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Season 1, episode 08
Series 108
1st release: 12/02/01
2nd release: 06/16/02
Production number: E637
Last update: 08/09/03

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SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY by Adriane Saunders

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

Tobin Bell (Agent Dreyer)
Gina Torres (Ana Espinosa)
Robert Clendenin (Bergman)
Peter Dennis (Prof. Bloom)
Keone Young (Sydney's professor -- Prof. Choy)
Elaine Kagan (Will's boss -- June Litvak)
Jack Axelrod (Donato)
Michael Halsey (Prof. Hoyt)
Sam Ayers (Man)

Written by Jeff Pinkner
Directed by Perry Lang

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


A lie detector test has Sydney beside herself when Sloane goes all out to find the SD-6 mole; Will finds a pin belonging to the late Eloise Kurtz. ClickTV

Sloane's search for a mole forces Sydney to take a polygraph test; Sydney searches for a device's connection to a 500-year-old sketch. ExciteTV

As Syd hits Mexico for info on an ancient clock linked to the Rambaldi case, Sloane fires up his deadly plan to silence the SD-6's mole; Will struggles to kill a front-page piece on Danny's murder until a high-tech bug in Kate Jones' car takes his story in a new direction. Tvguide.com


This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser Sydney and Dixon go to Oxford University to retrieve the Rembaldi artifact. Sydney poses as a grant candidate recruiter and attends a reception in the science building. She engages a professor in conversation long enough to get a copy of his key card, and sees Ana Espinosa talking to another professor. When Ana heads for the lab area, Sydney follows. The FTL agents posing as campus security stop Ana, and while she fights them, Sydney slips into the lab. She disables the key card mechanism, and when Ana gets to the door, Sydney plants a kiss on the glass. Ana shoots the glass out of the door, but Sydney gets the artifact and slips out the window before Ana can stop her. Back at SD-6, Jack asks Sloane if he "retired" Eloise Kurtz. Sloane admits he had her killed because he felt Will Tippin was getting too close to the truth about Kate Jones. Jack says he arranged her meeting with Will to throw him off the track in his investigation. Sloane thinks Jack mishandled the situation. Jack disagrees and says he will get Will off the story. Sloane wants to know what will happen if he can't get Will to back off. Jack says he will kill him himself.

Act I Sydney's professor tells her the paper she handed in "has no soul". Sydney has to fix it or risk losing her place in the graduate program. When Sydney enters the parking garage, she sees a man talking on a cell phone. She takes out her own phone and realizes she is in a no service area. She doubles back and takes the man down, asking who he is and why he is folowing her. Sydney wastes no time in asking Sloane why she is being followed. He says that SD-6 is stepping up security, and she must be prepared to sacrifice some of her personal freedoms. Sloane briefs Sydney on the artifact she recovered from the Oxford lab. It is a clock designed by a Giovanni Donato, who was the only person Milo Rembaldi ever collaborated with. Marshall feels that the clock may be hiding some other information or function, but he can't figure out what it is. Sydney is to take the clock to a descendant of Donato's, who is also a clockmaker, and see if he can fix it. Sydney asks Jack if she can talk to him privately. They go into a room, and Jack turns on a jammer so they will have privacy. Sydney says she is being followed. Jack says he has noticed Sloane behaving differently, also, and that Marshall has noted some computer abnormalities. He doesn't know if it has been tracked to the CIA. Also, Sloane has called in an agent named Dreyer, who will likely give each of them a high-tech lie detector test. He says Vaughn can prepare Sydney to take the test. Will's boss wants to know why Will is still dragging his feet on the Danny Hecht story. Will says he won't do the piece because Sydney might be hurt by it. His boss is exasperated that he's back pedalling when he's finally convinced her there's a story here. She tells him to get a quote from Sydney, and that the story is due tomorrow. Will goes to Sydney's place. She is writing "a paper with soul". Will is distracted by some first editions that were Sydney's mother's. Each is personally inscribed by her father. Will is impressed, and Sydney says her father actually does have a heart. Will can't bring himself to tell her about the story. Vaughn drills Sydney on how to fool the lie detector. She is not doing well, and Vaughn tells her to focus. She does and begins to get better readings on questions like "are you a double agent?" He then asks her if she's romantically involved with anyone, and she says no. The detector indicates that she's lying. Sydney is flustered and says to ask her that again. Vaughn says there's no need -- he has the answer.

Act II Sydney goes to Positano and takes the clock to the elderly Signor Donato. He is reluctant to even let her in until she mentions Rembaldi's name, and then he opens the door and motions her inside. Jack has his contact at the airlines take Kate Jones' name off the passenger manifest for Danny's flight to Singapore. Will gets the manifest and is incredulous that there is now no evidence to support his theories concerning Danny's murder. His boss now believes he made the whole thing up and tells him that if it happens again, the only writing he'll be doing is on his resume. Donato tells Sydney that his ancestor made the clock for Rembaldi because Rembaldi made him a promise -- that he would live "an impossibly long life." Rembaldi apparently even predicted the day he would die. Sydney asks if he was right, and Donato says yes, he was. Sydney notices a strange symbol on the clock, and Donato says it is the symbol of the Magnific Order of Rembaldi -- a group of his followers dedicated to safeguarding his inventions. He says that unfortunately crime figures have infiltrated the organization. As Donato and Sydney talk, Ana Espinosa and two other K-directorate agents are entering his apartment building. On the roof of an adjacent building, a sniper has Sydney in his sights. Sydney asks Donato about the date on the clock, and Donato says, "He never did tell me what it meant." Sydney is startled at this statement, since Rembaldi lived centuries ago, and Donato says he meant someone else. He says that the clock will now tell time, but there is still a piece missing from it. The sniper radios Ana that the clock is now working. She says to kill Sydney when he has a clear shot. Sydney wants to know what else Rembaldi was working on. Donato says, "The clock is fixed. Now it's over." He stands up just as the sniper fires and takes the bullet meant for Sydney. She sees that he is dead and grabs the clock and runs. As she gets to the elevator, she sees Ana ascending in it, so she takes off up the stairs, pursued by the other agents. She gets to the top floor just ahead of them and runs to the edge of the roof. She hooks a bungee cord to the railing and jumps off the building. Ana and the other agents fire down at her, but she unhooks the cord and escapes with the clock.

Act III Back in LA, Sydney returns home exhausted and crashes on the couch. Francie has good news -- she turned in Sydney's paper for her -- and bad news -- she spilled some lemonade on one of Sydney's mom's books. Sydney reassures her that it's not a problem. Later when Sydney is reading the book, she sees that the liquid has revealed a code embedded in the pages. Sydney tells Vaughn that the books were delivered once a month from a bookstore in Prague. She thinks that the KGB was sending her father messages because the codes are in cyrillic letters. Vaughn says he wants to see the books, but for now Sydney should concentrate on passing the lie detector test. Will puts Danny's file away, but then gets a call from a mechanic friend who was working on Eloise Kurtz's car. He wants to know if Will knows why Eloise never picked the car up. Will goes to look at the car. He searches the car and finds what appears to be an ornate pin. His boss calls to say he'd better be working on the soil erosion story and she doesn't want him to waste another minute on Kate Jones. At their next briefing, Marshall reports that the golden sun disk that Sydney recovered in Malaga fits into the clock. When the clock is set at a certain time, the disk reveals a star chart. If they use the date on the back of the clock -- August 16, 1523 -- then the only place on earth with that exact view of the stars is on the southern slope of Mt. Aconcagua. Sydney and Dixon are to go there and find out if Rembaldi stored something there. But first, Sydney is to "head down to psych and see Carl Dreyer." Sydney is hooked up to the machine, and Dreyer asks her questions: "Are you a double agent?" Sydney: (long pause) "No."

Act IV Vaughn gives Sydney a camera to photograph whatever she finds in Argentina. The photos will immediately upload to a CIA satellite. Sydney says she is not sure she passed the lie detector test. She says she was followed and it took twenty minutes to lose the tail. Vaughn tells her if she really thinks she failed, that the CIA has a plan in place to get her out and into a witness protection program. But Sydney says no, she couldn't live in hiding. Sydney and Dixon go to Argentina. Before they start up the slope of Mt. Aconcagua, Dixon tells Sydney he's proud of her -- for coming back after Danny's death. He says he knows what they're doing is for the good of their country, but still.... Sydney can't even look at him, and they start climbing in silence. Will takes the pin he found to an electronics friend, who says it's not just a bug, "it's a tarantula!" The friend is totally impressed with the sophisticated device, but Will only has more things to wonder about. Sydney's locator pinpoints a spot on the slope of the mountain. They dig and find a large trap door. When they open it, they see a rope ladder descending deep into the ground. Sydney starts down while Dixon climbs up the slope to signal the SD-6 satellite. Sydney descends the ladder to deep in the earth. At the bottom, she finds a large cavern. After a short search, she locates a large vault. Opening it, she sees an old leather bound book. It's Rembaldi's journal. She begins photographing the pages, but gets a frantic radio message from Dixon: ""They're here! I don't know how they found us!" He says Ana's name and tells Sydney to get out of there. Sloane comes to Dreyer and asks if he's finished with Sydney's results. Dreyer: "I think we've found our mole." Sydney runs for the rope ladder only to find Ana there, pointing a gun at her. Ana wants the book. Sydney throws it at her, knocking the gun from her hand, and they fight. Sydney kicks Ana backwards, but Ana falls near her gun, grabs it up, and shoots Sydney twice in the chest. Sydney drops to the floor of the cavern. Ana puts the book in her backpack and starts up the ladder. Below, Sydney rolls over and feels her chest. She was wearing a bullet-proof vest, but is still in pain. She starts up the ladder after Ana. She catches up to her when the backpack snags on a rock. They fight again, both clinging to the ladder. Sydney almost gets the backpack, but suddenly Ana kicks out, knocking Sydney off the ladder. Sydney falls backwards into the darkness.

To be continued.


This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

Down the tube, literally, is how this week's episode ends. Syd falls into an open pit from high in the air, knocked from a ladder in a fight with Anna Espinosa.

How does the episode begin? With CIA Vaughan's voice asking Syd, "What can you tell me about this woman, Anna Espinosa?" "I don't like her, if that's what you mean," Syd replies.

On screen is a replay of Syd's [Episode 04] fight with Anna in a church in Malaga, Spain. The fight is for a small polymer disc, a "sun", which Syd has just removed from the church's stained glass window. Rimbaldi put it there, centuries past. Fast forward to now. And, later in the show, remember this disc.

Syd's voiceover conversation with Vaughan matches the action in the church. Syd wins this time, flips Anna to the floor, and handcuffs her to a table. Then Syd walks out, Rimbaldi disc in hand.

Segue to Syd now off to England, to Oxford, to trace another Rimbaldi artifact. Anna Espinosa is also enroute. Syd needs "to act fast so Anna doesn't get there first". And, "fast" is a word this show, Alias, certainly understands.

Dixon is in a van with computers, and Syd crashes a "professorial" cocktail party. She pretends interest in a professor's "Study on the Crash Worthiness of Transportation Vehicles," while Dixon, from the van, decodes a key card in the professor's pocket.

This card is Syd's access ticket to the room where the Rimbaldi artifact--a handcrafted clock--is stored. Anna of course is at the party too, and almost ahead of Syd. But, Syd tips Dixon to call security guards to forstall Anna breaking into the Rimbaldi room.

Syd arrives just as security guards are almost literally wrestling Anna to the ground. But Anna, (actress Gina Torres), is good with the moves. (Maybe that skill comes from all the practice Torres had playing the underground fighter "Helen" in Cleopatra 2525.)

Syd arrives on the scene just as one of the guards appears to have a stranglehold on Anna, though not for long. Syd, a glass of champagne still in hand, briefly smiles and nods, and gives a tiny raise of her glass to Anna. I love this almost "friendly rivalry" between these two.

Syd is gone, before knowing Anna gets loose. Still, Syd is inside the locked room before Anna arrives. Hilariously--tit for tat, (what Anna did to Syd in another episode)--Syd plants a kiss on the glass door dividing her from Anna.

Anna cannot access the room with her own stolen key card, because Syd--always thinking ahead--has shorted out the lock with her glass of champagne. Anna shoots her way through the thick glass door instead. She is too late to catch Syd who is already out a window and speeding away in a van. Fast and efficient. Way to go, Syd. Anna takes the setback with stoic grace.

Switch to SD-6 Sloan and Jack, Syd's father, talking about the "Kate Jones" thread Syd's friend, Will, is pulling on. Says Sloan, "That reporter may very well be a casualty of his own curiosity." Jack of course wants to spare Syd the grief of losing yet another friend, so he assures Sloan, "Leave it to me."

(A slight digression here to clear up a puzzle about "stubble". Every time I watch either Sloan, Syd's SD-6 boss--or Will, Syd's reporter friend--close up, I wonder: What is with the beard stubbles that both men sport? Months pass during the course of Alias, yet neither Sloan's nor Will's stubble ever grows into a beard, or gets shaved. Is this some kind of obscure fashion statement? Am I missing a trend? A puzzle, for sure.)

Jack easily manages damage control, pulls strings and erases any record of any "Kate Jones", (one of Syd's aliases), as seatmate on the flight booked for Danny (Syd's fiance) before he was killed.

Of course the SD-6 operative who impersonates Kate Jones--for Will's curiosity--is now dead. Mistakes are not tolerated by SD-6, particularly by beard stubbled Sloan. Those back trails are gone, and Will hassles with his newspaper editor, as a result. But, this is later.

Before that, the camera switches from Jack's face, after talking with Sloan, to Syd, talking with her grad school professor. He has just graded her last paper "D". And, Syd is not happy. He tells her, "No spirit in this paper, no soul." He says, "Fix it by Friday, or I will have to re-evaluate your place in this program."

What exactly is this course Syd is taking? This is a puzzling requirement for a paper from a grad student. I try to remember if any college or grad school professor ever asked the same for any of my papers. No spirit? No soul? Syd's professor should be glad Syd even finishes her papers, travelling the world as she does between classes.

Syd goes downstairs, into the underground parking, and the suspenseful music kicks in. Oh, Oh. Is Syd going to get shot at again? Just one man is in the parking garage, talking on a cell phone. Syd looks at her own cell phone and sees "No Access". No phone access is possible.

While her about-to-be-stalker looks the other way, Syd vanishes behind some cars. As he--still pretending to talk on the phone--looks for Syd, she appears, vaulting the hood of a car. She knocks him to the ground, and jams his own gun into his belly. "Who are you?" Syd repeats twice. Simple and direct.

Shift immediately to Sloan reprimanding Syd for "assaulting one of SD-6's security section officers." Syd disputes that forcefully, angrily contesting the surveillance of her activities Sloan has authorized. "If there is something you want to know about me, then you ask me," Syd says in Sloan's face. Sloan defends the surveillance, then says, "Now we have a briefing. Do you think you can focus?"

Syd says flatly, "Yeah, I think I can." Focus, yes, focus. Syd has no small amount of that. And, she gives as good as she gets from Sloan. A sparkling conflict continues.

Rimbaldi, apparently, commissioned his handcrafted clock--in the 15th century--from a clockmaker named Donato. SD-6 suspects Rimbaldi's clock of having codes hidden in the design. However, the clock--at present--does not work.

Syd's assignment--"should [she] accept it", as they say in "Mission Impossible"--is to take the clock to the clockmaker, or his decendent. Get the clock fixed. Then, Syd has only to return with the clock to Los Angeles. No problem. Ho, Ho.

Before leaving, Syd collars her father and asks about Sloan's surveillance of her. "Should I be worried?" she asks him. Jack has a 60 second scrambler in a pen that masks the conversation. Sloan suspects a "mole" he tells Syd. That means she should expect--and prepare, with CIA Vaughan's help--for a lie detector test.

This is no ordinary lie detector, but high tech, where even the subtlest changes in blood flow to the brain can be detected. We are definitely going to find out soon--as will Syd herself, the depth of her mastery of "focus".

Now fast forward again. Will's newspaper editor confronts him about his supposed-to-be written story about "Kate Jones" and Danny's death. Where is a quote from Syd for the story? Will still has not mentioned that to Syd.

So Will visits Syd at home, where she is rewriting her grad school paper--now, with "soul". Next to her is a pile of her mother's books, given to Syd by her father. Syd tells Will she is learning her father "actually has a heart."

Conversation follows about Syd's job at the "bank", and why not "just quit," asks Will. Syd travels so much. Looking down, Syd holds up her left hand for Will to see Danny's engagement ring. "I still wear this," says Syd. Will says nothing.

The phone rings, "Joe's Pizza?" "No, wrong number," says Syd, but that is her signal to meet with CIA Vaughan. Will leaves without mentioning "Kate Jones" or Danny's death, telling Syd he only came to say "Hi".

Switch to lie detector practice. Vaughan fires questions, and watches the gauge. He tells Syd to not react emotionally. That is what the machine "detects". "Split your focus," he tells Syd, to which she reacts in frustration. "There's not just a switch I can flip." Syd's focus is--she thinks--"split already, CIA, SD-6, school, friends." Syd is stressed.

Vaughan also slips in a "trick question", asking Syd if she is "romantically interested in anyone". Syd says, "No." A lie. The machine tells all. "Wait. Ask me again," Syd says. "I don't have to. It's right there. That's good," says Vaughan. Of course Vaughan would like that "romantic interest" to be him.

Whether that is true, or Danny--though dead--is still her love, is not clear. But, one thing Syd is clear about is her performance with the lie dectector. "If this were for real, I'd be dead by now, wouldn't I?" Syd says to Vaughan. But, this is just practice.

"POSITANO" appears on the screen. And now Syd is in Italy. She is at the clockmaker's door, Donato. And, speaking only in Italian, Syd attempts to coax Donato into opening the door.

This is very cool. Though Syd speaks to him in Italian, no translation is offered. Her actions and her tone make her meaning clear. And, of course, the name "Rimbaldi" finally unlocks Donato's door.

This clockmaker Donato is interesting, not only in what he says to Syd--but also the look of him, his face. We live in a world that celebrates youth over age. To consider the face of anyone over 50--male or female--as "beautiful" is usually not done. But, there is nothing quite like a face--like this clockmaker's, weathered and crisscrossed with lines of character and experience. What a face!

And, the face, Donato, speaks English. He switches to that language as soon as he realizes "only an American" would come to his house "without calling first". Does he mean Americans have no manners, or that Americans are simply too direct?

Unfortunate that this character will not appear again, as he is about to be shot in the back by Anna Espinosa's sniper. Unless, of course, he rises from the dead. But, such things do not occur on this show. This is not "X-Files".

However, on Alias "old" can happen--very, very old. In conversation with Syd, Donato lets slip that he himself has spoken with Rimbaldi. That means Donato is hundreds of years old. Rimbaldi lived in the 15th century. A good trick.

As Donato stands up, just before being shot in the back, he says to Syd, "And now it is over," meaning his life. The clock is started again. Rimbaldi had promised, when the clock had stopped, that Donato would live "an impossibly long life". And he did--until the clock was started again.

Lucky for Syd, Donato stands up when he does. The sniper's rifle was aimed at Syd. Donato's back shields her. She hits the floor as the room around her is trashed by gunfire.

Syd grabs the clock and runs, first downstairs, then up--as Anna tries to cut off her escape. But, always the anticipator, Syd whips a gadget from her knapsack, attaches a rope to a railing--and jumps, free style, to the ground below. She lands on her feet and runs away, gunfire splattering all around.

Back in Los Angeles, Syd's friend and roommate, Francie, spills lemonade all over Syd's mom's book. Apologies aside, Syd later discovers this to be a blessing. More information falls into her hands about her father's past--she thinks.

Syd once more suspects her father of being a KGB double agent, 20 years ago. The lemonade spill reveals Russian codes in the book's margins. She tells Vaughan, "My father used to buy [mother] books, one a month," shipping them from a bookstore both her parents had discovered on a trip to Prague.

My own suspicions differ from Syd's. What if Syd's mother turns out to be the KGB agent, way back when--not her father. The codes in the books could have, as easily, been directed to her mother, as to her father. This could be a surpise.

Back at SD-6 Rimbaldi's clock and the polymer disc, the sun from the church in Malaga, are joined together to reveal a star chart that points to an incredibly specific location in Argentina. SD-6 tech expert Marshall says, referring to Rimbaldi's brilliance in devising clues, "That sound, you know, that 'boom'. That's the sound of my mind blowing."

Mine, too, especially when we discover later that all these elaborate--and globally dispersed clues, just conceal the whereabouts of Rimbaldi's personal journal. Think how many trips Syd has taken to collect these clues! This guy takes "secrecy" to a whole different level. And, in this case, that is underground.

In Argentina, "X" marks the spot to an underground cave. Syd and Dixon together lift the lid hiding the cave. But, then--incomprehensibly, Dixon leaves to re-establish satellite contact with SD-6. Contact is now blocked by mountains. Really! Dixon!

Syd is about to climb down a wooden ladder at least 600 years old--having been put there in Rimbaldi's time--into pitch black darkness. No caution? No backup or rope up from Dixon? This is hardly the time for him to say, "Ladies first".

I realize Dixon compliments Syd on her "courage" just before the underground ladder is found. But, this is a 600 year old ladder going underground for who knows how far--and no rope or back up? Is this courage or foolheartiness? Or does the measure change when you are--like Syd--used to being shot at, or routinely attacked. Maybe being alone is a relief.

Down she goes, into the darkness. And, Syd's explorations mirror "Relic Hunter". Though, here, there are no booby traps. Mercifully, the walls do not shoot things at Syd. She finds Rimbaldi's journal, unimpeded, at least until she attempts to leave. Then, of course, the bad guys arrive.

Or, in the instance, the "bad" (meaning, "very cool") K-Directorate agent, Anna Espinosa. And, Anna has a gun. Syd and Anna fight. Then, Syd is shot twice by Anna--in the gut. Syd falls lifeless, like a rag doll, to the floor of the cave.

But, as Anna is climbing up the ladder out of the cave, Syd recovers--rubbing the bullet proof vest she wears, right where the bullets whacked her in the chest. Ouch! But she is alive--for now, and clamors after Anna.

More fighting follows. But, this time, Anna kicks Syd into empty space. There is a cry from Syd, then nothing more.

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