Love, let me sleep tonight on your couch And remember the smell of the fabric of your simple city dress Oh, that was so real! Oh, that was so real! Oh, that was so real! We walked around 'til the moon got full, like a plate And the wind blew an invocation and I fell asleep at the gate And I never stepped on the cracks 'cause I thought I’d hurt my mother And I couldn’t awake from the nightmare that sucked me in and pulled me under . . . Pulled me under . . . Oh, that was so real! Oh, that was so real! Oh, that was so real! I love you But I’m afraid to love you I love you But I’m afraid to love you . . . I’m afraid . . . Oh, that was so real! Oh, that was so real! Oh, that was so real! ~~ Jeff Buckley/M. Tighe, “So Real” (Grace) I’ve speculated a great deal already about Jack’s motives in “The Getaway” (2:12) in the Spy Family column. However, after a little thought, I’ve decided I have one or two more things to bring out. In “Trust Me” (2:02), Jack pleads with his daughter not to deal with her mother. “The minute you depend on her,” he says, “she will gut you.” In the darkened car, his eyes gleam with fear, his face glistens with sweat. He fears for his daughter, but more than that, he fears for himself. He’s been gutted (a nightmare), and he fears going through the same experience again (I love you, but I’m afraid to love you). He knows he’s vulnerable because he never let go of her (their marriage was so real to him). He thought it was safe to love her because he thought she was dead. That’s part of why it was so difficult for him to face the fact of her survival. But even if he had known she was alive, could he have made himself let her go? I wonder. So he kept away from her. So what’s happened? In the “Getaway” we see Jack and Irina working together as though the clock were turned back 22 years to a time before Jack knew the truth about her. But no, that’s not quite true. There is baggage between them, the huge load created by Irina’s mission to seduce and spy on Jack and the continued necessity for distrust. They haven’t unpacked or dealt with the baggage, and it’s still there, but it’s as though they were able to set it aside in the closet while they had a quiet dinner together. It’s still there, but out of the way. We get a glimpse of it when Irina opens the door just a crack to pull out a small item for Jack (suggesting that Jack check out the hotel security tapes because of her own experiences as a spy during their marriage), but for the most part, it rests quietly with Jack’s skeletons. In “Passage” (2:08-2:09), Jack has to deal with Irina. Balancing his need to distrust her with his need to help her survive is a constant battle for him. In addition, he has Irina, who is constantly arguing with him and second-guessing him, behaving as though she has already earned his trust. The revelation that she was imprisoned under suspicion of treason, just as he was, combined with her rescue of both him and Sydney, however, seems to have been too much for him to bear. Ever since their return from Kashmir, Jack’s attitude towards Irina has been radically changed. Before Kashmir, he would not speak with her; after, he goes to her. Before, he sought to make her imprisonment harsher; after, easier. Before, he attempted to block her every suggestion; after, he has sought her assistance. He has fought with Kendall to allow her to assist the CIA in “A Higher Echelon” (2:11), a complete turnaround from his previous behavior. One wonders how objective he is being. Directly after Kashmir, Jack offered Irina a deal. Come clean about everything and you can have a relatively easy imprisonment in Puget Sound. This deal was especially attractive to Jack because it not only offered him the peace of mind he craves surrounding her motives, but it would have given Irina a place of relative comfort, which clearly would have made him feel better. However, Irina would not accept that deal, whether it was because of a hidden agenda, or her overt one: to make amends, regain her daughter and make amends to her former husband. Irina's continuing presence poses a particularly large problem for Jack. He knows that his performance has suffered because of her presence--witness the problems it caused on their passage through Kashmir--and that could affect Sydney as much as any plans that Irina might have for her. As much as he realizes he should not trust Irina, it is still unnatural for him to behave in a distrustful manner around her--to treat her as he would any other enemy prisoner; therefore, he's under tremendous strain. He had tried avoiding her; yet simply sitting back and watching Sydney interact with her is extremely stressful for him. It constitutes the kind of distraction that he cannot afford, given his position at SD-6. Meanwhile, Sydney isn't likely to cut off contact with her mother; in fact, if anything, Jack can anticipate more activity, possibly more excursions. Thinking back on Jack's entry into SD-6 with a scrap of information on Kane and a hope that he could come through with the proof for Sloane before Kane caught up to him--all to beat the deadline of Sydney's return from France--caused me to reach a conclusion: Yes, Jack is taking a tremendous risk by interacting with Irina, but it's one that was not taken without consideration. This risk was taken to protect the something more important to him than his country or even his life--Sydney. Just as he marches into the dangerous confines of SD-6, he walks into the more attractive confines of a room that contains his wife. How are the situations similar? Both are dangerous situations that he's thrown himself into for his daughter's sake. This course of action suits Jack's games theorist mind in the following ways: It makes Jack the preferred and closer target for any machination that Irina might have in mind. Sydney, watching from the sidelines would learn relatively unharmed. If things went wrong, US interests could be compromised, but if Jack can minimize the hurt and distress it would cause Sydney, it would be worth it from his point of view. Letting go of the fear and distrust that he's had to focus on to work against Irina reduces his stress level enormously. The reduction in stress will allow him to improve his focus and bring his competency level back to its usual high level. Allowing things to take this course allows Jack to take a course that he deeply desires to pursue: re-establishing a close relationship with Irina. Jack is an extremely lonely man who has never stopped loving this woman despite everything he's found out about her. And, following up on the above point, it allows Jack to test the possibility that Irina might actually be telling the truth--test the possibility that she might have some feelings for him after all. For all this, Jack won't be going in completely blind because he knows from painful history what can happen. However, you must realize that Jack can't simply hold back when it comes to Irina. That's why he held on to such a desperately high level of fear. Yet this may be reading in too much. It might simply be that Jack finally reached his breaking point. Jack has never been able to let go of his wife. She had become too much a part of him. Look at how well they worked together after an absence of over twenty years--after what had happened between them! That is why he feared her so very much. The only thing that he was capable of letting go of was that fear, and it seems like that is what he is doing. Exactly what he feared would happen seems to be happening: he seems to be falling in love with deadly ease--but then, he’s always been in love with her, so he’s already there. Another thing that could have kept them apart would have been anger and resentment, but that never seems to have a large issue for Jack. He seems to feel Irina owes a debt to her daughter, but anything that she might owe him is unimportant. Jack seems to have a tremendous capacity for forgiveness that is unexpected under such an icy exterior. His ability to simply set aside his and Irina’s baggage for the moment testifies to this capacity. Perhaps it’s Jack’s recognition of the possibility that his time may well be short--and of the dangers that Sydney faces--that crystallizes his motivations into the action of seeking out not only Irina’s help, but especially her company. He probably could have worked out the problem alone (as he griped to Kendall that he should have), but did he want to? Isn’t he tired, after twenty years, of distancing himself from everyone he cares for--even if it might be dangerous for them?--even if they might be dangerous to him? Perhaps something clicked in Kashmir. Jack’s long nursed a secret hope that Irina had some real feeling for him (he secretly watched the debriefing footage of her for clues to that (1:19 “Snowman”)) and perhaps he’s finally decided that it’s worth the risk to find out; perhaps worth risking his life to find out. Random thoughts . . . The scene in the movie theater--well-filmed and a treat for us film noir fans. Jack’s sort of cut out for noir, anyway, isn’t he? He’s that kind of shades-of-gray hero that slips so well into the shadows of the noir world. The ease with which Jack and Irina go over the details of their investigation is interesting. We know from Jack’s confession to Sydney that he broke protocol and spoke about his work with his wife. Did he actually discuss his work and use her as a resource? The ease and equality of their working relationship is fascinating and makes us wonder what their marriage was like--what their courtship was like. Discuss . . . Do you think Jack’s starting to let his emotions blind him to Irina’s danger? Do you imagine Jack’s and Irina’s relationship started out anything like Sydney’s and Vaughn’s, or was it completely different? Next: We get to remember how Jack first approached Irina after their long separation in “Cipher” (2:03). Then, the post-Superbowl episode brings suspicion back onto the heads of both Jack and Sydney as they are introduced to a new director for SD-6.