23
Feb
2010
24: Season 8, Episode 9
12:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m.
Jordan
I discussed last week how 24 has to make logical and plot leaps in order to get us through a full day's worth of story, but that its hard to hold those leaps against the show and still count yourself as a fan. Tonight was a prime example of that, as the ability to overlook some pretty clear logical flaws in the structure of this episode's plot allowed for probably the best tension this season has come up with yet.

Case in point was the scene between Renee and Justice Department stooge Kristin Smith: Pause too long to think about it and its pretty clear that it makes no sense for Chief of Staff Rob Weiss and CTU Director Brian Hastings to be looking for a fall guy at this point in the crisis. Sure it sucks that they didn't get to the rods, and that a "lead" as killed, but really that lead had proven useless to the investigation, and without Renee's work they wouldn't be bearly as far along as they are. Plus, in every single investigation CTU undertakes at a certain point a lead dies or doesn't pan out and it is never labeled a catastrophe.

The same would logically be true here: provided CTU stops the attack on New York, there would be no need for a scapegoat, so logically they should be focused on that. Yet the scene in which Smith pushes Renee on her intentions was flat out compelling television, as Renee grappled with her tortured past and muddled motivations and the show actually felt for the first moment in quite a while like time was an issue. Think of the tension you (or at least I) felt when the scene was cut short to show Jack pulling into CTU; if time has ever felt more of the essence this season than at the moment it becomes obvious that Jack could save Renee from being made into the fall guy this season, I missed it. This show is at its best when viewers are compelled to overlook its flaws because they just have to know what happens next, and watching Jack burst in and grab Smith by the throat definitely had that effect on me.

In terms of the masterplot we made some good progress this week, though at the tragic (to me anyway) loss of David Anders' Josef, which means the Russian threat is over with. However, the show actually addressed a nagging continued flaw with this season this week, and that made me a very happy camper. From the beginning Farhad Hassan has been a shitty villain. He always seemed too weak and mild-mannered, and like too much of a pussy to actually pull off anything threatening and that seriously hurt the tension of the show. Plus, when Samir pointed out that they wouldn't realistically be smuggling the nuclear materials out of the country anymore, Farhad's motives to do evil disappeared. It wouldn't have made any sense for him to attack the U.S. when his ultimate goal was to gain power back home. What did make sense was having him pretend to go along with the plan for long enough to escape and contact the proper authorities. So the pieces are set for Samir to be the next Big Bad for us to deal with (though its early yet, so potentially not the last), and he is a much more threatening force than Farhad. This doesn't resolve the lack of tension fully, as something about a nuclear attack has just stopped being as threatening this far into the series, and their plan doesn't have any added levels of nefariousness to spice it up, but at least things are better off on this front than they were last week.

Even Dana's plotline with her ex and his even creepier friend had some really tense moments tonight. Though it was pretty clear Dana didn't have the cojones to actually pull the trigger on the boys (this is 24 after all, and that means women must be saved by the menfolk. See: Jack saving Renee and Cole saving Dana as just tonight's evidence of the continuing problems the show has with creating realistic or empowered female characters. But that is a rant for a different day), having Cole become complicit in her crimes by agreeing to cover them up if the guys leave his woman alone was actually pretty interesting. Darkening Cole up is a natural progression for this show, whose protagonists must always be gray lest we all get very bored very quickly, but I am actually interested to see how this will affect his relationship with Dana in the weeks to come. And caring about Cole and Dana is huge news at this point. Beyond that, it wasn't exactly unpredictable that Kevin's creepy friend wouldn't give up that easy, but it was an exciting moment when Cole turned around and took him out with a shotgun. For the rest of the season I look forward to watching what I'm sure will end up as a failed cover up (my guess is Dana takes the fall to protect her beloved) just because that means more of the action takes place at least around the masterplot.

This episode got me to give a damn about most of what was going on, got Jack fully in for the season (because that was totally in doubt before tonight) and moved everything along nicely. If this had been episode 4 of the season instead of episode 9, we'd all be better off, but at least we've made it here. Let's hope the show, having faltered out of the gate, kicks into full gear for the remainder of the season.

Grade: B+

Notes:

-No Hassan this week. I almost forgot about that until the preview. He was not missed.

-The score this week seemed a lot more rock heavy than usual.

-Two fucking bad ass Jack Bauer lines tonight: "Son, you better put that down or you're going to get hurt" and "Sorry, I guess I wasn't clear. I meant I'd call the President" both made me cheer.

-I like that Owen, Cole's replacement team leader, looks all of 12. Good casting 24.
Tags: 24
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