Alias (2001–2006)
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Truth Be Told 

Sydney Bristow discovers that her job as an agent for SD-6, a top-secret division of the CIA, is not what she thought it was. Sydney's father, Jack, also tells her the truth about his work ... See full summary »


J.J. Abrams


J.J. Abrams (created by), J.J. Abrams




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer Garner ... Sydney Bristow
Ron Rifkin ... Arvin Sloane
Michael Vartan ... Michael Vaughn
Bradley Cooper ... Will Tippin
Merrin Dungey ... Francie Calfo
Carl Lumbly ... Marcus Dixon
Kevin Weisman ... Marshall Flinkman
Victor Garber ... Jack Bristow
Edward Atterton ... Dr. Danny Hecht
Jay Gerber Jay Gerber ... Professor Mizzy
Angus Scrimm ... Calvin McCullough
William Wellman Jr. ... Priest
Ric Young ... Dr. Zhang Lee
Lorenzo Callender Lorenzo Callender ... Messenger
Greg Collins ... Kenny


Sydney Bristow discovers that her job as an agent for SD-6, a top-secret division of the CIA, is not what she thought it was. Sydney's father, Jack, also tells her the truth about his work and she, enraged, seeks help from real CIA and is hired as their double agent under the command of Agent Vaughn. From now on, her job is really simple: she needs to complete her cases at SD-6 while reporting her findings back to the CIA. Written by evamatijevic

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »





English | Min Nan

Release Date:

30 September 2001 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sydney is stopped by a man dubbed "Suit and Glasses". She tells him that she needed to go to the bathroom because her boss 'Ron' would fire her if she was caught drinking. Her SD-6 boss is named Arvin Sloane, and the actor is Ron Rifkin. See more »


Sydney supposedly deals with Taiwanese, but they speak Cantonese rather than either of the main Chinese dialects used in Taiwan: Kuo-yu or Minnan-yu. See more »


Danny: This isn't real.
Sydney: Danny... since my mother died, I always hoped I would find someone to give my life meaning. That person is you. I just met the agency first. I can't quit.
See more »


References Lawrence of Arabia (1962) See more »


The Fence (Matthew Shepard's Song)
Written by Peter Katz
Performed by Peter Katz
See more »

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User Reviews

The beginning of the J.J. Abrams era
13 December 2008 | by MaxBorg89See all my reviews

Apparently, the plot of Alias began as a joke: while working on another show, Felicity, writer J.J. Abrams thought that it would be a fun idea to do a show about a young woman who goes to college by day and works as a spy by night (or something like that, anyway). After some polishing, that concept morphed into Alias, arguably the finest spy show to have ever aired on television (well, at least during its first two seasons), not to mention what made Abrams American TV's new god, leading to Lost and Mission: Impossible III (yes, the last one is a movie, but based on a TV show, so it counts). And this episode is where it all began.

The funny thing is, in retrospect, it's easy to notice how Mission: Impossible III's plot structure blatantly apes Alias' first hour (then again, Tom Cruise insisted on Abrams as director for the spy movie after seeing this episode): as a woman is about to be brutally tortured by an unidentified Chinese villain (the name given in the credits is the highly original Suit and Glasses), a lengthy flashback reveals how she ended up there.

The woman is Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), a typical American twenty-something: college student, not getting along with her old man Jack (Victor Garber), earning a little extra by working for a bank, Credit Dauphine. Actually, that last part is all a lie, as Syd reveals to her boyfriend after he asks her to marry him: for the past seven years, she's been working for SD-6, a secret branch of the CIA run by the charismatic Arvin Sloane (Ron Rifkin). The only real rule surrounding SD-6 is that no one outside the agency can know it exists, which is why even Sydney's roommate Francie (Merrin Dungey) and best friend Will (Bradley Cooper) have no idea of what really happens when she goes abroad with her colleague Dixon (Carl Lumbly). And Sydney pays the biggest price possible for breaking that one rule when Danny (that would be the boyfriend) is found dead, his murder leading her to find out that SD-6 isn't really what she thought it was, and neither is her dad.

Abrams, who directs as well as writing the episode, thinks big right off the bat, with the ambitious storytelling, cunning camera-work and excellent location choice. If one weren't aware of the fact this is a TV show, it could easily be mistaken for a shorter-than-usual big-screen thriller, much in the same way as 2001's other groundbreaking series, 24. The comparison isn't accidental, as Abrams uses the 40 minutes of programming at his disposal to concoct a story that might as well end here, but is much more satisfying when seen as the beginning of something more complex and exciting (kind of like the pilot of The X-Files).

Furthermore, as befits most of America's small-screen output, the cast is amazing: Garner is of course the show's queen, oozing charm and soul from the first moment we see her (and she deservedly won a Golden Globe for the first season), while Lumbly, Dungey and Cooper (plus the hilarious Kevin Weisman) offer terrific support. And then we have the shadowy father figures, Rifkin and Garber - whenever they're around, the show gains a little extra something.

Long story short: the first episode of Alias is, by all standards, a piece of television history. There's absolutely no excuse for missing it.

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