Season 1 Episode 2
Alex and the newly formed CIA/FBI task force track a suspect, while Katya concocts a convincing lie to protect Alex from the truth.
We pick up where we left off last week: Alex has just confronted his parents and demanded they tell him about their old friend Mikhail. Immediately, the SVU technician listening in calls the Rezident and informs him the O'Connor's cover is about to be blown. Officers are dispatched to take care of the situation, while Katya and Mark pretend to be shocked to hear their old friend could be a spy. But Alex isn't buying it. He starts listing all the different times Katya disappeared with flimsy excuses when he was a kid, poking holes in her various lies over the years. Katya is backed into a corner. She has only one option that explains her shady behavior... she had an affair. Mark does an excellent job of appearing shocked and devastated, and Alex seems to buy the story. Stunned, he leaves his parents to sort through their marital issues, while Victor calls off the family's would-be executioners.
Moscow, one year ago: Top SVR officials, including the Rezident, meet to discuss Black Dagger, an operation that will collapse the American economy and world influence, allowing Russia to reclaim their supremacy. While one official objects, calling the monumental loss of American lives "madness," the head of the SVR declares, "Madness is American sanctions forbidding us from accessing our bank accounts... We can do nothing as America strangles us, or we can stand as Russians and fight back."
New York City, present day: An SVR team sweeps Mikhail's home, scrubbing it of any evidence and searching for Mikhail's hidden files. Back at the O'Connor home, Katya does a sweep of her own, removing the SVR's listening devices hidden around the house. She's worried Alex will never forgive her for cheating on his father, but Mark promises her he'll get past it. But can Mark? Even though Katya swears it was just a lie to keep them safe, Mark can't help but wonder if there's some truth to her story.
Alex walks down the street, lost in thought. Suddenly Sam appears behind him - he's been following him for blocks. He tells him that Irina's murder convinced D.C. that the SVR really is planning an attack on U.S. soil, and Alex will be part of a newly created joint CIA/FBI task force to stop it. Sam takes the young protégé to the task force headquarters, where he meets his new partner, Michelle Prado, a stunning FBI agent in her early 30s. Michelle catches Alex's eye, causing him to act even more awkward than usual.
Special Agent Brock calls the task force to attention and explains their best chance at stopping the attack is to find Mikhail's Easter Egg. While they're sure the SVR has already swept Mikhail's apartment, they're still going to check it out and see if the Russians send a second wave. When they get there, sure enough, it's been scrubbed, and all that's left are a few fiberglass shards. But Alex makes an important discovery: a cab driver has been sitting outside the building, turning down fares. He approaches the cabbie, telling him he wants to talk about Mikhail, and the guy takes off running, with Alex, Michelle and Sam in pursuit. Unfortunately, he gets away, but loses his glasses in the process. Alex rips his shirt in the chase, so Sam sends him to go buy more button-downs so he can be presentable.
Meanwhile, Victor meets the Rezident and his henchmen at an abandoned pier. He's upset that Victor stopped his officers from killing the O'Connors, disobeying a direct order. Victor apologizes, explaining Katya's lie alleviated the situation, and he needed to protect Alex as a source. The Rezident doesn't care, and suddenly orders two of his henchmen to slit the throat of a third, as a warning to Victor not to cross him again. The Rezident knows about the task force and that Alex is on it, and informs Victor that he must get audio inside the task force's headquarters, despite the fact that it's a full-scale Faraday cage. They must keep tabs on the investigation and get to those files before the Americans.
Shaken from his meeting, Victor meets with Katya, who is still furious that he bugged her home. He gives her duplicates of the new shirts Alex bought. One button on each is a burst transmitter to record the task force's progress. That night, Katya goes to Alex's hotel room to beg for his forgiveness for the affair. She apologizes profusely and convinces him to get dinner with her. While they're waiting for the elevator, she steals his room key and stashes it for Mark to sneak into his room and switch the button-downs.
The next morning, Alex informs the task force that he's made a new discovery: after examining the fiberglass shards and the cabbie's unusual glasses, he determines the man lays fiber-optic cable for a living for a data-management company or a high-end security firm. He also recognizes the cabbie's accent as Georgian, and found that only one firm in the area employs a Georgian national, and he works from home. His name is Vasso Matiashvilli.
Sam sends Michelle and Alex to get a search warrant, but as soon as Alex steps outside of the office, the burst transmitter on his shirt starts relaying their entire discussion back to the SVR. They wait for hours in the car outside the courthouse to get a search warrant, but after stepping out for coffee, they return to find a burner phone ringing in the glove compartment. It's Vasso. He's willing to talk to them, but only on his terms and his turf. They follow his directions and drive to the old Navy Yard in Brooklyn, knowing full well they could be walking into a trap. Overhearing all of this, the Rezident sends a team to pick up Vasso, even if it means using force against U.S. Federal Agents. Victor warns this could restart the Cold War, but the Rezident responds that if the Americans get their hands on Mikail's files, it will start an actual war.
But the Rezident isn't the only one listening in on Alex. As soon as Katya and Mark realize Alex is in danger, they spring into action, making their way to the Navy Yard. Alex and Michelle drive to a warehouse, where they meet Vasso. He asks them where Mikhail is and if he defected, and suddenly Alex has a realization. In Russian, he tells Vasso that Mikail is dead, but Vasso was the one who stole the SVR's files. They were working together and planned to defect. Vasso confirms Alex's theory: when Mikhail disappeared, Vasso thought he left him behind, so he waited outside his apartment, hoping he'd return. He stole the files because he wanted a way out. Mikhail caught him but didn't turn him in because of what he found in the files: evidence of Black Dagger. When Michelle asks why Moscow would commit such an atrocity, Vasso explains the Kremlin has lost control of the SVR. Mikhail was trying to trade the files to the Americans, but the SVR got to him first. The files are on an encrypted hard drive secured inside a laptop, but only Mikhail knew where that laptop was. Vasso is the only one who knows the password and how to stop the deletion timer. In 48 hours, the files will delete themselves if he doesn't get to the laptop first.
Suddenly they hear a noise, and before they know it the Rezident's men are shooting at them. Vasso is hit and Michelle calls for backup. Alex pulls a dying Vasso to the side and begs him to reveal the aliases Mikhail used to hide the files. Vasso mumbles something in Russian as Michelle shoots two of the SVR's men. Sirens blare - backup is getting close. Realizing his window of opportunity is closing, the Rezident instructs his sniper to take out Vasso, but he doesn't have a clear shot. The sniper can only get a shot on Alex, so he takes aim... bang! He slumps forward. Katya stands over him, her gun still smoking. Will Alex ever know his mother just saved his life?