Season 3, episode 07
Series 307
1st release: 11/09/03
2nd release:
Last update: 11/15/03

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SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders
COMMENTARY 2 by Beboman

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

Clifton Collins Jr (Javier Parez)
Luis Antonio Ramos (Detective Sanchez)
Adrian Sparks (Dr Siegel)
George Kee Cheung (Minister Woo)
Lorenzo Caccialanza (Team Leader)
Gino Montesions (Rebel Leader)
Dennis A. Pratt (Kenneth Blake)
Kevin Sutherland (CIA Techie)
Nando De Stafano (Passing Man)
Johnny Michaels (Mexican Police Officer)

Written by J.R. Orci
Directed by Jack Bender

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


PRELUDE TO A KISS -- Syd and Vaughn almost kinda sorta kiss. No, that's not all that happens! Syd and Sloane go on an assignment that, now that I think about it, is kind of totally unnecessary. But it does give Sloane and Syd a little alone time. Jack murders Chavez y Chavez because the fool has one big gaping maw of a mouth. Sark spills the beans to Killjoy about Syd's involvement in the Lazargeeyourhairsmellsterrific murder, and Killjoy smartly turns right around and hands Syd's ass to the NSC. Syd discovers that at some point during the Lost Years, she had a swanky penthouse view in Rome. Too bad that view comes complete with an Italian SWAT team. TWoP

Jack takes drastic measures to ensure that the NSC never finds out the truth about Sydney’s murder of a Russian diplomat. But his actions place a heavy strain on Vaughn’s marriage, as Lauren gets closer and closer to the truth about Sydney. Meanwhile, Sydney agrees to go on a mission with Sloane in order to thwart plans to obtain the operating system to a deadly weapon -- and she discovers an unlikely ally in the hunt for her missing two years. Guest starring are Adrian Sparks as Dr. Siegel, Clifton Collins, Jr. as Javier Parez, Dennis A. Pratt as Kenneth Blake, Johnny Michaels as Mexican police officer, Luis Antonio Ramos as Detective Sanchez, Kevin Sutherland as CIA techie, George Kee Cheung as Minister Woo, Gino Montesinos as rebel leader, Lorenzo Caccialanza as team leader and Nando De Stefano as passing man. “Prelude” was written by J.R. Orci and directed by Jack Bender.


ALIAS -- "PRELUDE" (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) -- Jack takes drastic measures to ensure that the NSC never finds out the truth about Sydney's murder of a Russian diplomat. But his actions place a heavy strain on Vaughn's marriage, as Lauren gets closer and closer to the truth about Sydney. Meanwhile, Sydney agrees to go on a mission with Sloane in order to thwart plans to obtain the operating system to a deadly weapon -- and she discovers an unlikely ally in the hunt for her missing two years. ABC


This synopsis is by Sally Dye.


Sydney wakes up in an operating room. She is groggy, but tries to get out of the room and can't. She sees a bloodstain and finds a wound in her stomach. She reaches in and pulls out a tube that keeps coming and coming...She wakes up crying from the nightmare.

Sydney goes to a CIA hospital and consults a doctor about her dreams and about possibly using surgery to recover her memory. The doctor shows her a man named Kenneth Blake who underwent the procedure she is thinking about having, to recover his memory. He suffered permanent brain damage from the surgery.

In Nogales, Mexico, armed soldiers apprehend Javier Parez. The man in charge makes a deal with him. If Parez gives up his superior, he can choose which government to be turned over to. Parez says he can offer some intel on a CIA agent who murdered a Russian diplomat.

Sloane is brought to CIA headquarters blindfolded. When his hood is removed, he says he always knew Dixon was "destined for great things." Sloane then reports to Dixon, Sydney, Jack, Marshall and Weiss (Vaughn and Lauren are absent on assignment) that he had a meeting with Sark where he was given an assignment for the Covenant. He is to attend a Chinese charity event and recover the prototype of a "maser", a microwave laser capable of killing individuals from space. He wants Sydney to go with him. Sydney agrees but says if Sloane betrays her, she will kill him herself.

Act I

Jack tells Vaughn that Parez has been captured, and he's worried that Parez will reveal Sydney's secret. Jack wants Vaughn to get Lauren to recuse herself from the mission to interrogate Parez. Vaughn refuses and says Lauren may be their best chance to keep Sydney's secret from the NSC. Jack: "And what if you're wrong?"

Marshall provides a tiny remote controlled device that can disable the alarms in the Chinese embassy. Through another device he can then corrupt the data in the maser so they can pass it on to the Covenant.

Sloane and Sydney enter the charity event in evening dress. Sloane says she should take his arm to be convincing, and Sydney reluctantly does. Sydney slips into the restroom where she gets Marshall's device out and sets it free. Marshall is then able to guide it through the embassy to the control room. Sloane suggests they dance and pretend to argue so Sydney can go get the prototype. So when they get Marshall's signal, Sydney slaps Sloane's face and storms off the dance floor.

In Mexico, Vaughn and Lauren are driving along a country road when they are surrounded by what appear to be terrorists and taken prisoner. One of the terrorists dials a phone and Jack tells him to keep them for at least two hours. Then Jack goes to where Parez is being held.

Act II

Sydney puts on a mask and finds the vault where the prototype is kept. She gets it out and makes a link to Marshall, who begins to corrupt the maser's signal. Somehow, the security system blinks back on and the guards see Sydney with the prototype. She has to fight two of them, but manages to defeat them just as Marshall finishes corrupting the maser files.

Vaughn and Lauren, who have been inexplicably released from the terrorists, arrive at the holding cell and find Parez, who appears to have hanged himself.

On the plane home, Sloane wonders how many times Sydney did to him just what they are doing to the Covenant. He gives her a letter he received the day Sydney awoke in Hong Kong. It contains a key and a code written in Sydney's own handwriting.

Vaughn accuses Jack of killing Parez. Jack says they are just in a dangerous business. Vaughn doesn't buy it and is angry that Lauren's life was put in jeopardy.


Lauren is in the parking garage when she suddenly finds Sark pointing a gun at her head. He tells her that he framed Parez so he could reveal Lazarey's murderer. He gives Lauren pictures showing Sydney as Julia Thorne. He says he's confident that she will relay the information to the proper place.

Jack calls Sydney about the code -- it was encrypted with a code Irina had devised. It translated to an address in Rome -- 1124 Piazza Barbarini.

Lauren tells Vaughn that she knows Sydney is Julia. She then realizes that he already knew it. Lauren is very angry. Vaughn says that Lindsey will send Sydney to Russia if Lauren reports this. Then Lauren reveals that she already has.

Vaughn gets to Sydney as she arrives at the airport and takes her to another plane so she can disappear. He explains that Sark told Lauren everything. She says she will go to Rome. She asks why Vaughn is helping her. He says that the situation is no one's fault and some things just don't change: "I'm not going to lose you twice." They embrace and almost kiss. Then Sydney smiles and gets on the plane.

Act IV

In Rome, Sydney arrives at the Piazza Barbarini and finds that the key fits the lock.

Dixon asks Vaughn where Sydney is, and Vaughn says he doesn't know. Lauren comes in and asks to speak with Dixon. Jack asks Vaughn what else he will do to see Sydney through this. Vaughn: "What did you have in mind?"

Lauren tells Dixon that Lindsey is relieving Dixon of his command. She explains that she learned Dixon concealed the information that Sydney murdered Lazarey. Federal agents are to arrive soon to lock down the headquarters. Dixon asks if Lauren has Sydney in custody. Lauren says no, but they know where she is.

Sydney explores the apartment. Through a skylight she sees a statue that appeared in her dreams. Suddenly she is grabbed from behind. Several Italian officers overpower her and tell her she is under arrest.


This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

Nightmare. Syd wakes in a hospital on an operating table. No one else is there. As she stumbles to her feet, she notices fresh blood on her hospital gown. Underneath, Syd fingers an open wound. She pulls length after length of bloody plastic tubing from her gut. Disgusting. Horrifying. Syd awakes in fright, covered in sweat. A nightmare.

Tweaking suspense and gag reflex alike, a nightmare is Syd's "Prelude". In the imagery of dreams are clues to her missing two years . A nightmare becomes her teaser and ours. Those images, only in dream at the start, become by the end of the episode a reality.

Character driven. This episode is a patch work quilt of sizzling exchanges between Jack and Vaughan, Syd and Sloane, Vaughan and Lauren. A flashy sword and sigh fight recalls Garner's Daredevil skills. A run up an opposition chest to backflip away recalls Xena: Warrior Princess. Sark clues Lauren that Syd killed Lasarey. Lauren removes Dixon from authority. Syd is arrested. But, at least in the process, Syd has clues to her two-year gap in memory. A hug from Vaughan is an added perk.

Uneven but entertaining. Scenes are presented less as flow, more like collage. Suspense suffers. Though individual scenes can be fraught, connecting dots between scenes seems more haphazzard than inevitable. An imagery which comes to mind is Director Bender dropping piles of film clips in a pot and Editor Brandon picking out sections at random to splice together. (Forget everything is digital these days.) Or, perhaps, scriptwriter J.R. Orci is simply better at dialogue and character interaction than linking scenes. The episode is overall pretty good, but not excellent. Kudos, though, for dialogue and character. High marks too for the acting, all the principals.


A couple of hot faceoffs between Vaughan and Jack illicit droll comebacks. Vaughan says to Jack, "I think it's safe to say I know my wife a lot better than you do." Jack, with an almost smile on his lips, says, "I would hope." Later, Jack all but spits at Vaughan. He says, "Perhaps you understand now the moral compromises you'll make when someone you love is in danger." Vaughan and wife Lauren were kidnapped and temporarily held prisoner in Mexico. This, at Jack's direction. Vaughan knows. Jack's purpose was to gain time to kill a prisoner about to be extradited to the US. The prisoner knew of Syd's complicity in Lasarey's murder. He could have revealed that information to Lauren, the extraditor. The kidnap twist from Jack is unexpected and skillfully done. Vaughan threatens to kill Jack if he ever endangers Lauren again. Jack's scathing response silences him.

Syd's bloodlust for Sloane is still high. In a briefing she promises, "If you betray me, I'll just kill you myself." This remark follows her admission that if the two of them are captured and before a Chinese (location of the next mission) firing squad, her wish will match the opposition's: to see Sloane dead. Points, though, for more restraint about it all in this week'sepisode. There are even some remarkably poignant perceptions from Syd. Sloane tells her, "There was a time you trusted me." To this, she responds, "That was before I knew who you were. It was before I knew who I was." A little chilling, that remark, but perceptive.

To help Syd escape the prospect of a lobotomy or worse, Vaughan intercedes. "Why?" is the question from Syd. He says, "Though everything's changed, somethings don't. I'm not going to lose you twice." Syd is tearful but holds herself in check. The two embrace and nearly kiss before Syd pulls back to leave. "Thank you," she says. Bravo to the actors. Well played.

Only two head scratches--well, three, come to mind. First, what is with the total lockdown at CIA Headquarters when Sloane arrives, guards holding his arms and a hood over his head? Why shut down all the computers? Ridiculous. Why not just take Sloane, hood still securely in place, to an empty room? Parading Sloane through all the computers of central Headquarters is bizarre.

Second is the hoaky slap across Sloane's face, which Syd delivers in the ballroom. From that, the opposition is supposed to believe the two are fighting? Yeah, right. This must be a technique gleaned from a "Soap Opera 101" course. A little cliche.

Third is Marshall's miniature remote controlled car. This Marshall injects into the plot to navigate a ballroom full of giants with big feet (from the point of view of the car), dancing and walking around. Apart from the hilarity this provided me, my only suspense is in wondering how on earth the little car will manage to reach its target, without first being stepped on or squashed. As Marshall controls the car like an element in a video game, the car zig zags through dancers, turns corners, rumbles down hallways, and whacks into a wall. "Whoops!" Marshall says. My sentiments exactly. This alarm disabler is too cute to be practical.

A quick review. Syd explores a penthouse in Rome. This apparently belonged to her as "Julia", an alias. Jack broke the code identifying the location (compliments of Irina's knowhow a year before). Sloane provided the numbers, which had been mailed to him by Syd before she remembered herself in Hong Kong at the start of Season three. This is Alias, remember. Keep up.

The view from the skylight is the actual winged angel that replayed again and again in Syd's nightmare. She explores the apartment further, looking into a mirrored medicine cabinet. As she closes the door, a shock! Faces appear behind her. Guards grab her from behind and throw her to the floor. Her arrest is noted in Italian. End of episode.

Great ending! The whole "explore the contents of the penthouse" sequence is well paced and suspenseful. A kind of "when will the other shoe drop" is the tone of the background music. From the moment Syd arrives at the penthouse, pulling back an ornate rod iron elevator door, to her closing the mirrored bathroom cabinet, the frame is complete. Bam! Gotcha!


This commentary is by Beboman.

Did I like this episode? Oh yes, I did. It was well written, directed and acted. It gave you the feeling of a great cliffhanger and left you ready for more. We need more, and after watching the scenes for the next episode, I just can't wait.

But I'm a bit ahead of myself. The National Security Council, through Sark and using Lauren, found out that Sydney killed the Russian Ambassador. That is the short version of the whole episode. Sydney's secret has been revealed and Sydney was captured. But the question is who set her up? Was it Sloan? How did Sark get those pictures of Sydney? Who else other than Jack and Sydney knew what the address in Rome meant and that she was going there? How did Lauren get that information? Did she have Vaughn followed? Is this the act of a scorned woman or is she just following orders?

I know, I know, too many questions and no explanations. Boy, they better start doing some fast-talking here, because inquiring minds want to know.

Now, moving right along, I just love Sloane's conniving mind. He is using Sydney's hate and anger toward him to his advantage. He is playing Sydney like a violin and he is not only playing Sydney, he is playing the rest of the CIA as well. He is taking his revenge for his wife's death in a smooth, complex plan.

Here is a man who went from being a top leader in a great criminal organization, and one of the most wanted people by the CIA, to being pardoned by the CIA and being an allied of the CIA, to joining another criminal organization and working as a double agent for the CIA. This man is good. All during this time, he had the "key" to Sydney's past in his hands. He is good; you have to give this man a round of applause for his great work as a super great manipulator, liar and all around conniving person. He is a great villain character.

Another good use of a good character in this episode was Marshall. He served as comedic relief and he did a great job. His character is so well written. He served to make some transitions smoother and brought down the tension of the episode without becoming a caricature. In this week's episode, he was just great when he came face to face with Sloane again, explaining to Sydney about the little camera car. I really did enjoy Marshall in this episode.

Jack, on the other hand, is bordering the line between reality and caricature. We know that, as a father he feels he needs to protect and save Sydney from all harm. But in the business they are in, that is almost impossible. It was proven that no matter how far he went and tried to keep Sydney's secret, he still failed. In the end, Sydney was still revealed as the killer of the Russian Ambassador (who just happened to be Sark's father and a friend of Sloane). Not good odds for Jack.

Vaughn, on the other hand, has a tough road to walk. He is married and loves his wife (in his very own way), but deep inside, he still has strong feelings for Sydney. That is obvious when he goes off to try and save Sydney from the National Security Agency, where his wife is a top executive.

I just can't wait to see how this very tight woven net is going to unravel and who, in the end, is going to be a casualty. Once again I have to say, this was a really good episode and I'm looking forward to its continuation in two weeks.


Television without Pity

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