Flashbacks reveal that Nadia ran away from the San Marcos Orphanage in 1992. Several years later she and her friend Cesar Martinez were arrested, and a man named Roberto Fox offered them a chance to work for the government. In the present day, the APO team learns that Martinez is after an amplifying glass that boosts the destructive effects of lasers. Syd, Nadia, Dixon and Weiss infiltrate a party in Minsk to obtain the glass; as Syd makes her way to the lab, Nadia sees Martinez and warns the others that he's about to make his move. Suddenly, armed men fire guns into the air, forcing the party guests to the floor. Martinez and two men find Sydney in the lab. She gives them the glass, and Martinez demands to know who she works for. Nadia appears, saying that Syd works with her. Seeing Nadia, Martinez whispers something to her; his men tie Nadia and Sydney up and leave. Back in LA, Sloane is angry that Nadia did not disclose that she knew Martinez. Nadia doesn't want to talk about it, but she says that she can get the glass back. She is able to set up a meeting with Martinez in Buenos Aires. She tells him that her employer will kill her unless she returns with the glass; Martinez says he will take her to it, but he knows that she has a tracking device and backup. She lets him destroy the tracker and they walk away. Weiss and Sydney follow but Martinez loses them. He takes Nadia to the facility where Fox trained them. Martinez says that people respected him because they thought he killed Fox, but he didn't - he thinks that she did. In another flashback, Nadia learns that Fox lied to them about working for the government. Heartbroken, Nadia shoots Fox. In the present, Martinez realizes that he was right. Nadia says that Fox was a criminal who used them, but Martinez doesn't care. He says that without Fox, they would either be in jail or dead. Martinez and Nadia fight; as Weiss and Sydney arrive, Nadia turns Martinez over to them in handcuffs and tells them where to find the glass. Meanwhile, Vaughn confides in Sydney about the new information that has surfaced about his father; she helps investigate some operations mentioned in Bill's journal. That information leads to an address in Portugal, where Vaughn finds the lady that ran the San Marcos Orphanage when Nadia was there. She says that when Bill brought Nadia to the orphanage as an infant, he had been shot, and he left quickly. The lady remembers hearing him on the phone, talking about "Nightingale." Curious, the lady inquires about Nadia, and Vaughn replies that she's good.
Sydney: What's going on?
Sydney: When something's bothering me, I go running. You've gone twice in less than twelve hours.
Sydney: If this mission is too . . . difficult, too personal for you, talk to your father and have him task someone else.
Nadia: It's my job, I'll make it work.
Marshall: Mitchell learned a new word.
Vaughn: What was the word?
Marshall: "Ufnat" . . . It's Mitchell's baby-speak for "beta particle."
Vaughn: We should have lunch sometime.
Marshall: Really? Yeah? Oh, man, anytime - absolutely - I'm there . . . Today?
Marshall: Signature . . . plus password . . . plus a little Flinkman secret sauce and . . . nice. Bow before me and weep, encryption gods.
Nadia: He was not supposed to be there. I didn't know we'd make contact.
Sloane: You knowingly withheld intel that would've altered our options during the operation. I've suspended agents from field duty for less than that, Nadia.
Sloane: Why do I feel there's more?
Nadia: If you want me to sit at a desk after this, fine. But it is personal, now.
Sydney (to Sloane): She had a relationship with him. She can use him. You of all people should appreciate that.
Roberto: In the words of Albert Einstein--
Diego: "Don't blow yourself up."
Sydney: What if these aren't operation names?
Vaughn: What are you doing?
Sydney: Substitution cipher . . .
Vaughn: Okay, how did you see that?
Sydney: My father used to encrypt my crossword puzzles when I was a kid . . . the least of my childhood dysfunctions.
Next week's issue of TV Guide features a letter from someone who says that a "new obstacle" for Alias is that people overanalyze every episode. I admit that we - yes, I'm guilty - do that, but I'd hardly call it new, since we've done it for years. Plus, I don't see the scrutiny as being detrimental. I mean, if people are talking about the show, isn't that a good thing? With a show as complicated as Alias, there's a lot to talk about. Personally, I love that about it. I love the complex characters and plots that make me think. I might draw attention to certain plot inconsistencies, but overall I'm just trying to work out the mystery that they're giving us. If I wanted to watch something with absolutely nothing beyond face value, I'd spend my time with some so-called reality show.
Getting back to the current episode . . . well . . . I'm about to do that constructive criticism thing again. The lady from the orphanage said that Bill brought Nadia to the orphanage as an infant, but last season they said Bill took Nadia away as a little girl, before she could finish writing out the Rambaldi equation. Perhaps the lady from the orphanage is lying, or maybe the writers are trying to reconcile the details of this plot with the earlier seasons. Either way, this is a good time to not dwell on minor points.
More important is the apparent connection that the woman from the orphanage has to Bill's journal. That seems like a major revelation, but I can't fathom where this story will take us. The woman's oddly suspicious expression after hearing that Nadia is well hints that things are headed nowhere good.
In the past, Nadia's life was very similar to Sydney's. Sydney wasn't in an orphanage, but she grew up largely without her parents. Then, Nadia was also duped into believing that she worked for the government, but she actually killed the man who betrayed her, something Sydney merely wanted to do. Later, like Sydney, Nadia must have gone to work for the actual government, because that's where she was when Sydney found her.
The woman at the orphanage said that people come into our lives for a reason; statements (or should I say clues?) like that are what drive viewers to look for hidden meanings in ostensibly coincidental circumstances. Perhaps the man at the orphanage was sent to get Nadia started on the path to her so-called destiny. And the woman from the orphanage played her part by encouraging Nadia to accept Fox's offer. Now the woman has found her way into Vaughn's life, adding another small piece of the puzzle - and more targets for our speculation.
* Having the 1992 Nadia shown mostly covered by shadows was a clever trick to avoid the situation where young Nadia looks drastically different from current Nadia.
* Could the man at the orphanage have been Vaughn's father?
* Although Vaughn told Weiss that he couldn't find Murdoch, he told Sydney the truth. Maybe he thought she could relate to father issues.
* Marshall called Syd by her real name during the mission; he did the same thing in the previous episode. I'm wondering if this will turn out to cause problems later . . .
* Did Martinez have to crush the barrette? He couldn't have just left it there, or thrown it away?