Just to preface this episode, Sydney and Vaughn both go thru so much this episode I found it very hard not to dig in and analyze every moment that took place in this episode. So I'm sorry if it is too long to keep your interest, if anyone is actually ever going to read this besides myself. But I will put in pictures throughout to hopefully make it a little easier.
After the way the last episode ended, having this episode begin with Sydney and Vaughn together only makes sense. They are on a rooftop talking about her mother’s trial, and how long it will take and other details. Sydney tells Vaughn that she wants to see the opening arguments, and he tells her that he will arrange it. Then after a moment she goes and sits down next to him. Now I’m not sure about the amount of time that has passed between when she found out about her being a part of Project Christmas and now, but I can imagine that it’s been a very emotional few hours/days and although it has been hard on Sydney; I imagine that it has brought her and Vaughn closer together. But when she sits next to him, she asks him if he knows any jokes because she could use one right then. He tells her a joke and she actually finishes it for him, and they joke about how his joke isn’t all that funny. Although, it did serve it’s purpose and brought a smile to her face which is what she needed from him. But then they look at each other for a moment and realize that there isn’t much humor in their lives right now, and they know it.
At SD-6 Sydney is sent on a mission at a hospital that they believe is now run by Sark to investigate the virus that they found in Richter. Richter is the man that they brought in from a raid that had the information that led them to Madagascar. They believe that Sark is experimenting with this virus on people in this hospital. The big problem with the mission for Sydney is that her Alias is the loving daughter to Jack who will accompany her. She is not excited to have to go on a mission with Jack at this point after learning about Project Christmas. After the briefing with Sloane, Jack pulls Sydney aside and tells her that after what happened with Irina when she was a child, he felt it was necessary to prepare her for the world, and testing Project Christmas on her was his way of protecting her. She doesn’t buy it and tells him that if that was the case, he should have told her the truth before she ended up at SD-6. He admits that he should’ve, and that he intended to recruit her into the CIA when she finished college, but Sloane got to her first. He never wanted her to have to live a double life. She tells him that she wants to believe him, but she doesn’t believe anything that he says.
At the CIA a tech guy is showing Vaughn and Sydney over to a monitor, and telling them that the opening arguments are about to begin. They watch as a Senator gives a statement in place of the opening arguments. He states that since a plea agreement has been met, and Irina Derevko has plead guilty to all 86 counts of espionage that led to the death of 12 US operatives. A penalty jury met and their decision was swift, in three days’ time, Irina Derevko will be put to death by lethal injection. Sydney and Vaughn just stare at the screen as the decision comes down, they are both in shock.
Sydney does go home and writes a letter to Devlin telling him about what her father did to set up her mother. She states that she can’t in good conscious let her mother be put to death when she has held up her end of the deal that was made. And that her father should be the one to answer for this particular crime, even though her mother is no good anyway. After dropping off the letter she meets with Will and wonders how it can be that when her mother came back into her life she wanted nothing more than for her to die, how is it that she is the one trying to save her. Will reassures her that she is doing the right thing.
At the CIA Vaughn is a very interested in Project Christmas now. He is talking to Devlin about it and wondering if the KGB was actually successful in deploying this after Irina’s departure back in the 1980’s. Vaughn was sent a test sample from an asset in Moscow, and it resembled an IQ test that is given to first graders in the US and he is wants to look into it further. HE wonders about the possibility of the Russians testing US children and having sleeper agents set up in the US. How many kids could’ve been affected by this? Devlin tells him that now is not the time, for a historical value operation. They don’t have the agents or the time to research it.
On the plane Jack approaches Sydney and tells her that her mother’s manipulations are working on her again. Sydney questions what he means, and he explains that Irina pleading guilty was a maneuver on Sydney. That Irina must have deduced what Jack had done and that Sydney would end up watching the trial and Irina knew that if Sydney were to see the exact evidence against her, and how she savagely murdered those agents, including Vaughn’s father, that Sydney would lose all sympathy for her. So she plead guilty and cast herself as the victim, so Sydney would feel sympathy for her and try and stop the proceedings. At this point Jack pulls out the letter that she wrote to Devlin. He thought she deserved a second chance to think things over. She wonders how he got the letter, but he just tells her that after spending a decade with Irina, and another 20 years analyzing how she was able to pull of deceiving him, he is only protecting her. Sydney still doesn’t believe him, she tells him that she believes that he was so in love with Irina that when he found out what she did and she left him, he lost his soul, and that the kind of man who would his own daughter to frame her mother, and who would test psych experiments on her when she was only six years old is the kind of man who looks at his daughter and sees his greatest mistake. He tells her that she can’t believe that, and she tells him, its true right. That if Irina hadn’t fooled him, if he hadn’t been so gullible, she wouldn’t have been born. She leaves him speechless and tells him that she is going to finish reviewing the mission.
So here we have learned some more about Sydney. The first we already knew, she knows how to fight dirty, her mother and father may not have been around much when she grew up so not all of their manipulation skills carried over to her. But when it comes to saying the right thing to get her point across, if she is hurt in anyway, especially if she feels betrayed, she can do more damage with her words and how she delivers them, than anyone I have ever seen. The second is we find out the effect of learning of Project Christmas really had on her. She truly thinks that her father sees her as a regret in his life and maybe that is why they have never been close. Honesty and feeling safe and not betrayed are huge for her, and we will see this as Sydney and Vaughn become closer. The times that are the worst for them is when Vaughn tries to hide something from her, or when she feels like he has betrayed her; and looking the other direction, their strongest moments are when he goes out of his way to make sure that she knows the truth whether it’s something that she likes or not, and when he is proving to her that she comes first.
Will contacted Vaughn and they meet up, and he asks Vaughn for a job, he tells him that with all the publicity no one will hire him. He tells Vaughn that he knows that the CIA has a ton of front companies, and he will do anything, he just really needs a job. Vaughn tells him that he’s going to hate it, but they can’t employ him because he has a criminal record. Will tells him that he only has a criminal record because of a drug habit that he never had. They both stand there for a few moments not knowing what to say, then Will asks Vaughn if he knows anyone who wants to buy a car. Vaughn thinks for a moment and then tells him that he may have something. Vaughn has a discretionary fund that he can use to pay informants, that is off the books, and that Vaughn could pay him to do research. Will is extremely relieved, and tells Vaughn that if he is serious, he would owe him. Vaughn gives him the sample test that the asset from Russia sent him, and asks him to keep it to himself, but Vaughn wants to know if any of the questions from that form appeared in any standardized testing in the last 20 years in the US. Will tells him that the more he knows about it, the faster he can get the information back to him. Vaughn then tells him to take his time and that he pays by the hour. Will is very thankful and they part ways. After watching this, I can see that Vaughn thinks things through carefully and knows what moves to take. This is one that came into his lap unexpectedly; he knows that if he has any competition for Sydney it will be Will. But he also knows what will impress Sydney. And him being able to help one of her friends in need gives him a step ahead in her book. I think this is why he wanted Will to keep it to himself; Vaughn wants to be the one to tell Sydney about what he did for Will. Know I know that I have stated that Vaughn has somewhat moved on from Sydney, but even though he has made a conscious decision not to pursue her because logistically he knows it won’t work, Vaughn still covets what he can’t have. Vaughn is a good guy, but I would not want to date him when he knew Sydney; because for Vaughn if Sydney is in his life, she will always come first. This is a topic that we will touch on more in upcoming episodes and in season 3.
While on the mission in Geneva with Jack, Sydney goes to get a blood sample from one of the test subjects of Sark’s virus and seeing what the patient looks like, especially after learning from Marshall earlier that the virus is eating their cells apart from the inside, throws her off for a moment, but then she goes to work. She is prepping to get the blood sample when the patient grabs her and calls her Irina. He won’t let go and Jack tells her that she could become infected if her glove is ripped. Jack ups his Morphine and he goes to sleep, and they continue getting what they need. Of course they run into a few problems getting out, but they make it. And once again, when they work together, they make a good team. Once they are safely in their helicopter, Jack tells Sydney that the patients all once worked for Irina, and that is why the patient called her Irina. Before she turned herself in, she had ordered Sark to expose some of her own operatives to the virus so they could study it. He then tells her to ask herself it that’s a person worth saving.
When Sydney returns and meets with Vaughn for their debriefing about her SD-6 mission, she tells Vaughn that she will never be able to forgive her father for the things that he has done to her. But she also admits that maybe he was right about her mother, maybe he’s more equipped to see her overall plan than anyone else. That maybe she does have an endgame in mind and she is using the CIA to get to that endgame. But then Vaughn tells her that her father is asking for her to die because of something that she might do, and he doesn’t think that she would be able to live with that. He tells her that the CIA is working on an antidote for the virus in case SD-6 is planning on using it themselves. And that she did a good job in Geneva. As she is leaving he tells her that there is something else that she should know. He tells her about Will coming to him about a job, and that he hired him off the books to do some research. And when he tells her this he looks mighty proud of himself, even does a little smile and head cock that is pretty cute. But Sydney is concerned about what he has Will looking into. He tells Sydney that it is the KGB version of Project Christmas, but that he didn’t tell Will that. Will thinks that he is comparing IQ tests. He figures that it’s her prerogative to tell him more about Project Christmas if she wants to. She tells him that it was really nice of him to do that, and she smiles at him. He smiles back and tells her “You’re Welcome.” But his smile says it all; he accomplished what he wanted to. He’s made her happy on two counts with this. He is helping her friend and he is going to get more information for her on Project Christmas.
After meeting with Vaughn Sydney meets with Devlin and tells him that she needs to report something. She tells him that her mother was unaware of any explosives in Madagascar, and as she is about to tell him about her father, when he tells her that he is aware and that he has her father’s report. Devlin continues that Jack has already told them; also that a hearing has been scheduled with a joint intelligence committee. She tells him that her intentions weren’t to punish her father but to stop the execution of her mother. But while they are talking Devlin receives a phone call, he answers a few questions and looks at Sydney while doing so, when he hangs up he tells her that she is needed in medical services.
Sydney goes to medical research and walks into the room to find a room full of doctors. She asks what is going on, and they tell her that five weeks ago when she infiltrated her mother’s laboratory in Taipei, she was near the Rambaldi device. They ask her how long she was in the proximity of the device, she tells them that she was only near it for a minute or two, long enough to rig it with explosives, but that Vaughn was submerged for maybe another minute or two. There is a long silence, so she asks if someone will please tell her what is going on. They tell her that they now believe that the Rambaldi/Mueller device is the source of the virus that infected the men in Geneva, and that unfortunately she and Agent Vaughn may have been exposed. They tell her that they would like to draw some blood and run some other tests on her as well as keep her for observation. She tells them that it could cause a problem with her cover at SD-6 if she is unable to be contacted, and they tell her that her father has already been informed and that he is covering for her.
Vaughn is already in an isolated room sitting on a bed when Sydney enters the room. He stands up and they just stare at each other for a moment and then she walks over and sits down on the bed. He sits down next to her and puts his arm around her and caresses her shoulder in comfort, as the impact of all of this hits them. She then puts her head on his shoulder. And the camera zooms away from them. This is another scene that is just perfect of the two of them; with the way that they can communicate with each other and not say a single word.
The next scene opens with a view of Sydney asleep on a bed, and we see that the view that we just had was what Vaughn has been watching as he lays in the bed across the room from her. He is just lying there, watching her sleep and you know he is worried, but in that moment, he is content with being able to just watch her. She wakes up and as she opens her eyes she see that Vaughn is watching her, personally knowing what they are going thru and that now she has fallen for him but also knows that they can’t do anything about it, I think she is incredibly happy to wake up to his gorgeous beaming smile. She asks him if he was even able to shut his eyes at all during the night. They know that out of the two of them, Vaughn is more likely to be sick than Sydney since he was actually submerged in the water. He tells her that it wasn’t enough. But then he changes the subject and tells her that she talks in her sleep. She blushes and smiles as well as hoping that it isn’t true, and asks what she said. He tells her that she said “Don’t frost the Pie.” And that it seemed really important to her. They laugh a little and then she asks if he thinks they are sick. He tells her that he doesn’t know. She pauses for a moment and then asks if she can tell him something, and it seems like she is going to get personal with him. But the doctor walks in right at that moment and tells them that Sydney’s tests are negative and that she can go. But Vaughn has a heightened level of antibodies; it may just be him fighting a cold though. Either way he needs to stick around for a few more hours. Then Sydney asks what the first sign was that Sark starting testing patient zero’s blood at, the doctor hesitates and then tells her that it was hemorrhaging from the fingertips. After the doctor leaves, Vaughn tells Sydney that he will be fine and that her father’s hearing is in an hour and that she should go. But you can see in his face that her leaving is the last thing that he actually wants right now. They share an awkward silence as she gets her things ready to go, she reaches the door and tells him that she will see him soon, and he attempts a smile as she walks away. But as she is leaving she does stop and watches him from another point of view, and you can see how worried Vaughn really is. As well as how conflicted Sydney is, she wants to stay with Vaughn, but she knows that she can’t she has other responsibilities.
I do have to say, poor Sydney if you think about it right now she is looking at herself barely escaping from what could have been a virus that would have been a very painful way to die. She is also looking at the possibility of Vaughn who is now her one true confidant, friend, and in her mind someone that she could possibly spend the rest of her life with. Her mother that she thought was dead all her life is finally back in her life, albeit she’s still not exactly a true mother figure, but she is set to be executed in the next day or so and her father is on trial. Oh yeah, and she is just learning that she was brainwashed as a child to be a spy. Her life is not exactly roses right now, and the fact that she can actually smile even a little is impressive.
We see Jacks trial proceed and when the Senator makes the accusation that he only turned himself in because he knew that Sydney was planning on doing it as well and that if he was hoping for leniency from the committee that it won’t happen. Jack gets upset and tells them; “Sydney Bristow, my daughter has come to believe that when I look at her, I see the embodiment of all my flaws. And this afternoon when I learned that she may have been exposed to a life-threatening disease, I realized that she might die believing that, but nothing could be further from the truth. When I look at her… When I look at the little girl who raised herself to become one of the most extraordinary human beings and one of the finest agents I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, I see only the promise of my own redemption. Turning myself in was the only way I could think of to make that clear to her, to prove that despite… My limited abilities as a father, I love her more than I could ever say.” In the middle of the speech that Jack gives, we do see that Sydney is watching and she is incredibly moved by what he is saying, and we know that despite her promise to never forgive him, that she will. Luckily even though Sydney is harsh and plays dirty when she is hurt, she is willing to forgive those closest to here, even if she tells them over and over again that she won’t.
Later that evening we see Sydney in a restaurant sitting alone. A waitress brings her a drink, but Sydney is confused because she didn’t order anything. The waitress tells her that it’s from the gentleman at the bar. She hesitates and actually looks a little annoyed, then she looks towards the bar and sees that it is Vaughn he is holding up his phone to her, she smiles and then her own phone rings. Before she says hello or anything else, she asks if he is okay, he tells her that he got a clean bill of health and that he is fighting a cold. She tells him that she came by to see him after the trial but that they were still running tests. He tells her that he knows and that they told him that she came to that restaurant. She smiles and goes tells him how ridiculous it is that they are in the same restaurant and that they are on the phone. She planned this, and in her mind even though they are on the phone, they are on a date. But Vaughn is back to being professional and knowing his boundaries, even if it isn’t what he wants. He tells her that he came for another reason and it was to tell her that they are sending Jack to prison. She is surprised by this news, but he tells her that’s not all, it gets worse. The senator that was in charge of the two trials, for both of her parents, has decided that Irina’s Immunity agreement was never binding and that they are going to carry out her death sentence anyway, and that she will be executed the next morning. You can tell that in this instance Vaughn really hates his job. Being the bearer of bad news is not what he wants to do. He wants to be able to give Sydney the good news like he did regarding Will. I am guessing that knowing what he was going to have to tell her, when he ordered that drink for her, he ordered her something really strong because she would need it with the bad news he had to deliver.
Now I can only assume that after that phone call they both discretely left the restaurant and met up in the storage unit where they could really talk, so that Vaughn could help her hatch out a plan to save her parents. At least in my mind that is what happened. But since we next see Sydney in DC kidnapping the Senator, and telling him what she needs, I think that it is incredibly plausible. When Sydney returns, to LA, Jack asks her how she convinced the Senator to change his mind, she tells him what she told the Senator, which was a made up story which involved her needing her mother and father in a situation that would crumble national security if it got out. She tells Jack that she is not proud of what she did, and he tells her that even though he doesn’t agree with her decision to visit with her mother, he is from now on going to respect that it is her decision. She then watches from afar as they bring her mother back to her old cell within the CIA command center, and then she watches her mother sleep in the cell.
You would think that after all of the emotion that they have put us thru in this episode that maybe they would end the episode there and let it end happily, but no, that is not how Alias works in the first few seasons. The next shot is of Vaughn and him getting ready, I knew immediately that something was wrong, first there is seconds remaining in this episode and second the perfectly scored music has that eerie feel to it. But as we watch Vaughn getting ready for his day, shaving having a regular morning, he looks down and his face becomes instantly worried. Then we finally see what he see, blood coming out from each of his fingernails.