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24: "1:00am - 2:00am"

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24

"1:00am - 2:00am"

Season 7, Episode 18
We should've seen this coming. We really should've. And in our defense, there were a few episodes near the beginning where some of us did. Some of us suspected that maybe the game wasn't quite going to play out like appearances dictated. But we forget. We all did. It's easy to, when there are that many bad guys running around, when you've got Tony Todd storming the White House and Jon Voight just, well, storming, it's easy to overlook that one small piece of the puzzle--because why not, really? He did his part for his country. We wanted to believe he was a good guy again. We wanted to believe that it was all lie a lie, right from the start.

But here's the thing--the facial hair never lies. By the end of "1:00am - 2:00am," Tony Almeida has gone rogue, and this time, there's no way to pretend otherwise.

One of my big questions from last week was whether or not the President was actually going to fold to Hodges' threat; was she going to keep silent on her motivation for cancelling the air strike? Turns out she was, and the only justification I can find is that she's far, far too easily led. The Joint Chiefs are rumbling, the FBI is baffled, and the President just sits pouting in the Oval Office, waiting for Hodges to show up. Thankfully, she's still got people like Jack and Renee out there covering her ass, so that when Tony sees a fueling truck with a speical kind of propellant used only in rockets, it's a quick step to deducing that Taylor is being blackmailed. They give her a call, she issues one of her non-authorization authorizations, and Tony is off and running, setting charges and narrowly managing to destroy the bioweapon-loaded missiles before launch.

Given the revelation at the end of the hour, that leaves us with a new question: why is Tony helping to take down Starkwood? At this point in the standard 24 Day, we've got a main bad guy, or at least one main plot that all the others revolve around. Here, that plot would appear to be Hodges, Starkwood, and their nasty pathogen, but Tony's involvement changes things. I think it's reasonably safe to say at this point that he's not working for Starkwood, which means we've got a opposing interest here, and that's very, very cool. Instead of, say, Charles Logan as the master manipulator behind nearly everything, we've got the semi-crazy Hodges locked up in the White House with god only knows what kind of resources at his disposal, as well as Tony moving on the ground with his own agenda. It creates a certain depth to the threat, and makes it all the more difficult to predict where things are going next.

In a way, the Tony twist wasn't a huge surprise; I hadn't expected it, but the moment that Larry and Tony were left alone against the single Starkwood operative who'd managed to escape the compound, I started wondering. I think that's actually a point in the show's favor; it traded utter astonishment for a wow moment that actually came organically out of everything that preceded it. It makes sense; I can believe that Tony was working with Bill and Chloe, that he really was trying to save American lives, and that, to him, what he's doing now doesn't contradict that. Even him killing Larry has a certain twisted logic to it--he no longer had a choice, and he takes care of the job himself.

A moment of silence, then, for Larry Moss, who was a stand up guy, and totally might have had a chance to mack on Renee, if somebody hadn't murdered him.

Tony's "killing of the Younglings" moment aside, the most memorable part of tonight's episode would have to be Jack's continuing breakdown and the entrance of Elisha Cuthbert, aka Kim Bauer, aka That Character The Writers Haven't Known What To Do With Since Day One. Sutherland tends to do really well the worse off things get for poor Jack, and there's some really effective stuff here; he loses his memory while talking to the President, and then nearly breaks down when Renee tells him that Kim is in the building. As for the Kim scene itself, Cuthbert is generic as ever, but she isn't embarrassingl, and Sutherland is as desperate and alone as we've ever seen him. 24 isn't a big one for thematic depth, but one thing that has been consistent since the first season is that, awesome though he is, no one in their right mind wants to be Jack Bauer. It serves a sort of antidote to the general silliness of the storylines; as outrageous as things get, at the heart of everything is still the one poor bastard who can save the day, and lose all he has as a result.

That doesn't look to change any time soon. Oh sure, Kim and the hot doctor will figure out a way to save Jack's life. Renee's life is technically still on the line--but with Larry's death, I think the odds of another FBI agent getting offed are pretty low. But Tony... Tony's gonna have to die. And Jack's going to be the one to kill him. And that's not gonna be much fun for either them. Fingers crossed that the time we spend building to that moment is just as solid as tonight was.

Grade: A

Stray Observations:

  • Got distracted by Tony and Kim, but how awesome was Hodges' meeting with Taylor? The dude brought bound documents to go over!
  • There isn't much sadder than a dying man hugging his daughter and promising her, "Everything's going to be all right."

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