In a class at a university in Amsterdam, the professor thinks she hears a phone ringing; she hurries into the hall where she kills herself after imagining that men are after her. At APO, Sloane tells the team that the professor was Nancy Cahill, a CIA agent. Her husband Jason, also an agent, is missing, and the team tries to track him down. Sydney and Jack visit the Cahills' apartment, and Sydney finds a tunnel hidden in the walls. Inside she sees graphic drawings before she's attacked by crazed Jason Cahill. He bites her before Jack shoots him. Back in LA, the medical team runs tests on Sydney; the dead agents' brains showed imbalances that resulted in their delusions. Jack sends Syd home to rest, but she can't sleep; she starts seeing things that aren't there. The next day, Marshall reveals that Jason had a meeting with a contact named the Count. Sloane sends Sydney to meet the Count; Dixon argues that Syd is in no condition to go, but she insists that she's fine. Jack and Vaughn notice that she is increasingly distracted. At the meeting, the Count tries to run, but Vaughn stops him. The Count finally confesses that he gave Jason a bad sample of a drug called Nocturne that removes the need/ability to sleep. Weiss and Nadia track the drug to a lab in Prague. As Vaughn goes to sneak into the lab, Syd imagines that he and Jack are plotting against her. She tells Jack to tie her up; he does, but she is still able to knock him out. Vaughn returns with the antidote, but the van is empty. Syd and Jack are nearby in an alley. Jack is still unconscious, and Syd pulls a gun on Vaughn. Vaughn tries to reason with her, but Syd cries that she's scared he'll betray her again, like he did when he married Lauren. Syd pulls the trigger, but the gun has no bullets. Vaughn and Syd fight; she gets the upper hand, but Jack grabs her. Later, Vaughn visits Syd in a hospital room. She apologizes for what she said and did, but Vaughn dismisses it, saying she wasn't herself. He leaves so that she can get some rest.
(Quotes in italics are from Sydney's delusions.)
[Vaughn tells a story about a high school hockey game.]
Sydney: You tied the game?
Vaughn: Nah, I hit the post. But I did learn something about how we can let fear get in the way.
Weiss: He was looking for something. I don't know - maybe his mind...
[Vaughn notices the bandage on Syd's neck.]
Sydney: You think it's sexy, don't you.
Vaughn: Only if I'd done it.
Sydney: Are you s--
Weiss: What, staying over? No ... [He looks at Nadia.] Unless I am. Am I?
Nadia: You're not.
Vaughn: What's going on here, girl stuff?
Nadia: People stuff.
Dixon: What are you suggesting? That somehow my loyalty is a liability?
Sloane: I'm suggesting that you do your job and I do mine.
Sloane: But we both know at some point, I'll betray you. And the people you care most deeply about? They'll die.
Jack: Sydney's about as trustworthy as her mother.
Vaughn (glances over at Syd): I know.
Jack: I'm going to kill her, just like I did Irina.
Jack: Your mother killed me . . . just like I'm going to kill you.
Vaughn: You took the bullets out.
Jack: It seemed a reasonable precaution.
Dixon (to Sloane): I've asked myself why I never saw the true nature of SD-6. For a while, I punched myself over it. Finally I realized that my only failure was that of imagination. Despite all the evil I'd encountered, I'd never imagined a person could exist . . . someone as thoroughly toxic as yourself. I won't make that mistake again.
Dixon: And on that inevitable day when your true motive reveals itself, I promise you, I'll be there. I'll be waiting.
Vaughn: My father liked spiders; he said they were good luck.
What happens when a person with a crazy life starts to go crazy? Predictably, badness ensues.
Then again, perhaps it would be better said that the drug magnified Syd's deepest fears, rather than making her "crazy." With Jack, for example, Sydney may dread the thought that he isn't the man she hopes he is. She's said before that just when she thinks she knows how awful he is, she learns something worse. Syd's hallucinations reveal that she believes a man who could kill the woman he once loved could surely kill his own daughter as well.
With Vaughn, maybe Syd is afraid of hoping to actually be happy with him. That's understandable, since the last time she thought they were free to be together, they were torn apart by the ones who faked her death. Vaughn wasn't concerned about what Syd had said in the alley; he said that she wasn't herself, and although she agreed, her tone implied that she didn't fully believe that. I'm a little surprised that he would dismiss her confession so quickly, since he'd been asking her what she was afraid of. I think she meant it when she said she was afraid that he'd betray her again. Even though that wasn't exactly his fault - he had thought she was dead - Syd can't seem to escape the idea that his "giving up" on her means that maybe their relationship isn't what it seems.
Of course, with Sloane, Syd has ample reason to believe that he will betray her, and working with him, waiting for the inevitable, must be maddening for her. No doubt, her deepest fear in that respect is that she won't be able to stop him. Dixon, on the other hand, promised that he'd be there when Sloane's true nature reveals itself. I applaud Dixon's nerve for confronting Sloane, but I suddenly fear for his safety. Months ago, I started a list for the top ten Alias truths, and the only thing on the list so far is: "Anyone who threatens Sloane will wind up dead."
* Great episode. We could be confident that Syd would be okay, but getting her to that point took an unexpected route - especially when she and Vaughn came to blows.
* Did anyone else think that it was Sydney running in late to that class in Amsterdam?
* The guy's exposed brain made me think of CSI. Which I don't watch. Because they have visuals like exposed brains.
* After Jack hugged Syd, I expected him to pull back and find himself stabbed.
* Did Sloane want Sydney to get infected with Nocturne? He sent her and Jack to the Cahill's apartment, but the chances of that leading to her getting infected were pretty slim.
* Could Dixon's comment about his previous lack of imagination somehow be relevant to Syd's drug-induced thoughts?
* Syd's attempts at keeping her problems to herself could be a real-life lesson learned about the dangers of hiding behind a mask of "I'm fine."
* Vartan looked really good in this episode: no nightmares there!