In the first half of season 2 we saw Amanda prove she could be just as valuable to Lee and the Agency in Europe as she was at home in D.C. And we saw some setbacks and lessons learned. But we also saw just how tough she is and how determined she is to fight through the hard times and stick with her job as Lee’s “partner” at the Agency. She told Lee she’s proud of what she does, and I think she should be. And as we’ll see in the rest of season 2, she definitely made the right decision to stick with her career choice.
Thanks again to iwsod, for permission to use her screen caps! You’re the bomb! (Do you have a blue wire?)
I’m sure you’ve all heard the term exponential. Merriam-Webster defines it as “very fast” or “increasingly rapid”. And barring a few oddball episodes where
played by an imposter,
or a victim of identity theft, her professional growth in the second half of season 2 is exponential.
It all starts with Playing Possum and Ship of Spies. After deciding to take back her resignation, Amanda is more determined than ever to prove to herself and to Lee and Billy that she is right for the
and Agency. We know Lee has accepted Amanda as a “partner”, values her to play a cover with him, and is trusted as a messenger, but that’s no longer enough for Amanda. I think she wants more respect and trust to do bigger jobs than that.
In PP, Amanda allows herself to be hypnotized by Yuri, where it turns out she has valuable information stored away in her memory. Amanda now knows she is the only source of information to help prevent the nuclear bomb from going off. So instead of going to Vermont with her mother and the boys, she courageously returns to do her job and try to help prevent the start of WWIII. Although Lee wants her safe, she is successful in her persistence to stay in the hunt for the bomb, and it’s a good thing, because she is the one who “knows” that Lee needs to pull the blue wire to stop the bomb from exploding. In the absence of a better idea of his own, Lee trusts Amanda’s instincts and the world is saved. In the tag, we see Lee and Amanda share a private joke about the “blue wire” at Francine’s expense. I think this marks a shift in things for both Amanda and Lee. While Amanda’s had fab instincts all along, I see Lee now realizing he can trust and use her instincts more than ever before. The result? The door for future growth for Amanda as a professional has just been opened.
This post is not about Lee and how he sees Amanda, but I do believe that what Amanda thinks Lee thinks about her is a big influence on her. I think Amanda sees this private joke as Lee’s way of telling her that he trusts her instincts and has confidence in her. Anyone who’s gotten feedback like that from a boss they respect and believe in knows what a boost that can be.
In SOS, we see more of the same. And actually, I think Amanda may have developed a bit of a false sense of security based on PP. She’s back to playing detective on her own and nearly gets killed. But in the end she earns a huge amount of respect from her boss when she jumps out of the moving car and disarms Jillian. She also is the one to figure out that Orlando’s clue might be referring to gold.
I think this case ends up scaring the false sense of security out of Amanda,
and has reminded her of just how dangerous this business is.
But she does a great job,
and her boss lets her know it.
In the next three episodes, we see Amanda operating at the next level now that Lee’s gatekeeper door has opened up a bit. She’s still the same Amanda using her smarts, instincts, and people skills to help Lee out with his uncle’s case, acting professional instead of dwelling on hurt feelings in Spiderweb, and being the witness to the murder of Chris Gelles in ALSALS, but I think Lee is starting to think there is more to Amanda than luck, guesses, and timing. She’s being given a chance to have a greater impact now that Lee’s holding her back less, and she does. It’s as if she’s paid her dues and finally has some real street cred with the spy. We know this because in Billy’s office in ALSALS, Lee even tells Amanda to add what she was thinking because, “You never know what it might spark.” Amanda was only going to talk about her car after the accident at the flower shop, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is Lee’s openness to her thoughts and ideas, which is allowing for her to learn and grow to the next level. (That last pic is from iwsod’s 1/12 ALSALS gallery post, even though there is no mark in the bottom right corner.)
In LOTP Amanda has another breakthrough, earning a great deal of respect from Lee, Billy, and even Francine. From the very start of this episode, Amanda is acting like a mature pro. I think LOTP is such an important episode for Amanda’s career that I want to list out what she does and some other subtle things that show how much she’s grown:
- Teases him about another BJo at the party in the opening scene in a way that Francine would tease him.
- Proactively leaves Lee alone so he can talk to his contact and is not disappointed to have to do so.
- Sees the maid in the library, albeit accidentally. It still counts! Then she remembers and brings it up to Lee and Billy in Billy’s office the next day.
- Easily pulls off her cover and gets the job as a maid at Private Party.
- Goes undercover with Francine for a change.
- Tells Francine what to do when she sees an old flame. She tells Francine to be professional if she can’t avoid the guy. Good advice.
- Orders Francine to do the best she can in the kitchen and then fake it.
- Stands her ground with Francine
- and the bathroom cleaning.
- Successfully carries off her cover on her own with the baddies in their office and checks in after with Lee on the phone.
- Notices Vic Burling is at the fake IFF party and knows it is strange. Her spidey sense is on alert.
- Goes to tell Francine about Lee and Billy being taken from the IFF party.
- Insists on going in to Columbus’ warehouse with Francine to rescue Lee (and Billy).
- Creates a distraction for Francine by whacking a Mob Boss in the back with a bin.
- Frees up Lee and Billy.
- Takes out Vic Burling after he tries to pull a fast one.
Amanda is GREAT in this episode, and Lee even tells her that. Sincerely. It is not until it is all over, that Amanda even stops to think about what she has just done – and her knees buckle. It’s as if Amanda has gone back to how she was in TFT and acted without “looking down”. It’s been almost two years since Lee handed her that package, and here she has combined all her own expertise with what she has learned so far and thrown in a health dose of bravery to save Lee. She pretty much does this on her own. Francine doesn’t really do much on this case, even though she is partnered on it with Amanda. Even though this is not Amanda’s case – she is not in charge of it – this case is all about Amanda, and she comes through big time.
In OOADP, DOA, and YODT, Amanda again is operating well and putting her skills to work. No big leaps in growth, but rather continuous performance in line with expectations. She demonstrates that she can contribute to cases and take care of herself, even when not in her right mind.
I know many people watch DOA and think Amanda’s subconscious is expressed, and perhaps it is, but I am more comfortable in the concrete, conscious world. So what she does in DOA, I don’t really count. It’s sort of like being a professional baseball player from the steroids era and making the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but with an asterisk next to your name (think Mark McGuire for you American baseball fans out there).
Here are a few pictures from those episodes highlighting her biggest contributions:
Burnout is another bit of an unusual case, but a necessary and poignant one. It’s not really a case at all for Amanda, unless you count Lee as her case. In addition to seeing Amanda continue to perform her independent office duties, she is brought into the case by the baddies because of her personal and professional concern for Lee. Although not official, she ends up playing a big role in this episode and learns again just how brutal the spy business can be when Lee slaps her. This slap is Amanda’s coming of age in the spy business, IMHO. And like a true professional, she handles it well, figures out on her own that Lee is undercover, and doesn’t miss a beat in helping Lee with his case despite that awful slap. She is losing her innocence while gaining some scars and earning some big time respect from her boss.
MBF is an interesting episode professionally for Amanda. Other than getting a big raise and a confidence boost, Amanda’s doesn’t really experience much growth herself, but indirectly she grows a lot. Byron Jordan, an Agency outsider who has not witnessed how far Amanda has come, sees her only as a valuable and competent professional who is well thought of by her co-workers. Because Lee and Billy have seen Amanda from day 1, their view is different. I think MBF rattles their brains a little bit and forces them to look at Amanda with different eyes – perhaps when they look at her from this other BJo’s viewpoint, Amanda is starting to look even more valuable and competent to them as well. I see this as indirect growth for Amanda, as it opens gatekeeper-Lee’s gates wider.
Finally we have Vigilante Mothers. This is the perfect season 2 ending episode because it incorporates all of Amanda’s skills and shows us just how far she has come. We also see that Lee has finally come to
trust in her abilities and instincts and for the first time sends her without specific instructions toward danger proactively and on purpose to distract the baddie for him. WOW!!! She is still an untrained, part-time civilian, yet Lee now believes in her abilities enough to send her to do this:
The baddie is armed with a gun too! Wow, again! Amanda really has made it! Even she is surprised by Lee telling her to do this, but she does it well, and they wrap up the case together like true partners.
Well, Amanda has really rocketed in growth in just 12 episodes. I think once she made the decision in BAI to stay with the Agency, she really needed to put herself out there and see what she was made of and what she was capable of. It turns out she is made of and capable of a lot, and now she knows it and Lee knows it. She may not be on the typical career growth ladder at the Agency, but because of her tie to Lee, she has been able to prove her worth and earn some trust from him. We know Lee doesn’t really trust anyone, so this is huge and allows her to continue working with and growing with every assignment she has with him. I believe this trust aspect also plays a big role in their personal relationship. Just like it opens up the gate that Lee had used to hold Amanda’s growth back (mostly out of concern for her safety), I think it also opens up Lee’s heart. These two are intertwined and inseparable for me. Like an axiom. A BJo axiom of SMK. Oh, but that’s another post for another day!
We are now three episodes into season 3, and we can see how Amanda’s growth here in the latter half of season 2 has made her character changes in season 3 possible. She is no longer a rookie, an innocent without scars, or very naïve. She has proved she is definitely ready for bigger assignments that require her particular set of skills and expertise. I’m looking forward to keeping tabs on her growth this season and will publish the post(s) on it after we’ve finished walking through them!
Well, this has been a long post! Thank you for sticking with it! What do you agree with? Disagree with? Does it bug you that I pretty much discount DOA? I’d love to hear your view! Did I miss anything? Why is Amanda okay with “handling” Francine like she does? Has she ever treated Lee like that? What do you think Billy makes of Amanda’s growth? We don’t get to hear him say much about it. How do you think Amanda is feeling about herself and her career choice now???