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.

A Comic Book Fan’s Reward

I spent a lot of time in comic book stores growing up.

My favorite book was The Uncanny X-Men (and this was back in the day when there was only one X-title), and I didn’t get those people who were into the Avengers or Superman (and I didn’t know anyone who read the Fantastic Four). I would strike up conversations with the staff at these stores, looking for cheap back issues with good stories. One day, a clerk at the Jim Hanley’s Universe in the Staten Island Mall suggested I read a trade paperback reprinting what he called “the best storyline ever,” Days of Future Past.

I didn’t follow his advice immediately- the book was a bit more expensive than my usual purchases and the cover, featuring Wolverine (who I did not appreciate at the time) didn’t make me want to buy the book. It took a few months, but one day I purchased it. I started reading it on the car ride home on a hot summer day. My father stopped at the grocery store to pick something up and I was so entranced by the book that I asked to stay in the car so I can finish it.

It was a short, two-issue story that blew my mind. It was my first real experience reading about time travel (I read this before I understood Back to the Future, and the original story was published before the release of any of the Terminator movies) and alternate futures. And since then, I’ve become a fan of things like BTTF, Lost and Doctor Who, all of which feature time travel.

All these years later, I still consider myself an X-Men fan. I don’t read the books on as frequent a basis as I used to. And I think that the movie series is the best film franchise based on a comic book (even including the lackluster X3) (a bit of a side note: part of me does wish that comic books were this popular when I was growing up, although, I feel like a hipster saying I was into them back before everyone else was), so naturally when I heard the next X-Men movie would be based on Days of Future Past, I was elated. And I was right to be happy about it- the movie was a great blending of the two timestreams. It adapted the source material well (even if it had to make some changes for practicality sake) and the surprises at the end were very rewarding.

I do have two minor complaints about the movie and they both involve the same character, Colossus, who was my favorite X-Man growing up:

  • When in armored form, Colossus’ hair is supposed to be black (and it was in the other movies), but it was silver in DOFP.
  • In the movie, Colossus dies twice. The first one hurt enough. The second time was just rubbing it in.

Despite those quibbles, if I were able to project my consciousness in the past, the me of 20 years ago would be very happy with these movies. Even if I would have been surprised that good comic book movies existed.

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.

Twenty Years of Blue

If a rock album is 20 years old, does that make it a Classic Rock album?

I hope not, because if they start calling Weezer’s Blue Album classic rock, then I’m going to officially be old.

Weezer’s Weezer (the 1994 one, not the 2001 or 2008 one) was released 20 years ago today. It was the first CD I ever bought, although I didn’t get it until a few months later.

There have been some good write ups on Blue published in the past few days, including Alternative Press’ 20 Facts You May Not Know About Weezer’s Blue Album (most of which I knew) and The Smoking Section’s “Undone”: The Story Behind Weezer’s Debut Album Cover (most of which was new to me).

I should note that Weezer’s fifth album, 2005’s Make Believe (an excellent album on its own) was also released today.

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.

Happy Birthday Hope!

Today, Hope has turned as old as a presidential term. To a former political nerd, that’s quite a milestone.  I realize I haven’t kept the Internet updated on her and Luke’s every move. But as both of them grow older, I’m finding that I enjoy spending time with them more than I do writing about them (and I need some recovery time after they go to bed!).

Hope still loves to hear and tell stories. She can sing and has a memory that rivals mine. She’s fully potty trained, and even better, can clean up after herself.

Three was a lot more fun than two. But it’s feeling like four may be the best year yet. Plus, she’s another year closer to watching Star Wars.

 

Luke, I am Your Tom

LukeI’ve written before about when both my children first started using the word “dada” to refer to me (for the record, Luke used it a lot sooner than he did “mama”).

Luke would be turning 20 months tomorrow if February was like other months (but it doesn’t so he’s stuck at 19 months). His language keeps growing. The Civee and I estimate he has about 100 words. And I am two of them.

Recently, Luke will see me, come up to me and go “Dada…Tom. Tom. Tom. Tom.” And he’ll repeat the use of Tom for a while. It doesn’t bother The Civee or I at all (there are probably worse things he could call me). One of the important parts of speech development at this stage is communication. And knowing multiple names for something is a good sign.

Now if only I could get him to start using a King in front of that Tom.

Edison the Hutt

A while back, I wrote about Hope’s love of storytelling.

If anything, she’s gotten more into stories. She makes conversations out of them and often I’ll find myself starting one story and finishing another. Hope will ask question after question and try to relate the ongoing story with something she knows about.

Last week, Hope watched part of the movie Hop. The next day, she asked The Civee and I to re-tell her the story of the movie (which we weren’t paying much attention to). So we mentioned the few facts we knew, starting with the Easter Bunny’s son going to Hollywood.

Hope: Where’s Hollywood?

Me: In California.

Hope: Why did he go to Hollywood?

Me: Because that’s where a lot of famous people live.

Hope: Why do they live there?

Me: Because they make a lot of television and movies out in Hollywood.

Hope: Why?

And at this point I saw my chance to get away from talking about Hop to talking about something I knew  about (thanks to my film classes in college). I told her the simplified, kid-friendly story of how in response to Thomas Edison’s attempts to control American filmmaking in the early 1900s, a number of producers went to California and started making movies in Hollywood.

She actually understood all of this. And then came up with an analogy which surprised me.

Hope: So Thomas Edison was like Jabba the Hutt.

(A few months ago, the music from the final scene of Empire came on and she asked about it, so I told her the Rebels were trying to save their friend Han Solo from Jabba, a greedy gangster).

Yes, Hope. Thomas Edison was exactly like Jabba the Hutt.