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ALIAS

MEA CULPA


EPISODE NO. 09
Season 1, episode 09
Series 109
1st release: 12/09/01
2nd release: 06/23/02
Production number: E638
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


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
Miguel Sandoval (Anthony Russek)
Tobin Bell (Dreyer)
Timothy Landfield (Kretchmer)
Christopher Thornton (Neville)
David St. James (Mr. Franco)
Jon Curry (Phillips)
Yvonne Farrow (Diana Dixon)
Timothy Halligan (Dr. Malaska)
Richard F. Whiten (Officer Pollard)
Kalina Carr (Franco's Assistant)
David Franco (Guard)
Maurice Irvin (Man in the couple)
Cosimo Fusco (Logan Gerace)

CREDITS
Written by Debra J. Fisher and Erica Messer
Directed by Ken Olin

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




TV GUIDE PROMO

Sloane's superior tells him that Sydney is the mole; Dixon is shot while on a mission. Zap2It

Will makes contact with the mystery man on the other end of Kate Jones' bug; Sydney falls into Sloane's trap after Jack saves her from a sting to smoke out the SD-6 mole; Dixon comes out of his coma with little or nothing to say about what went down in the Andes. TVguide.com


SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser

Scenes from previous episodes, culminating with Sydney falling back into the darkness of Rembaldi's secret cavern. She comes to in the dark and starts the long climb up the rope ladder. She finally reaches the top and calls Dixon on her radio. There is no answer. She runs up the slope and finds Dixon, who has been shot in the chest. Sydney hesitates to use her CIA satellite phone, but does anyway. A CIA helicopter airlifts them to a Buenos Aires hospital. Sydney calls Sloane and tells him she got Dixon there in the humvee. Sloane sends a plane for them and flies them back to LA to an SD-6 hospital, where Dixon is whisked into surgery. Sydney then has to lie to Dixon's wife about what happened, telling her that they were accosted by robbers outside a bank in Rome, and that Dixon saved her but was shot himself. She later tells Vaughn that she knows Dixon heard her call on the CIA phone, but she doesn't know if he'll remember it.

Sloane examines the results of Sydney's lie detector test, which don't show any abnormalities. He accuses Dreyer of just needing to impress his superiors by identifying a mole. Dreyer still thinks Sydney is guilty and threatens to go to the alliance if Sloane doesn't do something about it. Sloane: "Don't you do a damn thing. I'll take care of Bristow."

Act I

Will quizzes Sydney -- in reporter-like fashion -- about what supposedly happened in Rome, but Francie tells him to leave her alone, "or I will kick your ass, I'm not kidding."

Sloane shows Sydney a video of a bank robbery in which the robbers hack into the bank's mainframe and reroute funds. Sloane believes that Anini Hassan ordered it done because his assets have been frozen by the government. Sloane says that SD-6 is going to "bring Hassan to justice." He wants to get the rerouted funds back so that Hassan can't use them to provide arms to other hostile countries. Sydney's mission is to get into a party given by Logan Gerace -- Hassan's accountant -- and retrieve Hassan's account numbers from Gerace's computer. Then she will drop the info in Dinatti Park that night.

Will takes the bug he found to his friend Neville and tells him all about his investigation into Danny's murder, his meeting with Eloise Kurtz, her murder, etc. Neville takes the bug apart and discovers that it is still transmitting.

Sydney and Francie makes plans to shop for Francie's wedding dress on Saturday. Then Sydney rushes off to meet Vaughn, who tells her that SD-6 just wants revenge on Hassan because he reneged on a deal with them. But Vaughn wants Sydney to route the money to SD-6 anyway so that the CIA can track their banking practices. Sydney is to copy the account info from Gerace's computer to a CIA transmitter.

Sloane tells Sydney that her test results were fine. He says he doesn't blame her for hating him over Danny's murder, but that he had known her since she was a baby and always thought of her as a daughter. Sydney tells Vaughn later that it was "almost like he was saying goodbye."

Sloane directs his assistant to send a communique to Spinelli in Rome. He is ordering the assassination of an SD-6 officer. Method -- close range hit at Dinatti Park. Target -- Bristow.....Sydney Bristow. He tells the assistant to send the message on a particular server.

Act II

Sydney parachutes onto Gerace's patio and slips into his party. She takes a latex duplicator and makes a copy of Gerace's fingerprint from a glass he set down. Then she gets into Gerace's study.

Will is talking into the bug, telling whoever is listening that he wants to talk to them. He gives his cell phone number and then jumps when the phone rings. It's Francie, looking for Sydney, who didn't show up for their shopping trip.

Sydney gets the account info from Gerace's computer, loading it into both the SD-6 extractor and the link Vaughn gave her to the CIA.

Weiss intercepts a communique from the SD-6 computer. He rushes to tell Vaughn that SD-6 has put out a hit on Sydney. Vaughn sets up an extraction team and puts in a call to Jack. Jack says not to do anything til they hear from him -- it may be a mistake. Vaughn is impatient, wanting to get Sydney out now, but Jack hangs up and goes to see Marshall. He has him check the server logs and sees the message Sloane sent.

Vaughn sets up CIA agents all over Dinatti Park, and they are monitoring through video. They plan to grab Sydney as soon as she shows up. Jack arrives and says that the message is a test. Sloane knows that SD-6 is being monitored, and this is a test to see if Sydney is a double agent. Vaughn wants to pull Sydney out anyway, but Jack says that will convince Sloane of her guilt.

Act III

Sydney shows up and enters the park. An unidentified man also enters, walking toward Sydney. Vaughn and Jack and the other CIA agents watch as Sydney approaches the drop point. Sloane is also watching on his own video screen. The man reaches into his pocket. Vaughn: "Jack, promise me you're not wrong about this." Jack says to hold their positions. They all watch as Sydney passes the man and drops the info into a garbage can. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Sloane smiles in a satisfied way.

Francie and Will are watching "His Girl Friday". Will says this is the movie that made him want to be a reporter, that it made being a reporter look fun. But now he knows being a reporter is not fun, "it's a pain in the ass." Francie wants to know what he means, and he shows her the pin. He starts telling her about it, and his phone rings. The person on the other end -- whose voice is disguised -- says to stop talking about the bug, and to tell Francie that it's a wrong number. Will does.

Dreyer accuses Sloane of trying to protect Sydney -- that if she had been a double agent, her people would have whisked her away. Sloane says that the fact that no one tried to rescue Sydney proves that she's not a double agent: "You have your answer regarding Sydney Bristow."

Sydney apologizes to Francie for missing their shopping trip. Francie says she was probably being insensitive asking Sydney to shop for a wedding dress with her, because of Danny. But Sydney says the only reason she didn't show up was because of work.

Will's cell phone rings again and he gets instructions to go to a pay phone. It also rings and the same man asks Will if he's ready to learn everything about Kate Jones. He says he's ready.

Sloane says that Sydney got the bank info but not the account numbers. They are hidden in a safe deposit box in Switzerland. Sydney is to go there posing as a representative of a diamond company and get the account numbers.

Vaughn fills Sydney in on Sloane's test and tells her that it was her dad who figured things out. He gives her a transmitter to carry to the bank so the CIA can get the account numbers at the same time she sends the numbers to SD-6.

Act IV

Sydney gets to Switzerland and pretends to be checking out the bank's security for her firm, who wants to store their diamonds there. She uses a knock-out gas on the official conducting the tour and gets into the correct safe deposit box. She relays the info to both the CIA and SD-6 at the same time. She is almost caught by a guard, but pretends that the official fainted and runs to "call an ambulance".

Will finds a tape in the glove box of his car. He plays it and hears Eloise Kurtz arguing with someone about talking to "the reporter". Then gunshots are heard.

Marshall finds an anomaly in transmissions from Geneva while Sydney was in the bank vault. He tells Dreyer about it because Dreyer had asked him to watch for anything out of the ordinary. Dreyer takes the info to Sloane. Sloane looks grim when he reads the report.

Sydney gets a call that Dixon has regained consciousness and goes to the hospital to see him. She meets Sloane coming out as she's going in, but they don't speak. Dixon is weak, but smiles when he sees Sydney. She asks what he remembers about when he was shot. He says the last thing he remembers was walking up the slope to contact the satellite. As Sydney leaves the hospital, two cars converge on her in the parking

garage. She turns to run, but runs right into the path of another car. It knocks her up onto the hood, and she rolls off, dazed. The men jump out of the cars and grab her, injecting her with something that knocks her out. They put her in one of the cars and speed away.

Sloane is alone in his office when the phone rings. When he answers it, a man's voice says, "We got her."

To be continued.



COMMENTARY

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

In a cliffhanger from beginning to end, that is where Syd is for this week's entire episode. From the start Syd is hanging on a cliff. Except, this cliff is underground and in the dark. One of her legs has hooked to the underground ladder. I think, "legs" are what break her fall, but certainty is difficult when trying to see in the dark.

That is where we left Syd in last week's episode--in the dark. So, too, were we. Remember Anna Espinosa, that nefarious, super savvy, hard to elude, and irrisistably memorable K-Directorate villian who heaved Syd off the underground ladder at the end of last week's episode? Well, Anna is gone, but Syd "hangs on". Pun intended.

In this episode Syd is "tapped" by SD-6 functional imaging (high tech lie detector) tester Dreyer as a "mole". This may explain why so much of the episode seems to be filmed in shadow or in darkness. The Director of Photography seems to be trying to immitate a "mole's" natural habitat.

Irritatingly dark is how I see the lighting for this episode. Even above ground, and indoors--where lights could be on, characters are sitting in the dark, or half-dark, with faces shadowed. But, rather than prompt visual interest, or contrasts of light and dark, the cinematography seems lifeless. I keep trying to adjust my TV set. Ah, "let there be light".

If the lighting, or its absence, from this episode is the fault of ABC's broadcast or transmission, then apologies to Alias' Director of Photography. But, I suspect, the trite faces-half-in-shadow-for-suspense routine is an artistic choice. Better luck next time.

That said, this episode of Alias has lots to applaud. For starters, surprises happen. And, I applaud all surprises.

The cleverest "turn of events" is an emotional twist, a twist of loyalties for the viewer. SD-6 Sloan is totally "re-framed". From the worst of the worst "arch enemies" to Syd, Sloan looks more and more like her friend--a protector, even. Clearly, Sloan cares about Syd.

And, surprise number two--if you can believe it--we get someone worse than Sloan, for sleaze, and malice--and danger to Syd. That is Dryer, the lie detector tester. Dreyer seems to believe in snuffing agents out who are "too perfect". That is how he describes Syd's test results to Sloan.

Dreyer finds "perfection" objectionable. Though Syd passes her functional imaging test perfectly, Dreyer considers perfect "too perfect". He wants Syd "cancelled". Oh no, that only happens in "La Femme Nikita", another much watched TV show. In Alias we get "assassinations". And, that is what Dryer wants done to Syd.

Sloan is obliged to act against Syd--despite his own instinct, or, even, his newly framed wishes. Sloan tells Dreyer he will "take care of [Syd]". This message--for assassination--CIA Vaughan intercepts.

And, Vaughan immediately assembles a team of agents to rescue Syd. Her father, Jack, tries to stop this, because he recognizes "a trap". Sloan has set one, another surprise. Sloan waits catlike for the CIA mice to take the bait. Syd is the bait.

In Tuscany Syd steals bank account information from Hassan--the Egyptian terrorist from an earlier episode. Remember the gun to Syd's head just after she disarmed a nuclear warhead? That is Hassan. But, Hassan is no longer friendly to SD-6. So, SD-6 wants to freeze his assets.

Back in Los Angeles, Syd's information "drop" is monitored by lots of eyes. Sloan's, of course, are watching from SD-6 headquarters. But, also watching are a roomful of CIA agents--and Jack, Syd's father.

Jack argues against CIA intentions to "pull out" Syd, or to abort the "drop". He is absolutely certain that "this is a test" only, by Sloan--not an assassination. And, he and Vaughan "butt heads" strenuously. And, this is edge of the seat suspense. "Will they?" or "won't they?" pull the plug on Syd, either the CIA or SD-6.

And--take note, Director of Photography--the suspense comes through the dialogue, and the battle of wills between the characters involved--not by putting all faces in shadow, or only half illuminating the set. More light on faces, less shadow, would heighten not diminish the tension. For sure, reading expression would be far less a struggle.

Jack wins the "face off". Vaughan backs down. Syd makes the drop without incident, and Sloan is reassured of Syd's loyalty to SD-6.

But other dangers still lurk for Syd. There is Dixon, presently unconsious and in the hospital in Los Angeles. He was shot in Argentina by Anna Espinosa--or another of her K-Directorate friends. Unfortunately, Dixon was semi-conscious while bleeding in Argentina. He witnessed Syd "break her cover" and call for a CIA medical helicopter.

Syd does not know what Dixon will say when he wakes. Neither do we. A bit dicey, that. (Much later in the episode, Dixon wakes but says he remembers nothing beyond being shot. Maybe that is so. Maybe that is not so.)

Weaving in and out of the risks and threats to Syd are those about to befall her friend, Will--and, through Will, possibly Francie. Will continues to investigate "Kate Jones" links. He holds in his hand the sophisticated "bug" (electronic listening device) found in the "Kate Jones" impersonator Elouise Kurtz's car. Foolishly--if you ask me, Will draws Francie into the dangerous game by inviting her to talk into the "bug".

The "bug" is on. Someone is listening, and someone calls Will on his cell phone to tell him to back off. Later, this same voice leads Will to a pay phone for further feedback, and instruction. The plot thickens for Will. Hopefully, though, not for Francie.

I like Francie in this episode. She shows more spirit, less self-concern--and real friendship for Syd. She even apologizes to Syd for "insensitivity" to Syd's feelings about weddings. Francie recognizes that the prospect of shopping for a wedding dress with Francie cannot be so easy for Syd. Afterall, Syd has only recently lost Danny, her own fiance.

Syd reassures Francie only her job and travel delays interfere with shopping for Francie's wedding dress. Explanations, though, are sometimes necessary for Syd's friends, particularly in this episode.

Dixon works for the same "bank" as Syd, and travels with her. This, (though a surprise to me), Syd's friends apparently know. So, when Dixon is shot, a "good story" is definitely a must. The explanation given is "random violence", and though purely fictional, satisfies Syd's friends.

Chalking up more "frequent flyer" miles, Syd is next transported to Geneva, Switzerland. The earlier trip to Tuscany did not, afterall, garner (no relation to "Jennifer") the bank account numbers for the Egyptian now-unfriendly-to-SD-6 terrorist, Hassan.

In Geneva, Syd gets the number of the account from a bank vault while the attendant, who accompanied her into the vault, lies unconscious from a "knockout" spray she has given him.

Syd steals the account number for SD-6, but only after first reading the number aloud into a CIA transmitter she wears in her ear. This transmission is a mistake. The ever vigilant SD-6 tech expert, Marshall--he of limited social skills, inflatable chairs, and nervous on again, off again smiles--leaps into detection mode, and discovers the transmission from Syd in the vault.

And, Syd is "mole" candidate number one once again. And once again in Los Angeles, Syd is again mole-like, "underground". She is in an underground parking garage, about to be outmanuevered and overpowered by a group of men. Of course Syd fights back, and scores some punches. But, Syd is pinned by a couple of the men, while another of her attackers drugs her. Syd passes out.

Segue to Sloan picking up his ringing phone. A voice says to Sloan, "We've got her". And that is all we know.




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