Back in January, I shared a drink with avid B-Side Blog reader Jennifer30309, who all but threatened me with my life should I neglect to cover 24 this season. It was a scary moment — one full of fleeting rage and violent undertones — and as such, I promised her that I would most certainly be diligent in my 24 writing this season. Well, I have failed tremendously on that front, and every week, when I think about how I’ve once again missed a chance to write about the show, I’m reminded of Jennifer30309’s eyes flaring like Gloria Swanson, her hands all but reaching through cyberspace to grab my collar and give me a good talkin’ to. And so I offer humble apologies to Jennifer30309, as well as to everyone else who may have been hoping for more offerings than just a mock-up RenÃ©e Walker Facebook page (which, for the record, I spent like three hours making, thank you very much).
Anyway, I now have an awkward amount of time to kill this afternoon, and it occurred to me that this would be the perfect opportunity to pontificate a tad on the new season of 24. And oh my, there’s so much to say. I even scribbled down a few notes to make sure I didn’t overlook anything. First things first: on the whole, I’d say this season has been very good so far. It hasn’t reached the peaks of seasons one, two, or five, but thankfully, it’s been nowhere near the nadirs of seasons three or six. It’s instead solidly holding its ground, happily recycling some of its favorite conceits in what some may deride as lack of imagination, but what I call tradition.
Here’s one reoccurring theme that I can do without though: Jack HATES his job. I mean, seriously now. How many seasons must begin with Jack Bauer swearing off CTU once and for all, only to be dragged back into the fray for another hellish day of, well, HELL? I suppose it’s interesting to see how he gets roped into all this funny business, but it’s also a bit tiresome. Next season, just have Jack on the job and ready to go. No need to deal with the inner-turmoil.
That being said, if there’s any bureau to return to, it’s clearly CTU 2.0. Now relocated to a bunker just outside of Manhattan, the new CTU is a return to its dark, moody origins — except this time, the entire place is highlighted with artistically lit desks that seem more at home in the reception area of a W Hotel. The overall effect makes CTU look something like a spaceship, which I suppose is fun, but I kind of miss the dreary yet realistic fluorescent lighting of last season’s FBI offices.
Of course, with a new season comes a new asshole bureaucrat, and this time it’s Bubba from Forest Gump — or as he’s formally known, Brian Hastings. We still can’t tell if this guy’s a jerk or a good guy. Sometimes he shows flashes of Bill Buchanan do-gooderism, and sometimes he’s just another douchey Larry Moss (both bureaucrats ultimately wound up dead; so I suppose this doesn’t bode well for Brian). For now though, Hastings seems to be a decent chap; so we’ll cut him some slack.
Also new to the CTU scene are the ill-fated lovers Cole Ortiz and Dana Walsh, played by Freddie Prinze Jr. and Katee Sackhoff, respectively. Considering that Fox ponied up what I imagine to be a decent payday for these well-established actors, I’m shocked the writers have stuck them quite literally in a quagmire of a storyline. Things started off promisingly, no doubt. Dana was cool and slick and wonderfully condescending to Chloe; the potential for major friction was off the charts. But then the writers introduced this cockamamie subplot about Dana’s secret past as personified by two losers out to blackmail her. You’d think that someone who works for CTU would be able to dispose of these yokels without a problem (just program one of those ubiquitous drones to crash into their heads), but instead of being a badass, Dana catered to these guys’ demands and next thing we knew, she was off at a swamp, preparing to blow their heads off with a sexy little pistol. However, thanks to the meddling of fellow fresh faced technician Arlo (not to be confused with dearly deceased technician Milo), Cole soon found his way to the swamp also, ready to save his fiancÃ© from the two creeps making her life hell. Now don’t get me wrong — I like this Cole character. Freddie Prinze Jr. is sort of the perfect mix of Ken doll and monotone Keanu Reeves type to make Cole feel like a badass. However, watching him pulled so far out of the central story to deal with these losers (one of whom he shot and killed) feels like a waste of good potential. I’m all for silly CTU side stories, but this thing has gotten so far out of control, I wouldn’t be shocked if the two lovers found themselves in a cougar trap en route back to the home office.
Also, major question: why does nobody seem to care that these two have full on disappeared? Not a great testament to Hasting’s managerial style.
I suppose the reason no one’s paying attention to Cole and Dana (Cana? Dole?) is because there are more pressing matters at hand: namely, nuclear rods that are on the loose. Oh my gravy. Something tells me the government should spend less money on glowing desks and more on border patrol. The frequency with which nuclear materials float into this country on 24 is positively alarming. Better yet, how about the writers give us a different threat. Not everything has to be a nuclear bomb, you know. Hostage situations work quite nicely. So do abductions.
Nevertheless, this season’s scandal stems from a failed assassination attempt on a progressive leader from an unnamed Islamic country. The target, President Omar Hassan (played by Anil Kapoor from Slumdog Millionaire), wanted to broker a peace deal with the rest of the world, something that bothered his brother Farhad greatly. In fact, it bothered Farhad so much that he actually organized the hit on his bro. Omar should have seen it all along. After all, how could anyone trust a grown man with the haircut of Joe Jonas? Then again, Omar’s royal puff of hair also is cause for concern, but only because he may be hiding a grenade deep in the pompadour. Needless to say, the Hassan brothers are not great pioneers in the world of coiffure.
Of course, Farhad is now dead. After having stolen the nuclear rods from a badass Russian played by JÃ¼rgen Prochnow, Farhad’s buddies turned on him and announced that they wanted to use the material on U.S. soil. This was outrageous! At least to Farhad, who suddenly grew soft and confessed all to CTU. This could only mean one thing: he was totally dead. That’s the way things work on 24: witnesses spurt out a tiny bubble of a clue before being felled in some unfortunate manner. Luckily, Farhad gave Jack & co. enough information to hone in on a group of possible terrorists, which then led to a giant ruse wherein they pretended Farhad was alive in an effort to lure the baddies to a hospital where they could be captured and interrogated. Basically, it was like the terrorist version of Weekend At Bernie’s.
Well, the bad guys sent a young suicide bomber into the hospital to kill off Farhad once and for all (jokes on you, douchebag! He’s already dead!), and in a very exciting sequence, Chloe and the gang worked furiously to disable the explosive vest before he could get to Hassan’s corpse. It was looking pretty dire for a moment, but wouldn’t you know it? At the last second, Chloe jammed the remote signal by opening a socket in the who-what with a what’s-it-jigger, and crisis was averted. Well, kind of averted. When the kid realized that his bomb was disabled, he busted out a gun and shot at Farhad many times, but to his shock, the heart monitor hardly registered a blip (well, it registered many blips, and that was the problem. No flatlining). There was a brief “whaaaaaaaaa?” moment before Jack busted into the room and urged the kid to calm down and cooperate. This was not going to end well. Trained viewers of 24 know that when a bad guy is cornered and there’s a giiiiiinormous window behind him, the situation’s only going one way: OUT. Sure enough, the kid — named Miguel, I believe — leapt out the window, and I simultaneously smacked my head with my hand. Why on Earth does Jack never shoot these guys in the foot? Heck, if I were a police officer, I’d shoot EVERYONE in the foot first. I guess that’s why I’m not a cop.
Anyway, the kid survived his three story fall and then curiously ran back INTO the hospital, barricading himself into a little oxygen chamber. This would not end well. As far as we can tell, Jack will be bringing in Miguel’s mom for leverage next week (and the mom is none other than fellow brat pack alum Mare Winningham. I love when Kiefer’s friends show up!)
In the meantime, while Jack deals with yet another panic room situation, President Taylor is stuck with nothing to do but make urgent pleas to whoever’s nearby — in this case her new chief of staff, Rob Weiss, who is entirely way too tan to be trusted. Plus, he’s kind of a dick. He’ll surely be causing trouble sooner rather than later. One can never trust those high ranking aids. Unless, of course, that high ranking aid is the dreamy Tarin, whose love with President Hassan’s daughter knows no bounds. Proving to be one of the most peculiar sideshows of the season, Tarin and Dalia have been playing the role of Romeo and Juliet — sneaking around the watchful eye of “Father,” lest he capture Tarin and torture him back at the embassy (Omar thinks Tarin is working with the enemy. But is he? Maybe he is! WHO KNOWS??). Anyway, despite Omar’s best efforts to tear the lovers apart, Tarin has managed to get all up in Dalia’s pantsuit, which can only lead to bad things. Like horror movies, death always follows sex on 24, and last we saw, these two were totally DOING IT in the final moments of Monday’s episode.
“So Dalia, are you gonna blow me or what?”
Meanwhile, Dalia’s mom has boarded a private airplane, ready to return to “the region” (the closest we’ve come to getting an actual name for their country), but lo! It seems as though Kayla will not be departing just yet. Omar called her up to say that Dalia was missing, and thus the icy, scorned wife (WHO I LOVE) will finally be working her way back into the show. We still don’t know if she’s more of a Sherry Palmer than a Martha Logan, but one thing’s for sure: she’s certainly not traditional. Did anyone else notice those scandalous bare shoulders of hers on the private plane? I doubt that Omar would approve.
Then again, Omar doesn’t have a leg to stand on in terms of morals. After all, he was totally porking that blonde reporter behind Kayla’s back (incidentally, that blonde reporter dates Jon Hamm in real life. I can only imagine a Jack Bauer-Don Draper crossover. Sadly, I think the closest we’ll get is Grandpa Gene, who plays President Taylor’s military head, Admiral John Smith). Anyway, if you got caught up in Omar’s torrid love affair, don’t start thinking that he too is a hopeless romantic. The guy’s a jerk — or at least he’s been driven to become one thanks to that whole assassination thing. In the wake of the plot on his life, he’s gone berserk; although, truth be told, when it comes to the looney bin, no one outshines Renee Walker, who’s certainly brought the crazy this season.
First Renee sawed off a guy’s thumb, and let’s face it, if that’s not a rite of passage in 24 land, I don’t know what is. But then, THEN she went nuts on her Russian contact and stabbed him in the eye and the chest and the chest again and the stomach and then the chest again and pretty much anything else that was within reach. Yes, Renee Walker went so crazy, my friends and I actually turned her name into a verb. Example: “I’m so mad at the DMV that I could totally RENEE WALKER someone.” Similarly, we also accept “Sounds like she’s got a bad case of Renee Walker and the stabbies.”
Nevertheless, this violent outburst by Renee was most welcomed, and it’s refreshing to see a lady on the show who isn’t a total pushover. Then again, Renee does still have that problem of her eyes perpetually welling up in tears. I swear, those things go glassy when the vending machine runs out of M&Ms. But I suppose all that repressed emotion is worth it for the occasional outburst (let’s not forget last season’s slap-happy moment when Renee screamed at Jack “DO YOU FEEL THAT? DO YOU FEEL THAT?”).
So yeah. All seems to be fine and dandy in the world of 24. Hopefully Cole and Dana will return from the great void that is “We Have Too Many Characters And Don’t Know What To Do With Them” Land, and with any luck, Jack will find those nefarious nuclear rods. Ah, but that’s only half of it, right? After all, we always know the primary threat is solved by episode twelve, and that’s when the WHITE PEOPLE step in to be the real bad guys. Which noteworthy actor will be our lecherous villain this time around? Scott Glenn? Peter Fonda? Tom Skeritt? I can barely wait!
What do you think about the season so far?