The news became official last week: this is the final season of 24. And while I can't say that's a huge surprise, I suppose I'm a little disappointed. I'm not sure the show could've ever become as effective as it was in the first season, or as thrilling as it was in season 5. The increased repetition of certain basic plots, Jack's growing invulnerability, the inability of the writers to come up with sufficiently suspenseful threats--well, there were a lot of problems, and while I'm keeping my fingers crossed that season eight won't end up a total loss, even at best, it's proof of 24's inability to change once the initial novelty became tired. Still, I was hoping when the last season inevitably arrived, the writers would've known in advance. As is, I don't expect we'll see a whole of lot gravitas injected as we move into the latter part of the last day. There's a movie spin-off already in the works, so don't expect anything shocking like Jack getting his head cut off. (At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if he just picked the head up and re-attached it with fishing line and a thumbtack.)
Really, apart from an uptick in the number of melodramatic ads, the cancellation won't have much change on the series. So we're stuck with what we've already got, and while tonight was as silly as ever, at least there was more going on, and there was shooting. Plus, we finally got one of the few 24 staples we hadn't seen yet on Day 8, the dreaded inter-government conspiracy, and that just makes me nostalgic for that time that woman got knocked down those stairs. Remember that? Good times, really.
So the rods have made it into Manhattan, surprise surprise, and Dana manages to undercut CTU's one shot at tracking Samir and Tarin. Dana is, in fact, quite busy now that we've discovered her role as resident mole: she disrupts the surveillance feed, provides Samir with important codes, advises him against using the rods, and, all in all, makes four phone calls to our favorite terrorist. Which makes her actions earlier with the redneck ex-boyfriend even more hilarious. Surely she wouldn't have had the time to call Kevin and Samir, so the fact that she spent so much time talking on the phone with the generic jackass means she must've had to sacrifice some important chatting time with the bad guys. And really, the number of calls she makes her is just silly, like killing Prady last episode flipped her switch to "Evil" and now she's only half-bothering to pretend. (I expect Chloe will catch on shortly.) It's nice to have Dana non-whimpering, evil or not, and she does drop a comment that implies her orders are coming from a higher source than Samir, which is interesting. So I can say unequivocally that, regardless of how little sense it makes, I much prefer Mwa-ha-ha Dana to the Whimper Queen.
As for the conspiracy, Samir uses the rods to try and pressure President Taylor into handing over Hassan. Taylor refuses, which doesn't go over well with her aide, Weiss, and a General Brucker. These two plot to send a team in to grab Hassan out of the Secret Service's hands on the down-low, superseding the President's orders and, theoretically, saving Manhattan from potential nuclear contamination and death. Too bad for them, Taylor already asked Jack Bauer to help bring Hassan and his family to New Jersey. This is, of course, ridiculously contrived. The conspiracy itself happens too smoothly and too immediately to be plausible; there's no indication that Bruckner and Weiss had a prior relationship, and I doubt any high-ranking official would just walk up to another and suggest light treason without being damn sure of the answer he'd get. As for Jack being involved at all, regardless of how many times she mentions the peace treaty, there's no real reason for Taylor to request Jack babysit Hassan, especially since she makes the request before she knows Samir wants the guy. It's basically just a way to make sure Jack is involved with the episode's big action set-piece, the stand off in the tunnels. And even if we're willing to accept the stand-off, the team Brucker sends in behaves like a bunch of loons, killing multiple Secret Service agents despite orders to take Hassan alive.
And the best part was that the one soldier Jack manages to capture alive (after Hassan shows up to save Jack's life) knows about the whole conspiracy. Of course, so does Ethan Kanin, but poor Ethan suffers a heart attack minutes after realizing what's happening, and Brucker has Weiss keep Kanin locked away until the snatch-and-grab goes down. Weiss is not having a good day, truly. Kanin manages to get a call to Jack, and while the call is shut down before Jack gets to talk to the advisor, his hackles are up, which gives him all the edge he needs. The hour ends with Hassan still relatively safe and sound, but fully aware that, unless he turns himself over to Samir, lots of people are going to die.
So, not great, but there was gunplay. Oh, and Renee has officially taken her place as Jack's partner, which raises the odds considerably that she'll get herself killed by the end of the day, since that's how that generally goes. But it's nice to have her back in the action again, at least.
- How would you like the series to end?
- Jack has been around the block a time or two, EMT guy. He knows when his ribs are broken.
- Hastings: "I can no longer guarantee the safety of Manhattan." I wouldn't be surprised if he had this on a plaque over his desk.
- I like how Renee, despite no longer having any official qualifications, is allowed onto the detail protecting Hassan without any questions whatsoever. If she's with Jack, that's good enough.