Alex gets a taste of the spy lifestyle in Alex Rider episode 2, as he proves him surprisingly adept at fieldcraft.
This recap of Alex Rider season 1, episode 2 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Point Blanc — it just keeps coming up again and again, doesn’t it? Following on from the opening episode, and some heavy-handed negotiation tactics from the British government, Alex Rider episode 2 begins with our intrepid hero being given the lowdown on two seemingly “accidental” deaths related to this mysterious naughty boys school. The first was Michael Roscoe, which we saw. The second was a Russian oligarch whom Alex’s uncle Ian was apparently getting close to before his death. The oligarch’s son, Stepan (Yani Xander), was also a student at Point Blanc along with Parker Roscoe. “Two deaths, two teenagers, one school,” as Mrs. Jones puts it.
The spies can’t get into Point Blanc since it’s exclusively for troubled teenage boys. Blunt rather inauthentically claims that they’re just as invested in unravelling Ian’s death as Alex is, but it’s hard to believe. At home, Jack knows Alex is spinning a tall tale, but he remains tight-lipped all the same, cycling to school as though everything is normal. At school, Tom reckons he’s cracked it — organized crime! It’s not a bad guess, to be fair. Alex’s crush Ayisha (Shalisha James-Davis) is also sympathetic, so at least there’s an upside to bereavement.
Ballistics, meanwhile, reveal that Ian was killed by a standard-issue North Korean pistol, and since he apparently handled a pretty important defection out of that area, it stands to reason the firearm might be a message. Mrs Jones thinks that might be too obvious, but you know how international assassins are.
Alex gets pulled out of class for a meeting with a grief counselor, Mr. Daniels, who it turns out is from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and wants to help Alex by letting him know that Blunt allowed his uncle’s execution to happen. He also provides some helpful background on the Department of Special Operations, which was founded in the Cold War and has been run by Blunt as a personal fiefdom that is unlawful but has also been untouchable until now — using a schoolboy in the field is obviously illegal and could get the department shut down, just so long as Alex spills what Blunt asked him to do. Tom arrives in the nick of time so that he doesn’t have to. Daniels cautions him that whatever he has to do, he needs to be careful and watch his back for other “interested parties”.
At the DSO, some pretty clear tension begins to emerge between Blunt and Mrs Jones — the former wants the latter to be Alex’s handler, and while she tries to argue that agents have handlers, teenagers don’t, she isn’t given much choice in the matter. Speaking of which, Alex isn’t given much choice in whether to hop into the blacked-out van that knocks him off his bike; he’s chloroformed and whiskey away, leaving Tom to watch Yojimbo alone. Good film, that. He’ll be alright.
But will Alex? Bloodied up, he’s told by an as yet anonymous interlocutor that he’s somewhere he’ll never be found, and things are not going to be okay unless he’s truthful in how he answers the question of who his uncle Ian worked for. Alex says he worked in a bank. Tom, meanwhile, calls Jack looking for Alex, tipping her off to the fact that he’s not where he said he was. She tries to get in touch with him, but no luck. That’s because he’s being asked a follow-up question: “What is Point Blanc?” Alex plays dumb. He’s pretty well suited to this whole tight-lipped spy thing, so his interrogators lock him in a room under the harsh glare of spotlights and play death metal at maximum volume, which is pretty family-friendly torture as such things go.
Meanwhile, Jack isn’t taking no for an answer. She gets Alex’s computer password from Tom and finds the video of the warehouse cover-up and a business card for “the bank”. Since she keeps calling Alex’s phone, she becomes the next subject of his interrogation. So does Tom. He won’t spill any beans, so it’s back to the death metal concert, while Jack threatens Mrs. Jones with international exposure if she doesn’t reveal where Alex is — though apparently she doesn’t know either. Alex’s torture heads in a new direction as he’s soaked with pouring-down water and his captors take a moral stand against the whole matter of torturing kids. While they’re debating it, Alex is able to pick his restraints and escape. That boy and his paperclips.
Who should turn up during Alex’s escape than Mr. Daniels from the Foreign Office, whose help Alex once again refuses. Guns are drawn, but Alex is unfazed. He wants to know if he passed, having obviously figured out that the whole thing’s a test. Mrs. Jones arrives and refers to Daniels as Smithers (Nyasha Hatendi). Blunt, reviewing the footage, learns that Alex has seemingly been trained to withstand torture. That isn’t in the school curriculum, is it?
At home, Jack tries to talk Alex out of his mission, but he’s resolute — for Ian, more than the DSO. Mrs. Jones speaks with Alex’s interrogator, who once again goes over the fact that he seems to have been trained, just in case we missed it the first time. The moral ambiguity of the endeavor is also raised again, as though there’d ever be a scenario in which an intelligence agency running a child agent wouldn’t be a bit dodgy.
Smithers goes through the CIA footage of Michael Roscoe’s death and raises the possibility of government-level access being required to set up a complex hologram of the building’s elevator to ensure that Roscoe stepped right into it. Alex Rider season 1, episode 2 then helpfully checks in on the villains. Martin confirms that the North Korean lead is just a red herring. Scarface wants to know if he hears any mention of Point Blanc, or “of us”. It’s all very mysterious and presumably high-level skullduggery, hence Alex needs a strong cover identity. He becomes Alex Friend, son of billionaire Sir David Friend and his wife Lady Caroline, who already have one troubled teenager — now they have another. He’ll be living with them both in their country estate.
In a parting scene, we visit Point Blanc in the French Alps just in time for some foreshadowing dialogue. On a nearby desk, a picture of who else but Alex? It seems that while he’s preparing to infiltrate Point Blanc, Point Blanc is preparing to meet him halfway.
- Tom eats Morrison’s Bacon Rashers, a strong choice of crisp.
- Speaking of Tom, he seems to be a mouthpiece for the show’s fondness for cinema. He reels off a whole bunch of all-time-classic samurai movies when suggesting things to take Alex’s mind off matters, and his bedroom wall has a Baby Driver poster that sits really obviously in the shot.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.