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ALIAS

SO IT BEGINS


EPISODE NO. 02
Season 1, episode 02
Series 102
1st release: 10/07/01
2nd release: 12/23/01
Production number: E631
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
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

GUEST CAST
Evan Dexter Parke (Charlie)
Aharon Ipale (Anini Hassan)
Alex Kuz (Shcherbakov)
Ravil Isyanov (Karpachev)
Sarah Shahi (Jenny)
Ammor Doraiseh (Supplier)
Azdine Melliti (Bodyguard #1)
John Storey (CIA officer)
Xavier J. Nathan (French officer)
Gregory Phelan (Student)
Seema Rahmani (Sara)

CREDITS
Written by J.J. Abrams
Directed by Ken Olin

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




TV GUIDE PROMO

Sydney gets shocking info on her dad's role in Danny's murder and takes on a countermission against the SD-6 to bring down an arms dealer linked to a missing nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, Will (Bradley Cooper) begins to grow suspicious of his friend's secret life; and Vaughn is taken off Syd's case after his mishap puts the entire world in danger. TVguide.com






SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

The episode opens with Sydney (in a black wig and black body suit) being chased by a couple of guys shouting at her in French. They are also shooting at her, and she slides into an elevator just in time. With an attachment from her bag, she disables the surveillance camera in the elevator and crawls out a hole in the ceiling. She then hooks onto the shaft cable and slides down while the elevator continues up. In the basement area, she takes out another guard and leaps into a car that screeches off down a Paris street. In the car is Leonard Dreyfus, one of the money men behind SD-6.

Sydney is telling this story, which happened three years ago, to Vaughn. She says Dreyfus is one of the men to bring down if they want to stop SD-6's operations. Another is Anini Hassan, an arms dealer in Egypt. She recalls seeing Hassan kill one of his suppliers about six months ago. Vaughn tells her that it's not her job to sell the plan. He tells her to how get word of her next mission to him. Sydney is impatient, telling him that all she wants to do is bring down SD-6 and then she is out of the spy business -- "two months, tops". Vaughn simply shows her a diagram detailing how complex and far-reaching SD-6 really is. Sydney realizes that it may take much longer than she had thought.

Will, Francie and Francie's boyfriend Charlie are helping Sydney move into a new apartment. Will corners Sydney and questions her about where she went when she borrowed his sister's passport. Sydney evades the question. Will says he might be able to dig up more information about Danny's murder through his job as an investigative reporter. Sydney definitely doesn't want him doing any digging, so she begs him to stop and let her move on with her life. He reluctantly agrees.

Sydney returns to SD-6, where she and Dixon are briefed on their next mission, which involves retrieving some stolen documents. A man named Navour -- from the Sudan -- is to meet two men from the Russian mafia to purchase the documents. Sydney and Dixon are to stop the transaction and steal back the files. Marshall gives them a powerful knock-out drug that will be concealed in a ring in case of emergencies. Before they leave, Sloane takes Sydney to a room where her father is waiting and leaves them alone. Jack reassures Sydney that the room is not bugged. He says he wanted Sloane to know that she knows he (Jack) is part of SD-6. Sydney says she has to ask if he knew Danny was going to be killed. He says yes. Sydney slaps him and leaves.

Sydney writes the details of her mission on a paper bag and drops it in a designated trash can. Later she is called to meet Vaughn at a convenience store. He tells her to go ahead and get the documents and they will make a switch at the airport so the files can be copied before she returns them to SD-6.

Sydney and Dixon go to Moscow, where Dixon masquerades as Navour and Sydney, dressed as a maid, goes to Navour's suite to get the money to make the buy. She knocks out one of the guards with Marshall's drug simply by shaking hands with him. The real Navour is in the shower, so she picks the lock on his briefcase. Just as she gets the case open, another guard shows up and she has to fight him. She knocks him out with a very Xena-like running kick and then disables Navour when he comes out to see what's going on. Then she sees that the briefcase contains only blank sheets of paper, and she knows that Navour was planning to steal the documents. Sydney alters her appearance again and contacts Dixon -- who is meeting with the two Russians at that moment -- on his transmitter, telling him what she found and that she will be there in two minutes.

Dixon is handed the envelopes containing the files just as Sydney approaches their table. When she gets close, she stumbles and switches the disks with two she has. The two Russians get suspicious, though, so Sydney and Dixon have to beat them up.

Back in LA, Sydney and Dixon are walking along the concourse at the airport as Vaughn approaches, dressed as a maintenance man. Sydney slips the disks into his bag as they pass each other, and he ducks into a nearby room and copies the disks. He then gets to the curb just as Sydney and Dixon are getting into a cab and puts the disks back into her purse.

Will tells Sydney that he just couldn't leave the situation alone and did some digging into Danny's murder. He asks if she knew that Danny was booked on a flight to Singapore the night he died. Sydney says yes, that he had a medical conference there. Will apologizes when he sees how it upsets Sydney to talk about this. She begs Will not to bring this up again.

Sloane tells Sydney that the disks revealed that a nuclear missile left over from the cold war is still buried somewhere in Buckingham, Virginia. All they have is the name Milovich Ivanov. He wants Sydney to go there and find this man to see if he can tell them where the nuke is. Sydney calls Vaughn and says, "I'm going to Ivanov", knowing the CIA will have decoded the message, too. He tries to object, but she hangs up. Vaughn's superior wants to move, but Vaughn convinces them to wait, saying that they will blow Sydney's cover if they go.

Sydney goes to Virginia and finds a cemetery. She sees a patch of dead grass over one of the graves. The gravestone says Milovich Ivanov. Sydney digs up the grave and finds the nuclear missile inside the casket. Unfortunately, opening the casket arms the missile and it is set to blow in two minutes. Sydney calls Marshall, who talks her through disarming the missile.

Vaughn is angry that Sydney called SD-6 about the nuke, but Sydney says she only had two minutes and had to call someone she knew could disarm the missile. Vaughn says that SD-6 has already sold the nuke -- to Anini Hassan -- and that this will go on both their records. Sydney says she has been to Hassan's compound and can go there and disarm the nuke for good. Vaughn protests that if they see her it will get back to Sloane, and Sydney says they will not see her.

Sydney meets with her father and asks if he was the one who had arranged Danny's flight to Singapore. He says yes, he had gone to Danny's apartment but had gotten there too late. He says he will arrange it so SD-6 doesn't find out she is going to Cairo.

Sydney gets into Hassan's headquarters in disguise and disables several guards to get to where the nuke is kept. She begins disabling it. She pulls out the core just as a gun is pointed at her head. It's Hassan.

To be continued.



COMMENTARY

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

Heads up! Here comes Syd running full out, right at us, high speed down a hallway, dodging bullets. People are shouting at her in French. This is the Machlet Corporation in Paris, and Syd--in her role as a double agent--has just stolen something from the Corporation.

Syd slides into an elevator, hitting the floor to avoid the bullets exploding the elevator wall behind her. She scrabbles crablike into a corner, clutching a sachel, just as the elevator door closes.

Syd stays low, looks up, sees a ceiling camera, and draws a gadget from her bag that neutralizes the camera. Then, up the wall, and out the ceiling of the elevator, she goes.

Inside the shaft she clamps herself to the elevator cables and descends at speed down the shaft, as the elevator goes up.

More running, screeching round corners and down stairs, straight into a waiting limo. Syd jumps in, and the limo speeds away. Whew!

Can I breathe now? Talk about edge of my seat, eyes wide open, action! And, this is just the opening, the teaser. I'm afraid to blink. Say "hello" to fast forward. Alias moves!

Back home, Syd--in her role as a double agent--tells CIA, Vaughan, that she expects to wipe out SD-6 in a few weeks. That, however, is impossible.

And, Vaughan, with consideration and subtlety, clues her that SD-6 is not just the LA bureau, but a huge and convoluted organization of more than 200 groups. This is not a few weeks job. Syd,with good grace, accepts Vaughan's upgrade to her understanding of SD-6.

Later, Syd's journalist friend, Will, tries to find out from Syd what her fiancee could have been into that precipitated his murder. Syd asks Will to leave it alone, and let her get on with her life. But, Will continues to be curious, and finds out that, on the night Danny died, he was booked on a flight for Singapore.

At SD-6 Syd is instructed to fly to Moscow to intercept a stolen files sale, related to Soviet American nuclear arsenals. While at SD-6 Syd faces her father, Jack, also a double agent. Syd wants to know if her father knew SD-6 was going to kill her fiancee. When he says "yes", she slaps him and walks out.

In Moscow, dressed as a hotel maid, Syd breaks into the hotel room of the CRC agent holding the money for the stolen files purchase. A violent confrontation ensues with body guards, including some run-up-the-chest-style martial arts from Syd.

The money for the sale turns out to be phoney, and Syd, via her throat mike to fellow agent Dixon, downstairs in the restaurant, says "stall" for two minutes. He's at a table in the restaurant with the Russian agents who have the stolen computer files.

Syd rips off her maid's uniform, switches to a blond wig and tight satin dress, and heads downstairs. In the restaurant she grabs a couple of square coasters and an untended drink from the bar, and heads to Dixon's table. This girl is resourceful--and fast.

At the table Syd dumps the drink, switches coasters for files, and after another brief fight and flight interlude, she and Dixon make the airport.

In the airport Syd palms the files to CIA Vaughan without SD-6 Dixon noticing. Vaughan then duplicates the files in seconds and gets them back to Syd's bag just before she and Dixon step into a cab.

Timing is everything in this show, split second timing. Pay close attention, or you might miss something.

The stolen discs indicate a nuclear warhead, left over from the Cold War, is somewhere in the U.S. Clues lead Syd to a Virginia cemetary, a tombstone--and, soon, to an open grave, which she digs. In the grave is a nuclear warhead which automatically activates as Syd opens the lid.

Via cell phone to SD-6, Syd disarms the timer on the warhead. (See HIGHLIGHTS, "Blueprints" section.)

Back again in LA, an angry Vaughan, at the CIA, tells Syd SD-6 has sold the warhead from the grave to an Egyptian terrorist in Cairo, Hassan. So, off to Cairo goes Syd, with a short detour enroute to meet her father. Syd asks him to cover for her, so SD-6 does not know she has gone after the warhead.

Syd apologizes to her father for hitting him earlier. And, she asks if he bought the Singapore flight ticket for Danny before the murder. Her father admits he did, but got to Danny's apartment too late to save him. Syd is grateful, even so.

In Cairo Syd breaks into the terrorist camp, knocks out guards, finds and disarms the warhead, and ends up with a gun to her temple--Hassan's gun. That's it.

Compared to the "popcorn fare" offered by so many action shows, Alias is a full course meal. Lots happens.

And, Syd--the protagonist in Alias--is unpredictable. That's so refreshing for TV, where protagonists for so many shows are all-too-often miles behind the audience.

Not Alias. Syd is full of surprises. In this episode I had no idea whatever what was going to happen, up until the very last scene. But, until then--and even getting there--the plot was seamless and fast forward all the way.

What I found predictable in the last scene was what follows. After seeing Syd in arab garb, dispatching arab terrorists in doorways, I knew immediately 1) the room where the warhead was stored would be empty, 2)Syd would find the right crate, and disarm the warhead without a hitch, and 3)Hassan--the head honcho terrorist--would show up at the last possible second to put a gun to Syd's head.

Why would something as important to terrorists as a nuclear warhead be stored in an open warehouse with a bunch of other crates? Why not more guards? And, why is the head guy the one to catch her? Had he planned to meet her plane, and missed the connection? Predictable.

But, only a small glitch. For, even so, the ending managed to ultimately surprise me. The caption, at the very end, surprised me. "To Be Continued" flashed on the screen. What!? A whole hour is gone already!? I didn't even leave the room during commercials, staying on the edge of my seat the whole time.

Over!? Not possible. This show is a long, long way from over. Alias is expertly plotted--and acted--and moves forward at such a pace, that an hour seems like minutes.

In this show everything counts. Even silences speak volumes. Cool show, way cool. If "So It Begins" is any indication of what is to come, then "Alias" is a show not to be missed. Did I say I am a fan?

HIGHLIGHTS:

BEELINE: On Syd's return from her mission in Moscow, we see her fling open the door to her apartment, and make a "beeline" to where she keeps her engagement ring (from her now dead fiancee). She puts on the ring, like someone drowning puts on a "life ring". Next, we see her in her bath, in meditative silence. Not a word is spoken. None is required.

In silence this scene speaks volumes to me about the lead character. This character, Sydney Bristow, is real, not a one-dimensional-James-Bondian-style super agent. In all the possibly--by now--zillions of action shows I have seen on TV, never before have I seen the lead make a "beeline" to "normalcy" after a bang 'em up, or shoot 'em down, gig. Humanity shows on this show.

I am amazed to see an action show exhibit this very real need for solitude, or personal reconnection, that follows facing life or death, or unbearably stressful, situations.

After such experiences there is an urgency--just as for Syd--to be grounded again in "familiarity". And, baths are certainly a way to feel "real" and "clean" again. Kudos to the scriptwriters and the actress for a perception and a subtlety I have not seen before on an action show.

BLUEPRINTS: Syd, in the open grave, with a nuclear warhead to disarm in less than 2 minutes, one that she has just "armed" by opening the grave.

She is on her cell phone to Marshall, another agent, who's frantically clutching blueprints and a jumble of colored wires, telling her--as he figures it out himself--which wires to cut to stop the timer on the warhead.

"Try the blue one," the agent tells Syd.
"Try!?" Syd says incredulously,"What do you mean 'try'!?" And, the seconds continue to tick away.



LINKS:

Official Episode Guide




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