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ALIAS

PHASE ONE


EPISODE NO. 35
Season 2, episode 13
Series 213
1st release: 01/26/03
2nd release: 03/09/03
Last update: 08/09/03


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REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders
COMMENTARY 2 by Zero and E
NON-ORIGINAL MUSIC
LINKS



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
Joey Slotnick as CIA Agent Steven Haladki
David Anders as Mr. Sark
Lena Olin as Irina Derevko/Laura Bristow



GUEST CAST
Rutger Hauer (Geiger)
Terry O'Quinn (Kendall)
Jean Pierre Bergeron (Macor)
Angus Scrimm (McCullough)
Greg Grunberg (Weiss)
Elizabeth Penn Payne (techie #1)
Ira Heiden (techie #2)
Kevin Sutherland (techie #3)
Mark Golasso (medic)
Lyle Kilpatrick (police officer)
Alex Morris (homeless vet)



CREDITS
Written by J.J. Abrams
Directed by Jack Bender



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

SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser

From a door at the end of a hallway, Sydney enters wearing a black bra and panties and thigh-high black fishnet hose. She saunters down the hallway and into a room where two men watch appraisingly. The man who is seated says, "No, put on the red one." Sydney rolls her eyes but leaves and returns in a similar red outfit, which the man approves. He has the second man leave, and Sydney looks out the window. She is on a luxury jet and they are flying high above the earth. The man joins Sydney on the bed and she straddles him. Then she wraps a cord around his neck and says, "What was wrong with the black one?" The man tries to signal his guard, but Sydney has disconnected the call button. She asks where server 47 is. He points to a picture. She knocks him out and removes the picture to find a computer terminal. She begins transmitting and puts on a jumpsuit over her red bikini outfit. Then she gets her gun and goes in search of the guard. He finds her first and tells her to kneel and drop her gun. She tosses it behind him and knocks his feet out from under him. She manages to knock him out, but the first man comes in with a gun and fires straight at her.

The scene switches to 24 hours before in LA. Sydney is jogging in the park and enters the secret CIA operations center. Vaughn stops Sydney and pulls her into an alcove. He says, "This isn't working." He says he can't sleep when she's on assignment, and when they're together, all he can think about is kissing her. Sydney ducks her head but smiles in agreement. Weiss interrupts to tell them the meeting is starting.

Kendall brings the other members up to speed on SD-6 and the Alliance. He says that Sloane is MIA and has been replaced by a man named Anthony Geiger. Jack and Sydney are to get close to Geiger and find out what's going on.

Sydney goes to SD-6 hq. She introduces herself to Geiger. He immediately asks about Danny. Sydney tells him what happened. He asks why she came back. She says she realized that it was really her fault, and she is loyal to the agency.

Sark tells Sydney he's "as unstrung as you look" after meeting Geiger himself. Sydney: "Just so you know--I'm fully strung." Sark says that Geiger is former German intelligence and has already been bragging that he has hacked into "server 47". Sydney knows that there are only 46 servers at SD-6, so she later theorizes to Jack that server 47 must be the one that links all the Alliance cells. They discover that the server is located on an Alliance owned 747 which only lands for refueling. A man named Giles Macor oversees it, never leaving the plane. The Alliance provides him with women on a regular basis. Sydney says she will be one of these women. She will access the server and transmit the contents to Vaughn and Weiss, who will be flying in a cargo plane nearby.

The plan goes as scheduled, with Sydney transmitting the info on the server to Weiss and Vaughn, who are watching what transpires through a camera located in Sydney's earrings. When Macor fires at Sydney, she dives behind a couch and draws her own gun. Even though Vaughn is shouting "No!" over her receiver, she shoots out a window of the plane. The force sucks Macor and the guard out the opening and into one of the plane's engines. Sydney manages to get a parachute on before she too is sucked out. She misses the engine and everyone breaths a sigh of relief, as the Alliance plane spins out of control and Sydney floats to the ground.

Act I

In LA, Francie and Will are boiling lobsters. Francie says they are celebrating because her restaurant is making a profit. Will tells her he got a job with a travel magazine. Francie gives him a congratulatory kiss, which grows into several kisses.

The server info reveals that each Alliance cell has a code. If they can verify the current codes for each cell, the security systems there can be taken out. Jack says he will get the current SD-6 code for verification.

Over the lobster dinner, Sydney notices something is different between Will and Francie and asks what's going on. Francie tells her that they made out earlier. Sydney later tells Will that she is going to have fun with this.

Geiger brings in McCullough to decipher the keystrokes on Sloane's machine. They find that Sloane seems to have typed something about Jack and Sydney being double agents.

Act II

Jack goes to SD-6, where he is met by Geiger and a guard. At CIA hq, Sydney gets a phone call from Jack. He says he's with Geiger, and she needs to come in, but to take surface streets. Sydney hangs up the phone in tears and tells Vaughn that the phrase is a code she and Jack worked out to tell the other if they were ever discovered as double agents.

Jack is strapped to a chair in the interrogation room. Geiger hooks him to an electric shock machine and asks who he's working for. Jack says he and Geiger have met before and reminds him of a time in Kanagawa that causes Geiger to smile. Then he sobers and tells Jack it's his last chance. When Jack remains silent, Geiger turns on the machine.

Act III

Sydney calls Will and tells him to get Francie and go away for a while. She tells Vaughn they have to get the code or Kendall will do nothing and Jack will die. She calls Dixon and has him meet her. She tells him that SD-6 is not CIA. She explains that Jack will be killed unless Dixon can get the code and send it to her. Dixon is incredulous, but she says the proof will be in a hidden file that will show SD-6 to be a part of the Alliance.

Dixon goes to SD-6 and uses the password that Sydney gave him. He sees that SD-6 is a cell of the Alliance. He calls his wife and tells her that he loves her and he's not sure when he'll be home. Then he sends the code to Sydney via e-mail. It's a match. Kendall then announces that simultaneous raids will be made on all Alliance cells: "By tomorrow morning the Alliance will no longer exist!"

Act IV

The tactical force, including Sydney and Vaughn, are briefed on their mission. They arrive at SD-6 and disable the alarm and security systems and enter the building. In the office, unaware of what's about to happen, Marshall offers Dixon some pigs in a blanket. Dixon just shakes his head.

Geiger tells Jack that his heart will only be able to take one or two more shocks. He says to imagine what he could do to Sydney.

The force breaks into the main SD-6 office. The SD-6 security starts firing back. Dixon pulls Marshall under a desk. Sydney runs for the interrogation room. She bursts in just as Geiger is preparing to turn the machine on and shoots him point blank in the chest. She runs to Jack, but he says he is okay. Medics come in to take care of him.

The SD-6 office workers, including Dixon and Marshall, are cuffed and taken out. They meet Sydney at the door. She tells them that this will be over soon and thanks Dixon. Dixon says, "Don't talk to me" as they take him away.

Kendall receives a report that they appear to be in control of all Alliance facilities.

Vaughn and Sydney look at each other across the shambles of the SD-6 office and start to move toward each other. They meet in the center of the room and kiss passionately. Weiss comes up to congratulate them, but they pay no attention.

Sark, on the phone, says that Sydney leaked the information to the CIA just as was predicted. He says that the Alliance is now gone. On the other end, Sloane, speaking from a deserted beach, says that there is still much work to be done. He tells Sark to move on to Phase Two and to "check in on our new asset." When he hangs up, he smiles triumphantly.

In LA, Sark calls someone else. When the phone is picked up, he says, "I've been asked to confirm that you are in position." The person on the other end says yes, and then turns around. It's Francie: "Yes, everything's in place." The camera pans around the room to show blood spatters on the wall. At the end of the trail of blood lies a body -- it's also Francie, with a bullet hole in the middle of her forehead.



COMMENTARY 1

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

"What was wrong with the black one? Do you know how uncomfortable these clothes are?" Syd says through her teeth to the man she has in a choke hold. A little humor. Syd has modelled first a black then a red lingerie ensemble. And she looks spectacular in both. The viewer rating on the screen is 14+. Age restriction or observation? On a scale of 1-10 that rating might also describe Garner's beauty.

Syd is masquerading as a call girl to locate the Alliance's central server. She locates that, knocks out the choke hold recipient, downloads the information, then goes in seach of the guard. The guard finds her first, and is as good a kick boxer as Syd. Lots of action, interrupted only momentarily by Syd's knocking out the guard.

Then, the now-no-longer-unconscious-(no name)-choke-hold-recipient appears in a doorway, a gun aimed directly at Syd. She is too far away to disarm him. But as he fires the gun the word "Alias" flashes on the screen. This is followed by the tagline "Los Angeles 24 hours earlier". The scene shifts immediately. Did the bullet hit Syd? Wait and see.

Fantastic teaser! All this happens even before a printed "Alias" comes on the screen. Until I saw Garner open the door, I was not sure if the hallway seen at the beginning was introducing a commercial or the show. That is the first time that has happened. From the start I am at the edge of my seat, sucked right in to the action, wondering what is going to happen next. Well done.

THE PLOT:

Syd masquerades as a "call girl", downloads data from an Alliance airborn server, overpowers guards, shoots out a door on a 747. The cabin is violently depressurized. The two Alliance guards onboard are sucked out the door right into the engine. Syd follows after first managing to strap on a parachute. She misses the engine. Weiss and Vaughan, watching on closed circuit TV, breathe a sigh of relief.

Syd and Vaughan continue to rationalize the usefulness of their mutual attraction in bringing down SD-6. Sloane is "MIA", missing in action. His replacement, Anthony Geiger, reassembles an "erased" email on Sloane's computer which indicates Jack and Syd are "double agents". Geiger starts first with Jack in the SD-6 "Conversation Room". His conversation "starter" is electrico-torture.

Francie and Will celebrate her restaurant "making money" with kisses and unexpected passion. Kendall wants confirmation on the information downloaded from the 747 server. Jack has tipped Syd of his capture, so she cannot return to SD-6. Instead, Syd convinces Dixon to get the needed code from SD-6 and email the result to CIA Headquarters. Dixon is not happy about all this of course.

The code confirms the accuracy of the information download and Kendall orders simultaneous global attacks on all Alliance facilities. SD-6 is trounced, along with all the others. Dixon and Marshall survive the assault and are taken away in handcuffs. Syd shoots Geiger several times to rescue her father. She and Vaughan lock into an embrace of kisses.

Sark, who missed the "roundup" at SD-6 later calls Sloane, still in the Phillipines. He tells Sloane, "Syd fed the Intel to the CIA and the rest played out exactly as you said it would." Sloane is pleased: "Phase One is complete. Move on to Phase Two." A double arrives to murder Syd's friend Francie.

That's the end of episode. Now pick yourself off the floor, elevate your feet. Do whatever you need to recover from shock! This episode is astonishing, full of mindboggling twists and turns and unexpected results. The rug is pulled totally out from under the feet of us all. A mindblowing episode!

I "assumed" SD-6 versus CIA plus "double agent" deceptions and machinations were to go on and on. Instead all of that is at an end! Done! Finished! No more SD-6! I would never have guessed or anticipated such a head twisting (all the way around) plot. So astonishing! Short of killing off the main character, no episode could have been more full of shocks. Everything gets blown out of the water. Cool.

Why the standard Alias intro has been phased out intermittently over the past few months is now clear. That was preparation for the total change that just happened. There is no longer Credit Dauphine. SD-6 is gone, and Sloane too as Syd's boss. So, of course, the introduction had to change. Rather than an abrupt change, we were given a gradual--and intermittent--one. Clever.

Though a shocker, killing off Syd's friend Francie is quite a good idea. Francie was the least interesting of all the characters, rather "characterless". Maybe the recreation now as a "double" working for the "other side" will give Marin Dungey (the actress who plays Francie and her double) a character with more depth and breadth and interest. I look forward to seeing what becomes of "Francie" as the "Francie double". How will that character develop?

HIGHLIGHTS:

1--THE DECOMPRESSION SCENE AT THE START: Syd blows a hole in the doors of the 747. Macor (the choke hold recipient) and another guard are sucked outside into the engine. Syd too is nearly sucked out before she manages to strap on a parachute. Terrific special effects. Wholly believable. Weiss and Vaughan, watching on closed circuit TV, are convincingly terrified for Syd. "Oh my god," Vaughan breathes as Syd goes out the door of the plane. "She's all yours," says Weiss, ever the wit.

2--JACK REMINISCES WITH GEIGER: Jack is greased up for "electrifying" torture. He reminisces with Geiger about knowing him from before. They share a moment of laughter about a dinner they had together in 1987. A nice touch. The moment passes and the torture begins.

3--WHEN SYD TELLS DIXON WHAT SD-6 IS: His shocked, outraged, disbelieving but she convinces him. Actor Carl Lumbly is very good in this scene. His actions and reactions are very conflicted, and very believable. Appreciation too for Garner who is also right on the mark in this scene. "This is crazy!" Dixon shouts. Well played, both of them, Lumbly and Garner. Very well played--and well scripted too. Kudos to creator J.J. Abrams for the script.

THE PRODUCTION:

Superlative! Kudos to all involved, actors and producers alike. Bravo! I am on my feet.



COMMENTARY 2

This commentary is by Zero and E.

"There's rarely an end to the story."

THINGS THAT WORKED:

-Depth Perception

Watching first as viewers and second as reviewers, we endeavor weekly to infer our own paradigmatic locality. Do we position ourselves within the unfettered flow of novel information, the unadulterated elation and revelation of a first-time viewer? Or, do we contextualize the analysis, delineate our spectatorship with the foreknowledge and dramatic irony of watching events unfold for a second time? We must view the episode, the season, and the show as a discrete work of fiction, while still acknowledging Alias' organic, evolving, and ever-expanding present. But, even as we watch, continually reevaluating the show's epistemological core, we cannot truly remove ourselves from its story. We are implicated and invested in this narrative, in these people's lives in a very personal, very real way.

The tragedies that befell these characters at the hour's closing were so full of grave implication that, throughout our second viewing, it was difficult to divorce ourselves from the vestiges of emotional shock enough to entirely appreciate and analyze the episode's cinematic and literary brilliance. The final scene, in particular, was disquieting. As an audience, we have been asked to shoulder the grief of a death without the cathartic comfort of sharing this burden with the characters through whom we would have mourned vicariously. In these days between episodes, we are left in the void of Phase One's aftermath, mute phantoms charged with a secret loss.

Though, truthfully, a story's final repercussions will forever color the way one perceives its past and, while there are moments justly deserving of lament, there is also an episode of uncompromising vision and energy to celebrate. So. Without further ado.

-Requiem at Dawn

In a sense, history overwhelms everything. This episode was a series pilot predicated on a past borrowed from itself. Alias opened up, revealed itself. All who watched could take part in a history retold. In an explosion of pseudo-apocalyptic grandeur, where superlative writing met astounding cinematic ambition, where devastatingly flawless acting was amplified by a diverse palette of visual and auditory aesthetics, the Alias writing staff shoved us in the trunk, hijacked the premise, and slammed on the gas. SD-6 is gone and with it The Lie. Dixon and Marshall, once victims of binding perfidy are now casualties of the truth. The Partners are eliminated, Sloane's mysterious Alliance endgame having reached fruition. And, alongside Francie, Alias' initial central narrative arrives at its conclusion. But, from the ruins, Merrin Dungey rises in new form, Francie resurrected, and Dixon and Marshall are granted consciousness, two sleepers awakened and reinvented.

We begin at the end all over again. A few desperate words exchanged beside an oil field change the course of a man's life, forcing him to accept a truth that he does not want to believe. An impossible decision with only one real choice. A phone call made to say I love you. And though the death is metaphorical, Dixon dies it all the same. On the commanding end of a fatal relay of phone calls, Arvin Sloane once again orders the assassination of someone Sydney loves. Sydney herself flies forward with reckless determination, full of the arrogant irony of someone that has much to lose, but everything to gain.

But, it is an interesting decision, is it not, to reposition the spectators against the internal flow of knowledge. In much the same way that we watched Will strive to piece together a dangerous puzzle to which we already knew the answer, the way we feared the consequences of his noble intentions, we sense that our core characters will be forced to play the fool while we watch on, knowing, our only link to the situation's reality a pair of untrustworthy men.

And again we begin at the beginning. In our first introduction to Sydney Bristow, she was a woman without a past. Her mother was dead, her love destroyed, her father estranged, and she a stranger to all. In our second meeting, her past and future thrive. With the devotion of both parents returned to her, with Vaughn's love at last expressed, with her duality exposed and invalidated, and with each player positioned as a prospective threat to every other, we set sail from a precipice of uncharted potential armed with the newly constructed history of the last year and a half.

-Come to me now

"I need you to tell me."
"You need me to tell you what? That when you are on missions I can't sleep at night? That when we are in debrief I have to force myself to remember what the hell we're suppose to be reviewing, when all I want to do is kiss you?"

With the battle won and the barriers removed, a glance across the space remaining is all they need to affirm their intentions. Empowered by an abrupt freedom, Sydney and Vaughn travel that final distance and, with a forceful stride, their bodies meet, collide, collapse into one another.

As Sydney and Vaughn inaugurate their relationship atop the shattered remains of the organization that both brought them together and kept them apart, we are reminded that their love is both compromising and compromised. Like Jack and Irina, their union is the product of a conflict prescribed by their origins and, though the lie has been lifted, they are no less ruined. The kiss, a consummation of their love, is built upon the backs of others' tragedies.

And yet, the ambient destruction neither diminishes nor is diminished by the embrace. Somehow the two fuse into a moment of symmetry that acknowledges both the inevitability of consequence and the permanence of hope.

-Lost times

"When will you be home?"
"I'm not sure."

"I feel like I've been stolen from myself." (Martin Shepard, episode 01.07)

Dixon, a man of fierce integrity and nobility, the last virtuous crusader, has fallen as the final victim to the tragedy of SD-6's lie. And though he was willing to endure the sacrifices required by the work he was committed to completing, how could he have been prepared to take on the burden of a life he didn't know he was leading? He put his faith in his partner, in Sydney. He trusted her with his allegiance. And she betrayed that trust. She allowed him to fill his life with unknown, unknowable regrets, to corrupt his innocence with misguided fervor.

Mr. Lumbly played Dixon's disbelief and shock and despair perfectly. Beginning with his argument with Sydney, his performances were absolutely moving. The image of the two of them, both struggling with their own desperation, is so vivid: Dixon's controlled fury against Sydney's anguished pleading. His quiet phone call to his wife, the subtle despondency in his voice, the sense of deflation, as he seeks a touchstone, a beacon. And finally, the devastation of his anger, that brutal line: "Don't talk to me." He was simply fantastic.

DETAILS WE APPRECIATED:

-The internal cliffhanger was brilliant. In many ways it was reminiscent of the bridge between Passage Part I and II: a reenactment with an added perspective. The initial presentation was fashioned for suspense, the second underscoring the reciprocality of Sydney and Vaughn's professional dynamic. The fight scene itself was impressively choreographed and the visual representation of the plane was remarkable in all its facets.

-Resonance Through Recollection (The Irina Move)- Jack executes it perfectly, albeit less successfully, with his sly and somewhat disturbing "the woman with the clubfoot" reference.

-Over The Atlantic. Truly the most bizarre and strangely appropriate push-through to date.

-"No man naturally smells as good as you do right now." It's Weiss. Need we say more?

-"I'm okay, Sweetheart." There's just something about the way that Victor Garber utters these simple words of reassurance that completely captures the bond that has blossomed between Jack and his daughter.

-"If the people I work for would assassinate my wife, I would not show up at the office the next day." Geiger has more insight than he probably realizes. In retrospect, neither Sydney nor Sloane ever really showed up for work again after their loved ones were sentenced to death.

-Geiger and Müller together again, reunited in Alias Proper.

-Mr. Abrams. Okay, he's clearly NOT a detail (more like the master OF them). But we sure as hell appreciate the man. Our hats are tipped and our glasses raised to what has truly been a phenomenal ride so far.



NON-ORIGINAL MUSIC

J.J. Abrams, "Alias Theme"
AC/DC, "Back in Black". Label: Sony
Lenny Kravitz, "American Woman". Label: Virgin America
Groove Armada, "Hands of Time". Label: Jive Records
Bill Withers, "Use Me". Label: Columbia Records



LINKS:

Television withut Pity. Recap The Long Kiss Goodnight. Phase One - In an effort to gain a wider audience, J.J. and Company bring us "A New Beginning." This basically means that J.J. blows the entire plot to h--- and brings us the long-awaited Kiss. Yeah. That's right. Syd and Vaughn finally put their lips together and blow. Along the way, there's some hot and nasty lingerie, some serious plot pushing, the unveiling of the new and improved Foolio, and a guest appearance by our favorite replicant, Rutger Hauer.




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