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Season 2, episode 09
Series 209
1st release: 12/08/02
2nd release: none to date
Last update: 08/09/03

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SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders
COMMENTARY 2 by Zero and E

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

Terry O'Quinn (Kendall)
Derek De Lint (Gerard Cuvee)
James Lesure (CIA Agent Craig Blair)
Wolf Muser (Ramon Veloso)
Marshall Manesh (Hari Singh)
Iqbal Theba (Gen. Arshad)
Joseph Ruskin (Alaine Christophe)
Ira Heiden (Rick, CIA techie)
Andy Gatjen (Aide)
P.D. Mani (PRF guard)

Written by Crystal Nix Hines
Directed by Ken Olin

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


This synopsis is by Sally Dye.


Scenes from previous episodes, culminating with Sydney, Jack and Irina on foot in Kashmir, looking for six nuclear warheads held by the People's Revolutionary Front. Vaughn sees on the satellite that combat has taken place, but can't tell if there are survivors. Kendall refuses to let him send a team to check it out. Vaughn gets intel that the nukes are ready to be armed.

Irina uses some native berries to soothe some scratches on Sydney's legs. She wants to use some of her own contacts in the area, but Jack vetoes this. They hop a train, and Jack and Irina begin discussing a broken toaster that started a fire in their house when Sydney was small. Sydney remembers staying in a hotel while their house was repaired. They all laugh about it, but then recall their present circumstance, which sobers all three of them.

When they reach Srinagar, they contact Hari Singh, an old friend of Jack's, to get native clothing and other supplies. Sydney contacts Vaughn. He tells her that the nukes will likely be activated tomorrow. Jack and Irina continue to argue, until Sydney lays down the law -- Jack will be in charge until they reach the facility, then Irina will lead them in so they can get the cores of the warheads, and then Jack will get them back home. Jack later tells Sydney that he is proud of her for taking charge.

They reach a point ten miles from the site and the truck breaks down (as Irina had predicted, to Jack's great chagrin). Irina says she will take over from here because they will have to negotiate land mines to get to the facility.

Act I

Sloane receives another phone call from his blackmailer. The man now wants $100 million in bearer bonds so he won't contact the Alliance.

Irina leads Jack and Sydney through a mine field, but they encounter guards. Irina demands a gun and Jack gives her one. They fight off the guards, but Jack is hit. Irina warns him not to move -- he is lying on a land mine. Irina is able to disarm the mine. Jack says the bullet only hit his vest, so they proceed.

Kendall tells Vaughn that India is going to strike the facility where the nukes are being held. Vaughn wants to go to India himself, and Kendall okays it, to Vaughn's suprise. Vaughn: "Are you trying to get rid of me?" Kendall just smiles.

Sydney, Jack and Irina get into the facility through a sewage tunnel. Irina sends Sydney to the heating system to raise the heat so that the heat activated sensors won't detect them. She sends Jack to access the computers and find out where the nukes are. Irina plans to go and deactivate the security systems, but Jack doesn't want them to be separated. Sydney supports Irina, saying that they don't have time to argue about it. Irina reveals that she was never in command at this facility, as they had assumed, but instead was a prisoner here. Jack finally agrees.

Act II

Sloane notifies the Alliance that, although he did his best to carry out his instructions to kill Emily, she is apparently still alive. Since only the Alliance leaders knew of the plan, there must be a leak. He proposes that they pay the blackmail and track down the blackmailer. They remind Sloane that, if Emily is found to be alive, he will still have to eliminate her. Sloane says he understands.

Jack and Sydney complete their tasks but can't locate Irina. They begin deactivating the nukes' security themselves, but are interrupted when Irina enters with several guards and Gerard Cuvee, the head of the facility. He and Irina appear to be on very friendly terms.


Irina tells Gerard about being held by the CIA and being there to steal the nuclear warheads. Cuvee knows who Jack is and taunts him about being fooled by Irina.

Marshall contacts Sloane and tells him that an invisible tracer placed in the briefcase holding the blackmail bonds is working perfectly. Sloane leaves the briefcase on a park bench, where it is picked up and carried off, as seen on Marshall's surveillance screen. Marshall congratulates himself on outwitting the blackmailer as he follows the signal given off by the tracer. Sloane is instructed to go to a vending machine where he finds pictures of Emily. It appears in the pictures that she has been shot in the head. Marshall's triumph turns to dismay when his computer loses the signal from the tracer.

Cuvee reveals that he was the one who sent Irina to the U.S. to marry a CIA officer. Sydney watches in tears from another cell as Irina holds a gun on Jack, asking him who Sark has partnered with. Cuvee is called away and leaves Irina to continue the interrogation. She tells Jack in a whisper that she was caught and is playing a role to buy them time. She apologizes and then knocks Jack unconscious. When he comes to, he has a key in his hand.

Act IV

Vaughn tries to convince the Indian military not to strike the nukes until they can get their people out. The commander is an old friend of Vaughn's father, and he finally agrees to give Vaughn a chopper and a head start, but he can't promise to call off the air strikes.

Jack frees Sydney from her cell. He tells her what Irina said -- that they are using the nuclear cores to activate a Rambaldi device, one which supposedly proves Rambaldi's theory of "endless life". Apparently, they are not going to activate the nukes at all.

Kendall orders Sydney and Jack to pull out, because the Indian planes are in the air headed their way. They refuse, saying they will not leave without Irina. They find Irina and Cuvee watching as they begin activating the Rambaldi artifact -- a large sphere. Suddenly the sphere opens and they see that it contains a flowering plant of some sort.

Indian planes approach and begin firing missiles at the facility. In the confusion, Irina fights Cuvee for the plant. Cuvee is about to shoot her when Jack takes him out from behind. Sydney joins them and they get the cores and head out. When they emerge from the facility Vaughn is waiting in the chopper. Vaughn radios to the Indians that they have the cores, and to abort the air strikes.

Back in LA, Irina is returned to her cell. She tells Sydney that there are many questions to be answered but one can't wait -- why she shot Sydney in Taipei. She says that Cuvee was watching from the next room, waiting to see if Irina betrayed him or Sydney. Shooting her in the shoulder and giving her time to escape was the only way she could think of to keep both of them from being killed. She tells Sydney to get some rest. Sydney: "You, too. Mom." Irina watches Sydney leave as a tear tracks down her cheek.

Sydney asks Vaughn about the flower. He says that preliminary reports indicate that the flower is 400-600 years old.

Later, Sydney plays miniature golf with Will and Francie. Vaughn watches from a distance, and then slowly walks off.


This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

"The necklace has been deactivated," another agent tells Vaughan. "The satellite image indicates combat." That would be Syd, Irina, and Jack machine gunning their way out of a PRF armed encampment.

Pace accelerates in Part Two from Part One. Kendall cuts the Bristols loose. Nuclear weapons take precidence. Activation is imminent. Vaughan wants to rescue Syd. But, purposes converge between Kendall and Vaughan. The Bristols--and Derevko, are headed for the nukes.

THE PLOT: This script is full of great moments between Irina and Jack, Jack and Syd, Syd and Irina. Enroute to the nukes, the three manuever a mine field, a sewage tunnel, guards with machine guns, each other, distrust, capture and an apparent betrayal by Derevko. Jack is pistol whipped by Irina while Syd watches horrified.

Sloane's blackmailers demand $100 million in bearer bonds from Sloane in exchange for release of his wife. He tattles to the Alliance, but insists the ransom be paid. Marshall puts a tracking device on the bonds but it winks out. Bonds gone. No blackmailers.

I bet that $100 million in bearer bonds that Sloane is behind this, to protect his wife. I bet Sloane is playing both ends against the middle. Sloane is the only one who could have deactivated Marshall's tracer on the bonds.

Syd and Jack reach the warheads but the plutonium cores are gone. The cores are in use to activate a Rimbaldi artifact, an artifact that proves eternal life through self-sustaining cell regeneration. Airstrikes blow missles through the building just as the Rimabaldi vault is about to be opened. Vaughan hovers to the rescue in a helicopter. Dust settles.

THE PRODUCTION: Part Two is much better edited, directed, and formatted than Part One. The camera moves faster between scenes. Photography and camera work are first rate.

The dialogue and character interactions are rich yet to the point. Applause for the acting and the plotting. Heart rate picks up pace for the whole episode. Kudos to scriptwriter Crystal Nix Hines, new to the Alias pantheon. Kudos too to Ken Olin, the director, always first rate.

There is a terrific scene in a railroad car. Jack and Irina reminisce about burning toast, one time when they were married, so badly the house had to be vacated for a week. Syd enjoys the back and forth remembrances by her parents. Nicely done. Olin, who plays Irina, has a great laugh. The depth and breadth of characterization is evermore interesting between Syd, her father and her mother.

More often, though, Syd has to referee her parents, reminding them at one point, "We have a job to do. Your issues will have to be dealt with later." Later, Jack tells Syd he is "proud" of her for lecturing him and Irina about priorities and getting the job done. The child becomes parent to her parents.

The pacing of this week's episode is fast. The long intro, getting the three--Irina, Syd and Jack--on the spot in Kashmir even before the signature bam, bam, bam bullet-like Alias intro, draws the viewer all the way into the plot. In Part One that bam, bam, bam feel was missing. Even the credits at the beginning were just sprinkled over landscape shots.

Part II is a visually interesting episode. Not just faces square on, like CNN--but different angles, different shots, different colors and light contrast. Beautiful photography is backed by seamless seques between scenes and within interactions.

Bad guy--but "hunk" (Irina's old boyfriend)--Corvee reaches for a flower inside the Rimbaldi artifact, just as jets send missles through the roof. Irina takes down Corvee, and Jack comes to her aid just as Corvee pulls a gun on her. While this is going on, Syd picks up the flower, saying, "A flower. That's what this is all about?" Great line, and perfectly timed to the action between Irina and Jack.

Back in her cell in Los Angeles, the first sight to greet Irina is a pillow and blanket. Her request is fulfilled, as reward for helping Syd and Jack in Kashmir. Irina smiles.

Syd comes, and Irina says, "You must have a lot of questions," then explains why she shot Syd in Taipai in Season One. Just before Syd leaves, she calls Irina "Mom". Tears show in Irina's eyes.


This commentary is by Zero and E.

"This is a perfect setup."


-The execution of the Visual (a.k.a. Two tickets, please.)

The production values of this episode were simply fantastic. Somewhere between the Bristow's black-clad combat and the gold-plated rose of the Kashmir sky, Alias production said, "You know what? Let's make a movie."

As the Bristows hike to the edge of the summit, the warmly hued saffron montage of the Kashmir landscape is absolutely stunning. And as they look out across the valley, to the serpentine body of the train below, as the expanse of a new day stretches out before them, the rich aesthetics of the scene completely immerse us in their journey. The palette and movement of the marketplace and, in reality, of the episode in its entirety are strikingly vibrant.

As the image of Sydney's face dissolves into a long shot of the voyaging truck engulfed by the dust-choked layers of field and trees and mountains, the texture of time fades in and we trail the imprint, tracing the indexical markers of movement to find it stopped, motionless, waiting. With a sweeping fluidity, we follow the edge of the vehicle, resting momentarily on Sydney's reflection in the side-view mirror, before turning to peer through the glass at father and daughter. Played to the wavering rise and fall of the score, this sequence could not have been any more impressive.

The slow soft-focus fade-in of Irina's form as the group approaches the minefield, the contrast of their black attire against the yellow-lit electric green of the arboreal backdrop, the pulsating beat rising and expanding with the image, pauses on Jack's command for silence. And then explodes. Gunfire rips through the bed of leaves. The scene's texture and layered depth play perfectly.

And how about the Bristow's slow-motion sprint from the PRF facility to their CIA extraction point? The clarity of cinematography and sound coalesce with a kind of invigorating heroic energy.

-Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (i.e. Kashmir - the Mission, the Music, the Moments)

"Mr. Vaughn, the necklace has been deactivated."

At the end of last episode, it would have been unacceptable to break the moment by cutting away from the nighttime Kashmir combat. We had to be there, immersed in the textual ambiance, hanging on the desperate intensity of the Bristow's fight for survival. The replay of this scene revitalizes the moment, infusing it with a new and different tension. The integrated shots of the CIA reestablish the presence of an external world in our consciousness, emphasizing the Bristow's severed contact. They are on their own.

"You're not fine."
"No, you're not fine."

Hovering together, framed in their parental concern, Jack and Irina kneel beside their daughter, attending to her wound. Both pairs of hands come to rest on her leg and Sydney looks up, doe-eyed.

Jennifer Garner is truly amazing. The subtlety with which she imparts the captivated innocence of Sydney's wonderment, the way she looks from Jack to Irina, trying to understand who these people are, is just breathtaking.

The train. We wanted to talk about the understated brilliance of this scene. But there's nothing understated about it. It's just brilliant. Situated amongst the piles of crates, Jack, Sydney, and Irina sit in temporary respite, bodies swaying to the lurch of the train. Irina's eyes come to rest on Jack. He returns her gaze, considers it, and hands her the bottle. Her stare fastened to his, she accepts his offer and drinks. Sydney looks on. Eyes still on Jack, a smile spreads across Irina's face. She shakes her head in amusement.

"I know what you're thinking."
"Do you?"

The look between them has an ardent intensity. Because he DOES know. For ten years they shared that life together. The inflection of their voices, the familiarity of their gestures, the flirtatiousness of their banter are so painfully real, so spectacularly convincing, so unbelievably true that it's shocking. Sydney sits below them, positioned as a child, looking from parent to parent, gauging their reactions. Irina takes another sip, allowing Jack to tell the story. His face comes alive and his guard drops as he loses himself in the memory. Irina laughs. The two engage in a dynamic volley of storytelling. They finish each other's thoughts, speaking in nuanced terms, letting their facial and verbal expressions play off of one another.

"We stayed in that hotel..."
"The Summit."

They stare at one another with a fierce intimacy. These two had something truly remarkable. They had a child together. And now that child wants to share this moment with them. Sydney questions her parents with a daughter's innocence, trying to place herself within the life they are remembering. And because they are her parents, they welcome her into that memory, gladly embracing her with their joy. Jack smiles at the thought of his four-year-old daughter. Jack SMILES. And as Irina laughs as a mother and a wife, as we watch Jack soften, we are lost. If this woman can inspire such intense warmth, if she can bring to light the part of Jack that we loved by inference, we will gladly risk the fall of which we were forewarned.

Jack looks to Irina, across the twenty years that has divided them and, for a moment, forgets. But as their gaze lingers, the burden of the present, of other memories, comes flooding back. The moment dies.

Michael Giacchino's score was absolutely amazing this episode. The driving beats, the orchestral interludes, and the interwoven themes had such an incredible presence in this journey. Rhythmic and percussive, spiced with trembling chimes, the music over the Kashmir landscape captures an exotic eastern flavor. Then there is Irina, whose authority commands the will of the beat. As she takes over, the pulse takes over. And the power behind the theme of the Bristow's dash from the crumbling edifice is cinematic in grandeur.


Social interaction is predicated on a fidelity of trust, on a willingness to align oneself with another's perception. At a certain point, the benefit of the doubt is a necessity. Thus far, we have had little reason to put our faith in Irina and no measure with which to gauge our doubt.

Free from restraints, liberated from obligation, Irina gains an autonomy that she has not previously possessed. For the first time, her decisions have agency and her actions are open to our judgment. And though she is aware that this is her trial, that all eyes are on her, we have no other choice than to rely on the validity of her actions, because it is all we have on which to base our opinions.

With gun in hand, she had every opportunity to turn against her companions. She did not. Time and again she saves them, risking her own life in order to protect theirs. Dropped by a bullet, Jack lies supine, sprawled, a landmine beneath him. Irina takes control, diffusing the explosive with skilled precision. She plays Cuvee to secure Jack and Sydney's escape and, given the chance to remain emancipated, she instead places her own body between Jack and Cuvee's gun. She CHOOSES to return to her imprisonment.

The expanse of Irina's emotion has never been so available as in this episode. Separated by a history that she does not share with her companions, she is blatantly frustrated with Jack's inability to acquiesce to her logic and authority. Irina allows Sydney and Jack to perpetuate the assumption that she was an officer in Cuvee's headquarters. She maintains this pretense until it becomes absolutely necessary for her to expose her vulnerability.

"Friends? Do you know what this place was when I was here, Jack? A prison... here the KGB interrogated suspected traitors. And no, I wasn't an officer here. I was a prisoner. Why do you think I learned the sewage tunnels or memorized the mine locations? So I could escape, you idiot."

With a passionate resentment, Irina relates her pain, her fury. For the first time, she demands recognition for her own sacrifices. Traitor or not, for whatever reason, she abandoned her child. And as she offers explanation for her first encounter with Sydney, as her daughter responds with an undeserved compassion, Irina sheds a single, unwitnessed tear. She is getting that child back.

As a wife and as a mother, this was her rite of passage

-"I know. I'm just preparing myself..."

Somewhere between "We're not waiting." and "Our assignment from the CIA is to bring her back. That's our job." Jack becomes the one convinced of Irina's loyalty. Desperately unshackling Sydney, he frantically explains Irina's gift, and implores Sydney to accept her allegiance. It is so crucial that Jack stays behind to extract Irina, when he could so easily allow her to slip out of his life. Jack could have let Cuvee finish her off without consequence, but instead he defends her.

If Jack can see the echo of Laura in Irina, the shadow of the woman he trusted, then we can begin to believe in a time when we might trust her as well. Irina's transformation in this episode hinges on Jack's consent to her reality.

As Jack readies himself to open the grain bin, to acknowledge that the woman inside is the same woman that he married thirty years ago, perhaps there is a lingering hope that some metamorphosis has remade her into something that he can understand. Or, perhaps he wishes that he didn't have to let the truth out at all.

Irina has no leverage over Jack except his memories, but it is this past that lends this woman a borrowed humanity. And as Jack prepares himself to let Irina out, he takes that last moment to tell Sydney that he's proud of her, as though he's terrified that in the end, Laura Bristow's return will be his dismantling.


Uh...This episode just WORKED.

Unfortunately, we were mildly disappointed by this Sunday's tasteless promotional trailer. We're not entirely sure to whom it was supposed to appeal, as we weren't aware that Jennifer Garner's femininity could be reduced to a banal pun.

Also, we're not clear as to what purpose the secondary episode labels are intended to serve. Alias script titles are quite compelling on their own.


-Marshall's zeal for his role as Sloane's handler was fantastic. And field-agent Sloane was such a unique use of a usually fluorescent-lit character. Also... we better be afraid of someone who can outsmart Marshall.

-Biblical Allusions? Come on... Jack looked like Moses. It was great. Though, it was a bit of step down for Victor Garber, considering his former role as Jesus in Godspell.

-Sydney's smile is literally disarming as she once again uses a feigned innocence to outwit the enemy.

-Jack's silent "As if I care" response to Sydney's query about her mother's ability to breathe was classic.

-"You Americans" was a nice reminder that Irina's allegiance does not innately lie with the United States. Though her actions proved harmful to others as well, Irina's BETRAYAL technically concerns only Jack and Sydney.

-The way the train scene was played off of Sydney's flitting glances was brilliant.

-Kendall's jovial slap on the back and mischievous grin in response to Vaughn's "Are you trying to get rid of me?" was hilarious. Terry O'Quinn causes us such great mirth

-Vaughn's friendly gesture at the end of the episode was such an uplifting conclusion. As much as we love to watch the dynamic interplay of character struggles, it's nice to know they find a little solace now and again.

-Nice touch with the red golf ball.

-Go go Oncidium Orchid!


-Here's to going full circle... It's the Return of Rambaldi and perhaps a nice reminder of Giovanni Donato, the clockmaker from episode 01.08 ("Time Will Tell"), who was promised an unnaturally long life.

-It is interesting that Sloane keeps opting to expose his troubles to the Alliance. His blackmailer must know that this is Sloane's best strategy. So, the question is, is this his contact's aim? Also, a bit of a lie on Sloane's part, as Jack is also informed of the ongoing saga.

-Intriguing that Cuvee, Irina's ex-supervisor, seems to be answering to Sark. It'll be interesting to get a clearer perspective on the hierarchy behind all these secret organizations.

-Irina - what has changed from the last twenty years that allows her to return to her daughter now? Why couldn't/didn't she come back before? Motives? Ends? The most effective lies are the ones built off of some sort of truth.


Our admiration to Crystal Nix Hines and Ken Olin. Impressed as always.


The Rolling Stones, "Emotional Rescue". Label: Virgin Records America


Television without Pity. Recap National Lampoon's Kashmiri Vacation. The Passage, Part Two - True, no one ends up in an Italian porno flick, but as family holidays go, this one sucks ---

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