’24’ heads into final hours, puts Jack on the outs

I have to say that Monday’s episode of 24 was better than most episodes of this season. It had almost no action, but instead had something better: a couple of tense, terrific dialog scenes with charged drama and personal stakes. The Taylor/Logan/Ethan showdown was some of this season’s best stuff, for my money.

Does it make sense in the slightest that Taylor would move forward with a useless peace treaty that is built upon a lie with a Russian government that doesn’t even want to be a part of it? And, furthermore, based on a lie that other people know about and could easily expose? Not in the slightest. But as broken down as a binary choice by Logan in that scene, it made for a great few minutes of drama.

The other key scene was of course the Jack/Taylor scene. Good stuff. I think deep down we all want to see Jack as the outcast, taking matters into his own hands because everyone else has screwed things up so royally and he is the only person left standing with any integrity. Contrived? Sure. But it kept me invested.

As for Dana Walsh, I’ll gladly take her as a Nina Myers clone who is in bed with the Russians/terrorists over the Dana who was trying to cover up her past and dealing with her dumbass ex for the first 12 episodes.

Does any of her previous damsel-in-distress characterization from before the Big Twist make any sense whatsoever in retrospect? Absolutely not. But I’d rather have the course correction (no matter how rehashed and implausible) than keep playing out Dana as the useless character she was. At least the role has some teeth now.

So, obviously, 24 this season is a pale imitation of what it once was, but at least the writers are remembering what works and re-executing those beats entertainingly.

What did you think?

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20 comments on this post

Joe Byrne
Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 2:47 pm (UTC -6)

Like flogging a dead horse – but entertaining tosh!

Harvey
Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 2:49 pm (UTC -6)

I have to say, while I wouldn’t call any of this season ‘good’ in any way that I would apply to any other shows on television, during the past four hours 24 has been something that it hasn’t been since season five: exciting. I hope they keep that up for the next six episodes, leaving the series on a high note.

TS
Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 3:52 pm (UTC -6)

I’m glad they’re ending it. It’s tough to say that, because I think the show still has/had untapped potential, but the writers seem content on going back to the well on a constant basis. “Oh shucks, I dunno, make her the CTU mole this season!” Sure, why not. Every season has to have some sort of mole. It’s terribly played out to an extreme at this point. I guess CTU is just ‘that good’ at background checking and keeping an eye on its employees. Le sigh.

After Season 5, I knew the series had reached its creative ‘peak’. Nothing would be able to top that big reveal: the fricken President of the United States was in on the whole thing. Nothing. And I guess I was right. I can only hope that the Series Finale delivers in some meaningful way.

Derek
Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 5:27 pm (UTC -6)

Harvey has it exactly right—the show is exciting and fun again as of the 2-hour mega episode a few weeks back. Up til now, the season has been nothing short of a boring trainwreck (who knew that was even possible?) but they’ve figured it out and are hitting us with some pretty great stuff in the last leg. In no way can I compare it to something amazing like Lost or BSG, but as an action hour 24 has made a nice comeback, and Keifer has finally been given some meaty material (something he hasn’t really had for some time, since I think his “neurotoxin” plot from last year was pretty tame) over the past few hours. He certainly deserved that emmy he got a few years back.

Eric
Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 7:35 pm (UTC -6)

I agree with what TS said. This season, including the last couple of episodes, has left me cold, just because everything is so contrived and predictable. The scenes Jammer mentioned were good, but I’m not invested like I once was. I still want to see it through to the end; I just hope it’s somehow satisfying.

Jim
Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 9:44 pm (UTC -6)

I think Derek hit the nail on the head. Giving Jack more material is exactly what brought me back into the show, even if it isn’t as good as it once was. As many times as I’ve seen Jack do an interrogation, yell, disagree, shoot people, etc., Keifer Sutherland still manages to to make the scene entertaining as hell.

AR
Wednesday, April 21, 2010, 5:38 am (UTC -6)

I agree with most of what’s been said except for one thing: untapped potential? Maybe, but not in terms of storytelling. Having run the gamut on threats and bad guys (political intrigue, plotted/attempted/successful assassinations, threats from without, threats from within, every shape and size of WMD), having put Jack through every possible emotional wringer (other than having Kim die in a car wreck, I suppose), what’s left? Where could they have possibly gone with a season-long story that wouldn’t just be a rehash of previous story elements? I’m sure they could reshuffle the deck to create different -combinations-, and have it be reasonably entertaining for the most part, but it would still be the same cards.

Eric
Wednesday, April 21, 2010, 8:43 pm (UTC -6)

I think they could’ve tried to re-invent the show. I remember a lot of talk about the writers intending to shake things up after the major disappointment that was season 6. But aside from changing the city where the plot takes place, they changed nothing.

Genre-Buster
Wednesday, April 21, 2010, 9:09 pm (UTC -6)

I truly hate this show. Things go boom, dialogue is contrived, plot even more so, all for the sake of a cliffhanger that never really gets resolved until another is developed and ready to take its place. As predictable as my bowel movements. I hate it and yet I watch it. Why? Probably for the same reason I liked Trek 11 – to have something to look down on, so I can think to myself: “Shoot, I could have done better than that.”

Pathetic creature I am.

Anyone else care to own up?

Eduardo
Monday, April 26, 2010, 2:46 pm (UTC -6)

I enjoyed this breather of an episode. Following on the heels of 4 intense prior episodes, it had to tone the tensions down and discuss the positions of the characters, and how will that set forth the inevitable conflict that’ll drive the end of the series.

It certainly helps when the actors really sell the scenes. Gregory Itzin, Cherry Jones and Kiefer Sutherland really know how to make their characters believable and endearing. Their motivations come across as natural as possible. Having capable directors like Milan Cheylov and Brad Turner are amongst the show’s best assets.

One of my favorite scenes had to be the hospital scene where Jack can’t answer anything about RenĂ©e’s past and personal life to a nurse. It have his sense of loss all the more impact.

It’s interesting this was written by Chip Johannessen and Patrick Harbinson. Despite a few missteps this season, there are two writing teams that always deliver on their scripts: the Millennium team (Johannessen and Harbinson), and the Star Trek team (Manny Coto and Brannon Braga).

Jim
Monday, April 26, 2010, 9:41 pm (UTC -6)

With the events of tonight’s episode, I have almost completely checked out of this season. For me, many of the events in the episode reeked of thinly disguised, uninspired political allegory that flies in the face of anything previously established on the show (one development in particular). Granted, some of this has always been present in 24, but with most of the characters this episode acting like complete idiots I guess I just noticed it more this time than I have before.

Eric
Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 9:58 am (UTC -6)

Bleh. Last night’s ep felt like total filler. If the show weren’t so close to ending, I probably wouldn’t give it any more of my time, but I do want to see how the writers end it. It is tempting to just read spoilers or wait and read plot summaries though since the show feels so tired.

Jammer
Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 8:25 pm (UTC -6)

I have few problems with the Jack/Chloe/CTU action in last night’s episode. However, I have a big problem with the way President Taylor flip-flops back and forth like a goddamn ping-pong ball. This treaty, given how many people know about the cover-up designed to allow it to go through, is so meaningless as to be beyond stupid. And the notion that Taylor continues to support it — being talked out of it before immediately being talked back in — is nothing short of character assassination.

So, say the treaty doesn’t get signed. So what? Suddenly the world collapses? There’s no threat here. When Jack ends up taking everybody and everything down, he will have taken down the most pointless threat “24” has probably ever had.

Aside from that cougar in Season 2, of course.

The weird part is that “24” manages, from episode to episode, to be entertaining or completely absurd. Last week I was involved with the treaty stuff. This week it made no sense. Too many shifts in character and motivation.

Jim
Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 10:57 pm (UTC -6)

The way President Taylor says “Peace, whatever the cost. What Ever The Cost.” at the end for me was particularly eye rolling. Great way to scrap a character completely in one episode. And why does she go from not trusting Logan to listening to every bit of advice he has to give? And in two episodes no less? Ugh. David Palmer would never have listened to that crap.

Tim
Saturday, May 8, 2010, 9:53 pm (UTC -6)

I totally agree. They’ve ruined President Taylor. I wouldn’t be surprised if, by the end of the season, Logan talks her into ordering Jack’s murder.

And he’s got her doing stuff that plain don’t make sense. A couple weeks ago Logan convinced her to have Dana tortured for the information about the Russian’s involvement. But why? She was planning to cover up the Russian’s involvement anyway. So she’s having a woman tortured for information that she’s just going to bury. Why???

This show hasn’t been the same since Season Five. They were so short-sighted in killing off President Palmer and Michelle Dessler. Where as Tony Almeida was better off dead considering what they did to him last year.

But still…It can’t get any worse than Season Six, where Jack’s brother and father were terrorists. Now I’m just staying with it to see how it ends. I think it needs to end with Jack’s death…In spite of all this talk about a movie.

Eric
Sunday, May 9, 2010, 1:22 pm (UTC -6)

I don’t know if I want it to end with Jack’s death. Although at this point there’s no way he’ll get a happy ending.

I think the writers should’ve just killed Logan during season 6 when his wife Stabbed him. It’s obvious they brought him back because he was a fan favorite, but the way Taylor has just suddenly become willing to bend over backward for him is completely stupid. I also have to laugh when Jack said “I don’t want revenge, I want Justice” a while back. Not one villain on this show seems to have truly gotten justice. It seems like everyone either gets immunity, is pardoned or is killed. It’s dumb and it’s
frustrating.

Jim
Monday, May 10, 2010, 10:23 pm (UTC -6)

The Sprint Mobile Hotspot plug in tonight’s episode made me laugh. Plugs like that certainly aren’t new to tv, but that one seemed particularly blatant. Heck, they even had seemingly useless tech-talk dialogue to insert it into the story.

JackBauer
Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 6:50 pm (UTC -6)

Theyve been trying to put those into TV shows and its maddening at how obvious they are. They do it relentlessly in Dexter with cell phones.

JackBauer
Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 6:50 pm (UTC -6)

Oh and they want to have a 24 motion picture, so gauranteed Jack doesnt die.

Eduardo
Wednesday, May 19, 2010, 11:58 pm (UTC -6)

I’m not so sure Jack’s so invincible anymore as to survive to a motion picture. I am pretty sure the ending won’t be pretty for Jack Bauer.

Having just seen hours 21 and 22, i can see there’s no turning back for him now. What he did to the russian agent was beyond appalling. Even Tony Almeida didn’t get that far. I generally withstand 24’s torture scenes pretty smoothly. This was the first time ever i felt getting sick on my stomach. The guilt of watching that sheer act of violence left me seriously depressed.

Jack cut the guy open, with him yelling in pain and horror, used hot oil and a blowtorch on his wounds. This is extreme, even by 24 standards. This isn’t a dig on the show’s direction. If there was a way to end 24, this was it, going out taking no prisoners, and ending with a nuclear bang! But it left seriously divided into the joy of watching these final hours mixed with this horrible feeling in my gut.

What scares me is that when you look back into the opening hours, seeing him play with his granddaughter, you can’t believe how far he’s fallen. He had a chance of a peaceful happy life for the first time since season 1, and now that’s over forever.

If there’s gonna be a 24 movie, it won’t follow on season 8’s footsteps. This whole second half has been the most tense and excruciating home stretch for a TV show. Howard Gordon and Evan Katz really brought the house down, as did masterful directors like Milan Cheylov and Brad Turner, not to mention all the writers (including a couple of Star Trek veterans).

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