24 disappointed me last night, if only for the seemingly unbreakable pattern for the series (since about Season 4, give or take) to never try anything new. Last night’s episode might as well have been a clip show of good clips that could have come anywhere in the series. There were of course a few exceptions, but overall, I am growing trendwise more disappointed with this season each new hour I see. It’s still not Season 6 level of terrible, but it’s not what I expect from 24.
I liked the setup of Jack, Tony, and Emerson having to lure out Motobo and his wife from the concrete panic room, but very little came of it. The solution was generic and predictable, and trying to use violence against loved ones and innocent people like the body guard is nothing new. The most compelling moments of this episode for me were actually those between Motobo and his wife inside the room. Considering these two are characters we barely know (especially compared to Jack and Tony), that’s not a good sign.
Another problem I am having is with Emerson himself. He had potential when we first met him, but I do not find myself interested him at all. Obviously, he’s not Christopher Henderson, nor was he written to be; he’s much more like the kind of character Vladimir Bierko was in Season 5, a generic baddy with not a lot of depth. But even with that setup, Bierko managed to be an engaging, creepy, successfully villainous man who really felt like he had some kind of negative agency in the grand scheme of the plot. Emerson does not; he’s a floater, simply there to provide Jack and Tony with directions to wherever they are needed next. Likewise, the continued act of pushing the other villains of the season into the background is not a good decision. If you recall, early on I felt really excited that Emerson’s thugs, the rebel Sangalans, and the evil corporate stooges were all going to squabble with one another over their villainous schemes; so far, that hasn’t been the case, and it’s too bad. And one last point about Emerson: for the second time in two episodes, he’s trusted a potential double agent to doing his dirty work for him. He’s either an idiot in way over his head, or we’re being duped big time by the writers being unwilling to find a more inventive scenario with which to portray Jack and Tony struggling to appear as though they are on his side.
Henry Taylor’s storyline finally ran out of steam, and the revelation of Gedge as the spy within the administration was not satisfactory for me. I liked their dynamic before, but knowing that it was set up just for this moment cheapens it dramatically. Speaking of spies, am I the only one wondering why nobody at the FBI seemed to care in the slightest that they learned there was indeed a leak in their agency after all?
Renee Walker remains the only FBI character I am liking head on, and I can’t wait to see how she gets out of the ground, where Jack and Tony were forced to leave her. Janis’s story could be a saving grace; the infinite obstruction of meaningless government bureaucracy in the middle of a national crisis is one of the most common elements of 24 stories, but it is often one of the more successful. Sean is still incredibly unlikable (and if it is intentional, the writers really haven’t given us a good reason why yet), and while Larry Moss is not quite as bad, he’s a character I wanted to like more, and I don’t. Every time he’s on screen, he fights for the audience’s sympathy, but he just doesn’t get any, from me at least. And now, unless a good job is done explaining why he ignored it in the near future, he’s going to appear incredibly incompetent in regards to the agency infiltration issue. I wonder why they’ve been suddenly finding subtle ways to put that Erica character on screen…
Everyone else was a non-issue, including the subjectively absent president Taylor and the objectively absent Bill and Chloe. So what do I want from the rest of the season? Less repetitions of storytelling, more Renee, less Sean, and a whole lot more emotionally satisfying drama. You’re just going through the motions again, 24. Where’s that spark that once made you great?