Season 4, episode 01
Series 401
1st release: 01/05/05
2nd release:
Last update: 01/26/05

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SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 2 by Adriane Saunders

Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow
Ron Rifkin as Sloane
Michael Vartan as Vaughn
Carl Lumbly as Dixon
Kevin Weisman as Marshall J. Flinkman
Victor Garber as Jack Bristow
Greg Grunberg as Eric Weiss
Nadia Santos as Mia Maestro

Angela Bassett .... CIA Director Hayden Chase
Robert Patrick Benedict .... Brodien
Cliff De Young .... Connelly
Neil Fournier .... MaNtre d'
Adam Leadbeater .... Sumner
J.R. Reed .... Lead CIA Agent
Vicky Shen .... Angry Punk Girl
Don Tai .... Pursuer
Rick Yune .... Kazu Tamazaki
Karl Hamann - Komorov
Dennis di Angelo - Jorge
Jay Harik - Leclerc
Mark Ryan - Cooney
Clive Pearson - Guard #1

Written by J.J. Abrams
Directed by Kevin Olin

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


This synopsis is by Sally Dye.


Sydney, in a short blond wig and an even shorter negligee, comes out of a train compartment into another room and asks, in a Swedish accent, a thin man with glasses if she looks okay. The man stutters a reply in a Russian accent. She asks what he has in his briefcase, and he says it's something dangerous. She wants to see it, so he opens the case. He says what's inside can be used for good or evil. Sydney: "Me, too." He shows her a vial containing an unstable isotope. Sydney knocks him unconscious and takes the isotope. A burly guard chases her, and they fight in a baggage compartment. Sydney knocks open the door to the compartment and sees that they are crossing a bridge high above the terrain. She swings out on a plastic latticework, and the guard starts cutting through the pieces.

72 hours earlier:
Sydney and another man are being chased through the streets of Shanghai. They slip into a nightclub and go into the restroom. The man, Brodien, says they are compromised. Sydney radios another agent named Strum and tells him to get out. They hear gunshots through the connection, and then another voice comes on and tells her they are tracking her signal. Sydney throws the radio into the sink and uses dirt from the windowsill to give Brodien a goth-like appearance. A woman knocks on the door and Sydney pulls her inside. A moment later, Brodien and Sydney emerge with Sydney wearing the woman's long blond wig. They leave separately.

Back in LA, Brodien and Sydney report to Director Hayden Chase, who reprimands Sydney for getting another agent killed. She tells Sydney that her rogue behavior will no longer be tolerated, and that she is being transferred out of field service. Sydney says that she is terminating her association with the CIA.

In Washington, D.C., Vaughn tells Weiss that he is leaving the agency. He has undergone several months of therapy after killing Lauren and subsequently burning down the house they lived in. He says he has no desire to do this job anymore. Weiss tells him that Sydney quit, too.

Sydney goes to a subway station and down some steps to a door that has "Authorized Personnel Only" stenciled on it. She swipes a key card and enters. She is in a secret facility. She walks down the hallway and meets Director Chase. They discuss Shanghai, which was just a charade to convince everyone that Sydney had a reason to quit so she could become part of this covert black ops organization. They enter another room to find Dixon, Jack, Vaughn and, to Sydney's surprise and displeasure, Arvin Sloane. Sydney tells Chase that she has serious concerns about Sloane, who in fact, is in charge of the op. Chase says that the program will provide checks and balances for all the players.

Act I

Sydney re-enters the room as Sloane is explaining that their unit -- called "Authorized Personnel Only" or APO -- is the CIA's SD-6, an organization that officially doesn't exist. Their first mission is to find a Russian named Komorov, who has developed a deadly and unstable isotope called Orine-12. Sydney is to intercept Komorov on a train before he can sell the isotope to terrorists, and Vaughn is to pose as Komorov and sell a fake isotope with a tracking signal. Sydney, unable to hide her incredulity that Sloane is in the position he's in, leaves the room. Dixon follows and they discuss their reservations about Sloane. Sloane interrupts and tells them that he understands their feelings and wants them to just give him a chance.

Sydney is packing at home when the doorbell rings. It's Vaughn. He says he misses her. Sydney won't let him come in, and says she doesn't want to have to pretend the past few years never happened. They agree to take things slowly.

In Belarus, a helicopter deposits Sydney and Vaughn on the train. Sydney pretends that she has a ticket for the room that Komorov is in. She flirts with him, and he is intrigued by her.

Vaughn meets the buyer in the dining car and gives him the fake isotope. The buyer refers to his boss, Mr. Vadik. Then he tells Vaughn that he looks familiar.

Act II

The buyer signals two burly henchmen and tells Vaughn that he is leaving the train. He gets up and leaves with one of the henchmen. Vaughn radios Sydney to get out quickly. The other henchman takes Vaughn and they leave the dining car. Vaughn goes with him because he sees all the children dining with their parents and doesn't want to fight there. When they get out of the car, Vaughn hits the guy and they fight. Meanwhile, Sydney is fighting the other henchman in the baggage compartment. Vaughn knocks his guy out and runs to help Sydney. He gets there just in time to knock the guy off the train and pull Sydney back in. They embrace. The next thing we see is Sydney and Vaughn in bed together.


Vaughn gives Sydney a message from Jack. He wants to know why Jack is talking to Sydney through him. Sydney says she doesn't want to tell him.

Sloane says that the CIA wants Vadik. He takes Sydney aside and tells her that Nadia has info on Vadik, but would probably rather talk to Sydney than him. He says that he and Nadia had found the Rambaldi artifact and handed it over to the US government. Sydney realizes that that is how he got his position. Sloane says that Nadia left intelligence and is living in Argentina. He wants Sydney to go and talk to her.

Act IV

In Argentina, Sydney meets Nadia on a beach. They embrace. Sydney asks about Vadik. Nadia says that she won't come back to intelligence because a friend of hers was killed by Vadik. She tells Sydney that no one works directly with Vadik, only his lieutenant, Tamazaki, who is the man who tried to buy the isotope.

Back at home, Jack comes to Sydney's place. He says they need to communicate. She says she can't even look at him, that she despises him. He asks if she told Nadia what she knows. Sydney says no. They are interrupted when Vaughn comes in. Jack leaves. Vaughn wants to know what's going on. Sydney tells him about the deposit box in Wittenberg where she found evidence that Jack had requested the authority to assassinate Irina, and it had been granted. He had killed her mother.


This commentary is by Sally Dye.

Okay, so let's talk about cliffhanger resolutions. Were the cliffhangers from the Season 3 finale resolved in the fourth season opener or not? I guess that question is one big cliffhanger of its own.

First, the mysterious file from the safe deposit box in Wittenburg. That was dealt with in this ep, and though it wasn't quite what I was expecting, it came pretty close. It just about had to be something to do with Irina, because Lauren mentioned her in that last battle between her and Sydney. Lauren's various comments as she and Sydney fought all over the excavation were cryptic, and might even form little cliffhangers of their own. Here are her comments:

"If you kill me, you'll never know the truth."

"You think the CIA couldn't find you when you went missing? Or that you learned what happened to you by chance?"

"If your mother really has been helping you since you left, why have you never spoken to her?"

"You can't really believe that you and your sister both just happen to be agents?"

"We're both pawns in the same game. The difference is, I know who controls me."

Of course, Lauren could have just been pulling Sydney's chain with some (or all) of these comments, but the possibility exists, at least, that they might constitute clues as to what's coming up this season, in terms of further revelations about Sydney's past and/or future. In addition, the disclosure that the file contained Jack's request to assassinate Irina gives new meaning to Jack and Sydney's conversation about Vaughn's plan to kill Lauren. Jack says he had the chance to kill Irina but didn't take it. Actually, if it's true he killed Irina, then he would have already done it when he said that. Also, when Sydney was preparing to set out for Palermo, Jack may have been going to broach the subject and then changed his mind: Sydney: "What's wrong?" Jack: "We'll talk when you get back." But as far as we know, they never did.

Of course, as has been said before, on Alias, as on Xena, dead doesn't always mean dead. We've had too many "resurrections" not to be suspicious of Irina's actual death, even though Sydney told Nadia that she recovered Irina's body. This one may not actually be resolved yet.

Then there was the cliffhanger of Marshall's fate after Lauren shot him. The last info we received was that he was still in the OR. Obviously, not only has he recovered from that wound, but it wasn't even mentioned in this week's episode!

Lauren's death is another question mark. Jack had given Vaughn all kinds of info and equipment to insure that Lauren's body could be disposed of and no one would ever find it or identify it, etc. But apparently he didn't use any of that, because he made an open reference to killing his wife when he was talking to Weiss. I hope this means that her dead body was actually seen and buried and gone forever, but no one ever mentioned that, either.

And finally, that pesky Rambaldi artifact. After a three year buildup to the most important artifact of all, including the suspicion that the "artifact" might be Rambaldi himself, Sloane simply makes an offhand comment: oh, yeah, we found it and gave it to the US government. Huh? Nothing about what it is or what it does? Don't we even get to see it? Surely there will be more to come on this topic.

So the Season 4 opener actually raises more questions than it answers. But that's what will make this another great season on Alias!


This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

I decided to make "no comment" about the Opener. For starters I couldn't believe how many commercials there were, breaks every five minutes for blocks of commercials. A huge distraction. As for dialogue and plot, all I could keep on saying was "you've got to be kidding!" For example: APO?? Authorized Personnel Only. Has JJ Abrams run out of ideas? So many gaps in the story, so much redundancy in character and plot. So little of what made Alias great, once upon a time. Maybe Abrams should check out "24" or the new series "Medium" to see how it's done, the edge of your seat, no idea what's coming next productions.

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