Episode 18 - Masquerade


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Sydney has traveled to Mt. Subasio in Italy, following her underwater escape. She scales the mountain -- thereby proving that she is not the subject of the Rambaldi prophecy -- and once at the top, she uses a satellite phone to call the FBI and turn herself in. Upon her return to the States, her father explains that the CIA is still investigating the Prophecy, but they are now searching for her mother. Jack also confirms that, according to a CIA investigation after Laura's car crash, a special commission concluded that she had escaped alive...and that Sloane, who was on this committee, had been keeping the truth from him for many years. Sydney is now determined to find her mother, and she meets privately with Sloane to ask for his help, and insists upon a leave of absence. He agrees...but to her surprise the following day, he assigns her onto a mission to retrieve material about Alexander Khasinau... ...When Sydney protests -- reminding Sloane that she wants to find her mother first -- he explains that Khasinau was Laura Bristow's superior at the KGB. Dixon and Sloane are to fly to Vienna and rendezvous with an undercover agent stationed at the Russian embassy. The agent, Wexler, has a microchip with valuable information about Khasinau's organization. Wearing a mask, Sydney attends a masquerade ball at the embassy. Another man, also wearing a mask, whispers to her that Wexler is dead and that they are both now in jeopardy. In private, the masks are dropped. The man is Noah Hicks, an SD-6 agent whom she dated years ago. Together, they make it to the basement and find Wexler's corpse. Suspecting that he swallowed the microchip to keep it hidden, they cut the chip out of the body. With enemy agents in hot pursuit, Sydney and Dixon extract Noah from Vienna and make their escape. On the plane home, Sydney asks Noah why he left five years earlier without saying good-bye. It becomes clear that their separation was the result of a misunderstanding, before Hicks had to be transferred out of the States... That evening, Francie borrows Sydney's coat and discovers a ticket stub for a trip...to Italy. Sydney said she had flown to Seattle, so she and Will contemplate an explanation for the mysterious ticket, and speculation fills the air... Is she having an affair? Why would she lie to her friends? ...and they resolve to confront her about this. Meanwhile, Jack -- after learning that his wife is still alive -- is furious that Sloane kept the truth from him for this long. He tries to console himself with drink, until Sydney finds him in a local tavern in the middle of the afternoon. She informs him that Devlin has ordered him to visit Dr. Barnett, the agency psychiatrist... and the wall, between father and daughter, goes up once again. Following orders, Jack visits Dr. Barnett. She is a shrewd judge of Jack's character, and does not believe that he is being truthful, with her or with himself... She asks that he visit her once a week. After the microchip is analyzed at SD-6, Sydney and Noah are sent to the Arkhangelsk forest in Russia. In an underground complex, below a ranger station, is a computer with information about Khasinau's organization. They break into the complex to steal the data-core from the computer. Sydney also uses this opportunity to confirm background on her mother... The data-core is kept under sub-zero conditions in a cryo-chamber, and Sydney must don a protective suit to access it. During the invasion, one of Khasinau's men triggers a large, robotic lever-arm -- and knocks her to the ground, cracking her helmet -- and Noah must rescue her before she succumbs to the paralyzing cold. Sydney and Noah narrowly escape with the core, and make it to a cabin -- a remote SD-6 safehouse. With hours to kill before they are rescued, they discover that their passion has not been extinguished...