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Season 3, episode 01
Series 301
1st release: 09/28/03
2nd release:
Production code:
Last update: 09/30/03

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SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye
COMMENTARY 1 by Adriane Saunders

Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow
Ron Rifkin as Sloane
Michael Vartan as Vaughn
Carl Lumbly as Dixon
Kevin Weisman as Marshall
Melissa George (Lauren Reed)
Greg Grunberg (Eric Weiss)
David Anders as Mr. Sark
Victor Garber as Jack Bristow

Kurt Fuller (Robert Lindsey)
Oleg Taktarov (Volkov)
Amanda Foreman (Carrie)
Adam Alexi-Malle (Bernard)
Michael Berry, Jr (Scott Kingsley)
Emma Bering (Assistant)

Written by J.J. Abrams
Directed by Ken Olin

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


This synopsis is by Sally Dye.


Scenes from last season, culminating with Vaughn telling Sydney that she’s been missing for nearly two years. He tells her there was a fire, that Will survived; that remains were found that matched her DNA. She was believed dead. Sydney: "And you got married?" Vaughn: "I did." Sydney asks why Jack wasn’t sent to tell her this. Vaughn says he can’t answer that – he’s no longer with the CIA; he’s a teacher. Sydney says she needs time, then suddenly lashes out with a lamp and knocks Vaughn down. She gets him in a choke hold and tells him she knows he’s not Vaughn. She runs, but is accosted by several guards. She fights and takes them all out, but suddenly a dart hits her in the back. She turns and it's Vaughn, holding a pistol. She slumps to the ground, and Vaughn holds her as she loses consciousness.

Sydney dreams, then wakes up in a hospital bed. Dixon comes in and tells her that it really was Vaughn who came to her in Hong Kong, and he was telling her the truth. Sydney has a million questions, but Dixon can’t answer most of them. Weiss comes in to get Dixon, and they step aside to discuss something called the Covenant, and that someone named Kingsley has the "package" and is trying to smuggle it out of France. Dixon notes that a raid will soon be held on a suspicious building in Paris that might be a headquarters of the Covenant. Dixon comes back to Sydney and says he can answer one question – Jack is in prison and has been for a year. By orders of the National Security Council, he can have no visitors.

In France, several men get on a train and kill most of the passengers. One of them – the Kingsley that Dixon and Weiss were discussing – is asked where the chip is. He won’t tell and they kill him. Then they go through his pockets and find a coin that comes apart to reveal a chip. The chip holds the designs of an aircraft of some sort.

Back in LA, Sydney wakes up and tells Weiss that she remembers where she was.

Act I

At the CIA hq, Marshall comes up and introduces himself to Sydney as though she were an amnesia victim. Sydney smiles and hugs him. He pulls out a poem he has written about her, but just then Carrie comes up to greet Sydney. Sydney is surprised to see that Carrie is pregnant. Marshall proudly announces that he is the father and that they are talking about wedding dates. Carrie: "No, we’re not."

Sydney meets Robert Lindsey, the NSC liaison. She tells him and Dixon about what she remembered – being held in Paris by three captors whose names she does not remember. She recognizes a photo of Scott Kingsley when Dixon shows it to her. She learns he is the designer of a new type of aircraft that is undetectable by radar. He has now been killed and the chip containing the design is missing. She is shown a picture of a building in France, thought to be a hideout of the Covenant. She says it looks familiar. Lindsey wants Sydney to be part of a team that is going to infiltrate the building to try and find the chip. Dixon is against it, but Sydney says she wants to go. There’s just one condition – she must be allowed to see her father first. Lindsey reluctantly agrees to this.

Sydney goes to the prison, and Jack is brought in to the visiting room. He is bearded and looks much older. They talk through a glass screen. Jack says he became obsessed with finding out who was responsible for Sydney’s "death" and contacted the one person he thought could help him – Irina. When it was discovered he was secretly working with her, Lindsey had him put in prison for treasonous activities. Sydney uses a hidden blocker to turn off the listening devices and tells Jack she doesn’t really remember anything of those two years. She read Dixon’s lips as he and Weiss were discussing Paris and told them she had memories of there so she would have leverage to get to see him. Jack says Sydney must gain the CIA’s trust again so she can access his files and continue his investigation, because the things he had discovered were "disturbing". Before he can tell her more, the blocker’s time runs out and Sydney has to leave.

Act II

In Paris, Sydney, Weiss and a team of agents infiltrate the building where Sydney was supposedly held, which is linked to the Covenant. When they gain entrance, they are surprised by the arrival of several unknown attackers, who engage them in gunfire. Sydney and Weiss split up to look for the chip. Weiss finds some of their team dead. A man comes up behind him and knocks him down. It’s the man who killed Scott Kingsley. He is about to kill Weiss when Sydney arrives. They look at each other for a moment, and then the guy runs. Sydney fires but he gets away. They realize all of their team members are dead. Sydney confesses to Weiss that she really doesn’t remember this place. He says if she hadn’t been along, he’d be dead. She says she can’t go back with him because she needs to find out about the Covenant so she can get more leverage to get Jack released. Weiss says she won’t like his advice but that she should go see Arvin Sloane. Sydney looks at him as though he has grown another head. He tells her that Sloane negotiated a peace with the CIA and is now head of a World Health Organization.


In Zurich, Sydney finds Sloane and asks about the Covenant. He had known she was coming and gives her a file on Volkov, the man she saw in Paris. Sloane tells her that he loved her and that they shared a special bond. Sydney grabs him and throws him on the desk, a knife to his throat. She wants to know what he did to her the past two years. He says that everything has changed, and he’s now mainly concerned with feeding hungry children. Sydney lets him go. He tells her about the Rambaldi device, how when he turned it on it yielded a single message – "Peace" – which changed his life. Sydney: "I know you too well. I don’t buy any of this." Then she leaves.

Sydney calls several of her former contacts and finally finds one who is still active. She asks about Volkov and he sends her to Prague, where Volkov is supposed to be delivering a special package the next night.

Act IV

In Prague, Sydney arrives at the meeting place just as Volkov drives up. Volkov sees her and recognizes her just as she pulls out a large pistol. He leaps from the car just as she blows it up. She gets the chip from him, but he fights her and almost kills her, but she kicks him into the wall and he falls on his own knife.

Back in LA, Sydney walks into hq with the chip and threatens to destroy it unless Jack is released. Lindsey is forced to agree.

Sydney runs into Vaughn in the corridor. Vaughn says he came to see how she was. Sydney is incredulous: "You want to know how I am? I am horrible! I am ripped apart! And not because I lost you – because if it had been me, I would have waited…..and now I realize what an absolute waste that would have been." Then she walks away.

Sydney and Marshall are talking when Jack comes in, looking much more like his former self. Sydney goes to him and they embrace. Jack says he needs to show her something. They watch a video of a man named Lazaray greeting a blonde woman. When the woman turns around, it’s Sydney. Jack says this is how he knew she was alive. The blonde in the video grabs Lazaray and cuts his throat. Sydney gasps in horror.


This commentary is by Adriane Saunders.

Sydney Bristow is back! Back with attitude, ballsy and unpredictable! All right!! Welcome back. That Syd was missed in Season Two. The Syd of Season One is now back for Season Three. Welcome!


Syd has been missing for two years with no recollection of where she has been. Everything has changed in her absence. Vaughan is married, no longer in the CIA and finds himself on the receiving end of Syd's blows--physical and verbal. Dixon has replaced Kendall in charge of Syd's CIA department. Weiss is now a field operative and, having lost a lot of weight, looks great.

Her father Jack is in jail having, a year previously, joined forces with fugitive Irina to locate Syd. He is now in solitary confinement and not allowed any visitors, until Syd applies a little coercion. Her mother Irina is still at large and does not yet appear on the credits or in the episode, except by Jack's mention.

Will is alive, but also not yet listed on the credits or in the episode. Sloane apparently made a deal with the CIA and is now one of the "good guys", which of course Syd does not believe for a minute. Me, either. Rimbaldi is still on Sloane's tongue. Marshall--dear Marshall--is as hilariously irresistible as before, but he is now a father. Girlfriend Carrie, the CIA agent and Rimbaldi expert from Season Two, is pregnant. The two are in dispute about whether a marriage is expected. Carrie is the veto. Syd is surprised.

But then, surprise after surprise run at speed throughout this Season Opener. All the character cards are shuffled, all players differently occupied or placed. Rejuvenating and energizing. Kudos. This is a terrific beginning. Keep it up and we will all be glued, eyes and ears, to TV sets until next May, the whole of Season Three. Ken Olin is the director of the episode and creator J.J. Abrams, the scriptwriter. Well done. We are hooked on Alias for another season.


1--MARSHALL WRITES A POEM: On seeing Syd alive again at CIA (after being so long missing), Marshall speaks his name slowly to her, as if she is not quite running on all cylinders mentally. Then he tells her he has written her a poem. The poem starts: "I've lost my keys. Where are they?" Funny. Syd's reactions to Marshall, her affection but silent puzzlement, are a delight to watch.

2--SYD TAKES DOWN VAUGHAN: In Hong Kong Syd knocks down Vaughan, choking him, as she says through clenched teeth, "I don't know who you are, you son of a bitch, but you're not Vaughan!" He is. Later as she is about to escape, having kickboxed her way through a hallway of guards, Vaughan shoots her with a dart. As she falls unconscious to the floor, he cradles her in his arms. The camera pans away to a bird's eye view of the two of them in the empty hallway. Well played, actors and camera alike.

3--SLOANE IS NOT INTIMIDATED: After Sloane tells Syd he "loved her like a daughter," Syd assaults him, furious, shoving him against his desk and holding a knife to his throat.This is much the same scene as in the "Pilot" for Season One when Syd takes on Sloane after he had her fiance Danny killed. That fire in Syd is good to see again. She lets him go after Sloane calmly explains his new "good guy" status to her, the whys and wherefores. Verification is on his desk. His picture appears on the cover of a CEO magazine. Syd releases her hold, but tells him, "I know you too well. I don't buy any of it." Me, either.

4--GOOD LOOKS CAN KILL: In Paris Syd is tracking a high class hitman named Zolkoff. A CIA contact tells her if she wants to stop his car, she will need backup. "No, I won't," Syd says blandly. Cool. Then we see her change into a terrific looking short red wig, red sunglasses and red dress. Red definitely suits Garner, and the hair style is one of her best for sexy. She stands in the middle of a deserted street as Zolkoff's hummer approaches. He smiles until he sees her raise a gun and fire. Then he throws himself clear. Thinking him dead, Syd searches his body for a microchip she needs to recover. He is not dead. Briefly, he overpowers her. Knife to her throat, Syd overpowers him and slams him against a wall. He gores himself on his own knife, turns to look at Syd staring back emotionlessly, then slides down the wall, dead. The sound of Syd's car is heard even before he hits the ground. This is Syd of cold resolve.

5--VAUGHAN IS REFUSED CLOSURE: Syd, seething at Vaughan's appearance at CIA to see how she is doing, tells him, "You didn't come here to see how I am. You came here to see how you are." This whole scene is riveting and intense, the dialogue all through bang on and raw. Bravo to the writing. Bravo to Garner for the playing. This gutsy and lucid Syd really is my favorite flavor for this character. I welcome seeing Syd again with her emotions sizzling, her patience thin. Too cool.

My only two quibbles with this episode are small. The first is Sloane's prompting for an epiphany that he was a "bad guy", the activation of the Rimbaldi device. After 25 years of collecting parts and assembling the whole lot, what pops out is one word: "peace". Talk about trite. From this one word Sloane has an epiphany? For Sloane, that is unbelievable. From Rimbaldi, unlikely. Way too corny for a genius.

The second quibble is a puzzle. In Hong Kong at the start Vaughan tells Syd, "We found remains [in the fire that destroyed her apartment two years back]. The DNA was a match. You were dead." Yet, at the end, in Los Angeles Syd berates Vaughan for "not waiting". For what? Her rising from the dead?! Small quibbles. After thoughts.

All in all Season Three starts with a bang and boogies at speed all the way through. Syd, ballsy and unpredictable and emotionally volatile is squarely at the center of it all. Welcome back, Syd! Welcome back, Alias. Well done.


08/09/03. Season Three Press Release from ABC

Premiere Sunday, September 28, 2003 9-10PM ET/PT on ABC

The electrifying Emmy Award-winning spy drama "Alias" returns for an emotionally gripping third season in the life of CIA agent Sydney Bristow. In her Golden Globe Award-winning role, Jennifer Garner stars in this non-stop thrill ride through espionage, adventure and heart-wrenching drama.

Traveling around the world incognito. Fighting with the bad guys. Wrestling with inner demons. For Sydney, this is a typical day in her life at her not-so-typical job as an agent for the CIA.

Since shutting down the malevolent Alliance of Twelve and slamming the door on SD-6, Sydney thought she had finally rid the world of a great evil and avenged the murder of her fiancé. But as she and her CIA colleagues strategically combated the ruthless Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin) to put an end to his obsessive search for Rambaldi, she was deceived by her best friend and roommate, Francie - who had been eliminated and doubled by Sloane.

Upon mysteriously awakening in Hong Kong after fighting with doppelganger Francie in Los Angeles, Sydney learned that two years had passed and everyone presumed she was dead... and she has no recollection of those years. Returning to the world she once knew will turn out to be both enlightening and painful, as Sydney searches to discover where she has been and what has transpired during the missing time. She will soon learn that her memories contain pivotal information that various members of the intelligence world are interested in -- and may kill for.

"Alias" stars Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow, Victor Garber as Jack Bristow, Ron Rifkin as Arvin Sloane, Michael Vartan as Michael Vaughn, Carl Lumbly as Marcus Dixon, Kevin Weisman as Marshall Flinkman, Greg Grunberg as Eric Weiss and David Anders as Mr. Sark.

"Alias" was created by J.J. Abrams, who executive-produces the series along with John Eisendrath, Ken Olin, Alex Kurtzman-Counter and Bob Orci.

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