Authorized Personnel Only(1)


Production code
January 5 2005
Written by
Jeff Melvoin and J.J. Abrams
Story by
Teleplay by
Directed by

Authorized Personnel Only(1) is the 1st episode of Season 4 and the 67th episode overall of Alias. Sydney quits the CIA and joins a Black Ops unit called "Authorized Personnel Only" alongside Dixon, Jack, Vaughn and... Sloane. Meanwhile, the truth Sydney found out in Wittenberg endangers her relationship with Jack, and she is reluctant to reveal the awful truth to Vaughn.

Plot Overview[]

Sydney, on a train, in lingerie, flirts with a man to get into his … briefcase. He unlocks it, revealing a canister containing an unstable isotope. She knocks him out and takes it, runs into the corridor. A thug follows and is about to push her off the train.

(Shanghai, 72 hours earlier) Sydney, in a naughty schoolgirl outfit, escapes with a contact into a club's bathroom. It's a mission gone bad, a fellow agent is killed, and in order to escape, she makes her contact dress like a goth.

In LA, Sydney is berated for violating protocol by Director Chase and stripped of her classified clearance. Sydney then quits the CIA. In Washington, Vaughn and Weiss talk about his meltdown after discovering Lauren's treachery. Vaughn says he's quitting.

Sydney walks down a subway, opens a secret doorway and enters an office. Director Chase is there and welcomes her. She explains Langley approved this black ops division only months ago. Dixon, Jack, Vaughn are all there - a team handpicked by Sloane. Chase privately tells Sydney that they need Sloane's contacts - and the team is a safeguard against Sloane's potential treachery.

Sloane explains that their covert unit is like the CIA's own SD-6, called APO - Authorized Personnel Only. Their first mission targets Russian scientist Yuri Kamarov, who wants to sell an isotope to an unknown buyer on a Belorussian train. Vaughn will act as the buyer while Sydney grabs the isotope. She's openly disdainful toward Sloane.

On the train, Sydney barges in to Kamarov's room claiming it's her room. Vaughn poses as Kamarov and meets the buyer, who works for a Mr. Vadik, while Sydney occupies the real scientist. The buyer recognizes Vaughn and has a thug handle Vaughn as he leaves. Vaughn signals Sydney, who swipes the isotope. Vaughn beats the thug and races to save Sydney. He throws her assailant off the train. They make love in her apartment, a flashback to before the mission. After, he asks Sydney what happened at Wittenburg. Sydney flashes back - she's reading a top-secret document as Jack enters.  She admits to Vaughn that she isn't ready to talk about the tension between her and Jack.



Special Guest Star[]

Guest Starring[]




  • The contents of the document that Sydney finds at the end of last season referred to Sydney as the "active" subject of a "project" that began 17 April, 1975, a possible reference to Project Christmas, and also setting up Jack as either the real head of, or somehow involved with, the Covenant. This was a decision made when Lena Olin decided not to return to the series, but upon her changed decision the writers changed the details of the document to refer to Irina Derevko's apparent death at the hands of Jack, and the details about Sydney were forgotten in Season 4. The writers also stated that originally the documents were going to refer to Jack being a descendant of Rambaldi, or even Rambaldi himself.
  • The Chinese character that Sydney writes on her Shanghai contact's shirt means dog.
  • Alias Season 4 aired in a new timeslot; it moved from Sunday evening to Wednesday evening. The producers saw this as an opportunity to lure in some viewers so decided to eschew the usual cliffhanger style of the show and devote the season to more standalone episodes and more grounded plots.
  • J.J. Abrams directed a couple of scenes for the season opener as he was unhappy with the first cut.
  • From this episode on, Mía Maestro is credited in the opening title sequence, while David Anders and Melissa George are not.
  • The title sequence has been changed to bear some reference to the over 50 disguises that Sydney has worn in the show thus far. Jennifer Garner was not a fan of it.
  • The episode begins with the Etta James classic "At Last" - an amusing reference for fans who had had to wait longer than usual in between Seasons 3 and 4.
  • The new opening credit sequence doesn't arrive until 10 minutes into the episode. 
  • This episode has an audio commentary.
    • This is the last one done by either Jennifer Garner and J.J. Abrams for the series DVD set.
  • This is the last 2-part episode in the series.

Aliases Used[]



  • "At Last" by Etta James (unchanged in Netflix version)
  • "Cold Hard Bitch" by Jet (unchanged in Netflix version)
  • "World on Fire" by Sarah McLachlan
  • "Bad" by U2 (unchanged in Netflix version)

Filming Locations[]

  • Los Angeles County Metro Red Line, Los Angeles, California, USA

Allusions and References[]


  • Chase: Miss Bristow, your record’s a mess. Your consistent disregard for protocol obviously speaks to some larger systemic dysfunction; a psychological need to challenge authority.

  • Sydney: You're transferring me to the mail room?.

  • Sydney: If this is your... decision, Director Chase... I will no longer burden this agency with the hazard of my participation.

  • Kamarov: What is inside can be used for good or evil.
  • Sydney: Me, too.
  • Vaughn:  Can I come in?
  • Sydney:  If you come in, we both know what's going to happen.