Whoosh! ...


ALIAS

THE PROPHECY


EPISODE NO. 16
Season 1, episode 16
Series 116
1st release: 03/10/02
2nd release: none to date
Production number: E645
Last update: 08/09/03


Previous Episode |Alias Guide |Episode Guide |Next Episode

Season 1 |Season 2 |Season 3


REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY by Adriane Saunders


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

GUEST CAST
Roger Moore (Edward Poole)
Amy Irving (Emily Sloane)
Lindsay Crouse (Dr. Evans)
James Handy (Devlin)
Derrick O'Connor (Khasinau)
Joey Slotnick (Haladki)
Castulo Guerra (Briault)
Wolf Muser (Alliance chairman)
Joe d'Angeria (Dr. Waterson)
Robert Arce (Hobbes)
Allen Williams (Sen. Mark Townsend)
Lilyan Chauvin (Signora Ventuffi)
Anya Matanovic (Opera student)
Joseph Vassalla (Vatican Security Chief)

CREDITS
Written by John Eisendrath
Directed by Davis Guggenheim

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




SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser

Scenes from previous episodes, culminating with Sydney faced with a portrait of herself from the 500-year-old book by Milo Rambaldi.

In Washington, D.C., at a Senate subcommittee meeting, a Dr. Evans is asking for funds regarding the investigation of Sydney Bristow. She references the picture from Rambaldi's notebook and the partially decoded text surrounding it. After reading it, the Senators agree to provide whatever Dr. Evans needs.

Sydney, just returned from a mission in Brazil where she was able to photograph someone SD-6 believes might be "the man", leaves the info for Vaughn as usual. Vaughn returns to his office to find Dr. Evans -- who represents the Department of Special Research -- and her men commandeering his files. He goes to Devlin to find out what is going on. Later he meets with Sydney and tells her she is being investigated by the DSR. Rambaldi's page 47 is now being referred to as "the Prophecy".

Act I

Sydney is given a battery of IQ-type tests by Dr. Evans and her staff. They refuse to tell her what the "prophecy" says, however. Vaughn is watching from the next room and is annoyed when Haladki shows up, especially when he cuts the session short because of "need to know only" information from the decoding room. Dr. Evans wants to give Sydney some physical tests -- blood work, an MRI, etc. Sydney says not if they aren't going to tell her anything about the prophecy and walks out.

Will and Francie are planning to go to a Lakers game. Francie asks if he doesn't have the wrong roommate, and Will answers that he knows something about wanting something he can never have, and this will take her mind off hating Charlie. Sydney comes in and says she had a dream about a fortuneteller who had a prophecy for her. Will and Francie think that is a bad sign.

Sloane tells the group that they have identified "the man" as Alexander Khasinau, former KGB colonel. Now he has moved his operations to an unknown location, so plans to eliminate him are on hold. Sloane asks Sydney, as a personal favor, to call on Emily, and she agrees. Privately, Sloane tells Jack he wants Khasinau dead, but he doesn't know if the Alliance will back him up. They are meeting soon in London to vote on whether to wage war on Khasinau. Sloane plans to approach Edward Poole, head of SD-9, who is one of the swing votes. Sloane later calls Poole, who says he has intel that Sloane should see.

Sydney visits Emily. Emily teases Sydney about Will, but Sydney says she still feels awkward about dating anyone. Emily talks about how she had gone to the doctor too late to have hope of surviving her cancer. She talks about knowing there was something wrong and being afraid to do anything about it. Sydney keeps seeing flashes of the tests done by the DSR and realizes her situation parallels Emily's, in a way. Later, she goes to Dr. Evans and tells her to run all the tests they want.

Act II

Poole tells Sloane that Jean Briault, another of the Aliance swing votes and a friend of Sloane's, has formed a partnership with Khasinau. Sloane doesn't believe it at first, but Poole has convincing evidence. Sloane says that he just can't believe his old friend is a traitor.

Devlin and Dr. Evans clash over what Devlin sees as a complete over-reaction to the Rambaldi text. He feels Sydney's placement as a double agent takes precedence over this investigation. Haladki interrupts the discussion to note that he has been concerned about Sydney for some time and thinks the tests are a good idea. Meanwhile, Sydney is undergoing those tests. Sydney meets with Jack to see if he knows anything about the prophecy. She is worried that if the DSR takes her into custody, it could blow her cover with SD-6 and possibly Jack's as well. She wonders if the text is being decoded correctly. Jack tells her that Rambaldi's original key is locked in the archives of the Vatican.

Jack goes to Devlin and asks for permission to send Sydney after the code key to validate the translation done by the DSR. Devlin agrees.

Sloane makes a late night call to Poole and tells him that he's decided to take care of the Briault problem himself.

Sydney asks Vaughn to go with her to break into the Vatican to get the code key. Vaughn says he's in.

Act III

In Rome, Sydney and Vaughn pose as repairmen and get into the archival files area of the Vatican. Vaughn tells Sydney he would like to take her to the Trattoria de Nardi, his favorite restaurant. They find the code key on the frame of a portrait of Pope Alexander VI. They manage to photograph it before security finds them. They fight off the guards and escape, but never make it to the restaurant.

Sloane tells Jack there's a counterfeit page in the Rambaldi notebook. He wants to talk to Sydney about it. Jack says she's at the university. Sloane says her schoolwork is getting in the way.

In Montreal, Sloane meets with Briault in a deserted park. Briault is happy to see his old friend and shows him pictures of his grandson. Sloane simply turns and shoots him in the chest.

Act IV

In London, Sloane arrives at the Alliance conference in time to observe a moment of silence for Jean Briault. The vote is taken: it turns out 6 to 5 to reject aggressive action against Khasinau. Sloane is stunned and looks at Poole, who simply smirks at him. As they leave, Sloane confronts Poole and tells him he now knows that it is Poole who is in with Khasinau and he plans to "return the favor". Poole just gets into his car and greets Khasinau, who is sitting there smoking a cigar.

Back in LA, Vaughn tells Sydney he turned in the code key and the DSR agreed to wait for the decryption before taking action. He suggests Sydney go home and relax, but "the next time we're in Rome -- Trattoria de Nardi". Sydney says she'd like that. She goes home and finds a note to meet Will and Francie at a nightclub. She joins them, but soon notices several DSR agents watching her. She makes her excuses to Will and Francie and goes with the agents. They take her to a truck where she is handcuffed to her seat. Dr. Evans informs her she is now in the custody of the federal government. Vaughn is there, too, and Sydney looks to him for an explanation. He tells her that the government had the correct key to start with. He says Rambaldi had noted three specific physical ways to identify the woman in the portrait -- DNA sequencing, platelet levels, and heart size. Sydney matches all three. Sydney asks again what the prophecy is, and this time Dr. Evans quotes it to her: "This woman here depicted will possess unseen marks, signs that she will be the one to bring forth my works, bind them with fury. A burning anger, unless prevented, at vulgar cost this woman will render the greatest power unto utter desolation."

To be continued



COMMENTARY

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

"It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Super" Syd! Syd--who last episode could "leap tall buildings at a single bound", albeit from a high cable--now leaps from the edge of a high, high cliff. A pack of dogs--fangs bared, yapping and drooling--along with guards in military fatigues firing high powered rifles, are at Syd's heels. Her leap into space delivers her from her pursuers. A colorful, sausage-shaped pare-sail breaks Syd's fall as she glides to the harbor below.

This is Brazil. And, that really is Garner we see (the actress who plays Syd) hurling herself off a cliff (though probably in California and not Brazil). This is--if an "Entertainment Weekly" feature article is to be believed--one of many stunts Garner does. [See "Entertainment Weekly", March 8, 2002 Issue.] If Garner ever tires of being the star of Alias, she can always get work as a "stuntwoman". Kudos for her boldness--and realism.

Airborn, Syd sails around a huge statue with outstretched arms, high above what looks like Rio de Janeiro harbor. Syd, parachuting down, is dwarfed by comparison to the statue--and the harbor. She grows smaller and smaller against a panoramic sunset of brilliant oranges and glowing golds. Beautiful!

From the sublime to the ridiculous, the camera switches from spectacular sunset and open skies to a congressional committee and closed doors. And, this congressional committee threatens Syd more than could any pack of dogs or armed guards spewing ammunition in all directions. A committee! Yikes!

Syd is in trouble for sure! A roomful of politicians--of bureaucrats, know Syd is a double agent. How many people know?! Does the CIA freely distribute such information to politicians?! Remind me not to join the CIA. The more who know Syd's a double, the more who can put her life at risk. A committee! My head is in my hands again.

Rimbaldi's manuscript is on the committee table with "Page 47" (from Episode 15), front and center. This page, which includes the sketch believed to be of Syd, is under discussion. A "Prophecy" is attached to this sketch. And, in the minds of this committee, "The Prophecy" is not good news. What to do, what to do? That is the committee question. To the hard sell of one of the committee members, the chairman says, "OK, what do you need?" meaning what resources to go after Syd. Look out, Syd.

Dogs and committee, both nipping at Syd's heels, segue perfectly. Back and forth the cameras go, from one scene to the other, overlapping dialogue and action. As is usual in Alias, scenes and storylines intersect and interweave. That is the fun of this show. In Alias there is never a dull moment! Everthing is--like Life--continuously "in motion", and full of unexpected twists.

Unexpected by all, except Rimbaldi. Five centuries--more than 500 years ago, Rimbaldi expected Syd. That is "The Prophecy". Rimbaldi, "You the Man"! And, for sure, Rimbaldi looks ahead.

So too can we. Here is what comes at us in Episode 16:

"The Man", the Stark and McKenas Cole version (from Episodes 12-15), is revealed. We see his face--and learn his name, Alexander Kasinau. Kasinau is linked to the Russian mafia, and he has infiltrated "The Alliance", the force behind SD-6. In his pocket is Alliance member Edward Poole (played by once-upon-a-time "James Bond", actor Roger Moore).

Sucked into deception by his own wish for vengeance against "The Man", SD-6 Sloane is fooled by Poole into assassinating an old and once trusted friend, John Briault. The Alliance is evenly divided in potential votes, between "aggressive action" and a "detente" response to Kasinau's attacks on SD-6. By killing Briault, Sloane expects to swing the vote to "retaliation". Wrong choice. Wrong result.

The Alliance vote goes against Sloane to "detente". Sloane realizes he has been tricked. Afterwards, Sloane tells Poole he will "return the favor". Maybe a better idea for Sloane might be to ask himself why he fell for Poole's deception in the first place. Only a photo and bank records show Briault's supposed guilt. Records and photos are easily faked. Why did Sloane --who is in the business of deception--fall for such a trick?

"The Alliance" is yet another "committee". Of note is the makeup of this committee, "The Alliance". Not a single female is represented. Of the once twelve--now eleven with Briault's assassination--members, all are "suits", male only. A couple of ethnic faces are sprinkled in--an Asian and a Black--for "political correctness". Apparently, for Alias, "head honchos" are selectively old, male--and primarily white.

This is an interesting realization, not noticed before now--the absence of women in positions of authority or power in Alias. Apparently--to the view of Alias creator J.J. Abrams. women can be resourceful, sexy, routinely commit illegal acts, and kick lots of butt. But, under no circumstances, (not CIA, SD-6, congressional committees, or the Alliance), are women to be considered for positions of real power or authority, in any organization. This is a "dated" ommission in an otherwise up-to-the-minute show.

Back from Brazil, Syd is delivered from dogs to committee. The paranormal research division of the National Security Agency runs tests on Syd to verify she is indeed the woman in Rimbaldi's sketch. Because she does "not have clearance", the committee refuses to tell Syd what "The Prophecy" says of the woman in the sketch. After a battery of psychological tests, the committee wants to give Syd a physical exam. She balks, and walks, saying, "You want to touch me, you have to tell everything this Prophecy says."

But, later--after a curious and telling conversation with Sloane's wife, Emily (where Emily intimates she in fact knows that Syd is a spy)--Syd returns to submit to the committee's physical probes. "Run all the tests you want," says Syd. And, the committee does. Lots of clever scene overlaps of dialogue and action follow. A needle is about to be inserted into Syd's spine when the camera shifts to another room. Someone on the committe says, "We're treating Sydney like a lab rat." Yes, indeed. But, the committee is frightened of "The Prophecy".

Even CIA Haladki--who is acting as liason between CIA and NSA--is scared. Still, he manages a bit of gallows humor for the committee, saying, "It's like 666 kids. If you see the writing on the kid's head, you there's a problem at home." If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck and "The Prophecy" says "ugly duckling"--look out Syd.

Not convinced the NSA has the correct "code key" to Rimbaldi's "Prophecy", Syd talks Vaughan into going to Rome to break into the Vatican to steal the original "code key". This is done much too easily! Are there no guards for the treasures vault at the Vatican? Can a couple of people in overalls really walk in the "front door", blow open the vault, take photos--and all before any guards even notice? Far-fetched? But, at least Vaughan has a chance to flirt with Syd and talk about his favorite restaurant in Rome.

After her return from Rome, Syd has a brief interlude in "normalcy"--for about half an hour. She joins Will and Francie at a nightclub, only to notice--posted like guard dogs round the room--four members of the NSA (actually three NSA plus one CIA, Haladki). Making an excuse to Francie and Will to make a phone call, Syd leaves the nightclub. The four "guard dogs" fall in around her, and direct her to a van outside.

Once inside, Syd is--to her shock--shackled and bound. Syd is arrested, or more specifically, cited under "Directive 81A", and taken into "the custody of the U.S. Government". Vaughan, also in the van, tries to reassure her. He tells Syd the results of the NSA lab tests. Rimbaldi's Prophecy includes a physical description of the woman in the sketch. DNA, platelet levels, size of heart, are all indicated by Rimbaldi, and all match Syd's. DNA, platelet levels? Is there anything this man did not know?

"So, what's the Prophecy?" Syd asks. And, though Syd did not have "clearance"--while free--to know the answer, apparently now that she is arrested, she does. Here is "The Prophecy": "This woman depicted will possess unseen marks, signs that my works, by and with fury, a burning anger. Unless prevented, at vulgar cost, this woman will render the greatest power unto utter desolation."

This "Prophecy" sounds like "doublespeak" to me. But, the NSA committee takes the message literally--and personally, on behalf of the "great power" of the U.S. For me, the "Prophecy" could as easily be speaking metaphorically of the "power within" this extraordinary and hopefully--at least by the NSA committee--vastly misunderstood agent, Sydney Bristow. Likewise, the phrase--"the greatest power"--could refer to SD-6 or the Alliance, rather than the U.S. Government.

Or, of course, "The Prophecy" could turn out to refer--not to Syd, but--to Syd's mother, long "missing and presumed dead". In Alias, anything is possible.




Previous Episode |Alias Guide |Episode Guide |Next Episode

Season 1 |Season 2 |Season 3


Episode
Guide Table of ContentsBack to Whoosh!