Thursday, March 09, 2006
Spy Crash Course 101
By srg-alias aka SReneeG
Though many fans complained this season about Rachel "taking Syd's place" on missions, I've really enjoyed the insight we've gotten on how Syd became so good at what she does. When Rachel comes on board at APO she's a complete novice when it comes to field work, but we see her confidence grow as she's coached along by superspy Syd. On two ocassions we've been able to see Syd explain how her mind works on a mission.
In episode 5.04 Mockingbird, Rachel has her first encounter with a difficult situation when she has to go back to the bombed out Shed to dig through her coworkers remains for extremely valuable data. We see how nervous and disgusted she is at the thought of this, but Syd gives her the basic suck-it-up peptalk by saying "I have to do unpleasant tasks all the time - and the best way to do it is to become someone else." She goes on to say "I’m not Sydney Bristow, you’re not Rachel Gibson - we’re Czech Intelligence, Terrorism Unit...Nothing in there can rattle us because we see this type of thing every day." Rachel keeps repeating that last bit to convince herself that it's true so they can get the job done.
On her first alone mission in 5.06 Solo, Rachel has to portray a prostitute, which for our little straight-laced computer genious is quite a stretch. Feeling completely lost, she askes Syd "What am I gonna say to him?" Again we get to see how Syd gets into an alias when she says "Well, it isn’t what you’d say. Remember, you’re playing a character. It’s what she would say" and goes on to instruct Rachel to channel the attitude of the highschool tramp that stole her junior prom date.
Relating a character to a real person that she's known in the past or compartmentalizing how she would react vs. the character she's playing helps Syd and Rachel pull off convincing rolls, and in the end, successful missions. When season 1 started we already knew that Syd was the best of the best, but I think it's really interesting seeing her help develop those skills in a new agent. Yeah I definitly miss Syd kicking butt (hopefully we'll see more of that before the end), but for now I still get a kick out of finding out the process of how she got so good and how Syd (and Jen Garner for that matter) is so believable as all her aliases.