Friday, August 30, 2013

S3 E8 – Breaking Point

Both Sydney and Vaughn have reached levels of desperation. Sydney is in a secret jail, and Vaughn is willing to work with Sloane to save Sydney.

So in this episode Sydney and Vaughn actually have almost no contact at all.  So much of what will be talked about will be the relationship between Jack and Vaughn.  I don’t think that we really need to go over what happens in general, so I am hoping that I can keep it short.  But I will definitely discuss the devolving of the Vaughn and Lauren relationship.  So even though I may not mention what Sydney is up to, seeing the two men who will undoubtedly do anything for her work out her rescue is an important part to the story.

 Lindsay has stripped Dixon of his title and his clearance, Dixon tells him that he spoke with his superiors and that he explained that it was his decision and that his staff was acting under his direction, and that they are not to be held accountable for his decision.  This did not please Lindsay or Lauren for that matter.  Lindsay tells Vaughn and Dixon that they will be questioned about the situation as well as Dixon.  Then Lindsay goes on to request that they not make it harder than it already is. But Vaughn glared him down and told him that it was too late for that.  He then turns and tells Lauren, that he needs to talk to her right then.  If Lauren thought that Vaughn was upset with him last night, she has no idea the type of fury that her husband now has.

Vaughn leads Lauren into a more private area to speak with her, or more accurately yell at her.  Before he even stops where he wants to talk to her, she starts to defend her actions, telling him that she did what she thought was right with the information that she had.  But Vaughn is not even going to entertain her excuses.  He gets right in her face and tells her; “Sydney is in Lindsay’s custody because of you!” Lauren keeps making excuses, saying that that the Lazarey murder was her case and that Sydney murdered him.  If Vaughn was upset before, he is furious now, and for the first time ever we see Vaughn play dirty, and he is good, he will hit her with one point wait a moment and then hit her again.   He tells Lauren; “Okay, stop! Don’t act like this is your first day on the job.”  She interrupts him to say that Sydney is in NSC’s custody.  But Vaughn is not going to let her make any excuses and continues, “No! She is in Lindsay’s custody.”  Lauren is able to get a few words in and asks if he thinks that Lindsay is unaccountable?  Vaughn just keeps going though; “Lauren, his operation is funded by black money. What the White House expects from him is results.”  Lauren interrupts again, but Vaughn actually lets her get her full sentence in before going at her again, she tells him; “What you’re suggesting is that I willfully participated in an orchestrated cover-up.”  Then Vaughn goes in for the kill by telling her; “No, but I would have hoped you’d be a person about this.”  Now the truth has come out, Vaughn has basically told her that mistreatment of Sydney as far as he is concerned means that you have lost any loyalty that you may have once had with him.  She now knows where she stands and now she is a getting on the angry side and tells Vaughn; “While you clearly underestimate not only my ability to do my job, but also apparently my humanity, you should know that not only do I believe I did the right thing, but the more you talk, the more suspicious I get.”  During this rant of hers, Vaughn just continues to glare at her, he does feel these things about her right now, and he doesn’t even care if she knows it right now. But she goes on saying; “You’re the one who got her out of the country, aren’t you?”  With this accusation, Vaughn just stares at her, almost as if daring her to question his loyalty right now.
 In an attempt to rescue some loyalty back from Vaughn, she goes after another angle, telling him in a much calmer voice; “Do you know what would happen to you if it becomes known that you helped a fugitive evade the federal government?”  Unfortunately her attempt did not work, because Vaughn is still pissed, he just looks right at her and tells her; “I’m not concerned about myself right now.” With that statement Lauren sees exactly how Vaughn feels about the situation, she comes out and tells him that whatever he thinks is going to happen, won’t since she has been asked to write the Whitehouse briefing on Sydney’s interrogation.  So obviously Lindsay isn’t trying to hide anything. Lauren then tells him that he is overreacting to the situation.  She almost had him back until telling him that he was overreacting.  But then he begins to look angry again.  Seeing that her attempts aren’t working, she tells him that she doesn’t know when she will be back, so she’ll see him later, and walks away.

We are clearly watching over the last few episodes how much the Vaughn and Lauren relationship is devolving.  As well as how Vaughn’s loyalties are switching.  As the season opened, he made it very clear to Sydney that he did love her, and that loving her after her death almost killed him, but at the same time he has no regrets about moving on.  The first couple of episodes any scene that had the three of them in it, Vaughn and Lauren were outwardly showing affection towards each other in the presence of Sydney.  Now you can see that weaning, there will still be affectionate moments between them, but Vaughn is much more careful as to not show it in front of Sydney.  The tension of having Sydney working with them, is adding to the marital stress of Vaughn and Lauren, this episode and the last show that clearly.  Vaughn does love Lauren, but having Sydney back, he remembers the connection that he once had with her and realizes that their relationship was built upon a stronger foundation and that nothing will ever be able to pull his instinct to take care of Sydney away. Also ever since he had his dream in the hospital before really waking up, we saw exactly what it is that his heart wants.  He wants to be with Sydney, he wants to go back to that place where even though the world around him sucked, being with Sydney made him happy and he felt like he was home.   Lauren has been insecure about her marriage ever since Sydney came back, but I think that this episode she has learned the hard way that if she wants to keep her marriage, she will have to play nice with Sydney, because the more she tries to pull Sydney and Vaughn apart and not allow them to be friends, the more Vaughn resents her; something that Vaughn makes very clear to Lauren in this episode, as well as the last.  Even though I am a big supporter of the Sydney Vaughn relationship, obviously, I think that for television and entertainment value, the Lauren storyline was imperative.   Everyone loves a happy couple, but seeing them overcome obstacles to become an even happier couple and have that knowledge that nothing can tear them apart makes great television.

Back to the story at hand though, soon after the confrontation with Lauren, Vaughn catches up with Jack and tells him that whatever he is planning, he wants to be a part of it.  Jack tells him, that even if he knew what Vaughn was talking about he would refuse the help anyway.  Jack is thankful for Vaughn getting Sydney out of the country, but he still isn’t a huge fan of Vaughn’s.  Jack still holds bitterness towards how Vaughn ended up moving on after Sydney’s death.  So this is Vaughn’s chance to redeem himself to Jack, and I think that Vaughn is very clear on that fact.  Vaughn tells Jack that he’s already thought of half a dozen scenarios to help Sydney and that Lindsay has to be shut down.  Vaughn knows exactly how Lindsay works, even if his wife doesn’t.  I’d like to think that he is starting to believe that his wife is just as cunning as Lindsay himself, so she doesn’t see it.  Is her innocence act not working anymore?  But after hearing Vaughn’s plea to help, Jack turns and asks Vaughn if he took into account with his scenarios how many federal laws they would have to break.   Vaughn is not going to give up, he really is willing to do anything, he tells Jack that just the fact that Jack is telling him that they would be breaking the law to help her, tells him that Jack already has something planed.  Vaughn then begs to help, and then Vaughn looks beyond scared and begins to tell Jack that if something happens to Sydney, but can’t even finish his sentence, he is so angry and scared for her at the same time.  Seeing this reaction, Jack remembers why he used to trust Vaughn to take care of Sydney in the past and then tells him to meet him in the parking garage in a few minutes.   With Jack’s remarks, Vaughn has a little relief wash over him, he knows that he doesn’t just have to sit around and wait to hear how Sydney was saved, but he will be able to work with the one person who cares about Sydney as much as he does, and he knows from experience that Jack will do anything to save Sydney.
 Jack and Vaughn are sitting on a bench and Vaughn wonders who they are waiting for to assist them.  Jack tells him that he has called Sloane in to help.  This baffles Vaughn to say the least, especially as he knows exactly how much Sydney detests Sloane.  But Jack being the ultimate strategist tells Vaughn that once Sydney is broken free the two of them will be the prime suspects.  Enlisting Sloane will help them be able to place the blame on the Covenant. But Jack also proceeds to tell Vaughn that he doesn’t necessarily trust him either. They approach Sloane and they go over the beginnings of their plan and how to get it started and then agree to meet back at that location in three hours.  As they prepare to go their separate ways, Sloane reminds Jack of something that he said in the second season, telling him that he said that they would work together again, which only bring a smile to Sloane’s face and utter disgust from Jack and Vaughn.

We do see Lauren in the helicopter watching Lindsay and wondering if Vaughn could be right about him.  But is somewhat reassured when Lindsay tells her that he wants her to make sure that her report shows the ethical treatment of Sydney.  But at the facility after Lindsay has watched as Sydney is tortured, Lauren stops him and tells him that she thought that she was there the observe.  Lindsay tells her that she will, at least as much as possible, but since his interrogation includes classified material, Lauren won’t be able to see much of it.   Lauren then asks how she is supposed to write a report on an investigation that she isn’t part of, and Lindsay tells her that they can about it.  Lauren then grows a small backbone and tells him that if she is going to write a report on the interrogation of Sydney, she has to see how Sydney is being treated.  Lindsay then reveals his true motivations for bringing Lauren along with him.  He asks her, how she thinks Sydney knew to flee the country, before she was even aware that the NSC wanted to take her into custody, how she had plane tickets and a fake passport.  He then tells her that he doubts that she wants him looking into who helped her escape.   She realizes that legally he needed a witness, and blackmailing her was the easiest way to get that.  He then tells her to go back to her office and write the report.    Later as she is attempting to write her report after her initial report was too detailed for Lindsay, she hears some commotion going on and goes out into the hallway to see what is going on.  She sees that Sydney has escaped, and that they are now beating her and shocking her back into submission.  I think that seeing this and her discussions with Lindsay have made her decide that she really hates her boss, and that she now can go back to Vaughn and work her way back into his good graces.

In a park Jack and Vaughn meet up with an old contact of Jack’s, Brill, that Sloane suggested to put the tactical unit together.  Upon the introductions Brill asks if Vaughn is Bill Vaughn’s son, Vaughn tells him yes, and Brill tells him that he was a good man.  So now we have Vaughn already being concerned with Sydney’s safety and well-being, and then is reminded of his father. And since his father’s watch, which he was told he could set his heart by, stopped when he met Sydney, he wants to get her back to him as soon as possible. Jack tells Brill that Sloane is putting together an operation and asks if he wants to take part.  Brill then replies with; “Look who’s putting the band back together.”   With that statement Vaughn looks at him curiously.  This is another instance where I am seeing odd clues place themselves together.  Was there a point back when Sloane still worked for the CIA and wasn’t a bad guy, that Jack, Sloane, Brill and Bill Vaughn all worked together?  Is that what he meant?  Michael Vaughn taking the place in the group where his father would’ve been, Sloane never admits to knowing Bill Vaughn, but it would make sense.   Knowing this information, does make more sense as to why when putting the APO together, Sloane chooses Vaughn to be a part of it, not just because he and Sydney work so well together, but because he once worked with his father.  Makes you wonder.  However, Jack and Brill go over the mission specs and the cost and agree to meet later.  As Jack and Vaughn are walking away, Vaughn tells him that he just agreed to pay him $2 million, but Jack corrects him and tells him $3 million.  If Vaughn wondered how committed to saving Sydney Jack was, he has no doubts now.

 Jack then takes Vaughn to a storage unit, but nothing like Micro self –storage from back in the SD-6 days.   This storage unit is filled with all types of weapons and other supplies.  Vaughn looks around and wonders what the place is, but Jack just tells him that it’s his storage.  We then see Jack open a safe and pull out bundles of money wrapped in plastic.  Vaughn takes a closer look at the money that Jack is pulling out and then says; “The fact that you’re even letting me see this place means it’s not your only one is it?”  Jack then tells Vaughn that he’s smarter than he looks.  Vaughn is starting to see that he is getting back in good graces with Jack and that makes him smile.

 While getting the blueprints for the facility that Sydney is being placed in, Jack is inside getting ready to make copies while Vaughn is stuck alone with Sloane.  Vaughn is not too pleased about being stuck with Sloane, especially when Sloane takes the opportunity to use his fine manipulation skills and delivers a line or two to mess with Vaughn’s head. But Vaughn is focused enough that he doesn’t fall for Sloane’s attempt to manipulate Vaughn’s emotions.  Sloane seems to only be successful with this attempt when it comes to Lauren; maybe Sloane knows more about Lauren situation than he ever lets on.  We know that he does have an ultimate endgame to his humanitarian game play.  But the mission to get the blueprints is mostly successful, that is until Jack is walking out of the building and the office that they are infiltrating figures out that they have been made and they start shooting at Jack, but Sloane jumps in front of him to take the bullet for him.  One move that I never saw coming.

Although the conversation is a little stiff, there are some nice moments while Jack is operating on Sloane.  Vaughn even makes the remark that he didn’t know that Jack wore glasses, but Jack tells him that it is only during surgery that he does.  Vaughn tells Jack that he needs to go download the blueprints, but they will still need the codes to get in.  Jack tells him to try Marshall, since he should be able to log on to the NSC archives from his station.   Vaughn remarks that it may be a little tricky with all the NSC agents around the Rotunda.  Then the best moment of the episode happens, Jack shows some emotion, albeit in a roundabout way.  He tells Vaughn; “Yes, if only Marshall had a well-trained CIA operative to assist him.”  As Jack says this he looks up at Vaughn and gives him a semi smile and returns to working on Sloane.  Vaughn realizes what Jack has just said and meant with his remark, and tells Jack; “You’re starting to like me again.”  Jack looks up to Vaughn without much expression, but to make it clear that Vaughn is correct.    Jack doesn’t express his feeling very well, and everyone knows this, especially Vaughn seeing how affected Sydney has been by his lack of emotion towards her at times.  So for Jack to refer to him as a well-trained CIA operative is a huge thing for Jack to say to Vaughn; Jack seeing how much Vaughn still cares for Sydney and how much he is willing to risk for her really does put Jack back in Vaughn’s corner.  We’ll see that for the rest of the season, Jack stops playing dirty to get back at Vaughn.  They may disagree, but Jack will help him whenever possible, even if it doesn’t appear that he is helping.  But I love Vaughn’s response as well, he knows that as far as jack is concerned, Vaughn getting married, ruined the relationship that they once had, and Vaughn is happy to see it returning.
Back at the Rotunda, Vaughn is working with Marshall to find the codes, Marshall is very excited to hear that Vaughn is working on breaking her out; he also likes being part of the team that helps.    But once they get far enough into the program where Marshall almost has the codes, they find that all of the records have been deleted.  As Vaughn and Marshall ponder why all of the facilities records have been removed, Lauren walks into Marshall’s office, and Vaughn is not happy to see her.  Marshall sees the tension in the room and decides that he needs to leave.  Lauren explains to him that he was right about Lindsay, and that Lindsay only wanted her there to write a report whitewashing the whole thing.  She goes on to tell him that she knows that he must be working on something, and that she wants to help.   Vaughn stays silent, and just glares at her.  Personally I don’t think that she actually has Sydney’s best interest in mind, but is just trying to get back on his good side.  But I also think that after hearing from Marshall that they won’t be able to get the codes, he has to accept her help since she can get them in.

The one detail about Sydney’s torture that I will talk about is when Lindsay plays on her one weakness;  as he makes her watch another prisoner get tortured to make her give up what the code says.  She tells him the coordinates that the code they have been trying to torture out of her, just so they will leave the other prisoner alone.  Then once Lindsay has the code, he tells the prisoner, well done, and we find out that he wasn’t a prisoner at all, but a man named Schapker, that works for Lindsay.  Schapker tells her that her personal file revealed that she had one major weakness, “Empathetic suffering is harder for you to sustain than physical torture.”  Then he tells her thanks for caring.  Then Lindsay tells her that there is only one thing left to do, and they will have the treatment to find out what happened in the last two years ready in about an hour or so.  Even though I am not a fan of Lauren’s, at least she can show a degree on empathy towards others, but pretty much everything that comes out of Lindsay’s mouth pisses me off.
 As they are prepping to infiltrate the facility, Brill makes a comment that he really hopes that their man on the inside knows what he is doing, Vaughn makes the remark that she does.  So it looks like they have worked out some of their problems, at least enough that Vaughn trusts her enough to pull this off as well as defend her. But seeing Lauren react to seeing the prisoner, Schapker, which Sydney was interacting with be one of Lindsay’s men obviously makes her even more upset with Lindsay, and her hatred for Lindsay is overriding her hatred for Sydney at the moment.  She has also learned that to do her other job, she needs Vaughn to still want her, and messing with Sydney will only mess that up.  But Lauren places a charge in the security room which takes down all the monitors and places the facility in a reverse lockdown, locking all the guards in their stations and opening the main gates for Vaughn and Jack’s team to move in. Once Schapker realizes what is going on, he immediately blames Lauren, walks over to her and punches her, knocking her down to the ground.   Jack and Vaughn end up finding Sydney in the infirmary/torture room and shoot tranquillizers into everyone in the room, then Vaughn and Jack work together to free her, they both help her walk out.  However Schapker has managed to get out of the security room and is shooting at them.  Suddenly he goes down and we see that Lauren is the one who shot him.  Her marksmanship should be a clue since she usually pretends not to have any ability in this area.

As the group exits the building, Sydney, Jack, Vaughn and Lauren head for the helicopter waiting for them while the rest of the group goes for the truck.  Sydney sees that Sloane is in the helicopter and immediately questions Jack, but he tells her that he is with them and to get in. They all get in and take off, Vaughn comforts Lauren as she is acting all shaken up over shooting someone.  Finally Sydney tells them that all they wanted was a code deciphered.  Then she goes on to say that she gave Lindsay the wrong coordinates, because she didn’t know what else to do.   Jack takes her in his arms and tells her that she made it out.  Jack turns and gives a thank you smile in the direction of Vaughn and then Sloane.  We then see Sloane very happy to have Sydney safe.  Overall a great episode, and even though Sydney and Vaughn didn’t have much to do with each other, they aren’t even seen on screen at the same time.  It definitely shows us that Vaughn is going to have a hard time from here on out sorting out his priorities from his responsibilities.

  • Questions that I had… 
    • Since Sloane is allergic to morphine, once Jack and Vaughn learned of this, once Sloane turned against them, why didn’t they use this knowledge to their advantage?

During the second season, you could see that Vaughn and Jack started to become friendlier towards each other.  Jack even worked with Sydney and Sark to save Vaughn, and then seeing Jack waiting for Vaughn to wake up in the hospital.  Even if Jack wasn’t overly found of the idea that Vaughn was dating Sydney, Jack never said anything that proved that he disliked them dating until finding out that Vaughn was married in season three.  As I mentioned before, I do believe that Jack did give Vaughn his blessing to ask Sydney to marry him. As well as the two of them working together at some point to look into Sydney’s murder.  With this connection growing stronger up until Jack finding out that Vaughn gave up on Sydney and broke her heart.  I really do think that in some twisted way, Jack looked at Vaughn as a son that he never had, and seeing how much he wanted to protect Sydney as well, even going along with keeping secrets from her when asked, he approved of Vaughn 100%.  Vaughn on the other hand, also started feeling similar feelings, having lost his own father so long ago; Vaughn craved that approval from a fatherly figure.  They butted heads on many occasions, but overall, if Vaughn wanted real advice, and not the type of advice that Weiss could give him, he sought out Jack.  Although Vaughn even admits to never really feeling acceptance from Jack, until season five Jack did accept him.  But after season three ended, Jack saw how similar he and Vaughn really were, and that scared Jack.  But from this episode and on, you can see Vaughn searching for that approval from Jack more and more.  There are even multiple scenes where Jack tells Vaughn that they are more alike than either of them would like to admit, and even though Vaughn is bitter towards Jack’s suggestions after these conversations, he still has them in the back of his mind and takes his advice to heart when appropriate.

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