24: Season 8, Episode 17
8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.
Last week I lamented that 24 was effectively dead in the water with 8 episodes left to go. Every plotline was wrapped up, the tension needed to sustain this show was entirely removed, and there was really nothing left to do but stagnate until the final credits rolled. The show managed to get around this problem by effectively nullifying the entire season so far, dramatically shifting gears, and resorting to some pretty cheap emotional manipulation, but to its credit it was definitely not the stagnant, bland procession of events I dreaded was coming. Sure the show is still a shadow of its former glory, but at least something will probably happen in the next seven weeks.

This episode was clearly demarcated as a "moving things into place" hour for the show, which means that everything that occurs largely feels like glorified set up for the weeks to come. Usually an episode this set up heavy comes earlier in the season, but there's always a piece mover at about this stage to send us "rocketing" into the final hours of the season, and it isn't necessarily a bad thing that this week drastically reset the board for the final gamut. Much of what the show has been doing this season has been a failure, so they gain points for trying something drastically different to turn the ship around last minute. Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with how they did that, but let's for once start with what tonight did well.

The return of Charles Logan was a risky choice for the show, but I would argue a right one. Logan is one of the few characters from past seasons still alive, and he has also been consistently one of the more interesting (if aggravating) characters the show has created. With Charles Logan 24 has tried to create a complex, layered character, and Gregory Itzin has played him very well. Watching him play off of Cherry Jones' President Taylor this week was one of the best moments this season has given us, so much so that I don't mind how contrived his return seems. Sure, its slightly odd that the only person who has the necessary pull with the Russians is a discredited former President and felon, but I like the dynamic he brings to the show and I'm glad to have him back.

Now for the things tonight that ran the gamut from "that doesn't make any sense" to "that is literally insane," with a brief stop off in "I cannot believe how blatantly the writers are emotionally manipulating me right now." For starters, let's talk Dahlia Hassan. I understand that President Taylor is excited about the prospect of keeping her treaty (which apparently will usher in a new era of world peace or something the way its being hyped) on the table, but there is no way she would trust that a treaty ratified by a figurehead would actually hold up under the intense scrutiny that a Middle Eastern Peace Treaty would face. Beyond that, the way Dahlia's succession of her husband is handled flies in the face of any sort of reality. Imagine if you will the Constitution that allows a First Lady to succeed her husband in the event of his death (I can only presume the family dog then becomes Secretary of Defense). Granted, the show claims her ascension is being ratified by the Parliament of the IRK at the moment, which might be a way around any issues of Constitutional violation (sorry, I'm not well briefed on this fictional countries fictitious laws), but that actually leads to the most absurd thing about this development: the idea that the Parliament of a clearly divided, obviously pretty conservative Middle Eastern country would ever even remotely consider electing a woman to the presidency. This is not only the Middle East we're talking about here, its also a country whose last President had to imprison the opposition to keep them from taking over, and whose opposition are religious extremists who hate the west. Apparently these west hating extremists are also forward thinking feminist progressives. Who knew?

Another development that made little enough sense to warrant mentioning is Chloe's promotion to head of CTU. I liked that the show pointed out how ridiculously good her track record is (she's basically saved the country with only Jack at her side like 6 times now), and I know that its a nice, emotional moment for a show on its way out the door, but Chloe is nothing if not abrasive. Her most apparent character trait throughout the show is how bad her people skills are, and brilliant mind or no, it makes no sense to put someone with such an awful attitude in front of a team that needs constant motivation simply to not betray their country.

Finally we get to the episode's end, which leaves me with very mixed feelings. First of all, it was obvious that Jack (who is pretty much a horror movie character in how the show treats his sex life) finally banging Renee meant that Renee would die almost immediately after. I really hoped that 24 would surprise me here, but alas, Renee is literally still naked from her (pretty tame, from what we saw) union with Jack when she is fatally wounded by a sniper's bullet. Let's review why this is a bad choice for the show: its incredibly predictable, its obviously done more for the cheap emotional payoff than as further evidence of the toll Jack's job takes on his life, and it draws a comparison it can't possibly live up to, in that it closely resembles the death of Terri Bauer in Season One, arguably the single most powerful moment the show has ever done. As I've said, I know that one of 24's biggest themes is that Jack sacrifices everything for his country and that takes an unbelievable toll on his life and his psyche, but the death of Renee didn't feel like the show hitting that note one final time, it felt like a necessary development to give Kiefer a chance to show what a great actor he is again, and to get him angry enough to drive the rest of the season. In that regard, Renee's death may end up being successful: I am pretty excited to watch Jack go dark one last time in a revenge feuled race against some sort of deadline, but I'm pretty disappointed in the way the show got us here.

Grade: B-


-How did Russia appoint that transparently evil Bond villain to the UN?

-"I'll take out Bauer while I'm at it." Who the fuck do you think you are, Russian hit man? Have you been watching this show?

-Hey, Reed Diamond from Dollhouse is Logan's personal assistant. I realyl hope he returns with actual dialogue in the weeks to come.
Tags: 24
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