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ALIAS

SNOWMAN


EPISODE NO. 19
Season 1, episode 19
Series 119
1st release: 04/14/02
2nd release: none to date
Production number: E648
Last update: 08/09/03


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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
Peter Berg (Noah Hicks)
Natasha Pavlovich (Laura Bristow/Irina Derevko)
Stephen Spinella (Kishell)
Boris Lee Krutonog (Khasinau - 20 years ago)
Angus Scrimm (McCullough)
Patricia Wettig (Dr. Barnett)
Paul Lieber (Calder)
Richard F. Whiten (Officer Pollard)
Don Took (Agent Grey)
Scott Vance (Agent Douglas)
Greg Grunberg (Weiss)

CREDITS
Written by Jesse Alexander and Jeff Pinkner
Directed by Barnet Kellman

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




SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser

Scenes from previous episodes, culminating with Sydney and Noah renewing their love affair in the safe cabin in Russia. Later, as Sydney sleeps, Noah wakens her with a hand over her mouth: "They found us." They escape through an underground tunnel just as soldiers break into the cabin. They surface in a nearby garage and get on a motorcycle. They roar away, pursued by the Russians and radioing frantically for the extraction team. In a daring move, Sydney turns the motorcycle around and they race directly toward the hummer chasing them. Just as they are about to crash, they are jerked off the motorcycle by a skyhook from the extraction plane and carried off. The motorcycle crashes into the hummer in a giant explosion.

Vaughn tells Sydney that K-Directorate has hired an assassin -- the mysterious Snowman -- to kill Khasinau. He knows how important Khasinau is to Sydney's search for her mother, so he suggests that they try to find the Snowman and hope he leads them to Khasinau. Vaughn asks casually how the mission with Noah went, and Sydney smiles and says it went fine.

Act I

Will and Francie plan how they will ask Sydney about the ticket to Italy they found in her coat pocket, but when she comes in, they chicken out and don't say anything.

Noah wants Sydney to go away with him. He says he's been skimming money from the Russian mob and has it in several off-shore accounts. He makes a good case by asking Sydney if she's not tired of lying to all her friends. Sydney says there are lots of reasons she can't, and the main one is finding her mother.

Sloane receives the follow-up he requested on Noah and is not pleased when he reads it. He calls for McCullough and says not to let Noah leave the building.

Sydney goes to talk to Jack. He is very brusque with her and tells her that the computer core recovered in Arkhangelsk was no help in tracing Khasinau. He does say that there was some video footage of Laura (aka Irina Derevko), which he has no desire to watch.

Dixon tells Noah he doesn't trust him. Just then, Noah is asked by a couple of agents to come quietly with them, that Sloane wants to see him. Noah: "Well, that can't be good." He is taken to McCullough, who questions him closely about his banking practices.

Sydney watches the video of her mother being questioned by a younger Khasinau about her activities with the KGB. The interview was conducted after her supposed "death". Sydney thinks a second man in the video looks familiar and finally recognizes him as FBI Agent Calder -- the man who was pursuing Laura Bristow and supposedly died with her.

Vaughn heads to Bogota to question a man named Kishell, who formerly worked with the Snowman but was later attacked and seriously injured by him. Vaughn hopes that Kishell will have leads that will tell them where to find the Snowman.

Sydney tells Jack about recognizing Calder: "Dad, it wasn't just Mom's death they faked -- it was Calder's, too." She has checked surveillance records and knows that Calder was recently seen in Cape Town. She is going to suggest to Sloane that they find Calder (also known as Igor Valenko), who may be able to lead them to Khasinau. She thinks Noah may be of help. Jack tells her that Noah's recent bank activity is suspect. Sydney says she knows all about that. She asks Jack to intervene on Noah's behalf.

In Bogota, Vaughn questions a horribly scarred Kishell. Kishell tells him that the Snowman typically uses an icepick on his victims. He tells how the Snowman had thought he (Kishell) had betrayed him, so he came to his home and attacked him while he slept, seriously injuring him and scarring him for life. He says it is time the Snowman is stopped, so he will contact his leads and let Vaughn know if he can find out where the Snowman is. He only asks one thing -- that Vaughn make sure that the Snowman suffers, too.

Act II

Sloane is just hanging up from a phone call from his wife Emily -- whose cancer is reaching a crisis point -- when Jack comes in to talk about Noah. Sloane thinks Noah has turned. He says he's tired of Jack coming in to ask for "special consideration" for the men in Sydney's life. However, he releases Noah from custody, and when Sydney realizes it, she thanks her father with a smile.

Sloane accepts Sydney's proposed mission to find Calder. She and Noah are to go to Cape Town and get info that they hope will lead to his whereabouts. Vaughn is upset that Sydney didn't come to him first with the info about Calder, but Sydney doesn't want the FBI to have the info. She promises Vaughn that Khasinau will not get away, but she doesn't want the FBI to get in her way.

In Cape Town, Sydney and Noah get into a fortified server room that contains a computer with the information they need. Marshall has provided them with a noise control device that eliminates all sound so they don't trip any of the noise activated alarms. Sydney is lowered by ropes to the central computer and engages a wireless device that starts downloading the info. Noah is monitoring the download and doesn't hear Sydney call out when the rope starts to slip. He finally sees the rope playing out and grabs it just in time, pulling Sydney up and cutting his arm pretty badly in the process.

Back at SD-6, Jack watches the video of his wife unemotionally recounting how she routinely searched his briefcases and eavesdropped on all his conversations while they were married. The last scene he watches shows Laura telling Khasinau what a fool Jack Bristow was.

Act III

Jack goes to the CIA hq and looks up Dr. Barnett. He asks if she has time to see him that afternoon, and she says she will make the time.

Sydney returns home to find Will and Francie playing video football. She asks why they're looking at her funny, and Francie hands her the ticket to Italy. Sydney tells them that her "job at the bank" has changed and she is now in charge of sensitive international accounts that require great secrecy. Will and Francie are relieved, but Sydney goes into the bathroom and cries over having to lie to her friends once again.

Marshall tells Sydney that no data was recovered from Noah's laptop. Noah commiserates with Sydney, telling her that they will find her mom. He had to have several stitches in his arm and his entire forearm is encased in a bandage. Sloane comes in to give Noah his new assignment. Noah has volunteered for another long-term deep cover assignment. Sydney is upset. Noah later reveals that he's not really taking the assignment. He's getting out -- to a South Pacific island. He wants Sydney to come with him. He gives her a plane ticket and begs her to give him just one week. He says that the two of them can find her mother without the help of the CIA if that's what she wants.

Marshall manages to recover a bit of info on the laptop that pinpoints Calder's location in Australia.

Act IV

Sydney and Dixon are to go to Australia to get Calder and bring him back to LA. Sloane reminds Sydney that he promised he would get her closer to her mother: "I'm always here for you. You know that." Sydney smiles weakly and thanks him.

As Sydney is packing, Noah calls. He says he is in route to the South Pacific and is still hoping she will join him. He asks if there has been any word on Calder. Sydney hesitates but says no.

Sydney and Dixon arrive at Calder's retreat in Mackay, Australia. Meanwhile, Vaughn receives a call from Kishell. The Snowman has been spotted in Mackay. Vaughn realizes that he has no way of contacting Sydney. As she approaches the entrance to Calder's home, Sydney finds several guards dead. She follows sounds to the kitchen just in time to see Calder stabbed with an icepick by a black-masked man -- the Snowman. She attacks him and a vicious fight ensues. Sydney grabs a butcher knife, and the Snowman throws her onto the counter. He gets the knife from her and starts to stab her, then hesitates. Sydney kicks him in the head and flips him over. He falls to the floor, impaling himself on the knife. Sydney rolls him over and sees a bandage on his forearm. She pulls off the black mask and cries out when she sees that it is Noah. With his last breath, he gasps out, "I tried to keep you from this. I want you to know that." Dixon bursts into the kitchen to see Sydney crying over Noah's dead body.



COMMENTARY

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

Syd is naked on the floor, asleep, covered partly by a rug. A hand slips over her mouth. It's her fellow SD-6 agent and lover from the night before, Noah Hicks. "They found us. We gotta go," he whispers.

Seconds before boots kick open the door and machine guns strafe the interior, Syd and Noah are under the floor, into the barn and away on a motocycle. "This is White Rabbit," Syd says into her throat mike. "Tell me you can get us out 30 minutes early." Affirmative is the reply. All the while, an electronic, upbeat version of the James Bond theme song plays whimsically in the background.

The next scene is fun to watch, pure James Bond with gadgetry included. Noah, behind Syd on the motorcycle, takes over steering while Syd releases--to a countdown--a sky hook. This shoots far up into the air to attach to a very large plane. Syd and Noah are yanked from the motorcycle to dangle from the wing of the plane, as the plane banks and flies away. The motorcycle below crashes head on into the pursuing hummer. A huge explosion follows.

Though the whole scene works perfectly well as "drama", I do wonder--ever full of questions--whether Syd and Noah could really survive a drag behind a plane that big. The plane looks like a passenger jet, a small one--but a jet all the same. Could they breathe at that speed? Would they freeze at that height? How do they either get in the plane or get off before it lands? Ah, well...this is afterall "Wonderland". Syd identified herself as "White Rabbit". Real world rules likely do not apply.

Back in Los Angeles, Noah wants Syd to go away with him. "I can't do that," she tells him. Vaughan tells Syd K-Directorate is looking for Khasinau too. "The Snowman" is to be the assassin. Syd wants to get to Khasinau first, for leads to her mother. "I know how important this is to you," Waughan says. Rather hesitantly, not really wanting to know the answer, Vaughan asks Syd, "Everything went OK with Noah?" Syd looks away, smiles slightly and replies, "Yeah." Then the credits roll.

Syd speaks to her father, Jack, about a video found of her mother alive, after the accident which supposedly killed her. Jack does not want to see the video. Syd watches with tears in her eyes. She recognizes someone else in the video, FBI agent Calder, who was also presumed dead in the accident. Now, the video shows him not only alive, but identifies him as another KGB agent, Serge Valenko. Her mother's accident and presumed "death" was staged by the KGB.

Violin solo music overlays this Laura Bristow video. The video is grainy and cracked, in black and white. Effectively done. Realistic.

Meanwhile, Dixon and Noah face off. Dixon tells him, "I don't trust you." This sentiment is later shared by SD-6 director Sloane, who has Noah taken into custody and questioned about offshore bank accounts by McCullough, the ever sinister SD-6 psychologist. McCullough reminds me of the actor Boris Karloff, from old black and white horror movies. Lighting for McCullough's craggy face always seems to be from below his chin, giving him a spooky and threatening look. "Boo!" comes to mind every time I see him.

He is definitely not my choice in psychologists. The CIA psychologist Dr. Barnet, on the other hand, is far more welcoming. Jack decides afterall to watch the video of his wife, but is kicked in the stomach by her comment that "Jack Bristow was a fool." Jack then asks Barnet if she has time to see him. "I'll make time," she says. I really like this character. And, I look forward to wherever the script takes her.

Later, when Syd asks her father to intercede with Sloane to have Noah released from custody, Jack tells her, "You don't know him either. That's the lesson in all this." He is talking as much about himself and his KGB wife Laura, as about Syd and Noah. Syd and her father are definitely on the same page "emotionally" in this episode.

Vaughan goes to Bogota to talk to a man who knows "The Snowman". Jack asks Sloane to back off Noah. Francie and Will continue to fret about the airline ticket to Italy found in one of Syd's jacket pockets.

Next, Noah and Syd do a highwire act in South Africa. Syd pulls herself along a wire, dangling from a harness high up in a warehouse. She drops straight down to within 3 inches of a server. From above, Noah hacks into the server with a remote modem. But, of course, this dangling does not proceed without a hitch. In fact, the "hitch" is precisely what slips and the rope suporting Syd starts to untangle her dangle.

Her cries cannot be heard by Noah. Another gadget by tech expert Marshall has reduced sound in all directions to the level of a cockroach "rubbing its legs together." No sound carries to Noah. But, seconds before the rope comes loose, the upload into his remote modem is finished. He just catches the rope in time to break Syd's fall--and to seriously rip apart his arm. Twenty-six stitches are required later to repair the arm. "A personal record," Noah tells Syd back at SD-6 Headquarters.

Remember the bandaged arm. You will see it again, at a most unexpected time, later in the episode. Surprise. Always surprise in Alias. Even prepared, you will be surprised.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" Syd asks Francie and Will after she returns home from South Africa. "Did you break something in here?" Hilarious observation but a match for Francie and Will's look and fret about how to breach the subject of "ticket in the pocket" with Syd. How trivial their concerns seem compared to Syd's. Syd adlibs yet another "lie" to account for the ticket, non-disclosures and secret bank transactions. The lie satisfies Francie and Will, but not Syd. Lies diminish friendships.

Noah volunteers for more deep cover. Sloane gives him an assignment, but Noah's real plans are to leave SD-6 altogether. He wants Syd to join him for a week in the South Pacific. "Now's my window," he tells Syd. "I have my personal reasons for staying," Syd tells him, still unwilling to leave.

Though the data on the Capetown computer had been wiped clean, the ever inventive Marshall reconstructs the data enough to locate Calder, alias KGB agent Valenko. Syd and Dixon are dispatched to Australia.

Mid-flight, Noah calls Syd. "Whatever you're about to say," he tells her, "it's not good-bye." She does not tell him the truth about Calder, that SD-6 has found Calder in Australia.

In Australia, Dixon and Syd approach Calder's compound. "This is weird," she tells Dixon. "I don't see any guards." Three guards are down inside the house. Then, Dixon goes offline. Syd enters a room just as Calder is killed by "The Snowman". Syd fights him. The Snowman's face is covered by a black hood. Syd manages to knock the ice pick from his hand.

This is a great fight. Lots of kicks and spinning around. Lots of tandem in the balance of power between the compatents. The fight happens in the kitchen of Calder's compound. Syd whacks the Snowman with a frying pan. She grabs a butcher knife. He spins her around and heaves her onto a countertop. He holds the knife but hesitates just long enough for Syd to do a headlock with her legs, and to knock him down.

Surprise, surprise. Who's going to be under the hood? The Snowman, fallen on the knife, is breathing heavily. Now who is he? Syd notices the bandaged arm, as she slowly turns him over. She pulls off the hood. It's Noah! "I told you to keep away from this," he tells her. Dixon comes in, gun drawn. Syd is kneeling over Noah as he dies. Shock and tears for Syd's loss show in Dixon's eyes as he takes in the scene.

Clap, clap, clap. This is first rate Alias. Tune in next week.




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