Monday, July 29, 2013

S2 E5 – The Indicator


Sydney and Vaughn having a fight.

The episode begins with Sydney going into Irina’s cell, where she finds the earrings that were her mothers and grandmothers.   In the cell Jack joins her, she tells him that she’s sorry for not listening to him about her, and thanks him for saving her life.  He is calm when he tells her that there are some things that unfortunately she will have to discover on her own. 

Vaughn and Sydney are once again in the storage unit, and she is recounting her latest SD-6 briefing to him.  A group called the Triad, has killed one of their own because he was selling Intel to SD-6.  This man had informed SD-6 that the Triads were in the process of developing 16 next generation weapons and the testing of the weapons is moving forward and that they could be put into the field soon.  Unfortunately what the weapons are was never disclosed and that is why there is concern. Sydney’s mission is to get to the location where they are being developed and to take pictures of the weapons.  Vaughn assumes that the pictures are needed by SD-6 so that they can develop the weapons themselves.  Sydney quickly replies with a smile and tells him that they won’t let that happen.  Sydney seems almost excited that it is up to her and Vaughn to stop them again.  But before we see her get too happy, Vaughn tells her that he will confer with Jack about the counter mission and get back with her.  She wonders why her father, and he wonders why Jack didn’t tell her, but based on his instincts on Madagascar, Jack has been given operational approval, and Vaughn isn’t too happy about it.   Vaughn looks away, and thinks for a moment; you can tell he is gearing up to say something that he may regret, but feels that he has to tell her.  He turns back to her and tells her that when they were in Madagascar they were being monitored by sat-radar scans, but at the last moment Jack switched to infrared which is how he saw the explosives.  He goes on to tell her that they don’t have routine satellite coverage over Madagascar and that one had to be re-tasked, the closest one was over the Indian Ocean, but her father specifically asked for the one over the south Atlantic, which of the two was the only one with infrared technology.  Sydney is wondering where he is going with this, and tells him that he just wanted to account for every possibility.  Vaughn agrees that may be the case, but there is also a chance that he already knew that there would be explosives at the entrance.  Sydney tells him that she doesn’t see how, her father never trusted her mother’s motives.  Then she realizes what Vaughn is implying.  She asks if he thinks that her father planted the explosives to set up her mother.  They start to argue, he says that it wouldn’t have been the first time that her father had planted evidence, mentioning having Russek killed, she tells him that she was being held prisoner when that happened and that she was about to be executed.  I think he realized he used the wrong example, but asks her why she is denying this possibility.  Then she hits him below the belt with her words.  Telling him,” I understand that your authority has been superseded by my father and that maybe you feel irrelevant. But he saved our lives. Remember that! I won't wait to hear from you.”  And she walks off, and he just tries not to look at her.  You can tell he regrets bringing up the subject.  But at the same time, he knew he had to say something. 

When I first started this, I stated that I love the way that they are able to fight, now keep in mind, I love how they fight when they are together.  There are a few episodes that start with this one, where they don’t know how to fight with each other.  I have a theory about that.  To be able to truly fight with someone and pull the correct punches to really get to them, you have to know them.  When they first met, they could control their fights with using logic on one another.  Later they will be able to control their fights because they are grownups and truly love and respect each other. But right now they are at a point where they are so infatuated with each other and frustrated that they can’t do anything about it that they are bottling up their other emotions towards the other that the angry ones spill out when they can’t control it.  Especially with Sydney, she fights the dirtiest, but honestly that is just part of being a girl. Vaughn will get emotional once in a while, but he is usually able to keep it contained.

Since Jack has operational control, he seeks out Sydney during Francie’s restaurant opening and gives her the details of the SD-6 mission along with the counter mission for the CIA.  She asks if there is anything else, I think part of her is wondering about the points that Vaughn brought up.  He tells her that what Irina did to her invalidated her agreement and that the government is seeking out the death penalty on her.

Meanwhile back at the CIA, on old friend of Vaughns is in town. Who when asked why he is there, he tells Vaughn that he is babysitting a US national that was caught transporting explosives in Madagascar. They briefly touch on how Weiss is doing; he’ll be okay, which is more than he can say for Weiss’s nurses.   They joke around a little, and walk away.  After a few steps Vaughn realizes what his friend just told him.  And he goes back to ask about the type of explosives.  It was the exact type of explosive used in the shack that he and Sydney were at that exploded, old Russian syntax.  Vaughn tells him that he has to speak with the prisoner.  Vaughn climbs into the back of the transport vehicle and talks with the prisoner, he tells him that it’s not a good time in America to be accused of being a terrorist and tells him what they will do with him.  And then asks who he was working for, when the guy doesn’t talk, Vaughn tells him that he will let the pictures do the talking.  I’m sure that Vaughn is bluffing about there being pictures, but only Vaughn would be able to pull this bluff off since he is one of the few people who has actually seen the actual building that was blown up and exactly where it is in Madagascar.   He still doesn’t speak up, and Vaughn gets up to leave, but the guy grabs his arm and tells Vaughn that he was working for him, for the CIA.  Vaughn immediately sits down, and asks what office, he is told that the CIA contact was Jack Bristow, and that Vaughn should tell that “Bastard” that he isn’t going to take the fall for this.  Vaughn isn’t shocked, but at the same time he kind of is.  He now has proof that his theory was correct.   Now Vaughn just has to figure out how to go about the situation concerning Jack and Sydney. 

While Sydney is talking with Jack over the coms during her mission, you can see Vaughn in the background just seething with anger looking at Jack.  There is no way that he is going to let Jack get away with this.  Sydney gets into the viewing room to take the pictures of the 16 next generation weapons, only to find that there are 16 children in a room each at their own desk.  They are blindfolded and are putting together a gun, and eventually shooting them into the air once assembled. She takes the pictures and also takes pictures of the man that is training them.

Back at the CIA she is talking about the children, who are considered sleeper agents with Vaughn and a CIA doctor Kerr.  Dr. Kerr explains that the best agents are those with certain traits such as efficacy with numbers, three dimensional thinking, and creative problem solving, all of which are evident as early as five years old.  Vaughn then goes on to explain that every first grader takes a standardized test, and that a few years ago the Triad acquired the company that does the testing, and they added a series of questions that are designed to locate children with these traits.   Dr. Kerr explains that six year olds can acquire knowledge at a rapid rate, so they can learn the basics of marksmanship, linguistics, and visual and verbal cue recognition can all be taught to them in a matter of weeks.  Sydney asks what happens at the end of the month long program that they accepted being a part of.  Vaughn tells her that the Triad will send them home and track them, eventually using them in the future. They will have their memories reset and they will remember nothing except that it was extremely satisfying.  Dr. Kerr then tells them that there was a rumor that back in the 1980’s there was a rumor that the KGB was interested in a similar program, but it was never confirmed.  – On a side note, there is a deleted scene from this episode that they put on the DVD, it was right before this moment, and it is of Sydney and Vaughn.  After their last interaction things between them are a little cold, so when Sydney tells him that they are children and that there must be something that they can do, he kinda shrugs it off telling her that there is a team working on it and walks away.  She watches him and then approaching him telling him that what she said earlier wasn’t fair.  He isn’t Irrelevant and that thru everything, SD-6, her mother, he’s been the one constant in her life, and she can’t tell him how much that means to her.  He looks up at her and tells her that he accepts her apology.   They look at each other for a few moments and all is right in the world again. 

An agent that I assume works under Vaughn stops Vaughn and asks him if the guy with the Syntax, DeSouza, if it is their case, Vaughn doesn’t know what he is talking about, and then is told the daily situation report says that the guy was there yesterday and that Vaughn is listed as visiting him.  Vaughn is not happy that his expedition with his friend was recorded, especially once he sees Jack reading the same Daily situation report, but tells the agent that it isn’t their case.  Sydney walks into the Rotunda and both Jack and Vaughn go towards her, but Jack reaches her first, and asks if Vaughn called her in.  She asked if they identified the man with the children and Vaughn tells her that they have.  It is a man called Kholokov; Sydney is surprised because they all thought that he was dead.  He used to run the Psych ops division of the KGB, doing mind control experiments, and psychoactive drugs.  While Sydney and Vaughn are discussing this Jack looks very concerned.  He now works for the Triad, the children have been sent home and Kholokov is back in Buenos Aires at his home there.  Sydney states that they need to grab him and find out how many other children are involved, and she is told that a team is prepping now.   She tells them that she wants to go with them.  Jack is very adamant that she does not need to go.  That it’s not worth the risk.  But Sydney tells him that when she signed up for SD-6, she wanted to join, and she knows what it feels like to be used, these kids won’t have that choice, so she is going to Buenos Aires.  Before Jack can say anything Vaughn tells her that the team is leaving in 12 hours.  She asks if there is anything else, Jack looks at Vaughn and quickly tells her that’s it. She leaves to go pack.  Vaughn and Jack stare each other down and then Vaughn tells him that he saw DeSouza and that he told him that jack instructed him to rig those explosives. Jack tries to rationalize it by telling him that Irina would eagerly destroy all of their lives.  Vaughn tells him that he’s not a fan of Irina’s but that doesn’t justify what he did. Jack delivers a backhanded compliment to Vaughn, telling him; “You do good work, Agent Vaughn, but your consistent shortcoming… You should know this… Is your naïve sense of morality. Evil must be eliminated by whatever means necessary.” Vaughn is quick to tell him that he doesn’t think that Sydney would agree. But jack responds by telling him that Sydney will never know what he did.  And even though jack is technically his boss right now, Vaughn steps up to the plate and says; “You betrayed her trust.  I won’t. Now she should hear it from you, but if you don’t tell her, I promise you, I will.”  And on that note Vaughn walks away.  Needless to say Jack is pissed off at Vaughn, I think that he sees that with Vaughn around he won’t be able to pull off some of the ways he would like to protect Sydney in the way that he would like, which is usually hiding the truth from her.

While in Buenos Aires after capturing Kholokov Sydney sees a puzzle on a desk, and she is drawn to it, she immediately puts it together in seconds without having to think about any of it.  After wards she is very concerned by this, so when she gets back to LA, she asks Dr. Kerr to hypnotize her and take her back to when she first saw the puzzle.  Dr. Kerr tells her that she has seen Sydney’s profile and she isn’t surprised that she could solve this puzzle.  Sydney tells her that she wasn’t solving it; she was remembering putting it together.  She wonders if her mother being part of the KGB had worked with her when she was a child as she saw with the other children earlier.  Dr. Kerr tells her that doing this therapy may cause nightmares and depression.  Sydney tells her that with her work she compartmentalizes a lot, but this isn’t something that she can just tuck away.  She needs to know if she was programmed to be a spy when she was little. Under the hypnosis, Sydney can hear her dad talking to someone saying that he has taken care of Christmas.    She then watches herself putting together the puzzle and learning how to assemble and fire a gun.  After firing the empty gun, she sees her father take the gun and tell her good work. 

Sydney is outside of a building in the rain, Jack motions for her to get in, but she stays where she is, so Jack goes to meet her and asks her what is wrong.   Sydney tells him “I have this memory… From when I was six years old. My mother had just died in a car accident. I felt so scared. You were never home. So who was going to take care of me? Then I overheard you talking, you were in your study on the phone. You were talking about Christmas, about me. You were taking care of my Christmas presents. Suddenly I… I felt so safe. You were taking care of me.  That memory’s a lie. You weren’t talking about that at all.”  Jack tries to stop her, but she continues. “I've seen the footage. Mom's briefings with her KGB handler. She was sent here for one specific purpose, to steal information from you about a project you were developing for the CIA. An operation, to train children to be American spies…  Project Christmas. Ever since Mom came back, you were afraid she'd figure out what you did to me. You weren't trying to protect me from her; you were trying to protect your secret. So the first opportunity you had, you set her up... in Madagascar.”  Jack stops her and asks her to understand, but she interrupts him. “No, Dad, you understand something. You took away my choices in life. You programmed me to be a spy. I will never forgive you for this.”   And on that note Sydney walks off in the rain as Jack watches.

She walks to the CIA, she is soaking wet and stands in the entrance looking straight at Vaughn.  He doesn’t notice her at first, but once he does he stops everything and goes to her.  (The song playing for Netflix is different from the original version, but they made the lyrics hit just right.  Right as she sees Vaughn the song is saying I find home, and you know my feelings on the word home between them.)  He walks most of the way towards her before she takes the last few steps to him.  And they just embrace.  He holds her as she cries on his shoulder.  No words are spoken, but there doesn’t need to be.  In this hug they are able to say everything they need to express.  He knows that she knows the truth about what Jack did to them in Madagascar and soon enough he’ll learn about her being a part of Project Christmas.  There is no official cliffhanger, but having the screen go black when Sydney is being comforted in Vaughn’s arms was enough for me to immediately rush to the next episode to see what happens next.

  • Items that I found noteworthy… 
    • At this point, I think that Vaughn is able to sort through emotions better than anyone else; he knows what he wants versus what he can have. He can also see thru peoples true intentions.  He knows that at some point Irina’s true endgame will present itself, he may not share these feelings with anyone, but he does know.  He can also see thru most of Jack’s strategies.  He isn’t one to blindly trust, to this point; I think he only really trusts Weiss and now Sydney.  He won’t always be able to do this, but I think it is only when his defenses are down that he can’t see the clear picture. 
    • Sloane admits to killing his wife to Jack

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