The sun finally came up over Jack Bauer and crew last night on ’24’. And with it came the first of two exciting if ultimately empty-feeling hours of the veteran real-time drama.
I use the word empty to describe these episodes because I’m no longer very invested in the story. ’24’ lost me a few weeks ago, even before Dana so inelegantly stuffed Stephen Root’s dead body behind a CTU wall panel. Like I typed last week, the twists feel cheap, the stakes arbitrary, and the real-time gimmick has gotten stale.
At this point I’m mostly watching for the tightly edited procedural elements, the action scenes, and Kiefer Sutherland’s sturdy performance. That stuff is solid — so solid that it almost makes up for the lack of compelling drama and the unbelievable plot developments this season.
Head after the jump for spoilers, and remember to check out our recap of the next hour when it goes live.
The morning began with the president’s staff scrambling to prepare for the possible radiological blast in New York City. Minutes were literally ticking away on the bomb’s timer as Brucker and Rob Weiss attempted to hide the fact that Ethan Kanin was dying in the next room.
I half-expected Ethan to kick the bucket and force Weiss and ol’ Bruck to prop him up and carry him around the building, ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ style. Luckily, Ethan made it through the episode alive, but it’s a toss up on whether Weiss or Brucker will live to see President Taylor fulfill her term. The Prez was shocked and fuming when she learned about their crazy plan to hand over Hassan to the terrorists. She even slapped Weiss and threatened to throw the switch when he’s executed for treason. Fun stuff.
Weiss, of course, fired back, taking credit for saving the city from a nuclear disaster. The Prez stood firm in her decision not to sacrifice Hassan and compromise her administration’s integrity during the peace negotiations. It was calculated suspense and a fun face-to-face showdown masquerading as a serious moral quandary for the viewer. Cheap but entertaining enough.
It’s hard to know if Hassan’s decision to give himself up was derived from a sense of moral responsibility or from guilt. It was probably a mix of the two.
I enjoyed the short emotional beat we got when Hassan walked onto the street and watched the New Yorkers go about their day. “These people owe you their lives, sir. You’re doing the right thing,” Bishop the merc reassured him.
Jack wouldn’t have it when Renee wondered if they should have let Hassan go. Jack always sees the big picture clearer than those around him. He knows Hassan is the key to the crucial peace negotiations, which seem to be the administration’s priority.
As Jack sped away in pursuit of Hassan — after making like a cheesy action movie star and stealing some poor sap’s sports car — Dana continued to do a terrible job of hiding the fact that she’s, like, you know, totally evil.
I gotta hand it to Arlo. He stood his ground while challenging Dana about her work on the trunk line. That scene was pretty ridiculous, but it was fun to watch. It was hard to believe that Dana would decide to just strangle the poor guy and, I suppose, shove him behind another wall panel. That reminds me … I wonder if anyone has noticed the stench of rotting Stephen Root coming from the waiting room.
The back-and-forth between Tarin and Hassan was interesting. From Tarin’s perspective, Hassan is seeking peace and an alliance with the U.S. for selfish reasons. He’s selling out his country. But Hassan claimed his actions were selfless and that he’s only trying to bring peace to his people. I like that Hassan owned up to his mistakes. He’s a terribly flawed man, but I don’t think he’s evil or blinded by a selfish want for power. The line “believing in peace was not a mistake” was pretty great. Sadly, Tarin remained unconvinced and reminded Hassan that his death was imminent.
Also interesting was the way Hassan was able to predict the terrorists’ plans for him after his capture, step by step. The video camera, the mask, the faux trial, everything. He knew exactly what was going to happen. His prediction served another purpose: It reminded us that we’re dealing with some pretty run of the mill terrorists here. No alarms and no surprises with these guys, really.
Somehow, Tarin was able to evade Jack and Cole’s strike force by, er, making a left turn into a parking garage! That made absolutely no sense. And in minutes, Tarin was able to switch Hassan to a different car before driving himself off the parking garage roof. But when exactly did this switch take place? Is The Flash one of the terrorists?
The hour ended with Tarin dead, the president looking shaken, and the getaway car leaving from the one parking garage exit that wasn’t swarming with CTU agents. And finally, Jack found some evidence to expose the leak inside CTU. And we all saw what happened to big bad Dana in the next hour …