Alias: Season 1, Episode 1

Truth Be Told (9 Sep. 2001)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Action, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 602 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 1 critic

Sydney Bristow is a college student who leads a double life: she works for shadowy government agency called SD-6 which is supposed to be a branch of the CIA and reports to the shady Arvin ... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jay Gerber ...
Professor Mizzy
Calvin McCullough
William Wellman Jr. ...


Sydney Bristow is a college student who leads a double life: she works for shadowy government agency called SD-6 which is supposed to be a branch of the CIA and reports to the shady Arvin Sloan. Recently engaged, she tells her boyfriend, Danny Hecht, the truth. The next day, he is murdered. Later, Sydney's father, Jack Bristow, tells the truth: he is a double agent for the real CIA, as SD-6 is a renegade agency who allegedly killed Sydney's fiancé. Sydney must make a decision which will haunt her for the rest of her life. Sydney's partner in the field, Marcus Dixon, is also unaware about his true alliances as is SD-6's tech expert, the socially awkward Marshall Flinkman. Sydney's friends, the headstrong Francine, and the ambitious journalist Will Tippin are also unaware about Sydney's double life, until Will becomes inquisitive about Sydney's well-being following her fiancé's murder. Written by RealLiveClaude

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Release Date:

9 September 2001 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


First Marshall's gadget is a scrambler RF lighter. See more »


A dinner takes place supposedly in Taiwan. However, the attendees speak Cantonese, not Mandarin, indicating Hong Kong instead of Taiwan. See more »


Danny: Sir, I love your daughter and I want to marry her. That's why I'm calling.
Agent Jack Bristow: 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.
Agent Jack Bristow: 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.
Agent Jack Bristow: Well then, I'll tell ...
See more »


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User Reviews

The beginning of the J.J. Abrams era
13 December 2008 | by (Italy) – See 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.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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