Sloane informs the APO team that an unknown thief has stolen the Blackwell Index from the CIA lab in Sarajevo. The Index contains an encrypted list of information that could be used for blackmail, but it cannot be accessed without the decoder disk, which is currently in custody of the French police. Pulling Sydney aside, Dixon confides that he's placed a tap on Sloane's phone, and Sloane made a call to Sarajevo moments after the theft. The team is tasked to retrieve the disk, but Dixon believes that Sloane wants it so that he can access the information in the Index for himself. During the mission, Sydney and Dixon switch the decoder with a useless fake. Dixon takes proof of Sloane's call to CIA Director Chase, but Chase wants more proof. Dixon tells Syd that they could access Sloane's secure phone if they could get into his house. Syd tells Sloane that it's Nadia's birthday; Syd admits that Nadia says she doesn't want to celebrate, but perhaps she would like a family dinner at her father's house. Sloane agrees that it's a good idea. Jack and Weiss also attend. Sloane toasts Nadia, saying that she has changed his life. Syd's phone rings; she excuses herself to talk to Vaughn, but it's actually Dixon. Breaking into Sloane's desk, Syd accesses the phone and transmits the data to Dixon. Unfortunately, Nadia catches her. Syd explains later that she was trying to prove that Sloane is innocent. However, Dixon discovers a recorded conversation between Sloane and former Alliance member, Miles Devereaux. Devereaux has the Blackwell Index, and Sloane agrees to meet him in Brussels with the decoder. Faced with this evidence, Director Chase joins Dixon, Sydney and Nadia in tracking Sloane. In Brussels, they find Sloane observing the meeting via Jack's hidden camera. Sloane says that Jack didn't trust him to be alone with the Index. The meeting turns sour when Devereaux tries to use the fake decoder. Nadia speeds over to the building where Jack is: she crashes in and shoots the three Alliance members, saving Jack's life. Back in LA, Dixon tells Director Chase that the tap on Sloane's phone has been removed, and the real decoder disk has been returned. Later, Sloane uses the decoder to access the Blackwell Index. He calls Jack to report that it's working. Jack asks if it has what they need, and Sloane replies, "Oh, yes - and more."
Meanwhile, Vaughn travels to Arizona to see his Uncle David who is in a coma after a stroke. At the hospital, Vaughn meets a nurse named Rosemary, who calls him Bill - his father's name. Rosemary explains that David said Bill was coming to see him, but Vaughn informs her that his father died in 1979. Rosemary gives Vaughn an envelope that David was holding for Bill; the envelope contains a key. The key opens a locker at the bus station, where Vaughn finds his father's journal - with entries from 1980 and 1981! Vaughn returns to the hospital and asks his uncle's lifeless form if his father is alive. Vaughn asks another nurse about Rosemary, but the nurse doesn't know of anyone with that name.
Sloane: Among the items retrieved was the Blackwell Index.
Weiss: Blackwell? What is this, a worst-dressed list?
Dixon: I'm not going to make the same mistake I did at SD-6, blindly following that man's orders.
Dixon: That's why he lied about having no leads. He's . . . using us, again. And that's not something I'm going to let him do.
Director Chase: Sloane is free to contact old associates. It's one of the reasons why he was appointed head of the task force.
Dixon: He lied to us about having no leads.
Director Chase: Perhaps none of the leads proved useful.
Director Chase: I appreciate your concern. But these accusations are based on circumstantial evidence, so unless you have something else to give me, I would suggest you pull that phone tap.
Dixon: This is not about what he did to Diane.
Sydney: Of course it is . . . It is for me. But you're the one who reminded me why we're here: to do the right thing.
Sloane: I take it you have no problem bringing Nadia up to speed?
Weiss: Yeah, I already did - last night.
Sloane: Excuse me?
Weiss (realizing what he just said): Uh, we were working. We work late; we actually like it. There were other peop-- Jack was here--
Sloane: Are you finished? Have the report on my desk in an hour. Impress me.
Sloane: Once you were out of view of the security camera you just happened to locate the disk?
Sydney: That's correct.
Sloane (after studying Syd for a moment): Perhaps I shouldn't . . . but I expect better from you.
Nadia: I'm glad you didn't listen.
Sydney: I usually don't.
Weiss: I'm thinking about making my next car a hybrid.
Sydney: You should; I have one.
Weiss: What do you think, Arvin? [Sloane glares intently at Weiss without answering.] . . . Uh, Mr. Sloane.
[Nadia has just blown out the candles on her cake.]
Nadia: I had no idea what to expect from tonight. I've never celebrated anything with family before. And, um, I wasn't even sure I wanted to, but . . . Sydney insisted . . . [Syd looks uncomfortable, having just been caught snooping by Nadia.] . . . Now I see what I've been missing all these years . . . the chance to know my family for the kind of people they really are.
Nadia: You just said you suspected my father.
Sydney: I do. But for the first time in my life, I don't want him to be guilty. Nadia, I was trying to prove that he's innocent.
Sydney: It's just, it's always been black and white where your father's concerned. I'm not used to seeing the gray.
Nadia: What if it was your father? He's done his share of compromising things. Would you work this hard to punish him?
Devereaux: Where's Sloane?
Jack: My guess? Miles from here. He knew the decoder was a fake. He sold me out, and when I find him, I'm gonna kill the bastard . . .just as soon as I'm done with you.
[Nadia has just saved Jack's life.]
Sydney: Thank you.
Nadia: I like to think in the future you'll do the same for me.
Sydney: I'm glad it's over.
Dixon: Is it? . . . We'll see.
Sloane's evil. Or Jack's evil. Or both. Or neither. Since we believe they are, we can take comfort in the fact that they're surely not. Or, are we *supposed* to think that they're not, in which case, they definitely are. Were they genuinely surprised by the fake decoder? Or was the scene in Brussels just a ruse to get the real decoder from Sydney and Dixon? As Buffy once said: "It's all starting to fall into place. Of course, that place is nowhere near this place."
I was thrilled to see Michael Des Barres' name listed as a guest star. He has been one of my favorite actors since his recurring role as the assassin Murdoc on MacGyver. I couldn't clearly see the face on Vaughn's uncle, and I was briefly horrified, thinking that Mr. Des Barres had been reduced to playing roles such as that. Then I heard his voice in the recorded conversation with Sloane; he's a villain - of course! I was sorry to see his character get shot, but, on the bright side, that rarely seems to stop people on this show. I'm wondering if he was chosen as Devereaux partly because, like SO MANY characters on Alias, Murdoc was often thought dead only to return again, time after time.
Our newest not-so-dearly-departed is none other than Vaughn's father. Is anyone surprised by this? Anyone at all? Yeah, me neither. Personally, I find this never-ending string of non-deaths laughable. But, since we're obviously not getting away from these storylines any time soon, I grudgingly admit that this particular one raises some interesting questions. Even if Bill isn't still alive - as David seems to believe he is - the journal reveals that he didn't die when Vaughn thought he did. The Covenant "proved" a dead body was Sydney by the teeth; in season two, Vaughn said that when Irina got done with his father he could only be identified by dental records. Did Bill fake his own death to escape Irina? Or, did Irina fake Bill's death for some reason? Of those two choices, I think the latter is more likely to be closer to the truth. Whatever the case, apparently someone wanted Vaughn to have that journal.
If Irina didn't kill Vaughn's father, her character is suddenly cast into a new light. What other horrific acts are credited to her that she didn't do? Is Sloane also not as bad as we thought? Is Jack not as good as we thought? Perhaps the biggest question of all isn't who is evil, or who is working toward what endgame, but whether we'll actually know *anything* for sure before the season ends.
* Vaughn's uncle may have been in a nursing home, but I put "hospital" in the recap because it was shorter.
* That jumping-to-the-helicopter-from-the-roof stunt was awesome!
* When Syd told Sloane about Nadia's birthday, he seemed to be trying to check the timing in his head.