grunberg (Agent Weiss)
Patricia Wettig (C.I.A. Therapist Dr. Judy Barnett)
Stuart Yee (The Tester)
Jamie McShane (CIA Agent)
Dayna Adams (Receptionist)
Chris Harrison (Reporter #2)
Todd Karli (Newscaster)
Roger Lim (Gasping Body)
Tricia Nickell (Reporter #3)
Danny Romero (Reporter #1)
Lancaster Dean Grimes .... Stunt Junkie
Ron Yuan .... Haz Mat Guy
Clayton Landey (CIA Officer Wilcox)
Written by J.J. Abrams
Directed by Ken Olin
Broadcast on ABC, 9-10pm, Sunday nights.
TV GUIDE PROMO
Sydney's mother harbors sinister plan. GIST TV
The slam-bang spy drama begins its second season with a new addition to the Bristows' twisted family tree. Now that May's cliffhanger has revealed "The Man" to actually be "The Mom", Lena Olin joins the cast as Irina Derevko, Syd's Russian-agent mother, who has long been presumed dead. But don't expect a happy reunion for these two: Their first face-off leaves Syd (Jennifer Garner) injured, and Irina on the run. Meanwhile, Jack (Victor Garber) goes to extremes to keep Will (Bradley Cooper) alive after his Sd-6 expose hits the stands; and a CIA mission to smoke out one of Khasinau's cronies leads to a gruesome finding about Vaughn (Michael Vartan). TV Guide On-Line
This synopsis is by Sally Dye.
Scenes from season one, culminating with Sydney recognizing Irina Derevko - her mother - as "The Man". Irina muses that she could have prevented all this, since Sydney was very small as a baby. She wants to know who sent Sydney there. Sydney: "Or what? I'm grounded?" Irina raises her pistol and shoots Sydney in the shoulder. She tells Sydney to think about it and she' ll be back.
Flash to Sydney, telling all this to CIA psychiatrist Barnett, though she says she is able to handle her own problems and doesn't know why she is talking to a shrink. She describes how she got away by breaking the chair she was handcuffed to and fighting off several guards as she escapes out into Taipei. (Barnett wants to know how she could do all this with a gunshot wound in her shoulder, and Sydney says that adrenaline is a great drug.) She radios Jack, who tells her to get to the extraction point. But Sydney says she is going back into the lab to look for Vaughn. She steals a haz-mat suit and mingles with the men inspecting the destroyed lab. She finds Vaughn's coat, but there is no sign of him.
On the plane, Jack treats Sydney's wound, and Sydney breaks the news that "Mom" is the one who shot her. Will, still looking pretty much the worse for wear after his bout of torture, is even more incredulous at this news. Sydney's cell phone rings - it's Francie, wanting to know if she's heard from Will. She says there's a bizarre story on the news about Will being missing and some mysterious organization called SD-6 having something to do with it.
Sydney describes to Barnett about how Dixon reported to Sloane that he suspected Sydney of being a double agent. Jack, however, anticipated this move, and has a plan in place. Sydney is taken into custody by SD-6, but Jack goes to Sloane and "confesses" that he had engineered Sydney's actions so that Khasinau's operation could be destroyed. Dixon goes to free Sydney and apologizes for doubting her, saying that he had not listened to his heart and had betrayed her and himself. Sydney just lays her head on his shoulder.
Sydney and Weiss discuss Vaughn and what is being done to find him. Sydney tells him Sloane is sending her on a mission to France. She is to plant a bug in the office of a Khasinau associate named Ravais, so they can track Khasinau's activities. Marshall unveils an innovative type of bug that is placed inside a phone wire. Weiss says they will put a delay on it and the CIA will get all info first and control what SD-6 hears.
In a lab, Khasinau is preparing to do some sort of brain surgery on a comatose man. A guard comes in and tells him that Ravais is on the phone. As Khasinau leaves, another gurney is wheeled in with an unconscious Vaughn lying on it.
In France, Sydney parachutes into Ravais' compound. She mingles with the party guests and locates Ravais' study. She plants the bug and tests it. Weiss receives the transmission first; then they relay it on to Dixon, waiting in a nearby van. As Sydney is leaving, she spots a man she recognizes from Taipei and follows him. He leads her to an operating room where Khasinau is preparing to cut open Vaughn's skull. She and Khasinau fight, and she is knocked out for a second. Khasinau runs to get assistance, and Sudney comes to. She tries to wake Vaughn, but he is still too groggy. She gets a large hypodermic, fills it with adrenaline and plunges it into his chest. He wakes and they escape. Sydney tells him where they are, and he says he can make it back to LA. He thanks her for saving his life, and they share a tender, smiling moment before Sydney slips away to meet up with Dixon.
Sydney tells Barnett that Will is not doing very well. In order to save Will's life and discredit the story he wrote about SD-6, Jack injects Will with heroin and arranges for him to be found in a drug house during a raid. A very shocked and worried Francie picks him up at the hospital, and he faces the reporters waiting for him, telling them that he's had a heroin problem for three years and that all he had written during that time was fiction, especially his latest story.
Sloane tells Sydney that he is going to spare Will so that she won't lose anyone else to SD-6. Then he asks her to speak at Emily's funeral.
Back at home, Francie is on her way out to see a realtor about a location for her prospective restaurant. She asks Sydney to stay with Will. Will and Sydney talk. Will describes what it was like as he cleaned out his desk at work. But he says he is just glad to be alive. Sydney doesn't really know what to say to him, so she asks how his mouth is. He says it will be okay.
Vaughn describes how he survived the deluge in Taipei. He swam to an overhead window and got out of the water, but was captured by guards before he got any farther.
Jack tells Sydney that a transfer of an important book - which can help put Khasinau and Derevko's operation back together -- is to take place in Spain. She and Vaughn are to go there and intercept the book - called the "bible" - before Khasinau can get possession of it.
In Spain, the CIA team is just about to disrupt the transfer and get the book, when gunfire breaks out from some unknown source. Weiss is hit. Khasinau grabs the briefcase containing the book and runs, with Sydney right behind him. She catches up to him, and they fight. Sydney has the upper hand when Irina appears and tells Sydney to drop her gun. Sydney complies. Irina the fires point-blank, but kills Khasinau instead of Sydney. She makes Sydney lie on the floor and takes the briefcase, saying, "Truth takes time."
Back in LA, Sydney goes to see Barnett. She describes a conversation with Will before she left for Emily's funeral. Will is disbelieving that she could speak at this evil man's wife's funeral. Sydney says that, despite everything, Emily was a good person. She tells Will that as much as she hates what has happened to him, part of her is relieved that she doesn't have to lie to him anymore.
She speaks at the funeral, saying that Emily had filled a void in her life - a void left by the death of her mother. After the service, Jack tells her that her mother just walked into CIA headquarters and surrendered. Sydney tells Barnett, "I'm not sure this is a problem I know how to handle."
This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.
10/05/02. Season Two picks up where Season One left off. Syd is tied and bound to a chair in Taipai. Blood trickles from the corner of her mouth. The word she has just uttered is "Mom". A figure comes forward from the shadows, Syd's mother.
No gushy reunion here! Mother tells Syd: "I could have prevented all this. You were so small when you were born." Yikes! What an admission! But, a few words more, and an even bigger surprise. Mother shoots Syd in the shoulder, knocking her onto the floor, then walks away. Cool!
The two best scenes in this first episode of Season Two are with Syd's mom. Superb choice, both in appearance and malevolence, the choice of actress who plays Syd's mom. She's great! I already cheer this character, and look forward to more! Like Callisto in Xena: Warrior Princess, female action heroes need wonderfully malevolent and hugely unpredictable "arch enemies". So bravo Alias for this one for Syd.
But, beyond the introduction of this new character--whose existence until now has only been implied or assumed but not seen, the script for the Season Two opener is weak. J.J. Abrams has definitely written better scripts. This week's is full of inconsistencies and preposterous bits.
Here are two examples. Example One: Syd rams a needle of adrenalin into Vaughan's chest to revive him enough to escape Khasinau, hard on their heels, only to stop just outside the building, oblivious to the chase. Rather than continuing to run, they stare and smile at each other for several minutes. Say what? And, Example Two: Vaughan's eulogies to the "screwdriver", his escape hatch "key", when giving "explanation" for his escape from death in the Taipai hallway at the end of last Season. Vaughan just happens to be carrying a screwdriver in his pocket in case a tidal wave comes down a hallway, forcing him to swim through air vents, by first unscrewing the grate?! Yeah, right!
The best scenes are the two with Syd's mother, genuinely Alias-like in unexpectedness and surprise and remarkable dialogue. The mother's remark about how easy it would have been to kill Syd when she was a baby, and her final remark, as she leaves Syd, hands on head, face on the floor, "Truth takes time," are decidedly memorable. Surprises are to come. Syd's mother shooting Syd, tied and bound to a chair, at the beginning, and then shooting her own operative, Khasinau, at the end, are both genuinely Alias-like.
But, much of this episode's script is remarkably UN-Alias-like. Absent, and missed, from the beginning is the snappy Season One signature introduction of Alias with the letters of "Alias" shot, bullet-like on the screen, one letter at a time. Very effective. Even last Season's introduction with Syd providing the voice over for the basic Alias plotline far surpasses this Season's contrived and heavy-handed introduction. The new introduction is decidedly un-Alias-like. Season Two's introduction is more like a carbon copy of too many other television dramas.
Unfortunately, this melodramatic opening seems to set the tone for the whole episode. Over scripted--or "under", depending on viewpoint, over acted--or "under" likewise, over directed--or "under", and generally all too reminiscent of a lot of other dramatic shows, describes Episode 23, Season Two's opener. This is not Alias, at least not the Alias that generated all the awards and applause last Season.
But there are glimmers in the playback of action scenes from last Season, those clips used to tie up loose ends. There are reminders here and there--like the tidalwave chasing Syd down the hall in Taipai--of just how much fun Alias can be, and how exciting, and, hopefully, will be again. This Second Season opener is more like a "clip show" than a "pilot" for a new beginning. The episode is weak, and generally flat, emotionally, with rather one-dimensional characterizations.
Far too many characters fates and plotlines are stuffed into some kind of "wrap up" for this one episode. We--as viewers--do not need to know, all in the first episode, what happened to everyone! at the end of Season One. That could be, far more effectively --and suspensefully--stretched out over following episodes.
Emily Sloan's death is somewhat glossed over in the funeral at the end. Is Emily really dead! Syd's voice over eulogy to Emily, coupled with overlapping out-of-focus images of someone coming forward, had me expecting Emily Sloan to appear alive somewhere. That the out-of-focus-now-in-focus figure turns out to be Syd's mom, turning herself in to the CIA, is almost anticlimatic. Who cares? Is Emily alive or dead? Whose funeral is this?
I continue to expect to see Sloan's wife again, very much alive, and quite probably on the Alliance Board of Directors. There are surprises to come. Of that, I am sure.
But, the biggest surprise, so far, is how dull Season Two's opener is. Tune in next week. Maybe the real Alias, the fast-paced, tightly scripted, intriguingly plotted and remarkably well acted Alias will begin again. Tune in next week.
This commentary is by Zero and E."There is no drug like adrenaline."
THINGS THAT WORKED:
-The Sydney/Vaughn dynamicCan we say... wow? The early scenes with Barnett provided some nice buildup to the impending rescue. For the first time we see Sydney expressing strong emotions on the Vaughn front. And when she actually finds him (half naked...) there is some real chemistry. The attraction has finally established itself as mutual. What was once ambiguously platonic warmth on Syd's part is most certainly NOT platonic now. The Cap Ferrat scene was spectacularly executed. Everything from Vaughn's adrenaline enhanced enthusiasm to Syd's genuine concern and relief played perfectly. The moment of visible transition from frantic exuberance to muted consideration expertly conveyed the tangible weight of the situation and the changing nature of their relationship. But, hey, they're just kids having fun. You have to love the way Vaughn's smile follows Sydney's off camera.
-The Jack/Will dynamicThe relationship between Jack and Will is quickly becoming one of the most fascinating on the show. In their scenes together we witness Jack in a distinctly paternal role. As he guides Will through a nightmarish transition, we are allowed to see the uncharacteristically compassionate side of Jack that has remained dormant for several decades. This is a vicarious compensation for his lacking relationship with Sydney. We may not get to see "The Dad Hug" for a while yet, but the writers were smart enough to throw us a bone with the pseudo Dad Hug in last season's finale. Why does the Jack-Will dynamic work? Because Will is vulnerable to Jack in a way that Sydney doesn't permit herself to be.
Our favorite Jack/Will moment this episode?
"Is that your idea of a joke? You're morbid, Jack."
-The Sydney/Will dynamic
In our opinion this dynamic is comparable to the one developing between Sydney and Vaughn. Don't get us wrong, the rules of the Alias universe dictate that she'll eventually end up with Vaughn, but they also make it clear that it won't happen for a while. With that in mind, there's a lot of breathing room to explore this equally intriguing relationship. This relationship differs from Sydney and Vaughn's in that there is a clear and ever-present sense of safety in their friendship. The hair tousling during the couch scene was a nice touch. It's refreshing to see Sydney relaxed and able to breath for once. We don't necessarily see a serious romantic relationship developing between them, but the impossibility of such an entanglement is something the two will have to come to terms with on their own time.
-Scenes with Barnett
These scenes acted as a clever framing device for the episode and provided a solid reference point for the first-time viewer. Having read an early "final" draft of the episode that did NOT include Barnett, we have an interesting perspective on how her addition affected the overall feel of the premiere. We've come to this conclusion: the insertion of the Barnett scenes was the right move. On top of being a phenomenal actress, she added some valuable distance from the action at hand and allowed for clarification concerning character motives. For those who hadn't yet watched the show, the sessions clearly emphasized the chemistry between Sydney and her handler. For those of us extremely familiar with the aforementioned theme, this was the first look into Sydney's half of the growing romantic tension. However, whenever additional scenes are inserted into a script, others must be cut. For the most part the deleted dialogue and action were superfluous. The two scenes we feel were actually compromised were the following: Dixon's confession and Sloane's grieving. (more on these scenes later)
Briefly, this is first time we've encountered Vaughn in a nonprofessional mode. Even in some of his private meetings with Sydney, there was always a degree of formality. But this time, he seemed so natural when he woke and quietly called her name, "Syd?" It was as though he were waking from a nap in a normal bed, involved in a normal relationship. This mood of comfort continued into the following adrenaline-induced scenes when he grinned and breathlessly said, "You saved my life." Way to go Vartan!
-Allusions to inherited mannerisms/attitudes
The amount of detail incorporated into this show constantly amazes. From the Irina hair tuck to Sydney's Jack-like refusal for counseling, the writers perfect the feeling of family through inherited characteristics and repeated mannerisms.
-Irina Derevko--as a mother, as a woman, as a terrorist.
We'll keep some of the thoughts we have on Irina until next time, as it's extremely early to begin speculation (not to say that we haven't...) on what her role will be. We would like to say, however, that we really appreciated the challenge the writers have presented to the viewers to see her as more than "a bad guy." While Sydney herself classifies her mother in such a blatantly polar manner, other aspects of Irina's disposition have made it clear that she cannot be reduced so simply. And although Irina later appears decked out in assassin style garb, she is initially presented as a good looking woman, dressed professionally. She looks more like a mother and a business woman than a russian spy. So far, we're impressed with the sophistication of her portrayal. Lena Olin is a great addition.
THINGS THAT DID NOT WORK:
-The Sydney/Dixon dynamic.
This dynamic was compromised by the addition of the Barnett scenes. In the draft we were able to read, Dixon visibly struggles with his decision to report Sydney. It read with more emotional continuity and sincerity than it played out on screen. There obviously isn't time in a season premiere to explore every aspect of every relationship, but we feel that the weight of the situation was glossed over by the editing. Dixon has always been a sort of touchstone for Sydney and we feel that his scenes moved too quickly and were too close together to cover such a deep relationship justly.
-A lack of screen time for Sloane
This is the other aspect of the episode that we felt lost something in the final cut. Sloane's grief and guilt concerning Emily was completely absent last Sunday and it wasn't even clear who Emily was (for first-time viewers) or that Sloane was responsible for her passing. In fact we don't even hear definite news of Emily's death until Sloane asks Sydney to speak at the funeral. One of the most spectacularly moving scenes on Alias to date was Sloane's beach side confession in last season's finale. Never had the heart wrenching depth of his love for Emily been so apparent, nor had we ever witnessed the complexity of Sloane's character to that degree. So it seemed a bit of a let down to pass over this aspect of the show entirely, when the writers had so painstakingly constructed an unnatural sympathy for someone generally considered to be a bastard.
DETAILS WE APPRECIATED:
-Will exhibiting signs of first-time drug use.
-"There is no drug like adrenaline" as foreshadowing of Sydney's daring arousal of Vaughn.
-We found it interesting that the writers chose to replace the battery-powered screwdriver with a generic one. Though it did have nice parallel with Irina's impressive implementation of the tool.
Why does Sloane drink so much water? Is it truly necessary for him to be that hydrated? Does he have a kidney problem? Are there bathrooms in SD-6? It's just so damn creepy... almost worse than when he touches Sydney. Also, it's strangely reminiscent of The Cigarette Smoking Man's chain-smoking tendencies.
What about Haladki? We didn't see a body... is he really dead? We'd like to think so. Who knows that he's missing? Jack chose not to disclose to Sydney where he received his information in the finale...what are the implications of this decision? What are the consequences of Jack's actions?
Mr. Vartan... we love the tattoo.
"Well between this and killing your father, it's pretty clear she's not a role-model." Sydney, discussing her mother with Vaughn. (A true tragedy that this line didn't make the final cut)
Mr. Abrams... fantastic script and execution.
All said and done, what has changed?
In reality, the kinds of changes we can expect to see in the future were not present in this episode, as it was primarily concerned with tying up loose plot lines and starting a new narrative for this season. Things to watch for:
- Dr. Barnett's growing involvement with the Bristows. She could very possibly become the kind of support system that Sydney lost when Emily died.
- The new tension between Jack and Sydney and Vaughn and Sydney with the return of Irina.
Artist: Gemma Hayes Song: "I Wanna Stay" Label: Virgin UK
Artist: Rosie Thomas Song: "Farewell" Label: Sub Pop Records
Artist: Daniel Lenz Song: "Spy" Label: Not Applicable
09/16/02. From the SD-6 site: Sydney finds herself face to face with her mother, whose intentions for her daughter are made chillingly clear. Meanwhile Sydney continues her search for Vaughn, not knowing if he is dead or alive after being swept away by a wall of water in Taipei; Will's life is forever changed when he learns the truth about SD-6 and Sydney's life as a double agent; Dixon must decide whether or not to inform Sloane of Sydney's suspicious activities; the fate of Sloane's wife, Emily, is revealed; and Francie becomes closer to her dream of opening up a restaurant.
Click here to read a transcript of The Enemy Walks In.
Synopsis from Official Site
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