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Jack as tragic hero

Discussion in 'Characters, Cast and Crew' started by verdantheart, Apr 8, 2003.

  1. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    As we await a new Alias episode, I thought I would entertain myself by finishing a little essay that I was working on during a little gap a little while back. It's about how the character of Jack fits as a tragic hero. I didn't have access to the usual library research materials, so I took the descriptions of the tragic hero from a couple of websites (which might account for a slight flakiness).

    (In the following, please note that by "American" I mean United States-American, or "Yankee.") In American culture, we are accustomed to the hero who conquers, the happy ending. This tradition is typical of the optimistic nature of the American outlook. However, this tradition of winning and happy endings is not the only tradition in fiction. There is also the tradition of the tragic hero, which goes back to Greek roots--and quite possibly even farther.

    As someone with a fondness for tragedy, Shakespeare, and so on, it has always struck me that Jack in many ways fits the mold of the tragic hero. Certainly tragic events have struck more than one character in Alias--Sydney has lost her mother and fiance (along with having her relationship with her father ruined), Sloane his beloved wife, Dixon his wife now, Vaughn his father--but it is Jack whose own flaws and actions are inextricably linked to his misfortunes.

    Per Aristotle, the tragic hero:
    • Exhibits both good and bad traits
    • Has a tragic flaw (hamartia)
    • Exhibits hubris (excessive pride), and is surrounded by circumstances--a person or thing--that set the stage for his fall
    • Almost always goes on a journey
    • Is someone that people can relate to
    • Always falls--bringing tragedy upon himself and others
    In another, more modern summary, the tragic hero:
    • Is of noble stature (has a station to fall from)
    • Has a tragic flaw
    • Has a choice in his actions
    • Is subjected to punishment that exceeds the scope of his crimes
    • Has his awareness enlarged during the course of his adventure (or misadventure)
    • Enables the audience to achieve a catharsis
    Does Jack fit this model? Let's look at Jack and his marriage to the woman he knew as Laura.
    • The Jack we know has both good and bad traits. However, it's my hypothesis that the Jack of 30 years ago was much more like the Sydney of today--much more the hero than now. However, he was still human.
    • But he did have a tragic flaw, which appears to be falling in love with Irina Derevko. And this love--more tragically still--appears to be of a deep and unchanging variety. I believe that there were probably signs that she was an agent during their marriage, signs that he closed his eyes to because he didn't want to believe that the woman he loved so deeply would do that to him. First of all, Irina's statements indicate that she rifled his briefcase on a daily basis and planted bugs on his clothing. It's difficult to believe that Jack in a clear-headed state could miss all this for years. The point is, he's not clear-headed when it comes to Irina, nor can he ever be--not completely.
    • Jack, of course, does have an element of hubris. He's a man of extreme dignity. He has a great intellect, and that certain arrogant impatience that goes along with it. Did Irina take advantage of this trait? It's almost certain that she did, feeding his ego regularly. Certainly there is a person connected to Jack's fall from grace, and that person is inextricably linked to his tragic flaw.
    • Of course, Jack has gone on a journey in the sense that he's gone on many missions, but in modern stories, the sense of "journey" applies more to the inner space than the outer. In this way, the idea of a journey applies to any character that is not static but grows and changes as the story develops.
    • Can people relate to Jack? I think so. I'm gratified to see that even the younger people here seem to relate very fervently with Jack's plight. And why not? His emotions, love, hurt, regret, patriotism are all things that we can all relate to. His intense devotion to Sydney is extremely compelling. Most of us can even understand his need to hide and repress his emotions.
    • Obviously, Jack fell from grace that first time around, and it caused much suffering. He suffered tremendous loss personally: he lost his wife, the mother of his child--not only that, he discovered that she married him for no other reason than to subvert his work. He has no factual basis to believe that the woman that he loves so deeply ever returned even a shadow of the emotion he invested in her. Others suffered as a result of his fall: US intelligence was grievously compromised and agents were killed--no doubt Jack's friends among them. Jack's long involvement in undercover work and estrangement from Sydney can be at least partially blamed on these circumstances.
    Moving on to the modern summary:
    • I'd say that Jack had a position to fall from. He was a respected agent, and I'd guess a rising star, the kind of guy the other young (and not so young) agents envy.
    • Flaw: see above.
    • Did Jack have a choice? Yes, he could have kept his eyes open. He could have been more aware of the possibilities and caught inconsistencies.
    • Did Jack's punishment exceed the scope of his crimes? I think so. When it comes down to it, what was his crime? Falling in love with the wrong person? Or failing to notice what was going on; allowing Irina to fool him? And what was his punishment? Years of privation. He has no private life to speak of; he has been long estranged from his daughter, the one person he had left, the person he loves more than anyone else; he was forced to work for Sloane, forced to torture men, sent out to assassinate whomever Sloane needed out of the way--do terrible things to maintain his cover. We cannot know it for sure, of course, but it's my hypothesis that had Irina not betrayed Jack, he would never have accepted the assignment to work undercover at SD-6, a situation that seems inextricably linked to his estrangement with his daughter. That's just off the top of my head.
    • Was Jack's awareness enlarged? Definitely. He found out that Irina was a spy sent to marry an agent and steal his secrets. However, Jack's enlarged awareness does not by any means say that he has complete awareness. Was he aware then of Irina's obsession with Rambaldi? He did not seem surprised by her admission during their flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong in "A Dark Turn" (2:17).
    • Well, since this happened in the past, we can hardly say that the last (audience catharsis) applies.
    In ancient tragedies, the tragic hero had this unfortunate tendency to die, which doesn't necessarily happen in the more modern ones. And Jack didn't die--that would just be too easy, wouldn't it? It would prevent the sequel. Jack moves on, but then again, he never does, does he? He never really gets over his tragic flaw. He can't let go of Laura. He thinks of Irina as Laura, the name that he knew her by as his wife, even twenty years later. He can't let go of her memory even though she is both a betrayer and dead. Ladies and gentlemen, the man is in love. Deeply. Completely. Sonnet 116-in love. Nothing he finds out about Irina is going to keep him from being in love with her. And he knows it.

    Going back to the first season, we can see that Jack is profoundly affected by Sydney's news that she believes that her mother is still alive. He breaks into CIA files and gets Sloane's confirmation, then promptly suffers a minor breakdown (and Sydney stages a minor intervention) (1:18 Masquerade). In the very next episode (Snowman), Jack secretly views debriefing footage of Irina discussing her mission undercover with Jack. He doesn't want Sydney (or anyone else, for that matter) to see his interest--or understand its implications. Because what his interest centers on is what emotion Irina might have for him. When she displays the emotion that could be expected, contempt, Jack is crushed--to the extent that he feels compelled to seek Dr Barnett's help that very day. Jack draws a distinct parallel between Sydney's connection with the questionable Noah and his own with Irina, and he frees Noah for Sydney to the evocative strains of "Lover, You Should've Come Over"--a subtle hint, for it contains the lyrics "it's never over," unplayed in this episode. And for Jack, hasn't that proven true? For him it will never be over. Even if Irina dies, her devastating effect on him overshadows his life. This has already been proven, for he thought her dead for twenty years.

    So can we see Jack's latest "passage" as the tragic hero's journey in miniature, an encore of the tragedy previously performed?

    When Irina dropped in on her family, Jack's strategy was sound. His plan was to keep as far away from her as possible. He knew that the one thing he couldn't trust was his own emotions--his love for Irina. But part of his strategy depended on Sydney also staying away from her mother because he didn't want to see her hurt as he was. Unfortunately, controlling Sydney was something that he could not do. Driven to extremes, he set Irina up (2:04 Dead Drop), but she made it a question of life or death, forcing a reprieve (2:06 Salvation). So he had to remove himself to the sidelines where he watched anxiously until "Passage, Part 1" (2:08), when Sydney dragged him into contact with Irina by arranging a mother-daughter mission.

    During "Passage" Jack fought valiantly with his emotions. Sydney doesn't seem to understand what her father is going through when she urges him to hurry and he begs for a moment "to prepare" himself to deal with her mother. But as they move into more and more dangerous territory and Jack is forced to work with Irina and Irina helps them out of danger, Jack appears to break down. When she speaks of her imprisonment, tears stand in Jack's eyes. He may understand why she may have been incarcerated under suspicion of treason. Did that act represent the one thing she might have done that indicated a reciprocal emotion on her part? It is an intriguing moment, for it appears to be the turning point where Jack decides to grant Irina some trust. He sends her to accomplish her part of the mission unescorted in the beginning salvo of a series of acts of trust that Jack displays towards Irina.

    After Irina saves their skins in Kashmir and they return, it seems that Jack cannot stay away from his once-and-technically-current wife. He and his daughter have changed places. As Sydney is distracted more and more by her blooming relationship with Vaughn, Jack is spending more and more time with Irina. He is now the one filling her in on SD-6 operations and news concerning Sydney. Sydney seems surprised by this turnaround, as does Kendall, when he finally blurts out "When the hell did we change places?" in "A Dark Turn."

    Irina does betray Jack once more because she betrays his trust. She works out a plan with him for the stated purpose of capturing Sloane with the ultimate goal of freeing Sydney to leave the CIA. But this is clearly not her real plan. She could have left Sloane behind to be captured when Emily was shot, but instead she helped him into the helicopter for their escape (2:18 Truth Takes Time). Sloane's capture was not even remotely part of her game. Freeing Sydney was just a particularly desirable bait to wiggle in front of Jack as a likely motive for her wanting to participate without it being obviously all about Rambaldi. Jack wants to believe that Irina would put Sydney first as he does, after all. He wants to trust her, to be able to give in to his love for her.

    Jack has been betrayed before. How does this figure in? Can he be betrayed again? And was he? I say that he was. Irina's intention was to betray him and she went through with the act of betrayal--all the way through with it. And it seems important to Jack that she do that, for the method that he used to track her (replacing the tracker that she had him remove with a self-activating passive tracker) was a risky method at best--as was demonstrated; Irina escaped capture, didn't she?

    But (as I've stated elsewhere) more and more it seems plain to me that Jack needed to go through this--he needed to show the CIA and Sydney that Irina could not be trusted, but most of all he needed it for himself. He needed to remind his heart of her treachery. As painful as the experience was, he willfully closed his eyes and relaxed, dropping the defenses that he had worked so hard to maintain almost to the end of "Passage." It's a test in a way. He wants, more than anyone, perhaps more even than Sydney, to see Irina prove herself true. He could have caught her earlier, he could have checked the Rambaldi manuscript before they went to Panama--it's an obvious precaution--but he didn't. When she asked to have the tracker removed, he must have known, particularly when she said, "Kendall's not as smart as you"--an offhand flattery that sounds frighteningly patronizing. I'd expect a reaction from Jack, but we weren't given the privilege of witnessing it. But Jack removed the tracker. And then she initiated a kiss, which he eagerly returned. How poignant must that act of love have been, Irina knowing of her betrayal and Jack knowing he almost certainly was being betrayed? I hardly think that implanting the passive tracker made Jack feel any better.

    Jack let it play all the way out. When we saw Jack's expression in the van, it was filled with despair. He already seemed completely alone as his eyes seemed to beg Irina to change her mind. But it was not to be. In a few minutes, she was gone.

    The passive tracker allowed Jack to protect his position with the CIA, but wasn't Jack's actions harmful overall? He really didn't trust Irina, after all; he merely desperately wanted to trust her. And the fact that he relied on the passive tracker and did not check the manuscript hints that he may have subconsciously wanted to give her the chance to escape without completely losing his own reputation--which is even more tragic. Jack's hesitation to send the team in after Irina and Sark without verification of Sloane's presence tends to lend support to this hypothesis (Truth Takes Time).

    Returning to the tragic hero for this little adventure:
    • Jack still has both good and bad traits. He loves his daughter, and we love him for it--but sometimes he even loves her to a fault. He sometimes goes too far in protecting his daughter, sometimes forgetting that she's an adult who should be given her own choices. He works for good, but he often does questionable things to accomplish good ends--the ends justify the means, in other words. That's just a couple of things.
    • Jack's tragic flaw is the same now as it was. In the encore, the hamartia at work is still Jack's love for--and need to trust--Irina Derevko. And if it's true that he subconsciously wanted to set Irina free, this is probably only the beginning.
    • Jack still has extreme dignity in spite of the humiliations that he's suffered over the years. He's a very capable and respected agent who--somehow, despite his reputation for loose-cannonism--seems to have gained a fair amount of pull within the agency.
    • This little encore involves both inner and outer journeys--"Passage" and "A Dark Turn" both contained major portions of this story and physical travel.
    • Can we relate to Jack? More than ever, I'd say.
    • Did Jack fall? He was "promoted." But he lost Irina, breaking his heart in the process, and his promotion seems to be contributing to a possible re-estrangement with his daughter. Certainly, Irina's escape is potentially contributing to the loss of countless lives. It is under her orders that the building housing the genetic database is blown up, for example. Jack's made his point, but at what cost? It's large, and escalating.
    From the modern point of view:
    • Jack does have a position to fall from; he's a respected senior agent.
    • Jack certainly did have a choice. He could have continued to insist on distrusting Irina completely. Or, he could have double-checked her; for example, catching her before they went to Panama by checking the Rambaldi manuscript.
    • Jack's punishment. This is a good question. At first it would seem that Jack isn't punished at all, but rewarded. He's made operational head of the task force to capture Sloane and Derevko. But if you look at the costs, the picture doesn't look as bright for him. Look at how isolated he's become. Just a few weeks before, look at how Sydney tearfully rescued her father (2:13 Phase One). He had Irina to speak with and be with. Now he is lonely and irritable, as his exchanges with Marshall illustrate. But we may have only seen the tip of the iceberg as far as what will come from this in the way of punishment for Mr Bristow. His agony may well mushroom greatly from here as a direct result of Irina's freedom.
    • Has Jack's awareness been enlarged? The direct result of this encore tragedy is that Jack completed his experiment and collected his data. The fact that his data were negative is part of the tragic result of this story. But at first glance, it wouldn't seem that his awareness has been enlarged much by this particular exercise.
    • However, the audience did get a chance to taste the catharsis that Jack's earlier experience must have induced. What he experiences is, of course, merely a ghost of what he lived through before, almost a nostalgic journey through a torture chamber.
    Jack's gift of forgiveness was returned by a renewed betrayal. Perhaps he could have expected no better, but it hurt him just the same. I believe part of why he decided to take this on was so that Sydney would not have to pay the price that he has had to. Rather than have her resent his interference and still wind up betrayed and wounded, he took the bullet himself. And that's probably what he tells himself the real reason he did it was--but we know better, don't we? We know that in his heart of hearts he was praying he was wrong about her.

    If anything, Jack seems to have been hardened and isolated by the repetition of betrayal and loss. He still carries his tragic flaw with him, of course--he cannot shed it any more than he can shed his heart. If he did not stop loving Irina after what she did to him the first time, this tiny betrayal (by comparison) can hardly make any difference. It will always factor into any decisions that might involve Irina's death, for example. Irina's betrayal colors miriad other decisions that he must make involving Sydney and other situations. We just saw a bare flash of the pain and resentment that he feels in his confrontation of Elsa Caplan in "Endgame" (2:19), but we haven't really seen him let it out. What happens if/when he does? And, as I think ahead, I seem to see a man more and more divided--his need to hold it together and run the mission to capture Sloane and Derevko would seem at odds with his love of Irina and his implied impulse to free her. Is he being pulled apart? (But I am in danger of digressing.) There is so much hidden in this complex man . . . Yet he seems ever doomed to push himself to extremes over those he loves and pay the price for it.

    Jack's journey continues.

    Someone has pictured Irina as a tragic hero. I feel that we simply don't know enough about her to know whether she fits into this definition or not. However, as the manipulator rather than the manipulated in this history, the chances are that she is not. How much real misfortune has she suffered? This is a truly unknown variable. Can define her obsession with Rambaldi as her own tragic flaw and point to its having brought down unmeasurable suffering upon her family and others? Possibly, but it all depends on whether Irina can be seen as heroic or not. The jury's still out on that one, and I suspect it will remain in deliberation for a long time. In the long run however, hero or not, Irina may be in for a rude awakening if the truth she's pursuing turns out to be something she's not expecting.
  2. Azhria Lilu

    Azhria Lilu Rocket Ranger

    Nov 18, 2002
    Derbyshire, UK
    Very well written and interesting!

    [pinned topic & made a main page post about it]
  3. Manu

    Manu Rocket Ranger

    Dec 7, 2002
    ITA Charlie. That was amazing. (y)

    Totally! I do ;)

    *raises hand*

    When Syd said that she thought her mom would die proving herself as a hero it just made my theories even stronger. We'll just have to wait and see.
  4. Ophelia

    Ophelia Rocket Ranger

    Dec 23, 2002
    VH, your description of Jack as fitting the mold of the tragic hero is absolutely brilliant -- and heartbreaking. But I wonder if there isn't one respect in which Jack might not fit it completely. I'm not so sure that he will allow his love for Irina to destroy him. That almost did happen 20 years ago -- the drinking, the risk-taking on the job, the estrangement from his daughter -- but he's still standing. He's wounded and bleeding, but still standing. He's probably held up better than many men would have done. I have faith that he will survive this too.

    Irina is another matter. You're right, VH -- she is no hero. She is a survivor -- and that isn't the same thing, however much one might admire her courage. She may well allow her obsession with Rambaldi to destroy her. I think that Jack's actions in Panama represented a last attempt to help her save herself -- and it failed.
  5. ncognito19

    ncognito19 Captain

    Apr 2, 2003
    Ponoka, Alberta, Canada
    This was really well written. You have some of the best analysis.
  6. Manu

    Manu Rocket Ranger

    Dec 7, 2002
    Um.. last attempt? You're kidding right? :unsure:

    I agree that Irina is a survivor. She fits into that definition even though we know so little about her. Doesn't mean she won't become a tragic hero someday.
  7. vaughnmyangel

    vaughnmyangel Rocket Ranger

    Jan 4, 2003
    I loved it!!!!!! I just leanred a few months ago about tragic heros and it all fits so well. I think Irina is a tragic hero basing thats soely upon beliveing that whatever she said to sydney was not a lie. If she as recruited when she was 18 and halfway brainwahsed then i think she is herios b/c she wwas able to get out of that rut and make a life for herslef even if that life is not "good"
  8. The Kate Vartan

    The Kate Vartan Rocket Ranger

    Dec 16, 2002
    Wow this was a great analysis of Jack's character! Very well written. (I feel like an English teacher.)
  9. Ophelia

    Ophelia Rocket Ranger

    Dec 23, 2002
    No, I'm serious. Jack cannot save Irina from herself -- and probably won't get another chance to try. That's what I meant. Poor Irina! Poor Jack! :(
  10. lenafan

    lenafan Rocket Ranger

    Jan 22, 2003
    So. California
    verdantheart Posted on Apr 8 2003, 02:21 PM
    Really great analysis as always VH.

    I'd like to put my 2 cents in about Irina. Being a romantic, I wrote my own backstory on her since the writers have given us so little to go on.(I posted a couple FBI files (Laura) and a KGB file (Derevko) in fan fiction. Based on the time of her birth, the time she was recruited, the period of history having to do with the cold war, plus the hint we got from her on "Passage II" ("I was a prisoner"), I felt she is not only a survivor, but perhaps could be an anti-heroine as well.
    I think she might even have her own agenda as there was an agreement made between Sloane and herself, and we don't know what that is! It had something to do with Sydney as she said in Truth Takes Time! And the earrings!
    She maintained a contact with her daughter and why, if she didn't really love her, which I think she does.

    She hasn't been working for Sloane either during the 20 years when she left Jack and returned to Russia. What happened in prison? They let her go six months after she was put there. According to KGB directives, returning agents supposedly were not to be trusted. She would definitely fit that mold as she had been living in the U.S. for ten years. That was more than enough time for her to become acclimated to the American way of life. So many other KGB agents (in real life) did defect and went into the witness protection program.

    So what made her run? She was going to be arrested (story line) and probably tried and executed for the 12 deaths of the CIA agents. She had to get out, leaving Jack and her little girl. With so much hanging over her head, Irina probably could not visualize herself being given immunity then.

    Now what? We have so little to go on, for the ten years she might have been or might not have been employed by the KGB.
    I believe the story line led us to believe her crime cartel/org. began sometime around 1991-2. That's when the KGB was disbanded. I don't believe there was any clue that she was involved with or partners with Sloane. True she knew him from the days that he and Jack both worked for the CIA.
    Involved? No.

    Why was she after Rambaldi artifacts? Was it the same reason as Sloane's? Her organization, fronted by Khasinau and with Sark's help, put two other Russian crime cartels out of business (FTL and the K-Directorate). It seems to me she was a pretty powerful operator and that she had a huge sum of money as a result of her blackmail schemes and other crimes, i.e. bank robbery? etc. Remember Sloane offered to sell her ALL his Rambaldi artifacts, contacts, etc. including the disk! He was not going to let go for nothing.

    She is as complex a female fictional character as Jack is male fictional character. We just don't know enough from the writers, who sometimes are so overwhelmed by the complex storyline and the ensemble cast that they forget to check what's been said or done before.

    So why is Irina working with Sloane (not for)? We can't sure until we learn about the genetic/genome theme. Because of the flower Sydney brought home (Passage II), perhaps we should think about the possibility Sloane thinks Rambaldi could still be alive? Heck, if he can devise a formula to keep a flower alive 4 to 6 hundred years (Vaughn's remark at the end of Passage II), then why not himself?

    Now that's wild idea, but a good reason why Irina might have joined up with Sloane. (Personally, I would have left him in Tuscany.) Knowing the writers, I'm going to think the last three episodes will give us more insight into Irina's story.
    And that's my take on Irina Derevko, survivor as well as anti-heroine. :rolleyes:
  11. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    Thank all of you for all of your very kind comments! ::basks in glow::

    lenafan, thanks for your remarks! Actually, I have my own theory about Irina's departure that is a little more flattering to her and is based on some facts that we have in hand, but I'm reluctant to air it in case it is spoilery (perhaps I'll write my own little story and save it until that time when/if we learn what actually happened).

    I don't think that Sloane believes that Rambaldi is alive because he referred to him as "that dead man" in "Endgame" and I believe we've heard him say it before (it's possible he wants Irina to believe that he thinks so, but in a moment of grief? ). It's possible that Rambaldi somehow escaped execution and survived, but I somehow doubt that Sloane is aware of that at the moment. But who knows?

    Meanwhile, I think that the writers of Alias want to take their time revealing Irina to us. I wonder, did they think they tipped Jack's hand too early (after all, they pretty much had him pegged as putting Sydney first in the pilot)? She's a mysterious femme fatale in a lot of ways and they enjoy drawing out her mystique.

    Good point. As a character in a continuing series, Jack can embody many or most of the elements of the tragic hero, but it is difficult for him to embody all of them because the series continues and the character continues with it. It is only if you carry the series to its conclusion and take the character in a tragic arc that concludes at the end or before the end of the series that you can reach a final catharsis. This is not to say that you cannot have tragedies within the larger scope of the series, however. I'd describe Jack's unseen first encounter with Irina as a pretty complete tragedy and this "encore" as an echo of the original.
  12. Ophelia

    Ophelia Rocket Ranger

    Dec 23, 2002
    You're right, VH -- Jack's story is far from concluded. Of his feelings for Irina, both past and present, I guess he could say,

    "Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
    Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak
    Of one that loved not wisely but too well."

    (Othello, Act I, Scene 2).
  13. ephian

    ephian Captain

    Dec 22, 2002
    verdantheart, thank you so much for your wonderful essay! It was beautifully written and showed that a lot of time and thought went into it.

    Although you have made many good points as to Jack's character and actions that support a number of the "tragic hero" attributes, I don't believe that Jack has a tragic flaw. That is, Jack does not have a flaw that will lead to his own tragic end (be it death or insanity or a beaurocratic desk job that does not allow him to think). Yes, Jack's love for Irina definitely caused him a lot of damage twenty years before, yes it changed him certainly, but it is only a tragic flaw if it brings about a tragic end. He didn't kill himself, he didn't become a pencil pusher who was afraid of everything, he didn't end up in an insane asylum.

    Remember that Jack is suppose to be a game theorist. He analyzes things, events, people, to try to determine what the game is, what the goal is, and how to get to that goal. Despite probably still being in love with Irina, he acts out of consideration that she might be likely to escape in Panama and plants the second transmitter on her. His love might be a weakness, at least in his own eyes at the moment, but it does not control his actions in such a way that reason is left aside.
  14. Ophelia

    Ophelia Rocket Ranger

    Dec 23, 2002
    What Ephian said. (y)

    I think that Jack loves Irina "not wisely but too well," but it will not destroy him.
  15. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    That's a good point. However, whether or not you see Jack as a tragic hero also depends on how you define the scope of the story you're looking at (as I kind of hinted at above, when talking about the demands of a continuing series). If we look at the backstory alone and end it at the point where Jack finds himself with a dead wife who betrayed him and prospects that can only be counted as grim at best, it can certainly fit into the mold of modern tragedy (although more classic tragedy usually requires a death). How did that leave him? He became a cold, withdrawn, hardened and hard-drinking man who served as Sloane's pit bull (not a happy fate). Similarly, if we look at the smaller context of Jack's more recent adventure (the encore tragedy), he can be seen as the tragic hero of that. Both of these events stem directly from Jack's love for Irina.

    Looking at a broader context, Jack only really began turning it around when he had to reveal himself to his daughter, didn't he? His daughter is really what saves him from full tragedy, isn't she? (No wonder Jack describes her as the "hope for my redemption.") My theory is that Jack probably stepped onto the wagon when Sydney joined SD-6 and he felt the need to be more alert to protect her. The better Jack's relationship with Sydney is, the better his life and the less tragic his circumstances.

    Can Jack's love for his daughter trump his love for Irina? It seemed to when Jack when to the extreme of setting Irina up. He was willing to let her die (though that seemed quite stressful for him) to keep Sydney from experiencing a misfortune similar to his own. But still we later come back to examine questionable actions on his part that are motivated by his feelings about Irina. And I have no doubt this trend will continue. Will these actions lead to further misfortune? I think they will, eventually.

    I believe that in the long run, the overall arc of Jack probably will not be that of a pure tragic hero, but perhaps a hero with many tragic aspects--playing the hero of little tragic subplots, if you will. After all, Jack has proven himself extremely tough and resilient! But there is still the possibility that they will take him to a bad end. I don't think that the fans would like that, though, or that Alias would care to deliver it to us. We have to wait and see.
  16. Ophelia

    Ophelia Rocket Ranger

    Dec 23, 2002
    I think you're right again, VF -- I doubt very much that Jack is headed for a tragic end. Irina, on the other hand, may be . . . and if so, I think it will break his heart.
  17. lenafan

    lenafan Rocket Ranger

    Jan 22, 2003
    So. California
    Verdantheart Posted on Apr 10 2003, 07:19 PM
    :rolleyes: I wonder if they, the writers, think about the fans? Do they read this terrific column or some of the fiction that's out there? VH is right though, the fans probably would not enjoy the classic Greek tragedy ending to Alias. I think we all would rather it keep us wondering, waiting and perhaps always speculating on the fates of our Jack and Irina. -_-
  18. Ophelia

    Ophelia Rocket Ranger

    Dec 23, 2002
    I think the answer to that is "no," Lenafan. Some of the fanfic writers around here could easily straighten out the incoherent mess that is "Alias" right now.

    Or maybe I've just been watching too many "Law and Order" episodes lately. The stories are not usually neatly tied up -- sometimes the perpetrators get off, sometimes they are convicted, sometimes the prosecutors and the cops and left feeling that they will never really know the truth about a case, compromises are reached that make no one particularly happy -- but there is logic and coherence all the same. "Alias" needs a good dose of that.
  19. lenafan

    lenafan Rocket Ranger

    Jan 22, 2003
    So. California
    Ophelia Posted on Apr 10 2003, 11:49 PM
    :rolleyes: Nothing is as it seems when it comes to Alias plots and storylines. It does need an occasional dose of logic, if only to tie things together.

    Someone mentioned that in Season One, things seemed to move in a straight line...that one episode set up the next and so on...right, it did...

    I think this season was dominated by the family, dysfunctional and dynamic, so some of the strings of plots we were given got pushed into the background. I personally think the writers could have tightened it all up. If they had left S/V as still wannabe together, i.e. keep up the chase, they could have spent a little more time on the other storylines.
  20. crazy_4_alias

    crazy_4_alias Rocket Ranger

    Mar 23, 2003
    Oh, I loved it. Excellent job, verdantheart. I don't think Irina is a hero, but you don't have to be one to be a tragic hero ( I have no clue how this works, I didn't make it up). She IS a tragic hero because she had position (head of her own organization, and mother & wife), and lost it. I'm not too sure her punishment overdoes the crime, but she fits the bill on everything else. A tragic hero can be a star track athlete who got into drugs and never did anything with their life, or it could be a murdering king who commits suicide (Macbeth). It could be almost anyone who had something to lose and lost it.

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