On Alias

Why Sydney Has No Social Life

By Jody Lynn Nye

The missions we enjoy seeing on Alias are like the tip of the iceberg of Sydney Bristow’s efforts for the CIA (or, formerly, SD-6): only 10 percent of the actual preparation and execution makes for good viewing. Behind every successful caper pulled is a tremendous amount of research, training, briefing, fact-checking, debriefing, recovery and follow-up. The fact that Sydney has not been killed, maimed severely (apart from a two-year memory lapse), fallen irretrievably into enemy hands or gone out of her mind is a tribute to the excellence of the wide-ranging team of experts behind her, natural resilience and rigorous training–although being a fictional character in a show improbable enough to be termed “spy-fi” likely helps.

Naturally, an agent who is going to be in the field and doing as many things as our heroine is must be conversant in many arts and sciences, few of which she is likely to have learned during her upbringing, no matter what her father did for a living. A good basic education is invaluable for a potential agent, but it is also necessary that she come equipped with natural strength, flexibility (both of mind and body) and a willingness to learn more very, very quickly.

Basic Training

Before her first mission Sydney Bristow would almost certainly have gone through a boot camp of sorts lasting six months to two years. We saw very little of her initial involvement with SD-6, so we don’t know if she had to maintain an ordinary-seeming life as  …

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