A Missing Link
The CIA discovers that The Covenant has plans to mutate a stolen virus so that it can be made airborne: another heist has been planned. Syd is to pose as a security expert and join the team to track the stolen goods. When she goes in disguise to meet Simon Walker, the head of the team, he greets her with a deep kiss and calls her "Julia." When Syd says that she wants to work with him again, he teases her by asking if there's no future in murder. To earn the trust of the other crew members - and Walker - Syd steals a valuable diamond necklace. The crew is satisfied and they tell her where to meet them. In a surprise move, Jack shows Dixon the video of Lazarey's murder. Dixon is displeased that Jack and Syd hid it from him, but he wants to keep it from the NSC for the moment. He forbids Vaughn from telling Lauren about it. In Spain, Syd meets Walker in his room. They kiss and talk, until he suddenly holds a knife to her throat, demanding to know who she's working for. He has a picture of her with Vaughn, but she says that Vaughn is her supplier and that she needed his help to crack the safe for Walker. Marshall uploads a fake criminal record for Vaughn onto Interpol seconds before Walker checks it. Meanwhile, Lauren visits Sloane for information, and he says that the new theft will give The Covenant the ability to make a bio-weapon for a specific target. Sloane also taunts Lauren by saying that got her job because of her father and by recalling the deep bond that Vaughn shared with Sydney. Walker's team breaks into the storage facility as planned; the device Marshall gave her doesn't work as expected, but Syd is able to reroute some wires and open the safe. The team steals a canister and leaves, stopping on a dark road to swap vehicles. A Jeep approaches and two men get out - with Vaughn! They've learned that he is CIA. Walker is about to kill him, but Syd stops him, saying she wants to do it. Telling Vaughn coldly that he shouldn't have betrayed her, she stabs him, and Walker kicks him so that he rolls down a hill. After a long look, Syd leaves with the others.
Sydney: What do you mean? Look there, he's saying . . . he's saying "Jul" or "Julie" . . .
Jack: He could be saying any number of things. Sydney, I have already subjected this video to the most intense technological scrutiny available to the CIA.
Sydney: Maybe "Julia--"
Jack: If you want me to do a re-analysis, fine, but you have to stop punishing yourself.
Sydney: Why did the NSC want me in on this?
Lauren: I wanted you . . . Michael said you were the best.
Weiss: It's not an alias she's ever used with us before.
Vaughn: There's no mention of a Julia in her SD-6 files.
Weiss: Right. Which means, last two years, when she was supposedly being held by the Covenant--
Vaughn: What? You think she was operational?
Sloane (to Lauren): I must admit, I was concerned for you when Sydney resurfaced. I remembered seeing her with Vaughn: their relationship reminded me my own with my late wife. It was the kind of bond that even death cannot sever. Hmmm. Well, apparently I misjudged.
Vaughn: I've never worked with anyone who can improvise better than you can . . . but when Simon called you Julia . . . your reaction . . . You didn't seem surprised.
Vaughn: No. Tell me what's going on. Look, I know we're not where we were, but even before then, professionally, we never kept secrets from each other. I'm still on your side . . .
Sydney: You're right: we're not where we were. And trust me when I tell you, I am doing you a favor by keeping you out of it.
Jack: Vaughn's been quizzing me about "Julia." I tried shutting down his inquiry, but apparently something you said has made that impossible.
Sydney: All I said was that I couldn't talk about it.
Jack: Which, of course, has only piqued his interest.
Sydney: I thought you said we need to keep this secret!
Jack: Yes, from the NSC, which is what we've done.
Sydney: You knew Dixon would order Vaughn to keep this from Lauren. If the NSC found out, I'd be pulled.
Jack: In time, you would have come to the same conclusion.
Sydney: Maybe, yes, but I wouldn't have acted on it. The last thing I want is to be responsible for driving a wedge between Vaughn and Lauren.
Jack: That is a concern I do not share.
Walker: Tell me who the hell you're working for!
Sydney: I'm working for myself, you son of a bitch!
Lauren: What about my father?
Sloane: Well, he knew how badly you wanted to become field rated, and he thought it was too dangerous, so he made sure it didn't happen. But you knew that - didn't you?
After viewing this episode - actually after seeing the commercial for it - I formulated what I call the "Angelus theory" to Syd's missing years: the bad guys somehow (perhaps using a Rambaldi device?) made Syd's evil side take over and used it/her to do their bidding. I didn't say it was a good theory, but it's the best I can do at the moment. Given what we learned in this ep, it seems that Syd was living a double life. Literally. Her other persona wasn't just being held captive somewhere, she was out and about, living, loving, and apparently working as an assassin. Since Lazarey seemed so shocked that "Julia" attacked him, it's quite possible that she is a real person - perhaps someone with a connection to Lazarey - whose place Sydney took.
I didn't buy Vaughn's suspicions over Syd not being surprised at Walker calling her Julia: what else could Syd have done, except play along? Vaughn even admitted that she excels at improvising; no doubt the purpose of that scene was to show how well he still knows her. Plus his curiosity meant more trouble as Jack and Syd tried to keep their secret.
Jack solved that problem by revealing the video to Dixon; I thought this was a typical 'Alias' surprise, and I'm actually glad that Jack did it. Strategically, it makes sense to confide in Dixon, who is likely to be sympathetic since he's known Syd for so long. Now that Dixon and Vaughn know, hopefully the gratuitous close calls will be limited to the NSC (probably Lauren) discovering what Syd did.
Seeing Sloane talk to Lauren, it's apparent that she is way out of her league. Sloane is still as malicious as he ever was, and this may have been the first time Lauren experienced it first-hand. I'm sure her telling him not to manipulate her *really* has him shaking in his boots.
* It sounds as if Jack speaks from experience about how painful the CIA's memory-finding techniques can be.
* I thought the concept of a targeted bio-weapon was introduced last season, but I may be confusing that with the attempts to find Di Regno.
* Did they say how Walker's team obtained the picture of Syd and Vaughn?