Tuesday, April 6, 2010

24 “6AM to 8AM” Silent Clock for Hassan

The two hour episode of ”24” (Fox) spanning the 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM hours was validation that this deserves be the show’s final season.

The real enemy and villain of the show is CTU, which can’t seem to counter any terrorism. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has been relegated to running around and delivering terse orders and out-of-breath lines, and frequently missing the obvious. Jack himself causes part of the crisis in this episode when, President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor) easily disables Jack, and, after locking up Jack, Renee, and Hassan’s wife and daughter, Hassan manages to flee in order to trade himself for the terrorists to stop the explosion of the dirty bomb. Jack easily escapes and gets really lucky when someone just happens to park a car and leave in the keys so Jack can simply steal it; the man must have known Jack would have a hard time getting a cab. CTU is its own worst enemy when the car Jack and CTU are tailing that is believed to contain Hassan is given the run of the city while CTU makes no attempt to stop it or block it, worried more about putting agents on the rooftop. Bauer chases the car into the garage rather than securing or blocking the all exit to the garage. It’s so nice to know that they can get agents all over rooftops very quickly but are unable to secure the exits to a simple parking garage.

This lapse lets a car exit the garage without being stopped, and this car happens to contain Hassan in the trunk, where it seems getting Hassan in that trunk was done at the speed of light. This brings me to another laughable moment: the mole of the season, Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) finds an excuse to get into the room that houses the CTU trunk lines and manages to find an “exit” for Faroush (T.J. Ramini) who is holding Hassan captive in the vehicle. The exit wasn’t an actual road out of the city, but apparently a way to get Hassan away from Bauer’s tail by getting him to the parking garage to that waiting car where the switch could be made. It amazes me how quickly the terrorists were able to set up that whole switch while the vehicle drove through the city unimpeded, even by a simple traffic light.

But this convinces Jack that someone – GASP! – from CTU must have been helping the terrorists. As Jack managed to get his hands on Faroush’s cell phone – after Faroush drove his car off the roof of the parking garage to his apparent death – it was easy for Chloe to track down that Faroush had been speaking to someone on a cell phone issued to CTU after the EMP (electro magnetic pulse) disabled the facility, and the phone belonged to Dana. Dana, meanwhile, is busy trying to get out of CTU and the guards don’t let her because she didn’t have clearance to leave from CTU head Brian Hastings (Mykelti Williamson). She finds an excuse to get access to Hastings computer so she can enter the clearance she needs, and I find myself wondering why they didn’t think it odd that this woman was doing all kinds of weird tasks while a crisis was going on. Well, at least co-worker Arlo Glass (John Boyd) seemed to be the only one who was really suspicious. Sure, Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) seemed to have issues with Dana, but as Chloe has issues with everybody, nothing seemed unusual.

When Dana gets to the exit and the orders to detain Dana come through on the screen, the CTU security guard pulls a gun on her and she shoots him. In fact, she shoots at everyone, and no one at CTU seems prepared to handle this security breach. (I was muttering the word “idiots!” as I watched.) What I don’t get is why, earlier this season, Dana seemed so conflicted about killing Wade, when she clearly had no problem killing the bounty hunter guy and stuffing him into an air duct at CTU, and also shooting at that CTU security guy point blank. I sense that the writers were trying to make Dana Walsh more interesting after all the fan complaints about her lame story line when the season started. Sadly, her whole story line remains an epic fail.

Meanwhile, President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) is dealing with this crisis and things get worse when Jack Bauer tells her that she has a traitor working for her too! It turns out to be two traitors: her chief of staff Rob Weiss (Chris Diamantopoulos) and one of her generals has orchestrated Hassan turning himself over to the terrorists, against the orders of President Taylor. Adding insult to injury, she finds that Kanin (Bob Gunton) was being held in his own office by Weiss and the general, and Kanin has suffered a heart attack. After she has them both arrested and bitch slaps Weiss because he won’t help them, things get worse when the Russians tell her that the peace treaty is off if Hassan dies. Lucky for Jack, Dana, now in the special whie holding room at CTU, wants to talk only to him because she wants immunity in exchange for helping them. Oh yeah, she also says that it’s "Because you're the only one that doesn't have his head up his ass!" (I beg to differ on that point.) It seems that the president must have access to a “one size fits all” immunity form because one is prepared at the blink of an eye. (I suspect the form goes something like this: "I, President (fill in the blank), grant immunity to (fill in the blank) for whatever the hell they did.")

Dana's information is only of some help. They get to the building where she told them that Hassan was being held, and, using special listening equipment to hear which room Hassan would be in, they find the specific room. In a scenario I saw coming a mile away, the voice they heard of Samir doing his rant on the internet is only a recording, and Hassan is already dead, his throat slit. This earns the episode the rare “silent clock” when the time ticks off to close the hour.

A bit in the sidelines in this episode are two of the scariest looking people this season, Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) and Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr.). Renee is looking gaunter and all eyeballs as the season goes on. Cole has as face that looks too smooth and featureless and virtually blank, even when he is trying to act in his most dramatic scene when he finds out his fiancée is a traitor AND he helped her when Wade and his buddy were killed.

While the killing of Hassan was certainly dramatic, it didn’t come close to making up for the cheesy and clichéd plot and for the incompetence at CTU. Moles, traitors, CTU security lapses, presidential immunity, etc. – it’s all been done before. The only person who continues to perform exceptionally well each week is Cherry Jones as President Taylor and she is the only character that is believable any more. Sadly, it’s not enough to save the show.

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1 comment:

David said...

Awesome recap, especially the immunity form.