"A Higher Echelon"
Written by John Eisendrath; directed by Guy Bee

In her kitchen, Sydney tells Will about Echelon, the satellite system that easily spies on people and greatly appeals to Sloane (see “The Abduction”). She’s pleased with the mission she and Marshall just went on to keep SD-6 from getting an Echelon server, and she thinks Marshall was pulled out of SD-6 by the CIA. Little does she know that he’s actually being interrogated by everyone’s favorite torturer, Suit and Glasses. SaG puts epoxy in Marshall’s mouth, threatening to add a hardener that will kill him if Marshall doesn’t tell him about the Echelon server. At Francie’s restaurant, Sydney confesses to Francie that she has a crush on a coworker named Michael. Unfortunately, he has a girlfriend and the “bank” discourages dating between coworkers. Francie thinks they could be destined to be together and Michael will quit so they can date. At the ops center, Sydney, Vaughn, Jack, and Kendall watch footage of Marshall’s abduction; Sydney blames herself. She learns that Marshall e-mailed a copy of the access program to SD-6 before he was taken, but there’s a problem with it. At SD-6, Sloane tells Jack that some of the data wasn’t transferred, so they can’t access Echelon. He wants Sydney and Dixon to go to Ho Chi Minh City to get the missing data, but unlike the CIA, he won’t send anyone after Marshall. Jack shares this news with Sydney, Vaughn, and Kendall, who says that they can keep Sloane out by finding Cuvee’s access point and locking it. Vaughn and Jack reveal that Irina will help for a price. Kendall says no, so Sydney is given corrupted data to swap for the real data.

Ariana informs Jack that his networking privileges are being downgraded and his security clearance is being revoked. She notes that whenever something was happening regarding Emily, Jack was conveniently out of the country, though not on SD-6 business. At the ops center, Jack tells Vaughn that Ariana is investigating him, and though he didn’t do anything to Emily, he does have things to hide. The CIA does some work to produce proof that Jack hasn’t been up to anything. In Ho Chi Minh City, Sydney poses as a lecturer and uses a pulse strobe light to knock out her audience and get someone’s ID badge. She goes to get the necessary data packets, but Dixon helps her out and she’s unable to make the switch she needs to. At the self-storage facility, Sydney laments to Vaughn that SD-6 will be able to access Echelon soon. He tells her that they tracked Marshall to a safehouse, but he wasn’t there and the place was rigged to explode. The search has been postponed and Marshall is now on his own. At Francie’s restaurant, Francie tells Will that Sydney is working too much and has been since Danny died. She mentions that Sydney likes one of her coworkers, Michael, which Will finds interesting. He meets with Vaughn to get the results of his psych test are back and the CIA is going to hire him as an analyst. Will tells him that Sydney cares about him and he wants Vaughn to respect that. At SD-6, Sloane sees that they’re more than halfway to accessing Echelon.

At the ops center, Kendall shares with Sydney, Jack, and Vaughn that they’re becoming a laughingstock for not being able to stop SD-6 from getting to Echelon. He adds that for all they know, Marshall could be getting it up and running right now. Suddenly, the join task force computers are hit with a virus that Sydney realizes Irina knew about. Kendall notes that she could have set it up herself, but Jack and Sydney think she could be helpful, so Sydney goes to see her. Irina wants full access to the network in order to help; Sydney tells her that Jack helped get that for her. As Irina starts working, Ariana views the fake footage of Jack, which seems to clear him. She then receives a forensics report that shows that Jack shot someone the same day Emily supposedly died (see “Almost Thirty Years”). In captivity, Marshall works on a computer and tries to make small talk with the guards watching him. At SD-6, Dixon learns that he can’t log into the network because it’s being pinged. Marshall gets through a firewall and explains to his captors that he was just downloading an mp3. Dixon tells Sydney and Sloane that Marshall is in Mexico City, according to the IP address he’s using to ping their network. Sydney and Dixon leave to rescue him with 78 percent of Echelon compiled. Irina keeps working as Jack learns that Ariana wants to meet with him. They get together at a restaurant where Vaughn, who’s on backup, tells Jack that there are six SD-6 agents around. While Ariana asks Jack about Haladki, Vaughn choreographs a swap of his cell phone memory chip. Ariana figures out she’s been had, but not until after Jack has already fled.

In Mexico City, Dixon poses as a DJ while Sydney goes after Marshall. Just as an agent informs Sloane that Echelon is ready, Marshall tells the guards watching him that he’s finished writing their program. SaG starts it up but is greeted by Pong, not Echelon. Marshall laughs and tells SaG where to go just as Sydney arrives. She fights off the guards, getting in a special kick for SaG, and she and Marshall get ready to leave. Dixon tells them that the security system is operational, so they’ll have to get out quickly. Sydney realizes they’re trapped and Dixon won’t be able to get to them to help them out. Marshall reminds Sydney that he has a parachute in his jacket, so they have an efficient way of escaping. “My name is Marshall J. Flinkman and I’m here to rescue you!” he announces just before they jump out the window together. Back at the ops center, Irina finishes up her work, which is confirmed to be correct. Sloane tells Christophe that Echelon is working. At the self-storage facility, Sydney tells Vaughn that she can’t believe she repaid Marshall by taking him back to SD-6. Vaughn points out that bringing him into the CIA didn’t make sense after Sloane was able to access Echelon. As Marshall’s co-workers praise him for being a hero, Sydney asks Vaughn if things will always be like this. “It will end,” he assures her. Jack sneaks into Sloane’s house and promises that he didn’t kill Emily, no matter what Ariana says. He gives Sloane a file of leads and asks him to pursue them in order to clear Jack. Sloane says he will, but as soon as Jack is gone, Sloane calls Ariana and tells her that Jack was just there.

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Sloane: “There is nothing that Marshall can tell Cuvee that could possibly hurt us.”
Jack: “He will be tortured. Most likely killed.”
Sloane: “Oh, yes, I’m sure he will be. I’ve already contacted SD-4. There’ll be a replacement in op tech by morning.”
Jack: (to Sydney) “That was the extent of his concern. It was as if someone had overcooked his steak.”

“I swear on my mother’s grave, I don’t know. And though technically Mom’s still alive, she has picked out her gravesite, so….” - Marshall

Dixon: “Are you ready to partaaaay? Syd, I’m ready to receive.”
Sydney: “Are we ready to party?”
Dixon: “I speak nine languages. Techno is not one of them.”

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