24! NIGHT TWO THOUGHTS!
Okay, so the second two hours of 24 were definitely a step up. After Hours 1 & 2, I was left a little bit disappointed, but still hopeful that 24 could turn things around. Well, Monday night, a lot of the same problems were still present as on Sunday ... and yet ... there were definitely signs of life, indications that, yes, business was about to pick up.
24 on Monday got a little darker, a little grittier, and a lot more hardcore. This was mostly thanks to the reintroduction of Renee Walker in Hour 4. I'll admit, last year I thought that Walker was a decent character, but at the same time, she never truly won me over. In some ways, she was a walking plot device, a sounding board for the real-life critics who thought Jack Bauer's methods had gotten too violent, too extreme. I never really liked that Jack Bauer's over-the-top actions had to be constantly questioned. To me it sort of broke down the suspension of disbelief of the show - if you really applied a strict moral compass to everything that the characters on 24 do, you end up with some pretty messy logic. That said, I was just writing on Sunday about how 24 needed an extra does of badassery, and so I can't object to a new, darker version of Walker who has now somewhat snapped and become a dark-mirror version of Jack at his most unhinged. To me, the new Renee Walker was more interesting in that final scene of Hour 4 than she'd ever been before. Before she was the generic by-the-book cop. Now, she had clearly snapped, and become a dangerous loose-cannon that gives even Jack Bauer the willies. Already, we have a much more interesting character dynamic than before.
Other than the Walker stuff, which was suitably awesome, Hours 3 and 4 of 24 just plain picked up the pace. There was more action and intrigue, and the plot thankfully expanded in size and scope. Some of the annoying plot points were, thankfully, quickly wrapped up (Hassan's brother was outed as being a traitor, and his journalist mistress was cleared as a suspect in the assassination attempt ...). People started listening to Jack and Chloe, and we didn't have to wonder anymore why nobody seems to listen to the two people who have almost singlehandedly saved the world seven times now.
Still, some stupid plotlines persisted. Katee Sackhoff's secret-identity subplot is already 100% annoying, and needs to shift gears as soon as humanly possible. 24 has always had these incidental storylines that just so happen to be unravelling right as the CTU team is knee-deep in the middle of a world-shaking crisis. But man, this one has just been introduced so inorganically. I mean, even if Dana Walsh's mysterious stalker / ex-boyfriend is a total psycho, would he actually call her and/or visit her in person every five minutes? And seriously, doesn't she work at CTU? She's got to have methods for dealing with a guy like this. In any case, this storyline needs to either get the axe or else seriously get a shot in the arm, ASAP.
Also, I do worry about the longterm ramifications of Jack and Renee working undercover together. Like I said before, I'm somewhat sick of Jack always working against the law. On Monday night, the whole cops-beating-on-Jack thing was pretty lame and unbelievable, and now the show has set itself up for even more such misunderstandings. When will we ever just get back to Jack, with a badge, fighting criminals under the auspices of the law?
Overall though, these last two hours showed a lot of promise as compared to the first two. I'm excited that we've moved beyond a simple assassination plot into denser and more multilayered plot territory, and happy that the show still seems capable of producing some genuinely surprising and shocking moments. Cautiously optimistic from here on out. So ... who wants to take bets that the only other man who's ever infiltrated the Russian mob from CTU turns out to be ... Tony (SOUL PATCH!) Almeida?
My Grade: B+