Tonight we got a 24 double feature, and it did the show no favors. Season eight is floundering, a mess of re-hashed plot twists jumbled together without any consistency or sense, and getting two episodes back to back in "6:00am - 8:00am" just reinforced this clarity to the point where I think I finally have to give up. This day, the last for Jack Bauer's television career, is not going to pull its head out of its ass before the end. There's nothing left to save at this point. So I'll cling to the action sequences, the few funny lines from Chloe, and the small handful of characters I can still stand, and I'll wait till the whimpering stops. It's a shame, really. Whatever my problems with it, the show deserved to go out strong.
Lots of things happened tonight, but precious few mattered. The authorities finally get their hands on the dirty bomb that's been serving as Day 8's boogey-man for so long. Hassan, on learning that his sacrifice could save lives, manages to cold-cock Jack and "escape" with the sole surviving member of General Brucker's assault team. While Jack shakes off the shame of being taken out by a story contrivance, Hassan finds his way to Tarin, with the intent of giving himself up to the bad guys in exchange for the release of the dirty bomb. Jack and Renee chase after, Dana does her bad-girl duty and keeps CTU a few steps behind, and Hassan is delivered to Samir, for the low, low price of one dead Tarin (who drove off a parking garage), and one no-longer-endangering-Manhattan nuclear device.
We've talked before of this season's irritating lack of a convincing threat. The radioactive rods were never immediate enough to generate the sort of suspense 24 requires to justify its "real-time" format. Intellectually, yes, it was easy to grasp that a large fallout in a heavily populated area would not be a good thing. But the danger had no weight to it, no real meaning. Too much time was spent with people running around shouting at each other simply because that's what always happens on 24, and not for any reason related to the actual scripting. I stayed optimistic for as long as possible because, given the fact that the show normally doesn't reveal its intentions till the midpoint of the season, there was always a chance this was some kind of clever ruse designed to throw Bauer and CTU off the trail of the real threat.
Consider my hopes crushed. Hassan's sacrifice gets the bomb back safe and sound, and while Hassan was moderately likable enough that I didn't want to see him die, the hunt to save him wasn't the kind of rising action the show needed at this point in the game. President Taylor spent scene after scene stressing how important the peace process is, but it's still a MacGuffin, and one that doesn't create any tension whatsoever. Honestly, did anyone care if that treaty was signed, or ratified, or whatever? This is the sort of plot-line that should've been background noise by now, or else forgotten entirely. There was no sense of desperation, no concern that each passing minute put more lives at risk. It was almost as if someone forgot there are eight more episodes to go.
A few things are worth praising. I dug watching Dana go full psycho. Sure, it's ridiculous that after ten plus hours of kowtowing and pleading her way through CTU, she suddenly glowers the second she turns away from her co-workers, almost as if the act earlier in the season was as much to fool us as it was them. (Well, of course it was, but I'd prefer they'd at least pretend she was still trying to maintain her cover.) I don't really mind, though, especially not now, because I find her so much more entertaining as Nina Meyers, Mark 2. I would've been happy as hell if she'd strangled Arlo, and her gunfight escape attempt was the best action sequence of the two episodes. Plus, she's right, everybody at CTU does have their heads up their asses. Or worse. Notice how fast Cole turned on her? Obviously he's been under some stress, and I'm sure finding out he shot a dude to protect a woman who may very likely cost him his job wasn't a happy moment. But he goes from "Huh" to "YOU LYING BITCH I'LL CHOKE YOU!!!" in maybe three seconds. Bad writing, or a nutjob on the make?
I was surprised by Hassan's death, and not in a "Oh come on" kind of way. I'll let you guys work out the logistics--was it possible for Samir to tape everything before Jack's team arrived?--but as it is, the moment was a moderately powerful one. Hassan at least had a character, even if that character was largely generated by the writers trying to keep us guessing for as long as possible. His attempts to sway Tarin and Samir to his side were pointless, but it did make his gruesome murder more than just a visceral shock. The peace treaty is still empty bullshit, as far as I'm concerned, no matter how many times President Taylor whinges over it, but I'm sorry to see Hassan go. The finale shots, with Jack knelt in front of the body while Samir's recorded message plays in the background, were effective (especially considering how rarely the show plays around with time), and we even got a silent clock at the end.
The question now is, what next? Samir is still on the run, but with the major crisis over, I can't get too invested in tracking him and his men down. Taylor has her treaty, of course, and the Russian guy introduced tonight will probably end up more important next week, but if that's all the rest of Day 8 has going for it... Man. With Dana in custody, Hassan dead, and the bomb out of play, there really isn't much reason to care anymore. I'll be back, but I'm not looking forward to it.
- It's classy how we got two "bitch"es in the space of about ten minutes tonight. Yes, Dana was hateful and evil, but that's all the more reason for creativity!
- Hastings claims Dana's cover-up of her past was "Not an easy task." Riiiiight.
- We've got "immunity" in the drinking game, right? Of course we do. I'd also like to put "Without Hassan, there is no peace treaty" on the table, at least for this season.
- Oh, and Ethan survived. I know you were concerned.