Sydney Bristow

From Academic Kids

This article is about a character from the television show Alias.
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Sydney Anne Bristow, played by Jennifer Garner, is the main character on the television series, Alias.

Sydney is strong both physically and emotionally. She remains strong, despite having to deal with some significant trauma over the years: the death of her fiancé, the death of her best friend, the realization that her mother was a former KGB spy, the estrangement of many of her friends and the constant activity and changes that she must endure from being a spy on a regular basis. Sydney is well skilled in Krav Maga and is quite a polyglot, being fluent in English, Russian, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Mandarin, Arabic, Portuguese, Romanian, Indonesian, Hungarian, Japanese, Uzbek, Urdu and Hebrew.


Season 1

Sydney was recruited into an organization that she thought was a secret division of the CIA, called SD-6. The truth was that SD-6 was actually a branch of the Alliance of Twelve, an organization that was an enemy of the United States, but this was unbeknownst to almost everyone in SD-6 except for the highest echelons of the organization. Sydney was engaged to be married to her boyfriend Danny Hecht, but he was killed by SD-6 after Sydney told him that she worked for the CIA. Shortly thereafter, she was informed of what SD-6 was by her mostly estranged father, Jack Bristow, who worked in the highest levels of SD-6.

Sydney is recruited into the employ of the real CIA to work as a double agent to bring down SD-6. Her handler, Agent Michael Vaughn, was the man who gave her missions from the CIA. During her time at SD-6, Sydney performed missions with Marcus Dixon, who sometimes became suspicious that Sydney was a double agent. (Dixon was still under the impression that SD-6 was part of the U.S. Government.)

In the meantime, Sydney continues to have to balance all these new revelations with the return of her father into her life (who had been absent for many years), still coupled the death of her fiancé and with keeping all these secrets from her friends, notably Will and Francie.

During this season, the head of SD-6, Arvin Sloane, was obsessed with Milo Rambaldi, a man from around the 1500s who apparently was able to create brilliant devices that were far ahead of their time. Sydney worked on a number of missions to retrieve or modify these Rambaldi devices to prevent them from falling into the hands of SD-6. During the season finale, on one such mission to destroy a Rambaldi device, Sydney is captured and discovers that the organization that SD-6 has been pursuing is being run by Irina Derevko, Sydney's mother and former KGB spy.

Season 2

During season 2, Sydney continues to act as a double agent inside SD-6 and also performs direct missions for the CIA. Irina Derevko turns herself into the CIA and provides valuable information to help bring down SD-6. Midway through the season, the CIA finally has enough information to bring down the entire Alliance organization and the assault on SD-6 headquarters, led by Sydney and Vaughn. The organization come tumbling down, but Sloane gets away and is now working covertly with Sark.

Following the fall of SD-6, Sydney decides she wants to leave the CIA, but finds herself unable to do so knowing that Sloane is still free. Sydney also has to work to make amends with Dixon, who is bitter that Sydney knew SD-6 was not part of the U.S. Government and didn't tell him, although they are eventually able to patch things up and Dixon begins to work with the CIA.

During this time, Sydney's friend and roommate, Francie, has secretly been surreptitiously replaced by an agent of Sloane and Sark's, Allison Doren. Sydney eventually figures out that "Francie" is no longer who she says she is and the two shoot it out. Sydney shoots Francie three times, apparently killing her, but Sydney is also severely wounded and passes out.

When Sydney wakes up, she is in Hong Kong and comes to find out that two years have passed without her knowledge.

Season 2 saw a fundamental change in Sydney's character, allegedly introduced in order to give the show more action. In the first season, Sydney almost never kills, preferring fisticuffs and tranquilizer guns to deadly blows and real bullets. Starting this season, she behaves more like a stereotypical spy, usually killing enemies and rarely using tranq guns. (Although there were some minor incidents prior, the episode "Phase One" is generally considered to mark the arrival of this new version of Sydney.) While some fans have criticized this change in Sydney's character, others have suggested that it might have been influenced by the arrival of her mother.

Season 3

Sydney now has to deal with the pain of not knowing what has happened for the previous two years of her life, but also the fact that Vaughn is now married to another woman, NSC liaison Lauren Reed. Sydney tries to manipulate the CIA to stay in the loop of the organization (they don't trust her because of her absence).

Sydney learns that an organization known only as "The Covenant" seems to be involved with her disappearance. In the meantime, Sydney continues to perform missions for the CIA, while working with her father to find out more about her past.

Eventually Sydney learns through the apparent FBI Assistant Director Kendall (actually the director of a Top Secret CIA unit) that she worked in the employ of the Covenant as a supposedly brainwashed assassin, although she was able to resist their attempts to manipulate her and report to the CIA during this time. Eventually, however, she wiped her own memories to conceal information and perhaps also because of the horrifying realization that the Covenant had extracted her eggs in order to fulfill one of Rambaldi's prophecies. She was also greatly disturbed that she chose to kill an unarmed man in cold-blood rather than risk losing her cover as a brainwashed assassin.

In the meantime, Sydney and Vaughn continue to suppress their feelings for each other in light of Vaughn's relationship with Lauren. However, it is discovered that Lauren is actually an agent working for the Covenant, although both Sydney and Vaughn are, at first, unaware of this fact.

The CIA learns that there is a mole in the LA office. Jack is assigned to find the mole and soon starts to suspect Lauren. Jack confronts Lauren's father, Senator Reed, but he dismisses it.

Meanwhile Vaughn decides to separate from Lauren. Lauren tells Sark and Sark explains that the last time Vaughn strayed from a relationship because of Sydney he quickly reconnected when Allison's father died. Sark orders Lauren to kill her father. Lauren cannot go through with it but her mom busts in and finishes the job. They frame Senator Reed for being the mole. Vaughn quickly recommits to Lauren, breaking Sydney's heart.

On a mission to meet a Covenant asset Sydney sees Lauren. When she tells Vaughn he dismisses it. Sydney talks to Jack and then Jack talks to Vaughn telling him the signs that his wife is betraying him. When Vaughn becomes suspicious he looks in Lauren's suitcase and discovers evidence that she does work for the Covenant.

Vaughn tells Jack and Sydney and he is ordered by Dixon to pretend that he is unaware of Lauren's betrayal. Lauren soon finds out that she has been played by Vaughn and she and Sark kidnap him. After torturing him and failing to get any information they leave him for dead. Weiss finds Vaughn and he is taken to the hospital.

Sydney soon discovers that the Passenger is her sister (by the way of an affair between Irina and Sloane) and after a rescue mission, Sydney's sister is taken by Sloane so he can get the formula that was stored in her brain by Rambaldi (actually her unique nervous system can replay the graphical hand movements encoded in the Rambaldi Fluid--protein strands that cause unconscious, movements like handwriting). But Sydney rescues her again.

Lauren enters the CIA office disguised as Sydney and steals information. Sark is captured and is interviewed by Vaughn. Sark gives up Lauren, and Vaughn goes to kill her. Sydney's words do not convince him not to murder her. He plans to lower her into hydrochloric acid to hide her remains, but is stabbed by Sydney's aunt Katya Derevko. When Sydney learns about Vaughn, she goes after Lauren herself. Vaughn goes after her and arrives just in time to save Sydney from Lauren. As Vaughn and Sydney kiss, Lauren tries to make one last shot. Vaughn sees this and shoots her dead. Before Lauren dies she tells Sydney that there is a vault in Wittenburg that has information about her.

Sydney goes to the vault and finds secret CIA documents about her. Jack gets there and tells her that she was never supposed to find this.

Season 4

Several months after her discovery, Sydney is once again estranged from her father, having discovered (through the secret documents) that he had killed Irina Derevko. Following a botched mission in Shanghai, she receives a dressing down at a performance review, is demoted, and subsequently resigns from the CIA.

In truth, Sydney has been recruited into APO (Authorized Personnel Only), a new black ops division of the CIA patterned after SD-6. Much to her dismay, this new agency is headed by Sloane, who oversees a handpicked team which includes Sydney, Jack Bristow, Vaughn, and Dixon. During APO's first mission, Marshall is also recruited, as is her half-sister, Nadia. Her former colleague, Eric Weiss, thinks that she is working for a bank - the same cover she had used when working for SD-6.

During the course of APO's first mission, to bring down a terrorist and assassin-for-hire, she learns the man was actually hired to kill her - by Irina. Jack subsequently killed Irina to protect his daughter. Meanwhile, Sydney rekindles her romance with Vaughn. Later, it is revealed that Irina is not actually dead -- Jack killed a genetic double in an elaborate deception orchestrated by Irina's evil sister, Elena, who recruits Sloane in activating a huge Mueller device invented by Rambaldi, which has the potential to destroy the world. Irina is rescued from Elena's clutches and reunited with her family -- including Nadia, who she hasn't seen for years -- and together they fly to Russia to stop Elena's plans.

Around this time, after some twists and turns and ups and downs in their relationship, Vaughn finally proposes marriage prior to the mission to go after Elena. Sydney doesn't answer just yet. Finally, when she is about to destroy the Mueller device, Sydney goes back to Vaughn and gives him an affirmative reply.

The season ends with Vaughn and Sydney's car being struck just as Vaughn is about to reveal that he is not who she thinks he is.

See also

Misc Facts

Name: Sydney Anne Bristow
Birthday: April 17th, 1975
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 125 lbs
Alias: Julia Thorne, Kate Jones
Call Signs: Freelancer, Mountaineer, Bluebird, White Rabbit (only used once), Nightwing (used in a prequel), Phoenix
Characteristics: L/R shoulders reverse-jointed
College Attended: UCLA
Degree Attained: Masters in English Literature
Graduation: Feb. 2003

  • Likes chocolate ice cream, especially after a shot of tequila. In her own words, "It's like oxygen."
  • Possibly first generation test subject for Project Christmas, under the direction of Jack D. Bristow
  • Enjoys the train station because she can see normal people going to their normal jobs.
  • Unusually for a TV action hero, she does not possess 20/20 vision and is sometimes seen wearing glasses when off duty, such as in the first episode of Season 4 ("Authorized Personnel Only") in which she is shown wearing glasses while cooking, suggesting she may be farsighted.
  • Has a photographic memory.

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