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ALIAS

PASSAGE I


EPISODE NO. 30
Season 2, episode 08
Series 208
1st release: 12/01/02
2nd release: none to date
Production code: E658
Last update: 08/09/03


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REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders
COMMENTARY 2 by Zero and E
NON-ORIGINAL MUSIC
LINKS



REGULAR CAST
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
Joey Slotnick as CIA Agent Steven Haladki
David Anders as Mr. Sark
Lena Olin as Irina Derevko/Laura Bristow



GUEST CAST
Terry O'Quinn (Kendall)
Pasha D. Lychnikoff (Zoran Sokolov)
Shishir Kurup (Saeed Akhtar)
Kiran Rao (Lead soldier)
Chayton Arvin (Soldier)
Rahul Gupta (Passport officer)
Keith Lal (Porter)
K.T. Thangavelu (Woman)
Richard Whiten (Security station agent)



CREDITS
Written by Debra J. Fisher and Erica Messer
Directed by Ken Olin



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

SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser

Scenes from previous episodes, culminating with Sloane introducing Sark as a new ally of SD-6.

Sydney and Sark meet on a mountain road. Sark asks if she isn't going to wish him luck on his first day on the job. Sydney says that if he burns her, she will burn him. Sark protests that to reveal Sydney's involvement in Sloane's supposed assassination attempt would be to reveal his own involvement. Sydney: "You're just a dog, looking for a new master."

Jack is worried that Irina may have revealed to Sark that he and Sydney were double agents. He thinks it is just too much of a coincidence that both Irina and Sark are supposedly "cooperating". Sydney says she will find out.

Dixon objects to granting Sark immunity, and Sydney agrees with him. Sloane says he appreciates their concern, but that Sark will be accompanied by a detail at all times. Marshall arrives at the meeting and is introduced to Sark. Marshall: "Hi. Welcome. Don't kill me."

Irina says she did not tell Sark about Sydney's double agent status. Sydney thanks her for saving Vaughn's life, but says she's still not sure she can trust her.

Sark provides intel on a set of communication codes that are meant to be sold to some Uzbekistan rebels. He has arranged for an SD-6 team to purchase the codes.

When Irina hears of Sydney's mission, she tells Sydney that she must be allowed to leave custody for 48 hours. She won't reveal why, but says it is vital -- that everything Sydney has worked to accomplish will be lost. However, Kendall refuses to consider releasing Irina, even in the company of a security detail. He tells Sydney to proceed with the countermission.

Sark tells Sloane that he is worried that Sydney will suspect he hasn't really "turned himself in". Slaone says that Sydney will believe whatever he tells her to believe. Sark says, all the same, Sloane had better not even tell Jack what the codes are really for, and Sloane agrees. Sloane then gets a call from an unidentified person who says that they have his wife Emily. He wants the numbers to all SD-6's investments or he will reveal to the Alliance that Sloane failed to fulfill his agreement. Slane says to give him proof Emily is alive.

In Uzbekistan, Sydney and Dixon meet with Sokolov, Sark's contact. They give him the agreed upon amount of money and he gives them a case containing the codes. The only hitch is that they need the fingerprints of a dead Uzbeki colonel to open the case without detonating it. Sydney pretends to be dead and is taken to the morgue, where the dead colonel's body is. She takes his fingerprints, having to break his stiff fingers to do it. Just then the guard returns and sees that her gurney is empty.

Act I

The guard summons help and they search for Sydney. She has to fight both of them to escape. Then she dons the uniform of an Uzbeki officer and gets out of the compound.

Back in LA, Will reports to Vaughn what he's learned about Project Christmas. Vaughn says Devlin thinks Will is a security risk and he has to let him go. He tries to pay Will more than he owes him, but Will won't take it.

Will notices that something is bothering Sydney and asks her about it. Sydney tells him about Sark. Will is angry that Sydney has to work with him. He tells Sydney that Vaughn fired him. Sydney goes to Vaughn to ask about it, and he says that the info Will provided was sent to the FBI and is still being analyzed. Vaughn shows Sydney a watch his father gave him. His dad had said, "You could set your heart by this watch." The watch stopped on October 1st, the day Vaughn and Sydney met. They look at each other a long while, and then both of their pagers go off. It's Kendall.

Kendall tells Sydney and Vaughn that the codes turned out to be control codes for six nuclear warheads. Sydney realizes that this is what Irina must have been referring to. Kendall confronts Irina, and she says that she knew he would have had Sydney give false codes to SD-6, and Sark might have been able to figure out that Sydney was a double agent. She says she knows that the nukes are in Kashmir, and are controlled by a group of mercenaries known as the People's Revolutionary Front. Kendall wants Irina to take them to the site, but she refuses. Sydney asks to speak to her alone, and tells her that she is going to lead the team and she needs Irina's help.

Act II

When he learns what Sydney is going to do, Jack takes charge of the team, saying he will not allow Sydney to go with Irina alone. Jack puts a necklace on Irina that will detonate if she tries to remove it while it's armed. Jack could also activate a remote trigger if he feels she is trying to sabotage them in any way.

On the plane to India -- where they will board a train to take them to the nuke site -- Irina tells Sydney that Vaughn can't sleep when Sydney's on a mission. She asks why Sydney will risk all for her country but won't risk anything for her own happiness. Jack says she doesn't have the right to counsel Sydney on her relationships. Sydney has to break up their argument. To Irina: "Stop baiting him!" And to Jack: "And stop being such an easy target!"

Will meets with Vaughn and gives him the names of 40 kids who made a perfect score on the test in '82. Vaughn is incredulous that Will unearthed the information when the FBI still hadn't turned up a single name.

In New Delhi, Jack, Irina and Sydney pose as a family on vacation. When Irina is complimented on her necklace, she says it was a gift from her husband and kisses Jack before he can stop her.

Act III

In the sleeper car, Jack and Irina are put in the same room. Irina undresses in front of him and smiles when he stares. They change and meet Sydney in the baggage car where their parachutes are stashed in a trunk. After another argument -- which Sydney stops by yelling "Shut up!" and jumping out the door -- they parachute off the train as it passes over a gorge. They meet their contact, Saeed, who compliments Sydney that her reputation is growing to rival her father's. He takes them to a jeep full of supplies, and they set out for the PRF stronghold.

A package is brought to Sloane. He opens it and finds a severed finger wearing Emily's ring.

Act IV

Saeed and the Bristows drive into an ambush and are pulled from their jeep. Saeed is killed, and the soldiers identify themselves as the People's Revolutionary Front. Irina signals to Jack to use the necklace. He surruptitiously turns off the detonator, she takes the necklace off and throws it at the soldiers, and he pushes the trigger, blowing up the jeep and several of the soldiers. Sydney, Jack and Irina grab their captors' guns and kill the rest of the soldiers. Sydney has a flesh wound, but says it's just a scratch. Jack forces Irina to drop the weapon she's holding. Irina says that they need to start trusting each other. They set out together on foot for Azad.

To be continued.

COMMENTARY 1

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

"Hi, welcome. Don't kill me." Tech expert Marshall says this to Sark, introduced now as allegedly in cahoots with SD-6. "Allegedly" only. Sark is, in fact, colluding with Sloane alone. Sloane thinks Syd will believe whatever he tells her. He is deluded. Does she believe anything her tells her?

I notice Sloane has finally shaved. He looks much better clean shaven. But, he is still deluded if he expects Syd to believe whatever he tells her.

Sloane expects trust from Syd, while Syd's mother Irina asks for that from her. Short of temper, Irina smashes her fist on the glass between her and Syd in the cell, saying, "If I'm not allowed to leave, everything we've worked to accomplish will be lost."

CIA Kendall refuses. Kendall is not so sure Irina and Sark have not turned themselves in as part of a plot. Afterall, Sark was previously in Irina's "employ". Are Sark's defection and Derevko's only "a coincidence" of timing? Or, are the two still playing on the same team?

THE ISSUE: Trust, all round. Throughout this episode distrust drives character interaction. Kendall and Jack distrust Irina. Syd is not yet sure about Irina, but distrusts Sark. Sark distrusts Jack and Syd. Irina does not trust the CIA, and refuses to give full disclosure or complete information on any subject. Her value, she says to Syd, is to only "tell what you need to know". Jack does not trust Syd to supervise her mother. Trust gets tanked in Episode 30, and the stakes are high. As Jack says to Irina, just before the three jump a bridge from a train, "If you're lying, none of us will survive."

THE PLOT: Sark is introduced to SD-6 as "immunity for information". Syd and Dixon head to Tajikistan for Uzbek troop communication codes. Irina wants out of confinement for 48 hours. Kendall says no. A fingerprint from a corpse is required to access the codes. Syd goes to the morgue in a body bag. Blackmailers contact Sloane for all SD-6 investment account numbers, or else Sloane's wife will be killed--again. Later, her severed finger arrives on Sloane's desk in a box.

Will updates Vaughan about KGB inserts into American standardized tests. But Will, as a former newspaper reporter, is a "security risk" to CIA Devlin who fires him. For Vaughan and Syd declarations of "love" happen just before pagers call Syd to the next mission in Kashmir. The "communication codes" retrieved earlier turn out to be "activation codes" for six nuclear warheads.

Irina knows where the warheads are. Syd convinces Irina to lead the nuke retrieval mission. Jack refuses to let Irina out of his sight. To insure no escape, he gives Irina a necklace layered with C-4 plastic explosive.

Syd, Irina and Jack, in wigs, play "family on vacation" in Kashmir. An Indian CIA contact takes them into an enemy camp, the People's Revolutionary Front. Irina uses her C-4 necklace to kick off escape, that and a machine gun. All three--Syd, Jack and Irina--side by side, machine gun their way past all the rebels and walk away.

THE PRODUCTION: A languid, slow forward motion starts this episode. Intensity shows in interactions but no urgency. Pace does not pick up until Syd is delivered to the morgue in a body bag. Then, the Alias fast beat electronic music kicks in.

Throughout, segues are smoothly meshed. Examples: Segues from Vaughan and Syd admitting love for one another to Kendall speaking about codes for nuclear warheads sent to a third party to an enmasse interview with Irina by Kendall, Jack, Vaughan and Syd. Seamlessly done.

Restrained and believable is how the "moment of truth" between Syd and Vaughan is written and played. Vaughan's watch, given by his father provides the lead in. "You can set your heart by this watch," Vaughan tells Syd. He loves Syd. Pagers ring. Kendall. Before they leave to meet Kendall, Syd responds after a slow count, with "Me too" to Vaughan. Well done. Dialogue is clean, direct, unsentimental--and, wonder of wonders, devoid of hoaky background music.

This relationship has been inevitable since Episode Three in Season One when Syd, in despair, with gut wrenching sobs, speaks about seeing "a good man" killed in Egypt. "He was like you," she tells Vaughan then, saying also she didn't have anyone else she could talk to. Though that has changed now that her friend Will Tippin knows what Syd does, Will is not "on the same page" as Vaughan.

Relationship plays well in this episode. Moments between Irina and Jack and Syd are classics. The look on Syd's face as Irina kisses Jack unexpectedly at the custom's checkin in Kashmir is hilarious. Stunned does not cover the eloquence of Garner's look. Lots of baiting goes on between Irina and Jack, despite Syd's interventions. Appropriate and entertaining. Kudos to writers Fisher and Messer for an "apt" script, and lots of astute dialogue.

The only "blimp on my reviewing screen" is the machine gun scene at the end, Irina and Syd and Jack, side by side, blast away--like rubber stamp Rambos or Arnold Schwartzneggars. Yet, despite machine gun fire all around, no bullets touch them. Bullet proof vests? Or, is this a "comic book" moment? The "walk on" lyrics playing loudly as the three "walk on" at the end only underlines "unsubtle" further. But, this is a very small blimp in an otherwise engaging--though slower pace than usual--episode. Walk on. Next week, expect a "run".



COMMENTARY 2

This commentary is by Zero and E.

"You get to go off and be sneaky"

THINGS THAT WORKED:

-"I think I wasn't clear about something."

Though Vaughn did not catch Sydney, though we will never know what exactly he might have said had his hallway pursuit been successful, his admission in this episode was an expression of what he could not leave unspoken between them. He finally caught up to her. And though he might have confessed more in a moment of recklessness, his carefully chosen words were more than enough.

Down the long hallway of Mikro Self-Storage, we watch Sydney turn to leave after a brief dialogue concerning Will's research. Vaughn halts her retreat. He swallows, braces himself, and plunges forward.

"Syd. This watch belonged to my father."

Sydney is fully aware of how important Vaughn's father is to him and the significance of this gesture is not lost on her. Although she asked him not to, Vaughn is explaining. The importance of his disclosure is not necessarily that the watch stopped on the day that they met, but that Vaughn remembers the precise date on which they met. But it is equally important that he chooses to couch this declaration within a metaphorical framework. Unprofessional? Maybe. Sentimental? Certainly. But this is exactly the type of sentimental thing that you say when you're trying to tell someone that you love them, but can't utter those words for whatever reason.

Once again, it is Vaughn's actions that determine the course of their relationship. He takes these risks for both of them. And, yes, it may be selfish, but it is also his way of telling Sydney that she can say anything to him because he is willing to say everything to her. In this way, their relationship is marked by both a maturity and naiveté.

Sydney has chosen time and again to leave his words unreturned. She pauses after he speaks. As she opens her mouth, the moment is interrupted, like always, by their duty. Vaughn, resigned to the intrusion, checks his pager.

"Kendall."

Sydney looks down, reflecting on Vaughn's words. Slowly, she acquiesces to the fact that the moment has been broken.

"Me too."

The soft resignation of her voice holds an ambiguity that is at once every answer and no answer at all. And though Sydney is obviously touched by what Vaughn has said to her, her own feelings remain unclear. Until she chooses to take an active role, the relationship will remain where it has always been: in Vaughn's hands.

-"You have given me the opportunity of a lifetime and I don't intend to squander it."

They've let the fox into the hen house. And while Irina may, at times, appear to have good intentions, Sark clearly has something up his sleeve. He is the master of dropping the loaded statement, the flippant response full of the brazen implication that he's not telling you something.

"And her father? He must often battle the temptation to tell her the truth about SD-6. I'd hate to see Jack's paternal instincts compromise our objectives."

There is something unnerving about the way Sark says these words, the way he implies the breadth of his intel through a reiteration of his fundamental knowledge. SD-6 is not the CIA. Jack Bristow knows. Sark speaks with an arrogant authority, engaging in a battle of wills with his new employer.

"I've been a presence in Sydney's life since she was born. Sydney will believe whatever I tell her to."

Sark forces Sloane to acknowledge and reestablish the strength and significance of the illusions of both SD-6 and his relationship with Sydney. It is an important reminder that Sloane does, in fact, feel responsible for the lives of his people, and he truly believes that, whatever "substantial prize" he has been offered, it is worth the risk of Sark's presence.

-Clandestine Neophyte

To be honest, we're pretty impressed with Will. His unyielding search for answers and the intelligence with which he pursues the truth are admirable. Furthermore, Bradley Cooper wears a spectacular expression when he's discussing conspiracies. Somewhere between his disbelief and concern, there's this intense curiosity that's just perfect. His scene with Sydney in her apartment was amazingly well done. It is at once hysterical and deadly serious.

"What's wrong?"
"Nothing."
"Nothing? Nothing's wrong? Syd, if we'd just met, I'd know something's wrong."

"Do you remember Mr. Sark?"
"Do I remember the guy who shot me with a tranquilizer? The guy who had me tortured in Taipei?"

"You've seen him? You're working with him?"
"I have to make him think I am."
"That little British cocky son of a bitch is in LA?"

Though the lines themselves are humorous, the hurt in Will's voice is clearly audible. This scene was brilliantly scripted and brilliantly acted.

-Irina: by design

~"And yet here you are."

In the beginning Irina was, without question, a woman not to be trusted.

Somewhere in the midst of the evolution of her role, however, it has become permissible for Sydney to go so far as to entertain the possibility that her mother's fidelity may hold some credibility.

Let's take a step back. This woman shot her daughter. There is a distinct possibility that every mission Sydney has embarked on this season has played into her mother's hands in some way or another. Irina knows the pieces and the players, the floor plans and the pass codes. She may very well have set the board. But, even with all this, she has the audacity to, with careful articulation and a subtle smile, deliver the line "Sydney, no" as a truism, as if it were painfully obvious that she could never betray her daughter in such a way.

And somehow, when Sydney's disclosure of Sark's planned transaction provokes a state of heightened emotion in Irina, it is entirely convincing. Because we have never before seen Irina speak with such urgency, because we have never before seen her struggle for control of a situation, or use abrupt physicality to demand attention, her agitated presence exudes a sense of reckless, uncalculating veracity. This passionate exchange was absolutely striking.

"Mom, I need your help."

How long has Irina been waiting for these words? The unshed tears gathering in her eyes make it so difficult to maintain perspective on this woman. With her mother continually tempting her with a reality she desperately wants to believe, how can Sydney not fall prey to this woman's designs?

~'All that you can't leave behind'

Jack Bristow and Irina Derevko were married for ten years. And though they have spent more time apart than together, the complexities of their past continue to haunt their every interaction.

When Jack enters Irina's cell, he's all business, presenting the necklace to her with a hostility and feigned indifference. But Irina knows that this man is still affected by her. She casually lifts her hair, bares her neck, dares him to remember what it was like to be her husband. He steps forward and fastens the jewelry around her throat. Standing there, his arms enclosing the woman he loved, Jack is paralyzed. The tension is palpable.

On the train, the two are alone without surveillance for the first time. As they strip down for their mission, Jack turns to behold a body that must be at once so familiar and yet strangely foreign. Out of old habit, his eyes linger on her form. She smiles, flaunting her ability to perpetuate the illusion of marriage, to undress before a man who does not know who she truly is. "Jack Bristow was a fool." This scene invokes the torment of these words. Irina possesses the power to faze Jack, to fill him with doubt. Turning away, he takes a second look, embarrassed by his curiosity. But is this woman torturing him, or simply indulging in the memory herself?

-Everything old is new again

A year ago these three individuals lived in separate realities. The only connection they shared was a fraudulent past. Now Sydney, Jack, and Irina's lives have converged, forcing them the to engage in a distorted simulation of the family they used to be. But, the truth is, the pretense holds more validity than deceit.

On the flight to Kashmir and in the train's cargo hold, the explosive friction is perfect. It's dead on. Irina's intrusive comments, the antagonistic bickering, Sydney's livid mediation create an intoxicating intensity that is fascinating and powerful to witness.

"I'd offer to go first but I don't want to be accused of trying to escape."

She knows precisely which buttons to push. Having kissed Jack at customs, leaving her daughter staring in priceless surprise, Irina now lashes out with passive aggressive cynicism, and Jack's adamant participation in this feud only serves to demonstrate the kind of emotional investments at stake.

On the ground before the PRF, the connection that binds these three cannot be denied. Silently, they speak to one another, forging a wordless trust in a moment of desperation. It is a risk they have to take. They rise from the line of their imminent execution, prepared to defend each other. Weapons in hand, they are, however temporarily, on the same side.

In the aftermath, Irina goes to her wounded daughter, gently cupping her chin. Jack interrupts the maternal gesture, however, unwilling to allow Irina to reclaim her position in their lives.

"Drop it."
"Dad!"
"Quiet."

But, despite their resistance, standing there in the darkness, Sydney, Jack, and Irina are a family. Their pasts, presents, and futures are irreversibly intertwined.

"Jack. We are in enemy territory and the PRF knows we're here. We need to start trusting each other. Right now."

Though Jack appropriates an air of authority on the subject of parenthood, until relatively recently HIS link to Sydney, like Irina's, was little more than biological.

"I guess we'll just have to learn to trust each other." (episode 01.01)

It is a new beginning. It is the same beginning. What could possibly induce these three to trust one another? And yet they are compelled. Walking into the night, they ARE the Bristow family.

THINGS THAT AREN'T WORKING:

-For everything there is a season...

We'd just like to know what season we're in. Is Sydney still in school? We were working under the assumption that a lack of school-time was the result of summer vacation, but the word 'Thanksgiving' has realigned us temporally. We would fully understand a leave of absence, as the inspiration for her course of study has been significantly marred. All that's needed is some quick clarification.

DETAILS WE APPRECIATED:

-Sark's morning drive to "Bad Moon Rising" was a true classic. It was a nice peek at his mentality. This guy must be living out his fantasy, fully indulging in the perceived mystique of his image.

-Dixon's reaction to Sark was perfectly in character. His willingness to confront his superior on a decision he did not feel was morally sound was refreshing. We also loved that Sydney backed him up. A younger Sydney would have defended these ethics on principle alone.

-Uzbekistan... cute country. We loved the drug-induced dissolves. And Sydney and Dixon's contact was beyond creepy. The morgue fight choreography was simply incredible.

-"Well, hell, when you put it that way, the answer is definitely no." The writing in this episode was very sharp. Some spectacular lines. Unfortunately for us, most of the one-liners were too cutting to use as review titles.

-"Kendall's ego predisposes him to favor decisions in which he's overruling others. You argue your way, I'll argue mine." Jack, ever the strategist, nails this snide remark perfectly. Quite the clever manipulation of the assistant-director.

-We had a strange fondness for the leader of the PRF's candor. "We thought we'd make it easy for you. Here we are."

-The stylistic cinematography in this episode had a great edge to it. The aerial shots of LA and Uzbekistan were stunning and the framing of the parking garage columns and the Mikro Self-Storage hallway was impressive.



NON-ORIGINAL MUSIC

Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Bad Moon Rising". Label: Fantasy Records
U2, "Walk On". Label: Interscope Records
Josh Canova, "Almost Ran". Label: NA



LINKS:

Television without Pity. Recap If Music Be The Food Of Love. The Passage, Part One - Then the music director must be f------ STARVING. It's an episode full of barely declared love, undeclared nuclear weapons, and declarations of hatred barely disguised as lust. Vaughn shows up only long enough to illustrate his love for Sydney in a broken watch, Syd shows up only long enough to kick some ass in a morgue and argue with Sarkie, Sarkie shows up only long enough to piss off Sloane, Sloane shows up only long enough to receive his dead wife's finger in a box, and Jack and Irina show up only long enough to make all of us wish for a little Spy Daddy-on-Spy Mommy carnal action. And the music sucks. Did I mention that?




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