I’m plodding my way through the second season of Alias, after having watched the third and forth seasons initially, and something occurred to me:
Michael Vaughn is pathologically incapable of being faithful – emotionally and/or physically. Unless, of course, he’s with Syd; then he epitomises the word. But when he’s not, then he wants to be with her – or he just gives up all pretence at fidelity and cheats on whoever he’s with to be with our heroine.
Conclusion? Fidelity is a virtue, if it’s OTP (the show’s ‘One True Pairing’). When it’s not, it’s just a hindrance to the OTP.
When we first meet him, he’s in what we assume to be a long-term relationship. Despite this, he and Sydney exchange longing looks and an inappropriate emotional intimacy – both for the fact he’s in a relationship and he’s her handler, who needs to have a clear vision regarding her – possibly as a way of justifying their (mainly his) behaviour. Yes, he may be cheating emotionally, but not physically, and that’s what counts, right?
Rubbish. Brigitte Bardot once said something like “˜it is better to be unfaithful than to be faithful and wish you weren’t'; in other words, if you want to cheat, then cheat, but don’t long to be with someone and restrain yourself just so you can sit on your moral high horse and say you didn’t cheat. Emotional infidelity is as least as bad as physical infidelity, and somewhat worse, because it allows people to convince themselves that nothing’s happening and therefore, nothing’s wrong.
Eventually – after the girlfriend is off the scene – Vaughn and Syd jump into bed. The message? It’s OK to string along your current girlfriend in whom you’ve lost interest, until you find some other excuse to dump her and be with the woman you REALLY want.
Cut to season three. Sydney has disappeared for two years, and in the interim Michael has married. Syd is back on the scene for a month or two before the longing begins again. This time, Michael cheats with abandon. The writers tried to soften this little indiscretion by having Lauren cheat first – with Sark, no less. But Vaughn doesn’t know this at the time. He cheats on Lauren thinking she’s been faithful, then tries to “˜backdate’ his conscience and justify his own fidelities with the fact she was cheating at the time, too – he just didn’t know it at the time to justify it then.
The message? It’s OK to cheat on wifey with OTP because, well, wifey did something to deserve your infidelities. You may not know what it is, but she did it.
I shudder to think how many men must pick up on storylines like this and use the same logic to justify their own infidelities.