"Prelude"
Written by J.R. Orci; directed by Jack Bender

After some shots of birds and a statue of an angel, Sydney wakes up in a brightly-lit emergency room and bangs on the door, calling for anyone who can hear her. She sees that she’s bleeding from a wound where her scar is and pulls some long tubing out of it. She wakes up at home, freaking out about her nightmare. Later, Sydney heads to the hospital to talk to her doctor and ask him about neurostimulation therapy, which might help her recover her lost memories. He wants her to keep trying the support group with the other agents who have lost time, but Sydney notes that some of them have been in that group for years and she doesn’t have time to wait, since the Covenant is after her (see “The Nemesis”). The doctor shows her a man who underwent neurostimulation and now has brain damage - and he’s considered a success story. In Nogales (yes, Mexico, again), Perez (last seen in “Repercussions”) is arrested and the chief of police wonders which country he should be turned over to, since he’s committed a lot of crimes. He tells Perez that if he reveals who he’s working for, he can choose where to go. Perez says that he has information on a CIA agent murdering a Russian diplomat for an international terrorist group.

At the ops center, Dixon announces that they’re under level three security so that Sloane can be brought in. He’s proud of Dixon for being in charge. Sloane tells everyone that he recently met with Sark to receive his newest Covenant assignment, finding a microwave laser prototype, which can kill from space, at a charity function at a Chinese ministry. He wants Sydney to go with him, since he wants backup from “the best.” Jack isn’t happy with the idea, but Sydney is fine with it, because she knows they have the same endgame in mind. She makes it clear that if he double-crosses her, she’ll kill him. Later, Jack tells Vaughn, who’s about to go to Mexico with Lauren for something for the NSC, that Perez has been arrested in Nogales. Jack thinks that Vaughn should tell Lauren that he knows Perez and that they should both remove themselves from the case. Vaughn doesn’t want to interfere with Lauren’s investigation, even when Jack reminds him what the NSC will do to Sydney. He points out that the NSC will just send someone else to talk to Perez and find out that Sydney killed Lazarey. Jack notes that they can at least buy some time to come up with a plan, but Vaughn thinks that having Lauren on his side will actually help them keep the information from the NSC. Marshall gives Sydney a miniature car that will grant them access to alarm controls and allow him to deactivate them, plus a cell phone and chip to corrupt the maser motherboard so Sloane can give that version to the Covenant.

Sydney and Sloane head to Beijing for the charity function, where she poses as his executive assistant. The minister is very appreciative. Sydney starts up the mini car, and while Marshall is working on getting it the control room, Sloane suggests that they dance to keep up appearances, then pretend to have a fight so Sydney can storm off. Marshall gets the car to the right place and shuts off the security system. He calls Sydney to let her know and she happily slaps Sloane and walks off. Vaughn and Lauren arrive in Nogales, where they’re ambushed and captured. The leader of the group of captors calls Jack, who has paid them to hold Lauren and Vaughn for a couple of hours so he can go to the police station and pay the cops to leave. Perez doesn’t think this is a good sign. At the ministry, Sydney and Marshall start in on the second phase of the mission, but the security system is somehow fixed and someone spots Sydney. She does some old-fashioned fighting to get away from some guards. Lauren and Vaughn finally make it to the police station, but Perez appears to have hung himself. Vaughn is suspicious that he had a little help. Sydney gives Sloane the corrupted motherboard and he wonders how many times she brought corrupted items back to SD-6. He tells her that the day she turned up in Hong Kong (see “The Telling”) he received a letter from her. He gives it to her, and inside an envelope addressed to herself, she finds a key and a piece of paper with some numbers on it.

Back at the ops center, Vaughn confronts Jack about killing Perez, which he denies. Vaughn threatens to kill him if he ever endangers Lauren’s life again. “Then perhaps…you finally understand the moral compromises you’ll make when someone you love is in danger,” Jack replies. In the parking garage, Lauren gets a visit from Sark, who has rendered her car undriveable and has jammed the feeds of the security cameras. He tells her that he framed Perez because he knew that if he were extradited to the U.S., he’d have to give up the name of Lazarey’s murderer. Sark gives Lauren some photos of Lazarey’s murder that show definitively that Sydney killed him. He explains that he’s risking coming to tell her this because Sydney killed his father, and he’s sure that Lauren will give the information to the appropriate people. As he’s leaving, he adds that if Lauren tries to get out of the car in the next 30 minutes, it will explode. On the plane back to L.A., Sydney has another dream. Jack calls to talk about the key and code she got from Sloane. The code is something that Irina created, so Sydney may have been in touch with her during her missing two years, though Irina never mentioned this to Jack. He tells her that the code is an address for an anonymously-purchased penthouse in Rome. They decide to go over together when she gets home.

After Lauren’s 30 minutes are up, she tells Vaughn what Sark told her and realizes that he already knew. She’s unhappy that so many people knew and that Vaughn didn’t tell her. She asks if he still loves Sydney, but Vaughn is upset that Lauren seems to be punishing them for having a past together. He fills her in on what could happen if the NSC found out, then realizes that Lauren has already reported Sydney to Lindsey. Vaughn takes off and calls Sydney just as she arrives at the airport in L.A.; he’s arranged for her to take a plane anywhere she wants to go. She doesn’t want to have to hide forever, but he assures her that he’ll make sure she doesn’t have to. She tells him she’ll go to Rome. The two meet up at the plane to say goodbye and Sydney wonders why Vaughn is willing to ruin his life to save hers. He tells her that he doesn’t want to lose her again and they share a few emotional moments. Sydney goes to the penthouse in Rome as Dixon asks Vaughn if he knows where she is. Lauren asks to speak to Dixon alone. Jack notes that Vaughn must have helped Sydney leave the country and wonders what else he’s willing to do to help her. “What did you have in mind?’ Vaughn asks. Lauren tells Dixon that, under Lindsey’s orders, she has to remove him from his position because he kept quiet about Lazarey’s murder. The building will be in lockdown until Lindsey gets there, and she claims that they know where Sydney is. In the penthouse, Sydney recognizes various scenes from her nightmares and finds a bottle of pills for Julia Thorne. Before she can find any more clues, she’s ambushed and taken into custody by the NSC.

R.I.P. (OR SO WE THINK): Perez

MEMORABLE QUOTES: “Mr. Sloane…hi. It’s been a while…and a lot has happened. I mean, at first you were evil, now you’re good…so you claim…not that I don’t…trust you, it’s just…. How are you?” - Marshall


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