24: Live Another Day – The End?

Despite not writing much the past few weeks about this different season of 24, I’ve really enjoyed 24: Live Another Day.

Multiple changes, including an overseas location, taking four years off and a 12-hour format were good for this show. The return of Cheng as the main villain was a nice touch, as well as Jack’s way of dealing with him at the end. And the last hour was powerful, especially revolving around the death of Audrey (a character I could have done without during previous seasons). We saw two different reactions to her death- that of Jack and that of her father. But what really sold the death was Heller’s next day conversation with the English Prime Minister prior to boarding Air Force One.

As far as everything that happened after that, the ending reminded me a lot of the end of Season Five nine years ago. I’m still puzzled why the Russians want Jack. The were involved in a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister of Whateverastan and destabilize the Middle East peace process and Jack simply kept some of their operatives from making matters worse. This isn’t the first time we got a silent clock for Jack. And I have a feeling Jack will return, which, in a departure from my feelings four years ago, is a good thing.

All I ask is that the next season not be anything like Season Six.

The CIA Agent in the Boot

The most competent, loyal person officially associated with the U.S. Government spent tonight’s episode of 24 locked in a boot.

That’s trunk for my American readers.

I’m really liking this season of 24. But things aren’t looking so great for the Americans here. As I mentioned, CIA Agent Kate Morgan (also known as Agent Sarah Walker Bartowski) spent most of the episode in a trunk. That’s some reward for a character who is loyal and gets things done.

Her superiors, while more comfortable are actually doing more to hinder those who wish to thwart the terrorist.

Her boss, CIA Station Chief Steve Navarro is a by-the-book operative who in the last minutes of the episode has been shown to be this season’s mole (even if his mole-ness doesn’t directly relate to the main storyline).

His boss, White House Chief of Staff Mark Boudreau, is an ambitious careerist who only has his position because he’s married to the President’s daughter (he spent three years nursing her back to health!). He’s a cowardly weasel who is clearly jealous of his wife’s relationship to Jack.

His boss, President James Heller, once survived a hostage situation, drove his car off a cliff and I’m pretty sure he throat-punched Jack once. But he has been showing signs of Alzheimer’s and has been getting more feeble as the season goes on.

So these are Jack’s options for backup. And the English aren’t doing much better. James Bond must have been staking out Blofeld’s lair because the MI-6 squad sent in to shadow Jack nearly made a mess out of his whole operation.

Further, it looks like another country’s going to get involved, with Mark selling Jack out to the Russians. Someone remind me- why are the Russians pissed with Jack? Was it because he revealed they were behind the assassination of a head of state in an attempt to disrupt relations between two other sovereign states last season? That’s some real moral high ground the Russians have.

Still, it’s an enjoyable season. So far, it looks like whatever Navarro’s involved in is the one “this doesn’t have anything to do with the main story” plotline this season. And it beats a cougar. That’s all I can ask.


Jack Bauer Vs. The D-Word

On tonight’s episode of 24 the head honcho of the London CIA office told Agent Sarah Walker Bartowski her case was being sent up to Division.

Now there’s a word we’ve not heard in a long time.

Back in the early years of 24, that one word, one concept would shake CTU to its core. Division was responsible for annoying characters like Ryan Chapelle, Alberta Greene and Bill Buchanan (the only division-related character who didn’t completely mess everything up). You can talk about your terrorists controlling drones, or your embassy riots, but nothing has terrified me so much this season as the prospect of Division returning.

Overall, tonight’s episode was a rather light one, with the exception of Jack’s meeting the President and later Audrey. I can see President Heller meeting Terror Mom version Two’s demands, showing up in a location of her choosing with Jack by his side. After all, he’s the same character who was almost assassinated live on the Internet back in season four and drove off a cliff in season five.

As for Jack’s reunion with Audrey, I think we all know her answers to his questions by her refusal to answer them. Jack’s not going to get turned over to the Russians, but I’m not entirely sure he ends up with Audrey again.

Someone To Believe In Jack

There comes a point in each season of 24 during which misunderstandings between Jack and the authority figure are at an all-time high, there is a clear target on Jack’s head and a quick meeting or phone conversation gets everyone on the same page, teamed up to take down the villains.

Tonight’s episode did not have one of those moments.

It felt like it was going to happen, with Jack holed up in the embassy communications room and Heller fresh off giving a winning speech to the U.K. Parliament (and I’m a bit confused as to how he got to that successful ending from all the stammering he did when we last saw him a half hour before hand). Heller, with the help of Audrey seemed like he was willing to listen to Jack. But then his chief of staff (who has as many ideas as bad as his haircut) had to step in and remind everyone that technically, Jack is a terrorist.

But Jack’s efforts weren’t for nothing- he has someone, Agent Sarah Walker Bartowski, on his side. And even without the Intersect, that’s better than nothing.

This season is moving along quickly and I think that’s a good thing. There aren’t any useless plotlines (well, Naveen and his wife appeared to be one, until it was revealed that Naveen would be behind the remote controls for the drones) and the story is progressing. Sure, Jack stayed in one place this episode, but it served the story. He was waiting around, but he wasn’t.

Not too many other thoughts tonight, other than Naveen is monumentally stupid if he thinks he could tell his wife of his plans to escape without Terror Mommy v2 finding out. And for ratting out her husband, the wife deserved to lose a finger.

Prime Minister’s Question Time Featuring Jack Bauer

With a show that’s had as many seasons as 24, it’s natural that some concepts may be repeated.

Take for instance, the family of terrorists. This trope has appeared before, where each member depicted on screen has been part of the plot. In only one instance, the Drazens of Day One, was the terror family the season’s ultimate group of villains. In others, they were pawns or allies. Right now, it seems as if this season’s terror family doesn’t answer to anyone (other than a nominal tie to a real-world terror group). And with the shortened format of this season, it’s possible that is the case.

Sure they have the motivation and means to be behind everything. And so far, they are convincing villains. But as far as where they rank (so far) against all of the other 24 villains, I don’t know if they are near the top. Sure, terror mom is scary, but she has a long way to go before she’s on the same level as Dina Araz.

Tonight’s hour was one of those episodes devoted to putting the pieces in play for whatever happens next. We learned more about the terror family. And we learned how Chloe got to be where she is. But as far as Jack was concerned, the whole episode (minus the altercation on the tube) was setting up his storming the embassy.

Jack’s approach to entering the embassy is gutsy- not just for Jack, but for this show. Yeah, he’s started a prison riot, had a former U.S. President in the crosshairs and even been witness to multiple nuclear weapons being discharged on American soil. But the idea of shooting protesters to start a storming the gates situation seems very bold for this show. (Or maybe it’s because there hasn’t been anything like 24 on TV in the last four years I’ve just forgotten the boundaries it can/should push).

Some other thoughts:

In the car, as Chloe was explaining what happened to her family, she let slip a line about the mysteries of Jack’s disappearance. Is there more to this than what we saw on the last day? Or was her helping him leave the country pretty much it?

I think because of his voice I expect Adrian to be a villain. It’s always possible.

It was nice to see Prime Minister’s Question Time get some play on 24. I can’t imagine Heller would be silent for four minutes until the next episode began.

Jack Bauer Has To Get His Honour Back

It’s been a while since the last episode of 24. When Jack Bauer disappeared in New York four years ago, I was ready to see him go. It was a great show, great concept, great characters, but it just wasn’t as great as it used to be.

But it’s been four years. It’s nice to have the ticking clock and the reminder that “events occur in real time” back on the TV. And it’s nice to have something to blog about again. It’s also nice that 24: Live Another Day brings back the concept and characters, but with less time to have to stretch things out in. Plus, this is the third time in the last three seasons (four if you count Jack’s adventures in Africa) that the show’s switched up locations. Through the early scenes, it didn’t look particularly English, but that changed in the second hour. And I have to admit I was keeping my eyes open for a TARDIS in the background.

It’s been hard not to compare this season with previous seasons. 24 is a different kind of show from season to season- the characters change but overall, the story doesn’t. And compressing the time to fit 12 hours instead of 24 means things move quicker, and hopefully fewer pointless plotlines.

The show’s tone hasn’t changed much. Although the real-world concerns (drones, leaking classified intelligence) have been updated for modern times, the plot devices (moles, presidential assassination plots) remain the same. And you still don’t want to mess with Jack Bauer. It took less than an hour and a half for him and Chloe to team up, so I’m a fan of the efficiency there.

So far, I can really get behind this new format. It gets right to the point, it seems like there’s less waste and it will take fewer times. So for right now I’m a fan of the new 24. And I’m glad it’s back. Until the cougar shows up.

Some other things:

  • Woah, where’s the countdown at the top of the show? It took them like six minutes to show a clock.
  • Nice to see Yvonne Strahoski (aka Sarah Walker Bartowski from Chuck) pop up in the world of 24. Hurts to hear that her husband was a traitor.
  • Heller is president with a Mister Rogers sweater and a bad memory (this raises an interesting possibility for this season’s mole..he’s the mole and doesn’t know it (although that’s something I would have expected from season six)).
  • Last I heard they use miles in England, not kilometers.
  • Didn’t the last season have drones in New York?
  • The chief of staff said he took care of Audrey for three years. I wonder if that was his only qualification for the job.
  • What kind of gun can go through concrete?
  • How does the CIA have access to English traffic/police information?
  • If I was the President preparing for a debate/discussion with an English audience, I would have the people prepping me speak in English accents for accuracy. Or at least quoting Month Python lines back at me.
  • Finally, I didn’t know that the U.S. Government had an official list of Jack’s kills. It may be official, but it’s missing a lot.

Old Fashioned TV Schedules

Back before Hope and Luke, the most blogged-about topics here at the Kingdom were 24 and Lost. I was a near-obsessive fan of both shows, and when both shows ended in the spring of aught-ten, so too did my TV viewing habits (not to mention production here on the blog).

I was so entranced by the mysteries of Lost and suspense of 24 that I wanted to give weekly TV a rest. Sure, I watched sitcoms and Chuck, but I didn’t want to get drawn into a new show again. I figured I would wait until a serialized show had either ended its run or had a few seasons under its belt before watching. That way, I could check it out on DVD or on Netflix at my own pace.

I stayed true to the plan. Only recently did I re-enter the realm of the hour-long drama, when The Civee and I started watching Fringe earlier this summer. Created by JJ Abrams and bearing elements of Alias and Lost, I was told by more than one person that I would like it. They were right. While I felt the first season was slow with its mystery of the week structure, once it started getting into its mythology in the second season, I was hooked. We barreled through the first four seasons on Netflix and ended last week. But Netflix won’t have the final season available until Thursday.

This isn’t on the level of seeing Jack Bauer shipped off on a slow boat to China or a bearded Jack screaming at Kate that they have to go back. But it is something I wasn’t expecting to face under the new plan. At least I won’t have too wait a few months to find out how Walter stops the Observers.