24 – Episode 8-12 Review

From last week’s 24 column, courtesy of reader Michael L:

I don’t know about you, but I’m about at the point where I hope that the Stephen Root character turns out to be a mole and just plain shoots Dana–preferably someplace painful–and hopefully sometime in the next episode. This subplot has reduced the overall IQ of this show quite a bit. Couldn’t she simply tell this parole officer that she is working for the government in the middle of a national security crisis and that she’ll get back to him tomorrow (later today?). At least she could try a bit harder.

This is actually one of my biggest pet peeves as it relates to 24 and the Dana story arc in particular. As a viewer, we recognize that the main story arc has to be tied up in a neat little package within the day, but it still irks me when the show completely ignores its own gimmick – that this is a real-time hour of the day. I just find the urgency of this Dana/Kevin situation just too unbelievable. There are so many times that it would be perfectly reasonable for her to say “Can we talk about this tomorrow?” and for the person, no matter how much they need her assistance or services, to comply. I simply don’t believe that Kevin and his friend – a supposed hardened criminal – would risk such a potentially lucrative operation without any planning whatsoever.

And then there’s Stephen Root’s character – who I’ll just refer to as the “parole officer” because I don’t want him to stick around long enough for me to bother to remember his name. Again, I just find this whole thing completely unbelievable. I don’t remember if he indicated how long Kevin has been missing, but I just don’t buy that he’d suddenly treat this situation with such urgency. Like, he absolutely HAS to meet with this woman at 3:00 in the morning? And considering that this guy apparently has the necessary connections to get the results of a finger print test for a crime that was only committed a few hours ago – is that even possible? – I have to wonder how he lost Kevin in the first place.

And while I’m not trying to portray any of these people as exhibiting any sense of nobility, but I just don’t see any of them – even the petty thieves – harassing their golden goose in the midst of a national crisis. Everything about it just so forced and reeks of lazy writing. And the fact that the story arc sucks makes it even less forgivable.

Alright, with that out of the way, I will admit that this episode continued the momentum of last week’s turning point. Actually, I found much of the episode rather exhilarating. And I’ll tell you that they did one thing really well, and that’s the attack on CTU. This is something we’ve already seen at least twice, but I still found myself invested. Actually, this episode did a fantastic job of showing how crucial CTU’s technological skills are in achieving their operations. Between their drones and call tracing and various other means of surveillance, it feels as if they wouldn’t have accomplished anything this past episode without all of these capabilities. So, while disarming CTU in order to fulfill their attempts at making an attack has been done before (numerous times), the situation really did seem dire. But I do hope that this attack wasn’t merely a convenient plot device to get Dana out of trouble.

And, for what it’s worth, I’m grateful that I don’t have to note that a “main” villain was killed YET AGAIN. I actually thought it was a pretty good swerve. I do hope this means that the show has solidly settled on this band of bad guys, though.

I’m going to also echo my sentiments from last week, where I noted how I’ve enjoyed the focus on the foreign political scandal. It’s a bit of a departure from the norm.

So word on the street is that 24 won’t be picked up for another season (although there does seem to be a chance that NBC will pick it up). I’m a bit torn on this. On the one hand, I hate seeing a show go out on a negative note. If season 7 taught us anything, it’s that a phenomenal season can erase the memories of a dismal one. So part of me wants to see 24 return for a ninth season, so that it has an opportunity to go out on a positive note. But then you have a show like Heroes, which never does truly pick up steam after one poor season, and as a result is remembered as a disappointment instead of a hit show.

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.