Start in Jam Pony with the whole gang – haven’t seen most of these in a while – and it seems 2 of the women who work there are having a fight because Alec was dating both of them – both Original Cindy and Max express their opinions on that one. Original Cindy speaks to the women about who they should really be mad at and Alec flees the scene.
He tags along with Max to her run but when they arrive he has a flashback – he’s been there before on a mission from Manticore. He throws the package over the wall and leaves, not talking to Max.
The whole drama makes Max late to picking up Logan and going to a dinner party – hosted by Joshua (helped by Original Cindy). Max is nervous and tries to coach Logan on not staring or being confused by Joshua but he’s confident he can handle it. Until they arrive and Logan’s thrown by Joshua and his macaroni cheese dinner party (Original Cindy is there to help and poke Logan as necessary). And the 5th seat is for Alec. Max keeps poking Alec about the two women he dated at the same time and Logan tries to get her to back off – Original Cindy puts in a “men and dogs, no difference” when Joshua agrees with Logan.
Leaving the dinner table, Alec goes downstairs and finds a piano, triggering another flashback of him going undercover to investigate and then murder one of Manticore’s subcontractors. He sits and plays the piano – rather well (would an X5 do it any other way?) much to the surprise of Cindy and Logan and the dismissal of Max. As he plays he has another flashback to learning how to play at Manticore, where he became a master in just 2 days – preparing for his first deep cover mission. He killed a piano teacher and took his place and identity to teach Rachel Berrisford, the target, Robert Berrisford’s daughter. He gets lost in the memories holding Rachel’s necklace until Joshua puts a hand on his shoulder, he snaps out of it and grabs Joshua by the neck. Alec apologises, Max demands to know what the hell that was, but Joshua hands him the necklace and asks if he’s ok.
Alec goes home alone and gets a phone call – no-one talking, just piano music. He goes back to the house stealthily and we have more memories, of Alec being invited to dinner by the daughter, his Manticore handlers asking him if he thinks she likes him (a question he doesn’t, initially, understand). He goes to the dinner and they sneak out to swim in their underwear instead – she says she’s been throwing herself at him and didn’t think he liked her. They kiss and he says he likes her, a lot. Back to the present and Alec sees a female silhouette through the window.
Next day Normal demands Max get a signature for the package Alec through in since he called in sick. Inside she notices a painting with the necklace Alec was holding at the dinner party. Alec is holding that same necklace and remembering – copying Robert Berrisford’s files, kissing Rachel and her telling him she loved him, causing his hands to shake. He walks into the bathroom, disturbed and hallucinates Rachel behind him and smashes the mirror.
Max goes to visit Joshua and finds him painting a picture of Alec – an interpretation anyway. Max warns Joshua that Alec can’t be trusted, Joshua says Alec can’t out smart anyone but Alec because he doesn’t know himself; he’s a complicated person. He points to his picture – lots of pretty colours, tricks and treats on the outside, but inside darkness and confusion. Max asks what about and Joshua says, simply, “Manticore.”
At Crash Original Cindy notices how anguished and mopey (and throws in 2no wonder the straight women fall for the tortured types” because she’s Cindy :P). Max tries to check on Alec but she’s not very good at the lovey dovey stuff and he’s not opening up. She offers to help but he says she doesn’t understand, she can’t because she wasn’t there – she and her brothers and sisters ran away, they missed so much of the training and the brain washing and after they left and as they got older Manticore got a whole lot worse. “But you did what you had to do and tried to forget and if you couldn’t forget they had ways of making you not care.”
He leaves and is approached by 2 men calling him Simon LaHaye, his undercover identity. He fights them and Max, following him, gets involved as well. They easily win but Max has to stop Alec beating one of the men to death.
Max goes to Logan to research R. Berrisford, the person she took the package for. Robert Berrisford, former CEO of a pharmaceutical company who escaped a car bomb and then made a deal with the FBI. They realise the company was probably dealing with Manticore and that Alec was probably the one tapped to kill Berrisford. They realise Alec may have been spotted delivering the package and the angry Berrisford may be out for revenge. By his training, Alec should be out hunting Berrisford – Max leaves hoping to stop him doing something stupid.
And Alec gets another piano music phone call which triggers another memory – the information he recovered showed that Robert Berrisford was planning on taking damaging information about Manticore to the Senate – and he needed to be eliminated – along with his daughter - to send a message. He goes to the house and gets another flashback, of Robert planning to send his daughter away, the subtext is to keep her safe from his enemies. At Manticore, Alec tried to protest involving the daughter – but he’s overruled. He set the bomb in the car but kept getting confused memories of both his orders and Rachel saying she loved him. He broke off and ran to Rachel telling her that she and her dad had to leave town. She wouldn’t listen to him so he was forced to confess he was an assassin. She slapped him and chased after her father screaming a warning. Alec followed, taking out a guard and left the house in time to see the car explode. Manticore forces with an identical detonator to him arrive and dragged him into the car to return to Manticore for more brain washing.
In the present, drawn by piano music, Alec races into the house, taking down guards in a blur. He arrives upstairs but the woman isn’t Rachel – and Robert Berrisford puts a gun to his back. He ties Alec to a chair and points a gun at him, Alec asks to know one thing first – what happened to Rachel, because no-one told him. Robert says she saved his life – but in the process she was knocked into a coma and never woke up. Downstairs, Max arrives and begins stealthily making her way through the building. Robert points a gun at Alec again and Alec yells at him to shoot, tells him to do it – and Max knocks him out and saves Alec. Alec tells her her told her to leave him alone – and leaves.
At the hospital, Alec visits Rachel in her hospital bed, guilt wracked and grieving, he puts her necklace into her hand, Max watches silently behind him while he cries and holds Rachel.
2 days later Logan calls Max and shows her a newspaper - Rachel Berrisford has died and Max tells Logan Alec loved her. Logan says he’ll need help but Max says he wants to be alone; Logan points out that’s the kind of thing Max would have said when they first met.
Alec goes to the grave and is joined by Robert, who tells him not to come back again. He tells Alec though he hates Alec, he’s Rachel’s father and still wants to make her proud, so won’t become like Alec, a murderer. Alec leaves.
At Jam Pony Alec thanks Max for saving him but doesn’t accept her offer to talk, even acting like there’s nothing to say. Happy, smiley Alec is back.
We haven’t had such a stark description of the painful things Manticore did to the X series for a very long time. I love this episode’s analysis of Alec and what he had to do and the defence mechanisms he built to survive what Manticore did to him – more than even to Max since she and her siblings left as children. The acting and impact of this episode is superbly done.
I am glad to see Original Cindy back, but less so to see how relegated she is. She doesn’t even count as a secondary character any more.