Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Day 9: 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Jack Bauer was back in action again last night for a two-drink episode ("Dammit!", "Dammit!") that kept some of the momentum generated by the promising premiere last week. But it also slid back into a few of 24's bad habits.

We spent a great deal of time fleshing out the villains this week. And while I'm certainly all for avoiding cartoonish, one-dimensional villains, these were by far the weakest scenes of the episode. Lots of ham-fisted exposition awkwardly clued us in on the family relationships (brother, husband) before leading into more awkward storylines. He's upset she slept with another man. Except he's really upset because he no longer wants to kill people. And creepy Mom wants to watch their makeup sex (talk about a quickie, by the way) on NannyCam. I say the brother needs to convert the non-standard bus or whatever ASAP, because this just wasn't interesting.

Meanwhile, the hacker lair, for all its built-in feeling of being "not CTU," certainly began to feel a lot like CTU this week. The leader's petulant efforts to screw Jack over felt like many of the office politics squabbles we saw over the years. (Some mole-driven, some not.)

But the rest of the episode held more promise. Agent Morgan is quickly shaping up to be one of the better "new characters" the series has ever introduced. She's definitely cast in the mold of a female Jack Bauer, but has a little nuance to keep it from being just that simple. For one thing, she comes to us pre-damaged, where we the audience basically saw every bit of the abuse over the years that made Jack who he is. For another, Morgan still doesn't seem quite ready to do literally anything to get the job done... though she still certainly blurs the lines.

The best scene of the hour was the quiet and close moment between Chloe and Jack, an all too infrequent kind of scene on 24. While the series does sometimes include emotion and pathos to cut up the action, it's invariably one character suffering in solitude. Rarely is another character there to share the moment and comfort, and even more rarely is that character Jack Bauer. Both Mary Lynn Rajskub and Kiefer Sutherland did an excellent job in the scene where Chloe reveals the loss of her husband and child, and Jack relates to the loss from very personal experience.

Some fun action bookended the hour, making good use of the fact that this was actually filmed in London. (Though the major train station underground stops are going to be a lot busier at 1:00 in the afternoon on a weekday.) Still, I'd call it a slower hour overall, worth about a B.

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