Conscious is the 9th episode of Season 3 of Alias and the 53rd episode overall. After making a shocking discovery in the desert, Sydney agrees to submit to an experimental procedure conducted by an eccentric doctor, designed to retrieve her lost memories. But while Jack and Vaughn look on, Sydney's mind proves surprisingly resistant to letting her remember her missing time -- and the process of recovering it could end up killing her. Meanwhile, Lauren makes a great sacrifice in order to make her alibi believable to Lindsey after breaking Sydney out of NSC custody, and Sloane finds himself boxed in by an unlikely enemy -- one who wants to see Sydney Bristow eliminated permanently.
Hiding out in a warehouse, the team devises a plan to frame The Covenant for Sydney's extraction: Lauren will tell Lindsey that she escaped The Covenant but they're still holding Sydney in return for the Rambaldi device. Sloane will confirm the story with Lindsey. Jack and Vaughn will say they were investigating Syd's trail. Lauren needs to look as if she was mistreated; Syd gladly punches her.
Sloane also suggests Syd contact a Yale researcher named Dr. Edward Brazzel, who's invented a non-invasive technique for treating long-term amnesia. Jack and Syd later track her secret coordinates to a location near the San Andreas fault, where they find a severed hand bearing a Rambaldi tattoo. Meanwhile, Lindsey has the FBI arrest Dixon for impeding a federal investigation. Lindsey is suspicious of Lauren's story but agrees to trade for Syd.
The group visits Brazzel's lab and find him and his assistant Kaya to be extremely eccentric. He believes dreams contain memories so, through a cocktail of dangerous drugs, he fools the brain into entering a lucid dream state. Once in this state, Syd must follow the thread of her last memory — and be wary of new, traumatic memories.
Brazzel administers the drug and Syd enters the dream state. It's a surreal mix of past and present. She remembers being picked up by 3 hooded men after her fight with evil Francie. They inject her with something. She regresses to childhood — she cuts a birthday cake, which becomes a severed hand, and sees the face of a strange man. Back to the hooded men; she follows as they take her limp body to Room 47. Lauren guides her away, saying "You know better," then tries to strangle her with hanging plastic. In the real world, Brazzel revives Syd as she goes into cardiac arrest. When she awakes, she kisses Vaughn passionately, believing herself still in a dream.
Syd says it was Lazarey's hand. Marshall's forensics prove the hand was attached to a living man only 4 months ago. Jack says the incriminating tape could have been a performance. Syd tells Vaughn that Lauren strangled her, but Brezzel says it was probably just a representational figure. Syd goes back under.
Sloane meets Lindsey, who says he'll make the trade but wants Sydney assassinated in what appears to be a Covenant doublecross. Lindsey tells Sloane, who's wary of entrapment, that he knows what he's up to and gives Sloane an envelope containing some sort of proof.
DNA from the Kremlin confirms the hand belonged to Lazarey, which means Syd didn't kill him and Lindsey has nothing on her.
Syd is dreaming again. She's in a car, called a St. Aidan, with Dixon. She takes the box that contained the severed hand and walks into her apartment. Weiss and Marshall are there gambling. She enters the hanging plastic. Lauren tells her to leave. Syd chokes Lauren, who becomes a Sydney doppleganger. They struggle, the double says to trust Lazerey. Sydney shoots and kills the double and enters Room 47. "Oh my god," she says.
- Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow
- Ron Rifkin as Arvin Sloane
- Michael Vartan as Michael Vaughn
- Carl Lumbly as Marcus Dixon
- Kevin Weisman as Marshall Flinkman
- Melissa George as Lauren Reed
- Greg Grunberg as Eric Weiss
- David Anders as Julian Sark
- and Victor Garber as Jack Bristow
Special Guest Star
- Gerard O'Donnell as Agent Scrimm
- Daniel E. Smith as Steven Dixon
- Tristin Mays as Robin Dixon
- Dan Warner as FBI Agent Reims
- Susan Han as EMT
- Sarah K. Peterson as Young Sydney
- Boris Hamilton as Customer
- International titles:
- German: Bei Bewusstsein (Conscious)
- French: Salle 47 (Room 47)
- To differentiate between Sydney and her sub-conscious, one of her is wearing white (herself) and one of her is wearing black (her sub-conscious).
- Number 47: Room number 47.
- Number 47: The time shown on Sydney's brain monitor in Dr. Brezzel's flat is 13:47:15.
- Number 47: The fireworks in Sydney's dream - represents the 4th of July - 4-7 - 47.
- This episode was nominated for the 2004 Emmy Award for "Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series".
- David Cronenberg was billed as Special Guest Star in this episode.
- Guest star David Cronenberg was a last-minute addition to the cast and had to learn his script at very short notice.
- Jennifer Garner and Messlia Geroge looked like they were going to kiss.
- The Dream sequence where Sydney goes head to head with Lauren is actually Messlia Geroge's first fight scene.
- This episode has an audio commentary.
- "The Chokin' Kind" by Captain Luke and Cool John (unconfirmed)
- "Sonnet No.3 (Like A Duck)" by MC Honky (changed in Netflix version)
- "Prelude" from "Cello Suite No.1" by Johann Sebastian Bach (unchanged in Netflix version)
Allusions and References
- None at this time.
- Robert Lindsey: Where's Sidney Bristow? You covered for her once, and it cost you your job. Do it again, this cell will be your home for the next 10 years.
- Marcus Dixon: My lawyer's name is Shelly Bird.
- Robert Lindsey: Your only play here is to tell where Sidney Bristow is and who broke her out. Was it her father?
- Marcus Dixon: What I know here is that sending agents to arrest me in front of my children is one of the last mistakes you'll ever make as Senior Director of the NSC. I've known men like you. Men who pretend to be patriots. You are always revealed.
- Jack Bristow: You're sure the DNA matched Lazarey's?
- Lauren Reed: Yes. Which means that Sydney did not kill him - Lindsey has nothing on her. She can come home.
- Dr. Brezzel: (about Sydney) She's in a tangent.
- Kaya: I was in a tangent once.
- Jack Bristow: How nice for you.
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