Wednesday, September 18, 2013

S3 E17 - The Frame

I should probably give you fair warning that I have a love/hate relationship with this episode before we begin.  For multiple reasons as well, the first being the obvious of how it affects the Sydney and Vaughn relationship, which I will into later.  The second reason is that since it is the first episode where The Passenger becomes a huge topic and how closely Sydney is intertwined with The Passenger it makes for summarizing the episode without talking about the current case a little hard.  So while I do look forward to going over the fantastic Sydney and Vaughn part of this, I also know that I will end up writing more than I should so that I can give them the full justice that they deserve.  Since what everyone is doing around them this episode, will eventually trickle down to affecting their outcome.  The final reason, is that while the love the overall writing of the episode, down to the point that one line gives me goose bumps thinking of how great it is written, it is clear that someone missed watching a good chunk of the last season and it makes it hard for me to believe.  But I will go over that more when we get to that point.
The episode begins with Vaughn talking about his marriage woes on a jog with Weiss.  He tells Weiss how Lauren’s parents have been together for years and are still happy and love spending time together.  But on Vaughn’s one day off in a month, he spent the day at the hockey rink, playing hockey with High School kids.  Weiss finds a bench to take a breather, and Vaughn thinks for a moment, swallows hard and goes to sit next to Weiss.  He doesn’t speak immediately, but then asks Weiss; “If I need it, can I crash on your couch?”  Yes!  Vaughn is admitting to not wanting to be with Lauren anymore.  Weiss, tells him yeah, and makes a joke.  Although not being completely unfeeling, he does tell Vaughn that he’s sorry, implying that the whole situation sucks.   Since they are guys, that is the end of the conversation, but they were interrupted anyway by Vaughn’s phone ringing.
 The phone call that Vaughn received leads him to telling Sydney some information about the box that she took to exchange with the Covenant, which had her mother’s name on it.  Vaughn has a led on the box, not where the box is, but a map to the key that will open it.  Sydney tells Vaughn that the DSR had it for two years and wasn’t able to find information on it, we then see that Lauren is also there and she makes the comment that the Covenant probably won’t be able to get into the box without the keys either.  Vaughn tells her that, that is why they have to get it first, and that he is getting the Intel from an asset in Mexico City.  Dixon then appears and tells him that a plane is waiting at the airfield.  Sydney being very keen on finding more information as to why her mother’s name is on it tells Vaughn and Dixon that she wants to go with him.  Lauren speaks up and asks if that is really a good idea, telling her that Sloane was clear that whatever is in the box poses a threat to her.  Sydney tells Lauren her reasons for wanting to go, and that Sloane could be lying.  So Sydney and Vaughn take a quick trip to Mexico.

Once in Mexico City Sydney and Vaughn meet with Vaughn’s contact, who tells them the legend of the Rambaldi box.  He also tells them that the Rambaldi box is of particular interest to (evil) people because it was “rumored to contain the strain of a plague-like bioweapon capable of killing millions.”  With this statement, Vaughn looks at Sydney, concerned for her safety now.  Even if they don’t want to believe in all of the Rambaldi myths, it is hard not to with all that they have seen and experienced together.  So Vaughn knowing Sydney’s apparent place among Rambaldi followers and hearing that the contents of the box could harm Sydney, he is very concerned for her.  The map, is hidden within the etchings of a crystal, the downside is that Bomani has the crystal now.  Sydney asks what he knows about the bioweapon.  He tells her, that he only knows that the Covenant refers to it as The Passenger.   The last Sydney had heard that name was when Lazarey was in the ambulance and he asked her if she knew about The Passenger.  Because he wasn’t breathing well, she told him they would talk about it at the hospital, but Lauren ruined that one.  So it is something that makes her think.  Before they leave they find out that Bomani is using Omnifam vehicles, Sloane founded and ran Omnifam.  So when they returned Sydney went to visit Sloane and found out that the vehicle does have GPS and he will give her the codes.
After spending the day in Mexico City with Sydney, Vaughn and Lauren are going to have a nice dinner together.  Or at least that is what Lauren thinks, Vaughn has another idea, he just wanted to be in public I assume.  As their dinner begins, Vaughn is perusing the menu, knowing what will happen at the end of dinner and is being awfully quiet.  So Lauren attempting conversation, or rather her own Intel gathering, asks him how his trip went.  He simply tells her that it was good.  Obviously not the answer she was looking for, she continues asking what happened.  I love Vaughn’s response, he can see her wanting details, but either he suspects something that he isn’t admitting to, or he doesn’t want to talk to Lauren about anything that involves Sydney.  I’m okay with either answer.  But he tells her; “You know, we… Uh… We got what we needed to get, and we’re just waiting to see how it pans out.”  Lauren is not getting her way tonight, first a quiet husband, and then no answers.  So she tries another attempt that fails her even more than she could’ve imagined.  She places a box in front of him, but since his mind is on what to order so he can get the night over with, she has to pull down his menu and tell him that she got him something while he was gone and that he should open it.  She looks so proud of herself too, it’s almost painful, I almost feel sorry for her, but not really.  He opens it up and sees that it is his father’s watch, but it is working now.  You can tell just by the way that he is looking at the watch that he could kill her.  While she is apologizing for forgetting the anniversary of his father’s death, and why she got it fixed.  He just stares at the watch.  He won’t even look at her he is so upset.  It is taking every ounce of restraint he has not to explode.  It is in that moment, before he says anything, that you can tell that while Lauren knew about his relationship with Sydney and how distraught he was over losing her, he never shared many personal things.  I was pretty sure that he hadn’t explained the watch and its importance to him, besides that his father gave it him, to Lauren when we saw the episode with him staring at his watch in the dark.  But after watching his reaction more closely this time, seeing how upset he is, tells me that he has kept anything Sydney related close to his heart so that she wouldn’t be a part of those memories. It could also be why he found his watch in that same episode.  Maybe he put it somewhere where it wouldn’t be a constant reminder of Sydney.
Anyway, when Lauren finishes talking, Vaughn finally looks up at her and shakes his head at her.  He tells her; “This isn’t working.”  After ruining one of his best memories of Sydney and his father’s advice in one swoop, he is no longer waiting until after dinner. Of course Lauren doesn’t get it.  She doesn’t even notice how upset he is, she assumes that he is talking about the newly fixed watch.  But Vaughn is quick to tell her, “Not the watch, us. This isn’t working for me. I’m not happy…. I don’t know. I guess for a while, I thought I could be again. … But I don’t think that’s going to happen…. I think we should separate.”  Lauren asks if it is about Sydney, and he tells her that it isn’t.  She pretends to be all upset and surprised, asking if Sydney gave him an ultimatum.  He tells her that it is about them and their problems.  To which she tells him that she is their problem, and that if he’s going to destroy her life, he can at least be honest about it.  He doesn’t respond to this and she walks away to call Sark and tell him that they have a problem.
So I just want to talk about this for one minute (or two or three.) We all know that Sydney is the main reason that Vaughn wants to separate. But if you listen to the speech that he gives Lauren, we hear more than just the fact that he no longer wants to be with Lauren.  We find out that he isn’t happy.  That even when he met her, dated her, and even married her, it was in an attempt to find the happiness he had once had with Sydney again.  So back at the beginning of the season, when he told Sydney that he didn’t regret moving on with his life, he knew from the moment that he saw Sydney, and that his trip to Hong Kong wasn’t going to be in vain, that he wanted more than anything to be with her again.  He has tried to be a good husband and to be loyal to Lauren, but you can see through the season that when he is with her, he isn’t the same person.  Now I could go on and on about this subject, I really could (I just deleted 2 paragraphs) and so I decided that I actually need to devote an entire post to it.  So once I finish with this episode, the next post will be about Vaughn and my opinion of what life was really like for him with Lauren. Just as an example, I will have more in the next episode, but this is from S3 E3; Reunion, the first episode that all three of them are in the same room together.  But look at the way that Vaughn smiles back at Lauren versus the way he smiles back at Sydney.  The smile itself isn't too different, but if you look at the whole face you can see the big differences.  He has a polite smile for Lauren, while for Sydney it appears as if his entire face smiles, and his eyes twinkle when looking at her.
Back to the current story though, I don’t usually talk about Lauren and Sark, but unfortunately this episode does call for a little since it directly affects Vaughn. I will attempt to keep this short though.  When Lauren leaves Vaughn, after not putting up much of a fight, she goes straight to Sark to tell him of the night’s events.  Sark wonders if she has been made, she tells him that if he knew she was Covenant he would arrest her and not break up with her. (She doesn’t know Jack well, does she?)  On that note, Sark makes the comment of how Vaughn must have grown tired with her and due to Sydney.  Lauren tells him that her access goes past her husband, insinuating that she can still be a mole within the CIA and not be married to Vaughn.  But Sark tells her that she needs to keep him close, since he is central to the CIA finding The Passenger.   Not happy about, but knowing that he is partially right, Lauren wants to know what he proposes.  He tells her; “The last time Sydney Bristow induced your husband to stray from a committed relationship, he was dating Alice Williams. When her father died, Vaughn recommitted.”  By the end of the conversation it is decided that Lauren, against her wishes will have to kill her father. 

Now this is the scene that really bugs me with the writers and keeping tabs on the storyline, as well as deleting a scene in the future that helps make sense of a few things.  I will come back to this scene when I go over that deleted scene in S3 E20; Blood Ties.  But back in Season two, I can’t guarantee that he went back to Alice as soon as S2 E3; Cipher when he watches Sydney and Will interacting, but I am pretty sure that it was soon after that.  Since we first hear that Alice and Vaughn are back together from Alice herself in S2 E7; Counteragent.  But Alice’s father doesn’t die until S2 E10; The Abduction.  Then Vaughn and Sydney go on their first date in Nice, two episodes later.  So Vaughn didn’t recommit when Alice’s father died, he maybe held in a little longer because he felt bad, but that would be it.  He was also only with Alice so that he wasn’t alone, if you want my opinion.  He was dating her again as a distraction until he could be with Sydney.
Back at the Rotunda, Jack is doing some checking up on Lauren.  After her goodbye to Vaughn that he overheard, and seeing how adamant Sloane is about keeping his end of the plea agreement, Jack is convinced that Lauren is the mole.  Plus as I have said before, he does feel a connection with Vaughn and after what Jack went through with Laura/Irina, he wants to save Vaughn from the heartbreak of living with it as long as he did himself.

Seeing as Lauren’s father is on the committee that is in charge of finding the mole within the CIA, Jack does pay him the courtesy of at least bringing it to his attention that his own daughter is the mole before arresting her.  While Senator Reed does not believe what Jack is saying and fights with him over it, Jack simply tells him that they are preliminary results, but over 50% of her activity matches with known times that the Covenant had throated their plans and that after reviewing the files, if the senator has any questions to give him a call.

The next briefing at the Rotunda is missing Lauren now though, until they know for sure, Jack is definitely going to make sure that she is not involved with anything regarding The Passenger knowing how it could affect Sydney.  During the briefing, Dixon explains where they believe the map that Bomani took is being held.  Explaining that Sydney will go in with an alias and that Vaughn and Weiss will go in as back up.  After hearing this, Vaughn is once again excited to go on a mission with Sydney and Weiss.  He feels somewhat liberated, for the first time in months.  He can enjoy a mission with his two favorite people, without feeling guilty about Lauren.
While on the mission, once Sydney does her thing to gain access to the floor that they need to get to, Vaughn is gets ready to leave the van to go and meet her. They are able to get up the second floor where the crystal map is being stored, but once they reach it, Weiss lets them know that they have triggered a silent alarm.  So it is no surprise when a gun fight ensues between Sark / Bomani and Sydney/Vaughn.  Although none of the keys players actually get shot.  Vaughn once again, looking to protect Sydney tells her to go to the door while he provides cover.  They get out into the party area and Vaughn sees a guard before Sydney does, but all it takes it for him to yell Syd in a certain tone, and Sydney knows exactly what he is telling her.  So she was able to duck and get her gun ready.  They are being shot at and Sydney is shooting back.  When Vaughn reaches her, he tells her to take his gun, so she begins shooting with both guns while Vaughn gathers the curtains that are strung across the room for decoration.  The complete trust that they have in one another is something that always gets me.  He tells her that they are going to go over the side of the balcony.  Without hesitation Sydney is perfectly fine with trusting Vaughn to keep hold of her as the go over.  Also Vaughn trusts that as he guides them over, Sydney will provide any needed cover to get them over.  Plus seeing them enfolded around each other as they go over isn’t too bad either.
On the plane ride back to the Rotunda, Sydney and Weiss talk about how the Covenant may have already found out how to read the crystal, so they need to figure out a way to get to where it leads before them.  Weiss excuses himself to make a call to make sure base is ready to read the crystal.  While they are talking, Vaughn is staying relatively quiet and looks pensive, as well as watching Sydney.  Once Weiss leaves, Vaughn removes his earpiece and prepares himself for what he is about to tell Sydney.  He takes a deep breath and then turns to Sydney and tells her; “Lauren and I are separating.”  He doesn’t necessarily smile as he says this, but you can see the happiness in his eyes as he looks at Sydney.  You can see the relief that he has as he tells the news to the one person that matters.  Sydney looks at him, speechless and almost afraid, for her this is a dream come true, but she is still afraid that it’s too good to be true.  Without a response, Vaughn goes on to tell her that when they get home, he’ll be on Weiss’s couch.  He looks so relieved to be able to finally tell her this, and is just waiting for a reply.  Sydney does finally reply, asking; “Are you sure that’s what you really want?”   She is still thinking of his words to her, telling her that he doesn’t regret moving on with his life.  As well as the disappointment she felt when he went into her arms after arriving back from North Korea.  He continues to look at her, and tells her that it is what he wants.  But even after he says it, she is still a little hesitant.  She has been burned a few too many times recently, and doesn’t want to get her hopes up.
When Sydney and Vaughn return to the Rotunda with the crystal that holds the map, it turns out that it wasn’t the only Crystal map.  Sloane had already acquired two of them and had given them to the CIA as part of his pardon agreement.  But Marshall tells them that with all his research, he wasn’t able to determine where the map led them to.  So they go to Sloane for assistance, he tells them that they were only looking for where the map would match up on land.  But Earth doesn’t only consist of land; they need to broaden their search.  They go back to Marshall and they find where they need to go.  It is inside of an underwater rock formation off the coast of Okinawa.  Sydney looks to Vaughn as Dixon explains the logistics of the mission, and he smiles and nods to her.  Once again they are happy to be able to go on a mission together without the Lauren barrier between them.
After sending Sydney and Vaughn on their way, Dixon runs into Jack.  Jack tells him that he just received a call from Lauren’s father and that he wants to meet.  Dixon tells him that they owed him the courtesy of informing him in advance, but as soon as the conversation is over he wants Lauren taken into custody.  My only big problem with this is why when they first suspected her they didn’t start tracking her movements.  Isn’t that what they usually do with the bad guys?  To me it seems like it would be pretty easy to begin listening to all of her phone calls and putting a tracker on her car.

Before Jack reaches the senator though, Lauren gets there first.  Her father expresses his disappointment in her, but then gives her an idea of how to get out of being the mole and places the blame on him.  Lauren goes to kill him, but then can’t go through with it.  She backs up and wonders what she is doing.  Her mother comes into the room and wonders what she is doing and tells Lauren to give her the gun.  Then Lauren’s mother does the unthinkable, she shoots the Senator and tells Lauren that Sark thought that she might back out.  So Lauren and her mother both work for the Covenant, only Lauren didn’t know about it.

Next thing we see is Jack at the Reed’s home and Lauren’s mother is giving him a story about how the Senator told her that he worked for the Covenant and that since he asked Lauren to do something’s, Lauren would also be implicated, and then he killed himself.  Jack seems skeptical, but doesn’t say anything.  But Lauren’s fake remorse, and then her quick smile when no one is looking is what makes me the most made I think.

Over the Sea of Japan, Sydney and Vaughn are dropped off by helicopter to dive into the underwater caves to retrieve the keys that will open the Rambaldi Box.  As they are about to enter, Marshall tells them, as well as Dixon that they will be out of radio contact until they come out of the cave.  Once in the cave, they talk about how the followers of Rambaldi have kept the cave fortified over the years, to keep Rambaldi’s secrets safe.  Vaughn simply tells her that they will have to work harder next time and smiles.  Back at the Rotunda Marshall and Dixon see that an unexpected signal has shown up in the area that Sydney and Vaughn are in.  It turns out to be a helicopter with four men inside.  Dixon tries to warn Sydney and Vaughn, but Marshall reminds him that they are out of radio signal and won’t be able to hear him.
Back in the cave, as Sydney and Vaughn are removing the separate keys and storing them, Vaughn turns to Sydney and tells her; “You know what? These never have to see the surface.”  Sydney asks him what he means and he replies by telling her; “If what’s in the Rambaldi box is a danger to you, and these keys are the only way to open it, maybe they should be destroyed.”   Vaughn knows that their mission is to recover the keys and to bring them back to the CIA, but he loves Sydney so much and will do anything to protect her.  Sydney looks at him seeing the concern in his eyes and tells him; “Thank you for saying that.”  And it looks like they could share a really nice moment right after that, but before anymore can be said, Bomani enters the cave and tells them to put down their weapons.
Bomani tells Sydney that she reminds him of her mother, and that she would be proud that he got the keys from Sydney, because The Passenger is Irina’s legacy.  Bomani then instructs Sydney to bring him the satchel containing the keys.  Vaughn does not like the idea of Sydney getting any closer to Bomani than necessary, so it’s not surprising to see him looking for a way to distract his men, so that Sydney has a good chance of making it, as well as not giving up the keys.  A gun fight begins and Sydney and Bomani begin fighting as well.  Vaughn was able to take out the other men on Bomani’s team, but Bomani was able to escape and take the satchel with him.  Sydney tells Vaughn that Bomani has the keys so they begin looking for a way out since the oxygen tanks have been shot out, as well as other items for them to get out being cut up and ruined.  They end up using one of the broken tanks that is still full, but won’t work in assisting them to breathe as they get out of the cave.  But they can use it as a propulsion device.  So Sydney climbs on to Vaughns back and he tells her to hold on tight.  They force to tank to release the compressed air and they manage to get out of the cave and into the open water where they can swim to the top.
As they make their way back home, both a little depressed that Bomani was able to get away with the keys, they are on the cargo plane baffled that somehow Bomani was able to just disappear because none of the satellite feeds picked up where he went. They share a moment of silent frustration with the situation, and then Sydney takes a deep breath and says his name tentatively.  He looks at her, and sees the look on her face, and he knows that this new topic will be personal and his face softens from the frustration and focuses all his energy on her. Sydney looks around, looking for her words, and then finally tells him; “I am sad for you… For you and Lauren… That you have to go through this. But I’m also hopeful…. That’s what scares me.”   Vaughn is silent while she says this, and you can tell that part of him is also sad that he has to go through this, but when she tells him that she is also hopeful, his eyes perk up because in the back of his mind, he does wonder if he has let her down too many times, and if she will take him back.  And hearing this comforts him.  They both share a small smile, then Vaughn tells her that he understands.  There is another moment where they just look into each other’s eyes and ponder what will happen.  Vaughn then looks down, and prepares to say something, but Sydney thinking that his looking away is a sign that being hopeful could still be a bad thing, looks away and down herself.  Then Vaughn looks up and tells her; “When we get home…”  With those few words Sydney looks back at him hopeful again, yet still afraid, Vaughn goes on to say; “You want to get a cup of coffee?”   As he says this, you can see him start to smile.  It excites him to think that he is finally able and free to ask Sydney out on a date.  Sydney looks at him for moments, and then nods her head and tells him, “Yeah.”  I was so excited to see them have a moment of happiness together.  He's so excited to ask her out again, and she is so happy that she can say yes, but of course it can't last.
At the Rotunda, Dixon meets with Lauren for a moment, offers his condolences and refuses her fake resignation saying that it wasn’t her fault that she followed her father’s instructions.  When she goes to leave, she tells him to excuse her because she would like to go find her husband.  She doesn’t even consider the fact that he just told her that he doesn’t want to be with her and that he’s not happy.  She just assumes that since Vaughn is such a nice guy, he won’t refuse her now that she is grieving.  Jack had come into the room part way through their meeting and asks if the forensics checked out, and Dixon tells him that yes, the official cause of death was suicide.  Jack doesn’t seem convinced and Dixon sees that, so he asks if he accepts it.  Jack tells Dixon that right now, he has no reason not to.  But he is still suspicious of Lauren.  He isn’t going to back down either.
Upon the return of Sydney and Vaughn to the Rotunda, while they seem happy with coming in together and a hopeful future, they look ahead and see a crowd of their friends gathered around Lauren.  Vaughn wonders what is going on, but not enough to walk over and see for himself.    Sydney on the other hand, knows that something is going on that will cause Vaughn to go back to Lauren and you can see the fear in her eyes.  Weiss comes over and tells them what happened.  Vaughn takes a moment to speak with Lauren and then finally gives in and gives her a hug.  Weiss stays with Sydney, knowing that Vaughn is once again going to break her heart.  Sydney watches as he gives in to Lauren and hugs her anyway.  Sydney isn’t completely heartless; she does feel bad for Lauren.  But the timing seems too good to be true for her, and for Sydney the look Lauren gives her when she is in Vaughn’s arms confirms Sydney’s suspicion that Lauren is getting her way, which only makes her less empathetic.
Later that night as Vaughn lies in bed, he is unable to sleep.  He doesn’t want to be with Lauren, even if she is hurting, but he feels obligated to do so.  He wants to be with Sydney, and he can’t stop thinking about how much he must have hurt her again that day.  He is literally being torn apart by what he feels he needs to do and what he wants to do.   Vaughn looks over and checks to make sure that Lauren is asleep and then picks up his phone and calls Sydney.  He apologizes to her about how he was pulled away from her earlier.   Sydney, while not happy about it, is still polite and asks how Lauren is doing.  Vaughn tells Sydney that Lauren is having a hard time having to deal with her father’s death and betrayal at the same time.  Sydney thinks on this for a moment and then asks the question that she is terrified to find out the answer to, she asks him; “Are you at Eric’s?”   He pauses before answering, but then tells her no.  Her faces immediately starts to breakdown at this, and is trying not cry.  She tells him; “I see… Well I…. I guess we won’t be getting that cup of coffee.”  It is taking everything she has not to cry over the phone to him.  Then we go back to see Vaughn, and he is heartbroken as well, he knows how much pain he is putting Sydney through.  Struggling to keep his own composure, he tells her; “No, we’re not…”   Knowing that she can’t hold back the tears any longer, crying as she tells him; “Okay, I’m going to go.”  We see the screen turn back to him as he says; “Syd…” But she has already hung up.   He pulls down the phone from his face, but can’t bear to hang it up quite yet.  He looks towards the bed with resentment and sadness. Then we see Sydney fully break down in tears.  Vaughn eventually goes back to bed, but you can see how conflicted he is.  He really wishes that he could change things right now.  As he lies back down though, the camera then turns to look at Lauren.  We see her open her eyes and we can see that she was awake for the whole conversation.  She has this evil maniacal look on her face as she sees how well the plan worked out for her.
This right here is why I love and hate this episode so much.  They are so close to finally being happy again.  Vaughn even talks of once they get home, getting the cup of coffee.  This was a reference that I had missed in my post about home.  But Vaughn is finally able to think about what life will be like being back with Sydney and Lauren’s manipulations end up ruining it.  I just feel so bad for Vaughn.  I mean I feel bad for Sydney too, but Vaughn is the one who is being taken advantage of.  Lauren doesn’t even want to be with him, but she is only putting him through this so she can have better access to him.  I can easily understand why he becomes so obsessed with finding her and wanting to destroy her in the upcoming episodes.

  • Items that I found Noteworthy… 
    • Even though the leak was confirmed as being Senator Reed, for now, they still aren’t planning on releasing Sloane.  Because they found that Sloane was working with Senator Reed; so Sloane will be executed in two weeks.

1 comment:

  1. The only thing I can say about this episode:
    That Lauren had more loyalty to the Covenant than for Vaughn and her father shocked me
    That her mother was as evil as her, more shocking
    And how I felt Vaughn should have moved out BEFORE telling Sydney anything. I felt her pain.