Sydney returns from a mission to find Sloane in her apartment visiting Nadia; livid, Syd tells Sloane to get out. Later, Syd tells Nadia that she needed to know her mother, so she understands Nadia's desire to know Sloane. APO learns that a powerful new explosive called Black Thorine has been stolen, and they locate the man who now has it: Boris Tambor. In Monte Carlo, the team plots to break into his hotel room to look for information, but Tambor decides to stay in and watch a soccer game. Surveying his room via hidden camera, Syd and Nadia realize that he has a girlfriend. They theorize that she's in the hotel's bar, angry that he's ignoring her. Despite Sloane's objections, Nadia and Sydney find her and strike up a conversation over drinks. Their plan works as the girlfriend, Bridget, gets them past security and into Tambor's room. When Bridget goes to change, Syd copies Tambor's hard drive and PDA while Nadia talks soccer with him. Back in LA, Sloane is angry with Syd and Nadia for disobeying his orders, saying that is unacceptable. Syd shoots back that having to work with him makes her sick, and that is unacceptable. Marshall interrupts their exchange to say that Tambor's files show that the Black Thorine will be sold in less than 16 hours, on Tambor's yacht. Marshall provides gadgets and information to break into the yacht's safe, and Nadia and Sydney sneak on board. Before they can get to the explosive, Leo Orissa, the buyer, ambushes Tambor, who is killed by Bridget. Sloane recognizes Orissa from his days at SD-6; telling Syd to trust him, Sloane sends her to talk to Orissa while Nadia sneaks below deck to retrieve the Thorine. Sydney tells Orissa that she works for Sloane and that he wants in on the deal. Orissa agrees to split the profits, but Syd says that Sloane wants the location of the lab for insurance. Syd reminds Orissa of Sloane's cruelty, and Orissa confesses that the lab is in the Ukraine. Angry, Bridget shoots Orissa. She and Sydney fight; Nadia joins in, and Syd kills Bridget as she dives for a gun. Waiting to be picked up, Nadia tells Syd that she always thought being alone made her a better agent - but now she's not so sure. Back at APO, Sloane assumes that Syd wants a transfer, but Syd points out that being away wouldn't change how she feels about him. She's says that she'll see him tomorrow.
Sydney: Don't delude yourself, Nadia, into thinking you can trust that man.
Nadia: I'm not naive, Sydney. I'm not deluded. It's not easy to reconcile the past . . . I thought you had.
Sydney: Would you mind telling us where that intel comes from? Or are we all supposed to rely on your "sources," no questions asked?
Sloane: It's a fair question. But one I'm not inclined to answer. Unless you need me to explain the essential nature of confidentiality.
Sydney: No, I'm all caught up on that, thanks.
Sydney: I thought I could do this, work with Sloane again, but now . . . I don't know, I think I might've been kidding myself.
Dixon: That's how I make peace with Sloane. I don't put the past away or compartmentalize it - I transmute it . . . I make it the right decision today.
Sydney: I hope I'm capable of that.
Dixon: I know you are.
Weiss (teasing Nadia): Oh, I'm sorry, I ordered a French maid.
Marshall: Sorry, I'm not much of a sports fan - more of a Scrabble Club type.
[Sydney has just listed a string of observations about Tambor's girlfriend.]
Sydney: ... All Nadia and I need to do is get to her and get her to take us to the room - why are you smiling?
Vaughn: I don't know.
Nadia: With all due respect, no one pays attention to the help.
Sydney: Men suck, don't they.
Bridget (in a drunken slur): Just a warning: my boyfriend is kind of a jerk.
Bridget: You better go now.
Sydney (playing dumb): Yah, uh, ya think?
Sloane: Questioning my authority, whether it's in this office or in the field, is unacceptable.
Sydney: "Unacceptable." Coming from you that's almost funny.
Sloane: I assume that you have accepted the fact that I've made amends for my past?
Sydney: "Amends." Francie and Danny are gone. And yet, here you are. And everywhere I look I'm reminded of the man who killed them.
Jack: The nuance of fatherhood may elude me but there is one thing I am sure of: you are not going to forge any kind of bond with Nadia if you attempt to keep her from working with her sister.
"We need a bigger case." Nadia, after finding ten canisters of Black Thorine, instead of the small vial they were expecting
Marshall: You know this guy?
Sloane: He's an old friend.
Marshall: Bad-ass friend.
"You don't treat a girlfriend like that." Bridget to Tambor, just before she shoots him
Orissa: Arvin always had an odd sense of humor.
Sydney: Let me tell you something I know: Arvin Sloane is cruel.
Sydney: If he chooses to let you live, you'll spend every waking minute of your life reminded of what he's cost you.
Sydney (to Sloane): I want to make something clear. I will never forgive you for what you've done to me, to the people I love. No amount of time or distance will ever change that.
I thought this episode was a little . . . meh. Since you don't have the benefit of my expression to clarify that, I'll explain simply that I wasn't as impressed as I have been with the other eps this season. The acting was fine, and the story involved more than just a mission - which I praised them for a few reviews ago. But somehow the overall result just left me cold.
The primary reason is also something I've mentioned before: I'm very suspicious of Nadia. I can't seem to trust her; consequently I can't help but see all of this sister bonding as a waste of time. Watching scenes like the one at the firing range, I deduce that the writers are trying to establish that Nadia is as good as Sydney, setting up a future face-off between them. I really hope that I'm wrong and that this situation doesn't go the way I expect it to. Having ninety-nine percent of the characters ultimately be evil is as bad as, well, having characters die and it mean nothing because they'll probably come back to life anyway. (Insert pointed look at the season three writers here.) Surely *everyone* in the world can't betray Sydney . . . can they?
Sloane's remark about assuming Syd wants a transfer was unexpected - and not in the well-written-surprise way. Syd had earlier told him that working with her made her want to "wretch," but he didn't pay much attention to that. Then he is suddenly affected by overhearing what she told Orissa? Sloane is unpredictable to say the least, but that only makes his attempts at sincerity harder to believe.
Having said that, the writers almost redeemed themselves by including Jack's line to Sloane about "you did what you had to do." That seemed like a rare moment of honesty, as if Jack, seeing how Sloane reacted to what Sydney said, was trying to encourage him. Since I haven't forgotten Sloane telling Jack they have to move up their timetable, this scene makes me optimistic that there is more to their plans than it first appeared. Wait, what am I saying? More than meets the eye? On Alias? "Yah, uh, you think?"
* According to my French-English dictionary, détente means "relaxation; slackening; easing; expansion". (If it has another more applicable meaning, please let me know.)
* * Neema sent a few more definitions for the ep's title: thaw (slackening tensions); or trigger (gun). Hmmm ... maybe the writers intended for it to have a double meaning?
* * Sarah wrote that détente is "usually applied in a political sense to mean a measure taken to appease tension between nations or people, an uneasy peace if you like. Historically, it's followed by a renewal of said tension - it tends to be a temporary standing down of arms before the real battle starts. I guess this is what the writers meant: 'watch this space'."
* As a former waitress I can testify that Nadia is absolutely correct: no one notices the help.
* Would a guy really fawn so enthusiastically, out loud, over a woman, like Weiss did over Nadia?
* While gushing over Nadia, Weiss again used the word "magic."
* The Michael Lord song used in this ep was Holding My Breath instead of Bleed, as originally planned.