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Season 2, episode 02
Series 202
1st release: 10/06/02
2nd release: 12/22/02
Production number: E652
Last update: 08/09/03

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SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders
COMMENTARY 2 by Zero and E

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

Terry O'Quinn (Kendall)
Tony Amendola (Barcelo)
Wolf Muser (Veloso)
Joseph Ruskin (Christophe)
J.D. Hall (Judge Freid)
Wendle Josepher (Vicki Crane)
Soren Hellerup (Petr Fordson)
James Kohli (concierge)
P.J. Marino (felon)
Scott A. Smith (Schmidt)
Benson Choy (soldier)
Joel Guggenheim (agent on call)
Alex Morris (homeless man)
Sam Aylia Saka (security guard)
Krikor Salamian (Naj)
Kevin Sutherland (monitoring agent)
Michael Yavnieli (driver)

Written by John Eisendrath
Directed by Craig Zisk

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


Sydney questions her mother's sincerity. GIST TV

The vile Irina may be in shackles, but that doesn't stop her from trying to gain the upper hand in this twisty hour. After surrendering to the CIA, the spy once known as Laura Bristow is now behind bars - and refusing to talk to anyone but Syd. The daughter wants nothing to do with her monstrous mother, until a mission goes awry and a disk containing vital photos falls into the wrong hands. Irina says she wants to help Syd retrieve it, and during a tense visit she explains why: "Defeating Arvin Sloane. SD-6. The Alliance. These are things we both want." Speaking of Sloane, he's about to run into a very familiar face while tracking one of Irina's associates. TV Guide On-Line


This synopsis is by Sally Dye.


A task force surrounds a truck. Inside is Irina Derevko, chained hand and foot. She is taken to a cell and questioned by Assistant Director Kendall. (The man who interrogated Sydney when she was in federal custody)

Jack pays a visit to Sydney. Francie asks his advice about the color of the walls in her restaurant. He suggests red. Francie considers this. Sydney tells Francie she will see her at Will's sentencing hearing later. Francie says she would like to kill the person who got Will hooked on heroin. When Francie leaves, Jack and Sydney talk about Irina. Sydney says she is not their problem anymore. She says she doesn't believe in the death penalty, but she hopes Irina dies for all she's done.

In London, Sloane is initiated into the Alliance by having a chip injected into his neck. Veloso gives Sloane his condolences for Emily's death. Sloane smiles ironically.

Sydney tells Vaughn that she thinks Emily's death was too convenient and that she suspects Sloane of having done away with her to gain his position in the Alliance. She says her next SD-6 mission is to retrieve a disk that has info her mother used to blackmail people in important positions. The disk is in a hotel in Rabat, guarded by a man named Naj. Vaughn says they will arrange for her to get the disk to a CIA agent first so it can be duplicated. They will only give SD-6 enough to fool them into thinking they have it all.

Sydney asks about Weiss, and Vaughn says he's still in the hospital, but he will be okay. Kendall comes to their meeting place to tell Sydney that Irina refuses to talk to anyone but her. Sydney says they are out of luck then and leaves. Vaughn supports her. Kendall says he knows about Vaughn's role in breaking Sydney out of federal custody, so he'd better talk Sydney into cooperating. Vaughn: "Guess it's 2 for 1 day on blackmail."

Act I

At Will's hearing, he pleads guilty and is sentenced to probation. He must also undergo rehabilitation and perform community service.

Vaughn and Sydney discuss what could be on the disk that Sloane would want. Vaughn casually suggests that Sydney could ask her mother. Sydney says that they must really be putting on the pressure for him to say that to her. He says yes, but there are other reasons for her to talk to Irina. Sydney stops him and reiterates that she will never talk to her mother -- she wouldn't be able to handle it.

Vaughn tells Kendall that he will try to talk to Irina. Kendall says he still won't promise to leave Sydney out of it.

Sydney goes to Rabat and checks in at the hotel. Dixon manipulates the registration file so that her reservation shows up.

Vaughn goes to see Irina. He tells her that he needs info from her computer disk. She doesn't respond. He tells her to give Sydney a reason to see her. He says that Sydney is in Rabat recovering the disk now. He asks if there is anything she should know. Irina says Sydney should pull a fire alarm next to the safe first. Then she says, "You look just like him." Vaughn looks at her with loathing, knowing she is talking about his father.

Act II

Marshall has given Sydney a device that can identify the combination of a safe from outside it. She is about to get the combination when Vaughn contacts her and tells her what Irina said. Sydney locates the fire alarm, but can't believe that Irina would be telling the truth. She doesn't pull the alarm, and when she opens the safe, another alarm goes off. She radios Dixon that she has tripped an alarm, and he starts up the stairs, as do Naj and his bodyguards. Sydney gets the disk, but is unable to get it to the CIA contact before Dixon reaches her.

Back in LA, Sloane contacts Christophe to tell him they got the blackmail disk. He says that they now have the leverage they need to use against a man named Petr Fordson. Sloane is going to Helsinki to put the blackmail plan in motion.

Sydney and Vaughn talk about Irina's intel, which may have proved to be correct. Sydney says she has to talk to her mother now to see what SD-6 would want on the disk. Jack is angry when he finds out what Sydney is planning, but she says if Irina can help bring Sloane down, she will use that. Jack says she must not trust her mother.


Francie and Will discuss his community service and her problems with getting a liquor license for her restaurant. Will says he knows the ropes for that kind of thing and will help her.

Sydney goes to see Irina. She is somewhat unnerved to see that Irina has the same habit of pushing her hair back that she does. Irina: "You didn't pull the alarm......I wouldn't have pulled it either." Sydney asks what is on the disk. Irina asks about her shoulder, but Sydney doesn't answer. Irina says that SD-6 will go after Petr Fordson in Helsinki first. She says, "Trust me." Sydney asks why. Irina: "Because I'm your mother." Sydney leaves the area and breaks down in tears.

Act IV

Kendall tells Sydney that Fordson is said to have developed a t-wave camera that can see into installations such as NORAD from a satellite. They know that he was planning on giving it to Irina's organization, and now SD-6 must be after it. Sydney and Vaughn are to go to Helsinki and get the camera.

In Helsinki, Sydney prepares to rappel down the side of Fordson's building. Vaughn radios that Sloane just arrived. He almost sees Sydney, but Vaughn creates a distraction and Sydney gets over the railing just in time. While Sydney is getting into the area of the building where the camera is, Sloane shows Fordson compromising pictures of his daughter and tells him he must give SD-6 the camera. They head toward the area also. Sydney gets the camera and again barely escapes being seen by Sloane. When they find the camera gone, Fordson protests that he doesn't know what happened to it, but Sloane has him shot in the leg.

Back in LA, Sydney takes the camera to Kendall. She tells him that they are on the same side, and he should start acting like it. As she's leaving, Agent Crane tells her that they asked Irina about t-wave technology, but the only thing she would say was to tell Sydney congratulations, and that she seemed really proud of her. Sydney goes back to see Irina. She tells her that she's not her mother -- that her mother, Laura Bristow, was killed in a car accident 21 years ago -- that when they talk, they will talk about agency business, she will address her as Agent Bristow, and there will be no personal anecdotes or congratulations. She asks if Irina understands. Irina: "Yes.....Agent Bristow." Sydney leaves. Irina smiles.


This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

Alias is back! Episode 2 of Season 2 is Alias at the top of its game, seamlessly plotted, acted, directed, editted and produced. Four out of four stars for Episode 2 of Season 2.

Kudos to writer John Eisendrath (always to be depended on for first rate Alias scripts), and to Director Craig Zisk (likewise). Clap, clap! Did I say, "Bravo"?

After the Star Trek: Voyager series concluded its run, I had not expected to see again any villian of such imagination and impact as the "Borg Queen". Well, move over Star Trek: Voyager, here comes Alias and Irina Derevko, nemesis and mother to Syd Bristow.

"Casting" score points too for picking actress "Lena Olin" to play this character. She is so good in the role, her presence dominates even the scenes she is not in. That is impact! Syd's mother, Irina/Lena Olin, is chillingly grounded and enigmatic, powerful and unpredictable. Her "parting shots" in every interaction are lethal.

Example: When Vaughan confronts Irina, he is squirmingly uncomfortable--almost like a school boy called to task before his teacher. She did, after all, "kill" Vaughan's father. As he leaves, Irina tells Vaughan, "You look just like him." Ouch!

Throughout the episode, the camera is continuously moving and flowing, back and forth between scenes. Character reactions are "shown" rather than just "told". Effectively done.

Example: During the fire alarm sequence, the camera shifts from Sydney to Vaughan to her father, all in different locations but reacting to the same "intel", provided by the ever present--even when she is not in the scene--Irina. Perfectly done, a perfect mesh. And, Jack underlines all this, when he says to Syd later (of Irina), "Once you start depending on her, she will gut you."

SD-6 sends Syd to a Rabat hotel to retrieve a computer disc containing blackmail 'intel' used by Irina. Syd's 'alias' in this scene is perfect! Her portrayal of an Italian 'jet setter', to the smallest gesture--the whole package--is down to an art, perfectly done. I am reminded of just how expertly Garner (who plays Syd) does "aliases". Kudos!

Dixon notices Syd has a particular way of pushing her hair behind her ear, a often repeated gesture. Syd later notices her mother doing the same. Nice touch, that.

And, welcome back to Assistant Director Kendall, the interrogator from Season One. Another first rate actor. Glad to see him written into the script again. Cold, focused, no 'bedside manner'. Syd tells him, "We're on the same side. It's time you start acting like it." Nah, that would not be nearly as much fun. Welcome back, Kendall, actor Terry O'Quinn.

But, Kendall is just a blimp on the screen compared to Irina. After trying to ignore having seen Irina push her hair back in the same way she does herself, Syd demands information. "I need to know now," Syd tells her mother. Irina responds, "No, you want to know why. There is a difference."

Though Syd breaks down in tears after this 'interview' with her mother, her's is the 'last word' at the end of Episode 2. She tells Irina, "no personal anecdotes," "you are not my mother," and to only to refer to her as "Agent Bristow." "Do you understand?" Syd repeats twice. "Yes, Agent Bristow," Irina says. But, after Syd is gone, the camera pans for a 'close up'. Irina slowly smiles. And that is her 'parting shot' for us all, for this episode.

Yeowie! This character is great! Alias is back, definitely back--and in top form. Clap, clap. Three cheers, loud whistles and foot stomping! Bravo, Alias!


This commentary is by Zero and E.

"Because I'm your mother."


-Irina Derevko-- As a prisoner, as a predator, as a complete mystery.

This was Irina's episode. We can think of no other series in which a character has been so successfully and seamlessly introduced into the cast. In a single episode she has managed to invoke the entire emotional history of the Bristow saga: a credit to both Eisendrath and to Olin. There was something uncanny about the way she resembled a caged animal in her initial meeting with Vaughn. Her motions, her stance, and her eyes all spoke of a feline grace and ferocity. "You look just like him." Somehow, even from behind glass, this woman maintains an upper hand. Her power is the knowledge she holds behind her silence. The way she looks at Vaughn, sizing him up, judging him; it is so telling of how easily she can crush him. Her words are just a taste of the damage she can do.

We imagine that this episode was incredibly challenging to write. This was Derevko's exposition, but Eisendrath could only expose so much and still maintain the sense of mystery vital to her character. Moreover, a precedent had to be set for her interactions with other members of the cast. The temptation of both the writer and the viewer is to skip this delicate step and plunge onward with the action. However, the responsible move, and the move that the writing staff chose to make, is to firmly establish a starting point from which relationships can develop. This decision will prove vital throughout the season. In this episode, a rhythm is established between Sydney and her mother. This back and forth movement, this give and take, this oscillation is the dynamic that we will watch evolve over time.

-Kendall-the other addition to the cast

Terry O'Quinn is a phenomenal actor, whose subtlety cannot be overstated. His facial mannerisms alone ought to be enough to win the hearts of Alias' fans. As the apparent head of the Committee to Contain and Exploit Irina Derevko, his character is a good addition. We are pleased to see another frustrating personality on the show. Last season, though Haladki was despicable on any number of levels, his role worked because he was, plainly stated, a jerk. Until the end, his actions appeared more selfish than malicious and it was an interesting phenomenon to hate a character who had not overtly proved himself cruel. However, once his affiliation with Kasinau surfaced, they had to dispose of him. His character would have been unbearable. Which leads us to Kendall. No, he is not a replacement Haladki. What he does provide is a much-needed reminder that the "good-guys" can frustrate the hell out of you just as easily as the "bad" ones.

-Jack-He just works

What is Victor Garber doing on this show? But if a show was ever deserving of an actor of this caliber, it's Alias. Seriously. His scene with Francie was priceless. It is clear that, although he is unshakeable in the spy world, common social situations are oddly intimidating to him. Nevertheless, he's Jack, with his slightly morbid sense of humor.

In this episode, Jack and Sydney once again move forward in their understanding of each other, as Jack expresses a genuine concern for Sydney's well-being: physical and emotional. The growing trust Sydney is forming in her father is nicely emphasized by her severe distrust of her mother. Whose advice does she take in Rabat? Jack's.

"THE ANSWER IS NO!" For those who complained last season that Jack was one dimensional, unnaturally stoic, and likely possessed no emotions at all: your time has come. Another reminder that, on this show, just because you don't see something doesn't mean it's not there.

-A much truer Sydney

In the draft we read of this script, Sydney's reaction to her first encounter with her mother was far more restrained. We cannot emphasize how much more powerful it was to watch her break down outside the holding area. Jennifer Garner is amazing. The sincerity with which she portrays Sydney's devastation completely embodies the depth and humanness of her character.


-Kendall-We love the character... but who is he?

We know that he was an FBI agent assigned to interrogate Sydney during last season's Prophesy arc, so it isn't entirely surprising that he reemerges as the head of Derevko-related operations. The FBI was, after all, in charge of investigations concerning her disappearance. However, in what capacity is he working with Sydney and Vaughn and what, precisely is his status and rank? Sydney seems to take his presence for granted, but we're a bit unclear.


Apparently Eisendrath wrote an absolute monster of a script. The version we read was drastically abridged and the episode itself had further cuts. Most of the exclusions were well chosen, but we felt that one section in particular had vital implications. In the missing scene Francie voices the anger and betrayal she's felt since learning the "truth" about Will. By removing this exchange, the episode fails to take into consideration the gravity of the sacrifices Will has had to make. Also in this scene, Sydney makes reference to Vaughn, and Will once again voices interest in Syd's coworker. The implications here may not be as significant, but the conversation did help to emphasize Will's growing curiosity about Sydney's other life.


-The cinematography was fabulous. Example: the hyperrealism of the opening scene, with the rain, the lighting, and the eerie emphasis on Irina's eyes.

-Sydney's hesitation over pulling the alarm played perfectly. It was drawn out for just the right amount of time. There was really no way of knowing which decision she would make.

-During Sloane's initiation into the Alliance, the look in his eyes held interesting resemblance to the glare Sydney often throws his way. It conveyed an overwhelming sense of resentment and begged the question: to what end does Sloane want sway over this strange club of men?

-Another moment of Nonprofessional Vaughn, when he updates Sydney on Weiss' condition. Whether it's because he's speaking to Syd or talking about Weiss, he drops all pretense of formality for a brief moment.

-The scene in Mikro Self-Storage with Sydney, Kendall, and Vaughn had great momentum. "Are we through?" "Miss Bristow, I don't need to remind you this is a matter of national security" "Yes, we're through." There's some truly classic friction here.

-Sloane. Vaughn. Helsinki. The tension was spectacular and it was an interesting reminder of the whole "who knows what/who" game. A nice throwback to "Page 47."

-The music in Rabat was a fantastic selection.

-While on music, "Shelter from the Storm" was an interesting choice for the final scene. It was certainly an unusual sound for Alias, but we feel it signals the changing character of the show. We appreciated the visual/auditory parallels and, in general, thought it was a good pick.

-We love the CIA Rotunda. Looks like a big set... you can expect to see more of it in the future. The CIA seems remarkably fond of Gateway systems, considering Mr. Abrams' bias towards Macs. Is this a subtle political statement about their quality of service?


We feel the second episode should be viewed as a continuation of the season premiere. The episodes work together to establish Alias--Season Two.

All said and done... what has changed?

-Sydney's anger has been redirected from Sloane to Irina.

-Thus far, the missions have been Irina-centric, as opposed to Rambaldi-centric

-The format of the show is moving away from a strictly serialized format to incorporate series-like elements

That was the bread... here comes the circus...

Dispelling the Corporate Myth Behind the Writers:

If you've ever spoken with any of the writers, or read an interview, or heard the cast speak about the writing staff, you know one thing: these people love this show. It is their passion. Inexplicably, a portion of the fan community has begun to refer to the writing staff as though it were a corporate entity dedicated to the slow and painful dismantling of the brilliant show they so meticulously constructed last season. Every alleged error is given a warped significance and motivation, as though this Corporation of Writers were attempting to pass mediocrity off as cleverness. Apparently some viewers fear that commercial gluttony will taint the quality of the scripts, the acting, and the general direction in which the show is going. This seems like an audacious judgment for a season only two episodes along. Furthermore, we can detect no decline in the quality of the writing or any other aspect of the show.

We act as though the writing staff is not comprised of talented, passionate, dedicated individuals who work as a group to bring their vision, their story, their universe into our homes every Sunday night. JJ Abrams, John Eisendrath, Jesse Alexander, Daniel Arkin, Debra Fisher, Alex Kurtzman, Erica Messer, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, and Vanessa Taylor: these people ARE the show. Furthermore, they write it with the utmost integrity, skill, and attention.

The questions we pose are these: if JJ Abrams and his writing staff were solely concerned with the quantitative benefits of producing a primetime television show, why take the risks they have taken? Why invest so much energy into creating a complex labyrinth of a plot? Why make so many decisions that clearly challenge the show's audience, when such choices threaten to alienate the broad viewer base that the show was striving to build? The recent explosion of merchandise (books, action figures, etc) and other media (web games, video games) stems not solely from Mr. Abrams' desire for monetary gain but from his fanatical drive to explore the Alias universe in every possible way. The man is clearly obsessed with his own show, which is something we can definitely identify with. The fact that he is individually involved with each of these auxiliary projects reflects his dedication and personal stake in the show. Furthermore, Mr. Abrams has implied that the second season's story arc is the one he originally envisioned when Alias was first conceived. It seems unlikely that he would lose interest in his own project before it reached its narrative fruition.

As for the general paranoia about "dumbing down the show," the actual quote is: "we're making the stories accessible, whether you've ever seen the show before or not." (JJ Abrams, Sci Fi Wire) This says nothing about the actual complexity of the writing, the storylines, the relationships, or anything else that makes the show so compelling. All that is implied is that the writers are choosing to take a small step away from the serialized format that dominated last season. Instead, we can expect episodes that are far more self-contained, though by no means less intertwined.

Hopefully in this and subsequent reviews we'll build an adequate case for why all Alias viewers should have the highest respect for these writers. Mistakes will be made, but be patient, we're learning to watch and they're learning to show. Listen to Irina: truth takes time. Trust me. If you were expecting television, we're sorry to say that you'll be disappointed. These people aren't writing TV. They're writing literature.


Click here to read a transcript of Trust Me.


Synopsis from Official Site

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