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Lena Olin as Irina Derevko
|Last appearance||"All the Time in the World"
|Portrayed by||Lena Olin|
|Aliases||Laura Bristow, The Man|
Prophet Five partner
Head of her own organization
|Relatives||Elena Derevko (sister)
Katya Derevko (sister)
Jack Bristow (husband)
Sydney Bristow (daughter)
Nadia Santos (daughter)
Isabelle Vaughn (granddaughter)
Jack Vaughn (grandson)
Michael Vaughn (son-in-law)
Irina Derevko (Russian: Ирина Деревко; also known as Laura Bristow and as The Man) is a fictional character on the television series Alias, and a main character during the second season of the series. Irina, played by Lena Olin, is the mother of the central character, Sydney Bristow.
When first mentioned she was known as Laura Bristow, the wife of Jack Bristow and mother of Sydney Bristow that died in a car accident when Sydney was just six. Ever since the day of the alleged car accident, Sydney had always believed that her mother had died and that she was professor of English Literature.
Laura Bristow was however, a long-term spy for the Soviet Union. Her real name was Irina Derevko and she was recruited into the KGB at the age of 18 by Alexander Khasinau. She was assigned to infiltrate the United States, and to gain the trust of Jack Bristow, then a CIA agent, in order to steal classified information regarding Project Christmas.
Under the alias of Laura, she approached Jack Bristow posing as an exchange student from the USSR. They eventually married and she became his confidant. In order to seal Jack's allegiance to her, the KGB demanded that she bear him a child. She gave him Sydney. In late 1981, Derevko disappeared after faking her own death. She returned to Russia, where she spent time in a KGB facility as a suspected traitor. Her whereabouts, however, were mostly unknown by the intelligence community at large until the end of season one.
Jack tried all cost to prevent Sydney from discovering the truth about her mother, however, he was forced to reveal the truth to Sydney when she mistakenly thought that he had been the KGB spy. At the end of the first season of Alias, Sydney discovered that her mother was not only alive and well but she was actually the mysterious leader (of a criminal organization) known solely up to that point as "The Man".
Derevko turned herself in to the CIA early in season two. She was used as a source to help bring down the SD-6, and also assisted with other important missions. Jack, premeditating that Irina would betray them at some point, had her framed for giving Sydney false information regarding a mission in Madagascar, for which she was to be executed. Unfortunately for Jack, agent Michael Vaughn learned the truth and helped Sydney stop her mother's execution. Later however, during a mission in Panama, Irina did betray the CIA and joined forces with Arvin Sloane and Sark.
Her subsequent whereabouts were unknown throughout season three, although she continued to be in occasional contact with Jack via Internet Relay Chat, and arranged for her sister, Katya Derevko, to assist Jack and Sydney on occasion. It was also learned that Irina had had an affair with Arvin Sloane and had a second daughter, Nadia Santos.
At the beginning of season four, Sydney learned that Irina had hired a hit man to kill her. Jack Bristow received permission from his superiors to execute Irina, and in "Another Mr. Sloane" he states that he carried out the act himself. Sydney later identified Irina's body in a Moscow medical facility and arranged for her burial in a Moscow crypt (though Sydney was unaware for quite sometime that Irina had ordered her death, until later learning so from Jack).
In the fourth season episode "Ice", Nadia discovers a photograph of Irina holding a baby. Jack tells her that Irina told him that she had a niece. This niece preceded Sydney and was supposedly why Irina wanted a baby of her own. When Sydney was born Irina held her as she had the baby in the photo. No further information regarding the actual identity of the infant was ever presented and neither of the other Derevko sisters ever mentioned having a baby. Elena specifically said (in "Before The Flood") that she never wanted children. Jack presumes that the photo was just another ruse to lure him in.
The shooting of Irina occurred 18 months prior to the season four finale and sometime prior to season three's finale, "Resurrection". The fourth season finale revealed that, in fact, a genetic modification procedure known as Project Helix was used to create a double of Irina, and it is this woman whom Jack shot dead. The hit on Sydney's life was placed by Irina's other sister, Elena Derevko, to set up Jack and make him believe he had killed his wife. The woman who underwent the genetic therapy was an agent of The Covenant, Elena's own criminal organization, who had volunteered to take Irina's place and be assassinated.
The real Irina was imprisoned by Elena and tortured for her knowledge of Rambaldi's secrets. After 18 months, she was rescued by her daughters Sydney and Nadia (whom she met for the first time since Nadia's birth) and Jack. Although technically under arrest by the CIA, Irina was given permission to help stop Elena from bringing about her endgame. After the successful completion of the mission, Jack and Sydney allowed her to escape into the darkness rather than return to America and imprisonment, under the pretense that no one could hold on to Irina Derevko.
During the fifth season, it is revealed that Irina is involved in the Prophet Five organization, although to what extent was unclear. Irina is seen observing Sydney's interrogation under hypnosis at the end of the episode "The Horizon" as it is revealed she had Kelly Peyton kidnap Sydney to recover information on the Horizon. After Sydney appears to reveal the code crucial to her abductors' attempts to find the Horizon, a Rambaldi artifact that would grant its wielder immortality, Irina tells Peyton to make Sydney comfortable and leaves the observation room. In the episode "Maternal Instinct" she reunites briefly with Sydney and Jack, during which they discover her affiliation with Prophet Five and Irina also indicates that she gave the order to kill Michael Vaughn. She also tells Sydney that she never wanted to have children, and that she only did so on orders from the KGB. After helping Sydney deliver her baby (in the midst of an attack by Prophet Five's Kelly Peyton who may or may not have been betraying Irina), Irina disappears again.
Irina finally met her demise in Hong Kong in the series finale. She retrieves the Horizon, which she had traded to Sloane for a pair of missiles, through Kelly Peyton. She ordered Sark to launch the missiles at Washington, D.C. and London. Jack assumed that Sloane wanted to use the missiles not to simply destroy areas with high population densities, but to profit from the reconstruction, as he would gain billions from it. It can be assumed that Irina planned to do the same, as she never (in the show) expressed any interest in genocide or mass murder. Sydney tracked her down and learned that Irina sought the same immortality that Sloane had apparently found. Sydney and Irina battled a final time, with Irina ending up balanced on a skylight, which was about to crack under her weight. Given the choice of reaching back for Sydney and reaching forward for the Horizon, Irina chose the Horizon and plunged through the skylight to her demise.
Besides Lena Olin, several other actresses portrayed Irina in the course of the series:
- Arabella Holzbog portrayed Irina/Laura Bristow in a photograph Sydney kept
- Kate Anthony was the voice of Irina Derevko in the video clip shown in episode 1.19, "Snowman"
- Natasha Pavlovich is the woman actually seen as Irina Derevko in that video clip
- April Webster played Irina when she walks up to Sydney at the end of episode 1.22, "Almost Thirty Years"
- Mía Maestro portrayed Irina/Laura in a photograph seen in episode 4.4, "Ice"
- main article: Katya Derevko
Yekatarina "Katya" Derevko, played by Isabella Rossellini, was the first of Irina's sisters to be announced. She first appeared in the third season to assist Jack and Sydney, but later revealed herself to be allied with The Covenant and was taken into federal custody. In season four she again helped Sydney and Jack to defeat Elena's endgame in exchange for a promise from Jack to work for a pardon and release for her.
- main article: Elena Derevko
Considered the most ruthless of the three Derevko sisters, Elena Derevko, portrayed by Sônia Braga, is first mentioned by Jack Bristow when he meets with Katya during the third season. She is a pivotal part of the fourth season of Alias, with her actions significantly affecting the lives of nieces Sydney and Nadia.