"Countdown"
Written by Jeff Pinkner; directed by Lawrence Trilling

Dixon is standing over a man, holding a detonator and demanding to know where a device is. Sydney arrives as Dixon tells the man that he has nothing to lose. Over coms, Jack orders Dixon to disarm his explosive. Vaughn, who’s near Dixon, tells an NSA director named Brandon that he can’t see him. Sydney tries to get Dixon to calm down while Brandon tells Jack to get Vaughn to take Dixon down. Jack doesn’t want to, since Dixon could be holding a manual detonator and shooting him could trigger it. Brandon pulls rank on Jack and orders Vaughn to shoot Dixon as soon as he can. Vaughn prepares himself to do that as Dixon tells Sydney to leave. 72 hours earlier, Dixon holds a wake for Diane (see “Endgame”) that is attended by a number of his coworkers. Vaughn spots Dixon taking some pills, and when he and Sydney are back home, he tells her this. Vaughn thinks he’s self-medicating and is going back to work too soon because he’s desperate to track down Sloane. Sydney notes that she reacted to Danny’s death in a similar way. Sark tells Sloane that the man they’re looking for is in Panama City, but Sloane knows that the CIA has a copy of Caplan’s database and could get there first. Instead, he gives Sark instructions, then notes that he should have killed Dixon, not Diane, to ease his own grief (see “Truth Takes Time”). Sark wants him to focus on the victory he’ll get once his 30 years of work have paid off. Sloane tells him that if he doesn’t see him again, he wishes him and Irina luck in succeeding where he couldn’t.

At the CIA, Jack introduces Brandon, who’s working with them on Rambaldi stuff, and Carrie Bowman (Amanda Foreman), who’s in special projects. She compliments the work Marshall has already done, which flusters him. He gives a presentation on Rambaldi’s drawings, which include squiggles that are actually DNA strands. He put them together and got a fingerprint of a man named Protero Di Regno, who lives in Panama City. His DNA is a code key that allowed the NSA to decipher the 94th page of Rambaldi’s manuscript. The page lists a bunch of “apocalyptic” events, including one that will supposedly take place in 48 hours. Jack wants Sydney and Dixon to go get Di Regno and bring him back to L.A. Someone else gets their first and kills him. When Dixon and Sydney arrive, they learn that Di Regno, a Rambaldi follower, had his heart removed. Sydney manages to find a fingerprint, which matches an assassin named Emilio Vargas who works in Guadalajara. At the ops center, Vaughn asks Jack to remove Dixon from field duty until he’s passed a psychological evaluation and has been cleared by the medical department. Jack would rather go by Dixon’s opinion than Vaughn’s, though Vaughn points out that Dixon’s wife just died. Jack tells him that he recruited Dixon to SD-6 and introduced him to Sloane, who was behind Diane’s murder, so he doesn’t want to stop Dixon from going after Sloane.

Marshall catches Carrie crying while listening to Joni Mitchell and they start talking about Rambaldi. Carrie then calls him cute and asks him out for sushi. As Vaughn calls Dr. Barnett, Sydney and Dixon head to Guadalajara and confront, then fight with, Vargas. Vargas reveals that a machine, not Di Regno’s heart, was taken and it’s on its way to Cartagena, Colombia. Dixon gets a little too violent while asking about Sloane and Sydney has to stop him from overdoing it. Dixon meets with Barnett and they discuss Sloane and what happened with Vargas. She tells him that there are plenty of people in the agency who can take down Sloane, and no matter how much he wants to be a part of the action, she has to decide if he’s ready. At the ops center, Marshall tells Sydney and Carrie that Di Regno never had a heart transplant and didn’t have an artificial heart, so he’s not sure how he stayed alive. Dixon asks Sydney if she told Barnett he shouldn’t be out in the field; she assures him that she didn’t. He’s worried because he’s supposed to undergo medical testing and recently stopped taking Vicodin. When Vaughn arrives for work, Sydney asks him if he turned Dixon in to Barnett; Vaughn admits that he did. She’s upset that he didn’t consult with her, but he tells her that he was trying to protect both her and Dixon. He notes that their devotion to looking for Sloane can cloud their judgment. Sydney feels like he’s being condescending.

Sloane heads to Nepal, where he asks a guide to take him to a place the guide says people don’t return from. Vaughn goes to Sydney’s to apologize and tells her that Dixon’s medical tests came back negative. Sydney finds this troublesome. Sydney goes to Dixon’s house, where he admits that he switched his test results. She tells him that she’s been called in to talk to Barnett and doesn’t want to have to lie for him. Dixon notes that if the truth comes out, he’ll never be allowed to work for the government and won’t be able to take care of his kids. He says that he can’t do this without Diane. Sydney goes to see Barnett, who asks her if there’s anything she should know before she allows Dixon to go back into the field. As Dixon hangs out on a bridge, Sydney tells Barnett that she trusts Dixon with her life and is sure that he’ll get better. She meets up with Vaughn at the ops center and learns that a group is being sent to a shipyard in Colombia to get the Di Regno heart. Jack and Brandon tell her that after she gets the heart, Vaughn and a team will figure out if it’s a weapon. If they can’t find the device, Brandon gets to blow it up with C-4. Dixon arrives just in time for the mission and thanks Sydney for not ratting him out. She makes him promise that he can handle what’s ahead. At the top of a mountain, Sloane comes to a monastery and interrogates a monk named Conrad (David Carradine). 30 years ago, Conrad sent him on a quest that caused him to leave the CIA and betray everyone he loved. Conrad knows that Emily is dead and tells Sloane that he has something to show him.

In Cartagena, Sydney and Dixon find the truck transporting the Di Regno heart and an interrogation of a man transporting it leads to the first scene of the episode. The man tells Dixon where to find the heart and Dixon tells Sydney that his trigger wasn’t actually attached to anything - “I’m not that desperate.” In Nepal, Conrad shows Sloane a box with the Rambaldi symbol on it and tells him that he could only tell him so much 30 years earlier because certain events needed to happen before he could understand everything. Emily’s death was necessary, according to Rambaldi’s writings, but Sloane is upset that Conrad didn’t warn him. Conrad replies that if he had, he wouldn’t be able to give him a scroll of paper from the box. As the CIA works on disarming the Di Regno heart, Conrad tells Sloane that he can choose to ignore the scroll. The CIA realizes that the heart isn’t a bomb, but instead of getting to say what it is, they are ordered by Brandon just to bring it back to L.A. Sloane opens the scroll at midnight, when the apocalyptic event was supposed to occur, and Brandon notes that Rambaldi was wrong. As Sloane reads the scroll, which appears to contain something interesting, Conrad tells him that his journey has just begun. Dixon apologizes to Sydney for putting her in a difficult position, then reveals that he was about to kill himself on the bridge. He heard what he thought was a baby crying and started thinking about his children. He stepped down and realized that the sound was actually a tree branch. Back in L.A., Sydney and Vaughn sit in a park and she tells him that she knows what Dixon did. She never had anyone to disappoint growing up, but now she does. He seems fine with everything that’s happened.

WELCOME TO SPY COUNTRY: Carrie, Conrad

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Carrie: “Are you gay?”
Marshall: “Why, is there someone you wanted to set me up with?”


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