Issue 29

Azhria Lilu

Nov 18, 2002
Derbyshire, UK
The Alias Newsletter - Issue 29

Better late than never, Wednesday, October 23, 2002

In this issue:
1. Latest Episode: Dead Drop
2. Next Episode: The Indicator
3. Jennifer Garner’s Bra on eBay
4. Alias is fourth in its timeslot
5. Quotes from “Dead Drop”
6. Dead Drop – What worked? What didn’t?
7. Music from “Dead Drop”
8. More news
9. Affiliates
10. Final Thoughts

1: Latest Episode: Dead Drop
ABC Summary:

As Sydney struggles underwater, she takes the gun of a drowned henchman
and fires through the ice. Dixon helps pull her through.

At the SD-6 offices, Sydney tells Sloane that although Sark got away
with the music box, it was corroded anyway. Sloane wonders why Rambaldi
place the artifact in ice. Later at the CIA, Kendall refuses Jack's wish
to have Irina removed. When Sydney confronts Jack, he says he worries
about the emotional aspects of their dialogue and warns Sydney that she
wants a mother.

Sloane tells Jack about the mysterious phone call from the B&B and has
Dixon investigate. He also says that SD-6 retrieved the corroded music
box from Sark's safe house in the Falkland Islands, where they also
found a man named Klaus Richter, who was seriously ill from a serum that
Sark had administered. Jack interrogates Richter and learns that he had
designed a map to lead Irina to The Bible, which he had hidden in a
remote location. The map, we learn, is hidden in a 1st edition of War
and Peace in a Moscow military library.

To prevent Sydney from seeing Irina, Jack gives Sydney a fake map which
will lead SD-6 to the Sunken Forest — before she's given the SD-6
mission and the CIA counter-mission. Sydney says all she wants out of
Irina is enough info to bring down SD-6 and get her out of the spy game.

2: Cipher
Sydney discovers a terrifying secret when she's sent on a case to track
down a new generation of weapons. Meanwhile, Vaughn suspects Jack of
setting up Sydney's mother to take a fall, Sloane tells Jack the truth
about Emily's death, and Will lends a hand to Francie during the grand
opening of her restaurant.

3: Jennifer Garner’s Bra on eBay
It's for a good cause (Breast Cancer). Article:

Go bid:

4: Alias is fourth in its timeslot
Because of baseball, Alias was 4th in its timeslot. However, Alias made
improvements in some other categories.

5: Quotes from “Dead Drop”
“Everything you said was right. And I’m so stupid. And I’m sorry Dad.
I’m sorry that I doubted you. I’m sorry dad.” - Sydney

“She lied to me” – Sydney

“Sark is like the good looking guy in high school who knows how good he
looks and won’t take no for an answer” - Sydney

Irina: How do you say thank you to the woman who killed your father?
Vaughn: You don’t.

“You’re cute but I’ll pass” – Sydney to Sark

“I’m your ally. Never question that.” - Vaughn

“Noting that woman says can be taken at face value.” - Jack

“What I see you doing is making the same mistakes I made with that
woman” – Jack

Will: Good guys or bad guys?
Sydney: Neither. My father.

Therapist: Is there any chance that all she wants is forgiveness?
Jack: No.

6: Dead Drop – What worked? What didn’t?

This is a Zero Sum Review by Zero and E. This is very long.


-The tragedy of illusions
Alias' story is the story of human imperfection. It is about deceit,
self-deception, and misguided ambition. It is about losing identity;
burying selfhood beneath the masks we appropriate to survive. It is
about the painful truths we find on the journey to self- discovery. In
this episode we have seen the reemergence of this underlying sentiment
as a forward force. The entire hour was laden with a placid sorrow that
tinted everything with the familiar shadow of grief. It was damn moving.


"Good guys or bad guys?"
"Neither. It's my father."

Sydney said it best. He is neither intrinsically good nor inherently
evil. Instead, he is a flawed man with good intentions and too much
power at his disposal. Jack's fear that Sydney does not need him as
desperately as he needs her drives him to risk it all: her life, her
trust, her love. But there is an innocence to his selfishness that is
heartbreaking. And though he has resources that others do not, his
actions are essentially the actions of anyone haunted by such

After all, he is just a man.

Jack, once stoic, is losing his ability to handle himself in a
professional manner. He is failing compartmentalize his emotions, and
his cards are showing. Jack is falling apart. Though there was always
that explosive element just beneath the surface, there is a sort of
desperation and fear that now drives his anger. In an early scene in the
CIA Rotunda, Jack loses all composure, admonishing Vaughn with a cruel
and tactless allusion.

His session with Dr. Barnett further emphasizes his growing
vulnerability. For the first time, he blatantly makes an emotional
declaration and is, shockingly, on the verge of allowing his feelings to
overwhelm him.

"Sometimes a man gets carried away ... Much too blind to see the damage
he's done sometimes a man must awake to find that really, he has no one"
(Jeff Buckley, Ep 1.19)

It has never been in question: Jack is a flawed man. Even as he
attempted to mend the damage done and prove himself worthy of Sydney's
trust, there were times when his fatherly devotion led to morally
ambiguous decisions. A daughter is every father's weakness.

It is overwhelmingly tragic to see Jack revert to his manipulative
instincts, to watch these faults erase his cultivated selflessness, to
witness him take what is essentially the easy way out. He set her up to
take the fall so he could catch her. In the end, he needed a Sydney Hug
more than she needed the Dad Hug. Jack stood before her, watching his
daughter break down, as she asked for his forgiveness and looked to him
for support. It was exactly what he yearned for, but it wasn't what he
needed. The truth will eventually surface and we will be farther than
ever from true reconciliation. Quite a powerful moment.

Movement toward a physical reunion has been building since the pilot.
This was not it. The brilliance of this moment stems from its
anticipation: a carefully scripted promise of hope transformed into the
startling contrast of grief. The writers knew the implications behind
this first embrace and, instead of presenting it as expected, they
removed it from its context with all its weight intact, and chose to use
it to maintain and amplify the complexity of Jack and Sydney's evolving

-Sydney's masquerade
At the end of last season and at the beginning of this one, Sydney's
will to uphold an illusion of friendship with Sloane was waning. In
"Cipher" she once again picked up her performance, somehow summoning
enough empathy to produce the words "It's not your fault." During "Dead
Drop", however, we see the return of this pretense, but it has taken on
a feeling of total fraudulence. The conversation following Sydney's
return from Siberia is consciously performative on both sides. They
speak with a saccharine facetiousness that alludes to the unspoken
battle of wits waged by the two characters.

Sydney does not have the resolve to play the same game with her parents.
She is now doing favors for her mother and the ground rules she so
firmly established in "Trust Me" are already disintegrating. She is
continually putting her life in her mother's hands and is gradually
becoming less and less hesitant to do so. With Jack, the story is
different. They have developed a relationship in which she feels
comfortable speaking with him on a more genuine level.

"We have both been betrayed by this woman. The difference between you
and me is that I'm willing to squeeze her for everything she's got to
take down the enemy. ANYTHING to get me the hell out of this life as
soon as possible. Anything."

Though Sydney is honest with her father, she is not necessarily honest
with herself.

"Sydney, she's someone you've idealized for almost twenty years. You
didn't learn about her history with the KGB until recently."
"What does that matter?"
"That you've wanted a mother, YOUR mother, all your life. And now here
she is."

-Family interplay
The intercutting between Jack's session with Dr. Barnett and Sydney's
meeting with her mother was impressively executed. As Jack confesses his
fear that his relationship with his daughter is deteriorating, we cut to
the visible development of a bond between Irina and Sydney. The shift
from Irina's casual enthusiasm and Jack's reserved anguish is telling,
and the even larger contrast between Jack's tear-filled eyes and the
smile spreading on Sydney's face as she leaves the holding cell is
simply striking.

-Vaughn as Sydney's partner
In the field: Vaughn's position has changed. His initial role was to
supply a rational perspective and provide protection from a distance. So
when he would accompany her into the field, it was always a novelty.
Now, however, in the new task force under direction of Assistant
Director Kendall, he has become Dixon's CIA equivalent as Sydney's full
In her life:

"I'm your ally. Never question that."

-Sark- Picture perfect
Despite Irina's warnings, Sark has yet to take any of the numerous
opportunities he has had to kill Sydney Bristow. In fact, he has
extended an offer of alliance, having often voiced his admiration of her
skill. On top of this, he seems to be leaving her breadcrumbs. After
taking a quick look at the map (an indication that our dear friend, Mr.
Sark, has a bit of a photographic memory) he deliberately replaces the
card for Sydney to retrieve. Sark is not careless. He is a calculating
and meticulous spy. The implications behind this decision are immense.


-Will's Sacrifices
By de-emphasizing the magnitude of the sacrifices Will has made, his
scenes fail to convey the internal strength that he is calling on to
cope with this burden. Will is demonstrating enormous courage and poise.
Despite numerous opportunities, he has not succumbed to the temptation
of renewing his personal and public credibility. We love the humor with
which Will handles his predicament, but we would also like for some of
the weightier aspects of his decisions to come into play.

For most shows, acquiring details about upcoming episodes is a
challenge. Alias is about espionage, so, yes, there will naturally be an
abnormally large pool of individuals dedicated to exposing such
information. Nonetheless, it seems like it ought to be a wee bit more
difficult. In fact, we've discovered that it's actually become a
challenge to AVOID foreknowledge. Not only do trailers and promotional
photos divulge key plot points, but the official synopses are
unnecessarily revealing and script pages can be often be found online.
We fully approve of making such information accessible when it is
discovered, but the casual viewer should not be inundated with premature
revelations and those actively searching should have to search harder.


-"Because of you, the CIA scored a real victory" We seem to recall a
very similar speech in the SD-6 lot when Sydney was losing faith in the
feasibility of her goals.

-Both Jack and Sloane embrace Sydney in this episode. We find the
parallel fascinating. As she is held by these two men, who have betrayed
her in different ways, it brings to mind the thematic question "are
those things you could ever forgive?"

-SD-6's test of Will provided the necessary clarification concerning his
status as a threat. Now that he's been cleared, he has the freedom to
move on with what is left of his normal life.

-Will relayed his cover story phenomenally. It was entirely convincing
and contained more truth than lie.

-Sloane, much like Francie and Sydney, has difficulty parting with his
rings. The writers draw such fascinating human parallels on this show.

-Sydney's mad dash through the FAPSI Headquarters is the first hallway
scene of the season.

-Music. The final montage of scenes was beautifully underscored by a
song that wholly captured the moment's tragedy.


-Sark and Sloane- interesting choice for Sark to use Arvin's full name.
Also, Sloane seems to be able to keep fairly strict tabs on someone who
is clearly a talented spy. There is a strange underlying tone whenever
one of these two men mentions the other. Implications?

-We'd just quickly like to mention that the cast is somehow becoming
more and more impressive as a collection of actors. They really are
extraordinary at portraying both their individual characters as well as
the group's complex dynamics.

That was the bread, here's the (LONG) CIRCUS:

Internal Awareness

It's that line they walk, that finely tuned balance between realism and
absurdity. The Alias characters are in a constant state of dreaming,
real people thrown into a surreal situation. They have to be aware of
their reality and our reality simultaneously, just as we are dually
positioned spectators, suspending our disbelief only so far. And though
they are constantly nagged by the reins of authenticity, the alarm clock
must never go off, they must never fully awaken to the true absurdity of
their lives, or we too will awaken from their dream.
Internal awareness is rarely utilized to its full extent in episodic
television and is far from being a recognized standard. The Alias
Universe, stepping from the confines of convention as usual, utilizes
interior consciousness as a mode of self-exploration and self-definition
on two distinct narrative planes. First, within the show's diegesis (the
entirety of its literary universe) the characters are cognizant of their
personal dimensionality and are constantly redefining the precepts of
their universe by reacting to aggravations to internal logic. Second,
the show exhibits extensive textual reflexivity both in motif repetition
and narrative progression.

The premise of this show, by definition, lies outside the experience and
plausibility of the vast majority of viewers. This is, in fact, one of
its strongest draws: the complexity of plot, the vibrant aesthetics, and
the unbridled physical energy are fundamentally intriguing. It is the
characters, though, who anchor the audience to this fantasy, instilling
validity and credibility into what would otherwise be an estranged
action sequence. And while sympathy alone might be enough to captivate,
the Alias writing staff has instead chosen to construct viewer EMPATHY
by creating characters that are as much an audience to their own story
as we are. When we are on the verge of disbelief, sure that some anomaly
cannot reasonably go unnoticed, more often than not, a character shares
our concern and asks our question for us. Just a sampling:

Conduct kept in check:
- When Jack is losing all perspective, when his concern for Sydney is
beginning to affect his professional integrity, when we are left asking
just how much more he can get away with, both Sloane and Devlin step in:

"This is becoming familiar, Jack. Your coming to me, requesting special
consideration for the men in Sydney's life."

"I want you to stop. I hear your concerns and I will choose how to
respond to them myself. You're a good agent, Jack, but lately, I find
your methods reprehensible. If I hear of one more instance of you acting
off book, you're done."

- Vaughn's judgment is similarly clouded by his affection for Sydney,
and Weiss is there to keep him in line.

"But whatever it is, it's starting to affect me and if that sounds
selfish to you, I was hoping to retire fully vested. I know you
genuinely care for her. I do, too. But there is a line that we have been
sworn not to cross. We're about a mile past that."

Friends don't let friends...:
- Naturally, we were skeptical of Sydney's ability to conceal the
duplicity of her life so seamlessly, simultaneously pursuing a graduate
education, a rigorous full-time career, and all the while maintaining a
normal social and personal identity. But the truth is, a charade of this
magnitude can NEVER be flawless, and her friends began to question the
irregularities of her life as much as we did.

"You know, this IS Joey's Pizza. Want to hear our specials?"

"It doesn't make any sense any more. Nobody works as hard as you do. I
mean, it's not like you're a brain surgeon, you get called in the middle
of the night to save a life. These are bankruptcies. How much are they
paying you to live like this?"

Character limitations:
- Yes, they seem like superheroes, but they have limits and are fully
aware of them.

"Well, I figured it out. I was just never very good at Morse code."

"This is a charge of C-4. I can tell, because it says 'C-4' everywhere."

"But the truth is, it affects me. Never knowing who to trust, learning
to expect betrayal, plotting in secrecy and hatred and anger. It's
becoming a part of me. I am becoming what I despise."

Our rules/Their rules:
- Vaughn, though extensively trained in field protocol, is not a field
agent. So, when his role in the show required that his character
accompany Sydney on a mission and step outside his literary confines,
Vaughn gets Devlin's, and therefore our, permission.

"We? You're proposing to go with her?"
"I -- I know I'm not a field agent, but SD-6 isn't in on this and Agent
Bristow will need backup. She trusts me."

Each time a character speaks as the voice of the audience, it justifies
our belief and renews our trust in their world, reestablishing the
intersection between our lives and theirs. It borders on dramatic irony,
but by allowing the characters to embody our concerns, we are
vicariously implicated in the fantasy.

Similarly, the writers keep us entangled in the thematic literary
subtext of the show through echoed symbolism and reflexive narratives.
Sometimes they are clever details thrown into the mix, subtly reminding
us of where we began and how far we have traveled. It is the renewal of
red, the return to Taipei, the resurrection of the circumference. It is
the circular narrative, which finds Jack once again behind the wheel of
a car, bearing unexpected revelations. It is Sydney once again
confronted with a parent she does not know. It is the fire extinguisher,
an ever- present icon of Sydney's ingenuity and the show's continuity, a
seemingly unfailing aid until, impossibly, it fails her.
Sometimes it is the show turned inward on itself, toying with
meta-metaphors, playing games with its own texture. There is no better
illustration of this than Page 47, episode 15 of the first season, in
which every secret life and every tortured lie collides. Let's set
scene: Sydney has been invited to a dinner at Arvin Sloane's house. In
attendance are Sydney, Jack, Will, Sloane, and Emily.

Sydney - Working as spy for Sloane, unbeknownst Will. Working as a
double agent for the CIA, unbeknownst to Sloane, using her dying friend
Emily as a means of procuring an artifact in her employer's possession.

Jack - Also working for and against Sloane. But to further complicate
things, he has to share the dinner table with Will, whom he has recently
kidnapped without ANYONE'S knowledge.

Sloane - The murderer of Sydney's fiancé, lying to his wife about his
life in espionage and continuing an unnecessary pretense about SD-6 with

Will - Concealing from Sydney that he is in hot pursuit of any links to
SD-6, he is completely unaware that he is surrounded by the very people
for whom he is searching and, furthermore is in the presence of his

Emily - Unbeknownst to even the VIEWERS, she is far more informed of
everyone's duality than her guests comprehend.

So, with all these characters united, awkward conversation ensues. To
the dismay of her company, Emily begins to relate an article of Will's
that encapsulates the absurdity of the encounter, brilliantly
emphasizing that behind this seemingly domestic scene there lies a web
of skewed and convoluted relationships of which no one character is
fully cognizant. The article itself is a meta- discourse on the themes
and dynamics currently in play. Sloane's own wife unwittingly condemns
her husband's very way of life.

EMILY: Their boss was a monster.
WILL: He was the devil. He was literally the devil.
SLOANE: How's that?

And here it comes.......

EMILY: Well, if you spoke out against him, if you tried to leave, he'd
have you killed. Now the other workers, they didn't know what they could
do, but Luis Maroma could read. And he started to teach the others to
read and he would find articles in the newspaper that they were wrapping
the fruit in. Articles that taught them about their rights and what was
right and wrong. Eventually, he led a revolt against this guy. I'm going
to cry again, just talking about it.
WILL: What was amazing was this man had no future. I mean, he was caught
in a horrible position, working for the worst person in the world. But
he was resourceful and he was smart and today he's going to college.
EMILY: And the monster he worked for is in prison, rotting where he

Take a step back. It takes tremendous attention and dedication to write
with such consistent awareness of the dynamics and implications of one's
own text. It is difficult enough to successfully convey these elements,
let alone reference them. What do we gain from this conscious internal
awareness? We are allowed to stand within the borders of a
self-contained, self-explained landscape, walking that line between
realism and absurdity without losing our integrity as viewers.


Though we do not have sufficient to time to reply to all responses, we
want to make it clear that we read EVERY message directed to us and
greatly appreciate the feedback we have received. Also, please feel free
to e-mail us at with any questions or comments.
We will try our best to reply to all mail sent directly to this account.

Zero and E.

7: Music from “Dead Drop”

Artist: The Innocence Mission
Song: "Oh Do Not Fly Away"
Label: W.A.R.? Records

Artist: Michelle Featherstone
Song: "Stay"
Label: Into A Cloud

8: More news

For more news, be sure to visit –

And be sure to click here to rate us:

9: Affiliates
We currently have 14 affiliates and more are being added all the time.

Browse current affiliates or apply to become one:

10: Final Thoughts

Be sure to click here to vote for us:

Thanks for reading!


Top Bottom