SD-6 learns that the Triad - a rival group - is developing sixteen "next generation" weapons, and Sydney is sent to discover what those are. She learns that they're children whose tests have revealed extraordinary spy potential. On a mission with the CIA to capture the bad guy that trains the children, Syd believes she's seen one of his tests before. She undergoes hypnotherapy and her suspicions are confirmed, but it wasn't her mother who was training Syd: it was Jack. Heartbroken and angry, she confronts Jack and tells him she will never forgive him. Meanwhile, Francie opens her restaurant, and after Sloane confesses to Jack that he poisoned Emily, a mysterious glass of wine appears at Sloane's containing an antidote to the toxin.
Vaughn: The Triad? You never mentioned them before.
Sydney: It's a loose coalition of organized crime entities. They deal in mainly drugs and prostitution, but over the past couple of years they've made a significant foray into weapons.
Sloane: In his last communique to our source in Vienna, Hater informed us that the triad was engaged in a plot to deploy and develop sixteen Next Generation weapons.
Dixon: Any idea what Next Generation refers to?
Sloane: No, which is a major source for concern. According to the communique, testing of the weapons is ahead of schedule which means they may soon be put into the field.
Vaughn: Okay. I'll confer with your father about your countermission.
Sydney: My father?
Vaughn: He didn't tell you? Based on your father's instincts in the Madagascar incident, Devlin gave him operational approval.
Vaughn: I don't see why you're denying this possibility!
Sydney: I understand that your authority has been superceded by my father and maybe you feel irrelevant. But he saved our lives. Remember that! I won't wait to hear from you.
Jack: Sydney, Washington has made a decision regarding your mother. What she did to you invalidated her agreement with the CIA. The government is pressing charges. They're going to seek the death penalty.
Kerr: We had no idea that the sixteen Next Generation weapons would turn out to be children.
Sydney: They were being trained as sleeper agents?
Kerr: That appears to be the case. See, the best spies have certain traits: proficiency with numbers, three dimensional thinking, creative problem solving. These abilities are all in evidence as early as five years old.
Vaughn: I saw de Souza. He told me that you hired him to rig those explosives.
Jack: Irina Derevko would eagerly destroy all of our lives.
Vaughn: I'm not a big fan, either. It still doesn't justify what you did.
Jack: You do good work, Agent Vaughn. But your consistent shortcoming - you should know this - is your naive sense of morality. Evil must be eliminated by whatever means necessary.
Kerr: Agent Bristow, I've seen your profile. Your spatial intelligence is stellar. It's no surprise that you can solve the puzzle.
Sydney: But I wasn't solving it. When I was standing there, staring at the puzzle, it was like I remembered where every piece belonged. There wasn't any thought involved. You said the KGB developed a similar project, it's possible that my mother new the techniques and maybe she -
Kerr: Agent Bristow. If you are looking to uncover a trauma then I need to warn you. Hypnotic regression can trigger severe nightmares, flashbacks, acute depression -
Sydney: Understand that to do what I do, maintain my cover at SD-6, I compartmentalize a lot. But the idea that I might have been programmed to be a spy ... I can't tuck that away. I need to know what happened to me.
Lab Guy: There are no fingerprints on the glass. The wine is a '99 Hadley Cabernet Franc, unremarkable vintage. What is remarkable is what I extracted from inside the wine. I was so surprised I redid the test but I'm certain. It's VTX, a calcium-based anitdote. Extremely scarce.
Sloane: Antidote to what?
Lab Guy: Uh, mainly heart attack inducing toxins. Kertotic acid, um, sodium morphate. VTX simulates death, it slows the lungs, nearly stops the heart, which is how it prevents the poisons from causing cardiac arrest. And then the VTX is, uh, is metabolized. The, uh, body, it returns to normal.
Sydney: I've seen the footage. Mom's briefing with her KGB handler. She was sent here for one specific purpose, to steal information from you about a project you were developing for the CIA. An operation to train children to be American spies. Project Christmas. Ever since Mom came back, you were afraid she'd figure out what you did to me. You weren't trying to protect me from her, you were trying to protect your secret. So the first opportunity you had, you set her up ... in Madagascar.
Jack: Sydney, understand something -
Sydney: No, Dad, you understand something. You took away my choices in life. You programmed me to be a spy. I will never forgive you for this.
A look is worth a thousand words - or something like that. This episode relied heavily on expressions and images to tell the story.
Right before Vaughn suggested to Sydney that Jack framed Irina, his expression said, "I know I'm going to regret this, but it's got to be said." I think that confirms what Vaughn told Jack - that he wouldn't lie to Syd even if it means telling her what she doesn't want to hear.
I thought the scene where Jack learns that Vaughn knows was quite clever because it explained what happened while sparing us a bit of corny dialogue. As we see Vaughn talking to the guy about his visit with the explosives guy, we see Jack get that memo too, and he turns to look at Vaughn. At the same moment, Syd arrives and Jack and Vaughn exchange a few more pointed looks over their shared knowledge.
The shot of Jack accepting the gun from Little Sydney in the flashback provided an effectively shocking answer to the doctor's question of "who else is in the room?" Although we heard his voice, it didn't really seem like Jack was there - until we saw him with our own eyes.
They used the camera several other times for dramatic effect. Syd's little gesture of linking arms with Jack didn't seem like much, but it spoke volumes about her feelings for him. An ordinary item like a glass of wine became quite menacing when left on the counter as a calling card, and the disabled security cameras added to the effect.
So what's the significance of all this emphasis on the visual? It might mean that the director is simply trying something new. Or, since this is Alias, perhaps it's telling us that we shouldn't believe everything we see.
* What's with Vaughn and soft drinks? He offered the other guy - was his name Hassan? - a soda, too.
* I hate to judge, but that "Budapest" background looked really fake.
* Sloane said he wasn't going to kill Emily until he was assured that the lymphoma would return, causing her to die slowly and painfully. Should we really believe that?
* Speaking of Emily, that antidote in the wine casts an entirely new light on her. For one thing, she apparently has *major* resources.