"Masquerade"
Written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman; directed by Carl Zisk

Sydney climbs Mt. Sebacio, defying Rambaldi’s prophecy (see “The Prophecy” and “Q&A”), and then calls the FBI to turn herself in. Back in L.A., she thanks Jack for helping her and he tells her that the FBI is now looking for Irina. He admits that while she was in Italy, he broke into Langley’s classified archives and learned that after Irina’s supposed death, a commission was formed to see what damage she’d done to U.S. intelligence. Sloane was a part of the commission, so Jack confronted him, piecing together that Sloane only would have kept the news about the commission from him if they’d uncovered something Jack shouldn’t know. Sydney vows to find Irina, but Jack doesn’t think that any good can come from a search, especially since they have no proof that she’s still alive. He adds that it doesn’t change anything that Irina did. He asks if Sydney expects an apology; she doesn’t know what to expect, but he thinks she should. “What could she ever say that would satisfy you?” he asks. That night, Sydney meets with Vaughn at the self-storage facility, telling him how she thought he was so strong when she was a child, but now she’s seen how scared he is that she wants to find Irina. Vaughn is on Jack’s side, mostly because Irina killed his mother, but Sydney asks for his help in finding out what the CIA knows about Irina. He tells her that all information about her is classified and he can’t help her.

Sydney drops by Sloane’s house and learns that after Irina’s supposed death, Jack spent six months in prison under suspicion of being in collusion with her. After he was released, he began to unravel and started drinking. Sloane was ordered not to tell him that Irina was alive, which meant lying to Sydney as well. Sydney asks to be removed from active duty until she finds out what happened to her mother, but Sloane doesn’t want her to go off on a rogue operation. Instead, he offers to help her out. At home the next morning, Francie notices a bruise on Sydney’s arm; Sydney tells her that a guy hit her with his luggage on a flight. At SD-6, Jack and Sloane task Sydney and Dixon to attend a party at the Russian embassy in Vienna to find out what Khasinau is spending some recently-acquired money on. Wexler, an undercover agent at the embassy, has encoded evidence of Khasinau’s transactions on a microchip, which Sydney and Dixon are to get. Later, Sydney reminds Sloane that she doesn’t want to be on active duty, but he informs her that Khasinau was Irina’s superior at the KGB. He wants her to get the microchip because the more they know about Khasinau, the more they’ll know about Irina. Jack tracks Sydney down and chastises her for asking Sloane for help. He warns that she’ll spend a lot of time trying to pay back the favor. Sydney informs him that Khasinau was Irina’s superior.

Dixon and Sydney head to Vienna, where they attend a masquerade ball and dance while scoping out their situation. Jack goes to see Sloane and asks why he agreed to help Sydney without consulting him first. Sloane notes that she would have gone looking for Irina without anyone’s blessing. Jack thinks that she’ll be disappointed no matter what happens; Sloane replies that that depends on what she expects to find. He thinks that the situation is affecting Jack more than he admits, but Jack says that he’s only concerned about his daughter. Sloane suggests that he take a break from active duty. Jack thinks that if Sydney were Sloane’s daughter, he’d understand his position. Sloane subtly taunts that he’s been as much a father to Sydney as Jack has. At the ball, Sydney activates the infrared sensors in her earrings so that the agent she’s supposed to execute a brush pass with can recognize her. The agent, who seems to recognize Sydney, cuts in on her dance with Dixon and informs her that Wexler is dead. He says that his cover will be blown soon and tells her that he’s Wexler’s partner. Sydney doesn’t believe him and threatens to inject him with a neurotoxin. The agent proves that she’s not being set-up by letting her know that he’s familiar with SD-6. Sydney fills Dixon in and tells him that she’s going after the chip. Out in the hall, Sydney admits to the agent that she didn’t really have a neurotoxin, then asks him about his recruitment. She realizes who he is and the two are shocked to see each other unmasked.

Guards spot Sydney and the agent, Noah, so they kiss to try to stay disguised. They wind up taking the guards out together. “How you been?” Noah asks when they’re done. The two head to a storage room where Wexler’s body has been stored and realize that they’ll have to cut him open to retrieve the microchip, which he swallowed. Outside, Dixon gets ambushed and warns Sydney that the party hosts knew they were coming. Noah and Sydney get the microchip but are stalled by guards when they try to escape the party. Noah releases balloons from the ceiling in order to help them get away undetected. On the flight home, Dixon tells Sydney that he doesn’t think Sloane will be happy that they had to extract Noah. He’s not sure that she should get too friendly with Noah until he’s been debriefed. Sydney tells him that their past ended five years ago. Dixon gives up his seat so Noah can talk to Sydney, but Sydney doesn’t want to talk. Noah wants to know if she’s still mad at him; apparently they had a relationship and she thinks that he left her. In fact, he waited for her for six hours but had to leave without her. Later, he wrote her to tell her to come to San Pedro, encoding the message in a junk e-mail, but she never got it. Back in L.A., Sloane isn’t pleased to see Noah and sends him to McCullough for debriefing. He tells Sydney that he’s done her a favor and expects one in return in the future.

McCullough interrogates Noah, who admits that he asked to be sent overseas long-term five years earlier because he was afraid to admit to himself that he was in love. Sydney listens in as Noah says that he regrets the decision; he refuses to name her as the person he was in love with, secure that he’ll still be needed because he was the only undercover agent near Khasinau who’s still alive. Sydney and Vaughn meet and Vaughn notes that Sydney mentioned Noah in the background report she gave when she first joined the CIA. She tells him that they dated but kept it quiet because SD-6 discourages relationships between agents. (Vaughn says that the CIA does, too.) Vaughn asks if Sydney knows where Jack is, since the CIA hasn’t heard from him for a while. Sydney tracks Jack down at a bar (at 2 in the afternoon) and tells him that she thinks she can talk to him about things now. He replies that their relatively closer relationship is only temporary. She suggests that he see a psychiatrist at the agency and, knowing that he wouldn’t listen, reveals that she got Devlin to issue an order for him to see someone. Sydney meets with Noah after his debriefing and they go over the files from the microchip. They discuss Sydney’s first experiences in training and she admits that she’s not having fun anymore. At Sydney and Francie’s, Francie borrows one of Sydney’s jackets and finds a ticket from Italy in the pocket. She and Will note that Sydney told them she went to Seattle.

At SD-6, Sloane tells the usual group, plus Noah, that Khasinau has two supercomputers and may be able to use them to assemble the Rambaldi artifacts he has and figure out what’s missing. Sydney needs to steal a data core from a cryogenic chamber, and Noah wants to go with her. The two head to Arkhangelsk and get captured by guards. Jack attends a therapy session with Dr. Barnett (see “The Box, Part 1”) and gives her some answers she obviously wants to hear. At the end, she tells him that she doesn’t believe a word he’s said the entire time and wants to see him every week. Sydney and Noah are taken to an archive, where they knock out the guards. Sydney uses a computer to try to get information on Irina, then starts disengaging the core. As she’s extracting it and Noah is fighting guards, the glass on her helmet cracks and the absolute zero temperature starts freezing her. Noah rescues her and gets them to safety. At a restaurant back in L.A., Will and Francie discuss Sydney’s ticket and wonder why she would hide her trip from them. They decide to ask her when she gets back from her current trip (to San Francisco, they think). Sydney and Noah hang out in a safehouse in the middle of nowhere, having to wait six hours for their extraction. They decide to pass time and keep warm by having sex.

MEMORABLE QUOTES: Francie: “Okay, seriously, we are not putting chocolate chips in the pancakes.”
Will: “I got news for you: oh, yes, we are.”

“Sorry I’m late. And sorry that I have hives.” - Marshall


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