Alex Rider episode 3 feels a bit bogged down by filler, as Alex finds his relationships tested as he beds in with his new family.
This recap of Alex Rider season 1, episode 3 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Alex Rider episode 3 is about trust – earning it from other people, retaining it for those close to you, and realizing how valuable it is. Alex is, understandably, deeply mistrustful of the organization that he’s now on-mission for, but his determination to find out what happened to his uncle Ian means that he’s willing to shelve that mistrust at the expense of his relationships with people like Tom and Jack, who care about him unconditionally.
I like that, for all its family-friendly fun times, Alex Rider is making a pretty determined point that the life of a spy is dangerous, morally questionable, and more than a little miserable. When he’s quizzed on his new cover story, the vibe is a lot like homework or revising for an important test. How many high school students would aspire to that, as a lifestyle? How many high school students, perhaps more importantly, would shrug off film night with the girls and lie to their best friend? Well, maybe I take that back. He’s going on a secret mission, after all.
But the Friend estate, where Alex will be staying with his new “parents”, is hardly a welcoming place. David and Caroline don’t particularly want him there, and we’ve learned already that Blunt has a way of manipulating people – we mustn’t forget when he threatened Alex and Jack with when he wanted the former to play ball. Alex might be able to get on with it, but the whole matter is made a lot more complicated when Fiona, the Friends’ daughter, arrives home early.
The matter of trust comes up again in Alex Rider episode 3 when Tom, knowing something is up, tracks Alex down at the estate and confronts him while posing as a pizza deliveryman. Alex has no choice but to admit what he’s doing, but when he does it’s like a little fist-punch moment of catharsis for the audience. You want them to be on the same page since you can tell how much Tom genuinely cares for his friend – he might be one of the only ones who really do.
Case in point: Rafe (Ralph Prosser), a friend of Fiona’s, who pursues Alex through the forest with a shotgun like he’s doing a toff re-enactment of Hard Target. Alex remains well-suited to the task of surviving under adverse conditions, so he’s cut out to be a spy in that sense, but the overwhelming feeling is still that no teenager really needs any of this business. It also, if we’re being frank, feels a lot like filler, as does the neat and tidy falling-out-then-making-up arc that Alex and Tom go through.
Nevertheless, Alex Rider season 1, episode 3 provides some development in the overarching narrative, as Alex is interviewed by Eva (Ana Ularu) and makes the grade; this installment ends with him being flown to Point Blanc in the remote Alps, as he’s studiously observed by Haluk Bilginer’s Dr. Greif.
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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.