24: "10:00pm - 11:00pm"
B-

24: "10:00pm - 11:00pm"

Well, that wasn't the amazing step up I was hoping for, but some dudes got stabbed, which is definitely a step in the right direction. Various screws are tightening, various plots are upping the stakes, and while many of those plots remain insufferable, at least they're becoming slightly less boring. I still hope this season of 24 will take a turn for the better soon, but if that doesn't happen, at least I can find some small things to cling to. Kevin's moron friend bringing a water-gun to their heist, and then beating down a cop with a baseball bat. Hassad following step by step in the evil leaders handbook. Jack pulling a knife out of his stomach and throwing it into this dude's throat.

Okay, that last bit was legitimately awesome. My one complaint about Jack's storyline this year is that the Renee situation, which started so well, is going in the wrong direction. On a show that can't really abide by women unless they're victims or harpies (Chloe dodges this, which is what makes her so cool; I can understand finding her insufferable, but she's one of the few characters on the series who is actually odd enough to be a real person), Renee seemed like a change of pace. She was smart, she was professional, and she kicked butt, and while she was initially reluctant to follow Jack's lead in the torture and yelling business, she eventually came around to his way of thinking. Whatever you think about Jack's methods, it was interesting to finally have a strong female lead who could keep up with him. She could be a protege, and hell, sure, a potential love interest down the line, and while she was never going to be an equal, she could fill the void left in Tony's absence. 

Cut to now, when Renee wigs out during an undercover operation, stabs the guy she's supposed to be conning in the face, and then goes all lost-little-girl in the aftermath. Sure, Renee and Vlad had a history. The sexual assault back-story was unfortunate, but there were ways to work around it. (As others have noted, what we saw of Renee on Day 7 came after her undercover work, and she seemed pretty much in control of herself back then.) Jack has had to deal with emotional turmoil while doing his job, and he gets through every day. Hell, even Renee snapping and killing Vlad wasn't that far off the trail. Say he attacks her, she fights back, and she murders the hell out of him. Then she accidentally stabs Jack in the stomach when he comes in to rescue her, and he has to take care of the rest of the Russian thugs.

That Jack has to take care of business, well, that's just Jack being Jack. (Having him pull the knife out of his stomach is one of the reasons I keep watching 24.) What really hurt her character is her complete freak-out once Vlad was dead. She became just another obstacle that Jack had to deal with on his path to saving the day, talking in this weird little girl voice and complaining about how miserable her life is. Renee has gone from dangerous but competent live-wire to victim in about twenty minutes. Hopefully she'll have a chance to redeem herself soon, because right now, she's just a waste.

Not that she's alone! If not for the action sequence and Jack's sudden disappearance in the hands of Petrovich's thugs, this would've been a wash. At least some plots are moving together, with Jack on the way to the rods (sort of), but the rest of this mess... Dana's idiot ex and his friend messed up the perfect crime, and now her aiding and abetting the theft of police property wound up getting a cop beat down. Hassad is quickly transitioning from sympathetic foreigner to paranoid bastard. Petrovich explains to his still-living son that this whole thing is about establishing a legacy for his children, which would've meant a lot more if he'd said it before he shot his other son to death. Hastings is still a dick, and Arlo and Chloe are suspicious about Dana's off-book activities. 

Really, that's a whole lot of empty. Whatever my complaints against Renee, at least her and Jack's scenes meant something. I'm not worried about any of the rest of these people, and if I wasn't recapping, I'd be fast-forwarding through this junk. Would somebody please cut off somebody's thumb?

Stray Observations:

  • Closest thing to an intentional laugh tonight, while looking at a picture of Jack and a hostage, "Jack seems to be in control."
  • It's really odd if you stop paying attention to characters and start paying attention to how much dialog is flat, colorless exposition. The scripts for this show must read like stereo instructions.

More TV Club