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ALIAS

TRUTH TAKES TIME


EPISODE NO. 40
Season 2, episode 18
Series 218
1st release: 03/16/03
2nd release: 08/03/03
Production code: S02E18
Last update: 08/09/03


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REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders
COMMENTARY 2 by Zero and E
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
Joey Slotnick as CIA Agent Steven Haladki
David Anders as Mr. Sark
Lena Olin as Irina Derevko/Laura Bristow



GUEST CAST
Terry O'Quinn (Kendall)
Christopher Curry (Heinz Brucker)
Amy Irving (Emily Sloane)
Kevin Sutherland (CIA agent)



CREDITS
Written by J.R. Orci
Directed by Nelson McCormick



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

SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Teaser

Scenes from previous episodes, culminating with Irina escaping with Sark and Sloane. Flash to a long, dark tunnel. Sydney is at one end, and Irina is at the other. They are firing handguns at each other. Irina tries to escape out of a ceiling trap door, and Sydney shoots her. Outside, Vaughn and Dixon run up to Sydney, who is crying over someone's dead body.

In LA, five days earlier, Vaughn and Sydney are at hq when Yager summons Vaughn to his office. Jack pulls Sydney aside and tells her about Irina's betrayal, and that she and Sloane must have planned the whole operation.

Dixon comes to Sydney and commiserates with her about her mother. He says they're drawing up a plan to recapture Sloane and Irina and the Rambaldi manuscript. Sydney shows him Irina's earrings -- she had left them for Sydney. Sydney says she would rather Irina had been killed.

On his private jet, Sloane asks how Irina has been. She says she's happy to see him again and asks about Emily. Sloane says she misses the people she had to leave behind -- like Sydney. He says he and Emily loved Sydney as if she were their own. Irina tells Sloane she sees through him: "Never talk to me about your love for Sydney again."

Kendall announces that Jack has been put in charge of the task force to apprehend Irina and Sloane -- and doesn't seem too happy about it. Jack reveals that he injected Irina with a passive transmitter, which will activate in about twelve hours.

In Tuscany, Sloane shows Emily their new villa. She is happy that the last few weeks are over and they can get on with their lives.

Sydney and Vaughn talk. He has nearly been cleared of suspicion. Vaughn says Sydney should not be part of the task force. Sydney disagrees. He says that in a showdown, if Sydney hesitates, Irina could kill her. Sydney: "I won't hesitate."

Act I

Kendall is angry that Jack switched the transmitters without authorization. Marshall interrupts their argument to report that the transmitter has gone active. The trace leads to Stuttgart.

In Stuttgart, Irina infiltrates Brucker Biotech, an engineering firm specializing in genetic research. Sark sees a van pull up outside and suspects that they have been traced. He goes into the facility and finds Irina. He sweeps her and finds the transmitter. He uses electric paddles and shocks her, knocking out the signal. Sydney, Vaughn and Dixon move in. Sydney goes to the computer room, where Irina has already downloaded the info they came for. Vaughn encounters Sark, and they fight. Sark knocks Vaughn down a staircase, grabs a gun, and shoots him in the chest. He's about to shoot again when Sydney appears and shoots the gun out of his hand. He escapes. Sydney runs to Vaughn, who is just stunned, since the bullet hit his vest. Suddenly Irina calls out to Sydney and then runs to an exit. Sydney and Vaughn follow her outside just as an explosion destroys much of the building.

Act II

At the Sloanes' villa, Emily is fixing dinner when Sloane's cell phone rings. She answers it. It's Irina, who asks to speak to Sloane. Irina tells Sloane she got the disk but was tracked. Sloane tells Emily they must leave the villa as a precaution. Emily is bewildered, but Sloane begs her to trust him.

Will reports to the CIA that DNA studies had been done at Brucker Biotech which would allow an individual to be genetically targeted for assassination.

Emily is shocked when she and Sloane arrive at his jet, first that he has a jet, and second that Irina -- who Emily thought died 20 years ago -- is there waiting for them. She demands an explanation. Sloane tells her that what he's working toward is for her to be able to live cancer free -- forever.

Sydney, Vaughn, Will and "Francie" are having dinner at the restaurant. "Francie" continues to say little things that make Sydney look at her in a puzzled way. "Francie" gives Vaughn a gift -- a tie -- which both Sydney and Will think is odd. Before they can discuss it, though, Sydney and Vaughn's pagers go off and they have to leave. At hq, Jack shows them photos of Emily Sloane at a consulate in Florence. He says she just walked in, told them who she was and that she wants to cooperate with the CIA. Also, she will only talk to Sydney.

Act III

In Florence, Sydney comes to Emily at the consulate. Emily apologizes for making Sydney think she was dead. She says Arvin told her to trust him and give him a second chance. But now she can't be the excuse for his crimes any more. She wants to help bring him in, if Sydney will see that he won't get the death penalty.

Sloane calls Irina and offers to sell her all of his Rambaldi artifacts. He says he wants out. He says to come to the villa so they can seal the deal.

Sydney brings Emily the guarantee that the CIA won't pursue the death penalty. She tells Emily the plan to apprehend Sloane and that Emily will be protected. Emily says she knows Sydney is disappointed that she stayed with Sloane even after she knew what he was doing. Sydney says that at Emily's funeral she said she had always thought of Emily as her real mother. They clasp hands for a moment, and then Sydney leaves.

Act IV

In Tuscany, Emily is in the villa, and Sydney and a task force are in the woods nearby. Sloane and Irina arrive and go in. Irina goes to download the information Sloane is giving her, and Sloane goes to talk to Emily. He tells her he's not going on. She says she's there to say goodbye. Sloane tells her that this time he's really getting out and will never leave her again. Emily begins to cry and then pulls out the wire she's been wearing. She says the CIA is outside. Sloane says all that's important is whether she will come with him or not. Emily says she will. The task force breaks into the house as Sloane and Emily slip out through a secret tunnel. Irina goes after them, followed by Sydney. Sydney and Irina engage in a gun battle down a long section of the tunnel. As Irina is leaving through the overhead exit, Sydney arrives and shouts "Freeze!" Irina looks back, but keeps going. Sydney shoots her in the arm. Irina drops the disk she was carrying, but gets out the exit. Sydney seems unable to fire again, but follows. A helicopter arrives, and Sloane, Emily and Irina run towards it. Dixon has Sloane in the sights of his rifle, but a helicopter flies over just as he shoots, and he hits Emily instead. Sloane is crying over Emily's body, but Irina drags him to the chopper and they escape. Sydney runs to Emily's body. Dixon and Vaughn join her as she cries for Emily.

Back in LA, Vaughn asks Sydney if she is all right, but Sydney says she doesn't want to talk about it. Just then they hear a beeping sound. Sydney discovers it's coming from Irina's earrings. They identify the beeps as Morse code, and Sydney transcribes the message: "Truth takes time."



COMMENTARY 1

This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

Alias pulls a fast one. Syd kills her mother, or so we are led to believe for the teaser. Irina, mid-escape at the top of a roof ladder, turns to smile at Syd. Her smile is rewarded with a shot--in the arm, we find out later. At the start though, Irina's painful reactions and Syd's subsequent tears prompt the viewer to think Irina is dead.

With luck, never that. Alias without Irina Derevko is now unimaginable.

Sloane's wife Emily is the character shot dead, but not by Syd. Dixon pulls the trigger. Of course, Emily Sloane has been dead twice before, alledgedly poisoned by her husband Sloane first, then second, alledgedly shot in the head by kidnappers. This happens despite Sloane having paid the ransom (in a much earlier episode). Between the two resurrections of Emily Sloane, and now, DNA duplicate characters have entered the Alias pantheon. Do not be surprised if the "real" Emily Sloane rises from the dead yet again.

At least Irina gets away, extracted by helicopter, piloted by Sark. Sloane too escapes, though tearful, his presumedly dead wife on the ground below. Syd weeps over the body. Later, though, Syd learns that "things are not always what they seem." Her mother's earrings clue Syd once again that "Truth takes time." Morse code. I knew Irina's earrings would prove pivotal!

THE PLOT:

Vaughan continues to be "under investigation". Jack clues Syd of Irina's "betrayal" and escape. In Irina's now empty jail cell Syd finds earrings Irina has left as a gift. Syd is distraught. So too Emily Sloane, now back from the dead, temporarily. But that is later.

First Irina and Sloane lock horns, Jack takes over "operational control" from Kendall, and a "passive transmitter" activates. Irina's location is signalled. She is in Stuttgart, with Sark, hacking the genetic data base of Brucker Biotech. Sark blows up the building. Only Irina's calling her name saves Syd from entering the building.

Francie continues to puzzle Syd. Sloane tells Emily his whole purpose is to allow her to live "cancer free forever". But Emily, distraught, is unconvinced and turns Sloane in to CIA, begging only that Sloane be spared the "death penalty". Sloane wants to quit crime for Emily. The CIA, Syd and Vaughan in the lead, move against Sloane's Italian villa. Syd and Irina have a shoot out. Lots of running around.

Sloane and Syd and Irina escape, and Emily is maybe dead again. A long distance earring call from Irina comes through for Syd. End of episode.

THE PRODUCTION:

Seamless. Well paced. Fast forward. Puzzle perfect segues. Well played. High marks for direction and editing. Only one quibble: The teaser "cheat" at the start, montaging events with actual space and time between as if in sequence. The point of course is to make us believe Irina is dead by Syd's hand. Tricky. 3 out of 4 stars.

HIGHLIGHTS:

1) MID-AIR EXCHANGE between Sloane and Irina: Intensity and focus and straight talk is shown by Irina. What is the deeper connection between these two, over time? Sloane keeps referring to "being like a father" to Syd. Irina tells him she sees through him. She says, though he may think of himself as a "father figure", "I don't see that man in you, which frankly is why we have this agreement." Hmmm, and double hmmm. What does Irina mean? What is Sloane's real relationship to Syd? To Irina? Stay tuned.

2) SYD'S "I WON'T HESITATE" response to Vaughan. Gun in hand, ear protectors and safety glasses on, Syd takes aim. Vaughan has just told her, when confronting Derevko, "If you hesitate it could cost you your life." Very effective segue and overlap of dialogue, characterization and plot, underscored at the CIA indoor target practice range. Shots are fired and the ALIAS opening credits bullet onto the screen. Cool. Stay tuned.

3) EMILY SLOANE'S REACTION to seeing Irina Derevko alive, after believing her dead for 20 years. Irina hugs her and says, "Arvin will tell you," then leaves him to do that. Has not Sloane already given Emily all explanations previously, while in exile in the Phillipines? "Apparently" not. Emily is now so conflicted about Arvin (Sloane) owning a private jet, collecting Rimbaldi artifacts and pursuing keys to eternal life that she goes to the CIA to turn him in. Does anyone believe that? I do not. These two are up to something, "no good" presumably--despite Emily's apparent innocence or naivete. Stay tuned. Tears for Emily may not be required.

At episode end Irina dots and dashes Syd via gifted earrings. "Truth takes time" is the message. More truth next week, along with a few lies, half truths and misdirections. That is Alias. Fun. Stay tuned.



COMMENTARY 2

This commentary is by Zero and E.

"An impossible situation."

THINGS THAT WORKED:

-A windswept field

When we look upon the people and the icons of our past, which we, in our innocence, held in exaltation, we are sometimes struck by a moment of regret, when we see them for what they truly are, all their flaws and human imperfections peeking through. And when those betrayed expectations destroy our hope, it is sometimes easier to mourn an absence, to nurture an untainted memory, than to live in the presence of a dismantled ideal. But, sitting in her mother's empty cell, such an escape is impossible for Sydney. Disillusioned by Irina's very survival, twice destroyed by the loss of her mother, she feels the bitterness of every loving gesture turned hollow by abandonment. "She was never my mother." And though she accepts the earrings, she denies Irina her maternity, instead turning once again to Emily, another mother resurrected and returned. "She'll only talk to you." In Laura Bristow's wake, Emily was Sydney's shelter, her promise of a future free of pretense. She stood, undistorted by the corruption of the world in which she lived, her innocence somehow undiluted by the transgressions done in her name. It was only when her life had twice been claimed, once by her body and once by a body of men, that she finally acquiesced to the deception she had so long evaded. Even then she returns to Sydney, an eidolon of her mother. Even then she leaves her, another hesitant ally of a daughter's enemy. Both women run, fleeing the retribution of Sydney's broken trust. Driven by an insatiable resolve, Sydney turns her weapon on Irina, pulls the trigger, lost to the shock of the brutal reflex. But, as Sydney fires the mimic shot, her mother's wound returned, Emily falls as Irina's effigy, plays the role a final time, at last yielding to a defied mortality. It is with heartbreaking disbelief that Sydney kneels beside her friend, bows beneath the weight of a great sorrow. There was such power to the receding image of Emily's body laid out in the windswept field, the solemn approach of her witnesses, the silent anguish. Such an extraordinary woman and such a piercing loss, Sydney's prophetess transformed into a martyr of all causes but her own. And yet we end on an echoed promise. With half a life already scripted and only half a life to mend the damage done, Irina begs of her daughter an undeserved patience, leaving her with but a trace of hope with which to continue. "Truth takes time."

-Back-story

We find ourselves unnaturally fascinated and enthralled with the back-story of the show's first-generation spies. Each time we gain some glimpse into their pasts, we cannot help but desire to know them more fully, to understand every facet of their history. This past is so delicately etched, the present constructed so precariously atop so many unspoken truths. So much hinges on small secrets and secret motives.

"I'll be in Tuscany. With Emily."
"How is she?"
"She's in remission. The hard part for her now is missing the people she had to leave behind.
Especially Sydney. You know how much we loved her. As if she were our own."
"Excuse us. --- I see through you. You must know that."
"This is who I am."
"You may need to think of yourself as an honorable husband, a father figure. But I don't. I will never see that man in you. Which, frankly, is why we have this agreement."
"You need to get some rest."
"Never talk to me about your love for Sydney again."
"Get some rest."

We cannot remember a time when the present seemed so richly ambiguous, when it was so clear that the true story rests in the twisting intersections of private lives and professional agendas. The questions linger, what did people know and when? Every secret hints at the existence of another. If Sloane withheld from Jack Irina's artful flight, if Jack withheld from Sydney the falsehoods of her past, if Irina hid herself for two decades of design, what is the sum total of deception, what do people know that they hid, are hiding, or are keeping from us? What was the nuance of these people's interactions? How deeply did they understand the workings of their neighbors? What bargains did they strike with one another? What debts are there still to repay?

Sloane and Irina's dialogue alludes to a set of relationships that speaks of ownership and bitterness and dominance. Sitting across from one another on the plane, trading cheerful platitudes before their y0ung liaison, their conversation quickly turns sour as Sloane interjects with poorly masked insinuations. It is a card he played many times last season, his claim on Sydney's welfare, his role as her protector and her mentor. And yet again with are left with nothing more than those intimations, which are so carefully obscure that they hold both absolute honesty and complete manipulation in their utterance.

-A second chance

"Don't treat me like a fool. Stop telling me that the deception is all over."

Even as she is overwhelmed by anger, her patience worn, Emily still asserts her husband's humanness. She humbles him. Her love demands that he acknowledge his own transience, that he respect that he is but a man, another human being responsible for the way he touches others' lives. She lowers him from his self-constructed epic pedestal, faces him as a peer, more his equal than any other. And in her devotion, she tries to save him from himself.

"He rationalizes what he's done. He says he's doing it for us. For me. But even if I believed him, I won't be the excuse for his crimes. I won't live with that on my conscience. I'll help you bring him in. But I need you to guarantee me something."
"What?"
"That he won't get the death penalty."

It is so tragic that she should have to come to her husband's enemy and beg for his life. The request is so powerful and human and awful in its simplicity. There is such an enormity to his sins and yet something so personal, so private in her appeal. But though she takes that initial step, standing before the man she loves, she can go no further.

"Arvin, I'm here to say goodbye."
"Emily, do you remember how it felt when I found you on the beach and I told you that it was over?"
"Arvin..."
"All that matters is this."
"Please..."
"What we have, between us."
"Just stop..."
"That no one else is a part of."
"Oh, God, please. Just stop. The CIA's been listening. They're here."

Sloane is silenced. He feels the twinge of his wife's betrayal, flinches at her confession.

"Doesn't matter. All I need to know right now is if you want to come with me."
"Come with you?"
"If you don't want to, I'll understand, but Emily, please, you have to make your mind up right now."

There is a permanence to their commitment, a constancy to their love that cannot be negotiated. He was willing to sacrifice his quest for her and she cannot deny him.

"Yes. I will."

Emily's role captured a vast emotional honesty. She possessed both a sense of justice and an inescapable vulnerability. She was both imperfect and exceptional. And though we mourned her death long ago, the purity she lent this universe with her presence will linger in her absence.

-Rotunda Politics

"It was my call to let her out and I stand by that decision, but you blindsided me, you son of a bitch! And your pretense of an apology doesn't do either of us any good."
"I'll be equally blunt. From the moment Irina Derevko walked in this door, you ordered Sydney to deal with her, over my objections, with absolute disregard for her emotional well-being."
"That was my prerogative, and I stand by that call."
"With that said, it's not my intention to replace you. As soon as I'm satisfied that Derevko can never harm my daughter again, you'll have your title back."

With total disregard for the bureaucratic workings of the Agency, Jack played Kendall and usurped his jurisdiction. He used his own suspicions about Irina to position himself as the head of the Joint Task Force, letting Kendall take the fall for the err in judgment. Jack has long allowed Kendall to maintain the semblance of control why he orchestrated operations from the background. Kendall, in turn, has been quite patient with Jack's underhanded manipulations, content to wear the title if not the authority. But with this latest act of mutiny, the two men at last collide. As they each struggle to take charge of the Stuttgart mission, their facade of civility quickly deteriorates under the friction of their conflicting priorities. The underlying antagonism of their relationship has at last revealed itself and the sharp, fast paced bitterness of their discourse is somehow oddly satisfying. These two men have reason to dislike on another other.

DETAILS WE APPRECIATED:

-Ensemble. Jack, Irina, Sloane, Emily, Sydney, Vaughn, Sark, Dixon, Marshall, Will, Kendall, and Francie's mimic. We're not entirely sure how this many characters were incorporated so meaningfully into a single episode. What a spectacular script and impressive cast.

-Sydney's abrupt gunfire, which cut across Sloane and Emily's affection in Tuscany, was truly shocking. The disorientation caused by the lack of transition, the contraposition of the pair's gentleness and Sydney's cold fury was disturbing, as though her shots were intended for them.

-"Because it's the weirdest thing of all time." We appreciate that Francie's mimic, though slowly growing more comfortable in her role, is maintaining the bizarreness inherent in her ploy. The flaws in her deception ensure that our characters do not lose their integrity. Chatting over dinner, it's clear that they are unnerved. This scene really WAS the weirdest thing of all time.

-The final (and initial) face-off at Sloane's Tuscan Villa was absolutely amazing. It was truly a battle of desperation, a struggle of flight and pursuit. The direction was just incredible, so intense in its perspectives and movement and pacing. Set against the immense spread of the land, the frantic motion conjured by the helicopter's whirling blades makes the scene perfectly overbearing, deafening in the vibrancy of its aesthetics.



LINKS:

Television without Pity. Recap Truly, Madly, Deeply. Truth Takes Time - Might as well add "dumbly" to the end of that list. So Irina and Sloane are in cahoots, and they're after some genetic database. Syd and the CIA are on their tails, but since they practically take out a full-page ad in Variety about their mission to capture the whole Sloane crew, Irina and Sark get away once again. This escape leads to a showdown at Sloane's Tuscan Villa of Evasion and the untimely death-by-sniper-shot of Auntie Em. And this time? She STAYS dead, d-----.




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