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Season 2 The promise of my own redemption

Discussion in 'Alias' started by verdantheart, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. verdantheart

    verdantheart Guest

    As I take a look just upon the character of Jack, a certain comparison comes out, particularly in the context of “Salvation” (2:06).

    Jack accompanies Sloane to a Commerce Bureau luncheon only to find him pursuing the image of Emily afterward. Sloane follows the woman into a church with Jack trailing. Sloane asks Jack what he saw, but Jack only saw a woman who could have been anyone. With uncharacteristic compassion, Jack points out that Sloane has entered a church, a place of confession. He suggests that Sloane is suffering from post-traumatic stress brought on by extreme guilt. Hesitantly Jack suggests a way to determine whether Emily is dead: exhume her body.

    But a church isn’t just a place of confession; it is also a place of salvation. We segue directly from the church to the scene wherein Sydney learns from Devlin that Jack has already informed Devlin of his actions to set up Irina and that a hearing has been scheduled.

    Is there no connection between those two events? During Jack’s reluctant speech during the hearing (transcribed in its entirety in the Spy Family column), Jack says, “When I look at her . . . I see only the promise of my own redemption.” In other words, Jack looks to his daughter as a way to his own salvation.

    In earlier columns, I’ve noted a parallel being drawn between Sloane’s guilt and his persecution following his murder (or attempted murder) of his wife and Jack’s set-up of his ex-wife. Jack’s actions were not so direct, to be sure. He simply had circumstances set up that would invalidate her immunity agreement. But he knew that would inevitably lead to her current position of facing execution, didn’t he?

    We can certainly make the argument that Irina deserves her fate while Emily did not, but that is beside the point. The point is that Jack is basically doing what Sloane did: killing his wife (or, in this case, ex-wife). Does Jack have the right to make that decision? Sure, I still think that he believes that he made the decision because he thought Irina was such a potent (and present) threat to Sydney that the situation was intolerable and had to be dealt with (as Vaughn said, “for something she might do,” while the government is executing her for things she did). (And I still believe that, on a deeper subconscious level, he considers her an extreme threat to himself and therefore wants to keep her at a distance.) But the fact that he had to go underground and hide what he did from Sydney says it all, doesn’t it? What he did was wrong, so he didn’t want Sydney to know about it.

    In the previous episode, “The Indicator” (2:05), we hear Jack say that “Evil must be eliminated by any means necessary.” Yet when you return evil with evil, do you not become indistinguishable from that which must be eliminated? Must you not be eliminated yourself? Jack has tried to protect his daughter from evil, and if honest (good) methods do not work, he has turned to dishonest (evil) ones. He will sacrifice his soul before he will sacrifice his daughter.

    Returning to this episode, on the flight to their operation in Geneva, Sydney lays into Jack in a particularly vicious way. She accuses her father of using her and of seeing her only as the reminder of his greatest mistake: “If Mom hadn’t fooled you, if you hadn’t been so gullible, I never would have been born.”

    In Geneva, Jack is shaken when he must extricate Sydney from the grasp of a patient stricken with a lethal virus before the patient breaks the seal and infects her. Later, he learns that she must be tested for possible exposure to the virus during her experience in Taipei. Add to this Jack’s observation of Sloane. Can the parallel between their experiences be totally lost on him? Jack does not want to become another Sloane. He does not want his daughter to view him as she views Sloane. All these factors finally outweigh Jack’s fears regarding Irina and he turns himself in. He can’t stand the thought of Sydney possibly dying believing the terrible things she told him.

    This act is an act of penance and a proof of love. His belief that Irina is a threat has not changed--and why should it? As we just learned, she had Sark expose her own agents to the deadly virus as an experiment. No, admitting his wrongful act is simply the right thing to do. He is taking a step that separates himself from evil. Further, his admission proves that his motivation is not to protect himself. He puts himself in prison and accepts that outcome.

    But why does Jack say that he sees in Sydney “the promise of his own redemption”? I think Jack sees his great mistake, his being deceived by Irina for so long, as more than simply his allowing himself to be a victim. He has taken a lot of the guilt for what happened--the deaths of his colleagues, the damage to his country--onto himself. Jack came out of the marriage a broken man--he’s not recovered yet, even 20 years later. In fact, he seems to have taken a series of steps, each step seemingly the only possible action, but steps that take him further and further into the shadows. Here, he takes a step in the other direction, toward Sydney. As far as Jack’s concerned, the only good thing--the redemptive element--that came out of his marriage is Sydney--and hasn’t Jack made Sydney the sum of his life?

    Random thoughts . . .

    What I wanted to say was so simple and was about one thing. Egads, could I be any more verbose?

    Seeing Jack bend over Sloane in the church served to emphasize the difference in size between the two men. Jack makes Sloane look like a shrimp. I read not too long ago that Ron Rifkin asked to read for the part of Jack as well as Sloane (guess he knows a good role when he sees one!), but--good as Mr Rifkin is--it’s hard to see it working out just looking at physical types alone. Another reason why Sloane-as-father should be a red herring.

    I was amused by the choice for Jack's codename: Blackbird. Goes nicely with his daughter's (Bluebird).

    Need I even mention the quality of the acting in this episode? Nope, thought not. (You could say that about just about any ep, though!)

    In the Spy Family column I discuss reasons why Jack might have rebuilt his wall. Is it that he feels that Irina has won, or that he’s disappointed in Sydney for compromising her integrity, or possibly simply that he has exposed too much of himself? I’ve since considered that it might be that with Irina’s re-emergence, he feels he must go into full shutdown mode so that he can be clear and vigilant.

    Looks like Jack advises Sydney on how to get to Sloane--looks like a really dangerous mission!
  2. Intel

    Intel Rocket Ranger

    Jan 12, 2003
    :LOL: As verbose as you describe this, I find it in depth and thought out, kudos to you :)

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