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Last week was a breath of fresh air for 24 after losing its way for a little while. We were given plenty of typical 24 moments: action, twists, cliffhangers, political drama and great acting. This week’s episode picks up almost exactly where last week left off. Wait, on second thought, isn’t that every episode of 24? Jack is preparing to bring Marco’s mother into the mix in order to convince Marco to back down, Hassan is still paranoid as hell, although he has calmed down a bit, Dana and Cole are still bickering and the terrorists are in the same place that they’ve been for what feels like hours and hours.
This week certainly had a lot of build-up, but it was all worth it in the end. The final fifteen minutes of the show were as great as any other episode, and watching Jack frantically attempt to save Marco’s life was another great moment for his character, especially the events leading up to that moment. I feel as if Kiefer Sutherland hasn’t been given a lot to work with so far, and the new characters have been given way too many scenes in comparison to the main star of the show. I do realize this proves 24 is able to keep things interesting even without Jack at the forefront of the show, but keeping him out of it as long as they do sometimes is unforgivable. However, we got to see the Jack Bauer we’ve all come to love back to his old ways. One moment, he can be understanding and eerily convincing, and the very next moment, he can snarl and bark out orders and become cruel in order to get what he wants. When he told Marco that he would kill his mother and make her clean up his body parts and blood off of the walls, I absolutely believed that he would do this. Jack has earned the right to be believed eight seasons into the show, and we’ve seen him to do some pretty unbelievable things, as far as physical torture goes. But he is just at good as emotional and mental torture, and watching him use this on Marco was uncomfortable, yet incredibly intense.
I’m really starting to come around to the character of Hastings. He’s obviously a strict guy, but he’s nowhere near as bad as Erin Driscoll or Ryan Chappelle. Driscoll and Chappelle seemed to be extremely bureaucratic simply for the sake of being bureaucratic. Some of the decisions they made were unrealistic and seemed designed simply to act as a roadblock to Jack Bauer. However, Hastings is different; he’s a tough guy, but he’s already proven that he can do the right thing when the situation calls for it. Also, I’m glad that the writers decided to give Chloe a few more lines than they have lately. And when I say a few, I really mean a few. It feels as if she’s just a glorified extra, which is too bad, since she’s been around for quite awhile now. 24 has spent so much time breathing life into these new characters they they’re forgetting to focus on the old stars. I already mentioned before how disappointed I’ve been with the lack of focus on Jack, and how he’s playing second fiddle to the other characters. He does have his typical action scenes, and has moments shared with other characters, but besides a few rare moments earlier in the season, it’s been rare that we get to see him open up emotionally. As for Chloe, there’s just nothing interesting for her to do. I actually think if she was taken out of this season, nothing would be much different. Chloe used to be a sarcastic character, filled with wit and unique ideas about serious situations, but it feels as if now, she exists simply to boss people around or let people know when they’re doing something wrong. And on a very rare occasion, help Jack when nobody else will. It’s just a shame her character has been given so little to do.
It’s nice to see Hassan getting more scenes too, and his acting so far has been pretty good. I was excited upon learning that they got Anil Kapoor to play the role of President Hassan, but as the writers of 24 tend to do, they leave him and the other interesting characters out of key scenes and sometimes leave them out of entire episodes. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any of President Tayor once again this week, but the scenes between Hassan and his family made up for it. He’s obviously a flawed character and has made mistakes in the past, but it should be interesting to see if Hassan can manage his paranoia and worries and get his adminstration back on track.
The only problems I have with the show right now is the writing. The writing so far has been more stale than normal, and while the premise for this season has been interesting, the pacing has been not-so-interesting. The show transitions from slow to fast almost as much as they did in Season 6, and there are some scenes that feel as if they could be taken out (just about every Cole and Dana scene can be taken out actually). However, seeing Stephen Root as Ben Prady this episode should make the Dana and Cole scenes slightly more interesting. Every moment spent focusing on their marital troubles and trust issues is another moment taken away from focusing on more important things.
However, the second half of this episode was superb, and next week’s episode looks as if it will be incredible. The trailers of 24 usually consist of the usual montage of explosions, talking scenes and hints at awful things to come, but this week, they used a unique technique: they gave us key times of the episode, whether it was 3:12, 3:34 or 3:52, and told us that certain things would be happening at these moments that would change the entire season. While some may see this as a major spoiler, I find it to be intriguing. At least we know we can expect some major changes to the 24 world, something that is necessary to keep this season relevent and not being buried in the same grave that Season 6 was.