An all-together more low-key episode compared to the ones surrounding it, A Broken Heart takes a step back from the relentless spy hoodoo of the opening run and focuses deeper on the characters, extra attention granted to the ones less involved in SD-6 espionage. Now it's pretty easy to whine about Francie and her boyfriend troubles, especially when this is a show about a spy lady and her increasingly colorful collection of wigs and disguises... but I always liked the home-front stories, if only because they add a necessary sense of normality to the show. It's potentially damaging to push elaborate action hijinks at every juncture, so I grew to really love Syd's interaction with her non-spy friends, especially as it only helped humanize Miss Bristow herself.
It's that human quality that the episode runs with, in particular when you begin to see the emotional impact constant death and carnage has on Sydney. Here's a woman who experiences terror and violence on a daily basis, and because of her ability to bend between such a high-action world and the mundane aspects of civilian life, she sometimes breaks down. A Broken Heart elaborates on that unique distinction, notably when one of her allies is murdered and she has no outlet for her trauma. So she turns to Vaughn, in what is one of the most powerful 'quiet' moments so far, since he's the only person she feels she can be entirely open with.
It's a different feeling with Jack, despite her desperation to salvage some kind of relationship with him. But Jack himself is troubled this week, especially when his lingering feelings of worry are brought to the surface during an SD-6 interrogation. Not only does he worry about his daughter meeting a horrible fate, but he's also fearful of Syd inevitably finding out the truth that he's tried so hard to keep from her. Yup, there are even more secrets in this family. But it's another strong story for the two of them, and you can completely buy the heartache as Jack cancels their dinner plans, both parties aware that he totally flaked.
Quieter than anything else so far, but surprisingly intimate and heart-warming at the same time, A Broken Heart has a lot to offer despite its outward blandness. It's probably better the second time around, too, since the 'ordinary' moments slowly petered out as the series went on. I should also mention that the photography and lighting on this show is completely gorgeous. Everybody's beautiful anyway, but they look like they're constantly bathed in candle-light, while the reproductions of various foreign locales are consistently successful. Regardless of how strong the show is on a narrative level, it just stinks of money. B+
Guest stars Miguel Sandoval (Anthony Russek); Gina Torres (Anna Espinosa); Evan Dexter Parke (Charlie Bernard); Faran Tahir (Mokhtar); Maurice Chasse (Luc Jacqnoud); Bernard White (Malik Sawari); Angus Scrimm (Calvin McCullough); Sarah Shahi (Jenny)
Writer Vanessa Taylor Director Harry Winer