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Season 2 The star whose worth's unknown

Discussion in 'Alias' started by verdantheart, Dec 12, 2002.

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  1. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    “Passage” (2:08, 2:09) is, for Jack, a difficult one. He is feels forced to undertake a mission that he would not have chosen by his daughter Sydney, who otherwise would be left alone on that mission with her mother. Up until now, as we recall, he has studiously avoided approaching her, with the single exception of threatening her lest she harm their daughter. Again, he is moved by the one concern (Sydney) that could entice him to go near his ex-wife, but now he faces extended and prolonged contact with her. No wonder he snaps a bit at Sydney, though it is her safety that motivates him.

    Four threads tie the passage through India into Pakistan and the mission together:

    First, they are hampered by the thread that tangles their feet, Jack’s and Irina’s mutual lack of trust and simple need to argue. Irina tests Jack right off the bat by seeing how quickly she can get his goat, and she can do that very well, thank you very much (2:08). But the problems truly arise out Jack’s very understandable inability to trust Irina. They nearly miss their jump window (2:08); he won’t allow her to carry a weapon; he won’t trust her contact (who is nearer and better equipped); and they simply waste time, barely getting out as the air strikes were on top of them. And it’s Jack who almost pays for this lack of trust with his life when he desperately tosses Irina a gun, is shot, and lands partially on a land mine.

    Second, there’s Sydney, who ties them together through a mutual concern. Father and mother forget their differences as they unite to tend to their daughter’s scrape, both expressing the identical sentiment “You’re not all right.” It’s Sydney that can force the two to stop arguing and focus on the mission. She can give them orders, telling them who can make which decisions. Sydney is the peacemaker. No wonder Jack tells her “I’m proud of you.” (And Sydney almost avoids this moment by trying to make things easier for her father!)

    Third, there’s a thread that haunts: the ghost of the past. Surely Jack must feel haunted simply looking upon the face of the woman that he remembers as his wife--a woman that he thought dead for 20 years. Add to this the events of fastening a necklace about her neck, changing clothes in the same cramped quarters with her, and experiencing her firm if less-than-passionate kiss. The past is on his mind and he finally loses himself in it when the three hop a train and Jack and Irina share a bottle of spirits borrowed from a crate in a freight car. Irina smiles and Jack, uncharacteristically, opens the conversation, saying, “I know what you’re thinking.”

    The entire conversation is uncharacteristic of Jack. Usually an expression of emotion must be forced from him, but here it flows easily, as it must have before he discovered Irina’s identity. He’s speaking of a personal moment, something he now typically avoids. He smiles (a genuine unforced smile) at his daughter, and, more notably, at his former wife. His voice is softer in this moment of memory. The accident was his fault and he is able to laugh at himself, something I suspect he hasn’t been able to do for a very long time--he doesn’t find himself very amusing now.

    But there were reasons that the family fell apart and gradually those memories flow in--you can see them in Jack’s face. The betrayal and the hurt--that haunts too. (For a most lyrical description of this scene, please see alias_zerosum’s review, as always.)

    Fourth and finally, there’s the ever-present pressure that Jack feels: “Dad, we need to get moving.” / “I know. I’m just preparing myself . . . to let Irina out.” Sydney doesn’t seem to fully appreciate the difficulty that Jack experiences simply enduring his ex-wife’s presence (Perhaps she should think about what he went through; remember when she found out about her mother’s KGB ties and Jack tried to discuss it with her? It was another occasion when she ran when Jack gave her a rare chance to talk things over.). It’s this thread, this pressure, that ties all the other threads together.

    The pressure does not result from simple distrust; it’s more complex than that. Jack has threatened Irina, and even stood by as she awaited execution, feeling that he was doing the right thing to protect Sydney. But he also nearly got himself killed tossing her a weapon to protect herself, and he disobeys orders to bring her home, cutting Kendall off: “This is Jack. You’ll either hear from us or you won’t.” There’s no question about going back. Jack tells Sydney it’s CIA orders, but we know that’s not it. He couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t go back.

    So why would the man who would stand by while Irina awaited execution go back beneath a missile attack to save her? It’s very simple and at the same time very complex: Jack deeply loves the woman who fundamentally betrayed him and whom he cannot trust. And there is a crucial juncture past which he could no longer ignore his feelings--the moment when Irina convinced him that she was held prisoner in the facility as a suspected traitor, just as Jack was held by the US government and he grants her a little trust--just enough--to complete the mission.

    If he simply hated her, would he have done nothing when Sydney decided to go looking for her last season? No, Jack’s like Sydney; he wants to do something about things, even if he has to go outside channels. Jack’s hard enough that I could see him working behind the scenes--behind Sydney’s back--to track Irina down and kill her. That act would be absolutely wrong, but it would make absolutely sure that Sydney would never be harmed by her mother as he was. And if Jack had any desire for revenge, that would give him the opportunity to satisfy it. We know his experience made him less than a hero. (He could have tried to capture her himself and turn her over to the authorities, but that would pretty much land him in the same pickle he finds himself in now.) All he really did was increase his alcohol intake.

    But, faced with the threat of her presence and potential manipulations--and particularly the threat that his precious daughter might have to go through the same sort of pain and ruin that he did--he was willing to allow Irina to be executed. It was his actions that removed the impediment (the immunity agreement) to the execution, but it was Irina’s actions (the assassinations that were part of her espionage activities) that led to the execution. Does he feel guilt for putting the woman he loves in this position? Grief that her actions put her in this position? Guilt that he may forgive her for her sins because he loves her?

    I believe that a great deal of the pressure Jack feels from dealing with Irina is that he fears his emotions regarding her. Deep down he knows he still loves her deeply and he fears that she could again manipulate him all too easily into filling whatever role in whatever plot she wants. The betrayal that he went through nearly destroyed him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had considered suicide (with Sydney and the need to atone for Irina’s sins preventing him) during the aftermath. He fears facing the same thing all over again; that his daughter might face it. That thought is unbearable. So he tries his hardest to keep his emotions in check while he wants most to give in to them.

    No matter what his Laura is or has become, Jack loves her. Didn’t Shakespeare say it best?

    Sonnet 116

    Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments; love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove.
    O no, it is an ever fixed mark
    That looks upon tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
    Whose worth’s unknown, although his highth be taken.
    Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle’s compass come,
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

    - Shakespeare

    In other words, if the one you love changes and you stop loving her, you weren’t in love in the first place. It’s not true love. True love, Shakespeare says, is “an ever fixed mark.” You can’t change it. Jack’s love was tested in the extreme, for the alteration that he found cut to the core of what he believed about her. Jack’s stuck loving Laura/Irina, no matter what. No matter what he finds out she is. No matter what he finds out she’s done. His loving Irina may be his tragic flaw, for it could well destroy him, or drive him to do terrible things. Does Rambaldi’s prophecy indicate that it will literally drive them to the “edge of doom”? It all depends on Irina, enigmatic, equivocal, essential Irina.


    Random thoughts . . .

    So now what does Jack do? Does he begin to trust Irina? Can they open a line of communication?

    Cuvee's behavior toward Jack seemed more than simple sadism. He seemed to be covering a little insecurity, perhaps jealosy. After all, Jack had Irina to himself for ten years. He seemed very anxious to permanently remove Jack from Irina's life. I don't think it bothered Jack at all to take him down. Looks like there might be more between these two. They don't seem to have hit it off.

    Cuvee claimed to have played “matchmaker” to Jack and Irina. He says that Jack was one of several possibilities although he had the “most potential.” Who were the other possibilities (I wonder if they would have included Sloane? Can you picture Irina towering over her diminutive husband like that?)? That brings up the intriguing question of why the KGB might have targeted Jack. I can think of a few possibilities:

    ~ The KGB knew of a psychological vulnerability
    ~ The KGB had somehow captured him and implanted a psychological vulnerability (how?)
    ~ Someone inside the CIA had set him up (who? Sloane, at such an early juncture?)
    ~ Unlikely: a possible eugenic connection (after all, Sydney’s an only child)

    Think about which possibility (or quite likely something I haven’t thought of) is the thing that will hurt Jack the most. That’s probably what it is.

    Next:
    The Alliance comes to investigate Sloane’s woes and stays to increase Jack’s.
     
  2. Viogirl13

    Viogirl13 Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    USA
    Wow...good analyzing! I never thought about that! Sloane and Irina! Tha'd be too weird. Maybe he was already married to Emily or something... But Sloane doesn't work for the CIA...so he wouln't have been chosen anyways right?
     
  3. AliasALIAS

    AliasALIAS Guest

    Sloane used to work for the CIA.

    Good review. (y)

    What does eugenic mean?
     
  4. Azhria Lilu

    Azhria Lilu Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2002
    Location:
    Derbyshire, UK
    From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition:

     
  5. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    Thanks, I like feedback (especially the positive kind, but who doesn't?)! You can always call me on being too easy on Jack, though, if that's the case, 'cause I'm clearly biased!
     
  6. a.k.a.Kate_Jones

    a.k.a.Kate_Jones Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2002
    Location:
    behind you.
    hmm...interesting. It's weird, though, how when you first read a review for an episode, you notice only the basic outline. But when you get more into it, and read fabulous reviews like the one above, you notice all these little things going on between characters that you never saw before. That's what I really love about Alias: there is always a little something embedded in the plot that could prove to be crucial later in the season.
     
  7. Viogirl13

    Viogirl13 Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    USA
    Thanks for clearing that up..makes much more sense...and another question arises...how did he go bad?
     
  8. a.k.a.Kate_Jones

    a.k.a.Kate_Jones Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2002
    Location:
    behind you.
    ohh,yes..how did he go bad? Maybe he was on a mission and something happened and the CIA figured he was dead (didn't that happen to somebody?) or maybe he had a huge blowout with another officer. I have no idea, really.
     
  9. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    There's a point in the first season when Sloane looks back on a moment before "the CIA betrayed him." This is as much as Sloane has said about it thus far. Jack must know what that incident was, but we don't know what happened yet.
     
  10. Intel

    Intel Rocket Ranger

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2003
    Location:
    Australia
    Another great in-depth review I also think Cuvee may have been jealous of Jack, if what we've seen of him is anything to go by.

    Perhaps if Sloane and Laura/Irina did have a more than plutonic relationship, Sloane might keep this piece of information to himself so he can have an upper hand in undermining Jack, or use it in a more beneficial situation. But since Irina was ordered by the KGB to be undercover and have relations with a CIA officer, she I would think have to maintain that loving wife and mother cover that she had as Laura and things simply were that Emily & Sloane and Jack & Laura were friends. Well that's my theory anyway :)
     
  11. ivand67

    ivand67 Sydney's Lover

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2003
    Kick-ass column! One of your best...

    If you haven't figured it out, V, I'm reading your stuff as I attempt to watch the rest of Season 2 before Tuesday morning...

    But the 99% chance of a black-out from Hurricane Frances will spoil my marathon... :(
     

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