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Season 2, Episode 3
Airdate October 13, 2002
Production Number E654
Written by Alex Kurtzman,
Roberto Orci
Directed by Daniel Attias
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AliasSeason Two

Cipher is the third episode of the second season of Alias, and the twenty-fifth episode overall. Sydney must match wits with Sark for a key Rambaldi artifact.

Guest Stars: Lena Olin (Irina Derevko/Laura Bristow), Terry O'Quinn (F.B.I. Special Officer Kendall), Endre Hules (Mr. Vashko), Janet MacLachlan (Jane Banks), Patricia Wettig (Dr. Judy Barnett)


Plot Overview

The function of the T-Wave Camera is revealed to be a Terahertz Wave Camera, capable of detection of objects and formations 100 meters beneath the earth's surface. Unfortunately, the camera that Sydney stole was only a prototype and Sark is revealed to have a fully completed version planned to be launched into space by the Sri Lanka-based Asiatic Space Agency. Vaughn reluctantly convinces Sydney to talk to her mother who reveals the true goal of the space launch. Sark is in search of a Rambaldi music box, the tones of which contain the secret of a Zero Point Energy fuel source. The two also trade guarded pleasantries and Derevko's own interest in Sydney's life.

SD6 sends Sydney to Sri Lanka posing as a corporate buyer interested in watching the launch. Feigning a need to call her husband using a cell phone, which is prohibited during a launch, Sydney gives Dixon remote access to the landline connection and he is able to remotely access their security system. Sydney gasses her escort and makes her way to the rocket's vent tube. Using a powered luge sled, she travels to the rocket and begins applying a CIA circuit board giving both SD6 and the CIA access to the camera's images. The security camera disruption raises the suspicions of Sark and he calls for an acceleration of the launch countdown. Sydney is barely able to escape the rocket's exhaust on the luge sled.

The T-Wave camera sends back images of a series of underground caverns in the shape of the Rambaldi seal in Siberia. It also identifies the location of the music box under the ice. The CIA brings in Will to attempt a hypno-regression therapy session to see if he recalls anything from Sark's laptop, which his debriefing suggested he may have glanced at. Although opening up painful memories, Will is able to recall a screen with the names 'Dosteysky, Nabokov, Tolstoy, Chekov'. Irina Derevko decodes the names into a combination, 311254, which opens the music box.

Sydney and Dixon travel to Siberia with a team of SD6 agents and Sydney goes exploring the caves. Dixon and his team identify contacts closing on their location but are unable to see them before members of the team are killed one by one. Deducing they are under the ice, Dixon tries to warn Sydney but she has gone radio silent. While her radio is off, Sydney finds the music box and plays the tones while the CIA listens in and records. When they've confirmed a successful recording, Sydney damages the music box with acid at key points, rendering it useless. She packs the music box in a case for return to SD6 when Sark appears behind her. Tossing him the case, she throws her ice axe into his leg and his random return fire breaks the ice under Sydney's feet which quickly refreezes and traps her underwater with no escape.


  • Sydney wounds Sark by lodging an ice axe into his leg. Sark's team kills three SD6 agents.
  • Marshall gives Sydney a briefcase that folds out into a powered luge sled capable of speeds up to 150 mph. Sydney also uses a cell phone which provides remote modem access when placed near a landline and a watch with a knockout spray in it. The CIA gives Sydney a perfume spray of acid.
  • Sydney goes undercover as Joanne Kelly from EuroTeledyne.

Arc Advancement



  • Sloane gives Sydney Emily's seed box from her garden, relating to the close bond the two had.
  • Sloane asks Jack's help to watch his demeanor for signs of cracking as the death/murder of Emily has affected him in ways he hasn't anticipated. He receives a static filled phone call from the Sonoma Bed and Breakfast, a favorite locale his wife had planned to visit.
  • Jack asks for Dr. Barnett's help in devising a strategy to convince Sydney not to trust or talk with her mother.
  • Jack meets Irina/Laura for the first time since her faked death and makes clear his distrust. She asks him as he leaves if he's ever told Sydney 'what he had done to her after I disappeared'.



The Show

Behind the Scenes

  • Much of the launch footage is from the film Apollo 13 (1995).

Allusions and References

Memorable Moments



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