24: Season 8, Episode 13
4:00 a.m.-5:00 a.m.
This has been a very subpar season of 24 pretty much from the get go. The plot of "terrorists threatening America" has never felt remotely threatening, the story has done a lot to keep Jack out of the action, the show has wasted plotlines with potential (like Renee's walk on the wild side, or Hassan's courageous and sane Middle Eastern leader) in favor of drivel like Kayla and Tarin's romance and, even worse, Dana's slow descent into madness. Watching her try to sabotage Chloe's attempts to get the system back online tonight was annoying enough, and watching her murder Prady (does Stephen Root always have to get murdered? Is it in his contract liek Sean Penn and crying?) was a little funny, just because it was so predictable and there happened to be a giant air ventilation shaft. The whole scenario was a little comical, until it got absolutely fucking ridiculous.

Because guess what, twist seekers of the world? The government agency with the single worst system of background checks, and possibly a recruiter who only looks for corruptible data analysts has hired yet another mole. I can see why the writers would do this, because they needed some way to connect Dana to the main storyline, otherwise the last twelve hours of her plot has been a waste. What I can't see is how this makes any fucking sense. If Dana was a terrorist all along, why did she sufferthe visit from her ex at all? Why did she help him commit robbery, or more importantly, if she's a hardened killer like Prady's death suggested, why did she hesitate before killing Kevin and his hillbilly friend? For a twist to work, it needs to be at least grounded in the reality of the show, and it needs to make some sense. Literally nothing about Dana's plotline makes sense anymore if you factor in that she's been working with Samir all along. Plus, the show just took the only character whose agenda didn't match with CTU throughout the season so far and made her into a mole. Fro mthe first hour, if we had to pick out of a line-up who would be this season's inevitable mole, it would have been Dana, and after thirteen hours of an insufferably stupid plot it is.

Another 24 trope was exercised tonight as an NSA team arrives to help out CTU, and guess what? They're assholes. Because every government bureaucrat ever stands in the way of effectively running the government and wants to take as long as possible to do something that should be easy to accomplish. This plotline began irritating me when Jack called the NSA for back-up, which made perfect sense. What didn't make any sense is that Brian Hastings, the head of a temporarily defunct intelligence ageny never thought to call for some back-up and just figured they didn't need surveillance until his team could get it back up. I'm sure there were protocols violated there, but he seemed genuinely surprised when the NSA showed up. And there had to be a better way to get the NSA out of the room than by injecting "tension" into the scene by having Chloe pull out a gun and barricade herself in there. Not only are all bureaucrats obstructionist assholes, but only Chloe and Jack are ever right on this show, and that gets a little boring after several seasons. Of course, Chloe was right and saved the day, enabling CTU to continue failing at their job.

The episode's saving grace came from the shoot out at the East River, which falls into my continuing "24 is only good this year when guns are being fired" theory. That shoot out was expertly choreographed and pretty tense, but there were still four major problems with it. First, this season, more than any other, really just feels like a giant game of cat and mouse, when CTu gets close to catching the terrorists and obtaining the nuclear rods, but then the terrorists miraculously escape, allowing the threat to go on for a few more hours, because, well, the show is called 24...Second, it was clear from the opening that Owen and Random Asian CTU Agent were in the car simply so they could die in the shootout, especially once the armor came into play. Owen was shown to be brave earlier, so it was also obvious that Random Asian CTU Agent would be the one to crack under pressure and get shot, and then it was obvious that brave Baby Owen would run out to save him and get shot. We've seen this set up a lot on 24 and it played out exactly like it has many, many times before. Thirdly, thank god that both CTU and the terrorists brought their guns with infinite bullets today, because re-loading would have given either side a chance to take an advantage, and given the scene a realistic pacing that would have added the tension this show is desperate for of late. Finally, thank god Renee managed to not only arrive at exactly the right time, but show up in the exact right place to shoot the guy aiming at Jack in the head. Had she come three seconds later, or shot anyone else first, Jack would be dead, which would be bad for the show, but would be an actual twist, and wouldn't stink of deus ex machina.

I apologize that my reviews over the past two weeks have been less analysis and more a long rant about the endless things wrong with the show this year, but I feel there isn't all that much to analyze except the myriad issues the show is having and just how far it has fallen from its glory seasons just a few years ago.

Grade: C

-This one gets a slightly higher grade than last weeks if only because the shoot out scene was choreographed very well, and there were some good moments throughout it, even if it was incredibly predictable and implausible.
Tags: 24
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