This post is one that I have been really looking forward to doing. As I prepared myself to begin writing it, I tried to research what other people have said on this subject, but I wasn’t able to find much. The closest thing that I did find was in a book of essays about Alias that Kevin Weissman edited called Alias Assumed: Sex, Lies, & SD-6. One of the essays mentions that the reason we don’t see Vaughn’s home or him being alone in his home refers to him not being domestic and that he is only at home with a female presence, they use Lauren with him as an example for this. However I disagree with this line of thinking for two reasons; the first being they didn’t pay close enough attention to the show, we saw Vaughn get ready in his apartment when he finds his fingernails bleeding (Salvation & Counteragent). The second reason is that when he referred to home it almost always referred to Sydney in one way or another. Any other time he referred to where he lived was a house, or the house, or where you live. For Vaughn home isn’t a place, it is a state of mind.
The first time I noticed that Vaughn had an odd sense of home was while he was dreaming after being stabbed, and thought he woke up with Sydney waiting by his side. He asked her where he was and instead of telling him that he was back in LA, as we have seen her answer in the past, she tells him that he is home, and you can see by his face that her saying he was home was all he needed to feel safe. I did think that it was a little odd, but didn’t think more of it until I watched it the second time and me now knowing that it was a dream, thought wait a second, why in his dream is Sydney telling him he’s home. Then I thought that many people refer to home as being a place of safety, so maybe in his dream he thought that he had reached safety.
But the more I thought about it, and continued watching the series, and trust me it has taken me watching the whole series a few times to fully grasp this concept. Vaughn doesn’t think of home as a place, but as a state of mind where he is happy. For most of the series when he refers to home, it does involve Sydney as being that happy place. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, Sydney is his home, it doesn’t matter where he is, as long as Sydney is there, and they are together he is home.
I thought that to give you the best examples, once again would be to go through the episodes. There aren’t many examples, so they will all be in this post, but it is interesting to see when he begins referring to home as being with Sydney and also when he stops. Now keep in mind that everything here is purely my opinion and what I have inferred while watching this show and getting to know these two characters on a more personal level as I have progressed in this project. I have no idea if this thought process went through the writer’s heads, if it was something that JJ Abrams placed it there, or if Michael Vartan even noticed what was going on. Anyway that we look at this, without being able to actually talk to any of them, would be as a theory.
I did attempt to make a video that captured the spirit of Vaughn’s version of home, unfortunately I don’t have the right software yet, to make the video as I would want it, but I did the best I could with what I had. Because I knew I wanted to get my point across. So here is the video and I will go over the clips in detail better below.
There are only a couple of references to home in Season One;
- S1 E6 – Reckoning
- Vaughn is telling Sydney about the wall of stars memorializing the fallen agents, he tells her that their names are in a book, and all the families are told are that they won’t be coming home.
- I think that this reference to home actually refers to his father, although most references do refer to Sydney, occasionally they do go back to his childhood when he had his father.
- S1 E7 – Color Blind
- Vaughn tells Sydney that they were worried about her, she makes a comment about how the CIA hates to lose its assets, and then Vaughn corrects himself telling her that he was worried. Soon after when they are getting ready to depart from each other, he does tell her to go home and enjoy Thanksgiving.
- This reference may be one of the only references that I was able to find that didn’t correspond with my theory. But it could refer to her being back from a dangerous situation and that she is now safe. Also he has to refer to her home in some way, even if their definitions of home are not the same.
Season Two probably has the most references out of any season, although they are easy to miss references.
- S2 E4 – Dead Drop
- Sydney has managed to get herself into a fairly precarious situation in Russia and calls Vaughn asking for help and since Irina gave her the initial instructions for getting in, Vaughn goes to her to help Sydney get out. Once Sydney is out of the building she lets Vaughn know and he breathes a sigh of relief and then tells her that he will see her at home.
- This reference is the first big one, in the past they have told each other see you back in LA or something similar, but this time he tells her that he will see her at home, and for two people that don’t live together it struck me as something to take note of. He is basically saying that once she is back with him and safe, she will be home. At least as far as he is concerned.
- S2 E5 – The Indicator
- This is one that I just happened to notice because I was looking to quote something that Sydney had said to Jack and the following scene showed the words to the music in the Closed Captioning.
- Throughout the episode Sydney and Vaughn had been going back and forth with their emotions towards each other, and they had actually fought at one point. But after Sydney meets with her father and she has discovered that her father has betrayed her in two different ways, setting up Irina and subjecting Sydney to Project Christmas when she was a child, she is very upset. Even though the last time Sydney and Vaughn had seen each other, they were fighting; Sydney still goes to him for comfort.
- The original version that aired on TV, and is on the DVD’s features Joni Mitchells’ song River, however the streaming versions have a song that I haven’t been able to identify, but the moment that Vaughn sees her, the song says “I find home.”
- This was a moment for Vaughn that he realized that the two of them may fight, but in the end, they will come back to each other. Maybe he thinks that in some way not only is she his version of home, but that maybe she might feel the same way.
- S2 E6 – Salvation
- Towards the end of the episode, Sydney and Vaughn are placed in a quarantine of sorts, because they had been exposed to the liquid within the red ball in Taipei. They both know that Vaughn is likely to be sicker than Sydney, due to the amount of time he spent underwater.
- They both had lied down, I am not sure how much time they spent there, but it would seem as though they had spent the night. The scene opens with Vaughn watching her sleep. They talk a little, and eventually they learn that Sydney is fine, but they will need to run some more tests on Vaughn. The song playing during the entire scene is called; A Place Called Home – By Kim Richey
- This was the point that I realized that no matter what circumstances they were in, Vaughn was just happy to be with Sydney. Being in that hospital room alone with her, even with the circumstances as they were. He was home, because he had Sydney with him.
- S2 E10 – Abduction
- This time it is an example of what home is not. It is the scene where Will and Sydney are already at a bar, and Vaughn and Alice walk in. As they are going around introducing each other, the song playing in the background is called; Don’t Try This At Home – By Chumbawamba.
- I think the title alone speaks volumes. It is by far the most awkward moment and probably the most hated moment that either of them has had together. Sydney knew that Vaughn was seeing Alice, and Vaughn was aware of this as well. But Vaughn saw Alice as his backup plan to keep him from thinking about Sydney until they could be together. This situation was one that he knew that he couldn’t repeat if he wanted to be with Sydney and be at home with her.
- S2 E16 – Firebomb
- I’m not entirely sure if it counts, but after they were together and they were back at Sydney’s apartment. They are joking about Sydney’s favorite part of the night being the Zamboni, but she then him that coming home with him was her favorite part, and he immediately lit up and kissed her.
- Sydney and Vaughn don’t have the same definition of home, but to see Sydney refer to them being home together just makes him so infectiously happy.
- S3 E5 Repercussions
- The episode that really brought the meaning of home to reality. Even though what we’re watching wasn’t reality. Vaughn wakes up, or thinks he has woken up from his coma and sees that Sydney is waiting by his side in the hospital. Just seeing her makes him happy. He asks where he is and she simply tells him that he is home. Those words coming out of Sydney’s mouth to Vaughn was like music. He couldn’t imagine a better scenario. It didn’t matter if they were still in Spain or back in LA. But he was with Sydney so he must be home, and that is what he was thinking subconsciously. When he really woke up and found Lauren there instead, it was obvious how disappointed he was when he realized that Sydney was not there.
- This dream has opened up his eyes to what his heart is really telling him. His home is not with Lauren, but with Sydney. He may have told her that he didn’t regret moving on, but after spending some time with her again, it’s obvious that he does regret this decision.
- S3 E7 – Prelude
- When Vaughn realized that Lauren had reported Sydney, he immediately left Lauren’s side and contacted Sydney. He tells her not to go home, but to meet him instead.
- Vaughn knows what Sydney sees as home, and that is what the rest of us see. SO he does tell her not to go home, but he is also telling her that her home is no longer safe for her, and that to be safe, she needs to meet with him and he will take care of her.
- S3 E19 – Hourglass
- This reference is actual a deleted scene from season three and it was supposed to go in the episode Hourglass; I wish that they had included it, it is a great scene for the relationship, but alas they didn’t. I cut the video down in the YouTube video that I made, but I will hopefully find a better version or will be able to make a better version by the time I summarize that episode, and include it there.
- But Vaughn has stopped by Sydney’s house, and it is the only time in season three that we see him in her new apartment. He tells her that he was on his way home, and stopped to see her. They talk of Sloane’s execution, but then Sydney reminds him that he does need to go home, he doesn’t reply, but you can see in his face that as far as he is concerned he is already there.
- This shows that Vaughn thought of the word home and he immediately went to check on Sydney instead of going to his house where he had to pretend he didn’t know that his wife is a traitor. Then when Sydney tells him that he has to go home after they have had a good moment together where he has comforted her, he only looks at her and you can see that he thinks he already is home, and that he actually has to leave home.
Season four and five, really don’t have many references to home, at least not that I am aware of, I tried to go through the episodes that could contain a reference and was only able to find two. But in reality, now that Sydney and he are back together he doesn’t envision home too often, because he is already there.
- S4 E1 – Authorized Personal Only; Part 1
- Weiss comes to get Vaughn in DC and Vaughn explains why he burnt down his house. He tells Weiss; “It wasn’t a happy home.”
- This tells me that at some point, probably while he thought that Sydney was dead that Lauren could’ve been home for him, but upon learning of how he was used by her, he had to get rid of any evidence that ever showed that as being his home.
- S4 E11 – The Road Home
- This episode title was a disappointment to me honestly, I fully expected that if they placed home in the title, it would refer to Vaughn’s home, but then I remembered that this is just my theory and that maybe all the other stuff was pure coincidence. This episode doesn’t have a single scene in it that has Sydney and Vaughn together. But it does have Vaughn looking into the possibility that his father may still be alive.
- So this validated that The Road Home may be Vaughn hoping to regain some of the happiness that he felt in his childhood with the hope that his father could still be there for him.
- S5 E6 – Solo
- I didn’t expect to find any references to home in an episode where Vaughn is dead. But then I remembered the ending of this episode. Sydney has spent a lot of this episode thinking of how Vaughn would be as a father and also remembering how much support he gave her over the coms on missions. So they ending is so perfect seeing Sydney playing back old transmission records of what was said over the coms. The conversation that we hear isn’t from a mission that we did see, but I have to assume that it was sometime during the fourth season when they didn’t attempt to hide their relationship while on missions. I have placed the dialog from the transmission below.
Michael Vaughn: [the camera is panning around Sydney's bedroom and we see pictures of Vaughn] You okay?Sydney Bristow: Just having some trouble picking a lock, my fingers are kinda numb.Michael Vaughn: [laughs] Hey, you're almost home. Just get inside and plant the bug.Sydney Bristow: Easy for you to say, it's twenty below out here, you're nice and warm.Michael Vaughn: I'll tell you what, I'll talk to Langley and see if we can send you someplace nice and warm next time. [We now see Sydney in the rocking chair holding a tape recorder next to her belly playing back the audio from a mission where Vaughn was in her ear]Sydney Bristow: It should have a beach.Michael Vaughn: Absolutely, I'll find a bad guy who owns a really nice beach resort. And you'll have to go undercover for like a month. [He laughs] Hey you know what, that sounds pretty dangerous, maybe we both should go.Sydney Bristow: [laughing] You'd do that for me?Michael Vaughn: Hey, we're in this together right?
- When Vaughn tells her that she’s almost home, it’s obvious that he doesn’t mean their actual home, but that she is almost down with that part of the mission and that she can return to him, wherever he is watching her from.