Monday, April 9, 2007

24 Takes a Turn For the Better; A Review of Hour 17, 10:00-11:00 pm

Wow, three posts in one day. I must really want to avoid studying for finals. In any case, that was quite the episode of 24 tonight. Jack Bauer is back to old tricks, and that's not good news for terrorists. And the show takes a very interesting turn as it enters its final 8 episodes. As a general warning, again, this post contains spoilers of 24 so if you haven't watched tonight's episode, may I suggest you check out my preview of the Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup with the Calgary Flames or my rant against weather delays in Major League Baseball.

I've been a bit critical of 24 this season, and while I won't rehash my previous post on the subject I will say that firmly believed that 24 was getting somewhat boring and predictable. Well, that changed after tonight's episode. In many ways, tonight was a season finale, which is a bit different for 24. The main terrorist storyline involving evil bad guy Fayed came to an end when Jack Bauer hanged Fayed, killing him and recovering the two remaining suitcase weapons. Jack singlehandedly took out a team of Fayed's men, then Fayed himself, proving that two years in a Chinese Prison didn't affect Jack Bauer's ability to hunt down terrorists, even when he's by himself and vastly outnumbered.

Leading up the the final charge were a few of 24's famous twists, first involving President Wayne Palmer and the second involving a faux-rescue of Fayed. And I'll be honest, I saw neither coming, which shows that either I haven't been watching close enough, I lost too much faith in the producers and writers of 24, or I'm just really gullible, but I haven't proven that in the past watching 24. Last week, the show ended with a revived President Palmer stunning his advisor's by ordering a nuclear strike on a Middle Eastern country, which he seemingly risked death to stop the Vice President from doing. This week, it was shown that the missile strike was a bluff intended to get the Middle Eastern ambassador to give up information on the location of the remaining bombs. And it worked. On both the Ambassador and me. Last week, I had said that "Wayne Palmer is no David Palmer" in reference to the character's brother who also was a President on 24 but I take that back now. Even though it didn't make a whole lot of sense that Wayne felt he couldn't tell all his advisors about the bluff (he was only trying to outfox the Ambassador, not his entire staff) I can forgive that for the payoff. Turns out Wayne knows what he's doing after all, even just haven awoken from a coma.

Then there was Jack interrogating Fayed and getting nowhere, leading to them transferring Fayed and being ambushed in the process, with Fayed seemingly escaping. When this happened, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe the writers and producers would let Fayed get away so easily, and so predictably. After all, CTU often mismanages seemingly everything Jack is not directly involved with, and like all television shows (Alias, one of my personal favorites, was famous for having CIA agents transporting prisoners or artifacts ambushed, so much so their characters began even referencing how often successful ambushes were pulled off against the agency) and I just felt the writers had gotten lazy. But, turns out, they knew what they were doing after all, as the "ambush" was quickly shown to be a setup to try to convince Fayed he was free, and thus could safely return to his safehouse. I should have given the writers more faith than I did.

Fayed eventually did escape for real, but in a way which was both believable and tension building. Jack's ability to latch on to the bottom of a garbage truck and hold on until he reached Fayed's safehouse showed his ingenuity and then, after the aforementioned battle with Fayed and his men, the bombs were recovered and all was right with the world.

Usually, 24's MO has been to introduce one bad guy, have him run the show for a while, be killed, and pass the baton to an even worse bad guy that he is working for, who Jack and the rest of CTU chase after until he is captured and killed and yet an even worse person is shown to be the real mastermind. This season had a little of that, with Jack's family, but mainly it was the Fayed show, and now that chapter is closed, and it doesn't look to be reopened anytime soon. Instead, we have the long awaited and much needed return of Kim Raver's character, Audrey Raines. Absent the first half of the year because she was filming ABC's failed drama, The Nine, it seems Audrey, who was presumably killed (at least that's what we the viewer and Jack were told a few episodes back) is actually alive and being held captive by the Chinese, who are demanding Jack meet their demands in order to spare her life.

Now, first, the storyline seems a bit absurd. The Chinese let Jack go after the United States paid a "very high price" to get him back, so they could hand Jack off to Fayed who was going to kill Jack but give the US information on how to stop the bombs in exchange. So whatever they want now they seemingly could have gotten from the US in exchange for Jack. Secondly, if the Chinese knew they were handing over Jack so the US could then essentially have Jack killed, kidnapping Audrey so they could later blackmail Jack seems pointless. But, because it's fun to have Audrey back and I think the storyline of Jack trying to get Audrey back, even against the wishes of the US government and his fellow CTU agents, is going to make for a great run up to the season finale, I'm willing to ignore the continuity holes.

I also really like the President Palmer medical storyline. He obviously is risking a great deal, and suffering a lot of damage, in order to hold on to his hold on the White House, and next week's impending showdown with Vice President Daniels should yield some great drama. I haven't really liked the Vice President's character so far, he's been too cartoony for my tastes, but the previews looked pretty interesting for next week.

So have I turned around completely on 24 yet? No. I still don't like how they handled the reveal and death of Jack's brother, Jack's father has vanished and seemingly disappeared leaving that storyline dangling out there, and I still want to know what happened to President Logan. A few weeks back the man is stabbed by his wife, flatlines at the end of the episode, then neither he nor his wife are ever mentioned again. Did he live? Was she arrested? These are some of the most interesting characters in the history of the show. To just drop that storyline was unfortunate. Hopefully they will pick it back up before the season ends. But, tonight was a great episode to bridge the gap between what has been a so-so season to this point and what could be a great latter third of the season. Let's hope next week continues tonight's forward momentum.

Add To: Digg! Reddit Del.Icio.Us Stumble



© New Blogger Templates | Webtalks