As I think over the events in "Endgame" (2:19), I'm struck by how I'm forced to marvel at the way I must attempt to tease apart the delecate shadings of Jack's emotional make-up just as I attempt to tease apart those of Irina's motivations. This man who conceals his emotions so carefully seems to experience them in a very complex manner. Again I return to Jack's dual approach to Irina (trust/distrust) and the passive tracker. “You let Derevko walk out of here because you thought she could lead us to Sloane.” “A mistake I’m not anxious to repeat.” The more I think about it, the more it seems apparent that Jack was just barely covering his ass with that passive tracking device. Did he let her walk out of there "because [he] thought she could lead [them] to Sloane"? I don't think so. I think it was more of a test. He wanted Irina to prove herself as much or more than Sydney did. He needed to know--for certain, unequivocally--one way or the other, whether he could trust Irina. And he could not. He cannot trust her to tell him the truth. As I have said, he told her the truth in all but one thing, a small omission that would not have mattered had she been truthful with him. He did not tell her about the tracking device. He played it almost completely straight, with only the thinnest of lines to break his fall. His admission ("a mistake") betrays his regret that he needed to run that risky experiment. But it convinced the CIA, his daughter, and himself. He'd say that it was most important that Sydney be convinced of the truth about Irina, but isn't it true that it's really most important to him that his own hopes be dashed? He knows the facts now, but the price he paid was very high. And the situation that he now finds himself in as Director is an unenviable one. As I pointed out in the Spy family column, Jack finds himself in much the same position he was in when Sydney was growing up: the distant authority figure--a restrictive force who is seen as unreasonable and to be rebelled against. Sydney is putting distance between herself and her father at a rapid pace--and Jack, in his efforts to protect his daughter, is unable to communicate with her effectively and does not help matters any. Having once more lost his wife and in the process of once more losing his daughter, Jack is becoming more and more isolated. If we thought we saw a thaw coming, we can forget about it, because winter’s back in full force. In the Family column I discussed Jack's confrontation with Elsa Caplan at some length, but let's get into it just a little further. Jack confronts Elsa with a story which could be Irina’s own, but he couches it in terms that insult and degrade both Elsa and Irina, accusing them of using their children as a way of easing their own guilt over prostituting themselves and undermining their husband’s affections. When he threatens to see to it that Elsa never sees her son again, she breaks down, sobbing, and Jack’s expression softens ever so slightly. He sees the truth in her despair and grants her defector status. The softening in Jack's expression is, again, an ambiguous thing, as is the emotion expressed in his diatribe. He seems to enjoy his attack on her, but I believe that it is a calculated thing--at least in the beginning. He plans to be harsh to get a response. But where does interrogation end and emotion begin? Did he get carried away, just a little? The softer expression seems to be a mixture of things, which could include a realization that Elsa is, in fact, being truthful about her feelings, regret at his behavior toward her, and envy of their family situation. It was a difficult experience for the both of them. But Elsa Caplan will have her family back and be comforted. Who will comfort Jack? Additionally, this confrontation brings up several questions. Did Jack ever confront his wife in this manner? Certainly, he hasn’t since she reappeared this season. They have argued, but about surface things, not about the things that eat at him even 20 years after the hurt was inflicted. Did he ever have the opportunity to confront her 20-plus years ago? How exactly did it go down back then, anyway? Is this really the way he sees Irina? Does he think she feels guilt over the way she treated him? That she felt having Sydney somehow absolves that guilt? That she doesn’t really love Sydney? Yet he believes that she cares enough to want to save Sydney’s life. But he must believe that he cares more about Sydney, for he would never abandon her. At the end of the day, Jack must greatly envy Neil Caplan. Caplan has two huge advantages over Jack. His wife made her family her top priority and isn’t going to abandon them. And he knows that she is a spy. That is an enormous advantage that Jack didn’t have. In fact, as far as Caplan knows that his wife is a spy and she is unaware that he knows and is an NSA agent, their situations can even be seen as somewhat the reverse of Jack and Irina’s. The disparity of knowledge is tipped in favor of the husband (betrayed) in this case. In an odd reversal, if Jack is similar to anyone in this scenario, it is Elsa, who has the lesser information and a great devotion to her family (not to say Mr Caplan does not care about his family). Poor Jack. Random thoughts . . . Mr Abrams really seems to enjoy the interplay between Marshall and Jack, taking full advantage of Kevin Weisman’s rapid-fire delivery of off-center information and Mr Garber’s ability to achieve a swift comedic take without breaking character. For example, the sharp look Jack shot Marshall when he cracked his “Death Star” remark. Jack's remarks in Russian weren't translated word-for-word in the subtitles. Nice to know I can still follow the language and that Mr Garber's Russian is intelligible (though I couldn't vouch for his accent one way or the other). Discuss . . . Do you believe the picture that Jack paints of Elsa Caplan is the way he views Irina? How do you think Jack thinks Irina views their marriage? Do you think he thinks she cares for him at all? How in control--or out--do you think Jack was when he confronted Irina? How did you read the change in Jack's expression at the end of his confrontation with Mrs Caplan? I know I asked this in the other column, but do you think Jack ever got the chance to confront Irina? Next: Sloane learns that Emily's death and an impending apocalypse were fated by a sin he committed 30 years ago. Did this sin have anything to do with Jack and/or Irina? Modifications: 1) With the promos out for "Countdown," modified the Next section.