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ALIAS

FACADE


EPISODE NO. 59
Season 3, episode 15
Series 315
1st release: 02/29/04
2nd release:
Last update: 04/24/04


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REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
TV GUIDE PROMO
SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders
LINKS



REGULAR CAST
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



GUEST CAST
Griffin Dunne (Leonid Lisenker)
Ricky Gervais (Daniel Ryan)
Nicholas Hosking (Newscaster)
Stana Katic (Flight attendant)
Francois Girodsy (Captain Verlot)
David S. Lee (Bomb Squad Guy)
Ciaran Reilly (Swat Team Guy)



CREDITS
Written by R.P. Gaborno and Christopher Hollier
Directed by Jack Bender



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

TV GUIDE PROMO

Oh, if only this actually WERE The Office. Fašade - ...we'd be laughing a lot more and yawning a lot less. Ricky Gervais guest stars as a genius-type bomb-maker with a vendetta against the Covenant and the person who killed his brother. Too bad that person is Syd. Vaughn sports a pair of glasses that make librarians everywhere swoon, and Sark is taken into custody again, some more, but not before he helps dismantle a bomb. And Sloane and Dr. Nancy engage in some middle-aged sex which forces the majority of the audience to poke their eyes out with rusty nails. TWoP




SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser

In Belfast, people are being evacuated from a public building. Men in riot gear come in and locate a bomb. It's like nothing they've ever seen. They try to disarm it but fail. The building blows up.

Dixon reports that a man named Daniel Ryan designed the bomb and was demonstrating it to the Covenant. The plan is to pose as Covenant members and try to get Ryan's trust to find out when a second bomb will go off.

Sydney meets with Lisenker, who says he has worked with Ryan before. Ryan used to work for the IRA but is now in business for himself. Lisenker says that Ryan usually works through a contact named Vladimir Androjnev.

In Belfast, Weiss approaches Ryan in a pub and tells him he is a US federal agent, and Ryan is now in custody. They leave the pub and as they are getting into a vehicle, another car drives up and the occupants open fire on them. Weiss and everyone else except Ryan are killed. Sydney, wearing a red wig, identifies herself as Emma Warfield and says she was sent by Androjnev. She says she just did Ryan a big favor. Ryan seems skeptical, but Vaughn tranquilizes him. Weiss and the others get up, unhurt. Weiss is happy with his death performance: "I got shot in the neck once. I can do it again!"

Act One

Vaughn doesn't think they should trust Lisenker, but Sydney thinks they can. They disguise a portion of CIA hq as a room in the Commodore hotel, complete with Russian satellite TV. They bring Ryan, who is still unconscious, in and put him on the bed. He is monitored by closed circuit TV, and when he awakens, Sydney comes in and says they are ready to do business. She says she wants to buy a weapon. The CIA fakes a newscast of Ryan's arrest and escape. The newscaster puts a picture of Ryan on the screen and says Interpol is searching for him in connection with the Belfast bombing. Sydney says that Ryan will not be safe if he leaves the hotel. Ryan tests her by asking about a contact named Panach. Over her com link, Lisenker tells Sydney that Ivana Panach was killed several months ago. Sydney tells Ryan this, but Ryan still wants to leave. Sydney says she will kill him herself if he tries. Ryan calls her bluff, though, and goes out into the hall. He gets as far as the elevator, which opens and Lisenker gets off. He greets Ryan and "Emma" as old friends, and Ryan is persuaded to go back into the hotel room. Ryan tells them he wants to deal with the new second in command of the North American cell -- Julian Sark.

Lisenker tells Jack and Sydney that he doesn't believe that Ryan has ever met Sark, so they decide to have Vaughn pose as Sark and meet with Ryan.

Act Two

Ryan believes that Vaughn is Sark: "They always said you were a pretty boy." He says the info on his bomb is on a disk, and he will have it transferred to "Sark" on board a plane. Vaughn asks how he will recognize the contact, and Ryan says not to worry -- it will be someone Sark knows.

They decide to put out the information that a contact will be waiting for Sark on the plane, so that the real Sark will also get on the flight. Then Vaughn can apprehend both of them when the contact is made.

Vaughn boards the plane in Rome, and sure enough, Sark also arrives, having murdered an elderly couple to get their tickets. Vaughn watches Sark closely, but 20 minutes go by and no contact is made. They start to wonder if Ryan was telling the truth. Sydney calls Sloane to ask if he has any knowledge of Ryan. Sloane is in bed with a blonde, but tells Sydney that all he knows is that he had a brother who was killed by the Covenant. Then Sloane hangs up and the blonde turns over -- it's Dr. Barnett.

Sydney wonders why Daniel Ryan would want to deal with the Covenant if they killed his brother. They locate info on Christopher Ryan, and Sydney recognizes him as the man the Covenant had her kill as a test of her loyalty. They deduce that Ryan is going to kill Sark and everyone else on the plane as an act of revenge.

On the plane, Vaughn takes Sark into custody and handcuffs him in the restroom. Sydney calls Vaughn and tells him that a bomb is probably on the plane. They check the plane's maintenance records and track the bomb to its location in the cargo hold. Vaughn says to get Marshall on the line.

Act Three

Jack says they must tell Ryan that they are not Covenant and will have Sark in custody to convince him to tell them how to disarm the bomb. Meanwhile, they tell the pilot of the plane to make an emergency landing.

Marshall tells Vaughn to stop the plane from descending because the bomb is linked to the altimeter. If the plane goes under 18,000 feet, the bomb will detonate. Vaughn rushes to the cockpit, and the plane begins to ascend again.

Sydney goes to Ryan, with her own appearance this time, and tells him the whole thing has been a con. They remove the fake wall of the "hotel room". She tells him they know about the bomb on the plane. Lisenker enters and tells Ryan to trust Sydney and the others. Dixon offers Ryan a deal -- disable the bomb and turn over all the info on his weapons and no charges will be filed. Ryan figures out that Sark really is on the plane and refuses to cooperate.

Vaughn and Marshall confer over the phone, and Marshall theorizes that they can trick the bomb by encasing it in an airtight container. But first they must unhook it from its housing, which is what the bomb squad in Belfast was trying to do when they were blown up.

Sydney talks to Ryan. She says she understands his anger. She tells him what the Covenant did to her, keeping her captive for two years and brainwashing her into thinking she was an assassin named Julia Thorne. She says she knows he lost someone he loved, but someone she loves is on the plane. She begs him to disable the bomb.

Act Four

Vaughn gets Sark to help unhook the bomb. He and Marshall talk their way through removing the bomb. Then they search amonst the cargo for something airtight to put it in.

Ryan agrees to disable the bomb and tells them he needs a secure satellite connection. They scramble to provide this. Ryan then tells them what numbers to type in to disable the bomb. On the plane, Vaughn suddenly sees the countdown on the bomb begin. Marshall rushes in and says the bomb in his office (which was recovered in Lisbon) was suddenly activated. Both bombs are set to go off in a matter of minutes. Sydney looks at Ryan, knowing he has doublecrossed them. He says that before Ivana Panach died, she told him that his brother's death was the result of a test for a new Covenant member -- Julia Thorne.

Dixon begins evacuating hq. Jack returns to where Ryan is being held. Ryan asks if he is there to coerce his cooperation. Jack says it's too late for that. He grabs Ryan around the neck and begins to choke him to death. He tells him that people say that a white light is to be seen when one approaches death, but that there will be no white light for people like Ryan. Sydney sees what Jack is doing over the monitor and rushes in just as Ryan falls dead to the floor. She looks at Jack in shock, but he tells her to get the defibrilator. She does, and they shock Ryan back to life. Jack says Ryan can either give them the codes or they can just do that again. Ryan agrees to give them the correct code. Marshall types it into the sat connection and the countdown stops with one second to go.

On the plane, Sark attacks Vaughn, but Vaughn subdues him with a punch to the head. Back at hq, Sydney watches sadly as Ryan is led away. Dixon tells them that the plane is on the ground and Sark is in custody. They are planning to start the extradition process immediately. Sydney asks about Vaughn, and Dixon says he is already on a plane back to the states.

Later, Sydney goes down to the deserted parking garage. She reaches her car, and then the stress of the whole situation overcomes her, and she starts to cry. A car pulls up behind her. She turns, and Vaughn gets out of the car. She goes to him, and they embrace



COMMENTARY 1

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

Been here, done this. This Alias brings to mind the once upon a time TV series Mission Impossible (from the 60's). This week's plot centers on suckering a "bad guy" with fake knockdown rooms, play pretend characters and wigs. The only differences between a Mission Impossible episode and this Alias: no rubber masks are used, no suspense is generated, and a nose ring (in fashion now) is added.

Otherwise, there are lots of talking heads explaining too much too thoroughly in this week's episode. The proverbial horse is not beaten, but talked to death. Where is the action? Whatever happened to fast-forward Alias, complete with unexpected twists, breathtaking suspense and surpise after surprise? There is none of that in this episode.

PRODUCTION

Two new (to Alias) writers provide the talkie script, Gaborno and Hollier. Less is more is my advice. Give the audience a little credit to keep up. Leave more to the imagination. Show more, talk less. Photography is under the skilled direction of Donald Thorin, Jr. Well done as usual. Editor, Kristin Windell and Director, Jack Bender share credit with the actors for the lack of suspense in the episode..

THE ACTORS

Jennifer Garner (as Syd) has been better. Her impersonation of a Covenant agent (to fool "bad guy" Daniel Ryan) holds little menace or power. Her expressions are so minimal I wonder if she is taking "deadpan" lessons from Victor Garber (as Jack). I remember Garner from Seasons One and Two. She was riveting then. Here she seems more "going through the motions" than engaged.

The whole "playing pretend" for bad guy Ryan only reminds me these are actors in a studio in Los Angeles playing pretend for television viewers. The whole episode plays more like a rehearsal than "lights, camera, action". There is no tension whatever, and little energy in the portrayals. If you have ever been to a black and white "art film" of indeterminable length or purpose in a second-run movie theatre, you will "get the picture" for this Alias. The actors are doing walk-throughs, reading lines.

SMALL DETAILS

1) What is with all the cell phone conversations between Vaughan and CIA Headquarters while his plane is in air? Even without a bomb on board that could be troublesome.

2) "What an unexpected surprise," Syd remarks at one point. Is there other kind of surprise than unexpected? This is an oxymoron for sure.

3) How fast can planes fly on this show? Five minutes after defusing a bomb on an flight outbound from Rome, Vaughan is back in Los Angeles. He is in time to comfort Syd for his nearly having been blown up over Rome. Yeah, right. This ending is not only trite, but impossible.

HIGHLIGHTS

1) Jack strangles Ryan to get the deactivation code for the bombs on the plane and at CIA Headquarters. I love Jack's "just do it" approach to every challenge. Effective and unexpected. Not only does he kill Ryan to snap Ryan to attention, but for two minutes one less character is rambling on and on about this or that. A breather.

2) Garner's flame-red wig and nose ring. Yeowie! Gorgeous! Have you ever seen anyone look so good in such an obviously fake hair color. The shade and style flatter Garner's beauty even more than her own natural hair. Also, the flame-red wig recalls the good old days of Alias, way back when (like Season One), when Alias was fast-paced, energizing, edge of the seat action all the way, full of twists, turns and unrelenting suspense.

Ah well, along with the hope of a return of Lena Olin to the series sometime soon, add all that Garner's flame-red recalls.



LINKS:

Television without Pity treatment




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