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It’s comforting to know that some things will never change. For instance, the Yankees will always be the bane of every New Englanders existence, “Law & Order” and “The Simpsons” will somehow always escape cancellation despite being on air for a billion years with sub-par ratings and boxers will always, always be better then briefs. For “24” fans who are lamenting the loss of one of their favorite shows, last night’s episode of “24” should have been a breath of fresh air, because everybody knows that Jack Bauer will always, at least once a season, ignore the orders of his superiors, go off the grid and take matters into his own hands. Last night saw the events of the last few episodes culminating in Jack completely ignoring the President’s orders to stand down and attempting to unearth the Russians for who they really are: the murderers of Omar Hassan.
“24” has hit its typical late season stride, and it couldn’t have come soon enough. The middle of this season was dragged along, lifeless and boring. About fifteen episodes into the season, the season showed signs of life; a steady pulse that was weak yet promising. With Omar Hassan’s public assassination, the show finally stepped away from the edge of the abyss it was dangerously close to falling into. It regained its purpose, and while the events leading up to it were slightly frustrating (honestly, why in the world would you spend more then half of a season threatening the United States with nuclear rods only to forget about it completely), it gave Jack a reason to fight back against anybody who didn’t agree with him and take matters into his own hands. We got to see Jack doing some of his most clever work, slipping and sliding out of CTU’s grasp and tricking his superiors in order to expose the Russians as the people ultimately responsible for Hassan’s assassination.
The show has also introduced its latest White House drama, this time in the shape of Charles Logan, perhaps the most insane, conniving villain the show has ever seen. He was especially villainous last night as he pushed President Taylor closer and closer towards becoming the female version of himself. Looking back on my favorite Presidents the show has had, David Palmer has always remained at the top because he always did the tough thing when he had to, but he knew there was a line that you just don’t cross. After he nearly crossed that line with Sherry’s death, he ended up dropping out of the campaign trail. He knew he had done something wrong. However, while I originally saw President Taylor has an honorable character, one who would put the Constitution ahead of even her family, Charles Logan is bringing out her worst qualities, using her dishonesty and deceit as a stepping stone to redeeming himself for his past mistakes. Ethan had it right when he told President Taylor that her family issues are clouding her judgment; she was once a great character who was loyal to her country, but Logan is blinding her. It’s irritating, but in a good way, one that makes you glad “24” can still produce characters who make your blood boil in frustration.
The supporting cast of “24” was strong as well, even if I’ve been somewhat critical of their merits throughout the season. I’ve always found Katie Sackhoff’s character, Dana Walsh, to be one of the most pointless characters the show has ever had, but since she’s been revealed as the mole, her role on the show has become slightly more enticing. I’m not ready to throw my arms into the air and declare her the best character on the show quite yet, but things are a little more interesting with her in the bad guy seat. The fact that the President recently sold her out to a private security firm known for torturing people for information will make her a character worth paying attention to, at least for the time being. I was glad to see more Cole Ortiz in the mix; his character has been extremely inconsistent. One moment, he’s given something to do, and the next, he gets to see two words and he’s out of the picture for an hour or two. At least now, him and Jack will get to team up to bring down the Russians. The one thing I was disappointed in was the lack of Michael Madsen. Madsen is a grade-A badass; sticking him in the background for a couple of minor scenes is a waste of his character. I’m crossing my fingers for him to come back, because I feel like he could be a great addition in Jack’s vendetta against the Russians.
Last night’s episode also had some great character moments. I complained earlier this season about the lack of President Taylor and how the focus on Dana Walsh was taking precious time away from key characters. However, with Dana Walsh being water-boarded in some dismal basement in the middle of New York City, this gives a chance for Cherry Jones to flex her acting chops once again. There’s a reason why she won the Best Supporting Actress Emmy last year: she’s superb in the role and really becomes the President. It helps to have Gregory Itzin as Charles Logan around, because the drama he’s bringing to the table is leading to some great scenes for each actor. It was also nice to watch Jack and Cole interacting with each other. It was nice to see Jack confiding in somebody and actually having them trust him, something that is tough to come by in the “24” universe nowadays.
“24” is down to five episodes before it’s off the air for good. After that, we’ll be getting movies with some of the same characters, but deep down in my gut, I know it won’t be the same. “24” was always exciting because of it’s proclivity towards cliffhangers and leaving the audience gasping for more. A movie would be exciting, but it wouldn’t feel the same. Cramming twenty-four hours into a two hour movie would allow us to enjoy the presence of some of our favorite characters, but it would take away from the experience of watching the show. For now, I’ll sit in front of my television, content with the way Season 8 is turning out. It’s comforting to know that there’s still some things we can rely on to never change. The DMV will always be the most irritating place to visit, “Lost” will always confuse its audience, and Jack Bauer will always go rogue kick some major terrorist butt.