A pretty good indicator of how “into” a series I am is my eagerness to write a column. What is it, Wednesday now?
Truth be told, this week’s episode of 24 was a vast improvement over the past few weeks. I actually got the sense that this was the token “turning point” episode in which many of the characters who have been portrayed as antagonists begin to show a lighter side in comparison to far more villainous and perhaps dangerous individuals. That happened a few times here, actually. Hastings was clearly uncomfortable when the President’s Chief of Staff pressured him into laying the blame on Renee. He argued with him, and again defended her with the lawyer. Yes, he ultimately relented arguably blackmailed Jack, but this was certainly the first time we saw him in a semi-noble role.
Farhad Hassan, while certainly still a bad guy, proved to be the lesser of two evils as well. When he realized that the people he’s working with may put his country in danger, he turned against them and aligned himself with the very U.S. government organization that his brother was just working with.
And finally, Kevin the stereotypical scumbag (drinking and/while driving? Check. Going to a strip club? Check. Having group sex with promiscuous women in a van down the river? Check!) showed his caring side as well. First by agreeing to leave Dana alone, and then by warning her in his final moments, thus saving her life.
A lot of people had grander predictions for this Dana story, believing that the big reveal would be that these guys were involved in the terrorist plot. I think my far bleaker view is all but confirmed: This was merely a mechanism – and a weak one, at that – in order to remove her (and later Cole) from her job, thus creating an added obstacle for CTU to overcome.
The major problem with this story arc is, well, that there are so many problems with it. The storyline was utterly ridiculous to start with, but there are just too many twists and turns that force you to absolutely suspend any sense of disbelief you may have had. And the problem with a show like 24 is that once you open your eyes and say that one thing is ridiculous, the temptation to judge every other potentially unrealistic matter multiples to the nth degree. And I can’t help but ask myself, “Why would they risk opening that can of worms for these characters? Over this storyline?”
Think back to past years where CTU staff weren’t even allowed to make phone calls to their families in the midst of a nuclear crisis. Now we’re to believe that Dana can just disappear for hours on end, with nobody seemingly too concerned about her whereabouts, other than a passing question about where she is (and while I’m in super critical mode, is it me or have we seen, like, entirely too many examples of CTU using tracking devices in order to find somebody? In the past two episodes we’ve seen CTU find Jack, Cole find Dana, and CTU find Farah using this same method. I understand it’s the most basic and likely way to accomplish this, but it’s overkill)? And yet, in her absence, they decide that the best way to utilize Chloe is to have her debriefing people? How is that in any way even her job?
Sigh. And based on next week’s preview, this story arc isn’t even over yet. Honestly, how many hours has she been gone?
But, again, I thought this week was a big improvement. Renee is back to being a sympathetic victim instead of a crazy, twisted, scorned woman. In fact, her meeting with the lawyer was the first time in quite some time that I was watching this show and getting exceptionally annoyed – but for the right reasons! I actually cheered a little bit when Jack stormed into the room and grabbed that woman by the throat. Somebody’s doing something right when you can root for Jack physically threatening a woman. And while I accused Jack’s recent bad assery as being cartoonish, I totally bought and loved him telling an armed guard (who’s aiming a gun right at him) that he better put his gun down or he’s going to get hurt. That felt right. And even though I’ve found this whole Dana story arc atrocious, and the Renee frame up made me mad, I do appreciate the fact that the writers came up with a logical, sensible reason for Jack to get back into the thick of things. Oh, and can any other character on TV make putting on a satchel look bad ass????
I will say, though, that this revolving door of villains may backfire on them. In less than 10 episodes the big bad went from Farah to Sergei to Vlad back to Sergei to Josef back to Farah and now to this new group of people. And absolutely none of them elicit that same fear and unsettling feeling as Nina Myers or Tony Almeida. Hitch your horse to a wagon already!
Matt Basilo has been writing for Inside Pulse since April 2005, providing his insight into popular television shows such as Lost, 24, Heroes, and Smallville. Be sure to visit his blog at [a case of the blog] and follow him on Twitter.