24 Review: What is at Stake?
The following review takes place between 7:00 a.m. and 7:26 a.m. Words are written in real time...
Rule number-one of any TV show: don't make a murderous traitor to her country into a sympathetic figure. For reasons that defy comprehension, 24 actually did this with Dana Walsh last night. As if the series hasn't handled her character horribly enough this season, viewers were stuck watching her beg for her life and cry for intervention from Chloe.
What, exactly, were we supposed to be feeling during these moments? The episode wasn't trying to start a debate about whether or not torture is wrong; in its view, it's already established that it believes there are times when physical coercion is a necessity (see Bauer, Jack. Every season.).
Instead, the hour made it clear that this example of torture was flat out immoral. That's why Ethan resigned, right? That's why Jack is on the lam and the President is being depicted as off her rocker.
But this was Dana Walsh! She killed CTU agents in cold blood. She allowed terrorist attacks to be planned against Americans. Heck, she lied to super agent Cole Ortiz (who Jack seems to trust and know really well, considering they first met about 19 hours ago)! It made no sense for the show to depict her in any sympathetic light whatsoever.
Then again, most of this hour made no sense. Even for a season that's stretched the limits of believability and repeated numerous situations we've seen on 24 in the past, this episode felt like nothing but contrived suspense.
It was as though the writers felt obligated to put Jack on the lam and force him to be hunted down by CTU because... well, that's just what happens on 24 each season.
Jack's entire mission feels flawed and misguided. This is an individual that is all about the big picture. All he cares about is America's safety. Is the President really so off track in wanting the peace accord to go down at any cost?
All Taylor is doing is torturing an evil individual in order to preserve the safety of American lives. Heck, she probably learned that from watching previous seasons of 24. Why would Jack suddenly take issue with this stance?
The country now knows about the Russians and their plans. We'll clearly keep a close eye on them in the future. And who's to say the peace treaty couldn't be signed and then America exposes what it discovered about the Russians? When did this become a zero sum, either/or game? When did Russia get so much power that its decisions controlled a treaty being signed by dozens of world leaders?
It's one thing for snippets of an episode, or smaller storylines, to feel forced. But this is now season nine's end game. This is the reason why it's Jack and Cole against everyone else - yet it doesn't add up. The sense of urgency 24 wants us to feel over Jack's goal simply isn't there.
I personally don't care if Russia is exposed or not. Do you? What is actually at stake here?
On a closing note, it would help President Taylor be a stronger character if she didn't change her mind based on who she was talking to every 30 seconds or so. Good point, Logan! I understand, Ethan! Oooh, you got me there, Logan! Hopefully, she'll actually stand for what she's decided now - but it wouldn't shock me if the janitor offered up his two cents next week and Taylor went in another direction again.
For a show that's focused on nuclear weapons and worldwide destruction over the last few seasons, it will be a grave disappointment if this is how it bows out. Jack isn't even trying to save anyone's life; he's just trying to expose a secret... that also won't save anyone's life!
Raise the stakes as you come to a conclusion, 24. Please. Also, go back and erase the character of Dana Walsh forever. Thank you.