Writer: Dave Johnson
Director: Jorge Montesi
Air Date: 12.10.2003
Christopher Gorham...Jake Foley
Keegan Connor Tracy...Diane Hughes
Philip Anthony-Rodriguez...Kyle Duarte
Judith Scott...Louise Beckett
Lee Thompson Young...Malik
Jim Byrnes...Director Skerrit
Rachel Hayward...Executive Director Valerie Warner
Miranda Frigon....Tech Agent Susan Carver
Paul McGillion...Earl Wenk
Enid-Raye Adams...Agent Wilson
Ron Selmour...General Baako
Mark Docherty...News Anchor
The episode opens in the medlab, where Lou, Diane, Kyle and Jake are reading from a prepared script as Jake sweeps the room for bugs. It seems, in the wake of the Emergency Hearing ("The Spy Who Really Liked Me"), the Nanite Project is under surveillance from Executive Director Warner, a fact which does not make Jake particularly happy. Nor the rest of the gang, who tell Jake they've sat down and thought it over and want to give him an out if he needs one. They can all have lives, if and when the project is shut down. Jake? Not so much. So Kyle calls in a favour, and Jake can disappear if he needs to.
Meanwhile, a military coup has begun in South Kembu, a small African nation with two foreign allies: America and France. Which, Skerrit and Warner decide, means America will be expected to come to their aide. General Baako, who is leading the coup, will target the King's entire family. Warner decides she wants Jake assigned to protect King Namir's son and heir, who is attending school in the D.C. area.
Jake runs into Warner in the hallway on his way to Lou's office. Warner is smiling, and tells him to call her Valerie. Jake wigsand rightly so, according to Lou, who lets him know that the reason Jake is being sent on this mission is because if the prince gets hurt, Warner can blame the project. Likewise, if Jake gets hurt, Warner can blame the project. For Warner, it's a win-win situation. While Jake is body-guarding Malik, Kyle will be combing through student visas, looking for Baako's sleepers, who might be targeting the prince. Lou asks him if he's thought about the "out" but Jake tells Lou and Kyle that he hasn't made a decision yet.
Posing as a college student, Jake arrives on campus, backed up by Agent Wilson who is likewise undercover. At Malik's "dorm" (if what appears to be an entire wing of a building counts as a dorm room) Jake mistakenly assumes Malik's bodyguard Tracey to be Malik. Also? Jake is really, really white. Embarrassingly so. Which seems to amuse the prince. Malik doesn't want guards cramping his style, so he makes Jake change into a blue and yellow tracksuit (a not-so-subtle SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN nod) which he deems more "fashionable." However, it's a ruse so Malik can give Jake the slip. Jake surprises Malik by leaping from the dorm fire escape and dashing across campus to jump out in front of his car. Malik tries to bribe Jake, who stands firm. He then attempts to freak Jake out by driving like a psycho. However, the two begin building a rapport.
Back at Sat Ops, Diane is watching the news on the coup in Kembu with Kyle and Lou. Lou and Kyle want to know why Diane is in Sat Ops, and she takes a deep breath and pretty much let's Lou know in no uncertain terms that Jake is her priority, and if he's being sent out into the field, then she has a right to know what's going on. The problem, Lou replies, is that they don't know what's going on. They need better intel. Kyle says they have people in the capitalbut Lou needs someone close to the King. Diane mentions that hello, Jake is close to the King. He is guarding the King's heir, right?
Kyle calls Jake, who is watching Malik and his friends play basketball, and asks Jake to spy on Malik to try and find out what his father is telling him about the war. Jake is uncomfortable with spying on the prince, and Kyle reminds him that they're the NSA. That's kinda their job. Malik drags Jake into the game, and he Clark Kent's his way throughnanite-free until he realises he has an opportunity to prove himself to Malik. He then proceeds to completely rule at b-ball. He and Malik bond over the game (Jake learned to play in Akron. Malik learned from private lessons from Michael Jordan.) and Malik tells him he's none to thrilled with his destiny and being part of 300 years of bloodshed. Malik apologises for making Jake dress like a dork, and Jake steals Malik's PDA.
Meanwhile, Baaku's assassin is sitting in a car outside the dorm, watching a communication telling him that the prince is his primary target. Cut to Jake uploading the contents of Malik's PDA to the NSA when he gets a message from Wilson that someone just snuck into the prince's dorm. Gun drawn, Jake rushes in to save Malik from... his girlfriend, with whom he is having premarital sex. The next morning, Anna grills Jake over breakfast as to his qualifications to protect Malik. Malik is touched by his girlfriend's concern, but tells her to lay off. Jake learns that tonight there will be a birthday party for the prince, who is turning 21. Jake's concerned, but Malik and Anna won't call off the party.
Leaving to go to class, Malik shares with Jake how hard it will be when he has to break up with Anna. Malik has accepted the fact that he can't have a normal lifehe has to marry a royal woman from Kembu. Kyle calls to tell Jake the PDA came up empty, and they're under a lot of pressure from Skerrit and Warner, as Kembu is the USA's biggest oil supplier in the region. During Calculus class, Jake attempts to show-offmarking the return of Jake's undercover alter-ego Alan Hergott (from "Arms and the Girl"). However, he's wrong, and when Malik goes down to the blackboard to solve the problem Jake downloads information from Malik's laptop. Jake hands off the downloaded info to Wilson in the hallway after class. However, Anna spotted the hand off. Malik accuses Jake of spying on him and fires him.
Kyle shows Lou the email King Namir sent his son. Lou recognises the quote "The flowers have all faded. Blow, if you will, autumn wind," as the last words of a feudal Japanese lord before he was beheaded. She believes it is a message to Malik that his father expects to losethe war, or his life. Tech Agent Susan Carver appears to tell them that they've red-flagged three student visas as potential Baaku sleepers.
Despite being "fired" Jake shows up at Malik's birthday party, where Tracey is working the door. Tracey refuses to let Jake inside, instead admitting the assassin from earlier. Jake's phone rings. It's Kyle, who tells Jake not to leave the prince's side. Kyle streams the photos to Jake, who recognises the third as the guy Tracey just let into the party. He apologises to Tracey, and then throws him down the hallway, crashing into the make-shift danceclub. Spotting the assassin pull his gun, Jake gets between him and Malik, saving the prince's life. The NSA swarm the building. However, while Malik is safe, King Namir is dead.
Jake is recalled to Sat Ops. Lou's orders. Jake is debriefed, and Lou breaks the news to Jake that he's being pulled off the case. The NSA has been ordered to pull their security detail. The order came straight from Director Warner. Lou tells Jake that tomorrow morning, the government will announce that it is opening up diplomatic negotiations with the rebel government. Jake is horrified that they are switching sides, leaving Malik to be murdered. Lou tries to soften the blow by telling Jake this his performance on the mission was exemplary, that he proved himself and proved the effectiveness of their unit. It's a small victory, but they have to take what they can get. Jake runs into Warner in the hallway. She compliments him on his mission, and reminds him that the NSA's job is to uphold foreign policy. Whatever those policies may be. And that sheand every NSA employeeis an instrument of their country's will. She advises him to leave his politics at home. Jake asks her if that goes for his ethics as well.
Back at the campus, Jake finds Malik and Anna on the roof. King Malik has contacted every embassy in town seeking asylum, but no one is returning his calls. Feeling like crap, Jake returns to Ft. Meade where he and Diane break into her personal bottle of Goldschlarger. Jake is upset at how Malik is being treated, and Diane is sympathetic, but more cynical regarding the government than he is. They clink shot-glass sized beakers, and Jake tells her he doesn't think he can do this anymore. Diane slightly tearfully admits that if he takes the out Kyle offered him, she'll understand. But she will also miss him. Cut to Kyle asking Jake if he's sure. Jake assures him that he is, and thanks him for everything he taught him Kyle slips him the location of his contact, and Jake goes to meet with Earl Wenk whose job it is to disappear people. Earl tell him he deal: Jake give shim his car, id, credit cards, and in a few days the cops will find a body matching Jake's description in his apartment, an apparent suicide. Or he can arrange a car bombing. Either way, he provides his clients with a new identity and a new life.
The next morning, while Skerrit and Warner look on, Diane goes to find Lou and Kyle to ask if they've seen Jake. Kyle tells her that Jake's gone. However, the door opens and there's Jake. Carver pulls up the news, which reports that King Malik and an unnamed companion were killed in a car bomb. Kyle and Jake take a walkJake disables an elevator security camera and tells Kyle that he gave his fresh start to Malik and Anna. However, Kyle has bad news for Jakethey uncovered another sleeper agentAnna. They pay Earl a visit, and get Malik's location. Rushing to the scene, they find Anna and a knife. However, she's not trying to kill Malik. She's trying to kill herself, because she has fallen in love with Malik. Jake suggests that they can't escape 300 years of historybut there are some things they can change.
Back at Sat Ops later that week, reports come in that Malik and his new bride, a former member of Baaku's organisation, have returned to Kembu to raise an army to re-take the country. Warner asks Jake if he knew about this new development. Jake tells her he didhe heard it that morning on the radio. Jake asks who they will back. Warner responds "The winner, of course."
This episode serves as a strong continuation of the arc begun in "The Spy Who Really Liked Me." Jake has an idealised view of the government, and that ideal has been shaken by the last three episodes. However, rather than taking the out he is offered, Jake is determined to stick with his team--even though the team cannot trust their immediate superiors. The script is at times clumsy--and the episode lacks the sense of humour present in the first half of the season. However, it is bolstered by strong performances. Lee Thompson Young in particular positively shines as Malik and Christopher Gorham perfectly captures Jake's despair at being caught between what his government expects of him, and his own moral code. The scene with Diane and Jake in the lab is particularly memorable, and Keegan Connor Tracy turns in a nicely subtle performance, showing there's more to Diane than just the geeky research doctor.
The episode features some entertaining stunts--particularly Jake's vertical leap in act V (suddenly Jake can fly?), and the basketball game. It's always fun to see Jake shed his mild-mannered IT geek exterior and kick some ass, though the more often he does this, the harder it will be to buy Jake as a geek. Part of the character's appeal is the fact that he is no James Bond super-suave super-cool guy. Hopefully, he will retain his core geekitude, no matter how competant he becomes as a spy, Because that's part of what makes the character so endearing. Not to mention, identifiable with his audience.
Jake's bond with his team mates continues to be the emotional core of the series. The show appears to be taking a turn for the dark, shedding some of its own idealised look at the government, while managing not to paint Warner as completely villainous, despite her cold-blooded ruthlessness. While the pacing and dialogue may not be as sharp as in previous outings, the shift in tone is handled well. For fans who have been waiting for a more X-FILES-like conspiracy feel, the series seems to be delivering on its potential. However, in future, alternating between darkness and more light-hearted traditional action/adventure fare might not go amiss, in terms of the series longevity and consistency. Part of the show's appeal is Jake's idealism and optimism, and I'd hate to see the character lose that so early on.
Quotes of the Week:
Kyle: "'The two 'A's that make a meal worth having'?"
Diane: "I'm not a spy, okay? You guys are the spies."
Kyle: "Lou, Diane and I had a talk..."
Jake: "What, you're voting me off the island?"
Jake: "I just ran into Warner in the hall. She was pleasant. Now I'm really scared."
Malik: "This is Tracey. I know what you're thinking. 'Isn't that a woman's name'?"
Jake: "No. I wasn't thinking that."
Malik: "Smart man."
Malik: "So, you're my bodyguard. Are they downsizing at the NSA?"
Jake: "Oh, didn't you hear? 'Scrawny' is the new 'big.'"
Jake: "All right, I'm coming out. But I look like some kind of Muppet reject..."
Hoopster: "We need someone to fill in for Little Mike. You ball?"
Jake: "Oh. I'm not exactly what the doctor's call 'co-ordinated.'"
Malik: "C'mon, Jake. It's not like we're gonna pass you the ball anyway."
Anna: "Now I'm going to hand Malik some utensils. You're not going to try and jump me, are you?"
Jake: "Well, if you try to assassinate him with that spoon, you'll leave me little choice.
Malik: "Okay, you don't need to do that."
© Tara O'Shea 2003