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Under the right circumstances, silence can be more powerful than sound. In Hollywood movies, it’s always entertaining to see an explosion or two, but in the grand scheme of things, which is more eerie: the explosion itself or the silence that lingers over the aftermath? 24 has perfected the use of silence to achieve a more powerful effect via the silent clock that sometimes ends each episode. Normally, each episode of 24 ends with the ominous “beep, beep” sound byte, indicating that we’ve reached the end of yet another hour in the life of Jack Bauer (it also indicates when the narrative is about to be interrupted by increasingly irritating and lengthy commercials involving the Old Spice guy who rides backwards on a horse and Walmart “Rollback” sales). However, in a particularly powerful moment, 24 will turn towards an interesting gimmick: the silent clock. Instead of turning to the “beeps,” episodes that end on an emotionally heavy note will end in silence, as if to magnify the tragedy that has occurred. In last week’s two-part episode, 24 turned to the silent clock for the first time this season, providing some of the best twists, action sequences and dialogues between characters that we’ve seen so far in Season 8.
It’s impossible to talk about the two episodes as separate hours; the two rely on each other too much to be considered different episodes, hence the reason I’ll be discussing them as if they were one. Last week’s episode was a breath of fresh air, a confirmation that this season will not be forgotten by the wayside along with Season 6 as pointless, menial, sub-par or any other number of adjectives that have been thrown around by disappointed or impatient fans. It’d be wrong of me to say I haven’t been one of them, because I have been; you could find me front and center of the mob of angry and impatient fans, waving around a sign that reads, “Hey 24 writers and showrunners, get your act together QUICK.” However, I’m feeling a bit ashamed of myself now after the previous two hours.
First of all, the writers seemed to have solved their Dana Walsh problem. How? By taking her almost completely out of the picture. Soon after learning that Dana was a mole working with the terrorists, I grew a bit frustrated. Why in the world would they make her a mole and instead focus all of her character development on this Kevin Wade plot? The way she dealt with Kevin Wade made me see her as a nervous woman who wasn’t able to make the hard decision when it needed to be made, so seeing her strangling Bill Prady was a bit strange. However, I find it best to just forget the previous 14 hours of the show and focus on what the last two hours of the season did to her. They took her, arrested her, threw her in a room with Jack Bauer and used her for information. From here on out, I don’t see too much use for her, unless there’s a deeper conspiracy (Jack seemed to think she was hiding something, and we all know that when Jack has a hunch, you should not ignore it under any circumstances).
I’m getting a bit ahead of myself though. The series of events last week began after Hassan gave himself up to Samir and the other terrorists. While many may see this as a brave and self-less move, I see it as completely destroying the relevance of the previous 14 hours. The show spent so much time making a big deal about these nuclear rods that when the timer gets down to two seconds and Taran disarms it, it’s a huge letdown. One of 24’s most shocking moments was when the nuclear bomb went off in Valencia; imagine the material the writers would have to work with if the rods went off. Instead, the nuclear rods were nothing more than a MacGuffin, something for the protagonists to chase around until the writers figured out what they wanted. (needs to be finished)