(S08E03/S08E04) “Renee, I know where you are and it’s a dark place.” – Jack
24‘s two-night four-hour season premiere continued with the season’s third and fourth hours and, by the end of it, we finally got a pretty clear picture of what the larger threat is and where it’s headed… at least until next week.
Renee finally made an appearance, Hassan didn’t get taken out, and Hastings figured out that Chloe actually knows what she’s talking about. But was any of that enough to make up for the numerous shortcomings this season has already displayed?
Tonight’s first hour was largely filler as it devoted far too much time to throwaway plots like Dana’s shady past or Jack’s run in with those two NYPD cops. When it comes to Dana, it’s not that her past as “Jenny” or her history with Kevin Wade isn’t interesting, but it is hard to develop a connection to her when the strong possibility exists that she’ll only be around for this season.
In many ways, this has been one of the biggest issues with 24 since season five. Yes, the show has always featured a rotating cast of disposable characters, but that group has grown significantly since most of the old guard was off’d in the Emmy-winning fifth season. It becomes hard to get attached to these new players as a result. However, it does help that a.) old faces still show up (last season featured Tony and President Logan will show up later this season) and b.) newer characters like Renee or President Taylor have been able to strike the right chords with fans.
For now though, Dana’s issues or Jack’s torture scene with Domenick Lombardozzi (playing a dumb cop carbon copy of Herc from The Wire) were really nothing more than speed bumps leading up to Jack’s ultimate goal of saving President Hassan. No thanks to Hastings, who’s blind devotion to Meredith Reed’s involvement bordered on absolutely insane. Again, how did this guy get such a high level job?
Hour four is where things really picked up for the better. After Jack shot and killed Davros, the dominoes fell fast. Davros’ chest was covered in gang tattoos, linking him to Russian crime syndicate Red Square. As luck would have it, Renee Walker was an FBI undercover agent, buried deep within the Russian ranks six years ago as Renee Zadan.
Renee hasn’t had an easy time since her first 24 hours with Jack and it seems her full transformation to “Jill Bauer” took place in the meantime — what she saw, what she learned from Jack, and the people she lost… like Jack said, she’s in a dark place.
Renee almost killed Alan Wilson when she interrogated him, lost her job with the FBI as a result, then had a breakdown and attempted to commit suicide. Knowing all that, I’d never put her back in the field, but Brian Hastings? Yeah, he would. While jaw-dropping, it wasn’t that much of a surprise when she went and cut off her old Russian pal Zia’s thumb to get off his parole bracelet. Renee is pretty much constantly chanting WWJBD and it’s going to take the man that wrote that book to keep an eye on her while this Russian connection is figured out.
As for Farhad’s motives, seems that he just thought his brother was soft. He agreed to pay big bucks for some old Soviet uranium rods if the Russians agreed to kill Omar. No Omar, no more weak policies, and Farhad reinstates his country’s nuclear program. Through him, we met most of the Russian goons: Bazhaev (Jürgen Prochnow) and his son Josef (Alias‘ David Anders). The only guy we didn’t meet, but saw pictures of, is Renee’s goal, Vladimir (played by BSG‘s Callum Keith Rennie).