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ALIAS

RECKONING


EPISODE NO. 06
Season 1, episode 06
Series 106
1st release: 11/18/01
2nd release: 05/26/02
Production number: E635
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)
Nancy Dussault (Helen Calder)
Evan Dexter Parke (Charlie)
Lori Heuring (Eloise Kurtz)
Eugene Lazarev (Kruschnik)
Sarah Shahi (Jenny)
Maurice Godin (Fisher)
Daniel Betonces (Pearson)
Neil Dickson (John Smythe)
Haley Gilbert (Rachel)
Arabella Holzbog (Laura Bristow)
Paul Lieber (Bentley Calder)
Cole Peterson (Boy)
Tom Waite (Guard #1)
Nancy Wetzel (Amy Tippin)

CREDITS
Written by Jason Alexander
Directed by Dan Attias

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




TV GUIDE PROMO

Sydney goes under cover in a mental institution to obtain information from an assassin who has been programmed to forget his deadly profession. ClickTV

Sydney goes under cover in a mental hospital to get information from a man who doesn't know he is programmed to be an assassin. ExciteTV

Syd pieces together Jack's role in her mom's death; a mole is found at SD-6; and Francie's guy explains his sneaking around with another woman. Meanwhile, Syd finds herself trapped by a sadistic K-Directorate agent after checking into a Romanian asylum housing a crazed assassin (John Hannah); and Will hits another dead end in his quest for Kate Jones. TVguide.com


SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser

Scenes from the last episode, culminating with the explosion of the chemical plant in Badenweiler. Dixon has to physically pull Sydney away, and they run to escape from the approaching German guards. Back in LA, Sydney tells Vaughn that if she could have told Dixon who they are really working for, the deaths of the other CIA agents in the plant could have been avoided. Vaughn still maintains that they cannot tell him and that Sydney wasn't to blame for the way things turned out.

Sydney and Francie discuss Francie's boyfriend Charlie. Francie thinks Charlie is planning to break up with her. She asks how Sydney's trip was, and Sydney says it was not good -- some people she was working with were terminated. Francie is sympathetic: "Oh, man. The economy sucks."

Sydney goes to see Helen Calder, the wife of the FBI agent who was linked to her father. Sydney wants to know if Mrs. Calder remembers why her husband would have investigated Jack Bristow. Mrs. Calder doesn't remember the name. She shows Sydney a picture of her husband, who was killed in a car accident in 1981, and Sydney recognizes him. She digs out a newspaper clipping telling about her mother's death, and the photo next to her mother's is of Agent Calder.

Act I

Sydney tells Vaughn that she always believed her mother died in a car accident in which a postal worker fell asleep at the wheel and caused her parents' car to go off a bridge. Now she knows that Calder was hunting a KGB agent, and she's afraid he suspected her father. In any case, she knows that if her father wasn't a double agent, her mother might still be alive. What she really fears is that her father may really be selling secrets to Russia. Vaughn says to give him a couple of days to check this out and not to say anything in the meantime.

Francie confronts Charlie about the woman she saw him with. He confesses that his secret ambition is to be a singer and the woman -- Rachel -- is a musician. He had kept it a secret because being a lawyer is his family's dream for him, and he doesn't know how to break the news to them that he wants to do something else. He reassures Francie that he still loves her.

Will traces the license plate of the woman claiming to be Kate Jones. The plate is registered to a woman named Eloise Kurtz.

Sloane announces that Jack will be working more closely with Sydney's division of SD-6, particularly in the planning of missions. Jack is concerned about some coded messages that have been found in musical cards left behind when the group FTL has moved from a location. The code is actually in the musical notes and hasn't been deciphered. Plans for a decoder were recovered from an FTL salvage ship, but no actual decoders have been found. An encoder is known to be in the possession of a man named John Smythe, an FTL operative who runs an art gallery in London. Sydney and Dixon are to go to London and bring back the encoding machine.

As they leave the meeting, Jack tells Sydney privately that he's sorry about what happened in Badenweiler. Sydney says she knows Jack was being hunted by the FBI, and that her mother died because of it. She says she's going to make him pay.

Act II

Vaughn gives Sydney a bug to take into the gallery. It is supposed to be completely undetectable. He says there will be no time to make a switch, so Sydney is to deliver the code to SD-6. When they break the code, the CIA can tap into their computer files and retrieve the info. Sydney asks how much of SD-6's files have been downloaded so far, and Vaughn says about 2%. They can't do too much at once or they will be detected. Vaughn also says his check of Sydney's dad turned up clean. He is upset when Sydney tells him she confronted her dad, but Sydney is unrepentent. She says Vaughn can't understand what it's like to lose a parent that way. He tells her that he was 8 when his own father died in the service of the CIA. Sydney apologizes.

Will goes to see Eloise Kurtz. She tells him she doesn't know anything, and when he keeps asking questions and won't leave, she sprays him with pepper spray.

In London, Sydney and Dixon attend a showing at Smythe's gallery. Dixon draws the guards away by lighting up a huge smoky cigar, and Sydney slips into the offices and disarms the motion sensors. She cracks the safe and removes the encoding device, placing it in her purse. Meanwhile, Dixon is keeping Smythe occupied by pretending he wants to buy the whole collection on display. Sydney places the bug under a desk, but just then the hat she threw over the motion sensor falls off, setting off the alarm. She realizes she is trapped, and the guard is approaching.

Act III

When the guard approaches, Sydney hides on a duct running along the ceiling. Hot steam starts erupting from the duct, and Sydney does a swinging gymnastic move on a nearby pipe to keep from being scalded. When the guard moves on, she swings down and returns to the reception, where she tells Dixon she's decided on the Lambourghini instead. They leave John Smythe holding the cigar.

Back in LA, Francie wants Sydney to come to Charlie's first gig. She's afraid Charlie will bomb and be devastated. So Sydney, Will and Will's sister Amy all get to meet Rachel. Will receives a call from Eloise Kurtz and slips off to talk to her. She says she was paid to say she was having an affair with Danny. They plan to meet the next day. Francie is amazed to discover that Charlie really can sing.

Marshall discovers that the encoder creates DNA-based codes. The musical cards' DNA apparently belongs to a man named Parkishoff, a leader of one of the FTL cells. The problem is that Parkishoff is dead, assassinated by Martin Shepherd, who was programmed to kill in response to a particular phrase -- a poem by John Donne. Sydney is to get into the mental institution in Bucharest where Shepherd currently is, recite the poem and get Shepherd to tell her where Parkishoff is buried so they can get a sample of his DNA. Sydney will be a patient checked into the institute by a Dr. Fontanetta, who is really an SD-6 agent named Fisher.

Jack tells Sydney to relay the info she gets to the CIA, since Vaughn has gone to the funeral for the agents who died in Badenweiler. Sydney says she wants an explanation of what happened to her mother. Jack says she doesn't have clearance, but that Sydney is wrong in the conclusions she's drawing.

Act IV

In Romania, Fisher checks Sydney into the asylum. As she is being wheeled down the filthy corridor, she sees Shepherd in one of the rooms.

Will goes to Eloise Kurtz's apartment and finds it totally cleaned out, right down to new paint on the walls.

Marshall finds a worm in the SD-6 computer system that is downloading files off their server. Sloane surmises that there is a mole in SD-6.

Sydney approaches Shepherd in the dining hall and sits down beside him. In the office, the administrator of the mental institute, Kruschnik, is questioning Fisher on why he brought his patient to this particular hospital. Behind Fisher, a monitor is showing what is going on in the dining hall. Sydney quotes the poem to Shepherd, and he attacks her. Guards rush up and grab Shepherd, stunning him and dragging him away. Then they grab Sydney, too, and put her in a straight jacket.

In LA, Vaughn's associate discovers that Kruschnik is with the K-directorate.

Sydney gets away from the guards and manages to get out of the straight jacket. She is relieved to find Fisher seated in a chair in one of the rooms, but when she turns the chair around, she sees that he's dead -- his throat has been cut.

To be continued.



COMMENTARY

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

Eyes wide, shock and horror on her face, Syd stares open mouthed at a building Dixon, from SD-6, has just blown up. Four CIA agents were inside. Dixon did not know. Syd knows.

Syd is supposed to have prevented the detonation, but failed. Now, all but rooted to the spot, she is unable to tear her eyes away from the burning building.

That is the way Syd stays--at least until security forces arrive, firing machine guns. She and Dixon then run for cover into a dark forest. While Dixon goes one way, Syd goes another, then bails out behind a log, crying openly.

She does not even turn around as an armed security guard approaches the log she is hiding behind. I think, for a moment, her inattentiveness to her danger is going to get her shot. But, fortunately, Dixon comes to her rescue, takes out the guard and drags Syd to her feet.

Back in LA Syd talks to CIA Vaughan. He tries to assuage her guilt over the death of the four agents. "Those men died for no reason," says Syd. "No," says Vaughan emphatically, "Those men died for their country." Syd is not convinced.

I like the double meaning from the double agent, Syd, when she talks with her friend Francie. Francie asks Syd, "How was your trip?" "Not so good," says Syd. "I was working with these people. They were terminated." And Francie says sympathetically, "The economy sucks."

A humorous yet useful fact about life and conversations is we can--any of us--sometimes say what we need to say, and be satisfied, without anyone else really having the faintest idea what exactly we mean.

In this episode we find out:
1) Francie's boyfriend Charlie is not playing around with another woman. Instead, he wants to be a singer--not a lawyer, and the "other woman" is a musician, his piano player.
2) Syd's mother was killed in an automobile accident, and Syd thinks her father is responsible.
3) SD-6 tech expert Marshall, dithering though he often is, is a hard man to fool. He discovers the "worm" in SD-6's computer system, the one CIA Vaughan planted. This leads SD-6 Sloan to deduce, "We have a mole."
4) Syd is impulsive, confronting her father about her mother's death even though Vaughan has asked her to wait until "we find out" more.
5) Jack, Syd's father, is now going to be working more directly with her at SD-6. And, I am beginning to look forward more and more to their scenes together. The tension and vulnerability between them is eloquent, and the dialogue often raw. "Everytime I think I know how awful you are, I learn something worse," Syd tells him, "But this time I am going to make sure you pay."
6) DNA can be used as codes in greeting cards. And, a sample of a dead agent's DNA is needed to break a code. SD-6 wants that. The only person who knows where the dead agent is buried is his assassin, now in a mental hospital in Romania.

We also learn that Syd is an acrobat. This happens during a safe cracking escapade in a London art galley, where Syd and Dixon have come to steal a decoder. This they do with flair.

Dixon is a treat for this gig, oozing savoir faire from every pore. Dressed as he is, like a rich playboy, he has lots of heavy gold jewelry and an expensive cigar. This he uses strategically--in the nonsmoking exhibition area of the gallery--to lure security guards away from exits, to the center of the room.

Dixon's lit cigar draws the guards, like moths to a candle flame. Syd then slips unnoticed into the restricted arear where the decoder is stored. Of course Syd manages to break into the safe, and to avoid the security motion detectors until the last moment.

Then, the alarms go off. Syd's cover on the motion detector monitor falls off. The security guard Dixon lured away by his smoking heads down the hall toward Syd's escape.

That is a problem. This art gallery is modern. Minimal decoration. The hallways are wide open, with high ceilings and bare walls. No place to hide. I have no idea how Syd is going to get away. Not a clue.

I love this scene as a consequence. I love surprise. Seeing Syd high up in the air, lying prone on heating ducts is a complete surprise. That is how she hides.

Unfortunately, the heating ducts she is lying on are labelled with a warning: "Extreme Heat," and, of course the heat comes on before the security guard is out of sight. Murphy's Law applies even to spies. That is, "If anything can go wrong, it will--and, at the worst possible moment." Murphy's Law.

To avoid being fried while she waits for the guard to leave, Syd is obliged to dazzle us with acrobatics, swinging over to a cross pipe, and balancing straight out with her purse--and the decoder--in her teeth until the guard leaves. Way to go, Syd.

Back in the exhibition area of the gallery, Syd tells Dixon she does not want any of the paintings afterall. And Dixon, still "in character" says, "You are the birthday girl." Then, Dixon turns to the gallery owner, hands over the still burning cigar butt, and says, "Could you do something with this?" A little humor, and a very smooth theft.

Back in LA, arrangements are made to get Syd into a mental hospital in Romania as a patient. This hospital is where the agent who knows "where the bodies are buried", so to speak, is located. His name is Shephard.

Syd is convincingly psychotic during her admission to the hospital. She goes limp and angry in her resistance, as attendants alternately shove and drag her into a room with a metal grate on the door.

Definitely not a charming or hospitable institution. This mental hospital is straight out of central casting. Or, do such inhumane institutions still exist, where "inmates" is a more descriptive term than "patients" for those who are admitted? And, medicine has less to do with healing than management.

This Romanian mental hospital is drab and colorless and filthy. Is this really how insanity looks? I should think insanity--at the very least, being different from the norm, would be exceedingly colorful.

Later, Syd is nearly strangled by Shephard, her "assignment" in this Romanian institution. His reaction to Syd's recitation of the code poem is extreme. Syd fights to get away from him while attendants pull them apart, and strap Syd into a straightjacket.

Syd, in not too many minutes, manages to overcome her guards, and slip out of the straightjacket by opening the strap at the back against a broken screen. An effective and easy escape. A technique to remember should anyone ever come for me with a straightjacket.

In the last scene Syd discovers her fellow agent, Fisher, with his throat slit in the now-known-to-be-K-Directorate agent's office. Fisher is slumped in a chair, covered in blood. And, Syd is left with her mouth open, her eyes filling with tears, shock and horror on her face.

We are--you would think by her look, back where we started before the opening credits. But, no, we are much further along. We know lots more, after this episode, about many of the characters, including Francie, Charlie, Syd's father and mother, and even Vaughan.

But, especially, we know more about Syd. Tune in next week.



SAYS WHO

11-05-01. 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

10-27-01. Guest starring on the Oct 28th and Nov 4th episodes will be Lori Heuring, actress in the movies The In Crowd" and David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive as well as #64 on Maxim's Hot 100 list.

10-27-01. Lori Heuring (The In Crowd) plays an actress on two upcoming episodes (10/28 & 11/4). From Zentertainment 10/12/01.




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