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Season 2 Home is where the hurt is

Discussion in 'Alias' started by verdantheart, Dec 5, 2002.

  1. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    [Good thing I'm not writing my extended comments this week because I have a huge load of work and squeezed this in with a bunch of overtime. Whew, sometimes it's tough being a working stiff!]

    And love is not the easy thing....
    The only baggage you can bring
    Is all that you can’t leave behind
    - U2, “Walk On”

    What can you say about an episode that begins with “Bad Moon Rising” and ends with “Walk On”?

    In “Passage - Part I” (2:08), the Bristow family takes a passage to India, or rather, to Pakistan, via India. I fear that it will turn out to be a rite of passage for Sydney, as she will learn something about her mother firsthand that she has not been able to appreciate secondhand. In this column I will take a preliminary look at events in preparation for a more in-depth examination next week after the conclusion of this two-part episode.

    Jack and Sydney start out the episode by talking over Sark’s “walk-in” at SD-6. Sydney wonders whether Sark might know about their double-agent status through Irina. Meanwhile, Jack is speculating about the timing of Sark’s actions and whether there might be some continued coordination between Sark and Irina. (My tendency, from Irina’s actions to keep Sydney in step with Sark, is to believe that Sark is actually making a play for Irina’s agency and they are, in fact, at counter-purposes. Considering that Irina liked to keep herself hidden behind others as “The Man,” this is a believable scenario.)

    Sydney goes on to discuss Sark with Irina, who claims that she never discussed Sydney’s status with Sark. However, when the Uzbek codes are mentioned, Irina becomes agitated and demands a furlough to check out information about the codes herself. She refuses to divulge anything about what she suspects, however.

    Sydney argues Irina’s case with Kendall, who resists, but asks Jack his opinion. Jack at first defers, remarking that his judgment is “impaired” when it comes to Irina Derevko. Pressed, he offers that it might be “worth the risk to satisfy our curiosity.”

    Sydney is angry that Jack didn’t help her win her argument, but of course that wasn’t Jack’s aim. Jack points out that Kendall’s “ego predisposes him to favor decisions in which he’s overruling others,” and goes on to say, “You argue your way, I’ll argue mine.” (Perhaps Jack should have taken that tack a couple of weeks ago . . .)

    Turns out the codes were for six portable nukes. Sark transferred the codes to an unknown third party. Jack, of course, was left in the dark, thanks to Sark’s machinations with Sloane.

    Meanwhile, Irina admits her suspicions were confirmed but that she wouldn’t divulge them out of concern for Sydney’s safety. She further refuses to assist in any mission to solve their renewed emergency. However, Sydney privately informs Irina that she (Sydney) will be on any mission to go for the nukes and if she (Irina) is really concerned for her daughter’s safety, she’ll come along. Irina acquiesces.

    Jack, of course, gets swift wind of the plan and refuses to allow his daughter to go on this mission with her mother alone. Jack takes the lead of the mission. In an ironic parody of a romantic moment between lovers, he places a C4-laced necklace around his ex-wife’s neck. Break the circuit and it will go off, he says. Jack can release it or detonate it remotely using controls on his watch. If he feels she’s betraying them or trying to escape, he says, “I’ll activate this remote trigger and blow your head off myself.” Their faces are very close together in this moment as they coldly gaze into each other’s eyes.

    The family is reunited with the addition of Kendall and Vaughn, who outline the mission. During the flight to India, Irina brings up Vaughn and the subject of Sydney’s happiness. Jack does not take long to rise to the bait, drawing a response from Sydney, not unlike a mother separating her squabbling children: “Hey! Stop baiting him! Stop being such an easy target!”

    They pose as a somewhat dysfunctional family (not much of a stretch), mom and dad dragging their spoiled brat to India for a Thanksgiving family vacation. When the gate agent comments on Irina’s necklace, she gleefully smacks Jack on the lips, describing the deadly bauble as an anniversary gift.

    After a quick change of clothes (and an interesting moment that fits best in Jack’s column), the family gets together in the baggage compartment where they don parachutes and gather gear--and argue. Jack and Irina argue about in which order the three should jump out of the train and off a bridge. Sydney ends this conflict by jumping out of the train first, followed by Irina, who is thrown out by Jack, and finally Jack.

    The trio then meets their contact, an old friend of Jack’s. Not long after, however, their Jeep is stopped by members of the People’s Revolutionary Front (PRF). The four are made to kneel and their contact is quickly killed. Jack and Irina silently signal one another and agree that the necklace must be sacrificed. Jack releases it, Irina throws it, and Jack detonates it. The three take up machine guns and a firefight ensues to the strains of U2’s “Walk On.”

    After the PRF are taken care of, Sydney buckles and Irina seems concerned, kneeling to check on her (Sydney says it’s just a scratch). But Jack puts his gun to Irina and orders her to drop her weapon, which she does reluctantly. “Jack, we’re in enemy territory and the PRF knows we’re here. We need to start trusting each other. Right now,” she says.

    Jack simply responds, “You will not carry a weapon.”

    We leave them heading out on foot.

    At first I wondered why JJ Abrams chose “Walk On” for the closing song because I’ve always seen the song as being a bit about letting go and moving on (perhaps into the next world: “You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been / a place that has to be believed to be seen”). Of course, the song provided a magnificent surface aesthetic by combining the beautiful guitar chords with the family’s action as they came together as a unit for the first time to defend themselves, all three standing together, machine guns up and firing, almost an archetypal image. But as I looked more closely, I began to see many lyrics that fit. Of course, there was the lyric “walk on” as they walked into the darkness, and the “glass heart” and “darkness”--even the “open cage”--imagery in the song. Certainly Irina insists that Jack let go of some of his baggage, something that he is as yet unwilling to do. But here’s a lyric that really fits in, one that wasn’t included directly in the program (Mr Abrams has a way of leaving out the most apt lyrics sometimes, doesn’t he?):

    Home… hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one
    Home… I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home
    That’s where the hurt is
    - U2, “Walk On”

    Doesn’t that say it all?

    A few preliminary thoughts . . .

    Sydney still seems very prone to trust her mother. Why? Is it simply that Irina has not yet given Sydney a personal reason to distrust her--well, recently? She did shoot Sydney, you'd think she'd remember that--does she just remember the time Irina didn't shoot her? But she's certainly forgotten that Irina was trying to expose both Sydney and Jack a few months ago. Sydney seems to trust Irina more than Jack at times, and while Jack has given Sydney reason to distrust him, Irina is untrustworthy almost by definition. It all comes back to the personal connection, I fear (so she killed a few CIA agents in cold blood, she’s my mom, and she didn’t do anything--much--to me).

    Does anyone really believe that it wasn’t Irina’s desire to come along on the mission all along? No doubt she was confident Sydney would insist she come, and with the CIA’s invitation there was no way for Jack to prevent her involvement.

    Sydney’s actions--pulling her mother into the mission--put Jack to an impossible situation. I don’t think Sydney realizes the sacrifice that Jack is making to put himself in close proximity to Irina for such an extended period of time, nor how difficult the mission is for him. As difficult as it is for Sydney to take the bickering, that’s merely the tip of the iceberg.

    Sark’s arrival at SD-6 might just be worse for Jack than for Sydney. He’s already undermining Jack’s position, which was so recently strengthened.

    This is our first opportunity to get a prolonged look at Irina and contemplate the questions surrounding her at leisure. What are her plans regarding Sydney, really? Does she really care about Sydney’s happiness, or is that just what she wants Sydney to think? Or does she care about Sydney’s happiness, but only if it doesn’t interfere with her own happiness? And, most of all, what are her feelings about Jack--past and present? Let’s remember, of course, that she might always have other motivations that would override what her feelings would cause her to do (conflicts, gotta love ’em). I’ll reveal my own speculation next time.

    We finish this two-parter and our passage, and perhaps our three learn something, a truth, about themselves. Sometimes the truth hurts. (I'll bet that sometimes--just sometimes--it even hurts Irina.)

    [Gotta get back to work; hope this isn't too hasty and substandard!]
  2. clarissima

    clarissima Rocket Ranger

    Jan 8, 2003
    Don't forget that adding WALK ON to the end was a little...obvious. ;)
  3. K. Ackles

    K. Ackles Rocket Ranger

    Apr 26, 2003
    South Africa
    Is your stuff ever substandard??? Of course not!!!
  4. Intel

    Intel Rocket Ranger

    Jan 12, 2003
    I concur! Walk On definitely had that touch the end of this ep.
  5. K. Ackles

    K. Ackles Rocket Ranger

    Apr 26, 2003
    South Africa
    Just a quick note, have read the fanfiction? Brilliant, even if you don't like it. It's like reading a transcript!
  6. Intel

    Intel Rocket Ranger

    Jan 12, 2003
    hehe yeah i could just imagine, it has so much potential :)

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