Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 9: 6:00 - 7:00 PM

Last night's 24 was a drinking hat trick (Jack gave us a "dammit," a "within the hour," and a "perimeter"). I also thought it was the best hour of this new season.

It's not that it was especially shocking. On any other show, the idea that the writers would go through with killing the President of the United States would be the unthinkable plot twist no one would see coming. On 24, the twist would have been if they had weaseled their way out of it. Still, it wouldn't have been 24 if they had. The key was in how they got there.

On that front, the episode was terrific. In a move sure to give Audrey trust issues with men for the rest of her life, her ex-boyfriend and her husband teamed up to essentially assist her father's suicide. And the show found a way to really explore the ramifications of this despite a need to keep the action rolling, despite the ticking clock. We got to see Mark's reluctance, Jack's unwavering devotion to duty despite his objections, Heller's "goodbye that I can't say out loud" scene with Audrey, and Audrey's discovery of her father's letter. All of it was a pretty solid emotional throughline of the sort that 24 doesn't always manage to present strongly in the midst of the action.

It seemed like it wasn't the only dramatic thread in play, either. For narrative necessity, I presume, we began to see a fracture between Margot al-Harazi and her son. Presumably, this is how the menace will continue for another four episodes: she will stay true to her word and stand down her drones, but her son will defy her.

But the more subtle and provocative thread was hinted at between Jack and Kate. Jack pushed her hard this week, and Kate went there like the good soldier she's been this season, putting Simone's life in jeopardy to get information from her. But what I found interesting was the way Jack pushed: "Wake the bitch up." A fun Bauer style line, sure, but it also felt like a step beyond for him. Combined with his actions against Simone last week, and the way that there too it was contrasted with Kate, it feels like maybe the writers are inching toward a big, perhaps even irredeemable "go too far" moment with Jack by the end of the season.

I was even fairly entertained by the misadventures of Jordan Reed. Sure, he fell for one of the oldest cliches in the book ("is your safety on or off?"), but I forgive it. For one, he's really a desk jockey out of his element; and two, it's not like the hitman hadn't been colossally stupid throughout the sequence too. At least Reed first managed to figure out who had set him up. Sure looks like he's dead now, though, so it may fall to a snooping Kate to avenge him and unmask Navarro's moley moleness.

My one gripe, though. Traditionally, the major deaths on 24 have been punctuated by a silent clock to end the act. Indeed, the fact that the clock wasn't silent when Tony Almeida died in season 5 was the writers' bullshit retcon justification to bring him back from the dead in season 7. So does the lack of silent clock tonight for Heller's death mean we should somehow be expecting charred zombie Heller next week? Come on, guys. He's the president. Show a little respect.

Still, I can't remember the last time I had this much fun with a 24 episode. Good drama. A clever "reverse stealth shooter" style escape for Jack and the President. Blowing up half the field at Wembley Stadium. Good stuff. I give it an A-.

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