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Season 2 Episode 22

The Telling

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM May 04, 2003 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
331 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Sydney gets one last chance to bring Arvin Sloane to justice before he executes his grand plan, when her mother reveals her true motivation. But all this is only the beginning of a series of spiralling revelations that ends with a shocking cliffhanger that will alter Sydney's life forever.moreless

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  • Best analyst ever

    So Will is a CIA analyst (who just passed the super-tough "senior analyst" test with the best score ever) and his CIA password is "Sydney". LOL WTF? Let's hope our actual CIA analysts are smarter than this bozo!
  • Two years???

    Two years???

    Already married???

    Come on! Give me a break!
  • spoilers below

    this series while having some good moments also has alot of ridiculous moments and there is no better example than in this episode with:

    "you've been gone for almost 2 years"

    TWO YEARS! they were supposed to be in true love and he has moved on and just gave up on her in almost 2 years? you've got to be kidding me... if he said 10 years then i would understand but almost 2 years? absurd.. if the girl i was in love with just vanished off the face of the earth i damn sure wouldn't give up on her in almost 2 years.. maybe not even the rest of my life.. i found this to be insulting to say the least.. laughable.

    another thing is why did noone even question the idea that maybe it could be francie.. i mean after tippin could be the double well the very next scenario is that francie could also be but yet noone in the csi even considers the possibility?

    and they continue to trust her mom? i mean really? she killed 8 cia operatives among countless others and is one of the most dangerous people on the face of earth and completely duped jack and yet everyone continues to trust her haha this series is gonna give me a heart attack.

    throughout the series there has been so much things such as this... but the 2 years thing really annoyed me to no end.

    even with it's faults i did enjoy the 2nd season more than the first and i am intrigued to see where the 3rd season goes.moreless
  • 'For better or for worse (to this day, it's still being debated amongst hardcore fans) the season two finale, The Telling, changed the face of Alias forever.'

    For better or for worse (to this day, it's still being debated amongst hardcore fans) the season two finale, The Telling, changed the face of Alias forever.

    As if this season hadn't already undergone serious reconstruction, with the magnificent game changer, Phase One, Abrams takes that one step further and completely revamps the entire series.

    Regardless of whether or not I believe that this is the season where Alias piqued, thus failing to recapture the glory and complexity of its narrative structure, intense action and marvelous character work in subsequent seasons, this episode is a tour de force, effectively webbing every element that made season two must-see TV, into one captivating hour.

    Props to Abrams and Co., this is one of the best season finales from any show. Period. It helps if your an avid fan of the series, as it doesn't hold back any punches and every reveal, every twist, every kick, every tear just bursts through the TV screen, demanding you witness this world you've been watching for 2 years crumble before your very eyes. JJ evokes such emotion from his cast, they really give it their all in his one. Special mention has to go out to Merrin Dungey, as this is her last episode as a series regular, and she gives us many reasons as to why she'll be missed. As Francie, her friendship with Syd grounded the show - we viewed Syd's everyday life through her eyes. Perhaps a little underused, Francie was always a very 'real' character - flawed, funny, and refreshingly average (on a show where we saw Syd do all sorts of fantastical things on a weekly basis). Of course, Abrams had to take one of the only real relationships Syd had on the show and kill it. And so Allison was introduced. Again, props to Merrin, who managed to make Allison a frightening villain, while allowing us to to subtly see a real person behind the face of the woman she murdered... .Her scene where she's crying over stabbing Will is both touching and insanely cruel to long-term fans (I doubt Bradley or Merrin ever thought they'd be in such a situation when they first joined the show).

    And that fight scene...my word, it was vicious, wasn't it? Carrying the same emotional gravity as Buffy Vs Faith, Syd Vs Allison is one hell of a showdown. Made all the more riveting by the fact the first half of the action isn't aided by a score (it also recalls the fight between The Bride and Copperhead in Kill Bill). Unlike Buffy and Faith's fight, I had a hard time spotting the stunt double as these two ladies walloped the bejaysus out of one another, taking half of the house down with them!

    There are so many thrilling moments in this episode, it's difficult to pinpoint my favourite bit: Syd's confrontation with her mother on the ice rink was expertly played out. And that scene on the rooftop was jaw-dropping, from an acting and visual standpoint - it literally floored me. And the ending. THE ENDING. This episode has it all, really...

    Two years into the future. Syd doesn't remember a thing. Vaughn thought she was dead. Vaughn is also married. Alias at its best - compelling, entertaining, daring and various other complementary words ending with ing. The show does come close to reaching these heights again, but the series never manages to eclipse such a jam-packed episode.

    Flamin' heck. My brain just melted all over again.moreless
  • In my opinion, this is the episode where Alias jumps the shark. Ladies and Gentlemen, this episode should be included in history books.

    Alias peaks right here. In this episode. Never ever this show is going to reach heights like this.

    Absolutely breathetaking.

    JJ Abrams showed his true-self. Brilliant writing, brilliant. I can't even imagine how twisted that man's mind is. Many say, that you can't really judge an episode by the ending. This is true. However, this episode's ending is more than "cool" or even "amazing". It's a true gamechanger, one of the most creative cliffhangers in TV history that changed Alias forever.

    Advancing 2 years without the knowledge of the main character in only 1 second, what the...? Incredible. But, not only that is. Evil Francie is exposed by Will, and of course, the event we've been waiting for for a long time... ever since "Phase One".... the ultimate showdown between Allison and Sydney.

    Best. Fight. Ever. At least, on television, but it definitely ranks high on the overall list. It was movie quality. The music was amazing. I liked how Giacchino didn't use techno music in this one,he knows how to create suspense.

    Also amazing performances by Merrin Dungey and Jennifer Garner, they both delivered their bests. Also, the directing! Oh my god. I was really thrilled by the final moments of the fight.

    Sydney putting 3 bullets in Allison's body was very shocking ,because the bullet wounds were 100% realistic. Not just red spots.

    "Il Dire"... The Telling. Rambaldi's magnificent machine. We don't know what it is, or what it does, but it's working. We don't witness it - unfortunately - just hear how it "works"... it's very bizarre. And it makes the ground shake. Even more bizarre... Sloane is seriously up to something.

    The rest of the episode was amazing too, but it's simply not worth mentioning as everything was building up to the last 10 minutes - it was more than worth it.

    Ladies and gentlemen, this was TV history. This episode proved 2 things.

    1. Alias is one of the best ever.

    2. JJ Abrams is a genious.

    No doubt in those 2, not after this. Amazing closure to an amazing season. Thank you JJ, thank you. You are the man.moreless
Kevin Weisman

Kevin Weisman

Marshall J. Flinkman

Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner

Sydney Anne Bristow

Merrin Dungey

Merrin Dungey

Francine 'Francie' Calfo

Carl Lumbly

Carl Lumbly

Marcus R. Dixon

Ron Rifkin

Ron Rifkin

Arvin Sloane

Michael Vartan

Michael Vartan

Michael C. Vaughn

Jonathan Banks

Jonathan Banks


Guest Star

Kevin Bowens

Kevin Bowens

Alpha Team Leader

Guest Star

Jon Dixon

Jon Dixon

CIA Agent No. 1

Guest Star

Terry O'Quinn

Terry O'Quinn

F.B.I. Special Officer Kendall

Recurring Role

Amanda Foreman

Amanda Foreman


Recurring Role

Greg Grunberg

Greg Grunberg

Eric Weiss

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • As Sloane's men intercept the SUV carrying Jack and several CIA agents who are transporting the Rambaldi heart, they shoot the windows out of the car as they are shooting at the agents. However, since this was a government car carrying precious cargo, wouldn't the windows be bullet-proof?

    • The club in Stockholm is - according to Irina - named "Välsmakande", which is a Swedish word that means "Good-tasting" in English. Once again they play on the fact that Lena Olin is Swedish.

    • Number 47: The CIA has 24 pieces of Rambaldi's machine, Sloane has 23. 23+24=47

    • This is the last time we see Sydney's house that she and her friends hangs out in since the very first episode. In season 3 we only see it through flashback and what's left of it after the fire.

    • Number 47: The construction of Rambaldi's machine consists of 47 pieces.

    • Number 47: The bottle of Provacillium has a number on it: 0047-0341-32.

    • It takes almost a whole season (from 2x22, the finale, to 3x19) until we learn what "The Telling" does.

    • The shot showing the change of scene to Stockholm, isn't of Stockholm but of Amsterdam: the Doelensluis bridge and part of the Rokin street is shown.

    • Irina plans to buy the plans for the NSA's Rambaldi storage facility, however, later, she tells Sydney that the facility was raided a month ago. Dialogue in the second part would indicate that the two episodes take place immediately after one another.

    • When CIA acquired DNA of the second double, they compared it to Tippin's to verify he's not the one. Shouldn't they see from DNA right away that person is female?

    • Dixon, instead of telling Sydney over the comms that they've found her father, tells someone else to tell her. This doesn't make much sense, seeing as he should be able to communicate directly with her.

    • Goof:
      When Francie hands Will the ice cream, she mouths, "I got you your favorite", but you don't hear the audio. You can also see the line if closed captioning is on.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • (Sydney corners Irina on the rooftop)
      Sydney: Freeze... I shot you before, I will do it again.

    • (Sydney and Vaughn apprehend Sark)
      Vaughn: See when I have a gun to you, I don't just pull the trigger.
      Sark: Thank you.
      (Vaughn slams Sark's head against the table)
      Vaughn: You're welcome.

    • (Jack's been abducted by Sloane)
      Jack: I used to feel sorry for you... could you sense it? That you'd been abandoned, left for dead, disgraced? I pitied you. That you needed Rambaldi to fill the void in your life... it was like a religion for you.
      Sloane: I didn't expect you to understand.
      Jack: Why keep me alive?
      Sloane: Because... we're friends, Jack.

    • Will: That file, the DNA string, was there a name attached to it?
      Sydney: There was but we don't have any leads yet.
      Will: What was the name?
      Sydney: A.G. Doren.

    • Sydney: We received a file, a DNA string, of the person who was doubled.
      Will: And?
      Sydney: Your DNA didn't match and there was no Provacillium in your blood. You've been cleared.

    • Vaughn: We thought you were dead. They asked me to come back to um... to explain.
      Sydney: Come back from what? What are you talking about?
      (Vaughn wipes his face with his left hand; he is wearing a wedding band)
      Sydney: Vaughn... why are you wearing that ring?
      Vaughn: Syd... since that night... you were missing. You've been missing for almost two years.

    • Marshall: Well, post-fish, when I went to drop her off, this is traditionally, classically the time where I would - or a man would - kiss her. And, well, I just started sweating.
      Weiss: How bad?
      Marshall: Bad. Weird bad. Freak show bad.

    • Kendall: Based on her Intel we sent in some of our finest trained agents, we took control of a storage facility and with the help of a bomb squad we're now in control of two dozen rusted kitchen appliances.

    • Irina: (to Sydney) Stop being as stubborn as I am!

    • Kendall: If this Intel turns out to be wrong, I will personally escort you to Camp Harris and I won't leave until you're dead and buried.
      Sark: Then I certainly hope Mr. Sloane hasn't changed the code.

  • NOTES (8)

    • This episode won the 2003 Emmy Award for "Outstanding Stunt Coordination".

    • This episode was nominated for the 2004 Golden Reel Award for "Best Sound Editing in Television Episodic - Sound Effects & Foley".

    • Music from this episode includes:
      "Bleed To Love Her" by Fleetwood Mac

    • Aside from Allison Doren, the list of the names of the "Project Christmas" children that Will looks up are actually names of various crew members.

    • Jennifer Garner, Ron Rifkin, Michael Vartan and Victor Garber are the only people to appear in all episodes of Alias this season, and are also (besides Vartan) the only people to appear in every episode of the entire series this far.

    • Once again the standard opening titles were not used for this episode.

    • This is the last time that Lena Olin, Bradley Cooper and Merrin Dungey are considered to be a part of the main cast. Any of their future appearances are all limited and irregular.

    • Though she wakes up in Hong Kong and not in Taipei, every Alias season finale and premiere had always take place in the same style of setting. The very first episode, the season one finale, the season two premiere, this episode, and also next season premiere (continuing directly from this episode's cliffhanger) all take place at night inside an Asian country.