We are first introduced to Sydney’s mother as the soft-smiling, brunette in old family photos, hugging her daughter and lovingly gazing at her husband. Laura Bristow is perceived as a caring mother and dutiful CIA wife, killed tragically in a car accident. As Sydney, we cling to tiny bits and pieces of Mrs. Bristow, in order to better understand Sydney’s rocky relationship with Jack and to shed light on Sydney’s educational motivation. It had never occurred to us, as it had not Sydney, that her mother, the woman she so highly idolized, would be revealed as an enemy of the state.
While investigating her father’s past, Sydney stumbles on an incomplete FBI report involving her father and an Agent Colldar. It seems Jack was being investigated as a possible double agent for the Russian KGB. This is seemingly confirmed when Sydney finds encoded KGB orders hidden on the pages of her mother’s old books; books given to her by Jack. As Sydney and Vaughn battle with whether or not to turn Jack in as the KGB agent that murdered 12 CIA operatives, including Vaughn’s father, Jack lets go of the truth. The truth is that the KGB agent was actually Laura Bristow aka Irina Derevko.
Sydney is devastated by the news that her perfect mother was really a Russian Intelligence Officer, sent to the United States to seduce and marry a CIA agent. Sydney is determined to find her mother, who survived and possibly even orchestrated the car crash in order to disappear. Only one man can leader Sydney to her mother, “The Man” Alexander Kassinau.
Irina Derevko has been one of Alias’ most intriguing and profound characters. Her unknown allegiances and her careful choice of words have not only persuaded Sydney of her goodness, but the audience as well. Irina spent most of season 2 behind bars, deceiving the CIA and using her daughter’s trust to gain access to a Rambaldi manuscript. She then hatches an elaborate plan to be extracted, leaving her daughter in shock. Irina has escaped death more than once, lied to foreign governments and been a fugitive for nearly 30 years, but that doesn’t stop Sydney from learning as much as she can, and forging a relationship with the mother she never knew.
The relationship between Sydney and Irina is difficult to decipher. They battle between trusting each other too much and not trusting each other enough. Sydney is in constant clash with Jack in regards to her meetings with Irina, because Jack knows Sydney is blinded by the true genuine feelings her mother has for her. Despite deceiving the CIA, Irina wishes to protect Sydney and ultimately Nadia, from the fate of Rambaldi and the endgame that could claim both of their lives.
The last we see of Irina is in the mysterious ending of season 4. She assists APO in bringing down her sister and Covenant leader, Elena Derevko and then she leaves with a tender goodbye. How will Irina fit into this season’s whirlwind plot? What is her roll in Prophet Five? What does she know about Vaughn’s investigation and the death of Bill Vaughn? Will she return to help Sydney find the men that “killed” her fiancé or will Irina be out for her own benefit? How will SpyMommy handle the SpyBaby news? And will the Bristow family ever find peace?