24: Season 8, Episode 14
5:00 a.m.-6:00 a.m.
Well, its official. This will be the last season of 24. I can't say I'm surprised, as this has been rumored for months, and basically confirmed in the last few weeks, and considering the quality of this season, I can't even say I'm heartbroken that the end is in sight. I am disappointed, however, that the writers didn't know from Hour 1 that this would be the last very bad day Jack Bauer would ever face (except for the upcoming movie spin-off, that is). I feel Season 8 would have been more powerful had the writers known this was their last hurrah, and as it is, I doubt we'll see much gravitas in the final hours. We may even end on a cliff-hanger, which would be awful (though I'm sure the writers had enough sense to bring in some closure, just in case). Yet, considering how repetitive and predictable the show has become, how increasingly immortal Jack Bauer is, and how the show has dropped any vague pretense toward realism, its no tragedy that CTU will soon be closing its doors.

As for tonight, we finally got the inevitable government conspiracy plotline underway as Weiss and another self-righteous TV general decided that they know better than the President, and should take the fate of the nation into their own hands, attacking and killing Americans in order to save other Americans. Weiss has always been a pretty unbelievable dick to have risen as high as he has, and pretty disloyal to the President from the start, and TV Generals are very self-righteous, so this came as no surprise. How quickly the show turned from a reasonable, if extreme, back room discussion about sacrificing a foreign leader for American lives (which I can almost guarantee would at least be brought up in the event that this entirely impossible situation arose), to villianizing the seditious Chief of Staff when he agrees to delay medical attention to Ethan after the Secretary suffers a heart attack. The show has always had a black and white mentality when it comes to good vs. evil, so it was no surprise that Weiss was immediately willing to let a friend and colleague die once he made the decision to commit sedition, yet Ethan's heart attack seemed a little too convenient a way to immediately make us hate him.

In another instance of immediately villainizing someone after revealing they're a bad guy, Dana has apparently given up all pretense that she's a CTU agent this hour. She made a total of four phone calls to Samir in the last hour, cut out a surveillance feed, providing him with codes, and advising him not to use the rods. Also, every chance she got she gave the classic 24 sideways glance that shows the audience you're doing something devious. Her revelation as the mole is twice as hilarious when you consider all the time she's spent dealing with Kevin and Prady over the past fourteen hours. If she was also dealing with Samir this whole time, she would have had literally no time to keep her cover up. Even if it wasn't unrealistic to assume she was dealing with the Kevin crisis and Samir at the same time, the number of calls she made to a terrorist from within CTU is patently absurd. Its like Dana realized that the audience knows she's a bad guy now, and so has stopped even vaguely pretending to be anything else. I'm sure its only a matter of time before Chloe catches on and points out Dana's behavior, but really, how has that not happened already? For the love of God, she was on the phone with Samir AT HER DESK. During the tracking of the cab containing the rods, is it even remotely possible that no one in the crowded room heard Dana muttering about how she was going to take out the satellite and which direction Samir should go? I have heard great things about Katee Sackhoff's work on Battlestar Galactica (which I still haven't seen), yet her Dana Walsh has been seriously disappointing, veering from annoyingly weak and whimpering to unbelievably composed and cold hearted. The performance lacks realism, but more importantly, it lacks any hint of subtlety. Sackhoff spends the entire hour glowering as if she's Jack Nicholson in The Shining, which is really only slightly better than the spineless whiny Dana of a few hours ago.

President Taylor was actually given something to do tonight, which is a nice change of pace, as Cherry Jones can actually act and is pretty fun to watch, even if her character has always been slightly over the top (take, for example, her "rah, rah, America!" speech to her staff tonight). Yet she was privvy to another plot development that makes absolutely no sense when she requested that Jack come escort Hassan through his evacuation. From a writer's standpoint this makes sense, as Jack needed to be involved in the action set-piece at the episode's center, but its a pretty lazy way to bring our boy Bauer into line with the major events. Keep in mind that at the time President Taylor asked Jack to come escort Hassan, she had not yet heard from Samir and had no idea that she would be asked to hand him over. What she did know was that she was taking the best federal agent in existence out of the search for radiological material directly after it had been smuggled into Manhattan, putting hundreds of thousands of lives in danger. I know she needs Hassan alive, and I know that she trusts Jack above anyone else, but it still seems like a pretty stupid call overall. Even if you can get past Jack's lazy inclusion, the military team he was set against behaved like crazy people. literally seconds after their leader ordered them to take Hassan alive, they began peppering the tunnels with machine gun fire, murdering a bunch of secret service agents and leaving them with no guarantee that they hadn't killed Hassan and doomed New York and their country even further. The shooting as a whole also lead to a dramatic problem in my view, in that there was no development on CTU's search for the rods for almost a full hour. Jack's shoot out was pretty exciting, yes, and Jack got saved at the last second by an unexpected gunman for the second time in two weeks, but still the show could have thrown in a few minutes of CTU desperately trying to beat the impossible deadline set in front of them. You know, for tension's sake.

This hour ends with Hassan learning that he must turn himself over to stop the attack, and pretty much cements Renee as Jack's partner for the rest of the day. If 24 sticks to his patterns, that means that she will probably die or go completely crazy in the remaining hours. I hope, however, that the writers presumed this might be their final day and have written an ending that will allow Jack some modicum of peace in exchange for the years of torment the show has put him through.

Grade: C-


-How many times do you think Hastings has said "I can no longer guarantee the safety of Manhattan"?

-I'm glad you need literally no qualifications to serve on the security detail assigned to escort a foreign leader to safety, otherwise Renee might not have plausibly been allowed to accompany Jack.
Tags: 24
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