Season 1 Episode 1

Truth Be Told

Aired Thursday 8:00 PM Sep 30, 2001 on ABC
out of 10
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524 votes

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Episode Summary

Sydney Bristow discovers that her job as an agent for SD-6, a top-secret division of the CIA, holds some deadly secrets that threaten the security of the free world. In spite of being warned against it, Sydney reveals her secret to her fiancé, Danny, who later on is murdered. Sydney finds that her father, Jack, is also SD-6 and that the group is not part of the CIA, but actually an enemy of the United States. Sydney seeks the aid of the real CIA and is enlisted as a double agent under the command of operations officer Vaughn. Her mission now is to complete her cases at SD-6 while reporting her findings back to the CIA. But when Sydney finds out that her father is also affiliated with the CIA, she begins to question where his true allegiances really lie.moreless

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  • The best start to one of the greatest series of all time!

    Alias really is the best series you could watch. It incorporates crime, justice, drama and sci fi in such an enjoyable way i really cant do it justice. This episode was created initially as a movie then was turned into a series. Cleverly written, with the elements of sadness and intrigue and action is really the perfect combination. From the very start with the crazy red wig and sleek black outfit, im not sure JJ Abrams even knew what he had just created. Sydney Bristow is introduced to the audience along with her estranged father, dead fiancee and the ever amazing Michael Vaughn. This really is the best series of all time.moreless
  • One of the greatest pilots ever.

    This pilot is just amazing, for so many reasons. Let me start with how it started. A mysterious woman with red hair being tortured... what the heck?

    The episode's clever structure is clear from the start. Present time is Sydney being tortured, and shes flashing back, in which we learn how she got to that point.

    Classic flashback technique, yes. But has it been used in a pilot episode before? Surely, but has it been so effective? Hell no.

    Second thing I noticed: wow. Jennifer Garner - the actress out of nowhere suddenly appears on small screen and instantly amazed me. Her performance as Sydney Bristow, a double agent(or triple, if you count her normal life!) is just outstanding.

    I think women actresses are more difficult to admire because their range is very limited. They are almost always leashed to a man character therefore their role usually is just to be a lover. Not Sydney. She's more ofa man than I think all of us :D

    The idea of a woman superspy-agent might be a little cheesy but that's what this show is aiming for. It's unique setting and mood can mostly be thanked for the 60's style spy-setting.

    Sure, the technology is modern(presented by the awesome Marshall!) but the technics are oldschool.

    This episode has some very impressive action sequences. Remember, this is 2001... and it's only a TV show. But the action sequences in the pilot were so good, it actually felt like watching a hollywood blockbuster. Loved the fights too. This show is more about hand to hand combat instead of gunning, and I can't believe how well it's done. It doesn't looks fake or phony; Jennifer Garner is just incredible!

    The shocks and twists of the episode seem to be never ending. Of course, the biggest one was when someone who we thought would be a regular cast member - Danny - simply got killed by the people who Sydney works for. This creates the basic conflict between the two greatest characters on the show, Sydney Bristow and Arvin Sloane.

    Arvin, the man who's pure evil, yet he still has a special place for Sydney in his heart. I loved this dynamic and I was really excited to see how it would play out after this pilot. All I can say it will be amazing.

    Another remarkable character; Jack Bristow; Sydney's father, who also works a spy... while he wasn't very involved in the pilot JJ ensured it that we would have more questions about him than answers by the end. Loved the mystery! And not just surrounding Jack and SD-6, but the mission objective. Recover a / the mueller device which appearently creates some sort of red ball. What's up with that? Is it just red herring? Not exactly... wait and see.

    Sydney's personal life might not be as exciting, but Will Tippin is a very likable character. Overall, this pilot did an incredibly good job introducing the major players and setting the groundwork, but also it was one of the most entertaining hours of television with lots of faast paced action and blockbuster twists. And of course, Jennifer Garner is an amazing eyecandy.moreless
  • Promising start

    I am not sure even what to think. When I read about the story, it sounded very exciting and the start of the pilot was little confusing for me as it looked to be just another life but soon we start to get the idea that she is not a usual girl.. so I liked the change the char does from the start to the end. A great development and the story what at first seemed little slow, got the wind off in the end too.

    But somehow I was still excepting little more - maybe more action, more mystery, more danger. Not that it did not had any of it, it had... but just little more.moreless
  • Syd:"You killed the man l love." Sloane:"No,agent Bristow,you did."

    Wow!That was an excellent,flawless pilot.An episode full of relentless action,torture and twists.I made the mistake to watch this and l got totally hooked...

    The show has many themes such as lies,trust and familly affairs but its main theme is Sydney Bristow's double life.Sydney Bristow is the lead character whose friends think that she works for a bank,Credit Dauphine.Credit Dauphine is in fact a cover for SD-6,which Syd thinks is a covert branch of the CIA.When she gets engaged to Danny Hecht,she tells him the truth about SD-6 but,while she's on a mission in Taipei,SD-6 head Arvin sloane finds out what Danny knows and has him killed.That's when Syd learns all the truth-that SD-6 is not part of the CIA,but actually a member of the Alliance of Twelve and an enemy of the United States-and she realizes that her life is a lie...

    This pilot introduced the incredible talents of Jennifer Garner and she is definitely perfect for the role.Sydney Bristow is the ultimate heroine;she is heroic,brave,athletic,emotional,charming and above all sexy.Here was a beautifull woman who not only slipped into various disguises with the ease of a mannequin but boasted a wide-ranging acting talent that seems refreshing and new.We have just met her and l feel l know her for years.From her stress over her university courses to her breathless acceptance of Danny's proposal to her bewilderment when her father suddenly shows up in the parking garage to her stoned act in Taipei{Whoa!}to her desolate fury in Sloane's office,Garner carries the episode with a grace and beauty that few actresses would be able to achieve.So convincingly does she act under those aliases that she seems a totally different person.She's just amazing.

    Another great element of this show is the wide variety of skillfull actors and the chemistry between them such as Victor Garber who plays Jack Bristow,Syd's father who goes several iterations here:at first he seemed like a cold bussinessman who has the role of the absente father,then an ally of Sloane and finally we learn his true identity and his true allegiaces as he is prooved to be a patriot who loves his county and puts his life in danger every day for her.

    some other characters were introduced here;Will Tippin,a journalist who's a friend of Syd's,but he has a crush on her,Francie,another friend of Syd's who works in catering and doesn't think much of Syd's father,Arvin Sloane,head of SD-6 and Syd's evil boss who at first seems all bussiness who cares about her,but later he kills Danny,Marcus Dixon,a man who loves his familly above all and he's Syd's partner on SD-6 missions and Marshall,SD-6's technical expert who provides gadgets on agents inside SD-6.

    At the last moments of the episode two more characters made their appearance;CIA agents Michael Vaughn and Weiss.We don't get much information about them,only that Vaughn become's Syd's handler at the CIA.


    --Syd's motivations seem to stem from her mother's death.She wants to become a teacher like her and she is proud of her,but she feels uncomfortable when she has to discuss about her.

    --Syd's red hairdo is an homage to the excellent film Run,Lola,Run about a girl who has a limited amount of time to find money for her boyfriend or he'll be killed.

    --The fight scene in the garage and the car chase with Jack are particularly impressive.

    --The theme song is amazng and the music complements are excellent.

    --The woman with the magenta hair that Syd was using as a non-agency alias is Will's sister,Amy!


    Syd,charming Suit and Glasses.


    Syd leaves her cell phone on the ground in the parking garage as a decoy,but when she fnds the agent it disappears from the ground.Immidiately following the fight she picks it up again and jumps into the car.

    --This episode's injuries:Syd is bruised during the assassination attempt and looses teeth in Taipei.

    --This episode's locations:Taipei,Taiwan

    --This episode's aliases:On their mission to Taipei,Syd and Dixon pose as representatives of Modero Plastics.On her second mission to Taipei Syd has no backing from SD-6,so she disguises herself as Amy Tippin,Will's sister.

    --This episode's hot look:At the reception Syd wears a long,shocking red sleeveless dress.When she uses the alias of Amy,she wears a red wig and a union jack T-shirt.

    --This episode's language skills:Chinise(Syd),Hebrew(Dixon)and Demotic(Mueller)

    --Marshall's gadgets:a lighter that scrambles all video signals in a 420-yard radius and a lipstick that is actually a camera/grid analyzer/laser that takes pictures from three axes.


  • "People can't be spies forever"

    Wow. Just wow. An amazing pilot episode from start to finish.

    The structure was brilliant – how at the beginning we see red-haired Sydney in the middle of something we know nothing about, and then bit by bit the story gets revealed (albeit in a slightly confusing manner!). I've always liked episodes which start at the end and there was a general non-linear way of how this episode played out, which was a nice touch.

    I loved how all the characters were introduced, and developed so well in such a short amount of time – there was a great first Jack scene with the phone call to Danny, and a bumbling Marshall with his gadgets.

    The action sequence in the car park was great, I love when Jack comes to the rescue and Sydney just points the gun at him and goes "Daddy?" It's so innocent and such a contrast to the huge fight scene five seconds earlier.

    Overall the episode was well acted and well directed, a sign of (hopefully) good things to come. I know I'm hooked!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

Edward Atterton

Edward Atterton

Danny Hecht

Guest Star

Jay Gerber

Jay Gerber

Professor Mizzy

Guest Star

William Wellman, Jr.

William Wellman, Jr.


Guest Star

Angus Scrimm

Angus Scrimm

Agent McCullough

Recurring Role

Greg Grunberg

Greg Grunberg

Eric Weiss (uncredited)

Recurring Role

Ric Young

Ric Young

Suit and Glasses

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (15)

    • When Sydney is taking her lie detector test, the display on the technician's computer screen loops back to the start at one point, revealing that it's actually a pre-recorded sequence.

    • After Sydney confronts Sloan about the death of her fiance, she is made to do a lie detector test. At this point, her heart rate would be high, as she is feeling angry over the death of the person she loved, so doing a lie detector test would prove pointless.

    • Number 47: Marshall expresses a desire to improve a camera design so that it has 47 exposures.

    • Sydney has been working for SD-6 for 7 years.

    • When Vaughn meets Sydney in this episode, it is the day when his father's watch stops working.

    • Goof:
      Errors in geography: A dinner takes place supposedly in Taiwan. However, the attendees speak Cantonese, not Mandarin, indicating Hong Kong instead of Taiwan.

    • Goof:
      Syd leaves her cell phone on the ground in the parking garage as a decoy, but when she fights the agent it disappears from the ground. Immediately following the fight she picks it up again and jumps into the car.

    • 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.

    • When Sydney handcuffs Suit & Glasses to the chair and knocks the two guards out, she runs into the lab and is seen by a security guard on the surveillance camera. If you look closely she is holding something wrapped up on her right arm. This shot is in fact the one after she steals the Mueller device and blows up the lab.

    • When Sydney is telling Danny how she came into the CIA, it shows her talking on a pay phone. After she says, "So I met with him," you can see a camera man's reflection in the pay phone on the far left. The camera is not a video camera, but a still photo camera and is pointed down.

    • After Will reads Sydney's note and meets her on the roof he says: "Meet me on the roof" as if he was quoting what was written on the note. However the note just said: "I'm on the roof".

    • When at the track, Sydney is talking to Will and he tells her congratulations, she mouths "Thanks" but her voice comes in on delay.

    • Goof: After Sydney kicks her SD-6 assassin into the car window, he falls down, with his hands down. Jack's car shrieks and when Sydney reaches down to the ground to pick up the gun the assassin's hands are up again, falling.

    • Goof:
      After fighting the SD-6 assassin, Sydney hears Jack's car shrieking and looks to her left and you can see that she is holding something on her right hand and lowers it, however she wasn't holding anything when she kicked the assassin to the car's window. This shot is actually the same one when Sydney is pointing the gun at her father, says "daddy?" and hears another car shrieking and looks to the left.

    • Goof:
      After handcuffing Suit & Glasses to the chair and knocking the two guards out, Sydney picks up one gun, but in the next shot she is holding two.

  • QUOTES (20)

    • Professor: Sydney. Time's up.
      Sydney: Okay, then. (still writing) I'll... just... finish... my little... essay. Thank you.

    • Will: Danny's working late, right?
      Sydney: I'm taking him dinner at the hospital.
      Will: We can go to a late one. Come on, it's only playing till Thursday.
      Sydney: We're getting married.

    • Danny: Remember our first date? The bowling alley? The loud guy?
      Sydney: Oh, God...

    • Sydney: So, I'm pretty sure I got a "D".
      Danny: You didn't get a "D".
      Sydney: I think I got a "D". I think I got like, a sixty-four, maybe.
      Danny: You've never gotten a "D".
      Sydney: I've gotten a "D"!

    • Suit and Glasses: Who do you work for, you pretty little girl?

    • Danny: Sir, I love your daughter and I want to marry her. That's why I'm calling.
      Jack: First of all, Danny, the truth is this is just a courtesy call. Like when you say to your neighbor, "We're having a loud party on Saturday night if that's all right with you," what you really mean is, "We're having a loud party on Saturday night."
      Danny: Mr. Bristow.
      Jack: Sydney doesn't give a damn what my opinion is. What interests me is that you do.
      Danny: It's just a custom to call the father. That's all this is.
      Jack: Well then, I'll tell you what. I may become your father-in-law, that's just fine. But I will not be used as part of a charming little anecdote you tell your friends at cocktail parties so they can see what a quaint, old-fashioned guy Danny really is. Are we clear?
      Danny: Yes, sir.
      Jack: Good. Then welcome to the family.

    • Dixon: Oh god, I hate this!
      Sydney: I know, if only brother Rama Salaam were still teaching in Tampa.
      Dixon: No, not my case work. It's these new headsets, keep pinching my ear.
      Sydney: Oh, give it to me. Any word from Declan?
      Dixon: Not since Tehran. I keep telling myself he's just fine. He's done this before, disappear for days like this. What's going on with you?
      Sydney: What? Nothing.
      Dixon: You've got, like, a glow.
      Sydney: I don't have a glow.
      Dixon: Yeah, look at that!
      Sydney: Come on, Sloane's waiting. There's no glow.
      Dixon: Is she glowing?
      SD-6 Agent: Big time.
      Dixon: You hear that?

    • Sydney: I thought you sold airplane parts!
      Jack: I don't sell airplane parts. I never sold airplane parts.

    • (Jack has just saved Sydney from a hit by Security Section)
      Jack: About a decade ago, a pool of agents went freelance. Russians, Lybian, Chinese, The-
      Sydney: The Alliance of Twelve?
      Jack: What do you know about them?
      Sydney: They're an enemy of the United States, they're mercenaries, they're dangerous.
      Jack: I'm one of them... SD-6 is not a black ops division of the CIA. SD-6 is a branch of The Alliance... you work for the very enemy you thought you were fighting.

    • Suit and Glasses: (holding dentist's pliers in his hand ready to torture Sydney) Okay, let's try this one more time… who do you work for?
      Sydney: I just wanted to say… start with the teeth in the back… if you don't mind.

    • Sloane: Oskar Muller was killed last month, he was riding a moped through Berlin, and was hit by an ambulance of all things. We had kept our eye on this guy for quite sometime, he fancied himself a modern alchemist, his IQ was recorded as one of the highest of the planet.
      Dixon: (sarcastically) Then again, he was riding a moped.

    • Vaughn: They're reviewing your statement. You wrote a lot.
      Sydney: I know.
      Vaughn: I mean, it's like Tolstoy long.

    • Sydney: Stop saying "we!" Stop talking about the agency! You killed the man I love!
      Sloane: No, Agent Bristow. You did.

    • Sydney: Who are you to come to me and act like a father? If you want to help me, stay away from me.

    • Suit and Glasses: I'd rather not make this too painful.
      Sydney: Me too. Glad we're on the same page. That's good.
      Suit and Glasses: Who...are you...working for? I'll not ask you again.
      Sydney: Okay. Get a pen. Write this down. EMETIB. You got that?
      Suit and Glasses: Yes.
      Sydney: Okay, now reverse it.
      (Suit and Glasses writes down letters in reverse, which reads BITE ME, Sydney laughs)
      Sydney: I've got bad news for you man. I am your worst enemy. I've got nothing to lose.
      Suit and Glasses: That's not exactly true. You have teeth.

    • Dixon: If there's one rule you don't break, that's the rule you don't break.

    • 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.

    • Will: Her favorite movie of all time. You ready for this? Pretty Woman.
      Sydney: So? I'm sure that's a lot of people's favorite movie.
      Will: Yeah, that's probably true. Congratulations. But of all time?
      Sydney: (given a water bottle) Thanks.
      Will: That includes, like, well, any other movie ever made. All of them!

    • Sydney: Was it good?
      Will: For the date, it was. Yes.
      Sydney: You didn't like her?
      Will: I didn't mind her so much. I don't like my sister anymore. That's the problem, having siblings live with you. They try to get you to meet people that you aren't supposed to meet in real life.

    • (about Sydney's wedding)
      Sydney: Maybe I should call my dad... I mean, he is my dad.
      Francie: You are schizophrenic! Just remind yourself, unless you're talking about importing airplane parts, that man's got nothing to say. Let him find out when he gets the invitation.

  • NOTES (10)

    • Award Winnings:
      2002 American Choreography Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fight Choreography (John Medlen).
      2002 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single Camera Series and Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera Series.

      Award Nominations:
      2002 Eddie Award for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Television (Stan Salfas and Quincy Z. Gunderson).
      2002 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Costumes for a Series (Linda Serijan and Anne Hartley.
      2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (J.J. Abrams).
      2002 Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Award for Best Contemporary Makeup - Television (For a Single Episode of a Regular Series - Sitcom, Drama or Daytime) (Angela Nogaro, Diana Brown and Gilbert A. Mosko).

    • Series creator J.J. Abrams and Jennifer Garner provide DVD commentary for this episode.

    • Series creator J.J. Abrams has remarked that he did not consider Vaughn as a love interest for Sydney until he began writing their scene at the CIA for the end of the pilot episode. This explains Michael Vaughn's noticeable increase in importance after this episode, where he becomes a pivotal character instead of just that guy at the end of the pilot who Syd will meet with every week.

    • Music from episode includes:
      "You're A God" by Vertical Horizon
      "Goin' Our Way" by Gus
      "Never Grow Old" by The Cranberries
      "Under The Gun" by Supreme Beings of Leisure
      "Trouble" by Cat Stevens
      "Here Comes The Flood" by Peter Gabriel
      "Sofisticated" by Stereo MC's
      "No Man's Woman" by Sinead O'Connor
      "Give You Back" by Vertical Horizon

    • Professor Mizzy is named after Vic Mizzy, the composer of the original The Addams Family theme. Mizzy used to live on J.J. Abrams' street when he was growing up.

    • Greg Grunberg's character is named "Eric Weiss". Erik Weisz is the birth name of Harry Houdini.

    • LOOK HARD: During the opening credits, the Rambaldi symbol is flashed over the "Alias" logo for exactly one frame. This happens while Victor Garber's name is onscreen. Also, the images moving behind the logo are home movies of creator J. J. Abrams children during a 4th of July celebration.

    • Amy Tippen (Will's sister) is actually played by Jennifer Garner's stunt double, Nancy, with a red wig.

    • This episode ran an hour and nine minutes including the two Nokia commericals before and after the episode.

    • This episode begins in medias res.


    • Will: Her favorite movie of all time. Are you ready for this? Pretty Woman!

      Pretty Woman is a 1990 romantic comedy film. The film centers around the title character, down-on-her-luck prostitute Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) who is hired by a wealthy businessman and corporate raider, Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) to be his escort for several business functions, and their developing relationship.

    • Vaughn: I mean, it's like Tolstoy long.

      Leo Tolstoy was a 19th century Russian author whose famous works include the lengthy War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

    • Sydney: Did you get the Dave Matthews tickets?
      Dave Matthews is the vocalist/guitarist of the Dave Matthews Band, an American jam band formed in 1991.

    • Visual: Sydney with bright red hair.
      This is an homage to the German film Run Lola, Run, of which J.J. Abrams has confessed to be fan.