Whoosh! ...


ALIAS

THE TELLING


EPISODE NO. 44
Season 2, episode 22
Series 222
1st release: 05/04/03
2nd release: 09/14/03
Last update: 08/09/03


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REGULAR CAST, GUEST CAST & CREDITS
SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 2 by Zero and E
COMMENTARY 3 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
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)
Jonathan Banks (Brandon)
Amanda Foreman (Carrie Bowman)
Robert Joy (Hans Jurgens)
Joel Swetow (Jens)
Greg Grunberg (Weiss)
Michael Canavan (Special Agent McCain)
Kristopher Logan (Garth)
J.P. Romano (French guard no. 1)
Kevin Bowens (Alpha team leader)
Jon Dixon (CIA agent no. 1)
Kent George (Sloane's guard)
Paul Keeley (Police officer no. 1)
Michael Yama (Chinese agent)



CREDITS
Written by J.J. Abrams
Directed by J.J. Abrams



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

SYNOPSIS:

This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

TEASER

Marshall tells Weiss about going out for sushi with Carrie. Marshall says he was afraid to kiss her, though. Weiss starts giving Marshall advice, but Marshall is distracted by some info coming over the computer. Marshall runs to Sydney and says that Irina is sending intel to her. It's the DNA string.

In a motel room, "Francie" asks Will what the CIA knows. He says they don't seem to know anything. "Francie" goes into the bathroom and puts something on the tip of a needle inside her ring. She comes back in and lies down beside Will on the bed. She opens her ring and is about to stab him with the needle when the door bursts open and CIA agents rush in.

Will undergoes several tests. Sydney finally comes to his cell to tell him the DNA strands don't match. He's been cleared. They embrace, and Will tells her he's sorry he said he didn't trust her. He asks if they have a name to go with the original DNA strand. Sydney says it's A.G. Doren.

Sydney and Vaughn are playing ice hockey and trying to plan a weekend in Santa Barbara, when Weiss calls. Vaughn leaves, but Sydney stays to practice. She looks up and Irina is standing at the end of the rink. She gives Sydney an address in Zurich. She says that half of the Rambaldi artifacts are there. Sydney doesn't believe her, but Irina tells her that she had known from the start that she would betray the CIA. Her plan was to steal the CIA's Rambaldi artifacts. She had Sark give Sloane a proposal (the letter Sark handed Sloane in the ambulance) that they work together to take down the Alliance and raid the CIA all at once. She got access to the CIA computer system during the Echelon crisis and discovered the location of the CIA artifacts - an NSA facility in Nevada. Sloane's team raided the facility and got the artifacts. She says that escaping from the CIA was painful because "my love for you, for your father, was not a contrivance." Sydney is still skeptical. Irina says there's one more thing she has to do, and she's sorry for it. She knocks Sydney unconscious.

Sark brings "Francie" Provacillium to help her rejection of the DNA. He calls her Allison, and breaks the news to her that Markovic's lab was destroyed, so they can't reverse the process, but they are working on a way to bring her back. They kiss. "Francie" seems a little reserved. Sark: "You don't fancy him? Tippin?" "Francie": "Don't be stupid."

Act I

Kendall is exasperated with Brandon and the NSA for not telling them about the raid in Nevada. Brandon is defensive but confirms that 24 Rambaldi artifacts were stolen in the raid. They all argue on whether or not to believe Irina's intel about the Zurich warehouse, but decide to proceed. Kendall tells Jack to go with Brandon to transfer the DiRegno heart to Ventura, where they will store all the artifacts when they are recovered.

Weiss goes to Will's cell to escort him to a safe house. When he introduces himself as Eric Weiss, Will asks if he's related to Houdini, since that was his real name, too. Weiss says yes, they are related. Will asks if he can use a computer before they go, because he thinks the name A.G. Doren sounds familiar and he wants to check it out. While Will accesses his files, Weiss is attempting to do a magic trick, but Will is not paying attention because he has found the name Allison Doren in his research on Project Christmas. Her name is on a list of children identified as future agents, and she was supposedly killed in an accident as a child.

In Zurich, Sydney and her team get into the warehouse only to find it filled with rusted kitchen appliances instead of Rambaldi artifacts.

Jack and Brandon leave NSA hq with the DiRegno heart, but haven't gotten very far when their van is intercepted by armed men. Brandon is killed and Jack is taken prisoner, along with the DiRegno heart.

Act II

Jack is strapped to a cot while Sloane describes the Rambaldi device he is assembling now that he has all the pieces. It's called "The Telling." Jack says he used to pity Sloane that he needed Rambaldi to fill the void in his life.

Irina calls Sydney on her cell and tells her she didn't know that Sloane had double crossed her. Sydney doesn't believe her but Irina says she still wants to help Sydney recover the artifacts. She says she doesn't know where Sloane is, but that Sark does. She tells Sydney she can find Sark in a club in Stockholm. Sydney hangs up and tells Vaughn she's going to Sweden.

In Stockholm, Sydney and Vaughn enter the club but don't see Sark anywhere. They assume Irina has led them on a wild goose chase, when suddenly they see Sark across the room. They grab Sark, and Vaughn slams his head into the table. They ask where Jack is. Sark: "Not a problem. My loyalties are flexible." He says Sloane and Jack are in Mexico City.

Act III

In Mexico City Sydney and Vaughn enter an elevator and descend to the basement. They are following Sark's directions, relayed by Kendall. Sark gives the code for a control box that disables security. It works. The team enters the building and they all proceed up the stairs, encountering guards on the way and shooting them. Sloane is warned that they are approaching. He tells Jack that the device has been assembled and that they will meet again. He and his men leave. Dixon's team finds Jack and cuts him loose. Sydney and Vaughn engage in a gun battle with Sloane and his men. Suddenly Irina appears and shoots several of Sloane's men. She shouts to Sydney to go after Sloane, but Sydney motions for Vaughn to go, and she races after Irina. She emerges on the roof to see Irina poised on the ledge, about to go over the side. Sydney yells at her to freeze: "I've shot you before. I will do it again." Irina says Sloane believes he has been chosen to realize Rambaldi's work. But she says that Sydney has been chosen, too: "It's you in the prophecy, Sydney, not me." She says Sydney is the only one who can stop him. Then Irina says "I love you" and falls over the edge. She is attached to a rope, and she swings toward the building and shoots out the windows so she can crawl in. Sydney radios for help, but from where she is she cannot identify which floor Irina is on.

Back in LA, Will is going through his files when "Francie" returns. She has brought his favorite ice cream. He kisses her and goes to take an aspirin. In the bathroom, he finds a pill bottle marked Provacillium. Back in the living room, "Francie" opens Will's files and sees a picture of Allison Doren as a child.

Act IV

Will calls Sydney's cell phone but gets her voice mail. He tells her he found Provacillium in the bathroom and thinks that "the double is Fran..." He hears a sound and goes back into the living room. "Francie" is waiting for him and puts a cord around his neck. Will manages to hit her in the face and grabs a knife. "Francie" kicks him and gets the knife, stabbing Will in the stomach. She begins to cry as he slumps to the floor.

Sydney and Vaughn pull up in front of the house. Vaughn says he booked a hotel room in Santa Barbara. He says he'll come back and pick her up after the debriefing. Sydney is happy. She goes in and finds "Francie" reading. Sydney gets some ice cream and sits down to relax. She accesses her mail and gets Will's message. She keeps her face expressionless as she listens to it. She closes the phone and offers "Francie" some ice cream. "Francie" smiles and accepts a spoonful. Sydney says she needs to change clothes. She goes in the bedroom and is getting her gun when she hears a sound and looks up. "Francie" has a gun pointed at her: "I just remembered. Francie doesn't like coffee ice cream." Sydney leaps across the room as they both fire at each other. They fight all over the house, and "Francie" is easily a match for Sydney. At one point, Sydney sees Will lying in the bathtub. Her anger makes her even fiercer, but "Francie" is very good. She throws Sydney into the bedroom mirror and then reaches for her gun again. But Sydney grabs a piece of glass and rakes it across "Francie's" cheek. "Francie" staggers backwards, and Sydney grabs the gun. She fires three times, hitting "Francie" with all three shots. Then she collapses, bloodied and unconscious on the bedroom floor.

Sydney awakens to see a rd light flashing off and on. She is dressed in different clothing and seems to be lying in an alley. She gets to her feet and wanders out into the street, where she sees only signs written in Chinese. She makes her way to a phone booth and calls the CIA, identifying herself with a code number. Kendall comes on the line. She says she's in Hong Kong and doesn't know how she got there. He tells her to go to a safe house. There she is shown to a room where she waits for some time. She notices a scar on her stomach. Finally the door opens. It's Vaughn, looking very drawn and worried. Sydney runs to him and they embrace. Sydney babbles that Francie was the double and asks if Will and Francie are dead. Vaughn says Will is okay. They sit down. Vaughn says they thought she was dead. He says they asked him to come back to explain. Sydney: "Come back from what?" She notices Vaughn is wearing a ring and asks about it. Vaughn: "Syd...since that night...you were missing..." He pauses, as though he can hardly bear to say any more. "You've been missing for almost two years." Sydney just looks at him with a horrified expression on her face.



COMMENTARY 1

This commentary is by Sally Dye.

As I am still trying to process the shocking Season Two finale, I can't help but look back to the finale of Season One, which left so many cliffhangers it was almost hard to count them. Of the questions that were raised by the end of "Almost Thirty Years", only about half of them were answered as I expected them to be.

First, the question of whether Vaughn was dead or not was resolved pretty quickly, but had long reaching ramifications way into the season.

Second, I was so sure that Dixon would be persuaded not to report Sydney's suspicious activities. He did, in fact, tell Sloane about it, but the question now is, did Sloane already know that Sydney was a double agent then or not?

Third, I said that on "Alias" dead doesn't always mean dead, but I actually believed that Sloane had killed Emily at the end of that episode. Even when she turned up alive, the real surprise was that the whole thing was a plot on Sloane's (and Irina's, I guess) part.

Fourth, I guess Jack really did kill Haladki, since his brain matter was found on Jack's gun, but we've never seen a body there either, so.......hmm.

Fifth, I was also sure that somehow Will's story's publication would be prevented, but that didn't work out as I expected, either.

Sixth, Sydney escaped "the man" pretty easily as it turned out - the real shocker there was why she was able to.

And seventh, we never really did get the answer to what the giant Rambaldi device did, although it caused some unexpected problems for Sydney and Vaughn down the road.

Now we come to the Season Two finale. And even though it might seem on the surface that there was only one cliffhanger at the end of this season's finale - where has Sydney been for the past two years - there are actually several others. Enough, in fact, to rival the cliffhanger-laden ender to Season One.

Let's get to the most important question first -- is Vaughn really married? There has been a lot of talk that Sydney and Vaughn's relatively happy Season Two relationship was not nearly as interesting as the sexual tension that was present through most of Season One, so it would make sense, I guess, to throw the relationship a curve or two to make Season Three more interesting. Vaughn's guilty expression makes it even more likely that the wedding ring is for real. But things are never really as they seem on "Alias", so I'm waiting to see on that one.

Second, has Vaughn really left the CIA? He said, "They asked me to come back", which makes me wonder, just as Sydney did, back from what? The main problem with the assumption that Vaughn left the CIA is the question of why he, as a civilian, would have been sent to debrief an agent who has been missing for two years. It was more dramatic to have him be the one to tell Syd the news, but it doesn't really make sense, even for "Alias"'s convoluted plot lines.

Third, where is Jack? He would actually seem to be the more logical choice to come to Syd in Hong Kong, unless there is some serious circumstance preventing him. Perhaps he also has quit the CIA. Maybe he finally succumbed to Sloane's pleading for a resumption of their partnership and has gone off to learn about Rambaldi. Or maybe he and Irina are back together. The possibilities are endless there.

Fourth, speaking of Irina, what happened to her? Are she and Sloane still partners? Have they extracted Sark from CIA custody, or are they glad to be rid of him and his "flexible loyalties"? But the possibility has occurred to me that Sark's capitulation in Sweden and his subsequent willingness to help the CIA came a little too quickly to be genuine. Just as Irina planned to get into CIA custody to get information, so might Sark have done so, maybe with Irina's encouragement and assistance.

Fifth, how did Will survive? Francie/Allison actually gutted him in their fight, or at least it appeared so. She really seemed to kind of "fancy him" (as Sark would say) there at the end, so maybe she deliberately didn't make the wound a mortal one.

Sixth, what happened to Francie/Allison? Did those gunshots kill her or just wound her? I would lean toward the wounding possibility just so Merrin Dungey could still be part of the cast. Of course, she would now be acknowledged as a villain, perhaps allied with Irina or Sloane or Sark, if he's escaped CIA custody.

Seventh, what about that Rambaldi device, "The Telling"? What does it do, and more importantly, what has Sloane done with it over the past two years? Did it have something to do with what happened to Syd? How does Syd fit in with that prophecy, which nearly everyone had forgotten about until Irina reminded us of it?

And finally, of course, the biggie - what really did happen to Syd over the past two years, and why doesn't she remember it? Did Sloane cause it to happen? Did Irina have anything to do with it?

So there are actually more cliffhangers this year than last year. Wow. I look back at the Season One finale and see that not all of my questions were answered the way I expected them to be, so my anticipation for Season Three is even more anxious than my anticipation for Season Two was. And that's a good thing for "Alias" fandom. Knowing that there will be some terrific surprises next year is what will make Season Three a great season.



COMMENTARY 2

This commentary is by Zero and E.

"Rambaldi to fill the void"

THINGS THAT WORKED:

-Buried and Revealed

Allison's arrival was overwhelmed by a subtle ruin, her presence marked by a slow-spreading decay. There was an inevitability inherent in her dormancy and, in her wake, something was quietly extinguished, a reflection disrupted. As hollow as the void she filled, it seemed impossible that she might surface in any semblance of a human being, that the callousness of her transgressions would not drown her. But, like many before her, she borrows her humanity from a stolen identity, and even as all to which she acted catalyst comes crashing down, she is salvaged by the vestiges of her past. A. G. Doren. The weight of a name, even in a world overflowing. Every alias a window to the past, every past a key into the present. And it is the very person whom she has betrayed who christens her, who affords her a self as a casualty of Project Christmas. She was never Francie, nor was she anyone else. She was conferred nothing more than the barren role of a succubus in limbo. But, give her this name, give her this past and she is someone. Standing across from Sark, she is a strangely younger woman, somehow unfamiliar in her nuance. Put her in his presence, make her his peer and suddenly their history expands behind them. Hold an old photograph up to an expression of haunted recognition, make her just real enough so that we ask--what if?

And now, in the present, we find that she has anchored herself to this ruse so resolutely that its boundaries begin to evade her. Twice she tries to free herself from the masquerade, twice laying her hands upon the neck of the one pretense of comfort this endgame has offered her. But when she must face him, when she must confront Will's anguished question-- was it always you? -- there is a sudden ambiguity to her resolve.

Merrin Dungey is utterly transformed. Playing a woman playing a woman who used to be the woman she played, she melts, her mechanical facade receding. From the blatant irony of a double's skepticism to her unexpected overflow of grief, her shocking sobs of devastation as she both embraces and destroys the man before her, she is at once buried and revealed. When at last she stands at Sydney's doorway, invoking the name of her mirror's ghost, there is absolutely nothing to remind, nothing that alludes to the woman she once embodied. She is simply Allison Georgia Doren. And she's tired of this game.

-"If Rambaldi's right" (episode 01.17)

Always already a subject, Sydney lived hostage to others' back-alley whims, her fate scripted, scrawled across margins, lifted recklessly from empty pages. She spent the better part of twenty years living backwards, working tirelessly to fuse the fragments of her past into some semblance of a future. Over time, the pieces coalesced, converged to form a self-directed life, a patchwork existence fashioned from her mother's echo. As she at last stepped from beneath the shadow of her splintered childhood, she emerged with two lives, irreconcilable identities each demanding tomorrow's vow. She made her promise, chose Danny, chose to live with the lie exposed. But with a lie exposed comes truth and the truth changes everything.

Her future irrevocably altered, the death of her fiancÚ swiftly unraveling her illusion of independence, she found the bedrock of her epistemology washed away by the very act of confession. All that she labored toward for seven years was devastated by an instant, the cruel revelation that she was the dismantler of her own ideal, that all she worked to know was false. A fraudulent past erased without consultation, the truth changed everything because everything was a lie.

The more Sydney fought to resurrect the time she lent to SD-6, to reestablish a long-forsaken autonomy, the more she found her choices circumscribed by a life predetermined by man's cryptic vision and intent. Her only idol is obliterated, transformed from a mother into a murderous unknown. Her father, too, must be reconceived, repositioned as another draftsman of her fate. And, even as she overcomes the manipulations that defined her origins and course, she slips deeper into the currents of Rambaldi's urgings, her own designs usurped by an enemy's intentions.

The Alliance's destruction is not enough to secure Sydney her freedom. Once more her success is illusory, prepared again by the back-alley men directing her life. An escape that promised liberation only offers fuel to feed her vengeance and she is soon consumed by the frustration of a briefly tasted end. And what they took from her was more than simple victory. In the night, they came and stole her home.

Living in a moment of perfect ignorance, a lull in the swell and decline of worldly chaos, Sydney again spends a few moments jogging with Will. She has achieved some form of stability in her life, a renewed closeness with her friends, a maturing relationship with her father, the comfort and affection of a man who loves her, and a measure of distance from the man she hates. There's so much promise here, the familiar potential of a life on the edge of change, planning a future with Vaughn, the man she loves. But when Will is arrested, taken from Sydney's side, she struggles to vindicate him, a fierce loyalty making Will's fraudulence an impossibility. Clinging to desperate optimism, she cannot bear the weight of another fallen friend. And so she risks all. And so she loses all. But the truth is, it was over the moment that Francie died.

What else could she have done? Where else could she have turned but to her mother, who holds every unspoken answer? How can she reconcile the twistings of her myth with the vast uncertainties of an elected path? Does this battle rage on a dialectic field of play, where fate and free will collide as binaries, or is their interplay more subtle, painting the world in an unsounded ambiguity?

As Sydney sinks into the pile of glass that litters her shattered home, as she at last submits to the exhaustion of so much trust and so much betrayal, she finally lets go, settles into the void of a future unhinged from her past. The eerie hiss of neon summons her from her rest, uncurls her beneath the red throb of a distant city. She awakens in a dream world of illegible words, intangible emblems of time marking her passage. As she awaits reality's ghost, she surveys herself for some allusion to her travel, for anything that might lend testament to her presence. And as she traces the outline of her scar, Vaughn arrives.

She embraces him, the truth not yet descended. But the fear in his eyes and the ring on his finger speak the reluctant and enigmatic truth: two more years of stolen choices, another life that is not hers, the final woman resurrected and returned.

-Go Your Own Way

From Will's swift calculations over the phone as he frantically implores Sydney for absolution and exoneration, to his restless paranoia as he peers around the tightly drawn curtains of the false sanctuary of his hotel room, Bradley Cooper was absolutely phenomenal. Having been scarce the last few episodes, his appearance as a crucial player in this narrative was a vital reminder of how deep its workings run. Facing a miserable Sydney as she struggles to reminisce, to find some trace of her friend, Will seems so small and desperately cornered. Entreating Dixon for a measure of faith, he grows so devastatingly soft, so tragically helpless.

Again he is a stranger in his own life, all certainties undone. A latent bitterness seeps into his words, his dialogue with Sydney expressing an unfamiliar antagonism. He has never before said no to her, never turned on her in any way. But as he clutches the receiver, refuses to hand himself over, for the first time he puts himself before her.

"Syd, I love you. But I can't-- I can't trust you. Not anymore. Meeting you-- meeting you destroyed my life. You wanna help me? Prove I'm innocent."

For a second time he calls upon another woman, unable to accept Sydney's aid. For a second time the woman he loves is unintentionally revealed, unmasked and exposed. There is such a breathless horror as he speaks his panicked warning, such a sense of anguish as he faces his betrayer. As he slips to the ground in Allison's arms, perhaps his devotion will be enough to break his fall.

-"Truth, like time, catches up and just keeps going" (Dar Williams)

"Sydney, I know our relationship is complicated, but I'm your mother and I have to believe that would be the case under any circumstance."

Crouched on the ledge, looming above the nighttime street, we rise with Irina above the city, pull upwards as she stands, hands raised. Pointed lights glow beneath her, illuminating her strange farewell. Her daughter approaches, the sorrow of far too many small betrayals burdening her love. The answers laid before her, Sydney pushes forward, the recitation of empty threats drowning out a truth too great to consider.

Irina is the enthralling fusion of myriad personas, of a thousand strange encounters, each honest in its own right. She arrived as a proficient assassin, the brutal apparition, The Man, head of a rising counter to Sloane's Alliance. She leaves now as a broken mother, a wife lost to some greater end. Desperate to divorce this woman from the likeness of her mother, Sydney is crushed beneath the haunting promise of Irina's love. But how long can she refuse the words she longed to hear? Irina jumps and for a moment everything freezes on the single thought that she might disappear into the darkness, that she might not have intended to return at all. Sydney flinches, dropping her gun with a sharp intake of breath, every other thought engulfed by the fear that her mother is lost. But as she falls, Irina is changed, transformed into her original incarnation. With unmatched ferocity, she carves her own escape, a spray of bullets punching through glass as she plummets. With an eerie patience, she waits for her ascent, reaches back, takes aim, and disappears within. With an incredible, operatic dance of vertical flight, Irina is gone. As she vanishes, leaving Sydney with her enigmatic smile one last time, the words reverberate... "My love for you, for your father, was not a contrivance." But how many times are you willing to say goodbye?

"Ultimately, you do whatever you want. That's what free will is all about."

-Rendezvous

"I used to feel sorry for you. Could you sense it? That you'd been abandoned, left for dead and disgraced. I pitied you. That you needed Rambaldi to fill the void in your life. It was like a religion for you."

As Sloane casually takes a seat before him, a look of acid disbelief betrays Jack's surprise for just a moment. But, his face quickly closes off entirely, hardened in disdain.

"I've missed your poker face."

Jack greets their conversation with glaring condemnation, their first honest interaction in nine years. Sloane plays off Jack's stoicism with an injured amusement, torn between the potential of tomorrow's path and the grievances of yesterday's.

"So, there's something I want you to know. I forgive you."
"Excuse me?"
"Your betrayal of SD-6. I'm curious Jack, when exactly did our friendship end?"
"The moment you recruited Sydney over my objection."
"Ah, I thought so. If I had known that decision would cost me our friendship and my relationship with Sydney, I would have done things differently."

Invoking their history, Sloane pleads for Jack's return with an unnerving sincerity. It truly seems that he would have done things differently, that he wishes to make amends. He speaks of a renewed alliance with charged anticipation, exudes the ravenous fixation of a man driven by obsession.

"Come back to our partnership, Jack. I will tell you everything I've learned about Rambaldi."
"An obsession I have never shared."
"Well, now's the time to sign up. For years I collected his artifacts as if that was the point. I thought Rambaldi's work was that window to the past. Today I am one move away form proving to you that it is so much more than that. And this time, Sydney won't be a pawn in our venture. Jack, sit here for a while. Think about it."
"We will NEVER work together again."
"The thing of it is, you are going to work with me. Sooner than you think."

He leaves his friend in the venom of mutual betrayal, casts aside Jack's disgust, his anger, his cold condescension with sapient insinuation. Sydney will no longer play the pawn. The very presence that anchored Jack will soon be the absence that haunted Rambaldi's collectors, that drove them forward through anxious decades. Having relinquished his stubborn denial of his wife's humanity, what will this man do? Living under an old friend's ominous pledge, where will this man go? Left with a daughter's kiss on his cheek, who will this man be?

-The Reckoning

The final fight was truly an epic battle. Incredible in scale, breathtaking in its flailing precision, it was a no-rules, no-holds, last-woman-standing war of skilled resolve. The build was absolutely tremendous, beginning with the quiet subtlety of their stolen glances as each feigns nonchalance. There is that moment of stillness in Sydney's room, silence hanging on Allison's command. DROP IT. The room explodes. Sydney launches herself, hurtling forward with an almost supernatural surge of power. Glass begins to shatter. She battles her way out of the bathroom, away from Will's prostrate image. She dives over the counter, bullets and bodies flying. Her house becomes her weapon as she hurls a kitchen drawer, flings a cutting board, and slam's Allison headfirst into a cupboard door. Gun unclaimed, the two women throw themselves at one another, Sydney's home coming down from the inside. Seized by Allison, Sydney flies backwards, crashes through the final piece of standing glass, the last unbroken reflection. Groping through the wreckage, she grasps a single shard, lashes viciously at the face of enemy and friend. One. Two. Three. Eyes locked in terror, Allison falls. Sydney falls. Silence descends.

-Kendall-- Showin' suckas how it's done

We've got one more chance to sing our favorite refrain: Kendall's exasperated wit and constant state of utter disbelief get us every time. He's quite possibly the only character on the show who seems to realize just how preposterous things can get. And it's never quite beneath him to comment.

"Yeah, I know what legit means."

"And it didn't occur to you, Mr. Brandon, that a raid on an NSA facility-- "
"I'm not at liberty to discuss the details of the Nevada raid."
"And I'm not at liberty to respect the way that you do business."

"Sloane may have most of the pieces to assemble this Rambaldi device, but I don't think he has them all."
"The Di Regno heart."
"If the NSA's still got it."

Put him with Jack and he's unstoppable.

"What did you think, Jack? That I just forged a transfer order on CIA letterhead?"
"You went behind my back."
"That's hardly unheard of in this office."

"You know, we can help each other. We don't have to be adversaries."
"I appreciate your magnanimity."
"Now you're just mocking me."
"Yes."

DETAILS WE APPRECIATED:

-There's no drug like Provacillium.

-There was something so spectacular about the way Allison's arms extended from behind the cement pillar, a cigarette dangling from her fingers. We loved the way we followed the slow curl of her arm as she pulls her hand back to her body, the way the shot appraised her foreign stance as she, in turn, beheld Sark's approach.

-Ken Olin overshot his quota in the finale by one. Mr. Abrams lagged behind, producing but a single bare-chested man in the second installment.

-There was something fundamentally absurd about Allison's incredulity concerning doubles. As uncomfortable as the situation was, the way it played out was brilliant.

-"Francie, I ended someone life... two people's lives. I am a killer! ... I shouldn't be yelling this." The way Will cringes at his own tactless commentary is wonderful. He really shouldn't be yelling that.

-We just want to give a quick shout out to Government Issue high-water pants. There's nothing like vulnerable ankles to break your spirit.

-With high-profile guests such as Irina Derevko, Elsa Caplan, Will Tippin, and Mr. Sark, as well as various visitors (Jack and Sydney Bristow, Neil Caplan, Marcus Dixon, Marshall Flinkman, and Assistant Director Kendall), Irina's holding cell was certainly quite the high-traffic, high-demand area. That's what we call efficiency!

-Sydney and Vaughn: Have two people EVER looked hotter walking into a building? You have to love the way they simply take over the room when they fall into step with one another.

-Though Sydney and Vaughn's relationship was somewhat overshadowed by the uncertainty of their reunion and the chaos that preceded it, Vaughn was once again the steadfast ally that he has always been. We take Santa Barbara as a promise. We'll be waiting.

-Jennifer Garner and Merrin Dungey's fight performances were stunning. They imbued their standoff with an energy and skill that were truly exceptional. We're still in awe.

-"Not a problem. My loyalties are flexible." At least he's honest. Sark really is quite the mercenary. He's not easily fazed and this line was a classic: superbly nonchalant.

-Drunken Vaughn(tm) has our vote as the next Alias action figure. There's nothing better than a Frenchman wreaking havoc in Marseilles disguised as an inebriated American.

-Don't ask why, but we liked the shifty and mildly lecherous contact that met Sydney and Vaughn in the Berlin elevator. He was somehow entertaining. We were also fans of the squealing pants-man upstairs. Very strange. Very very strange.

-Will's failed abduction was reminiscent of another scene that Ken Olin shot quite some time ago. He seems to be a master of the finale-highway-nightmare, though we're glad this show as another season in store.

-Some principles of Alias that guided our thoughts
1. You are who you pretend to be.
2. You love whom you pretend to love.
3. All women live two lives twice.
4. Every man has walked to the brink of death, survived something he shouldn't have, and every woman has gone a little further.
5. The ones you don't want to kill... you kill with knives
6. Blood on porcelain destroys a home.
7. Those who seek vengeance find destiny.

Predictions are difficult. Especially about the future. (Niels Bohr)



COMMENTARY 3

"Ultimately you do whatever you want. That's what free will is all about," Irina impatiently tells Syd in this episode. For all the "free wills" who created this remarkable Season Two finale: three cheers! Bravo! This finale is first rate, the best: 4 out of 4 stars. The ending is brilliant!

Surprises abound throughout. Who is loyal to whom? That Irina Derevko and Sloane are still in cahoots is a suspicion. Jack too may well know more than he is saying about Irina's plan and her loyalties. Of no surprise, though, is that mother Irina loves daughter Syd. Regardless, she outwits Syd at every turn.

PLOT:

In CIA Headquarters Marshall is talking to Weiss. Weiss is giving Marshall advice about women until, suddenly, Marshall is distracted by a message uploading on his computer. The second double DNA file comes through, as promised, from Irina.

The file clears Will, who mercifully is gathered up in a CIA raid seconds before Francie is about to poison him. Francie and Will are in a motel, hiding out. "Francie, I'm a killer," Will shouts to her in another room, before realizing, "I shouldn't be yelling this." He is speaking about his escape during the ambush and gun battle earlier that wiped out the caravan transporting him to a new lockup.

Jack too is ambushed. He is taken prisoner by Sloane, who not only wants the Rimbaldi heart but to wax poetic about Rimbaldi's genius. Sloane is building a mysterious weapon from accummulated Rimbaldi artifacts. Just as the weapon is assembled, a CIA assault team, led by Syd and Vaughan, arrives with guns blazing. As Sloane escapes, Irina appears to shoot down the guards pinning Syd and Vaughan in the hall.

Irina shouts at Syd to go after Sloane, but instead--free will and all--Syd goes after her mother on the roof, and leaves Sloane to Vaughan. Irina pulls a breathtaking surprise. [See HIGHLIGHTS.] On the roof Syd yells at Irina, "Freeze! I shot you before. I'll do it again." Irina's last words to Syd are "I love you."

Meanwhile back home at Syd's house, Will discovers that Francie is the second double. Will barely manages to leave a voicemail message on Syd's cell phone before Francie takes him out with a knife. When Syd returns, she checks her messages deadpan, while Francie sits across from her reading a book. Casually, Syd offers Francie a spoonful of ice cream, before going to her bedroom for a gun. As she reaches the gun, Francie appears in the doorway with a gun of her own levelled at Syd. A protracted and bloody fight ensues. [See HIGHLIGTS.] Syd slashes Francie with a piece of broken glass, shoots Francie in both shoulders, then passes out against the wall.

When Syd wakes up, she is in Hong Kong. She calls Kendall at CIA and is directed to a safe house. Vaughan arrives but he is reserved and distant and apparently now married to someone else. That is a shock to Syd. But, an even bigger shock to Syd--and to all viewers--is the fact that Syd has been inexplicably gone for two years! Whaaaaatttttt? Yeowie! An incredible plot twist. Brilliant! Talk about a whole new game! Where has she been? What has she been doing? Why does she not remember? Welcome to Season Three.

HIGHLIGHTS:

1) ON THE ROOF: Syd holds a gun levelled at Irina crouched on a ledge which borders the roof. Irina gets up slowly, saying, "Sloane believes he's been chosen to realize the word of Rimbaldi. But, you too have been chosen. Only you can stop him. Good luck, sweetheart."

"Get down now," Syd demands. Irina only says, "I love you," Then, she fades backwards over the edge of the building. An awesome surprise! I leap to my feet to watch this! Irina slides down the building on a bungie cord, machine gunning windows as she goes. She shoots out windows in the middle of the building and then disappears inside. Exhiliarating! Too cool! Great effects! Wowie! Way to go, Irina! "She jumped!" Syd says breathlessly into her radio. "She's gone into a floor in the middle of the building!" This is the best stunt I have seen in this show. Great camera angles. Breathtakingly effective.

2) MORE IRINA AND SYD: All interactions between Syd and her mother are highlights. These two actors play off each other beautifully. Not only are they convincing as kindred temperaments, but in the right light they even physically resemble each other. Kudos for the casting of Lena Olin as Syd's mother. A particular pleasure is Irina's skillful and repeated oneupsmanship over Syd, in a variety of circumstances. Odds are Irina is at the heart of the two years now missing from Syd's life--and her memory.

3) SYD AND FRANCIE FIGHT: Do they ever! This fight is riveting! Syd is in her bedroom, reaching for her gun, when Francie appears in the doorway holding a gun on Syd. As Francie shoots, Syd flings herself across the room out of the line of fire. All this, for an instant, is in slow motion. More great effects. The two of them fight all through the house, over and under furniture, onto the kitchen counter, smashing everything. The fight is vicious, but remarkably bloodless for all the kicking and punching and glass breaking. At least until the end when both are decidedly ripped and bashed, sweat and blood spattered. Kick boxing, fireplace pokers, gunfire.

Syd sees her gun and makes a dive for it across the room. Francie chases her. This is a spectacular fight between these two.They go crashing through glass doors. The two actors must have been black and blue after all this.Syd is almost knocked out when she gets shoved against a wall mirror. Francie goes toward the gun, but Syd whacks her with some glass and slashes her cheek. Syd gets the gun. A stunned-looking Francie takes two bullets in each of her shoulders. The blood starts to show on both of them Syd slides down the wall to the floor and passes out.

4) THE ENDING: Syd wakes up somewhere entirely different. Hong Kong! Lights are flashing on her. She is in the street. She has a hard time getting up. She looks very like her mother Irina under the reddish light. Same bone structure and coloring. From a phone booth Syd calls CIA Headquarters. Kendall instructs her to go to a CIA safehouse. "Do you remember how to get there?" he asks. "Of course I do," she says.

In the safehouse Syd notices a scar on her stomach. Vaughan arrives and she gives him a big hug. But, he doesn't really respond. "What happened to Will and Francie? Are they OK? Or are they dead?" Syd asks. Vaughan only says, "Will's OK." He does not mention Francie. He sits Syd down and says nothing. "Vaughan?" Syd prods. She's very puzzled by his stoney face. "We thought you were dead," he says after a long hesitation.She sees a ring on his finger, a wedding ring. Then he tells her she has been missing for almost two years!

What?! Syd is openmouthed. It has been a long time since we have seen an episode ending with Syd openmouthed. But so are we! Openmouthed. In shock. This is a brilliant ending, an astonishingly unexpected plot twist. End of Season.

A really great episode. First rate and then some, all the way.



LINKS:

Television without Pity. Recap Tell Her About It. The Telling - Or tell him about it. Or tell ANYONE about it. But just, like, TELL someone, Sloane! See, Sloane puts together this Rambaldi machine called "The Telling," and he's all smug and philosophical about it, but remarkably tight-lipped about what it actually is. All we can surmise is that must be pretty f------ powerful because, by the end, Syd wakes up in Hong Kong, Francinator's dead, Vaughn's married, and Syd's been missing for two years. Yeah. I need a nap.




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