"The Box, Part 1"
Written by Jesse Alexander and John Eisendrath; directed by Jack Bender

NOTE: From here on out, I’m calling Laura Irina, because that’s who she really is.

Sydney has just learned from Jack that Irina was a KGB agent who killed CIA agents, including Vaughn’s father (see “The Confession”). She’s understandably upset. Jack tells her that he knows how she’s feeling because there was a time when he first learned that his wife was sent to the U.S. to steal secrets from him. Their marriage was a set-up, and Sydney wonders if Irina ever wanted a family. At home, Sydney burns a photo of herself with Irina. At the self-storage facility, she tells Vaughn that the truth changes everything - she’s realized that everything she thought she knew and everything she has of her mother’s isn’t real. She apologizes for his father’s death and he comforts her as she cries. An air conditioning van arrives in the parking garage of Credit Dauphine and the driver cuts the wires of a surveillance camera. Inside, an agent from the control room goes to check out the situation and winds up getting knocked out. At the self-storage facility, Sydney tells Vaughn that she doesn’t want her job anymore; nothing in her life is real. She refuses to enter the Witness Protection Program and instead suggests that she and Vaughn go to a hockey game. At the newspaper, Jenny tells Will that she wasn’t able to uncover anything on SD-6. He wonders why Stoller and McNeil wouldn’t answer his questions and worries that he’s putting McNeil’s daughter Kelly’s life in danger. He decides that he needs to drop the SD-6 story.

Thugs from the air conditioning van make their way into SD-6. One of the thugs, McKenas Cole (Quentin Tarantino) gets himself a cup of coffee and takes off his jumpsuit, revealing a suit. As Sydney arrives in the parking lot, Cole walks through SD-6, recognized only by Sloane, who spots him on a surveillance monitor. The van driver flirts with Sydney, then prepares to shoot her once she’s turned her back. Before he can, Jack arrives and tells Sydney that whatever she has planned is a bad idea for getting out of SD-6. Sydney doesn’t think Sloane will kill her, but Jack tells her that he answers to other people; if he lets her go, those people will kill her and Sloane. Inside, Sloane confirms Cole’s identity and activates a failsafe. In the elevator, Jack warns Sydney that if the Alliance thinks that she’s turned on them, they’ll kill her friends. Just after Cole kills another agent in the control room, Sloane calls to start lockdown procedures. “Sure thing, Arvin,” Cole replies. “Whatever you say.” In the elevator, Sydney tells Jack that even before she found out the truth about Irina she felt like she couldn’t handle this life anymore. The lights suddenly go out. Inside, gas starts filling the offices and knocking out agents, including Dixon, Marshall, and Sloane. The lights come back on and Jack notes that a blackout shouldn’t affect security in the building. At the newspaper, Will gets a call from a distorted voice directing him to return to his desk. There, he finds an envelope which the voice tells him will get McNeil to talk. Will tells the caller not to contact him again and throws out the envelope.

Cole’s associates start tying up their hostages as Cole’s apparent girlfriend, Toni, works on a computer. At the CIA, Vaughn tells Weiss that Sydney wants to quit SD-6. He’s still in shock over having learned what really happened to his father. Another agent, Steven Haladki (Joey Slotnick), enters and suggests that Vaughn talk to an agency psychiatrist, since he’s now learned that Sydney’s mother killed his father. In the elevator at SD-6, Jack realizes that the building is under emergency lockdown and the elevator will automatically take them to the offices. A thug is there waiting, but Sydney and Jack escape his sight by hiding on top of the elevator. They head to a control room as Sydney wonders how K-Directorate overpowered all of the agents. Jack doesn’t think K-Directorate is behind the attack. They get access to security cameras and are able to see where the SD-6 agents are and what kind of weapons the attackers have. Cole approaches Sloane, reminding him of a mission in Grozny in which he was left for dead and his fellow agents were tortured. Jack overhears the conversation and tells Sydney that he knows of the mission, in which the agents were captured by Russians in Chechnya. Cole blames Sloane because the chopper sent for them wasn’t in the right place. He continues that he’s working for a guy called “the man” (more on that later), who wants something that Sloane has in the SD-6 vault. Sloane points out that since Cole initiated lockdown, the vault is secure and the access room is unable to be opened. Cole says that he wants the combination to the vault, but Sloane, of course, won’t give it to him. Cole decides to take him to the “interrogation” (i.e. torture) room instead.

Vaughn goes to see Dr. Judy Barnett (Patricia Wettig), who wanted to talk to him about what he’s learned about Irina. Vaughn doesn’t really want to be there but opens up about Sydney, whom Barnett thinks he has a relationship with. Barnett asks about the gift Vaughn got her for Christmas (see “Spirit”). Vaughn doesn’t think it’s a big deal and wants to know who ratted him out. At SD-6, a thug drills through a wall into the vault room, planning to pack explosives inside when he’s deep enough. In the control room, Jack tells Sydney that there’s C-4 all over the building that will be triggered if the vault is opened. He wants to use a scrambler Marshall has been working on to scramble the vault codes. Sydney grabs a magnet and suggests that they fish for the scrambler. In the conversation room, Cole continues to tell Sloane about what happened to him in Chechnya. He tried to tell one of his captors that he worked for the CIA, but when the CIA was contacted, they replied that they had no idea who Cole was. Of course, this didn’t make the Russians happy. Jack prepares to reach Marshall’s office through an air vent, but Sydney tells him that she would probably complete the task faster. As she heads off, she tells him that she can’t believe they’re trying to save SD-6. In the conversation room, Cole produces a box, telling Sloane that he’ll use what’s in it if he doesn’t reveal the code to the vault. He warns that Sloane doesn’t want to have to see what’s in the box.

Kelly approaches Will at a restaurant, wanting to talk about McNeil. He tells her that her father doesn’t want them talking, then leaves. At the CIA, Vaughn confronts Haladki for reporting him to Barnett. Haladki thinks that Vaughn is emotionally attached to Sydney. Vaughn threatens him and Weiss has to break up their fight. At SD-6, Sydney gets to Marshall’s office and tries to use the magnet to pick up the scrambler. She has some trouble with it and winds up with a ring instead. The vault wall driller prepares to detonate his explosives. He does so just as Sydney is getting the scrambler, so she’s unable to grab it. Cole tells Sloane that they can either figure out the codes on their own or Sloane can give them to him without any help from the box. Sloane isn’t having it. Cole opens the box, revealing some needles, and tells Sloane that they’re needles of fire and will make him regret being born. In Marshall’s office, Sydney gestures to Jack, who changes surveillance channels so that he’s looking at Marshall and Dixon. He contacts them via Morse code and Dixon fakes a seizure while Sydney climbs down from the vent to grab the scrambler. One of the thugs hears something in the office and Marshall tries to stall him by claiming to have Stockholm Syndrome. In the conversation room, Cole dramatically talks up the needles of fire. Kelly tracks Will down at his office and tries to convince him to find out what SD-6 is. She assures him that Stoller can protect her and she’ll leave town if she knows that someone is fighting for her father. Will retrieves the envelope from the trash and finds a key inside. At SD-6, Sloane gives Cole the combination but gets a needle in the hand anyway, since Cole thinks he’s lying. He and his associates head for the vault and confirm that they don’t have the right code. They hear Sydney in the vents and start shooting as Cole sends some associates after her.

WELCOME TO SPY COUNTRY: Cole, Haladki, Dr. Barnett

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Jenny: “You get paid to be annoying.”
Will: “So you’re saying I’m annoying?”
Jenny: “Not to Danny or Eloise Kurtz.”
Will: “Oh, so I don’t annoy dead people?”

“You really want some space, or are you and I going to go get drunk?” - Weiss to Vaughn

Sloane: “I can’t be the first person having difficulty taking you seriously, can I?”
Cole: “Well, while that was a moderately clever retort…I’m the man holding the box.”

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