Wednesday, August 28, 2013

S3 E7 – Prelude

As the episode opens we see Sydney have a nightmare about the scar on her stomach and how she was in a hospital pulling out a large amount of tubing from the scar and is bleeding profusely. She wakes up sobbing and terrified. So not surprisingly we see her go back to the doctor who conducted the meeting with the other CIA agents that have lost time. She tells him that she has reached the point where she has to know what happened to her. He shows her a patient who had the same treatment to recover his memory that she is requesting. He is now is a strait jacket locked in a room with four padded walls mumbling to himself, and the doctor tells her that he is considered a successful case. Also that he would consider death a better alternative than this surgery. 

Back at the Rotunda Jack has learned that Vaughn has been loaned out to the NSC to assist Lauren on a mission that they have. Jack has been given Intel on their mission and tells Vaughn more about the mission that he is about to embark on. He asks Vaughn if he remembers Javier Perez from the group that Sydney infiltrated a few weeks ago, because he is who they are going to go pick up, Vaughn tells him, yeah, I remember he almost killed me. Jack goes on to tell Vaughn that Javier has offered to exchange information for leniency. The problem is that he knows about Sydney, murdering Lazarey under the alias of Julia Thorne and that Vaughn can imagine the consequences if Javier were to share that information with his wife. Jack suggests a plan to get them off of the case, but Vaughn refuses. He says that he is not going to interfere with Laurens investigation, and that he has kept the secret because he was ordered to. Jack asks Vaughn if he understands that if the NSC finds out that Sydney murdered Lazarey she will undergo a surgery that will cause permanent brain damage. Vaughn tells him that he knows Lauren better than Jack does and that Lauren may be the best chance they have of keeping the information from the NSC. Jack simply responds by asking Vaughn, what if he’s wrong. But Vaughn has no response for this. You can see how protective Jack is over Sydney in this case, as well as seeing the conflict that Vaughn is going through. Vaughn has to make a lot of choices as to who to be loyal to, his wife, or the woman that he has never gotten over. He loves both women, although in different ways. This episode as well as the next few will be emotionally heavy episodes for Vaughn as he struggles with this choice.
In the meantime, Sydney has been assigned to accompany Sloane to Beijing to corrupt some software that the Covenant wants to get their hands on and that the Covenant has assigned Sloane to obtain for them. As part of the mission Sydney is posing as Sloane’s assistant and is not happy having to act pleasant around him, but he suggests that for her to get away they should fain an argument with him, this actually pleases Sydney to an extent. So Sydney and Sloane are dancing and then Sydney gets the call from Marshall telling her that she is good to go, and she tells him thank you. Sydney relays the information to Sloane and he tells her that she may want to make this fight look real. So she slaps him across the face and walks off. I know that this part of the episode really has no relevance to the relationship, but how can I not talk about how satisfying it must have been for Sydney to be able to slap Sloane and face no consequences for it. It must have been the highlight of her week or even month for her.
In Mexico Vaughn and Lauren are driving down a road and stop to help a little boy, but quickly realize that it is a setup, and a group of men surround them and force them to the ground. Vaughn tries to tell them to take their money, but is hit on the head with the butt of a shotgun. The leader of the group then makes a call and tells the person he is calling that he has them. We then see Jack telling the leader that the money will be left in a church confessional, and to keep them for at least two hours and then to let them go. Then we see Jack make a back door deal with the Mexican police and Jack is left alone with Javier Perez. Jack really is very protective of Sydney, he wasn’t happy with Vaughn when Vaughn decided that trusting Lauren would be safe enough, so he had to make sure that she was fully protected and took care of things himself.
A few hours later, Vaughn and Lauren have been released and go to the Mexican jail and tell the officer that they would like to extradite Mr. Perez as soon as possible. They go back to the cell, and find that Javier Perez has been hung, looking like a suicide. However Vaughn immediately knows what is up, he’s known Jack for too long. He asks who else has been to see Javier since he arrived and the officer tells him that no one has been there. Vaughn is pissed, but he at least knows not to voice his concern out loud where Lauren can hear it. Even though he is mad at Jack, for compromising Lauren’s safety, he won’t compromise Sydney’s in the process.

Back in Beijing Sydney and Sloane are on their way to the airport, and Sydney is instructing Sloane on what he will give to the covenant and what he will say and what they should assume. Then Sloane asked her, how many times her handler, Vaughn, said something like that to him right before giving him something like that. She is sitting there hating Sloane, but at the same time remembering the good times that she had with Vaughn as her handler, and told him that it did happen on occasion. I think that one of the hardest parts of her being Sloane’s handler now is thinking back to when she had a handler, and the relationship that she had with Vaughn. After some silence, Sloane tells her that there was a time that she trusted him, and she tells him that it was before she knew who he was. Then after thinking for a moment, she tells him that it was also before she knew who she was. He then lays a bombshell on her telling her that it was more recent than that. He tells her that the day she turned up in Hong Kong, a letter arrived at his office and he had some analysts look into it, but he already knew that it was in her handwriting, and then hands her the letter. Inside of the letter is a smaller envelope with a key in it, as well as a code. Sloane tells her that he has never seen the code before, and he didn’t want to ask anyone else to help decipher it, but now that she is back, he thought that whatever it is they would be her possessions and she may want them back.

Once Vaughn got back to the Rotunda, he immediately found Jack and told him that they needed to talk, Vaughn is seething, you can see exactly how mad he is, especially as he has had a few hours to think about what Jack did, without being able to talk about it. They enter the conference room and Vaughn accuses Jack of killing Javier Perez. Jack plays it off and tells him that he has just returned from a traumatic experience and that would explain his baseless accusation. Vaughn tells him that he’s right, he is emotional and he gets that way when he sees a gun pointed at his wife’s temple. Jack simply tells him that they are in a risky business. Vaughn then tells him that when the armed rebels took them hostage and then just let them go out of the kindness of their heart, he saw right through it. Jack once again keeps his cool and tells Vaughn that luckily he was graced with a stroke of luck. Vaughn asks him how he is supposed to believe that a man, who was bartering for his life, suddenly hangs himself. Jack comes up with a reasonable explanation and asks Vaughn what part of this doesn’t have a rational explanation. Then we see Vaughn get madder than we have ever seen him, at least to this point, and grabs jack by the collar and pushes him up against the wall and tells him; “You ever put my wife’s life in danger again, I will kill you!” Jack just looks Vaughn in the eye and tells him; “Then perhaps you finally understand the moral compromises you make when someone you love is in danger.” Jack then pushes Vaughn off him with force, and walks away.  Vaughn is still standing there seething in anger, but I think he realized that Jack may be right and that if the circumstances were different, he may have done the same thing.

I really feel for Vaughn in this episode, he knew the risks that Lauren finding out about Sydney being Lazarey’s murderer could go badly, but he can only see the good in Lauren and doesn’t think that she would betray him knowing the connection he has with Sydney.  He really thinks that overall she might be the one to actually help Sydney if it comes down to it.  But after the confrontation with Jack, he is forced to think about what would’ve happened if Lauren had found out and what the repercussions would’ve been.
 In the parking garage, Lauren gets in her car and it won’t start so she opens up the hood and reattaches something and as she is about to put down the hood, we hear a gun cock and then we see Sark standing behind her.  He tells her to get in the car.  She shuts the hood and gets in the car and Sark gets in the back seat.  He tells her that he has jammed the CCTV’s feed so they can talk freely, and then asks if she knows who he is. She tells him that she does and wonders what is going on.  He tells her that he understands that her investigation into the murder of Lazarey has hit a dead end. She is staying pretty calm, which suggests that she isn’t as innocent as she has been making herself out to be in earlier episodes, or even earlier when with Vaughn. She wants to know how Sark knows about the investigation.  He tells her that he knows because he set up Javier Perez, assuming that once the US had him in custody he would be forced to confess what he knows, specifically who killed Lazarey.  Lauren then tells him that it’s the second time that day she has had a gun to her head that day and she actually doesn’t enjoy it.  She then tells him that she assumes that if he had wanted her dead, she would be by now, so get to the point.  Sark smiles at her feistiness, and then pulls out a folder and gives it to her, telling her it’s a wedding present and to open it.   She opens the folder and sees pictures of the Lazarey murder, and wants to know where he got these.  He then tells her that it’s not important, but who is in the picture is what is important.  He goes on to tell her that the woman in the photo is named Julia Thorne, but the name is just an Alias and that she goes by another name, one that Lauren should be quite familiar with.  Lauren then sees a clear picture of the murderer and realizes that it is Sydney.  You can tell by her face that he immediate thought is if Vaughn knows and has been keeping it from her.   Sark then tells her that now she may understand why he has risked coming there to see her himself, that he recently learned that Sydney killed a father that he never knew and that Lauren probably has her own reasons for disliking Sydney.  So he is confident that she will relay the information to the appropriate people.   He then goes to leave, telling her that once he leaves a weight sensitive charge to that is on the bottom of the car will be activated with a 30 minute timer, and so if she tries to go after him before then, the charge will detonate. He then tells her that it has been a pleasure working with her and leaves.
On the plane ride home from Beijing, Sydney has another nightmare about her missing two years, but this one only has the psychedelic colors and a stone angel looking down on her.  She talks to her father about the key and code that Sloane gave to her and Jack tells her that the code was one that Irina created and that it led to an apartment in Rome.  Sydney wonders if she had contact with Irina during that time, to which Jack tells her that if she did, Irina didn’t mention on to him.  They decide that when she returns they will go to Rome together.
The next thing that we see is Vaughn running out to the parking garage worried about Lauren and rushes to her side, upset by the bomb squad surrounding her car, and immediately takes her in his arms and holds her tight. He asks if she is alright and if Sark hurt her.  She tells him that she is fine.   He tells her that he’s sorry that she had to go through that and that they will find him.  But she just stares at him, not worried about finding Sark, and then tells him that Sark told her that Julia Thorne is really Sydney Bristow.  He just looks at her, doesn’t say anything and prepares for the worst.  She stares back at him and then shakes her head and looks as if she is about to cry. Then tells him that she wasn’t sure if he knew, but now she knows. 
Seeing that a fight is going to happen as well as classified information being talked about, he pulls her a little further away from everyone else, and then tells her that he was under orders just like she was.  She wants to know whose orders they were; he tells her that it was Dixon’s.  She becomes upset and figures out that Dixon, Weiss, Jack, basically everyone on their task force knew except her.  He tells her; “That’s not the point.”  But she immediately rebuttals that it’s exactly the point, everyone at the office was keeping the secret from the NSC, the one thing that she has been working so hard to learn, and then wants to know how long he has known. He tells her that he has known for three weeks.   She then yells at him for trying to derail her investigation for three weeks.  He stays fairly calm and tells her; “Lauren, Sydney doesn’t remember any of it.”  This just makes her madder and tells him that he is not to defend Sydney to her.  He then tries to tell her why Dixon gave the order and she interrupts telling him that she is his wife.  She then starts yelling that he kept Sydney’s secret from her and that he chose to protect Sydney over her, something that she refuses to do with him. (What exactly does she refuse to do with him; protect Sydney over him?  Sorry Lauren you’re not making much sense)   He tells her that it isn’t as simple as she is making it out to be.   Then she asks if he still loves Sydney.  This question infuriates Vaughn, and he now begins to raise his voice to Lauren, saying; “Oh Damn it! That’s not what this is about! She is not my wife! You can’t punish her for the fact that she and I had a past. If you report this to Lindsay, Lauren, he’s going to want to know everything she did over those two years.”  She looks at him and tells him that he should. But she is messing with the wrong topic when it comes to Vaughn, he gets more upset and tells her; “No, the only way to access her memory is through a dangerous invasive procedure…”  She tells him that she is aware of the procedure and that they wouldn’t force it upon a U.S. agent.  Her attempts to calm down Vaughn are not working, and he continues; “Lazarey was a Russian Diplomat. All Lindsay has to do is form an extradition agreement with the Russians, and she will be shipped to Moscow, where she has no rights as an American. He’ll run the procedure there.”  Lauren protests this, saying that he couldn’t do it, that she is a CIA agent. But Vaughn interrupts her, a little calmer this time and tells her; “Think about it.  You know better than anyone. Lindsay will not hesitate to break the rules. If he learns about this, Sydney….”  Vaughn stops talking for a moment and just looks at Lauren, who is looking away from him, and then finally looks him in the eye when he stops talking.  He then tells her; “Oh my God, you already reported her.”  Realizing this he didn’t even yell at her, he is completely focused on Sydney now, he can’t even yell, as he is already thinking of how to help Sydney, and how Lauren could do this to him. Lauren just looks at him and tells him; “You followed your orders, I followed mine.”    He looks at her for a quick second with utter disgust and then runs off, completely ignoring her calling after him.
 I actually like this scene, I hate to see Vaughn being so torn apart between the two women, but I have to point out a couple of things.  Vaughn initially shows concern for Laurens safety, but once he learns that she is safe and that Sydney may be in danger, his concern is for Sydney and he doesn’t care if he hurts Laurens feelings trying to get her to see the point.  Once again, we see that even as a married couple, they never reached the ability to fight an even fight as Sydney and Vaughn did.  This fight between Lauren and Vaughn will continue well into the next episode.  Also his response when asked if he still loved Sydney, he never once denied loving Sydney, he also never once with the ordeal tell Lauren that he loves her, just that she is his wife.  That statement right there tells me that of course he still loves Sydney, he never stopped loving Sydney.  Stating that Lauren is his wife, tells me that even if I don’t like it, I’m going to try and make this marriage work, but you messing with Sydney is one thing that I will not take lightly.  I am sure that going into their marriage, Vaughn was up front with Lauren telling her that he did love Sydney and that she will always be a part of him.  No, it can’t be easy for Lauren to have Sydney back in Vaughn’s life, but if she wants to keep her husband, she should know that she can’t mess with Sydney.  Because if Sydney hadn’t died, there would be no chance that Vaughn would have ever even dated her.  Even if it sucks all around, she should know that much.  But overall I love that Vaughn is willing to go to the mat with anyone, including his wife, when it concerns Sydney and that he would leave his wife, when she is in a troubled state to go and save Sydney.
We see Sydney walking through the airport and then hear her phone ring and her pick it up.  She hears Vaughn tell her; “Sydney, it’s me. Don’t go home. The NSC knows everything.  Meet me at terminal one. I’ll explain everything once I pick you up.”  That is the extent of their conversation. But you can see the utter concern that he has for Sydney in that moment.  Nothing else in the entire world matters to him.  I know I mentioned it in the last post, but there he is speaking about home again, and after watching the clip, I know that I mentioned that this could be a time when home is different, but he really is saying, your definition of home is not okay right now, I will pick you up and we’ll figure out what home will be.
We immediately see them in the car and Sydney wants to know how they found out, so Vaughn tells her that Sark told Lauren.  He then goes on to tell her that he has a plane waiting for her that will take her anywhere she wants, but she has to tell him where she wants to go.  It needs to be someplace that she knows well and that she can disappear.   She tells him that if the NSC wants to find her, they will.  He says her name to try and get her to calm down, but she keeps going, she tells him that she was someone else for two years, someone that she doesn’t even remember.  She then asks; “What am I supposed to do now, just spend the rest of my life in hiding?”  Sydney is understandably freaking out, and Vaughn is so concerned for her right now, as well as being upset with his wife. You can see how concerned he is for Sydney just with his response alone; “Between that and a lobotomy, there isn’t a choice.”  She responds telling him; “I can’t keep running forever.”  He tells her; “I’ll do everything I can to make sure you won’t have to.”  Sydney looks at him and finally tells him that she will go to Rome. Considering that she and Jack were going to go and investigate in Rome anyway, she figured she would start there.  Vaughn makes a phone call and then tells them thank you and hangs up as they get out of the car.
At the airfield Vaughn goes and stands next to Sydney and tells her the address of a café in Rome, where a payphone nearby will have a false bottom, where she will find money and a new passport.  Sydney tries to lighten the mood and tells him that it is a good thing that she is already packed.   Vaughn is looking very solemn, wishing that he could change the circumstances or at least go with her.  But he just looks up at her and tells her; “You should go,” even though it is actually the very last thing that he actually wants. Sydney looks as if she is about to cry, she looks around for a moment as if looking for the words she needs to say, then looks down and then right at him.  Then finally she asks; “Vaughn… Why are you doing this? My life is already a disaster. Now yours is too.” She can’t stop looking at him even though she feels so bad, and she is very obviously moments away from crying.  Vaughn, giving her one of his best longing looks tells her; “What happened between us… Everything… The way it is… Isn’t anyone’s fault Sydney.”  He pauses for a moment and just looks like he could kiss her, and Sydney is crying, and looks like she just wants nothing more than to be in his arms stares back at him.  But he continues. “And even though everything’s changed, some things don’t.”   Sydney is now in full on tears as she hears what she has wanted to hear him say ever since coming back. And as Vaughn continues to watch her and thinks about needing to protect her, he looks as if he is about to cry as well.  He then tells her; “I’m not going to lose you twice.” Sydney considers this for a moment and is speechless, then after not being able to find her words, she wraps her arms around Vaughn as if she isn’t going to let go.  Vaughn is happy to take her in his arms; he caresses her shoulder and pulls her as close to him as he can.  She finally pulls back and they stand very close together, with their foreheads almost touching, saying nothing but just looking at each other.  Vaughn even looks as if he is going to go in for a kiss from her.  She can see this and you can see that she wants that kiss, but knows that she can’t have it.  She pulls back a little and tells him thank you.  At which Vaughn removes his arms from hers and they both nod and smile at each other.  They have a few more moments of longing looks and as she nods to him, he picks up her bag and hands it to her.  He looks as if he would like to kiss her, if nothing else just a goodbye kiss on the forehead, but I think Sydney can sense this and doesn’t want to make it harder than it already is to leave him and keeps walking.  As she passes him, you can almost see all the regret from moving on is passing through him and he wishes with everything that he has that they could go back to where they once were.
 I have to say that this scene right there is one of the reasons that I love season three so much and even though so much of the season frustrates me, I still go back to this episode and a few others just for the led up to these moments and for these moments.  Just seeing how much they want to be together and how hard it is for them to follow the rules of their current situation, makes me want to cry every time.  And in case you’re wondering, yes, I am getting over crying during that last scene.  The two of them really will do anything for the other, no matter what the personal or professional risks are.  It’s one of the things that truly make them the perfect couple.
Once Sydney is in Rome, she goes to the apartment that her father decoded from the slip of paper that was with the key.   There she passes a man in the hallway that once he passes her he stops and takes a second look at her, as if confirming it is her.
The next day at the Rotunda, Dixon is talking to Vaughn and tells him that Sydney didn’t check in that morning, and that she isn’t answering her cell phone.  Then he asks Vaughn if he knows where she is, and Vaughn tells him that he doesn’t know.  We then see Jack, and Jack can tell that Vaughn is lying.  Lauren then walks in and glares at Vaughn. Vaughn’s glare back makes me think that Vaughn stayed at work, slept at Weiss’s place, or got a hotel for the night.  He had no desire to see Lauren after what she did to Sydney. But Lauren tells Dixon that she needs to speak with him in his office. Once Lauren and Dixon are gone, Jack approaches Vaughn and says; “The NSC knows that Sydney was responsible for Lazarey’s murder, don’t they? I presume you’re the one who helped her disappear last night.” Vaughn just nods to Jack, and Jack continues; “Tell me, what else are you willing to do to see Sydney through this?”   Vaughn nods and then slightly smiles, and responds; “What did you have in mind?”   You can tell that Vaughn will be 100% on board with whatever Jack’s plans are, no matter the cost.  Proving to Jack that jack was right, that Vaughn does finally understand what lengths one will go to save a person that they love.
In Dixon’s office, Lauren strips Dixon of his authority due to obstructing justice in regards hiding the fact that Sydney killed Lazarey from the NSC and that Lindsay will now be running the task force. She also tells him that the premises are to be locked down and that no one is to leave until Lindsay has arrived to take control.  Dixon asks her if they already have Sydney, she tells him not yet, but that they know where she is. This just adds more questions for me, how did the NSC suddenly know where to look when Sydney just learned of it herself?
 Once Sydney is in the apartment in Rome she is looking for things that look familiar, she lies down on the bed and sees the stone angel that has been haunting her dreams.   She goes to the bathroom to splash her face with water and try to recover.  She then begins to look in the medicine cabinet and finds a prescription for Julia Thorne inside.  When she closes the medicine cabinet, she is captured by some sort of Italian police, she struggles with them, but end up on the floor face down with her hands being handcuffed.  Whoever was in charge called her by name and in Italian placed her under arrest.

  • Items that I found newsworthy…
    • While on her mission, Sydney was compromised and ends up picking up the same type of weapon that her character, Elektra from Daredevil was known for. – Just a fun little tidbit, no relevance to the relationship.
  • Questions that I have…
    • Who really sent Sloane that key? There is no way that Sydney would have trusted Sloane with it over everyone else in her life. – More on this when I go over S3 E11 – Full Disclosure
      • It has to be someone who knew the Cypher test that Irina created, as well as someone who needs her to start finding clues that will lead them to what is hidden in her memory.

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