Jack provides a counterpoint in “Phase One” (2:13) rather than a main thread of story. Jack enters SD-6 to obtain the security code for the SD cells. When Jack is compromised and calls his daughter in, saying, “Take the surface streets; they’re doing some work on the freeway,” he is letting her know the situation. She must not come in. Sydney knows that her father is in grave danger and she must work quickly or he may die. Meanwhile, Jack endures torture with an interesting poise. As Geiger attaches the equipment, he mentions that they had met before and describes the situation. And as we revisit Jack as the torment progresses, he wears a tired and haggard expression, but he doesn’t respond to Geiger’s questions. Geiger tells him that his heart can stand only one or two more shocks, but Jack says nothing--he’s probably well aware of his situation. Finally Geiger remarks, “Your daughter is so beautiful. Imagine what I could do to her.” But Jack has ensured her safety. He is satisfied. And silent. And as he awaits his end, Sydney miraculously appears and saves his life. Analysis . . . As described in the Spy family column, Sloane discovered, no doubt from Sark, that the Bristows were double agents. I can only imagine that Sloane harbors a great deal of anger toward the Bristows--particularly Jack. Jack was supposed to be his friend, the one man who pledged personal, undying loyalty to him, whom Sloane believed he had bound for life. To find out that this man had been undermining his every move for perhaps 20 years must have been unbearable. So he was most happy to use the Bristows to get what they both wanted--what the Bristows always wanted, and what Sloane now found expedient--the Alliance out of the way. But don’t think that this ends things between Sloane and Jack. Do you think that he’s marked the balance sheet paid as far as Jack’s concerned? He probably thinks that death is too easy for Jack, and will probably want to do something to Sydney first, just to hurt Jack in the worst imaginable way. Jack doesn’t seem to think that things are completely over. “There’s rarely an end to the story,” he says. He doesn’t believe that Sloane “just disappeared.” People like Sloane don’t do that. It seems to me that it should strike Jack that Sloane conveniently disappeared just when Sark conveniently dropped just the right piece of information to bring the Alliance down in one piece. Besides, these rogue intelligence groups are like cockroaches--as soon as you stamp one out, a couple more crop up. This sets up Jack and Sloane as classic antagonists. Damn! I can’t wait! Meanwhile, Jack’s cover has been blown and the Alliance has been vanquished. He has to face the question of what happens next (What’re you going to do now? I’m going to Disneyland!). Jack has spent his life undercover for over 20 years. Somehow I think that the transition to a more open existence won’t be without its bumps. Will he attempt to continue as he has, or will he try to loosen up a little? We already seem to be seeing small signs that he may be thawing a bit: his easy manner with Irina (2:12 The Getaway), and the easy way he placed his hand on his daughter’s shoulder in this episode. Last year, any touch beyond shaking hands seemed to be torture for him. The fact that he no longer needs to keep his lid on so tightly might encourage him to thaw even more rapidly. Only time will tell. Random thoughts . . . Jack’s response to torture in this episode was interesting compared with Sloane’s in “The Box” (1:13). Sloane is a chatty victim, who psychologically torments his tormentor. Aside from a pleasant exchange as they get ready, however, Jack is quite different, enduring his torture in silence. Had this incident occurred last season, I might have hypothesized that he might have been eagerly awaiting that last shock on the theory that it would fulfill a death wish--end the considerable pain in his life. However, this season has brought many changes to Jack; he has a great deal more to live for, including an improved relationship with his daughter, and--let’s face it--hope for his hopeless marriage. I think he faced impending death with a sense of irony: that it approached just as his life was showing some promise of becoming livable. Discuss . . . Do you expect Jack to loosen up a little? Or stay tightly wrapped? Do you think it's a good idea? Jack vs. Sloane. What do you think? Next: Jack joins Sydney and Vaughn in attempting to determine whether an agent is who he says he is.