Kendall (from the FBI) tells Sydney that the captive Irina will only speak to Syd, but Syd refuses to talk to her. Kendall tries to blackmail Vaughn into helping convince Syd; apparently Kendall has learned how Vaughn was part of the effort to free Syd from the FBI (in Season One's Q&A). Vaughn offers to talk to Irina, who tells him that Syd must pull the fire alarm next to the safe - on her current mission - or an alarm will sound. Vaughn tells this to Syd, who opts not to pull the switch. An alarm does sound; Syd escapes but misses the chance to pass her stolen disk to a CIA contact thanks to an inopportune visit from Dixon. Syd goes to talk to Irina, who tells what SD-6 will go after when they view the intel on the disk. Syd goes to swipe a "T-Wave Camera" and barely avoids being seen by Sloane. Visiting Irina again - after being told how proud she seems of Syd's success on the mission - Syd tells Irina that she is not her mother; her mother died in a car accident 21 years ago. Elsewhere, Will is sentenced to probation and community service, and Francie struggles with work on her new restaurant.
Sydney: The idea that the CIA is willing to work with Irina Derevko is insane.
Jack: Worse, it's naive. Your mother didn't just conveniently turn herself in. This is all part of the manipulation.
Sydney: Well, she's their problem now. She's not yours. And she's not mine.
(When putting on her jacket, she winces a little bit.)
Jack: You okay?
Sydney: My shoulder's healing, if that's what you mean.
Jack: It's not, actually.
Sydney: I don't support the death penalty. I but I hope she dies for all that she has done. I really do.
Sydney: SD-6 and the Alliance believe that my mother's in hiding. And they know that Khasinau is dead, and they're correct to assume that what's left of her organization is vulnerable. The Alliance wants whatever assets they can get their hands on.
Vaughn: So where are they starting?
Sydney: My mother used blackmail. Extensively. In running her operation, she would get dirt on people - powerful and important people - and coerce them into doing whatever she needed. Pornographic photographs, illegally obtained audio files, names, dates, they're all on one computer disk.
Kendall: Just so we're clear, Mr. Vaughn, I know all about your participation in busting Agent Bristow out of federal custody. Convince her to talk to her mother, or face charges of obstructing justice and harboring a fugitive.
Vaughn: Guess it's two-for-one day on blackmail.
Vaughn: When she got done with my father, he could only be identified by his dental records.
Vaughn: I know you want to see your daughter. I can guarantee you that is never going to happen unless she knows you're cooperating. Prove yourself. Give Sydney a reason to see you.
Irina: "Sydney"? Interesting
Irina: I've given you a gift and all you get from me is one. (Vaughn starts to walk away.) You look just like him.
Vaughn: Respectfully Syd, I don't think your father can think clearly where your mother is concerned.
Sydney: And you can?
Vaughn: I'm trying and she has nothing to gain by lying.
Sydney: She told me to pull the alarm.
Jack: Yes, and for all you know, that could've made things worse. Sydney, you're smarter than this. Your mother wants you to think she's your ally. That she can help you get what you want. Her intel might even be accurate once, twice, but the minute you start depending on her, she will gut you.
Francie: It's just going to take me six months to get a legitimate liquor license!
Will: So you're hanging out with the Gambino crime family and you're giving me grief about doing drugs?
Francie: I just need a liquor license.
Will: No, no, no, what you need is someone who knows how the system works. Someone who can help you navigate. What you need is me. You know, former drug addict reporter... and sometimes lobster impersonator.
Irina: You didn't pull the alarm. I wouldn't have pulled it either.
Sydney: Let's get something clear. You are not my mother. My mother was Laura Bristow. Laura Bristow died in a car accident twenty-one years ago. You are a traitor and a prisoner of the United States government. (Irina looks away, smug.) Look at me! We will interact only when necessary. You will address me as "Agent Bristow" and answer only the questions I ask. There will be no personal anecdotes, no comments about my job performance, no condolences or congratulations. Do you understand me?
Would she or wouldn't she? The scene where Syd debated whether or not to pull the fire alarm gave us one of those rare moments on television where we truly didn't know what choice she'd make. On one hand, her mother could be telling the truth: pulling the fire alarm was a failsafe and would stop an alarm on the vault from sounding. On the other, more believable hand, her mother was lying and setting off the fire alarm would spell certain doom. Adding to Syd's dilemma was knowing that her father strongly opposed doing anything her mother said and Vaughn's calm assurance that he'd pull the switch, if he was in her place. Even after she'd decided not to pull the alarm and it appeared her mother had told the truth, Jack noted that if she'd set the alarm off something worse might've happened.
The debate over trusting Irina certainly doesn't end with whether or not the alarm switch should be pulled. The question is: can she be trusted at all. Given her track record, that answer is vehemently "no." Simple, right? It would be, except that even as a prisoner she finds herself in a position to control the situation.
Kendall wishes he had such power. Did you notice the extreme measures Irina's captors took to try to contain her? (Despite the security, I half expected one of her visitors to find her cell empty.) Then Kendall tried to menace Syd into meeting with Irina. When that didn't work, he tried to blackmail Vaughn into assisting him. Later, Kendall ordered Syd to pull the switch for the fire alarm. She'd already told Vaughn she doesn't trust the guy: maybe that's part of why she didn't do it.
The whole episode was excellent. The cast did its usual wonderful job of bringing the characters to life. I like Jack Bristow more and more; first he showed concern for Syd, then he surprised Francie by suggesting a wall color for her restaurant. It was poignant how when he asked how Syd if she's okay, he meant more than her shoulder. On the other hand, Irina only asked about her shoulder. Sydney was right: the woman she knew ceased to exist years ago. I hope that Syd is able to remember that.