By Zerosum: “Passage—Part I” 12/01/02 “You get to go off and be sneaky” THINGS THAT WORKED: -“I think I wasn't clear about something.” Though Vaughn did not catch Sydney, though we will never know what exactly he might have said had his hallway pursuit been successful, his admission in this episode was an expression of what he could not leave unspoken between them. He finally caught up to her. And though he might have confessed more in a moment of recklessness, his carefully chosen words were more than enough. Down the long hallway of Mikro Self-Storage, we watch Sydney turn to leave after a brief dialogue concerning Will’s research. Vaughn halts her retreat. He swallows, braces himself, and plunges forward. “Syd. This watch belonged to my father.” Sydney is fully aware of how important Vaughn’s father is to him and the significance of this gesture is not lost on her. Although she asked him not to, Vaughn is explaining. The importance of his disclosure is not necessarily that the watch stopped on the day that they met, but that Vaughn remembers the precise date on which they met. But it is equally important that he chooses to couch this declaration within a metaphorical framework. Unprofessional? Maybe. Sentimental? Certainly. But this is exactly the type of sentimental thing that you say when you’re trying to tell someone that you love them, but can’t utter those words for whatever reason. Once again, it is Vaughn’s actions that determine the course of their relationship. He takes these risks for both of them. And, yes, it may be selfish, but it is also his way of telling Sydney that she can say anything to him because he is willing to say everything to her. In this way, their relationship is marked by both a maturity and naiveté. Sydney has chosen time and again to leave his words unreturned. She pauses after he speaks. As she opens her mouth, the moment is interrupted, like always, by their duty. Vaughn, resigned to the intrusion, checks his pager. “Kendall.” Sydney looks down, reflecting on Vaughn’s words. Slowly, she acquiesces to the fact that the moment has been broken. “Me too.” The soft resignation of her voice holds an ambiguity that is at once every answer and no answer at all. And though Sydney is obviously touched by what Vaughn has said to her, her own feelings remain unclear. Until she chooses to take an active role, the relationship will remain where it has always been: in Vaughn’s hands. -“You have given me the opportunity of a lifetime and I don’t intend to squander it.” They’ve let the fox into the hen house. And while Irina may, at times, appear to have good intentions, Sark clearly has something up his sleeve. He is the master of dropping the loaded statement, the flippant response full of the brazen implication that he’s not telling you something. “And her father? He must often battle the temptation to tell her the truth about SD-6. I’d hate to see Jack’s paternal instincts compromise our objectives.” There is something unnerving about the way Sark says these words, the way he implies the breadth of his intel through a reiteration of his fundamental knowledge. SD-6 is not the CIA. Jack Bristow knows. Sark speaks with an arrogant authority, engaging in a battle of wills with his new employer. “I’ve been a presence in Sydney’s life since she was born. Sydney will believe whatever I tell her to.” Sark forces Sloane to acknowledge and reestablish the strength and significance of the illusions of both SD-6 and his relationship with Sydney. It is an important reminder that Sloane does, in fact, feel responsible for the lives of his people, and he truly believes that, whatever “substantial prize” he has been offered, it is worth the risk of Sark’s presence. -Clandestine Neophyte To be honest, we’re pretty impressed with Will. His unyielding search for answers and the intelligence with which he pursues the truth are admirable. Furthermore, Bradley Cooper wears a spectacular expression when he’s discussing conspiracies. Somewhere between his disbelief and concern, there’s this intense curiosity that’s just perfect. His scene with Sydney in her apartment was amazingly well done. It is at once hysterical and deadly serious. “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” “Nothing? Nothing’s wrong? Syd, if we’d just met, I’d know something’s wrong.” “Do you remember Mr. Sark?” “Do I remember the guy who shot me with a tranquilizer? The guy who had me tortured in Taipei?” “You’ve seen him? You’re working with him?” “I have to make him think I am.” “That little British cocky son of a b*tch is in LA?” Though the lines themselves are humorous, the hurt in Will’s voice is clearly audible. This scene was brilliantly scripted and brilliantly acted. -Irina: by design ~“And yet here you are.” In the beginning Irina was, without question, a woman not to be trusted. Somewhere in the midst of the evolution of her role, however, it has become permissible for Sydney to go so far as to entertain the possibility that her mother’s fidelity may hold some credibility. Let’s take a step back. This woman shot her daughter. There is a distinct possibility that every mission Sydney has embarked on this season has played into her mother’s hands in some way or another. Irina knows the pieces and the players, the floor plans and the pass codes. She may very well have set the board. But, even with all this, she has the audacity to, with careful articulation and a subtle smile, deliver the line “Sydney, no” as a truism, as if it were painfully obvious that she could never betray her daughter in such a way. And somehow, when Sydney’s disclosure of Sark’s planned transaction provokes a state of heightened emotion in Irina, it is entirely convincing. Because we have never before seen Irina speak with such urgency, because we have never before seen her struggle for control of a situation, or use abrupt physicality to demand attention, her agitated presence exudes a sense of reckless, uncalculating veracity. This passionate exchange was absolutely striking. “Mom, I need your help.” How long has Irina been waiting for these words? The unshed tears gathering in her eyes make it so difficult to maintain perspective on this woman. With her mother continually tempting her with a reality she desperately wants to believe, how can Sydney not fall prey to this woman’s designs? ~‘All that you can’t leave behind’ Jack Bristow and Irina Derevko were married for ten years. And though they have spent more time apart than together, the complexities of their past continue to haunt their every interaction. When Jack enters Irina’s cell, he’s all business, presenting the necklace to her with a hostility and feigned indifference. But Irina knows that this man is still affected by her. She casually lifts her hair, bares her neck, dares him to remember what it was like to be her husband. He steps forward and fastens the jewelry around her throat. Standing there, his arms enclosing the woman he loved, Jack is paralyzed. The tension is palpable. On the train, the two are alone without surveillance for the first time. As they strip down for their mission, Jack turns to behold a body that must be at once so familiar and yet strangely foreign. Out of old habit, his eyes linger on her form. She smiles, flaunting her ability to perpetuate the illusion of marriage, to undress before a man who does not know who she truly is. “Jack Bristow was a fool.” This scene invokes the torment of these words. Irina possesses the power to faze Jack, to fill him with doubt. Turning away, he takes a second look, embarrassed by his curiosity. But is this woman torturing him, or simply indulging in the memory herself? -Everything old is new again A year ago these three individuals lived in separate realities. The only connection they shared was a fraudulent past. Now Sydney, Jack, and Irina’s lives have converged, forcing them the to engage in a distorted simulation of the family they used to be. But, the truth is, the pretense holds more validity than deceit. On the flight to Kashmir and in the train’s cargo hold, the explosive friction is perfect. It’s dead on. Irina’s intrusive comments, the antagonistic bickering, Sydney’s livid mediation create an intoxicating intensity that is fascinating and powerful to witness. “I’d offer to go first but I don’t want to be accused of trying to escape.” She knows precisely which buttons to push. Having kissed Jack at customs, leaving her daughter staring in priceless surprise, Irina now lashes out with passive aggressive cynicism, and Jack’s adamant participation in this feud only serves to demonstrate the kind of emotional investments at stake. On the ground before the PRF, the connection that binds these three cannot be denied. Silently, they speak to one another, forging a wordless trust in a moment of desperation. It is a risk they have to take. They rise from the line of their imminent execution, prepared to defend each other. Weapons in hand, they are, however temporarily, on the same side. In the aftermath, Irina goes to her wounded daughter, gently cupping her chin. Jack interrupts the maternal gesture, however, unwilling to allow Irina to reclaim her position in their lives. “Drop it.” “Dad!” “Quiet.” But, despite their resistance, standing there in the darkness, Sydney, Jack, and Irina are a family. Their pasts, presents, and futures are irreversibly intertwined. “Jack. We are in enemy territory and the PRF knows we’re here. We need to start trusting each other. Right now.” Though Jack appropriates an air of authority on the subject of parenthood, until relatively recently HIS link to Sydney, like Irina’s, was little more than biological. “I guess we’ll just have to learn to trust each other.” (episode 01.01) It is a new beginning. It is the same beginning. What could possibly induce these three to trust one another? And yet they are compelled. Walking into the night, they ARE the Bristow family. THINGS THAT AREN’T WORKING: -For everything there is a season... We’d just like to know what season we’re in. Is Sydney still in school? We were working under the assumption that a lack of school-time was the result of summer vacation, but the word ‘Thanksgiving’ has realigned us temporally. We would fully understand a leave of absence, as the inspiration for her course of study has been significantly marred. All that’s needed is some quick clarification. DETAILS WE APPRECIATED: -Sark’s morning drive to “Bad Moon Rising” was a true classic. It was a nice peek at his mentality. This guy must be living out his fantasy, fully indulging in the perceived mystique of his image. -Dixon’s reaction to Sark was perfectly in character. His willingness to confront his superior on a decision he did not feel was morally sound was refreshing. We also loved that Sydney backed him up. A younger Sydney would have defended these ethics on principle alone. -Uzbekistan... cute country. We loved the drug-induced dissolves. And Sydney and Dixon’s contact was beyond creepy. The morgue fight choreography was simply incredible. -“Well, hell, when you put it that way, the answer is definitely no.” The writing in this episode was very sharp. Some spectacular lines. Unfortunately for us, most of the one-liners were too cutting to use as review titles. -“Kendall’s ego predisposes him to favor decisions in which he’s overruling others. You argue your way, I’ll argue mine.” Jack, ever the strategist, nails this snide remark perfectly. Quite the clever manipulation of the assistant-director. -We had a strange fondness for the leader of the PRF’s candor. “We thought we’d make it easy for you. Here we are.” -The stylistic cinematography in this episode had a great edge to it. The aerial shots of LA and Uzbekistan were stunning and the framing of the parking garage columns and the Mikro Self-Storage hallway was impressive. THE CIRCUS: It might appear that we have more fun writing excuses than writing essays, but the truth is we spent Thanksgiving in separate countries, so Source Music part II is still in the works. Zero and E.