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ALIAS

THE SOLUTION


EPISODE NO. 20
Season 1, episode 20
Series 120
1st release: 04/21/02
2nd release: none to date
Production number: E649
Last update: 08/09/03


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

GUEST CAST
Amy Irving (Emily Sloane)
James Handy (Devlin)
David Anders (Sark)
Tony Amendola (Barcelo)
Kirk B.R. Woller ( Exterminator)
Michelle Arthur (Abigail)
Alec Maray (Sial)
Al Faris (Salim Wahid)
Zuhair Haddad (Sayyad)
Nameer El-Kadi (Algosaibi)

CREDITS
Written by John Eisendrath
Directed by Daniel Attias

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




TV GUIDE PROMO

In order to catch Khasinau and get closer to finding her mother, Sydney and Vaughn set up an undercover sale of a Rambaldi artifact with Khasinau's representative, Mr. Sark. But Sydney's cover may be compromised when an SD-6 agent is sent in to thwart the sale. Meanwhile, Will is enticed to continue his investigation of SD-6 when he learns the identity of one his kidnappers; and Sloane is forced to make the most difficult decision of his life when his terminally ill wife, Emily (Amy Irving), tells Sydney that she knows about SD-6, on Alias. SD-6 HQ


SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser
Scenes from previous episodes, culminating with Sydney crying over Noah's dead body. Following this traumatic event, she copes by working out with a punching bag til her hands are bloody. She tells Vaughn, "I am becoming what I despise". She feels that she is focusing on revenge, rather than just bringing down SD-6. She knows that if she finds Khasinau, who could lead her to her mother, she will ironically be strengthening SD-6. Vaughn shows her a chart that indicates the progress they have made in curtailing SD-6's activities. Sydney still looks discouraged and says she needs to get to class. Vaughn stops her and gives her an ice pack to put on her bruised knuckles.
Francie tells Will that she is sure there is a rat in the apartment. Their conversation is interrupted when Will's cell phone rings. It's the mysterious "source" who has been feeding Will info on SD-6. The voice tells Will he should publish the information he has, but Will says he is off the story. The voice stops Will in his tracks by saying that it was Jack Bristow who kidnapped Will.

Act I
Neither Sydney nor Francie can be there when the exterminator is due, so Will says he will stay. Francie says you just have to out-think rats and offer them a bait they really want. This gives Sydney an idea on how to draw Khasinau out. She tells Vaughn that they should use the ampule from the SD-6 vault as bait. The plan is to make Khasinau think there is a second ampule. To this end, they will break into the Kherefu Art Museum in Algiers and then circulate the rumor that a second vial of the Rambaldi liquid was taken in the heist. Devlin gives the go-ahead for this plan.
Will is looking for a pen when the exterminator arrives. He sees a photo of Jack Bristow in the drawer and pictures the eyes of his kidnapper in his mind.
Sydney visits Emily Sloane in the hospital. Emily is very sick from her chemo treatments. While they are talking, Emily reveals that she knows about SD-6. Since it is an SD-6 hospital, their conversation is being monitored, and an agent begins taking down the information.
Sydney tells Jack that Emily knows, and he tells her it's too late -- the Alliance has already gotten the information. He says Sloane will have to meet with Alliance security. Then a decision on what to do will be made.
Sydney asks Sloane for a week off. Sloane asks where she is going, and she says, "the desert." Sloane agrees, but seems to be thinking of something else.
In Algeria, Sydney and Vaughn pretend they are submitting a bid for the museum's insurance and need to see the security system demonstrated. Vaughn gets the security cameras shut off, supposedly to test the system's capabilities. Meanwhile, Sydney gets into a ventilation shaft and descends to the vault level of the museum.

Act II
Sydney gets into the vault and stuffs several artifacts into her knapsack. Meanwhile, Mr. Algosaibi, the museum owner, comes into the security room and demands that the system be turned back on. Vaughn argues, but Mr. Algosaibi says to find his partner and escort them out. Sydney just gets out of the ventilation shaft in time. She meets Vaughn at the front door, and they leave just as alarms begin going off.
Will gives fellow reporter Abigail a sealed envelope with his SD-6 article in it. He tells her not to open it unless something happens to him. In that case, she is to publish what's inside. Abigail finally agrees.
Will follows Jack to a bar and comes in and sits beside him. He tells Jack that he has a source who told him Jack is the one who kidnapped him. He says the source knows everything, and if Jack will tell him (Will) what's going on, then Will will help Jack figure out who the source is.

Act III
Jack goes to Devlin to report that a breach has occurred. He urges Devlin to put counterintelligence on it and start with Steven Haladki. Devlin says that Haladki filed a complaint against Jack for pulling a gun on him to get info on where the FBI was holding Sydney. Jack doesn't deny it. Devlin says he will decide how to react, but Jack needs to back off.
Sydney confesses to Francie that she had sex with Noah. Francie is no fan of Noah's and is not surprised when Sydney says "it didn't end well." Francie is sympathetic and says she will try to be nice to Noah if he calls, but Sydney tells her it's over.
Alliance Security Director Barcelo comes to see Sloane to tell him Emily must be eliminated. Sloane refuses. Barcelo mentions Jean Briault's murder and seems to be implying that he knows Sloane did it. Barcelo says the Alliance knows Sloane is still pursuing Khasinau counter to their decision, and they want evidence that his "priorities are in order".
Will gets a note telling him to meet Jack. Jack says he will tell Will nothing until they get Will's source. Will wants to know if Sydney is involved, and Jack says no. Will deduces that Jack hired Eloise Kurtz to pretend to be Kate Jones to throw Will off track in his investigation. Jack denies having killed her, however. He tells Will to contact his source and tell him he's back on the story.
Sloane has Marshall tap into Edward Poole's cell phone to pick up info about Khasinau. They learn that Khasinau is planning to purchase a second vial of the Rambaldi liquid. Meanwhile, Sydney and Vaughn are discussing that very transaction. Khasinau has offered twenty million in diamonds for the ampule. They are to meet Khasinau's representative, Mr. Sark, in Denpasar. Sydney is to use the real liquid so Sark can test it, then switch it with another ampule containing a tracking device. Sloane plans to send Dixon to Denpasar to break up the sale and get the ampule, using "all necessary force."

Act IV
Will speaks into the transmitter in Eloise Kurtz's pin. He says he's back on the story.
Sloane goes to see Emily. She is very weak, but says she feels better now that he's there. She asks him to hold her and tells him she is "so proud of him."
In Denpasar, Sydney -- in disguise as an Indonesian woman, dark makeup, veil and all -- approaches the meeting place in a busy marketplace. Sark says to authenticate her identity as a member of the Raslak Jihad, she must demonstrate her proficiency with the latajang -- a long staff-like weapon with a blade at each end. Vaughn tells her through her microphone not to do it, but Sydney accepts the challenge and they fight, with Sydney defeating Sark pretty soundly, stopping just short of plunging the blade into his throat. He is convinced she is who she says she is, and begins a test of the liquid. Vaughn spots Dixon approaching and warns Sydney, but before she can switch the vials, Dixon takes out their guards and faces Sydney and Sark with gun drawn. Only Sydney's eyes are visible above her veil, but Dixon looks at her as though he recognizes her.

To be continued.



COMMENTARY

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

"I killed a man, someone I cared about," Syd tells Vaughan. She is speaking of Noah Hicks, who--in last week's episode--was impaled on a knife while fighting Syd. "I am becoming what I despised," she says. The two are in the "on campus" first aid van where they had their first conversation about SD-6 long ago. Then, Syd had to be reminded to get her "pretend" first aid patch for giving blood. This time, Syd's wounds are real.

Syd's knuckles are bloodied from all the fight practice and bag punching she has been doing to shake off Noah's death. But, her wounds are not only physical. "I was brought into this to bring [SD-6] down," she says to Vaughan. "Now I feel like I'm on their side." So, out comes the SD-6 network map, complete with changes. This is Vaughan's illustration of all the "incredible accomplishments" Syd has performed against SD-6. But, she still hurts.

Full circle. Back to the van. Back to talks with Vaughan. Back to self-doubt and despair. Back to dead boyfriends. Back to reminders to leave the van with a "bandage". What goes around, comes around.

The only distraction to an otherwise well played and believable scene--and those that follow--is all the makeup the Alias' Makeup Department has decided to load on Garner's face for this episode. She looks less like a college student cum secret and very active agent than a nightclub singer still wearing last night's makeup. I wonder how Garner can see through all that mascara.

"We need a professional hit man," says Francie as the scene segues to Syd's arrival home. Francie is talking to Will Tippin. "Rats breed hourly," she says, just as Will's cell phone rings with his own "rat" online. The mysterious voice is back to prod Will to pursue the SD-6 story he abandoned after being kidnapped by Syd's father. "Jack Bristow," the voice tells him. Credits roll.

Talk of rats and traps clues Syd to a way to get to Khasinau, and subsequently to her mother. Khasinau wants the Rimbaldi ampule McKennas Cole tried to steal. Remember McKennas Cole? Assault team leader on SD-6 Headquarters? Torturer of Sloan and shooter of his own girlfriend Cole? He is out of the picture. The CIA has the ampule now, the real ampule. What Syd wants to do is create the "illusion" that a second ampule exists. To do this involves stealing Rimbaldi artifacts from the Kherefu Art Museum in Algiers.

Before flying with Vaughan to Algiers for this CIA not SD-6 sponsored operation, Syd visits Sloane's wife Emily in the hospital. To Syd's consternation, Emily knows Syd works for SD-6, and that her husband does too. Oops! This is an SD-6 run hospital. Lights, camera, action, sound. "I know how easy it is to lose perspective. I don't want that to happen to you," Emily tells Syd. All the cameras watching add a bit of irony to her words.

Now, to Algiers for the Gallery heist with Syd and Vaughan. Here we get to hear Michael Vartan [Vaughan], who was born in France, but who speaks perfect English, pretend to be French and speak with an accent. An inside joke? Technically--this being Algiers--everyone could be speaking French, not English with French accents. But, knowing what is going on is probably more helpful than realism for the scenes in the Gallery.

Timing and the interruption by the Gallery Director are the "triggers" for the fantastic and exhiliarating stunt Garner (and I hope stuntperson for the last bit) performs in the air shaft. This is edge of your seat action. Down an air shaft in a harness, Syd goes. As she is stuffing her bag with Rimbaldi treasures below, the turned off fan she is attached to by the harness comes on. (The Gallery Director has ordered it over Vaughan's protestations--and not too bad French accent.)

Syd is yanked bodily back into the air shaft. She spins round and around as the fan draws her closer and closer to decapitation and dismemberment above. Frantically, she untangles herself from the harness to leap through an entrance to the shaft and safety. An explosive attached to her belt drops down the shaft and explodes. And, the special effect of the ball of fire expanding and chasing Syd up the shaft is very cool! This is the part I hope for a stuntperson. A split second after Syd rolls out of the shaft, the ball of fire fills the space behind her. Whew! That looked way too close! Great stunt!

Back in Los Angeles Will wants to "put a stop to this", the proddings from the mysterious voice on the phone. He confronts Jack directly, telling him that "in return" for help in doing that, Will will help Jack find out who is "the source", that voice on the phone. "I've got a feeling it's someone you'd like to meet," Will tells Jack.

Also back in Los Angeles the Alliance is closing in on Sloane. Alliance Security Director Tambor Barcelo, knows Sloane killed Jean Briault. Remember Jean Briault? Sloane's Alliance mentor and long time friend with the grandkids? The man Sloane shot at point blank range to "fix" an Alliance vote? That Briault now puts Sloane's position with the Alliance in jeopardy. And they say "dead man tell no tales." Ha! The Security Director wants Sloane's wife now killed. "Are you suggesting I allow you to kill my wife to enhance my standing within the Alliance?" Sloane asks Barcelo. Remember Barcelo? What is really scary is that conversations like this are probably going on all over the world, not just on TV.

Momentum. This episode is all about momentum. Lots of overlapping actions, from a variety of directions and characters, aim the plot to an inevitability of conflict or confrontation. Alias upon aliases are about to be blown. The first happens in Denpassar when Dixon, on SD-6 assignment, overlaps Syd's for the CIA. Her eyes over her veil disguise give her away to Dixon. Though, I am still a little surprised he can recognize her through all the mascara given her for this episode.

This Denpassar scene--Syd in Rasiak Jihad disguise, obliged by Khasinau's representative Sark to prove her identity by fighting with an ancient weapon, Dixon shooting his way into the compount to prevent the Rimbaldi ampule's sale--all this is rather "over the top". Contrived and rather comic bookish, for my taste. Of course Syd fights with the weapon she has no idea how to use--and wins. Of course Dixon arrives just in time to forstall the sale--but shooting? When have we ever seen Dixon behave like that on a mission? Weird.

But, the segue to the Lost Angeles hospital, and Sloane with his wife Emily, is a "highlight" that makes up for the over the topness of Denpassar. This scene is moving, tearful and entirely believable. Sloane cries. "Hold me," his wife says to him, touching his cheek. When he does, she whispers, "I'm so proud of you." I am not sure who to "thank"--scriptwriting, directing, the acting of Ron Rifkin, or all three--for the evermore conflicting emotions prompted toward this "villian". Sympathy or revulsion? What to feel? Difficult to know.

But then, nothing is simple or straightforward in Alias. That is part of the magic.



LINKS:

Review of episode from ZEntertainment .




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