The Descent


Production code
18 May 2005
Written by
Jeffrey Bell
Story by
Teleplay by
Directed by
Jeffrey Bell

The Descent is the 20th episode of Season 4 of Alias and the 86th episode overall. After a tactical group infiltrates the DSR and steals Rambaldi artifacts, CIA director Hayden Chase discovers that the alarms at the DSR were disabled from Nadia's computer, allowing the raid to happen, and shows up at the apartment to question her. Soon Sloane and Jack arrive and suspect that Sophia, who had access to the computer while she was living with Syd and Nadia, is Elena Derevko.

Plot Overview[]

A tactical group infiltrates the DSR and steals the Rambaldi artifacts. Meanwhile, Sophia says goodbye to Nadia and Sydney, telling them that the Lisbon police confirmed that it is safe for her to go back home.

In the APO office, Vaughn plans to propose to Sydney and asks for Jack's blessing. As Jack begins to express his disapproval, a team of CIA agents arrive in the office with a search warrant.

Director Chase looks for Nadia in Sydney's apartment. When Nadia confirms that she is the only one who has access to her laptop, Chase accuses her of overwriting the DSR security system by deactivating the alarms. Just then, an agent finds the bugged necklace that Sophia gave to Nadia.

Jack and Sloane arrive at the apartment. They then realize that Sophia must be the reason why several missions have been compromised. Jack postulates that Sophia is Elena Derevko, who unfortunately, had found them first. He points out that the string of orchestrated events -- Bill Vaughn's journal and Sloane's clone -- were her handiwork. Sloane adds that they can't let her assemble the Rambaldi artifacts. Later, Sloane tells Nadia that Elena will go to Lazlo Drake with the Rambaldi pieces.

Nadia flashes back to a year earlier in China, where she and Sloane met Drake. Sloane explains that Drake discovered a manuscript - a template describing how Rambaldi's artifacts should be assembled, bringing forth the final prophecy. Drake is taken with Nadia, but he refuses to share information since Sloane is still missing one artifact: the Sphere of Life. He says that Nadia is the only one who can retrieve the Sphere.

They then go to an underground cave in Sienna, where Sloane asks Nadia to obtain the Sphere in a box perched on a podium that is surrounded by stained glass floors. Nadia carefully walks on the creaking glass and opens the box. As she touches the Sphere, she sees a vision of destruction and refuses to bring the Sphere to her father. Sloane calls her a coward and attempts to walk across the glass floor by himself. The floor shatters and he falls through, impaling him. Nadia nurses him back to health.

In the present, Sloane tells the team about Drake and adds that in Elena's hands, Rambaldi's endgame is apocalypse. They attempt to locate Drake, who has been in hiding with the aid of Grayson Wells - a billionaire who financed Drake's earlier Rambaldi research. Sloane tasks the team to approach Wells, and says he will talk to Drake himself.

At Cannes, Sydney poses as a spoiled heiress in a jewelry store and brushes past Wells. She pretends to purchase a bracelet and charms Wells into putting it on her wrist. As Wells sees a Rambaldi mark on Sydney's hand similar to his, he offers to buy the bracelet for her. Later, Wells now tied to a chair, Sydney phones Sloane with the location.

Sydney meets Sloane in Mexico. When she expresses her suspicions, Sloane tells her that he would never do anything to hurt Nadia. They approach a trailer; Drake lies dead inside. Sydney finds a surveillance video recorded from a hidden camera, revealing Elena chatting with Drake. Before Sydney can listen to their conversation, Sloane stabs her with a tranquilizer and heads out to Elena's office.

Jack arrives in Katya's jail cell and demands to know Elena's operations. In response, Katya asks for a full pardon and immediate release. When Jack says he'll do everything he can, Katya reveals that Elena has been acquiring artifacts for several years through her front -- The Covenant. Katya says she can help him find her, but it is only Irina who can stop Elena from acting on her end game. Jack, if you recall, murdered Irina.

Finding out that Elena is in an industrial facility in Prague, Sydney, Nadia and Dixon prepare to infiltrate. Dixon arrives at a loading dock and watches the guards put a prisoner in the van. Sloane emerges from the shadows and points a gun at Dixon. He asks for Dixon's trust and tells him to get out of there. Suddenly, Dixon is shot from behind by Elena and Sloane looks at Dixon regretfully before leaving.

At the hospital, Sydney and Jack observe as Director Chase cares for Dixon. Jack admits that he lost sight of the one thing he knew to be true -- that Sydney's mother, Irina, would never hurt Sydney.

Jack crosses paths with Vaughn in an elevator. He says that if Vaughn honestly believes that he can make Sydney happy, then Vaughn has his blessing.

Dixon regains consciousness and talks to Nadia and Sydney. He tells them that he saw a shackled prisoner at the loading dock: Irina Derevko.



Special Guest Stars[]

Guest Starring[]


  • Andrew Divoff as Lucian Nisard
  • Jared Poe as Young Agent
  • Braeden Marcott as Salesman
  • Jeremy Brandt as Lead Agent
  • Jodi Fung as Nurse


  • John Ashker as CIA guard


  • Greg Grunberg (Eric Weiss) does not appear in this episode. It is referenced that his grandfather died, which could be the reason for his absence.
  • Goof: When Sloane and Sydney are standing in front of the TV looking at their own image from a camera nearby, Sydney raises the remote control to switch to another channel. However the Sydney in the picture does not move her hand.
  • The storage cages at the beginning of the episode show the CIA logo with the added text "Department of Special Research" but the DSR is supposed to be part of the National Security Agency, not the CIA.
  • Sonia Braga, Angela Bassett and Isabella Rossellini were billed as Special Guest Star in this episode.


  • "The Girl's Attractive" by Diamond Nights
  • "No One" by Aly & AJ

Filming Locations[]

  • Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA

Allusions and References[]


  • Marshall: Oh, my God. Hey, man. Congratulations. That’s fantastic. I’m sure Mr. Bristow’s gonna be thrilled.
  • Vaughn: Really? I’m just hoping he doesn’t shoot me on the spot.

  • Chase: Is this yours?
  • Nadia: Yes.
  • Chase: Does anyone else use it or have access to it?
  • Nadia: No.
  • Chase: Not even Sydney.
  • Nadia: I said no. Sydney has her own laptop. She also has-
  • Agent: -an assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, four handguns, two tazers, and a . . .secret drawer of knives. Let’s start with the knives.
  • Sydney: Let’s start with you not wasting my time.

  • Michael Vaughn: I’m sorry, maybe it’s only me, but what do you mean when you say “Rambaldi’s end-game”? What is it? Is it a scenario? A weapon?
  • Arvin Sloane: In Elena’s hands most likely an apocalypse.

  • Sydney: Don’t touch the fur. (pause) All right, you may touch the fur. (she holds out her arm) Once.
  • Doorman: Merci.

  • Elena: My men think you're here to kill me.
  • Sloane: You should hire smarter men.

  • Jack: We’re more alike than I care to admit, Agent Vaughn. And I realized now that in disapproving of you I was only hating my own limitations. I wasn’t asking myself what would be best for Sydney. If you honestly believe that you can make my daughter happy, then by all means you have my blessing to marry her.