In “Passage - Part I” (2:08), Jack is dragged into a mission to go after 6 nukes with Sydney and Irina. As with the family column, I plan to present only preliminary thoughts in this column, reserving a more in-depth analysis for the conclusion of the two-part program. The problems, of course, begin with Sark, who wastes no time undermining our favorite moles’ positions at SD-6. Sark’s machinations, in my opinion, are even more devastating to Jack’s position than Sydney’s if only because Jack had recently solidified his standing with Sloane (and, frankly, Sark’s only reason for protecting Jack is that he seems to have a case of the hots for Sydney). Sark, all too aware that the loyalties of the pair do not lie squarely with Sloane, makes sure that Sloane doesn’t share his information with Jack, mentioning that Jack must be occasionally tempted to let Sydney in on things. Later, of course, Jack and the CIA are concerned that he has been kept in the dark. However, Sark’s plan works out nicely and the nukes are in the control of the PRF. Sydney convinces her mother to come along on a mission to go after the nukes, which faces Jack with a difficult decision. Actually, for him, it’s just another matter of having no choice. To protect his daughter, he has no choice but to go along on the mission. And that means spending time with Irina, something that he has avoided at all costs since she walked in at the CIA. With the exception of his threat to kill her if she harmed Sydney, Jack hasn’t spoken to Irina at all up until now. Interestingly, Jack seems at the same time both more heavily armored with ice and thinner skinned. He is as cold as we have ever seen him, yet Irina easily pushes his buttons. And Irina takes great delight in tormenting him. When Jack puts the explosive necklace around her neck, Irina lifts her hair for him and gazes into his eyes, just as a wife would do for a husband fastening a gift necklace. Surely they shared some such moment when Irina posed as Laura. The irony cannot be lost on either of them. Kissing him for this “anniversary gift” only enhanced the effect--and contained a strong undercurrent of spite under her joy. It’s no wonder that Jack stole a quick glance around to make sure no one noticed a break in his composure. When Irina begins to suggest Sydney “take risks” in her personal life, Jack becomes angry, bringing up Irina’s long absence. Irina smiles. She wasn’t really talking to Sydney there. She meant to upset Jack, and she found it was all too easy. On the train, Jack and Irina are forced to change clothes in the same compartment, something that Jack clearly dreads judging from the way he pauses at the door. Irina seems perfectly pleased to have yet another opportunity to gauge her effect on Jack, for she does not turn her back on him to change and even seems pause slightly, waiting for him to turn and get a good look at her torso in nothing but a lacy bra. Jack could well have expected this view, but still seems startled as he turns, his gaze almost involuntarily drawn downward. After a moment, he looks at her face to see her smiling knowingly at him, as though to point out that she’s still got it and she knows that he still appreciates it. Jack’s expression is difficult to read here, but it’s still a cold one as he turns back away from her. The couple again argues, of course, about the order in which they are to jump out of the train because of their reliance on Irina’s information and Jack’s fears that she will try to escape if she either leads or trails. Sydney goes first, solving the problem, but Jack is not satisfied because he did not fully trust Irina’s information. Unfortunately for Jack, they are forced to sacrifice the C4 necklace when they are captured by PRF forces. After the three unite in a firefight, Jack takes his opportunity to force Irina to relinquish her weapon. Irina says, “Jack, we’re in enemy territory and the PRF knows we’re here. We need to start trusting each other. Right now.” Trust Irina? After what she put him through, you gotta admire her chutzpah. Reminds me of a story about a scorpion, somehow. Random thoughts . . . Why do I call this column "You can't leave it behind" (other than the U2 connection)? There's so much Jack can't leave behind. Like a whelk, he carries all his emotional baggage along with him at all times. It both protects him and holds him back. Perhaps if Jack hadn’t repressed himself so much (emotionally, but sexually in particular), he wouldn’t be so vulnerable to Irina’s games. No doubt Irina had access to plenty of office gossip about Jack from our friend Haladki with which to build a pretty good picture of her ex, but even if hadn’t, it wouldn’t take much insight to realize Jack’s pretty tightly strung. Irina may be Jack’s prisoner, but she sees him in many ways as her prisoner. She is in the superior psychological position. After all, she always knew everything, whereas he was, for ten years, in the dark--and there are still secrets. (C’mon, you know there are secrets!) Jack was, and still is, on the blank end of a one-sided relationship. It’s Irina who’s smiling. It was fascinating to see Jack and Irina work together as a spy unit, coordinating the detonation of the necklace as a diversion. This must be the first time that they have ever worked together in this way. It constitutes a sacrifice on Jack’s part on more than one level. May I just say that I'm most impressed by the way the train compartment scene was handled by all concerned? That scene could well have been excruciating to watch--and, in lesser hands, it's just the sort of scene that lends itself to unintentional humor. It worked--and that's saying a lot. Sooner or later, Jack’s going to have to get some sleep. Has he learned to do that with his eyes open? Next: Think the mission hasn’t gone well so far? Just wait . . .