Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 9: 9:00 - 10:00 PM

It took me a few days this week before I was able to get around to the adventures of Jack Bauer, but they proved worth the wait. Though a stubbornly dry affair (Jack favored "son of a bitch" this week over his customary "dammit"), there was plenty of fun adventure, packed in so tightly that the hour flew by.

As we come down the home stretch here, we no longer have much time for the season's new characters. Kate was there storming the castle in all of Jack's ops, but had very little to do otherwise. (But hey, she did get to drive for a bit! Jack's been reserving that for himself all season.) Similarly, the people at the new "CTU (ish)" pushed buttons from afar and provided reassuring comm voices.

Weaselly Mark Boudreau fared better in terms of screen time, caught in his lies and now forced (though quite willingly) to try to clean up. 24 so often puts Jack (or someone equally capable, like Kate) into the action that it's refreshing here to have Mark be the operative. He did much better than the poor techie Jordan, whom Navarro sent into the field to be killed earlier this season.

And speaking of characters not normally in the crosshairs, Chloe was great this week. She pulled a bait-and-switch on the audience a bit at first, getting caught with the cell phone in what we thought might have been the beginnings of an escape plan, only to turn around and use it to leave Jack a pivotal clue. Then she had her most kickass moment since the long-ago season where she got James Bond background music, managing to beat up several of Cheng's thugs before making an escape. Okay, so her awesomeness was undermined a bit by her getting knocked out by a tree, but still, a neat showing for Chloe.

Audrey got the emotional material this week, as we saw her reaction to learning her tormentor Cheng is still alive. (Jack, as per usual, strangled his own feelings on the matter, after shooting them in the thigh.) Of course, you knew from the moment that Audrey announced her plans to leave the hotel that she was going to wind up in jeopardy, as surely as Kim Bauer announcing plans for a cougar hunt. Still, it's nice to get Audrey out into the thick of the action one time before this season wraps up.

It maybe seems a little too convenient to me that this season's Russian villain and the returning Cheng were somehow in cahoots, but we have only one episode left, dammit! It's funny, but for the first time in a long time, I feel like 24 had enough story to tell that they maybe could have gone 13 more episodes. Somehow, they expect to cram it all next week into a mere 42 minutes without commercials. Perhaps it's that immediacy and urgency that has made the show better this season, and thus I should not complain.

In any case, I'd give this week's hour a B+. We'll see next time if they can stick the landing.

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