Whoosh! ...



Season 1, episode 03
Series 103
1st release: 10/14/01
2nd release: 12/30/01
Production number: E632
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

Gina Torres (Ana Espinosa)
Evan Dexter Parke (Charlie)
Aharon Ipale (Anini Hassan)
Keone Young (Sydney's professor)
Elaine Kagan (Will's boss)
Mark Rolston (Agent Lambert)
Carole Guitierrez (Laura Stenson)
Duane Journey (Sniper team leader)
Luis Medina (Edouardo Benegas)
Randy Mulkey (Navy Seal)
Russell Alexander Orozco (M.C.)
Alfonso Paz (Lead security officer)
Tony Sears (SD-6 agent)
Anthony Vatsula (Doorman)

Written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci
Directed by Mikael Salomon

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


Sydney encounters her nemesis while retrieving a 500-year-old sketch in Madrid. Logline.


This synopsis is by Sally Dye.


Scenes from last week's episode, culminating with Hassan pointing his gun at Sydney just as she is lifting the plutonium core from the nuclear missile. He says he is going to count to one, and she had better put down the plutonium. Instead, she tosses the core into the air and disarms Hassan, then catches the core and runs out, chased by several guards. (Cut to a scene of Sydney later trying to explain to her professor why her paper is late. Everything she says is true, but not the way he is taking it.) She almost loses the ball of plutonium down some stairs but grabs it just in time and makes it to the extraction point and into the helicopter.

Act I

Francie tells Sydney that Charlie has a job offer from a prestigious law firm. She is concerned about it and says she discussed it with her dad. This leads to a discussion of Sydney's father and their relationship, which is still very distant. Francie advises Sydney to just talk to her dad.

Sydney takes Francie's advice and seeks out her dad, who is not pleased that she has come to where he works. She asks him if he knew that SD6 was going to recruit her. He doesn't tell her. Then she asks about her mother -- if she died because her father told her about what he did, like Sydney told Danny. Jack just says for her to not come there again and walks off.

Sloane tells Sydney that the device she brought from Taipei is still being analyzed. All they are sure of is that it was designed by a man named Milo Rembaldi in the 1400's. Rembaldi apparently also designed some objects that look like transistors. Sydney and Dixon are skeptical, but Sloane shows them a code written by Rembaldi that resembles machine code. Sydney asks if it has been decoded, and Sloane says they don't have all of it. The rest is written on the back of a sketch of Rembaldi's that is owned by a collector named Edouardo Benegas in Madrid. SD6 had tried to buy the sketch, but it was suddenly withdrawn, as though he had been tipped as to its true value. SD6 also learned that a key has been stolen from Benegas, possibly by a "K" directorate operative. Sydney: "It was Ana, wasn't it?"

Sydney contacts Vaughn to tell him of her mission -- to go to Madrid and get the case containing the Rembaldi sketch, which is located in a safe on the top floor of a car museum owned by Benegas.

Will is helping Sydney at her apartment when Danny's landlord calls to tell her that some stuff of Danny's is still there. Will offers to go pick it up for her, and Sydney agrees.

Sydney meets Vaughn to get info on her countermission. He asks about Ana Espinosa. Sydney had encountered Ana on an earlier mission. Ana had killed one of Sydney's contacts just to show Sydney she was out of her league. Vaughn tells Sydney he is being replaced as her liason with the CIA because he's not experienced enough.

Act II

Vaughn briefs his replacement, Lambert, who seems to have an interest in Sydney that grates on Vaughn. Vaughn tells a fellow agent that he's not jealous, he's just concerned for Sydney's safety, since Ana Espinosa sounds like a very dangerous agent.

Marshall gives Sydney the equipment for her mission: a fiberglass necklace with a built-in transmitter, a coin that is really a sonic wave emitter, and a device to interrupt the security cameras in the museum.

Sydney and Dixon arrive in Madrid and attend a reception at the car museum. Sydney drops the coin near one of the windows and then sees Ana, who is posing as a waiter. Ana recognizes Sydney and seems amused to see her. Sydney activates the wave emitter, which shatters the glass in the windows, and slips down the stairs during the resulting confusion and panic. She goes to the alarm system controls and sees that Ana has already tapped into the system. She piggybacks her device onto Ana's. Hearing sounds coming from the duct system, Sydney realizes that Ana is headed for the vault, too.

Sydney arrives at the vault and begins descrambling the lock. Before she succeeds in opening the door, Ana cuts a hole through the floor inside the door and climbs into the vault. Sydney sees her through the glass door and then sees that her descrambler has been jammed. Ana gets the case and comes over to the door and plants a kiss on the glass between her and Sydney. Then she sets off the alarm and jumps down the hole in the floor.

The guards are on their way to the vault, and the descrambler is still jammed. Dixon finds the directorate's tech van and rams it, freeing the signal. Sydney gets through the vault door and goes down through the opening Ana cut in the floor just as the guards arrive. She runs to try to head Ana off as she is escaping through the basement. Seeing Ana racing along below her, Sydney grabs a chain and swings down, knocking the case from Ana's hand. The two of them fight, and Ana knocks Sydney down a flight of stairs. Sydney bounces back up to chase Ana. She meets Dixon, who points up to where Ana is climbing up to the top of the building. Sydney grabs Dixon's gun and shoots the case right out of Ana's hand. Ana looks down and silently acknowledges that Sydney has won this round.

Will goes to pick up Danny's things and notices that there is a traffic cam right outside Danny's apartment.


Will calls to see if he can get the tapes from the traffic cam on the night Danny was murdered. He then calls Sydney to suggest to that they get together for dinner, and Sydney says they can all come to her place.

Sydney meets with Lambert, who expresses sympathy over "Kenny's" murder. Sydney is openly impatient with the meeting, pointing out that SD6 could be monitoring her whereabouts. She tells Lambert not to arrange any more social events.

Sydney, Will, Francie and Charlie are playing poker and kidding Will about the fact that he only raises when he's bluffing. Will gets a phone call and learns that all of the traffic cams within a mile of Danny's apartment were out on the night of the murder. He doesn't tell Sydney about it. Charlie and Francie leave, and Sydney and Will eat ice cream. Sydney spills chocolate sauce on Will's shirt and as she's cleaning it off, they kiss. Then they become self-conscious. Sydney is embarrassed, and Will is uncomfortable. He says he's going out to get the box of Danny's stuff.

Act IV

Marshall reports that if they try to open the case without the actual key, everything inside the box will be destroyed. Sloane calls Jack in to decide the next course of action. He sets up an arrangement with the "K" directorate. Sydney and Ana will meet at a neutral location. They will open the case with the key that Ana has. Sydney is skeptical, knowing that Ana can't be trusted. Jack says this is safer than the alternative, which was for Sydney to infiltrate their lab and steal the key. Sydney says she could have handled it -- Jack disagrees. As Jack is leaving, Sydney asks him again about her mother. Jack says her mother knew he was CIA, but she died in an accident.

Sydney meets with Lambert, who gives her a transmitter and a bug to tag Ana with. Sydney says she can't break the rules in the arrangement. Lambert says it's his operation, and Sydney says she no longer blindly follows orders. She says she wants Vaughn to be her contact or the CIA gets nothing. Lambert says that Vaughn is a junior officer. Sydney: "Then promote him."

Will shows the evidence of the traffic cam blackout to his boss and asks for time to investigate it. She finally agrees to one week.

As Sydney is being wired for her meeting with Ana in Berlin, she is talking on the phone with Francie, who has found a matchbook with a girl's phone number on it and thinks Charlie is cheating on her. Sydney tells her that the truth is not always what it looks like.

The meeting is to take place in a sports stadium. Snipers from both sides line the otherwise empty stands. Sydney walks out onto the field carrying the case. She speaks into the transmitter and hears Vaughn's voice -- he's monitoring her via satellite from LA. He thanks her for the promotion.

Sloane and Jack are also monitoring what's going on. Sloane asks Jack if he and Sydney have spoken, and Jack says Sydney asked about her mother's death. Sloane wants to know if Jack told her the truth. Jack says no.

A car pulls up on the other side of the stadium, and Ana gets out and walks toward Sydney. Ana says she heard about Sydney's fiance and wondered if it was a security execution. She wonders why Sydney would be here in the service of those who killed her true love. Sydney: "I take it you brought the key?" Ana pulls out the key. Sydney lays the case down on the ground. Ana inserts the key and opens the box. Both Ana and Sydney go wide-eyed in either shock or surprise. Sydney: "Oh, my god."

To be continued.


This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

This week's episode opens with Syd (aka Sydney Bristow/the protagonist)holding a ball of plutonium in her hand, a gun held to her head. Can plutonium really be held in the hand? This stuff is radioactive! Oh well, this show is so good, I can overlook that.

Back to the action. Hassan, the dude with the gun to Syd's head, tells her to put down the plutonium. "I put it down, you kill me," responds Syd. Hassan says, "Now I'm going to count to one." Syd heaves the plutonium into the air, takes Hassan out with a kick and a shove, and runs, dodging bullets.

Dialogue and action then overlap, switching back and forth from Syd's getaway down the Egyptian terrorist's hallway to Syd making excuses for a late paper to her college professor. Back and forth.

"Admit you're dropping the ball," says her professor, just as we flash back to Syd screeching along a floor on her stomach--still in the terrorist's camp--catching the ball of plutonium just before it rolls down a stairway. Her arm then swings overhead and there's an explosion down below. She gets up again, and runs.

Cut back to her professor, now relenting and offering Syd another deadline for her paper, "Thursday", he says. Syd's cell phone rings. Caller ID indicates SD-6 is on the line. "How about Friday?" Syd asks the professor sheepishly. And this is just the teaser.

Syd is a college graduate student, who works undercover for the CIA, and another covert organization called SD-6. This same organization, SD-6, had Syd's fiancee murdered simply for having known Syd worked for them. And, this same organization Syd aims to destroy, hand in hand with CIA.

Syd is a double agent. And, very convincing she is in all the roles she plays, her aliases.

I did wonder last week how Syd would get out of the "to be continued" cliffhanger, holding a ball of plutonium, Hassan's gun to her temple. In a way unexpected, yet astute, is the answer. This girl thinks on her feet. And we thought Xena was "focused".

The pace then slows a bit for a chat between Syd and Francine, one of Syd's college friends. And, for a moment, I felt almost impatient, listening to an ordinary conversation.

Then I realized that, even after only two previous shows, I already expect Alias to maintain a breakneck pace continuously. But, conversations are important, as is what follows.

A confrontation ensues between Syd and her father, also a double agent, outdoors, where he keeps her conclusively at an arm's length--a very long arm's length.

And, I'm beginning to "get" this guy. In the first two episodes this character seemed only to have two expressions--no expression, and almost no expression. And, he looked too young to be her father.

But in this episode his remoteness makes more sense. He's trying to keep Syd alive, and the answers to all the questions Syd has of him are not likely to please her in any case. "Did you tell her the truth?" an SD-6 agent asks him later. And her father shakes his head, "no".

What happens next is this this: Syd is sent by SD-6 to Madrid to steal a 15th century sketch. A rival Russian agent, from K-Directorate, is also after the code. This agent is Anna Espinosa, (actress Gina Torres, formerly of Cleopatra 2525, and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys). And, she's no stranger to Syd.

But, Anna and the K-Directorate don't know two sketches are required to break the code.

Still, Anna beats Syd to the first coded sketch, which is protected by a locked glass vault in Madrid. Syd's scrambler jams, thanks to the opposition, preventing her from getting into the vault before Anna, (who comes up through the floor inside).

Anna sees Syd, smiles, and walks to the door dividing them and plants a big kiss on the glass. Nice touch, that. Kissing Syd off, though not for long. With help from SD-6 backup in an outside van, Syd gets the scrambler unstuck. The door to the vault opens, and the chase is on, after Anna.

Lots of high speed running follows. This girl really goes. She swings down from overhead to knock down Anna. (See "Highlights".) There's a fight, lots of kicks, rolling around on the floor, and Anna knocks Syd down a stairway. Ouch! Anna gets away.

Again only a temporary setback for Syd, who races outside where another SD-6 agent runs to meet her, as Anna is climbing up a fire escape to the roof.

"Give me your gun," Syd orders the agent. Reluctantly he opeys, and Syd shoots the handle off the lockbox holding the sketch in Anna's hand. The lockbox drops to the ground. The eyes of the two women meet. Syd smiles, and Anna does too--in recognition.

Home again, Syd's friend, Will, pursues his curiosity about Syd's fiancee's death. Picking up some of Danny's--her fiancee's--belongings for Syd, Will notices a traffic control camera mounted at the corner. Finds out later all cameras within a mile's radius were off the night Danny was killed.

Curiouser, and curiouser--and they say in Alice in Wonderland. And Will is definitely in "wonderland". He just doesn't know it yet. Even the edges of Syd's world are definitely that.

Later, after a dinner party, Will and Syd get a little drunk. Lots of laughing, and Syd kisses Will unexpectedly. Both are rather uncomfortable afterwords. I liked that scene. Syd's thoughtfulness, not knowing what to say, gave an added dimension to her character.

Back at SD-6, the lockbox, containing the sketch with the code, cannot be opened without destroying the contents. A key is needed. Of course Anna, the Russian agent, has the key.

In between Syd meets with CIA senior agent, Lambert, who she detests. He has pulled rank to get Vaughan, who she likes, off the case. Syd orders Lambert to get Vaughan back, or no cooperation.

"Vaughan is a junior officer," says Lambert. "Then promote him," shoots back Syd. Ha, ha. I laughed out loud at that. I love her snappy retorts. Right on.

Off to Berlin then, for Syd. SD-6 has set up a meeting with K-Directorate agent, Anna. The deal is that the lockbox (with the sketch), and for which Anna has the key, will be opened with both Syd and Anna looking on, side by side.

This takes place is an expansive football stadium, empty, and dimly lit, at night--with snipers from both sides keeping Syd and Anna in their sights.

I loved the visuals for this scene, Syd walking down the steps of this huge empty stadium is fabulous. Down the steps, across the stadium grass to the center of the field, Syd walks to meet Anna.

When face to face, Syd says "Once we see what's inside, we go our separate ways."

Anna inserts the key. Syd opens the lid and utters an astonished "Oh my god!" Both of the women look horrified. And that's it for this week's episode.

All this happens or unfolds without a word, a glance, a move, or any action wasted or superfluous. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle--as Syd probably knows, being a graduate student--once described "art" as being something where "nothing can be added, nothing taken away". Alias is that. In Alias everything is woven together, the plot, the pace, the dialogue, the secrets revealed--beginning, middle and end--are all seamlessly connected.

This show is definitely an ensemble effort, and that includes not only the actors and the acting, but the writing, the direction, the action, the filming, and the editting. All fit tightly, like a puzzle.

With Alias--and after only 3 episodes--I feel already like I'm being drawn into an ever more complex web of intrigue and surprises. And I go gladly, with abandon in fact. This show is so believable I wonder how many people I knew in college or graduate school myself who were covert operatives for the CIA, or SD-6. Terrific show, Alias.


Words: The opening, when Hassan, holding a gun to Syd's head, says to her in Arabic--not English, to put down the plutonium. Wow, what a concept! Not every country in the world (or planet in the galaxy, as on some shows), speaks English. Never mind the "obviousness" with which villians often speak. Arabic is spoken, not English.

And, Syd is multilingual. I've heard her speak, so far, French, Russian, Spanish, now Arabic, and of course English. This girl communicates.

Action: Syd, jumping over a second storey railing, swinging down on a chain, feet first, coming directly at the camera and the fleeing villian--this time, Anna, the Russian agent. This stunt looked like the real deal, with the actress playing Syd doing the stunt, not a standin or stuntperson.

Very well done, if that was not Sydney. Sure looked like her. And the first words out of my mouth when I saw that were, aloud to the TV screen: "Oh yeah, you go, girl", in anticipation of yet another exhiliaratingly crafted escape and fight scene.


10-17-01. From ZENtertainment 10/12/01: "Guests Line Up To Appear On ALIAS. Gina Torres (Any Day Now, The Matrix Reloaded) makes her first two appearances as Sydney's deadly nemesis, K-Directorate agent Anna Espinosa, on ALIAS this week and next. The episodes find Syd traveling to Madrid to retrieve a 500-year-old sketch containing a set of numbers that oddly resemble modern-day digital machinery code."


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