Wednesday, August 7, 2013

S2 E17 – A Dark Turn


Not only does Michael Vaughn share the same first name and initials as Michael Vartan, they share other attributes.  They both are big fans of the LA Kings hockey team and they both play hockey in their free time.   So it is a lot of fun to have a scene where Vaughn gets to teach Sydney something and have him be better at something than she is.  And seeing how good of a skater Michael Vartan is isn’t too bad either. 
So seeing them start out an episode with this date of theirs is really cute.  Vaughn is getting to do some of his favorite things at the same time, be with Sydney and play hockey.  He tells her some basic stuff and then shoots the puck right into the goal; Sydney immediately calls him a show off.  At this he just smiles and says, a little bit, and then skates off to get the puck.  Then he shoots it back at her and she tries to take the puck with her stick down the rink, and he is doing a sports commentary of it, and after she shoots and gets it into the goal, it looks as if she can’t stop on her own, so she drops the stick and just lets herself slide into Vaughn.   And his smiles as she crashes into him is so unbelievably charming and infectious, you can see how much he really does love being with Sydney.  But then we see that she was playing him and she crashed on purpose, and she tells him that she’s not completely incompetent.   He insists that she has done this before, and she tells him that she told him that she hasn’t skated since she was five.  But he still doesn’t believe her.
Unfortunately Sydney kinda ruined the moment and mentioned that it was her mother that took her when she was five.  And with that, his smile dissipates and he looks down, and Sydney realizes her mistake in words and watches him carefully.  He finally has a small smile and tells her that she’s better than she should be, and he starts skating around the rink.  When he circles back towards her, she tells him that sooner or later they will have to have a conversation about her mother.   But he is not in the mood and tells her that there’s nothing to talk about, and that he has nothing to say, they both know what happened what more is there to say.  But she thinks that there is a lot to talk about.  He becomes serious and tells her that there’s nothing that he wants to talk about on that subject.   She tells him that she is sorry, and before she can go on he tells her not to be sorry and to never be sorry for what her mother did.   Then before things can get too tense, her phone rings and she is called into the office.  He even makes a comment that of course she does, because it’s her day off.  She smiles a little and sighs.  Then he sighs himself, smiles at her and tells her that he will see her later, then he skates over to her and kisses her on the check and she kisses him on the check at the same time.  Then we get to see him really skate for a second before the screen goes black. 
 
It’s always been known that the one big thing that is looming over them is that her mother killed his father.  We’ve seen how they have played it when they were friends and colleagues.  We’ve seen how he approaches the subject as her handler and her confidant.  But I think that now that he is her boyfriend, he considers the topic of her mother a work issue and really doesn’t want to discuss it when he doesn’t have to.  He doesn’t want to feel this bitterness towards his girlfriend’s mother, but at the same time, how can you not.  The one good thing is that even if he doesn’t want to talk about it, he lets her know and makes it pretty clear, but he also isn’t a jerk about it.  It would be easy for Sydney to feel guilty for what her mother did.  I mean how many of us have felt embarrassed or ashamed or our parent’s actions at one point or another?  Vaughn is very clear to Sydney that she is not her mother and she is not to take on the guilt of her mother’s actions. 

At the CIA Sydney was called into a meeting for something that she would’ve never anticipated, she is being asked questions about Mr. Vaughn’s activities while they were together last month in France.  Including using a payphone at one point and buying cigarettes, she is quick to tell him that Mr. Vaughn does not smoke.  Then the guy asking the questions asks if she and Mr. Vaughn are intimately involved.  She glares at him and tells him that it is none of his business.  He admits that it’s an awkward question.  She is starting to get angry and asks what all these questions are about, and that she would appreciate a little context to their conversation, as well as his name.  He tells her that his name is Yeager and he is a counter intelligence threat analyst, and that should give her some context.  He was sent to investigate Michael Vaughn and that over the last three months he has been in contact with a number of unapproved foreign operatives.  With this statement, Sydney is in shock.  He continues telling her that he is actively pursuing contact with a known former KGB assassin, who is also known to have ties to at least three terrorist organizations.   She asks what they are thinking, and that there has to be an explanation for all of this.  Then he tells her that Mr. Vaughn doesn’t know that he is being investigated, and that if she were to talk to him about it, they would have to consider her a suspect as well.  Then he asks her again if she is intimate with Mr. Vaughn.  She just stares him down and refuses to answer.
What appears to be later in the day, Sydney is still being interrogated by counter intelligence, and he asks her if Mr. Vaughn has made and large purchases lately.  She tells him that she’s not aware of any.  He keeps going asking if he has changed his cell phone more than once in the last six months, she tells him no and that she already answered that question, why is she being asked again. He states that they have traced four cells phones back to Mr. Vaughn and he was wondering if she had noticed which she hadn’t.  He asks if she has access to his laptop while he is in the shower or while he is sleeping.  She tells him that they don’t live together and asks what he is getting at.  He tells her about decryption software that they believe Mr. Vaughn has downloaded to his computer; if he has he has broken the law.  She tells him that it’s insane; he tells her that maybe it is, but they need confirmation either way.  She looks pissed, and asks him if he wants her to checks Vaughn’s computer.  He tells her that he want her to make a disk image, make a copy of his hard drive and bring it back.  She tells him to listen and then goes on telling him that there is no chance that Vaughn is a traitor, or that he would be collaborating with an enemy.  Then he makes a comment about how he used to know her mother back when she was Laura and that she was charming, obviously not what she seemed.  This irritates her beyond measure especially after her lack of a conversation with Vaughn earlier about her mother.  And she tells him. “It is a mistake, Mr. Yeager, to confuse Michael Vaughn with anything regarding my mother.”  His only response is that she killed his father.  She tells him very plainly, “I will not spy on Michael Vaughn.”    He is playing dirty and asks her what her priority is, national security or her new boyfriend.
Once she is done she walks out in a huff of anger.  She definitely needs some room to breath after being in the room with that jerk.  She sees Weiss and asks if he knows where Vaughn is, he makes a joke that all he is to her is a conduit to Vaughn and asks if she ever asks Vaughn if he knows where Weiss is.  Then he gets serious and tells her that he has just been called to the briefing room and wonders if she knows what it is about.  She realizes that he is going to go in and be asked about Vaughn as well, but she has to tell him no, but wishes that she could warn him.

One things that I should note is that during the filming of this episode Jennifer Garner was only available for three days out of the seven scheduled, due to her being on SNL that week, so knowing this was coming the writers made an episode that featured more of Irina and Jack.  So we do see Irina being let out of custody to accompany Jack on some missions in hopes of capturing Sloane.  But I am going to leave it at that, until the relationship aspect of this episode requires it.

So I guess talking about Irina and Jack going on mission together, now affects the relationship, because back at Sydney’s house Vaughn is wondering if Sydney heard about her mother, and the operation that they sent her on.  Sydney tells him that, yeah it was with her dad. He asked how she found out about it, and she tells him that her dad told her.  He wonders if he told her out of courtesy or, but she stops him and tells him that her dad just told her. Vaughn is upset at the idea of Irina being let out and you can see it all over his face.  He asks Sydney if it seems weird to her that they didn’t involve the two of them at all, that the decision to reintroduce Irina Derevko to the world, and they weren’t even consulted.  He does have a point; they have been involved in all decisions up to this point. Sydney just shrugs then smiles at him and tells him that they can’t be a part of every operation.   He tells her that they should have been a part of this one.  She gets closer to him and puts her hand on his shoulder and tells him that he shouldn’t read into it.  She smiles at him and he finally relaxes and smiles back.  Then he asks if he can use her shower.  She gives him a huge grin and tells him that he doesn’t have to ask. With that being acknowledged he smiles back and leans in for a kiss, and walks off. After Vaughn walks off, Sydney sees that his laptop is there and even opens it up and looks at it for a minute and then looks off towards the shower.  My thought is that she needs to close the laptop and go hop into that shower with him.  Granted since the scene ends there, maybe she did.
Another storyline that happens in the episode is that Will is sitting at a table and having a glass of wine with Evil Francie.  He takes a big gulp of his wine and then proceeds to tell her all about Sydney not really working for the bank that she is actually an operative for the CIA, and that all the business trips are really top secret CIA mission.  Evil Francie then asks if he knows all this, does that mean that he is CIA as well.  He tells her no, he’s just an analyst for them.  The whole time Evil Francie is actually acting like real Francie would’ve, that is until he mentions that he is an analyst, then she goes all creepy and says, “Really…”   At this point Will is suddenly in bed and we realize that it is a dream.   He was a little freaked about the dream, but he looks at Francie in the bed with him and recovers somewhat.

One thing that I find awesome about Alias is how they can sneak in little clues and if you’re not paying attention you can easily fall into the trap that they have made for you thinking that this was real.  But Will is drinking wine in the dream and because of the cover of going to NA, he isn’t supposed to drink alcohol, and the real Francie has even gotten on Sydney’s case for being insensitive about drinking a beer in front of him.  Now I am not perfect at spotting all of the signs, because as I told you earlier I often multitask and don’t notice everything, but if I see one, I will try and point it out. 

The morning after Will’s dream, Will walks out of the bedroom in his boxers and a T-shirt, and we see a rather awkward moment, since Vaughn is sitting at the counter reading the paper.  Will says hi to him and Vaughn smiles at the ridiculousness of the situation and says good morning.   You have to figure that Vaughn is still Will’s handler for certain things so they have a professional relationship it is an awkward position to be in.  Will asks Vaughn where everybody is, and is told that Sydney has left for work and Francie left about 20 minutes ago.  So realistically Sydney and Vaughn are living together, just not officially.  Otherwise why would Vaughn still be there after Sydney has left?  Vaughn does notice that Will looks a little odd and since it is his job to make sure that Will is dealing with everything okay, he does ask if Will is okay.  Will tells him that actually he’s not that great, and he tells Vaughn that he had a dream that he told Francie everything that he knew about the agency.  Vaughn sets down his paper and goes into handler mode, and asks what Will is working on.  Will explains all the stuff that he has been working on, which includes some work on a KH-11 satelite.  Then Vaughn asks him if it’s exciting, and Will tells him, yeah I guess so, but also wonders why.  Vaughn tells him that it’s common to dream about work and having anxiety over keeping it a secret, and notes that it’s especially common in the beginning. Will is surprised at this new knowledge and Vaughn tells him that it does go away.  Will questions if he means the excitement, and Vaughn tells him no, just the dreams. 
I like this little interaction between Will and Vaughn.  Once again it shows that they are becoming friends, although when I was new to the series I guessed that they wouldn’t become overly close.  I say this because it is obvious that Will still has feelings for Sydney, even though he is with Francie, or he thinks he is, and now she is with Vaughn, so there is a little jealousy there.  Vaughn also feels a little threatened by Will, not a lot, but Will has known her longer and Vaughn knows that if he messes up, Will is the one that is placed perfectly to pick Sydney up and take his place.

In the Rotunda Sydney is watching Vaughn work and probably questioning herself about all of the things that she was told by counter intelligence.  As she is watching him you can see that she has concluded that there is no way it’s possible and gets up to go see him, but as she gets up, she watches him takes a manila envelope that was between some papers and sticks in his suit pocket, and while he is doing this he is looking around to see if anyone was watching.  Not a good sign in Sydney’s mind.  During his glancing around his eyes lock on Sydney approaching him, and he smiles at her.  Another aspect that is great about Vaughn is that he generally follows the traditional rules for being a gentleman around Sydney, especially professionally.  One of the examples is when she walks in a room, or is coming towards him; he almost always stands to greet her. 
When she reaches him, he asks if she spoke with Will, and tells her that Will was a little freaked out that morning.  But she goes right to her point and asks what the envelope is, and he tells her that it’s just work stuff and smiles.  She asks him to come over to the quieter area, and he doesn’t look too happy about this, he can tell that she has something on her mind.  When they are away from everyone, she asks him if he is keeping secrets from her.   You can tell right away that he was not expecting this, and questions her.  She stays on point and tells him to answer the question.  He has a great reply, he tells her that he is sure that he is, they just started dating, and that of course there are things that he isn’t ready or comfortable enough to tell her about, but before he can finish she tells him that she’s not talking about them as a couple.  So he asks if it is about work, and tells her that there are certain things that are under protocol that he isn’t authorized to talk about with anybody.  She asks if that it all, and he tells her that there is something that she doesn’t know about him, and he tells her that he doesn’t like it when people question his loyalty, and that it drives him insane.  She tells him that it isn’t about loyalty, and that she never mentioned anything about loyalty.  He tells her that when she asks about keeping secrets form her that the suggestion is pretty clear.  She tells him that secrets will be a problem between them and that after all that they have been through, he should know that.  He reaches into his suit pocket and pulls out the envelope, and sighs.  He opens it and reveals a key, he tells her that it is a key to his apartment and that he was going to give it to her that night at dinner, she is a little shocked, and he continues telling her that obviously it was an inappropriate move.  She looks so ashamed for thinking that something was going on and says his name in what looks like will be the beginning of an apology, but he cuts her off and  tells her that Dr. Barnett is waiting for him, and he walks off.   You can tell by looking at her that this is one of those moments that she will and already regrets. 
So after that conversation, and how badly she feels for suspecting Vaughn, she goes into the room where Yeager is and places the disk he gave her on the desk.  He smiles up at her and tells her that she made the right decision.  She tells him that the disk is blank, and that she didn’t make a copy of Vaughn’s hard drive.  She continues to tell him that the fact that she doubted Vaughn motives makes her sick.  Yeager is not happy, he stands up and he tells her that by choosing not to assist she is implicating herself in Agent Vaughn’s activities.  She looks him straight in the eye and tells him not to threaten her again.  He tries to convince her and make sure that she understands that there are consequences for not cooperating.  She tells him that there are consequences and that is her point.  She then asks him to ask himself if he would betray someone that he loves.  He smirks and then tells her that he guesses he has his answer to the intimacy question.  She just glares back; she is obviously done with this guy.

Okay, so it is out there, she may not have said it to Vaughn, but she did admit it out loud that she loves Vaughn!  They are definitely moving in the right direction for their relationship.  Even after a small fight, by the way this is one of the episodes that I refer to when I talk about their fighting style.  They are able to keep their voices controlled and they stay honest and on point.  They don’t bring up the past issues; they stay with the item at hand.  They may not solve the problem right away, and they may have to walk away for a bit.  But they move forward, and eventually work it out.  They can’t stay mad at each other for very long, and usually one of them will admit to being in the wrong, and apologize.  But once again in case you missed it, this is the episode where Sydney admits that she loves Vaughn.

Irina requests for Sydney to come see her.  And I have to ask why they are allowing Irina to be alone in her cell with the Rambaldi document.  But Irina tells Sydney that she and jack will be going to Panama and that it could be dangerous, so if she doesn’t make it back, Irina wants Sydney to know that she loves her.  They get a little sentimental, but for me this was Irina clearly telling Sydney that she was not going to be coming back.  This is Irina’s endgame.

We go to a scene where Will is in bed and Evil Francie is asking about the KH-11 satellite and if he had any problem with it.  He is asleep by the way.  He tells her that he used the satellite in his reports and no one was suspicious.  She asks him some more information about the images he saw, and then she tells him that she is going to count back form five and that when he wakes up he won’t remember the conversation that they just had, and that he has just had the best sex he has ever had in his life.  As she is counting down she lies down and pretends she is asleep.  Then he wakes up.  I hate Evil Francie!  She is hypnotizing Will in his sleep.   So I am betting what Will saw as a dream was her getting information from him during his sleep.

In Panama, Irina convinces Jack to remove the tracker that they placed in her shoulder before the first of the few missions that Jack and Irina went on during this episode.  The first time watching I was screaming at my TV; Jack knows better than fall for her deceit again, but she really is the master manipulator, and in truth Jack still loves her.

In the Rotunda, Weiss catches up with Sydney and asks her about the thing they are both involved in, but can’t talk about, she tells him yeah, wondering where he is going with his questions.  Weiss tells her that he has a friend from the farm that now works with Yeager and Weiss was told that Yeager is about to file formal charges against Vaughn for mishandling classified intelligence.  Sydney is in shock and tells Weiss that she needs to go talk to him, and she gets out her phone to call him.  Weiss stops her and tells her that if she does that she is breaking six different laws, she protests telling him that Vaughn needs to know it is happening.  Weiss agrees, but ells her that Vaughn’s phone is probably already tapped. Then whispers to her that all agency cars have GPS, She wonders if Weiss can access the system and he tells her that he can. 

Outside of a bar, Sydney contacts Weiss and tells him that she found Vaughn’s car.  Weiss asks her to keep him posted.  Sydney goes into the bar and watches as Vaughn have a conversation with the man in the photo that Yeager showed her in the beginning as being the KGB assassin.  Vaughn and the man switch envelopes and part ways.  Once the man is gone and Sydney watches Vaughn look over the papers that he was given, she goes and sits down next to him.  Vaughn knows he’s been caught, and you can tell that he doesn’t want to tell her what he is doing, but he also doesn’t want to lie to her.  He has already made it clear that he will be the one person that won’t lie to her.  He might hide things form her, but he won’t tell her a flat out lie.  Sydney asks him what he is doing there; he says her name as if to put off her question, so she tells him that she asked him a question.  He responds with his own question for her, he asks what is going on.  She continues on her subject and tells him not to tell her it’s nothing.  He asks if she is following him.  She keeps going, he’s attempts at distracting her are not working.  She states that he just bought something.  He tells her that it’s research; she questions his answer of research, and wonders what kind.  He tells her that it’s private and that it is just for him.  She then asks him if he remembers who he works for, and that nothing is private.  Then you can tell she loves him when she breaks all those laws and confidentiality forms she had signed, when she tells him that he is being investigated.  This news takes him by surprise, and Sydney tells him that when they find out that she told him she will also be a target, so he better not lie to her now.  He takes all of what he just heard in and tells her that he is not disloyal, so she asks him why he has been meeting with high ranking FSB officers and an ex KGB assassin.  She tells him all the places that they have him placed in without authorization.  He covers his head with his hand in stress.  He knows that he has now involved Sydney in whatever he is doing and feels horrible.  He knows that he is in trouble, but I think he is more worried about what Sydney must think of him and how this will impact her.   She calms down and becomes very patient after seeing the stress on his face.  She tells him firmly but patiently, that if there is an explanation for what he’s been doing for the last four months, she needs to hear what it is and she isn’t going to wait.  He just turns and looks at her.

The next two scenes are actually not all in one piece as I have it here, but they overlap each other, but I tried to make it simpler to read, and to write.  But the two scenarios are happening at the same time.
Back at the bar, Vaughn is visibly ashamed, but willing to tell her what has been going on, and it is said so well that paraphrasing doesn’t do it justice, so he told her; “Now I understand why you were asking about secrets.  Yes, there is something I haven’t told you.  It hasn’t been easy accepting the idea that my job requires me to… Collaborate with my father’s killer.  And the fact that she happens to be your mother didn’t make it easier. So I’ve been investigating heron my own for the past six months.”   Sydney is a little taken aback with this news, but just sits and listens, he continues, “I couldn’t wait for the agency’s red tape, so I contacted everyone I could…. Anyone that knew her, who ran in the same circles.  I…” He reaches down and grabs his bag. “I retraced SAT phone records that were logged while your mother was with you in India, Kashmir, tracked recorded conversations between your mother’s former lieutenants to see if she signaled them when Kendall gave her access to Echelon.”  Sydney stops him and tells him that she doesn’t understand, Vaughn wanted them to work with her, that he even encouraged it.  Vaughn goes on to say, “Because I believed your father was right about her having a secret agenda. I wanted to see what she was going to do. I mean, I did all of this on my own. I paid for this myself. I had freelance agents retrace every step of every hour she’s taken outside operations since her surrender. I surveilled prison guards who were assigned to her cell block, the kitchen staff who prepares her meals.”   The entire time he is saying this he is trying not to get too excited or frustrated, and then Sydney tells him that she was told that he downloaded xenon the illegal decryption program.  He tells her, “I downloaded that program to read KGB files.  I had to find out if she was deceiving us again. I mean I could not sleep at night knowing I was doing nothing, that somehow I was helping her.”  He finally stops and Sydney begins to look through the documents that he brought out.  Vaughn watches Sydney as she reviews the documents, I don’t think he knows what to say after spilling everything out at once.  He wants to hear what Sydney has to say first.  She does finally ask if he found anything. He looks disappointed and shakes his head and tell s her nothing, she’s clean. 
In Panama, Jack has left Irina with her two guards and Kendall tells Jack over coms that the KH-11 satellite is covering them.  It can’t be a coincidence that Evil Francie was having Will get her information on the KH-11 satellite and that Irina is being tracked by the same satellite.  But basically Sark goes to pick up Irina instead of Sark, and Irina gets into the car with the cars, but not without looking up at the satellite and we see the numbers that Evil Francie had Will read off to her. While in the limo that Sark picked up Irina and her guards in the signal from the satellite goes down and you see Evil Francie call to ask Sloane if the codes are good. Kendall tells Jack that he needs to activate her tracker, but jack has to tell him that he took it out in case she was searched. So Jack and the Delta force team track the limo there.  They lost the limo when it went under and overpass, and then they catch up and corner the limo to find that it was a decoy limo and that Irina is not there.  Upon realizing that Jack immediately tells Kendall the check the Rambaldi document, and tech goes to get it.  The real Sark limo drives to a remote location and parks; Sark turns around and shoots both of the guards that are accompanying Irina and then tells Irina to please step out of the car. Jack asks Kendall if he has the book and he tell Jack its coming. Sark and Irina are standing outside next to the limo when a police van pulls up, and they walk towards it.  Kendall gets the briefcase that is hiding the manuscript, and opens the briefcase.  Sark opens the door to the police van and Sloane is in the back, He looks at her and tells her that it’s good to see her again, then she tells him, “Thank you for extracting me.”  And she hands him the Rambaldi pages on the human heart. And they drive off in the police van.  Kendall opens up the leather bounding and finds it full of post it notes of different sizes and colors, and relays the information to Jack telling him that the manuscript is gone.  Jack is so mad that Irina was able to deceive him again he has to walk away from everything for a few minutes.

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