Season 3, episode 08
Series 308
1st release: 11/23/03
2nd release:
Last update: 11/23/03

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SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders

Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow
Ron Rifkin as Sloane
Michael Vartan as Vaughn
Carl Lumbly as Dixon
Kevin Weisman as Marshall
Melissa George (Lauren Reed)
Greg Grunberg (Eric Weiss)
David Anders as Mr. Sark
Victor Garber as Jack Bristow

Richard Roundtree (Brill)
Kurt Fuller (Lindsey)
Erick Avari (Dr. Vasson)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Campbell)
Javier Grajeda (FEMA supervisor)
Fred Saldone (FEMA guard)
Hector Atreyu Ruiz (Guiding MP)
Pancho Demmings (Security station MP #1)
Travis Aara (Securtiy station MP #2)
John Eric Bentley (MP #2)
Robert W. Sudduth (College kid)

Written by Breen Frazier
Directed by Daniel Attias

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


OPERATION SPY BARBIE RESCUE -- Well, Syd's gone and got herself nabbed by the NSC, and she's in danger of having her brain mucked with by some skanky doctor. Before he can scramble her gray matter, however, Jack, Vaughn, and Sloane break her out. With a little help from Richard Roundtree, of course. Killjoy finally wises up to how damned bad Head is, and winds up helping her hubby out with Project Syd Extraction. Sark's nowhere to be found, however, so you'll have to save your drooling for another time. TWoP


ALIAS -- "BREAKING POINT" (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) -- When Sydney is taken into custody by the NSC, Jack and Vaughn have no choice but to ally themselves with Sloane to rescue her. But with only hours to spare before she is forced to undergo a radical surgery to recover her memories, they must put togther an extraction team, headed by freelance operative Brill (Richard Roundtree, "Shaft"). Meanwhile, Lauren faces an impossible choice -- side with the NSC, who she wants to believe is doing the right thing, or with her husband. ABC


This synopsis is by Sally Dye.


Scenes from previous episodes, culminating with Sydney's arrest by Italian officers. She is taken by helicopter, blindfolded, to a remote location. When her hood is removed, she sees that it is a prison. She is locked in a cell.

Back in LA, Dixon tells Lindsey that he gave the order for the concealment of Sydney's crime. Lindsey demands that he turn over his credentials. Dixon does, and then leaves.

Vaughn and Lauren argue. Lauren defends Lindsey's actions and says he is even taking her along when he interrogates Sydney. Vaughn says he doesn't believe that Lindsey won't use radical surgery on Sydney. They part angrily.

Vaughn tells Jack he wants to be a part of whatever plan Jack has to extract Sydney. Jack says to meet him in the parking garage.

Sydney explores her cell. A prisoner in the next cell asks what she's doing. He says if she finds candy he wants some. He seems almost simple minded. He says his name is Campbell.

Jack and Vaughn meet with Sloane, who is going to plant the information that Sydney was broken out by the Covenant. Sloane says he has located Sydney at Camp Williams. He suggests using an operative named Brill. Sloane: "I told you, Jack, we'd work together again."

Lindsey and Lauren fly into Camp Williams. Lindsey says he's counting on Lauren to write an account of their fair treatment of Sydney Bristow.

Sydney is given shock treatment and asked to decipher a code. She doesn't remember it. She says that the doctor had better make sure she's a vegetable when he's done with her. At the window, Lindsey says to try a higher setting. The doctor shocks Sydney again.

Act I

Sydney is unstrapped from the table. She manages to get a paper clip and conceal it in her hand.

Lauren tells Lindsey she wants to see Sydney. He is impatient with her. He asks who she thinks provided the means for Sydney to escape to Rome. Lauren knows he is talking about Vaughn. He tells Lauren to just write a good report.

Campbell tells Sydney that they wanted to know about Iran from him. He tells Sydney not to tell them anything.

Jack and Vaughn find Brill in a park and tell him the details. Brill agrees to help and lists all the men and equipment he will need. Jack agrees to it all without a blink. As they leave, Vaughn asks Jack if he realizes he just promised to pay $2 million. Jack: "Three."

When Sydney is taken back to the lab, she uses the paper clip to unlock her restraints. She takes out the doctor and the guards and races down the corridor. She is caught by several guards and beaten with rods and electric prods. Lauren rushes out of her office and watches as they drag Sydney away.

Act II

Sloane scrambles the phones to an NSC center and then blanks out their security system. When they call their alarm company, Vaughn answers and says they will send a serviceman. Jack goes in as the repairman and is taken to the security room.

Back in the van, Sloane "commiserates" with Vaughn on the strain all this must be causing on his relationship with Lauren. Vaughn ignores him. Sloane calls the center and pretends to be the director asking about the security blackout. He keeps the head man on the phone while Jack gets the blueprints to Camp Williams. As Jack is leaving, they get the real director on the line and realize Jack is not what they thought. They pursue him as he runs to get in the van. Sloane jumps out and pulls him in just as they fire. The shot hits Sloane in the chest and he falls back into the van as they speed away.


Jack and Vaughn take Sloane to a warehouse. Jack wants to give Sloane morphine, but Sloane says he's allergic. They give him a belt to bite on while Jack digs out the bullet.

Sydney wakes up in pain back in her cell. Campbell tells her to think of the ocean -- that's what he does when he doesn't feel well. He says his son liked the ocean and even manages to remember that his son's name is Benjamin.

Jack and Vaughn talk. Vaughn says they still need security codes to get into Camp Williams. Jack suggests he see Marshall. Vaughn says there will be NSC agents monitoring everything at hq. Jack: "Yes. If only Marshall had a well trained CIA operative to assist him." Vaughn smiles: "You're starting to like me again." Jack says that with or without the codes, they leave for Camp Williams in five hours.

Vaughn goes to see Marshall. After an initial moment of surprise, Marshall says he can get into the NSC network.

Jack and Sloane talk. Jack wonders why Sloane would risk his life for Jack. He says the only thing he can think of is that it would put Jack in his debt. Sloane says Jack and Sydney continue to suspect him of a hidden agenda. Clearly if this were true, that agenda would be more easily obtained if they, his "most formidable adversaries", were dead. Jack says yes, unless Sloane needs them for something. Sloane says he's right, that Jack and Sydney are "my absolution, my penance. You're all I have left."

Marshall finds that all records pertaining to Camp Williams have been deleted from the NSC database. Lauren comes in and tells Vaughn that he was right about Lindsey. She wants to help them free Sydney.

Guards arrive at Sydney's cell, but go into Campbell's instead. They begin beating Campbell while Sydney screams at them to stop. Lindsey asks what the code is. The guards stab Campbell in the leg and then in the side. Sydney says to stop, she will tell them what they want to know. She says the code stands for coordinates, and recites them to Lindsey, who writes them down and then nods to Campbell. Campbell stands up, apparently unhurt. He tells Sydney that his name is not really Campbell. Her personality profile showed that she was less able to withstand empathetic suffering than personal torture. Lindsey says her neurostimulation will be ready in an hour and then thye'll all know what happened in the past two years.

Act IV

The doctor explains to Sydney how they will cut open her skull and stimulate her brain as they strap her to a table.

Lauren gets into the central control system and plants a device near the security system. "Campbell" passes by on his way out and recognizes Lauren. Just then the device knocks out the security cameras, and Jack and Vaughn and their team get into the facility. "Campbell" realizes Lauren must have done something, and slugs her, knocking her down. The team gets into the lab just as the doctor is putting Sydney under for the operation. They dart Lindsey and the guards and get Sydney off the table. The doctor pulls a gun, but Sydney throws a scalpel into his throat. As they start down the hall, "Campbell" opens fire on them from the end of the corridor. He is about to shoot Vaughn when he is shot from the other direction. It's Lauren. They all get out and into a helicopter that lifts off and flies away. Sydney says she gave Lindsey coordinates, but she gave him the wrong ones. She didn't know what else to do. Jack says simply, "You made it, Sydney. You made IT."


This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

From the "Bam! Gotcha!" end to last week's episode, replayed in flashbacks, to the "Bam! Gotcha!" of Alias' signature staccato lead in,. this episode is edge of the seat all the way.The suspense is palatable. Segues between scenes, the back and forth dialogue and action, are seamless and tight. I find myself holding my breath, while at the same time mentally tossing bouquets to all the actors, production crew and producers for a first rate episode. This Alias is Alias at its best. Bravo!

For the whole production, I have only praise. To Writer Frazier, Director Attias, Editor Toye, kudos. But, for the visual artist in me, special appreciation for Donald Thorin (and crew) for the photography. The framing and contrasts, the in-your-face kind of closeups, the camera angles, and color and shadow are all used so effectively and skillfully that suspense ratchets up notch after notch throughout the episode..

When you consider the likelihood--even on Alias--of the main character (Syd) being forecfully labotomized remote to the point of--forgive the pun--being a no brainer, you can then realize how well crafted and well played this episode is. We believe that is exactly what is, or could well happen, if Syd's rescuers do not "hurry up"! This is an ensemble effort for sure, the cast, the crew, all round. Still there are highlights..


1-- Lauren (Melissa George) deserves special mention. Her reactions are flawless, and her actions completely believable. Choices she makes prove pivotal to Syd's survival. (Probably in more ways than we presently know. If next week's previews are to be taken literally, Lauren was involved in some way in Syd's missing two years.).This week, when Lauren's NSC boss, Lindsey, threatens Lauren with blackmail (for Vaughan's part in Syd's escape) unless she whitewashes Syd's treatment in lockup, she says, "That's why you asked for me. Legally, you needed a witness." With that realization, everything changes for Lauren. Witness how well that change is portrayed.

2--Syd's cellmate Campbell (Pruitt Taylor Vince) completely sucks me in, the same as Syd. This bald, fat, rather sadly pathetic prisoner is in a cell adjoining Syd's. He plays Syd's emotions so effectively that, when Lindsey orders him tortured in front of Syd, she breaks almost immediately to tell Lindsey what he wants to know. Lindsey's "well done", though, is not for Syd, but Campbell, who then gets to his feet unharmed. Campbell was a "plant" used to trap Syd! Well played! Apparently, Syd finds empathetic concern for someone else's pain harder to bear than being tortured herself. Lindsey knew this, so too, Campbell. "Thanks for caring," Campbell tells Syd with irony after the charade is finished. Clap, clap. You fooled me too!

3--Marshall is as always a treat whenever he is on camera. He continues to dance to the tune of his own (though not demonstrated literally this week) drum. When Vaughan asks Marshall to perform an unauthorized hack to break a code, Marshall does not hesitate for a second. He surmises the code will aid Syd's rescue. When Lauren arrives to speak to Vaughan, Marshall as much as says he does not want to hear the exchange. But, with Marshall, the what and how of his reactions are always a delight.

4--Other delights or surprises to mention include Sloane getting shot to protect Jack. Count that a surprise. I did not expect that. Neither did I expect Sloane's admission that Jack and Syd are "all I've got left," now that his wife is dead. For Sloane, the two represent absolution or penance. Jack does not look quite sure what to make of that. Sloane tells him, "As usual, Jack, you're in danger of outsmarting yourself." What a great observation! That describes Jack perfectly! Savvy as Jack is, only Jack could outsmart Jack. But, probably not soon. I am delighted to see Jack with a private cache of weaponry and a safe full of millions of wrapped dollars. Vaughan's comment: "The fact you're even letting me see this place, it's not your only one, is it?" Resources, Jack definitely has resources.

5--Syd's attempted escape from lobotomy lockup rocks! Knocking out guards after unlocking her restraints, Syd shoots her "attending physician" with a loose tranquillizing gun. A dart puts him out as Syd races down the hall, only to be overpowered by another four guards and an electoshock stick. This, pirvotably, Lauren witnesses.So much of the suspense in this episode grows from Lauren's reactions and subsequent choices. A gun in her hand later seals Syd's escape. Sloane congratulates Vaughan on his choice of wife. I concur.

6--Notable segues: an example is Jack and Vaughan and Sloane in the rescue van. "Be ready," says Sloane. Right then an upbeat pop song rhythm kicks in. Jack pushes the remote control in his hand. It flashes red. Then all the cameras at FEMA (the intended break in target) go offline. The lyrics to the pop song play tandem with the following action. "What do I have to do to prove my love to you" are the words which underline Jack's ripoff (irony here?) of FEMA's blueprint file. The whole sequence fits as tightly as a puzzle, an animated puzzle. A segue which rocks, an upbeat, James Brown-like beat threaded all through. Cool!

7--At the end, the look ON Syd's face, and the look OF Syd's face are memorable. Syd is shocked when the door to her rescue helicopter opens and she sees Sloane. She turns to look at her father Jack, who is leading her pack of rescuers. "He's with us. Get in," Jack says. This had me laughing. Garner's expression is classic. But even more classic is the stark, visually arresting image of Syd's (Garner's) beautiful profile against the black of her father's coat in the last frame. High contrast. After Jack tells Syd she "made it", her face lingers in profile, (and mind's eye) flesh tones and shadow against stark black. The end of the episode is framed like a painting. This beauty is NOT ONLY in the eye of the beholder.


A testiment to just how gripping this episode is from the get go: I had just watched two back-to-back brand new episodes of "Warrior Women", (Joan of Arc and The Real Mulan), hosted by Lucy Lawless, sword in hand! Engaging and memorable productions by Disney Studios, both. But, even more engaging and memorable was seeing Lawless again on horseback, twirling a sword. That felt like a homecoming. To go straight from all those images of women warriors, back to back (two minutes apart) to Alias, I thought would be a stretch. But, no problem. Like that all-time great line from the film "Jerry McGuire," when Renee Zellwegger tells Tom Cruise to stop, to shut up, expresses: "You had me at 'hello'." This Alias does the same. It "had me at hello" and never let me go.


Television without Pity

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