24: Season 8, Episodes 3-4
6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Its conventional wisdom to say that 24 is at its best where there is enough at stake during a large, looming crisis that everything is moving at breakneck speed and the subplots (or, as the case usually is on this show, the filler plots between Jack scenes) are pushed so far into the background that they almost don't exist. The first (and arguably, best) season took its time building us from a missing daughter and a vague threat to a facedown with a past enemy and a kidnapped family, but the show learned quick that it could skip the preamble and dive right into the suspense. In each subsequent season, the writers have tried to push Jack into the danger zone as quickly as possible, for better or worse.

I tend to have mixed feelings about that plan, since it often leads to a lag about half way through the season when the writers realize they worked through their whole plotline and things are forced to get a little ridiculous to keep us gunning for the back half, but it does make for some excellent television early on. Tonight saw the death of Davros, the assassin/fake NYPD officer, and the revelation that Hassan's brother was the insider (something I think the show could have held off on revealing for a few more hours of suspense). We also saw the return of Renee Walker, who has gone over to the dark side of the Force after her torturing of a suspect at the end of last season, and was apparently suicidal recently. She comes in because Davros' body has trace elements of weapons grade uranium, and she used to work undercover with the Russian mob. She walks back into the life of a contact only minutes later and quickly cuts off his thumb to free him from his parole bracelet. Yes, Renee is a little bit crazy, and that should provide for some good old fashioned fun in the coming hours.

We also got more on each of our competing filler-plots, with Dana's ex causing trouble at her apartment and demanding to see her, and Hassan's relationship with Meredith the reporter being revealed (at least internally, though how long can that last?). The only plot that still hasn't really materialized is the political intrigue that will keep President Taylor involved in the events as the show unfolds, but all in good time I'm sure.

There was more good than bad in this episode, as we got to see Cole swerve his car in front of a bomb, Hastings admit his first mistake to Chloe, and Jack get drawn back in yet again (I guess maybe he won't be leaving the show that he is a star of during the first few episodes...). All in all, there has been some pretty solid piece setting here. Nothing that has happened is all that shocking yet, and we seem to be following the 24 formula so far, but here's hoping the show has some serious tricks up its sleeves in the weeks to come.

Grade: B+


-That was some serious Good Cop/Bad Cop between the two that caught Jack at the house, one of whom (this one's for you, Sam) was on The Wire!

-So with Hastings putting his foot in his mouth and generally seeming ok, which twist are we preparing for: self-sacrifice or secret traitor? My money is on self-sacrifice, mostly because he's running CTU and that job almost invariably kills you (unless you're Jack, of course. Then it kills your wife).
Tags: 24
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