Tuesday, February 23, 2010

TWENTY-FOUR: "Son, you better put that down, or you're gonna get hurt."


- Hmm ... one one hand, last night's 24 was one of the season's all-around most solid eps. On the other hand, there were a couple of ridiculous moments that made me roll my eyes in annoyance. Let me start with those. Okay ... 24 has always played fast and loose with time ... BUT ... are you seriously telling me that that woman from the Justice Dept. was called, summoned to CTU, and made it there to question Renee ... at 1 am?! Come on. I think it speaks to the fact that 24 has lost a lot of its old sense of pacing. I've talked about this a few times in the last couple of weeks, but it bears repeating: I still want 24 to justify itself. I want actual reasons why everyone is working around the clock with no food and no sleep. There has to be such a sense of urgency, such a driving force behind the plotlines, that we don't even have time to question the show's internal logic, and we don't want to. On last night's ep, and throughout the season, that hasn't really been the case. There are plenty of lulls in the action where you wonder why people aren't just calling it a day. There are plenty of logic-killing moments like the Justice Dept. visit to CTU that just don't make sense given the timing. I like that 24 is over the top, but I hate these kinds of logic gaps.

Otherwise, this was, as I said, a very solid episode of 24. First off, they FINALLY gave the Dana Walsh / Jenny Scott / creepy stalker storyline a shot in the arm (or a shot to the head, depending on how you look at it). Dana decided to take matters into her own hands, and contemplated killing her abusive stalker and his crazy-ass friend. But, Cole Prinze Jr. catches up with her, threatens the stalker, and that seems to be that. That is, until Crazy Bearded Stalker Friend flips out, stabs Stalker and tries to take out Cole and Dana, leading Cole to blow him away with a shotgun. Finally. Although, it would have been hilarious and semi-awesome if somehow Crazy Friend-of-Stalker (the same guy who some local ho-bags dubbed "a total freak" after being lured into his rapemobile), somehow became the Big Bad of the whole season! I mean, what if he wanted to "graduate to the bigtime", got ahold of the nuclear rods, and became Jack Bauer's public enemy #1. Bauer vs. Redneck, no-holds-barred. But alas, two of 24's most annoying-ever characters are (hopefully) gone. And yeah, we can only pray that Stalker Guy does not recover from his stab wounds. Honestly, I'm not sure where to take the Dana storyline from here. Maybe have her kind of resume Renee's undercover op, using her past criminal connections to help find the nukes? In any case, they need to do something to get Katee Sackhoff in the middle of the action and not on her cellphone fretting about stalkers. But, at least the wild showdown in tonight's ep was a good first step.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed just about everything with Jack in this one. It's funny - in this season, we've seen Jack do a lot of talking. But over the years on 24, Jack sometimes goes for so long without showing emotion or introspection that it still feels kind of novel when we do see it. And Kiefer had some great moments in this one. Plus, it was super-refreshing to have a sequence where all signs pointed to Jack "going rogue" yet again, only to have him regain his composure a bit and actually talk things out with Hastings. I mean, if Jack had gone rogue and helped Renee escape CTU, what was he planning to do from there? If his goal was to have her avoid prosecution, how would that have helped her cause? So yeah, kudos to 24 for actually changing things up and letting some CTU agents get the jump on Jack.

You also had to love the scene where Jack is about to leave CTU, only for Hastings to ask him to go "all in." Now that's what's been missing from 24 for a while - a scene with some real GRAVITAS, baby. Jack gritting his teeth and tightening the strap on his Jack-Sack ruled it. And it was a nice way to keep Jack in the middle of the action without him having to constantly work outside the system. Good stuff.

I also thought there were some pretty nice twists on the badguy front. I was sure we were in for many episodes of Jack and CTU chasing the rogue Russian son around NYC. But, very quickly, things changed - the son was killed, Evil Hassan escaped with the rods, and then turned on his extremist co-conspirators when they decided to up the ante and try to blow up an NYC landmark. Now, he's on the run and quite possibly a deadman. Again, it was an interesting change-up. Now we just need a really awesome character to emerge as the true villain of the season (paging Mr. Almeda ...). The stage is set, so I can only hope that 24 follows through.

This ep definitely felt like a turning point in the season, and that's good, because we needed it. Again, the stage has been set. Let's see if business, finally, begins to really pick up.

My Grade: B+

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