Having found nothing in the CIA archives about Nightingale, Vaughn believes that his father is dead, but Sydney encourages him to keep looking. She explains the situation to Jack, and he lets her use his clearance to search for info. The word Nightingale leads her to two men: a scientist in Siberia named Josef Vlachko and Hans Dietrich, a money launderer involved in weapons sales. Meanwhile, Jack tells Sloane that it is uncertain how much Sydney and Vaughn know, but Jack suggests they be allowed to continue their search. Vaughn and Sydney travel to Munich and obtain Dietrich's hard drive. Back at Syd's place, Syd works to decrypt the data. Vaughn receives a mysterious call instructing him to go to the library - alone - if he wants to know what happened to his father. At the library, a man named Roberts appears, demanding the transformer coil from Nightingale in exchange for the information about Vaughn's father. To prove that he's legitimate, he gives Vaughn the name Phillip Burke. Later, Vaughn discovers that Phillip Burke's death was very similar to Bill Vaughn's - they even have identical dental records. Jack meets Sydney for dinner, and she confides that Nightingale involves molecular experiments, altering the DNA of subjects with the same genetic markers. Jack encourages Sydney to bring the case to APO and use their resources to investigate. Vaughn informs Sydney about his meeting with Roberts. He agrees to take the case to APO, but he suggests a counter-mission, so that he can obtain the transformer coil. Jack volunteers to go on the mission so that he can secretly question Vlachko about the location of Elena Derevko. At an abandoned Siberian nuclear plant, Jack finds Vlachko, who denies knowing where Elena is; Syd and Vaughn work on the transformer coil, but they're surprised by a guard, who shoots the control panel. The system is activated with Sydney trapped in the test chamber. Marshall's attempts to override the system seem to fail until it suddenly shuts down, citing core corruption. Sydney gives Vaughn the coil, but tells Jack that she couldn't stop Vaughn from taking it. Vaughn later sends a text message telling Sydney that he's okay. Back at APO, Marshall tells Jack that there was no way he could have shut down the system; he realizes that Jack removed the fuel rods, saving Sydney but exposing himself to dangerous levels of radiation. Jack tells Marshall to keep that between them.
Jack: We could turn this to our advantage. Let Sydney and Vaughn obtain intelligence for us.
Sloane: I see . . . And you have no problem with that.
Jack: Of course I do. But given our current obstacles, they might provide a lead we couldn't get on our own.
Sloane: Just so we're clear: we cannot afford to be compromised. Not even by your daughter.
Jack: It won't come to that.
Vaughn: No, I'm fine thanks. Don't help.
Weiss (mimicking): Oh, boo hoo. I'm going to go up north and drink wine for two days while my friends stay here and work.
Sydney: This'll be fun. No toys from Marshall, cell phones instead of comms.
Vaughn: Yeah, and all we have to do is get Deitrich alone and convince him to show us his files on Nightingale.
Sydney: I can get him alone.
[Weiss calls while Vaughn and Syd are in the middle of a mission.]
Vaughn: I'm going to have to call you back.
Weiss: Romantic getaway's going that good, huh?
Vaughn: Braids, fishnets . . . it's pretty spectacular.
Weiss: At least somebody's gettin' lucky tonight.
Vaughn: Are you out of your mind?
Roberts: I'm not the one who injected myself with an unknown substance.
Jack: The longer you keep this off-book, the worse this will look for both of you. The only way to proceed is honestly, above board. Promise me you'll tell Vaughn that.
Sydney: I promise.
Sloane: Twenty years Joseph Vlachko's been off the grid. Now we find him through Sydney of all people. Well, I have to hand it to you, Jack. I never thought that you would be capable of exploiting your own daughter. I certainly couldn't do that.
Vaughn: Your father and Sloane will never let me keep technology like this for myself. And besides, I don't trust them. I don't trust anybody - except you.
Sydney: And what do you suggest?
Vaughn: We come clean with APO like your father wants. We draw up a mission that will get us Nightingale. And then we run a counter-mission.
Sydney: Like the old days.
Jack (to Vlachko): The more you cooperate, the less pain you'll endure.
Sloane (reading the report): Well, I don't understand this. Vaughn assaulted Sydney and stole the coil.
Sloane: And you believe her.
Jack: Vaughn wouldn't go against us without reason. From his father's journals to this rash action, someone must be feeding him information. A third party we're not aware of.
Sloane: Well, obviously this complicates our situation.
Jack: Yes, I imagine this must be quite upsetting for you, Arvin. My not anticipating Sydney and Vaughn's deceit could be greater than your own.
Marshall: . . . The only way it could happen is if you went into the reactor yourself.
Jack: It was my daughter's life.
"I think you understand the power of Nightingale." Um, actually I don't. No doubt this is due to the fact that I knew something unspeakably horrific was about to happen to the test subject, so I had to look away for most of that segment. From the two brief glimpses I got, it looks as though Nightingale is nothing more than another way to mess people up, big time. Did we really need another one of those?
The Alias writers certainly can't be accused of glamorizing the spy life. If anything, they play up the darkness, and this installment stands out in my mind as one of the darkest. Of course, there are the requisite mad men creating destruction for their own gain, but now even the good guys have hidden agendas. They're manipulating each other and making decisions that they're sure to regret.
Despite the badness, it was very good to see that some relationships are still solid. I was especially thrilled to learn that Jack's relationship with Sydney is not just a lie. Whatever his deal is with Sloane, his feelings for Sydney are genuine, and I thought it was fitting for him to express his love in actions (i.e. risking his life to save her).
I can sum up this episode in one word: foreshadowing, particularly where the situation with Vaughn's father is concerned. If Vaughn's dream about being grabbed by a zombie hand wasn't a big enough clue, Jack warned Sydney how dangerous the search for answers can be. Given the similarities to Syd's situation with her mother, I keep wondering if the season's end will find Vaughn waking up handcuffed to a chair and saying, "Dad?"
* Vaughn was trying to accept his father's death much like he accepted Sydney's.
* Sloane claimed that he couldn't exploit his daughter; I guess that his definition of "exploit" doesn't include kidnapping her, strapping her to a table, and injecting her with Rambaldi goo.
* Note that Jack didn't say he believed Sydney's report about Vaughn stealing the coil.
* If Nightingale requires a nuclear reactor to work, developing it as a weapon doesn't seem very practical.