"Redemption" The show nearly broke my heart with a very disappointing sixth season. It was hard to stomach vague storytelling and ridiculous characters after the greatness of Season Five. But, after this good movie, I'm ready to forgive. This was 24 as I know and love it.
New Characters were introduced and I cared about them all. I loved the little kid who idolised Jack. I warmed to the new president at once, and her son. And his lingerie-wearing girlfriend (always a good thing!). Plus Jack's friend who was willing to lay down his life for the kids. He was cool. Reminded me of Jack. The bad guy/guys look awesome, too. And there is no indication that any of them is, in any way, related to Jack Bauer. Good. Hope it stays that way. ("Cousin Marty! You're behind all of this?")
The story was good. Both the immediate story of getting the kids to safety. That's the sort of story that works best on 24. A tangible goal that will make you feel good when it is accomplished. Not a squabble over some piece of tech. How is the audience supposed to invest in that? The background story was good, too. Do I trust the lingerie-wearing girlfriend? Not a jot. Do I want to see more of her? You betcha!
The action scenes were good. Jack takes on a squad of baddies at the school in typical 24 fashion. Later, he goes up against a helicopter and - finally - there's a pitch battle on a crowded street.
Jack was badass cool. See previous paragraph!
Yes, this was 24 as I know and love it.
Season 7, Episode 1. "8AM - 9AM" Strong opening episode makes me optimistic and the show is back to it's pre-Season 6 glory.
We see Jack in three locations. In court he defends all of his past actions and comes across as unapologetic and confident. In the FBI building he quickly puts together the clues and sends the good guys in the right direction, making him seem heroic and clever. In the apartment he comes close to torture to get answers. And he doesn't seem to mind. Making him seem dangerous.
This is a good way to open the season. We don't want a weak Jack Bauer, feeling regret for all the things he's done. This guy isn't a mess. He's worked through his demons. He's unapologetic, confident, heroic, clever and dangerous. All of that is good.
Working closely with Jack, Renee Walker makes a good impression in this first episode. She says almost nothing to Jack that isn't directly related to the case, and doesn't bring her personality into play at all. A perfect character for 24, really. She doesn't attempt to make a personal connection with Jack, or - because of this - with the audience. Instead, she's a Joe Friday type of character.
My theory? She's working for/with Tony and both of them are good guys. She just needs to get a message to Tony.
Not much else to say. CTU is gone, and publicity for the show made a big deal about that. However the show has clearly substituted the FBI for CTU so there is basically no change at all. Stupid.
Then there is Janeane Garofalo, who is fantastic in this and in anything. But what's the story with this character? Isn't she just Chloe-lite? What good is that? I want Chloe back!!
Season 7, Episode 2. "9AM - 10AM" It's still early days, but I'm quietly confident that season seven won't suck.
The first half of the episode is about the sniper trapped in a building by the FBI. It's good tense stuff, where Jack is forced to sit things out. The second half of the episode follows Jack and Renee as they follow the sniper. There's a fight at the end (Jack and Renee are an awesome team) and the episode ends with Jack and Tony face to face.
I'm more convinced than ever that Tony is deep undercover (possibly with Chloe and Bill) and - before too long - he'll be side-by-side with Jack again.
Over in the b-plot Colm Feore steps out from the pack to establish himself as a major reason to watch this season as his character gets tough in his efforts to find his son's killer.
It's a strong episode. Jack gets to give a good speech, and do some seriously cool detective work (when he spots the sniper's non-FBI shoes). He's also very cool in the action sequence at the end (shooting out the camera, etc.) and I'm starting to remember why - among other things - 24 is the best action show on TV.
Season 7, Episode 3. "10AM - 11AM" Predictable but amazing.
The first half was predictable, as Jack took a captured Tony from the boat back to FBI HQ and started to interrogate him. Guess what? Tony is not a bad guy, after all. No great shock there, to be honest. I mean, he could have been the Big Bad for this season... if the writers were about to make a mess of it. And, after the crazy decisions made in Season Six, there was a slim chance that they would destroy the character of Tony and make him a villain. So, yeah, it could have happened...
But, it makes more sense for things to go down this way. And, thus, they are predictable.
I'm not complaining.
Because the second half was bad ass cool. Tony is broken out of FBI HQ by Jack, with Chloe in his ear giving him instructions. This is what 24 is all about. This is when 24 is the coolest thing going, and the very best action show on television.
Season 7, Episode 4. "11AM - 12PM" With the four regular characters back together, and two really superb new characters, this seventh season of 24 is shaping up to be very good indeed.
Jack and Tony leave New CTU HQ and head back to the bad guy's lair where - after some violence and killing - they move out and attempt to kidnap a VIP (to maintain their cover and get closer to their goal).
All the usual things that make 24 fun to watch are back in place. Jack and his team know the truth, but they do not know who they can trust, so they must go it alone and have all the other good guys trying to stop them at every turn. It's great fun. Yes, we've seen this before on the show. Who cares? It's great fun.
Chloe and Bill sit at New CTU and worry. I adore Chloe and love all the screen time she gets in this episode. Bill has a beard now. Is that to make him look tough?
Meanwhile Renee and the president's husband get some great scenes. Scenes where they appear to be heroic and interesting characters.
Finally, how cool to see Ever Carradine standing beside Jeffrey Nordling! She stood beside him once, and again she's doing it. :)
Season 7, Episode 5. "12PM - 1PM" Two great cliffhangers.
We start off watching Jack in the middle of the kidnapping. By the mid-way point he has succeeded, captured Agent Walker as well and is travelling, by van, to meet the Bad Guy of the piece.
Chloe and Bill do not appear (which sucks) and all of the stuff at FBI HQ is boring and pointless, because the characters there are boring and pointless. But the episode positively sings in the Jack and Henry storylines and both build towards fantastic cliff-hangers.
Henry finally finds out who killed his son. It's not much of a twist that his bodyguard is evil, but it is a shocker that he is the one that actually killed Henry's son. Also a shocker: the drugging and impending murder of Henry. As the clock closes on this episode: Henry is paralysed and awaiting certain death. It's a horrific situation to be in and I cannot wait to see how it is resolved. I presume Samantha will save the day...
Renee Walker, meanwhile, has a very tough hour. She finds Jack and Tony, but gets captured and finds herself facing execution by Jack Bauer. All of the scenes in the van are superb, and Annie Wersching proves herself to be a worthy addition to the cast of 24. The execution scene, itself, is superb. Jack's terse words of advice and the burial scene are top notch television.
I don't think Walker is in great peril (I presume she can easily wriggle free from the shallow grave when the van drives off) but that final scene is a classic. The visuals (shots of her terrified face alternating with her point of view) make it horrifying. A high-point in the life of 24.
Season 7, Episode 6. "1PM - 2PM" Jack and Tony hand over their kidnap victims, and Henry kills his attacker.
The talking bits at the start were a bit boring (even though it is nice to hear Michelle being talked about) but once this episode got up and running there was no stopping it. The FBI crew were sidelined (horaay!), Bill and Chloe (looking very hot) are back in the thick of the action and The President gives a fantastic speech and gets closer to being a character one can root for and care about.
I've completely lost interest in any of the FBI characters. Let's face it: it's just CTU again. The show does not need to slow down every ten minutes to show us some boring people bickering in an office. I presume Bill and Chloe will eventually end up working from/at FBI HQ, once the mole has been discovered. This will make the FBI building interesting, and it will give Bill and Chloe something to do, someone to talk to. Right now, at this stage in the story, they have nothing to do when they are not in contact with Jack and Tony. That's why they were left out of the last episode: four three-minute scenes of Bill and Chloe chit-chatting is not going to cut it in the high intensity world of 24!
This is the first episode where the President stood out as an interesting character. After the two planes collided in mid-air over Washington, she made her way towards the members of her team and prepared to make a speech. I was terrified that she would back down and change her mind about the attack on the African country. If she did, then I would lose interest in her as a character. A heroic character in 24 needs to stick to their guns. That's what the show demands of it's heroes: being stubborn in the face of adversity.
Not only did she dig in her heels, she gave a great speech, too.
The shoot-out at the end is classic 24: clever and cool. Tony meets the bad guys and they are about to double-cross him, but Jack is playing sniper and starts to take them out. Awesome stuff. The sort of stuff you rewind and watch again. 24 offers up something like that in almost every episode: a rewind and rewatch moment.
The death of Samantha is bloody and shocking. I had expected that she would be Henry's salvation. Not the case, it seems. Instead, Henry's manages to wrestle free of the effect's of the drug and send his attacker (and his son's killer) falling to his death.
Season 7, Episode 7. "2PM - 3PM" Jack's team follows the Matobo's and their captor's and starts an attack/rescue, while Janis bonds with the plant manager of a chemical plant in Kidron, Ohio. Meanwhile, the President's husband is re-captured and the writer's give Dubaku a personal life in the closing seconds of the episode.
Another winner. The action-adventure stuff is superb. This is what 24 does best. It's nothing short of thrilling as Jack and his team go into action. Also: How cool is it to see Jack, Tony and Bill in the same shot? In action. Beyond cool, that's how cool.
The human-interest storyline, with Janis, wasn't too bad. It was a successful counterpoint to the action stuff with Jack's crew. Janis isn't a particularly warm character, which - I think - worked in the storyline's favour and stopped it from becoming too schmaltzy.
Seven episodes in, and not a weak one amongst them. It's time to relax and breathe a sigh of relief: 24 is back.
Season 7, Episode 8. "3PM - 4PM" Jack meets with the President, and then sets out to rescue her husband.
From beginning to end this was one of the very best episodes of 24. We follow Jack from a meeting at the White House, to a meeting with Larry Moss, to a fight with a corrupt Secret Service Agent, to a rescue attempt on Henry Taylor. Yes, this is one of the episodes of the show that employs - what I like to call - elastic time. Most episodes of 24 push the bounds of credibility a small bit, but there are occasional episodes that blast right through the bounds and keep on truckin'! This is one of those. Many characters are shown to cover vast distances in very little time and there are enough events in this chapter to fill two normal episodes.
I don't care.
It's part of the charm/appeal of this show. And, when the story and character developments are this good, what's the point in nit-picking about minor details.
Since the season started, Renee Walker has been a fantastic character: she's intelligent, dangerous and hot. She debates methods with Jack Bauer but is willing to cross the line herself when the job requires it. This is a superb episode for that kind of stuff. The script wisely sends Renee to the home of an innocent woman and her child and require the freckled FBI agent to threaten their lives as means towards getting information from her husband. The act sicken her to her core, but she does it anyway because it has to be done. Superb stuff.
Larry Moss has been a fairly bland character since the story started, and I'm ready to change my verdict on him just yet, but he certainly gets a great debate scene with Jack in this outing. Althought the show has frequently debated Jack's methods, it has seldom been as successful as in this case. Jeffrey Nordling does a great job with dialogue that could have been flat and clichéd.
But this wasn't an episode about debate. No, this was an action-packed episode with a killer twist at the end. I loved every action sequence, enjoyed the coolness of Jack Bauer in action (as I always do) and was totally gobsmacked by what happened in the closing seconds.
Season 7, Episode 9. "4PM - 5PM" Jack and Renee find Dubaku's girlfriend, while Dubaku's tries to engineer his safe exit from the country. Meanwhile, Aaron Pierce shows up to protect the President's daughter.
The highpoint, for me, is the arrival of Aaron Pierce (Glenn Morshower). His first scene, with the camera pan from his badge up to face, makes me confident that the show knows what a beloved and important character this is. His pairing with Sprague Grayden is worrysome. Sometimes I find her very grating to watch (such as in John Doe, when I was relieved to find her killed off) so it's going to have to be a wait-and-see situation. Having said that, her character is selfish and annoying so she's off to a bad start.
Apart from Aaron Pierce, the episode scored major points from me with it's treatment of Colonel Dubaku. I'm a longtime fan of 24 so I know that the bad guy of the early episodes always gives way to a bigger villain for later episodes. That's fine. They always do a fine job with the transition, but I don't think they've ever made me sympathise with the baddie so late in the game. Yes, various evil-doers have been sympathetic all along, but usually the ones painted as black from the get-go... stay black. Not Dubaku. They give him a love interest, demonstrate that he genuinely cares for her and create a new threat in his life when they show him going head-to-head with his former bosses in an effort to secure safe passage from the country.
Finally, on the list of wonderful things about this episode, Chloe gets lots of screentime. Mary Lynn Rajskub is hot and there's a great laugh-out-loud moment when our beloved computer expert speaks her mind about the 'inefficient' setup at FBI HQ.
Oh yeah... Nearly forgot. They finally reveal this season's mole and - I must confess - I completely got it wrong. I hated him, assumed it was too obvious that he was the one and crossed him off my list in favour of Janeane Garofalo. And I was completely wrong. Nicely done, 24, nicely done.
Season 7, Episode 10. "5PM - 6PM" Jack catches Dubaku, gets his list and uncovers all the bad guys. As the sun sets, he and Tony sit on the steps and catch their breath...
Superb, superb, superb! As fine a season finale as you would ever see. And it's not even a season finale. The Dubaku storyline comes to an incredibly satisfying conclusion. The tension between Jack and Agent Walker is fantastic and the chase to stop the mole is thrilling.
Renee Walker is a great character and a great addition to the world of 24. Annie Wersching sends the character's pain and guilt (over the death of an innocent) searing through the screen with nuclear intensity. She feels too much. Which makes her a great counterpoint to Jack Bauer who acts like he feels nothing. Her presence make Jack Bauer more interesting. When have you ever been able to say that about a supporting character before? Just putting them in the scene make the mighty Jack Bauer more interesting! The fight between them in the hospital is some of the best stuff the show has ever done. It's not just good character drama, but it goes to the core of what this show is really about.
Season 7, Episode 11. "6PM - 7PM" Jack enters the White House to interrogate a suspect.
Another example of 24 at it's best. Jack going it alone to protect those close to him. The sight of him pulling a gun on Bill is almost hilarious. But it works. In fact, as the episode came to a conclusion we can see that it totally make sense: Jack is behind bars but Bill is still free to move around.
The torture scenes are fantastic, as is the debate that follows. And, let's face it, it shouldn't be. It should be boring and anti-climatic because we want the story to advance. But it's neither of those things. Instead the show manages to complete grip us as we watch the President come to terms with her evolving morals. Fantastic stuff.
Agent Walker proves more than capable to sustaining a plotline on her own as she goes after the terrorise group and maintains our interest. I wonder, however, if this is a dead-end storyline. Why good can she accomplish? It's not like she can do anything to avert the attack.
Even Janis manages to be interesting this week, when she goes up against Chloe and wins. Boo, hiss!
But the main appeal of this episode comes from watching Jack (who we know is right) being stopped by characters (who we know are in deadly danger). They are struggling with their morals (some are downright weak) and Jack is living in a world of black and white. They criticise him, look down on him, and - ultimately - imprison him. Yet, we know that - within minutes they will be looking to him to save their lives.
A great episode.
Season 7, Episode 12. "7PM - 8PM" The White House is attacked.
A truly superb episode. It delivers none of what I was expecting, and still manages to blow me away. I assumed, after the cliff-hanger, that the attack would go ahead and Jack would come from his cell and set about rescuing everybody. Not so. He's immediately added to the President's protective detail and spends most of the episode hidden away with the President.
The drama, therefore, falls to Bill, Aaron and Renee. Renee gets the most action and - since she is a new character - we never believe that she is going to get killed. Bill and Aaron are a different matter. We are invested in them. And, with 24, you just never know... For instance, when Aaron was shot I cried out in shock. I really have no idea what they are going to do with this character.
Speaking of Aaron, I loved the bit where he and Jack spoke to each other on first name basis. That sort of stuff is way cool.
Renee ends up being the one to sound the alarm, proving that her storyline for these two episodes wasn't a dead end and managed to accomplish something.
What happens next? Well, I presume Tony comes storming to the rescue, but I'm damned if I know how he's gonna get Jack out of this predicament.
Season 7, Episode 13. "8PM - 9PM" Bill dies.
Damn. I really thought was safe after they teased us with his life in danger during the final episode. When he was running around the corridors of the White House, leading the bad guys away from the President, I feared that his days were numbered. He survived. And I relaxed.
Consequently, his heroic death in this chapter totally took me by shock.
What a great show.
I love the way they kept the dead body on screen for several long minutes, with Jack holding vigil beside his friend. As if the producers were saying "We mean it. He's really dead. It's not like Tony."
Anyway, what else happened...
This is the episode that started off with Jack and the President prisoners in the White House. After killing the bad guy, Jack is taken into custody and Renee Walker goes behind her Superior's back and gets Jack a shot at interrogating Ryan Burnett. However, once he gets to the hospital, Jack is framed for Burnett's murder and finds himself on the run...
Amid all that frantic action, there are many superb scenes. Bill's sacrifice, of course, is the highpoint of the episode. But it's awesome to see Agent Walker becoming more and more integral to the world of 24, by ensuring that Jack gets a chance to bring this crisis to a resolution. Jeffrey Nordling has some terrific scenes in this episode. There's even a scene where Jack Bauer does something funny!! Moss threatens to put a stop this his questioning/antic and Jack gives him a "Yeah, right" look that is simply priceless. All the better, because Jack/24 never ever does moments like this. The humour usually comes from Chloe and... nobody else.
And then we get to the twist (a hitman climbs out of the ceiling, frames Jack for murder and climbs back into the ceiling!!). It's a fantastic twist. Totally absurd and crazy but, to the show's credit, it totally works. Even though it would be more suitable to a crazy show like Prison Break.
I don't care. Jack Bauer is back on the run again. Some of the show's best moments have come from times like these.
Season 7, Episode 14. "9PM - 10PM" Jack goes to Mayer's house and searches his files. Morris works with the FBI to track Jack. Olivia and Ethan have a face off.
Another strong, action-packed, episode with many surprises and a very satisfying resolution to a couple of ongoing plots.
Season Seven is dangerously close to surpassing Season Five here. As the weeks go by, it seems less and less likely that they are going to stumble and fall.
I was surprised when Jack and Mayer began to work closely. Mayer emerged (in this episode) as less of a caricature, and more of a three-dimentional character. The resolution of his character arc (where he offered to work with Jack) was simply wonderful and not at all where I thought they would go with this plotline. When has 24 ever been this character-driven? Mayer has been akin to a moustache-twirling villain from the very start and we've been wait for his comuppance. For him to be proven wrong, or - even better - need Jack's help/methods to save his life (which is, in a way, what happened in the White House). But for the character's final episode they find a completely different way to end his conflict with Jack. That ballsy writing.
I was surpised by how much I loved the Olivia/Ethan stuff. Despite early worries, I'm really loving her now, and I'm very keen to find out if she's a bad apple or not. Bob Gunton and Sprague Grayden were terrific. You would expect an actor of his considerable presence and talent to eat her alive on screen. Not the case. The young lady more than holds her own. Maybe it's time for me to stop being annoyed by her.
The Olivia/Ethan stuff is great fun, but doesn't it weaken the President somewhat to have these two squabbling? Since they are her senior advisors. And part of me fears that bringing the President's daughter into the story is dangerously close to last season's debacle (with Jack's family). But, I'm not rolling my eyes in disbelief. Yet.
I was surprised/delighted to see Morris back for some major screentime. And helping catch Jack, no less. But it makes perfect sense. How else were the writers going to get Chloe out of jail? That has - honestly - been on my mind all week: "How do they get Chloe back?" Well, now I know. Clever.
Aside from the surprises, this was an episode of great fights and chases. The last fight, with the hitman, had a real rough-and-tumble feel to it.
And now we know where Tony has been all this time: drinking coffee someplace and hanging out. O-kaaaaay...
Season 7, Episode 15. "10PM - 11PM" Jack and Tony go to the docks and steal the bio-weapon.
You know that 24 is firing on all cylinders when the talky scenes are just as gripping as the action scenes.
This is the episode where Ethan resigns. And it is a fantastic (and reasonably long) scene. The scene is dramatic not because of the bond between him and the President (but it helps) but because we know that Ethan was right to trust Jack and should not be stepping down. This adds a sense of 'this is wrong' to everything and means the character drama is just as fantastic as the other stuff.
Also, taking Jack and Tony out of the narrative for ten/fifteen minutes shows that the series is making an attempt to make the real-time aspect of the concept work. Jack and Tony are travelling and... nothing happens. So we don't see them.
Speaking of Jack and Tony, the action sequences were top notch and the dilemma where Jack opted to save the life of the security guard was one of the best scenes the show has ever done. It reminded me of the time that Jack saved Chloe's friend (when it had nothing to do with the mission) and it shows that Agent Walker has had an effect on him. Good.
Finally, as Larry Moss gets smarter and smarter with each passing week (and more inclined to trust Jack) he gets closer and closer to becoming one of the best new Characters on 24.
Season 7, Episode 16. "11PM - 12AM" While Jack gets medical treatment, Tony and Moss go after the bio-weapon.
24 amazes me and reminds me, time and again, of why I consider it to be the best television show ever made. This episode is a perfect example of why the show entertains me so much.
I thought Jack was getting the 'All Clear' when the lady from the CDC took him out of quarantine. Wrong! He is infected. I did not see that coming.
I thought Olivia was going to be written as a one-note bitch for the rest of the series. Wrong! In this episode she is shown as being nice to Agent Pierce, as being shocked by the deaths in Sangala, and as being a valuable member of the President's team. Yes, her methods (in the previous episode) are pretty dark, but - judging from this episode - the writers are prepared to write/portray her as a well-rounded character. Which, of course, makes her more interesting and likable. I did not see that coming.
I thought Agent Moss was on the fast train to Deathville at the end of this episode. He'd had his big reconciliation scene with Agent Walker and - more than anything else - he was heading into battle without Jack Bauer by his side. He was doing it in a helicopter, too. I was totally convinced that that chopper was going to get shot down, as Jack and Agent Walker watched. I would have bet good money on it. Wrong! Instead, the mission goes ahead and reaches a dramatic, exciting conclusion without a shot ever being fired. I did not see that coming.
I thought Tony had some good intel, and I thought that that guy who was helping him was completely trustworthy. Wrong! He was just a delaying tactic. Of course, I know that Tony and Moss wouldn't get the bio-weapon back that easily, but the twist concerning Greg Seaton was something else in this episode that I truly did not see coming.
24 manages superb action sequences, it manages genuinely thought-provoking drama and - on many occasions - it manages to completely surprise you and take the story in unexpected directions.
Season 7, Episode 17. "12AM-1AM" Tony in action.
A thrilling episode and fine example of 24's amazing ability to create a new status quo and evolve without any strain. Jack is now confined to FBI HQ and Tony is the action-hero of the show. I'm fine with that.
The Olivia storyline reaches - what I presume to be - a conclusion. I can't imagine that the show will devote any more time to her in it's final episodes so, I'm assuming, she's going to get away with everything. Typical 24, really. That's a huge part of the fun of the show. Sometimes stories have the 'wrong' ending. On any other show Olivia would get found out and Ethan would get his job back, because that's the 'right' thing.
Season 7, Episode 18. "1AM-2AM" Tony kills Larry.
Damn. I did not see that coming. I am in shock. This is clever stuff. They opened the season with the revelation that Tony had gone bad. Something no true fan of 24 wants to see. And they quickly 'revealed' that that was not the case. And we embraced it. And... forgot about it.
Now it comes back to bite us on the ass.
This may be the best ever twist in the history of 24 (no mean feat) but it could also be a serious jump-the-shark moment. Every fibre of my being does not want Tony to be bad. So how they handle the remaining episodes of this season will dictate how I feel about 24 from here on in...
Season 7, Episode 19. "2AM-3AM" Jack vs. Tony.
24 deals with it's biggest-ever twist in superb fashion. I was anxious to see Tony unmasked, but the show wisely allowed us to see more of his machinations before Jack began to put the clues together.
The detective work, when it finally came, was extremely well handled. The show uses events we never saw (but assumed to have happened) against us in spectacular fashion. We trusted Tony, so we accepted his word about things that were said to have happened off-screen.
I am not at all happy that Tony has turned bad, but I will be the first to applaud the masterful storytelling that got us to this place. I am not all happy that Tony has turned bad, but - in the context of the way they have told the story - I see how it was happening all along. That's some feat.
The only downside? Jack's illness has become an annoyance. Since we know that Kim will save his life, the delay in getting it done is starting to bore me. We know he will accept her help and return to full strength for the final hours of Day 7, so the fake waiting is boring me at this stage. Surely Kiefer has his Emmy submission tape in the can by now, let's get Jack back to 100% strength. We need him now more than ever!!!
Annie Wersching once again displays considerable acting chops. Her reaction to Larry's death and the following scenes were superb.
Best scene (that had nothing to do with Tony)? The revelation about Kim's baby (and her name being Teri) brought a lump to my throat. Can't wait for Jack to hear about that.
Season 7, Episode 20. "3AM-4AM" Jack questions Hodges, Tony urges his mysterious bosses to stage an attack, Olivia decides to execute the man who murdered her brother and... Chloe returns to active duty.
Wow. Rarely are the "no action" episodes of 24 this bloody good. For a start, this episode contains the best Jack/Chloe scenes ever filmed. They hugged, for frak's sake!! And he talked her like a real person, like a friend. It was a wonderful scene. And things stayed fantasic as Chloe when to work. I especially loved it when she put Janis (Chloe-lite) in her place.
Tony's scenes were fascinating. Kudos to Carlos Bernard, who is amazing in the role. I must admit that there is a part of me, who deeply wishes that Tony is not bad. I would love it if they could find a way to redeem him at the end. What if he was doing all of this to get to the man who ordered Michelle's death? That revelation would redeem him in the fans eyes...
Olivia got several great scenes in this one. I thought the show would write her out. Instead they give her a great new storyline. A storyline that... makes sense. And seems like a logial extension of everything that happened earlier in the season.
Never has 24 delivered a season that holds together as one unit so well.
Season 7, Episode 21. "4AM-5AM" Jack leaves FBI HQ when Chloe finds a lead to who might be involved in what's about to happen next.
One of the best episodes of 24 this season, and one of the very best episodes the show has ever delivered. It was flawless and relentless. Scene after scene, character after character, plot after plot, everything in this episode is pure perfection.
This is a level of television storytelling that nothing else can touch. Not since Wiseguy has a show been so skillful at moving from story arc to story arc and at creating characters that live and breathe, whether 'good' or 'evil'.
Consider the opening scenes.
Scene 1: Tony forces an innocent man into becoming his fall guy. Omid Abtahi and Carlos Bernard are amazing. Abtahi makes us terrified for the man we only met last week, an victim of forces much larger than himself. We watch in terror, wondering if he is to become the latest innocent to die on 24. And, while we wonder this, we watch Tony for a shred of the decency that made us love the character so much in bygone years.
Scene 2: Jack tells Chloe that he is going to die, she cries and they hold hands. Scenes that I never thought I would see on 24. Jack and Chloe are the heart and soul of 24 and I have waited years to see them talk to one another like close friends. But Jack's nature has prevented this from happening. Until now. Now Jack has only hours to live, and he has a team of writers who seem to have a canny knack for giving the fans things that we, very much, want to see. Mary Lynn Rajskub, who gets hotter every year on this show, was amazing in this scene.
Scene 3: Olivia sets in motion the events that will kill Jonas Hodges. This has been the real revelation for me. I honestly thought the writers would fade Olivia into the background, as the whole Jack vs. Tony storyline took over the screentime on the show. If I had been told that Oliva would have a major storyline in these final episodes, I would never have predicted that I would love it so much. I've always had a love/hate relationship with the work of Sprague Grayden, but I think those days are over. Her Olivia is flawed and human and a character I really care about. Pairing her with Leland Orser as a truly fascinating character certainly helps. Leland Orser blew me away on Voyager a decade ago and it's always great to see him with great material.
Scene 4: We visit the Big Bad of Season Seven and, thanks to Jon Voight, we find ourselves feeling sympathy for the deranged cold-blooded killer that we hated a few hours ago. Not only a testament to this great actor's skill, but it's an example of how good the writers are on the show. I thought they were writing this character out with a suicide pill a few episodes. This is much better. And the scene with the photography was genuinely sad. Wow.
Scene 5: Jack goes nose-to-nose with an innocent man, on the trail of Tony. Another example of a scene that can be classed as one of the best scenes ever shown on 24. Ravi Kapoor is outstanding in a major glaring match with Kiefer Sutherland. We know that Jack is completely wrong. And we are nervous about what he is going to do. In this way, 24 transcends entertainment and - like Battlestar Galactica - becomes a mirror held up to the times in which we live.
Season 7, Episode 22. "5AM - 6AM" Jibraan is forced onto the subway with the ticking bomb under a nearby seat, Chloe and Janice bicker (while saving the day), Jack runs Tony off the road and hits him in the face. A lot. Agent Aaron Piece makes a phone call to someone we like very much, and Kim Bauer meets two very nice people at the airport.
Another superb episode.
1. Jibraan's final episode is packed full of tension. So far he's been a victim/hostage but with this episode he gets a chance to step up and be a hero. And herein lies the genius of 24. Jack is too far away to help. So he gets on Jibraan's earpiece and tells him what to do. We like Jibraan. A lot. Traditionally, the innocent people in 24 don't do very well. They have a 50/50 chance of survival. So, while we know that Jibraan will almost certainly save the day, we have no way of knowing whether he will live or die in the act. Great stuff.
2. Olivia's storyline gets better and better. Despite all that she has done, we kinda like the girl. Now she is in way over her head and things are getting worse. Part of the reason I like her, I think, is the fact that Aaron Pierce likes her and the two of them have fantastic chemistry. He's the most decent person they have ever had on the show (except, maybe, for David Palmer) and he's really fond on the conniving little bitch. So, we reason, she can't be all bad. Having said that, I cheered when Aaron picked up the phone and called a character I honestly thought was gone from the show for good. I really thought that that character was screwed and out of the show. It seems not... Yay!
3. The biggest surprise for me (apart from the above-mentioned phone call) was the abundance of wonderful, funny scenes between Chloe and Janice. And, thanks to Chloe being in the picture, I honestly find myself liking Janice for the first time this season. It's a pairing that shouldn't work, since Janice is nothing more than Chloe-lite but - for some reason that only the gods of truly good writing and great cast chemistry understand - the two of them light up the screen when the bicker and squabble. Chloe had some of her best-ever lines in this episode and Mary Lynn Rajskub is awesome.
4. Kim is in danger again! I can't believe they are going down this route. But, having said that, I have to admit that... it works. The dilemma it creates for Jack is one they have used on the show many times before, but... it works. Bottom line: they shocked me with this twist and I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Season 7, Episode 23. "6AM-7AM" Jack breaks Tony out of FBI custody, there's a shoot-out at the airport, Olivia detains Ethan with a view towards getting her hands on - and destroying - the memory chip with her incriminating conversation.
On all fronts this was a superb episode of 24.
1. Kim Bauer turns action heroine and goes after the man who might be able to lead her to her kidnapped father. It's a great plotline and it's strange/wonderful to find myself so aggressively rooting for Kim Bauer of all people. Maybe all memories of the cougar incident are gone forever. Aside from Kim Bauer going all Jack Bauer on us (yay!) there's a lot of other cool stuff going on at the airport. The shoot-out at the airport was frantic and exciting and an example of typical 24. The stunt with the car looked great, filmed - as it was - with Kim in the foreground. Then the battle for the laptop, as both Kim and the bad guy caught fire, put a perfect cap on a perfect sequence.
2. Over at the White House we got to see some great scenes with Aaron and Ethan, as they plotted the take down of this season's other bad guy/gal: Olivia. Sprague Grayden's performance wad different in this episode: there's no trace of niceness in Olivia this time. Perhaps it's to make us dislike her a bit more so we'll enjoy her upcoming fall from grace (if that is what, in fact, happens). Or maybe it's just the character resolving herself to her course of action. She sent the funds in this episode, so I presume she's knuckling down and preparing to defend her position.
3. Tony and Jack's storyline, finds Jack a prisoner and Tony asking the woman in his life to let him get close to the Major Bad Guy of the season. Why? I hope they are doing this to provide Tony with some sort of redemption in the final episode. I hope we will see Tony in a different light after another hour of the show. I hope it has something do with getting vengeance for the murder of Michelle. And I hope it will allow me to keep liking The Tony That Was when the story is over. Jack makes a spectacular escape in the final minutes of the episode. An escape I didn't expect. Despite the fact that Jack is always escaping from situations exactly like this one. It totally caught me off guard.
So: the season finale is upon us! Jack's free and pissed off, Tony's a bad guy but he clearly has a an agenda, and Ethan finally knows that Olivia is bad. What can he do about it?
Season 7, Episode 24. "7AM - 8AM" Tony captures Jack and straps a bomb to him, explaining his end game. The President has to choose between her family and her job. Agent Walker steps over the line...
The best season-ender, to the best season of the best television show ever made.
1. The Tony story arc comes to a satisfying conclusion. In fact, this is scene-for-scene how I wanted it to end. Tony did what he did because of his love for Michelle. Her death sent him over the edge, and - after that - he was willing to do anything to get to the ones responsible. It's a wonderful story and more than redeems him to my satisfaction. The writers are remarkable for being able to pull that off. Tony has killed innocents. He killed Larry (and we liked Larry) and they managed to put it all in perspective. Even better, they left him alive. That's ballsy. They set it up so it looked as if Jack would go for the killshot. And he didn't (need to) take it. Great writing. Satisfying storytelling.
2. The structure of the episode speaks of the confidence of the writers/producers. The big action stuff happens at the start of the episode and it out of the way by the mid-point. The second half of the episode is all about up-close drama and quiet personal scenes. The most dramatic moment of the whole episode (the turning of a head) happened with no dialogue anywhere near it. Again, this speaks volumes of the confidence of a writer who knows they have a great story and knows that they know how to tell it.
3. The performances were amazing. Cherry Jones and Colm Feore did their finest work this season in this episode. The portrait of a family being torn apart was heart-breaking to watch. This is story material that 24 rarely touches upon, but when they go here they know how to tell the story. And with people like Jones and Feore to bring the story to life we are in safe hands. After weak/mean Presidents and silly/boring Presidents, the show has delivered onto us again a President with Integrity that we can love and admire. It's like have David Palmer back. The show has come full circle.
4. With Jack, Tony and Agent Walker you get three sides of the same coin. Tony is the extreme: The good guy who has narrowed his vision so much that he loses sight of the collateral damage he inflicts. Jack is in the middle: The hero who is willing to do unspeakable things to get the right thing done, but who never loses sight of the cost of his actions. Walker is the other extreme: The innocent who stays inside the rules and doesn't understand the costs of going beyond them. With these three characters the show set up an interesting dynamic and made a powerful point. This season could be described as the story/journey of any of these three characters. The fact that the gave the final moment of the episode/season to Agent Walker speaks volumes about the story and it's subtext.
5. For the second episode in a row, the show showed us that pairing Chloe with Janice is a stroke of genius. Chloe has always been awesome, but Janise only really became awesome in these final two episodes. When she was paired with Chloe. Which is ironic, of course, because she's basically a clone of Chloe: The Walker/Janice dynamic is the same as the Jack/Chloe dynamic. Yet, for reasons that I would never have predicted, putting both of them side by side makes them both sparkle. Having the season end with Chloe doing her best to give Janice a compliment, and watching Janice light up when she received the compliment, was the perfect end to their partnership. For this season. Hopefully, the producers know that they are on to a good thing here and will keep this duo in action, together. Many action shows in the past have made us through scene of pathetic comic relief watching bland supporting characters. Here, on 24, you have a wonderful creation - Chloe - played by a wonderful actress - Mary Lynn Rajskub - who can be funny, heroic, sweet, clever, hot and human. In the midst of all the craziness, she can be human and real. Her presence can counterpoint anything else happening onscreen and - most important - the audience loves her. Passionately. We deeply care about her and want her to be happy, okay, acknowledged by Jack and loved by her husband. This season was possibly her best. Hopefully, she's in every episode next year. With Janice not far behind.
6. For the second episode in a row... Kim Bauer was cool. I really liked her in the final minutes of the episode, as she showed herself to be Jack Bauer's daughter and went in - all guns blazing - to get what she wants.
7. The power of this finale was not diminished at all by the fact that many elements of it were easy to predict. I hoped that Tony would be revealed to be working on an agenda to avenge his dead wife. I could only see two possible endings to the Olivia storyline and, when they went the route of exposing her, I could predict how the President would behave. We always knew that Kim would save Jack at the end of the season. We knew it, but it was still satisfying to see it happen. In this way, the show as not 'predictable' in a bad way. Rather, it fulfilled on the promise of all these storylines. In spades.
8. Not since the heyday of Wiseguy has a television series so excited and inspired me. Wiseguy pioneered a new type of storytelling, and now - twenty years later - 24 is doing the same thing. Even the subject matter is sometimes similar. Jack's speech here on the laws and the lawmakers reminded me of Vinnie's pontifications during the Washington D.C./Japanese Yen storyarc on Wiseguy. Both shows are action fare, with depth and scope far beyond everything else on TV.
I love 24 with a passion. I don't think I have ever been more proud to say that than I am tonight.