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Season 2 Quicksand

Discussion in 'Alias' started by verdantheart, Jan 7, 2003.

  1. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    In “A Higher Echelon” (2:11) we reach the halfway point in this season. Things get worse and worse for everybody before they get better--and they don't get any better for Jack (see the Spy Dad column)--ergo, "quicksand." Our little family takes a back seat as the CIA finds some big fish to fry. The CIA faces the double danger of both Cuvee and SD-6 achieving access to Echelon, the NSA eavesdropping software capability. Meanwhile, Marshall has been kidnapped (by “Suit and Glasses,” our favorite Taiwanese torturer) and Sloane has written him off as a loss because he has already emailed the software to SD-6. As Jack says, “It was as if someone had overcooked his steak.”

    However, a few packets from the email were lost in Ho Chi Minh City, where Sydney and Dixon are to be sent to recover them. Sydney is given corrupted data to substitute for the data in the packets. Naturally, she wants to be sent after Marshall, but a CIA team is sent after him instead.

    Meanwhile, technicians at the CIA are to attempt to locate the access point that Cuvee (and Sloane, eventually) uses, so that it can be shut down. Without that, the software is useless. The CIA was unable to find the breach on their side and so is trying to find it through a backdoor. In discussions with Jack, Irina offered her services in finding the “overlapping access point” between the US and spy systems, but Kendall is understandably unwilling to give her the unrestricted access to US computer networks necessary to accomplish the task. Irina promises them that they’ll find “quicksand.”

    But things don’t go well at all. The CIA team that went after Marshall finds only C4, which eliminates them--and the operation to find Marshall is halted as a result of the tragedy. Dixon gets to the drive containing the packets before Sydney does, so a very happy Sloane is presented with the Echelon program, which he begins compiling immediately. Meanwhile, the CIA technicians find a virus in the backdoor network that they’re probing for access to Echelon--the quicksand of which Irina spoke.

    At last Kendall agrees to allow Irina to assist, in part because of Jack’s support: “In this instance I think she could be an asset.”

    Sydney warns her mother not to disappoint him, saying, “Dad fought for you on this. Don’t make him regret it.”

    Irina enters the office, greeted by the stares of dozens of agents. It’s as though she were a particularly dangerous animal at a zoo, being moved from one cage to another. None of this seems to bother her, but she settles straight to work.

    Fortunately, Marshall surreptitiously hacks his way into SD-6 as he programs, pinging to locate himself in an obvious manner (Mexico City). Sydney and Dixon volunteer for the extraction team, forcing Sloane to commit assets to actually extracting him.

    Finally Irina locates the overlapping access point, and the CIA shuts the satellite down, and shuts SD-6 out of Echelon. As a result, however, there is no need to pull Marshall out of SD-6.

    Analysis . . .

    For the first time, Jack fought for Irina’s participation, arguing that in this instance he thought that she would not attempt to manipulate or circumvent the CIA. Why? Is it simply that he is coming to trust Irina more? I think there may well be an element of that, but he also has good reason to believe that she is against Cuvee (since she turned on him) and does not want him to have access to Echelon. Further, whether she is in league with Sark (who has an alliance with Sloane) or not, it’s unlikely that she would be in favor of Sloane’s access to Echelon either. However, the more frequently he finds himself on Irina’s side, the easier it will be for him to argue her case.

    Sydney seemed a little surprised that Irina’s information about the backdoor into Echelon came from Jack (not Vaughn)--meaning that Jack and Irina were actually having a conversation--one initiated by Jack. (Don’cha just love these subtle touches?)

    “Dad fought for you on this. Don’t make him regret it.” Again, Sydney serves as an uneasy interface between her parents. For once, Sydney isn’t the lone voice speaking up for her mother. And for once, she discovers that her father had made a surprising move--speaking to her mother--that indicates a softening of his attitude toward her. She doesn’t want to see this trend reversed. But does this indicate that Sydney simply wants to see her parents get along, or that she harbors a subconscious wish to see her parents together?

    Irina and pressure situations: no problem. With dozens of eyes staring at her and Kendall breathing down her neck, she gracefully and steadily tracked down the access point.

    Random thoughts . . .

    It’s always with a hint of sadness that I note the midway point of the season. Psychologically, I note that there will be fewer episodes to look forward to than to look back on as we go forward. But that’s life! We can’t enjoy it without experiencing it, after all! And writing this column is part of how I enjoy Alias (many thanks to those who share it with me!). So if Alias be a harmony in the music of life, play on!

    Has anyone even let Sydney know what’s going on with her dad? Is Vaughn keeping this from her thinking that he’s protecting her? I think she’ll be a little miffed when she finds out she’s been kept in the dark, don’t you?

    A couple of episodes ago Sloane attacked Sark for sneering at his unsuspecting employees, but this episode he showed what he thought of his employees when he was willing to sacrifice someone as valuable as Marshall so easily.

    Marshall participated ably in his own escape and demonstrated courage and humor simultaneously. What more can we ask of our adorable techno-geek friend?

    Discuss . . .

    How do you read Irina’s enigmatic smile after Sydney tells her that Jack fought for her with Kendall? Is it simply an expression of happiness that Jack is beginning to trust her again, or is it a more sinister expression of joy that the pieces are starting to fall into place?

    Do you think Sydney has a subconscious wish to see her parents get back together?

    Should Vaughn have told Sydney about Jack’s problems with Kane? Should Jack have?

    A scene from “Truth Be Told” is turned inside out as Sydney stops her car, Jack swivels, pointing a gun at her head, as she shouts, “Dad, get in!” Instead of Sydney on the run from SD-6, this time it’s Jack.
  2. Azalea

    Azalea Azy in Wonderland

    Dec 28, 2002
    the Ozarks
    I love your column so much! It's like watching the episode again, only understanding it on a much deeper level the second time around. Keep it up! :D

    About Irina's smile, I *hope* that it wasn't sinister. I think it was more ironic, as in she's slightly amused that Jack is now fighting for her after everything that's happened. And also, she always seems to use that smile around Sydney, almost like she's proud of Sydney but sort of amused by her deadly seriousness at the same time.

    And I definitely think Syd subconsciously wants to see them back together. Remembering them talking about the toaster on the train is probably one of her best memories, and I'm sure she'd prefer more like it.
  3. AliasALIAS

    AliasALIAS Guest

    I agree :)

    I didn't even notice that Vaughn didn't tell Syd about Jack and Haladki/Kane. I would assume that Vaughn doesn't want to tell Syd becuase if he did, that would make a good cliffhanger. Also, they wouldnt have their 'getaway' if Syd was worrying about Jack.

    I'm also hoping that Irina's smile was an expression of joy.

    And of course Sydney wants to see her parents together! :D
  4. shakila

    shakila Rocket Ranger

    Dec 14, 2002
    i think syd wants to see her parents back togerther but his afraid that irina might betray them again.

    i don't think that it is safe not to tell syd about haladki and kane
    she'll brobably find out anyway and be a little mad
  5. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    How very kind of you to say so!
  6. Tex

    Tex Captain

    Jan 8, 2003
    Great analysis! I love the spy family and I am so glad that there is a review dedicated to the spy fam dynamics.

    As for the thoughts to ponder:

    * I would like to think that Irina's smiles are not sinister. She seems to really care about Syd and even Jack. Who knows though? As much as I want to trust her, she is often very mysterious and difficult to read. Also, she still has quite a bit of explaining to do regarding her past actions. I can't wait to hear her side of the story.

    * Syd (and me!) want Jack and Irina to reconcile. The J/I interactions are hot!

    * Jack needs to inform Syd about Kane and he also should tell her about Haladki. Not only should she know this for her own protection, but also he needs to forge a more honest/open relationship with her.
  7. Joelle

    Joelle Rocket Ranger

    Jan 19, 2003
    I am always amazed at how Irinia can keep such poise. When Syd or Jack asks her a question she is usually very serious. She deffinatley has an interesting personality!

    I agree i think that Jack should try harder to have a more open relationship with Sydney. I mean we all know that she has tried. But her father seems to push her away.

    I want Jack and Irinia to get back together. I trust Irinia I think that she truly cares about Sydney and Jack and feels sorry about leaving them. Most of my friends drasticly disagree but I hope that in the near future the will hook up agian!
  8. Joelle

    Joelle Rocket Ranger

    Jan 19, 2003
    i hope that they DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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