Vaughn goes to Irina for information. She wants to know if he loves Sydney; Vaughn agrees to tell her if she will help him. After learning of Vaughn's condition, Syd also visits Irina who tells her where to find the antidote. Syd goes to the hospital to see Vaughn for the blood sample she needs, and she meets Alice who introduces herself as Michael's girlfriend. Syd travels to the lab per her mother's instructions, where she's trapped by Sark who wants Sloane in exchange for the antidote. Sydney agrees, and posing as a geisha she is able to deliver Sloane to Sark. Sark's henchman gives the antidote to Jack, and soon Vaughn is better. Meanwhile, researching the standardized tests, Will locates a missing test from 1982; it contains the questions that Vaughn was looking for. At SD-6, Syd is beyond surprised to find Sloane and Sark; apparently Sark is cooperating so they can solve the Rambaldi mystery. Alone, Sark explains to Syd that he was able to convince Sloane to trust him, but he doesn't say exactly how. True to his word, Vaughn returns to Irina and confesses how he feels about Syd. Outside of the cell, he sees Syd. He says he knows she met Alice, but she tells him not to explain and walks away. Vaughn hesitates a moment and goes after her, but she's gone.
Vaughn: Thanks for getting back to me so soon. Uh, the thing is, I think I have a problem.
Dr. Nicholas: I know you're worried, but we ran every available diagnostic test for viral infections. Everything that could be related to your exposure to the fluid inside the Rambaldi device. They all came back negative.
Lab Guy: You need blood from the patient. In this case, Vaughn. The equipment that manufactures the serum reads the blood and creates a custom genetic-specific antidote for that particular patient.
Sydney: I'll need to take some of Vaughn's blood with me.
Lab Guy: Yes.
Sydney: Wait, wait, wait! Wait a minute, what's going on? Is he going to be all right?
Nurse: We don't know, but you have to wait here. Your designated cover: you're with the state department bureau of arms control. Your name is Rita Stevens; give no details about his illness.
Woman: The paramedics called. "What was his last meal? Is he allergic to any medication?" I got to the hospital as fast as I could... So you work with Michael?
Sydney: Yeah. We're in the same bureau at state. I'm Rita.
Woman: I'm Alice. I'm listed as his emergency contact. I'm Michael's girlfriend. Excuse me.
Jack: Are there concerns?
Sloane: Since I was made a partner in the Alliance, SD-6 has consistently stumbled in its operations. We lost the terahertz wave camera. We failed to retrieve the formula for zero-point energy. We didn't acquire Derevko's operations manual.
Jack: The situation regarding Emily has been a distraction. Informing them puts these setbacks in context.
Sloane: Christophe wants me to meet with him in Tokyo. I need a victory, Jack. I need to bring something tangible to the organization.
Kendall: Mountaineer, abort the op and head back. We'll find another way to -
Sydney: Abort? We don't have time to find something else!
Kendall: If you use the machine, they'll know you're there.
Sydney: Then I'll run fast.
Sark: I need access to Arvin Sloane.
Sark: Because I intend to kill him.
Sydney: I can get you to Sloane, but only if you promise to let me keep the antidote.
Sark: No. Sloane first. Then you'll get back your precious antidote.
Kendall: What exactly did you promise Sark?
Sydney: That I would render Sloane unconscious and deliver him to Sark.
Kendall: So he could kill him.
Kendall: There are just so many problems with this that I don't even know where to begin.
Will: Well, how would you explain a question like this, then? "Why can rainbows be seen only when the sun is behind the observer?"
Professor: This wasn't in the test I sent to ETS. I design the questions, I proof the test booklets they print up, and then when they send the final corrected copies, I put them on file.
Will: About how many first graders took this test?
Professor: They administered this in thirty-three states. That's over five million children.
Jack: Sloane's on his way to Japan. He plans to stay at a Yakuza-run Ryokan, the Nyoshi Ginza. Use the numbers he gave you and contact Sark. Tell him we will hand him Sloane the night before his Alliance meeting.
Sydney: Tell me you agree with me, that we have no choice in this.
Jack: Of course we have a choice, and it's a moment I never wanted you to face. To kill someone. I'm not talking about self-defense: I'm talking about premeditated murder. To be there when the door closes on him for the last time. Knowing you are responsible. That is something you never came close to considering before getting to know your mother.
Jack: Almost. Sydney got the antidote. The doctors say your blood levels are looking good.
Vaughn: How did she do it?
Jack: She had Sloane killed.
Sloane (to Sydney): You know Mr. Sark.
Sark: I don't think we've ever been officially introduced.
Sloane: Mr. Sark is now cooperating with us in our ongoing search for Derevko and the remains of her company.
Darn it. I already used the Pandora's box analogy in the previous review, but it applies to this episode too, especially to Syd's deal with Sark. Jack tried to warn her about what she was going to do, and she looked a bit guilty as she passed Sloane's empty office. (I confess that I thought she'd soon take on a mission to rescue him.) We knew her actions would come back to haunt her, but the ending blew me away. Syd is definitely in a predicament; even if Sark didn't inform Sloane of her betrayal, he now has a powerful bit of information that he can use to blackmail her.
Vaughn made a desperate deal of a different sort with Irina, who is exceptional at wielding the power she has to her benefit. It'll be interesting to see exactly what she does with the knowledge of how Vaughn feels about her daughter. But while we're on the subject, why did Vaughn go to her in the first place? He said he didn't have much time; surely he knew that he'd be in no shape to hunt for a cure, even if Irina could tell him how to find one.
I wonder if Vaughn told Irina about Alice; I felt so sorry for Syd to meet her that way. Syd's about to risk her life for him, and they'd just shared that tender moment holding hands. Then, out of the blue, there's Alice. If I remember it right, after Alice said she was Michael's girlfriend, the background noise was less noticeable, as if to indicate that Syd wasn't aware of anything else but the bomb that had just been dropped on her.
Will's research on the standardized tests was pretty predictable; it figures he'd find the questions he was looking for after hitting what he thought was a dead end. However, it was good to see Francie unknowingly assist his efforts by recognizing that the test he had was a fake.
This was a hard episode for me to watch, partly because of the torture scenes and partly because of the dark tone. Syd's always taken the proverbial high road; it's disturbing for her to assume Sloane's role as the evil schemer and for Sloane to be the pitiable victim. On a lesser note, it's sad for Vaughn to have feelings for Syd and yet to be unable to tell her about them because of the agency's rules. Sigh. Maybe in the next episode they'll delay all of the impending troubles and lighten up for a little while.
* How did Vaughn know that Syd met Alice? Did Alice tell him that she met his colleague, Rita?
* Sloane should have recognized Syd's voice, even though she was speaking Japanese. Then again, maybe he did.