24: Season 8, Episode 21
12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
One thing 24 always does well is follow Jack bauer down a very dark, desperate path. Last week set that up, and I lacked faith that this week's would follow through. But the (not at all surprising) revelation that Jack is only out for bloody vengeance at least spiced up this episode a bit. Jack doesn't care about justice at this point. He doesn't care about truth. All that matters to him now is finding the people who killed the woman he (apparently) loved. And that's at least a little exciting.

With all of this season's villains in plain sight, and none of them particularly threatening, the only thing the show could really do at this point is show Jack Bauer as a threat, and rachet up tension as two forces equally willing to do evil go up against each other in the last hours of the show. The Russians are flat out boring, President Taylor is pretty much useless, and Charles Logan is as much of a snake as ever, but doesn't seem all that threatening since Jack has already bested him once. I'll say again that Gregory Itzin is great in his role, and at the show's worst, Keifer Sutherland is spellbinding. Adding tension through Michael Madsen's return to back Jack up was a nice touch too, and when the guns are blazing, the show still does some great work. As the episode ended tonight, Jack was entirely over the edge, and its hard to say how much further he will go. If nothing else, that's something to watch the end for.

Sure its pretty lazy to have Pavel, Renee's killer, fall right into Jack's hands immediately this hour, but it wasn't the worst thing this show has done by a long shot. Chloe's position is interesting-ish, even though I still feel its a very cheap attempt to stir up drama at the expense of years of story development. Cole's disillusionment could be great, if we had any background information on Cole or if Freddie Prinze Jr. wasn't such a terrible actor, but I give the show credit for trying.

The show has a troubled past with torture, but in the last two seasons, it seems to have come out firmly against it, as no torture session has ended with "actionable intelligence" and all of them have been carried out by people who are deeply morally compromised, so at least the show has figured out what it wants to say about national security in its final hours. The torture scene was flat out brutal, and having the episode end with Jack's revelation that Charles Logan was involved amounts to the biggest cliff hanger the show has done in months (if not years). The season is still deeply flawed, but the viciousness our protagonist showed tonight amounts to some of the most interesting television 24 has produced in quite a while. Jack is entirely over the edge, and I care about where he goes from here. That, at least, is worth it.

Grade: B


-The preview for next week was WAY too spoiler-y for my taste.
Tags: 24
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