Oh my. Things have gotten out of hand on 24, and in the best possible way. It’s still hard for me to accept that in about six weeks, Jack Bauer & Co. are going off the air. Many people complain that it’s the same tricks over and over again, but when those tricks are utilized to such great effect, who really cares? 24 is still one of the best shows on TV, and last night’s episode showcased some wonderful, intense acting — perhaps the caliber of which we haven’t seen since the series’ high point: season five. Not so coincidentally, season five centered around the mischievous President Logan, played deliciously by Gregory Itzin, who made a triumphant return last week and has been chewing up the scenery since. Give this man the guest actor Emmy he deserves because through his performance alone, he was able to generate so much tension in last night’s action-lite episode that I found myself clutching my pillow for no real reason.
Of course, I’ve found myself clutching my pillow many times over the past three weeks. Starting with that magnificent two hour episode (the mid-season double ep is always a show stopper) and heading right through last night, I’ve been simultaneously suffering from heart palpitations and cursing the jackass that pulled the plug on this show. Like I said before, some of the plot twists have been seen before — the whole showdown between Cole and Dana in the parking garage was nearly a replica of Jack and Nina season one — but dammit, it’s fun. Don’t think of them as tired conceits. Think of them as TRADITION.
Speaking of traditions, none are more hallowed than the surprise death of a character — of which we’ve had two in a row. First President Hassan came to an early end, which was shocking because we thought Jack was two heartbeats away from saving his puffy pompadour. But no. Jack was too late. By the time he had busted into the room where the terrorists were keeping Hassan, the leader’s throat had already been slit in effigy. Oh wait, it wasn’t an Omar dummy. It was actually President Hassan (or at least supposed to be). Raise your hands if you also thought Hassan was just a scarecrow left by the terrorists as a symbol of bad things to come. Imagine my shock when I realized the shoddy crash test dummy in the chair was actually the man himself. Normally the production values on 24 are so high that such things don’t happen, but this was truly one of the weaker dead bodies we’ve seen.
Well, Hassan had died, which meant we could no longer hear him growl “DAAAAAHLIA” or “KAAAAYLA” or “DAAAAHLIA, where is KAAAAAYLA???” Luckily, Jack had managed to kill all the baddies; so while it wasn’t a totally successful mission, at least it was over. OR WAS IT? Last time I checked, this show was called 24, not 17 (although, I would be perfectly happy to see the series play out with six hours of mundane tasks such as eating breakfast, taking a crap, and maybe heading to CVS for toothpaste). Sure enough, there was still trouble in paradise. First off, President Taylor had her panties in a bundle because the peace process had been totally derailed by Hassan’s assassination. This meant we had a few more opportunities to hear her clench her fists and say variations on “Hassan was the closest chance we had to brokering peace in a region that hasn’t seen peace for GENERATIONS!!!” Okay, lady. We get it. Just relax. And remember that peace accords in the Middle East are about as effective as pair of floaties on Kirstie Alley. Even if President Taylor could achieve peace, we all know it would be in shambles six months later; so why should we even care?
Oh, but that’s me being all cynical. Clearly Allison Taylor is cut from a different cloth, which explains why she’s such an idealist about this process. Not one to give it up, she and her regime turned to Dalia to take over her husband’s regime, and after some misty eyed protests, the enigmatic widow proudly accepted the role. This wasn’t without resistance from dearest Kayla, who uttered several phrases starting with the words “But Mother!” or “But Father!” Clearly she’s gone back to being a thirteen year old girl trapped in a horny sexpot’s body, which in turn has been re-trapped in a Hillary Clinton pantsuit.
With DAAAAAALIA at the helm, it looked like the peace process was back on track, but one problem: the Russians weren’t having it. They didn’t believe Dalia was a capable replacement, or at least that was their excuse. The real reason they didn’t want to be back at “the table” was because the Russians didn’t want peace in the region. It was in their interest to keep things all mucked up (why? Probably something to do with military contracts and vodka). Nevertheless, the truth was that the Russians were behind EVERYTHING today, supplying the terrorists with the nuclear rods and CTU with Dana Walsh. Damn those Russians!
The Russians almost got away with it too, but there was one loose end: Goddamn Renee fuckin’ Walker. As she and the Feds cleaned up the Hassan crime scene, one of the EMTs happened to catch her eye. That’s because he wasn’t an EMT at all but a professional Russian hit man who Renee once encountered during her undercover, gettin’ raped days. The face didn’t totally click with her though; so she kept on with her day, but the damage was already done. The hit man feared he’d been spotted, and now he had to kill Renee before she could point the finger back at any sort of Russian involvement.
Well, oblivious that she had leapt to the top of Mother Russia’s Most Wanted, Renee hopped in a cab with Jack, and the two went back to his apartment where I believe for the first time in all eight seasons, he got laid. I wonder what sort of sex that was. Was it grief sex, on account of Hassan? Or was it pent-up desire sex, on account of Renee and Jack’s growing attraction. Whatever it was, I’m sure it got animalistic — at least based on Jack’s hostile kissing technique, which looked not unlike how I imagine Kiefer Sutherland eats an apple. There was a lot of open mouth and aggressive chomping. It felt uncomfortable.
Nevertheless, we all know how it goes with Jack Bauer: any woman he gets close to meets an untimely end. Teri got murdered by Nina; Nina got murdered by Jack; Claudia got murdered by Mexican drug lords, and Audrey turned into a catatonic nut job. Just about the only ones to emerge unscathed have been Jack’s sister-in-law Marilyn, that woman Diane, and of course, my favorite wayward blonde, Kate Warner. I wouldn’t be surprised if the final episode features all three of them getting into a three-way accident and dying (there’s no way the producers will let so many love interests survive the series).
Well, sadly the pattern continued with Renee. She received a frantic, postcoital call from Chloe, who has randomly been reassigned as the HEAD OF CTU. Turns out that the main witness, Samir, had been assassinated (by that same Russian hit man), and now Chloe wanted to know if Renee had seen anything mysterious at Hassan’s crime scene. Funny enough, Renee realized there was this one Russian guy she had sort of recognized and — BANG BANG BANG! Through the window came several sniper bullets, many of which hit Renee in the chest. Jack sprung into action and rushed Renee to the nearest hospital, but it was too late. She was dead as a doorknob. That’s right: someone had totally Renee Walkered Renee Walker. I was a bit sad about this one. Surely I thought Jack would get a happy ending (both literally and figuratively) this season, but alas, it wasn’t in the cards (at least the figurative version). He’ll be riding into the sunset loveless yet again. However, don’t feel too remorseful. As my friend IndianJones gladly reminded me, Renee had stabbed Jack in the abdomen just a few hours earlier; so really, karma’s a bitch.
Unfortunately for Renee, whatever magic recovery potion Jack had been drinking was not around for her. It was, however, available to Ethan Kanin, who after having spent forty-five minutes in cardiac arrest, followed by surgery, and then followed by about ten minutes of bed rest, was suddenly up and at ’em, all suited up and ready to be of assistance. Seemed a touch unlikely. Who would have thought he’d outlive Renee Walker?
Well, with Renee’s death reigniting Jack’s constant pursuit of justice and revenge (or Justvenge), the surly agent began digging up every lead he could find, which eventually led him to a courthouse where Jurgen Prochnow was being arraigned for his terrorist activity. Jack leveled some icy threats (I’ll kill your wife this, I’ll slit your grandkids’ throats that) and eventually learned that Moscow was behind all the attacks, and furthermore, their point person was none other than Dana Walsh (do d’doooo!!) (that was my Dana Walsh kazoo fanfare). Jack then zipped off to CTU where he energetically slapped Dana around a bit (seriously, he slammed her head into a table and then punched her face about thirty times). Dana folded like a lawn chair, but she refused to talk unless she had an immunity agreement. Sounded simple enough. Just call up the White House and get that document approved!
But we had a problem. You see, in an effort to bring the Russians back to the table, President Taylor had enlisted the pardoned President Logan to speak with the Russian ambassador. Logan was hoping to repair his ruined image and perhaps leave behind a legacy of greatness and peace (and murder and betrayal and all that stuff). As you know, though, anything with Logan is never as it seems. The former President had proof all along of Russia’s involvement in the terrorist activity, and in a wonderful confrontation, he threatened to expose the Russians should they not broker peace with DAAAAAAHLIA Hassan. Begrudgingly, the Russians acquiesced, causing President Taylor, who had been oblivious to the shady blackmail, to make such silly proclamations as “We might get through this yet!” This was nearly as eye-roll inducing as Renee Walker, who announced that she was “perfect!” just minutes before being shot to death in her sex blankets.
Well, with the Russians on board, peace seemed to be coming to the IRK at last. That is, until Jack Bauer started poking around about these illicit activities from the Kremlin.
If Jack were to reveal Russia’s involvement in the terrorist activity, then a) the peace process would fall apart and b) Charles Logan’s attempts to save his name would be destroyed. This was unacceptable! Soon Logan had to reveal all to President Taylor, and she was faced with a dilemma. Pursue justice in the name of, well, justice (Ethan’s stance) or pursue peace, even at the risk of crossing some moral boundaries (Logan’s stance). This all played out in yet another wonderfully acted scene, at the end of which Prez Taylor decided to go to CTU to tell Jack in person that she was shutting him down. Yes, peace in the region was paramount, but not for Jack, who as usual was unwilling to let the bad guys go unpunished. The super agent once again went rogue, hijacking a helicopter that was supposed to transport him to an air force base so he’d be out of trouble. Did President Taylor really think an entire platoon of armed guards could keep Jack down? Clearly the only way to suppress him is via a swift chop to the back of the neck, as seen earlier this season.
Well, Jack flew off in a helicopter against the wishes of Chloe, and now we’re left to wonder where he’s off to, what he’ll do, and will he be shot down by the Air Force? Of course, I have even more burning questions: how is Hassan’s white mistress taking his murder? Has anyone found the dead body Dana shoved into the wall yet? And where on EARTH has Ban Ki-Moon been in all this?
What do you think about the latest developments?