16
Mar
2010
24: Season 8, Episode 12
3:00 a.m.-4:00 a.m.
Jordan
I got called out last week, and rightly, for my argument that 24 was sacrificing its political message for a cheap twist. A friend of mine pointed out that the idea that this show would ever be the vehicle for an effective political message is laughable, and to an extent that's true. I am often guilty of hoisting high expectations onto entertainment that doesn't warrant them (often by that entertainment's choice) and this was another example of that. As much as I may wish, hope, or occasionally argue that 24 is a show with important themes, its really a simple suspense machine, and its quality, to an extent, should be measured by how many thrills it generates per hour.

If that is the case, then this season still ranks at the bottom of my 24 list. I've beaten to death the fact that Samir and his vague threats of "nuclear rods" or "dirty bombs" feel overly done and don't put me anywhere near the edge of my seat. I've also criticized beyond reason the fluff that has been passed off as subplots this season. Last week, I ended my review excited for the prospect of some good old fashioned suspense this week, with a hostage, some promised twists, and Jack at the forefront. Instead, we saw recycled 24 bits and Jack stuck in a car, or in the living room of the only President this show remembers having (apparently President Taylor has been napping for the last few hours). To paraphrase another friend of mine, talking about a different show, it is one thing when a show borrows bits from other series and reworks them to create something new, but you know a show is in trouble when it starts stealing from itself. At this point, 24 is dealing in tropes we're so used to, its barely even shocking.

To recap tonight's episode: Tarin is a bad guy, who wants to kidnap Kayla. Jack is on his way there to stop him (if only he had MORE TIME), but NYPD Sgt. Amis refuses to be a good little police officer and set up a perimeter. Why? Because everyone who isn't Jack is a cocksure idiot with no restraint. So Amis' men get slaughtered and Tarin escapes. Kayla gets held hostage, and the baddies promise to kill her unless Hassan turns over File 33 (apparently he has the U.S. Nuclear Codes? This seems like a bigger breach of security than letting a few nuclear rods into the country, but let's all ignore that for the sake of the plot we've committed ourselves to!), but Tarin "selflessly" helps Kayla escape...except TWIST because really he doesn't. He just sends her to CTU with an EMP that will take out all of their computers.

If the heavy sarcasm of the last paragraph doesn't indicate my fury, allow me to elaborate slightly. We've seen a hostage situation like Kalya's in almost every season of the show, we've seen bad guys use an underpass to escape detection more times than I can count, and if I had a dollar for every time CTU was attacked or otherwise compromised by the bad guys, I'd have enough money to build my own Counter Terrorist Unit with much better security.

This isn't even mentioning the Dana plotline, which continues to be predictable and insufferable. Stephen Root is a joy to watch (As usual) as Prady the parole officer who knows more than he lets on, but was anyone surprised when he revealed he knew enough that Dana is in serious trouble. Just arrest her or let her sacrifice herself to protect Cole already and let's move on to another boring plotline. Perhaps President Taylor has indigestion and wakes up to take some Pepto? Is there a chance Hastings needs to cover up that he moonlights as a female impersonator (or more likely as a shrimp obsessed Vietnam vet)?Maybe something involving Renee getting attacked by Jack's wild housecat could fill some time? Actually, that last one doesn't sound half bad...

Grade: C-

Notes:

-Interesting that the EMP was rigged by a timer, meaning that the terrorists had to know the exact driving time between their pretty cliched evil lair and the end of the CTU security tunnel in order to have even a remote chance that the EMP would take out CTU.

-The only time I'm not disappointed this season is when there's a shootout. And that's only because the quick cutting and loud noises distract me from the shoddy plotting...
Tags: 24
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