24: Live Another Day "6:00 PM-7:00 PM" Review: As Night Falls

By Cory Barker

Jun 17, 2014

24: Live Another Day S09E08: "6:00 PM-7:00 PM"


Nine seasons in, we've seen every trick in 24's book. There's a lot about the show's formula that feels tired in 2014, even after taking a few years off, and I've certainly spent some time during my reviews of Live Another Day voicing my frustration with the sloppy plot devices or cold use of violence. But an episode like this one was a really great reminder of how 24's management of its real-time premise and concurrent storytelling can build tension to expected, yet still surprising outcomes. "6:00 PM-7:00 PM" might not have been the absolute best episode of Live Another Day to this point, but it definitely made the best use of the show's internal structure as President Heller's showdown with Margot Al-Harazi reached its, well, explosive, conclusion. 

Last week, with most of my attention lasered in on Live Another Day's use of drone attacks, I didn't devote much ink to President Heller's decision to surrender himself to Margot in hopes of putting an end to her reign of terror. At the time, the idea that Heller would just give up rang a little hollow to me, because it was so naive and misguided in the way that all bad 24 politicians or leaders have been over the years. Why, I thought to myself, would Margot actually believe Heller or actually stop her attacks once Heller was dead? It all played a little silly, despite William Devane's typical combination of gravitas and pathos. 

And while the whole thing is still silly, "6:00 PM-7:00 PM" successfully convinced me that Heller's ruling mattered in the larger context of the narrative and even more surprisingly, created a weirdly compelling moral dilemma for Margot that I never saw coming. Heller immediately presented his "plan" to Jack—resign from office, sacrifice himself to Margot as a personal choice and not an act of state, and pray for the best—and from there, the episode not only ran through the logistical nightmares of sneaking the sitting president out of his secure location so he could go get drone'd, but also the emotional consequences that ensued. Of course, Jack pretty quickly got on his high horse about the morality of letting Margot "win," as it were, what it would do to the country, to Audrey, etc., but Heller had an answer at every turn. His primary response? There are no other options, and Jack would consider the same action. Truth bombs!


One of the negative byproducts of 24's bumpy final few seasons and subsequent cancellation-turned-hiatus was that the Jack and Heller's relationship more or less disappeared from the picture, but this episode hustled to resurrect some of that stuff, primarily through a couple of nice performances from Devane and Kiefer. There was a good number of close-ups on both men's faces as the episode tried to highlight both the sadness and the acknowledgement that this had to be done, and of course Devane got that really great moment where he roared at Jack about what this surrender could prevent—primarily the deaths of thousands of more people in possible future drone attacks. 24 loves locking a couple of actors in a small room while they argue about WHAT'S RIGHT, but it only works when the actors are up to it; in this case, they were.

Meanwhile, Live Another Day finally found something for Kim Raver to do, and she made her scenes with both Devane and Tate Donovan's Mark some of the best stuff we've seen all season. The final Heller family conversation, about a beach trip so many years ago, was warm without being cheesy, and Audrey's outburst to Mark once she discovered the truth about her father's whereabouts and course of action traveled the right tonal trajectory from outrage to sadness to recognition. After having to stand around and do next to nothing for seven hours, it was nice to see Raver get to unload a bit—and rightfully so, given the context. (Donovan's performance was also good, as the actor continued to make sure that Mark looked mostly like a conflicted-but-well-meaning sorta-jerk, rather than an out-and-out villain.) Together, all of those scenes in the embassy took some weight off President Heller's choice by giving him time with the people who are closest to him (Jack, Audrey, and Mark). The decision itself was, of course, nuts. But when 24 is good like it was in this episode, the show convinces you that nutty decisions make sense, for the story and for the characters.


This episode also soared to real heights because of its ability to draw out President Heller's showdown with Margot (well, with Margot's drone) just long enough for Kate and Chloe to try to find another way to take Margot down. Again, we've seen 24 create these either/or scenarios a number of times over the years, and the less said about Jack imploring Kate to "WAKE UP THE BITCH" in reference to Simone, the better. Nevertheless, those pretty standardized scenes of Jack calling Chloe looking for information because THEY'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME work a lot better when the "situation" they're running out of time on is the eventual death of a long-running and important character. Thus, Jack's check-ins with Chloe and Kate were nice reminders of the gravity of the situation, further underscoring that Heller's insane concession was, truly, the last resort. This was a strong example of what the proverbial ticking-clock-style storytelling can do for 24; the stakes were already high, but the extra juice of Jack scrambling to find Heller a way out while Heller shrugged it all off, knowing what he had to do, made for good TV.

And then by the end of the hour, this episode hit another, almost weird, gear when Margot appeared legitimately shaken by Heller's willingness to cooperate. It was almost as if Margot had seen the first eight seasons of 24 and just assumed that the president's agreeable disposition was all another ploy to take her down—so when it wasn't, she was faced with exactly what she wanted all along, only it seemed to scare her. There were a few things going on in that sequence, I think. For one, Margot had spent so much time crusading against Heller and what he stood for that actually "winning," if you will, was probably overwhelming. 


But there was also that moment where it seemed like Margot was rattled by having to execute Heller, straight-up, with the drone. I'd like to believe that the moment was a bit of commentary on how impersonal and awful drones are, even though Margot ultimately made decided to blow Heller into the ground right in the center of Wembley Stadium. Nevertheless, Michelle Fairley and the writers did a nice job of pointing out that Margot might in fact want people to see that she's an honest, fair terrorist, if such a thing exists. Whether or not the show keeps that up in the final third of the season—Jack had to go after someone, after all—but it was a fine moment that tracked well with the odd respect between Heller and Margot.

Instead of relying on shock value to take out President Heller, "6:00 PM-7:00 PM" methodically built to his death, and Live Another Day is better for it. This was one of those hours that does good things with the show's structure without taking too much advantage of it, and it certainly sets the show up for what should be an interesting final four hours.



COMM & CLASSIFIED FILES

– Jack didn't kill anyone or say our favorite word this week, so our DAMMIT TRACKER and KILL TRACKER have stalled out once again. He did knock that one Secret Service agent out and drag him to the bathroom in approximately 2.3 seconds, though. 

– Elsewhere on the show, Navarro's attempts to kill Jordan continued to go poorly. Jordan survived long enough to figure out that Navarro was the one who ordered his death, but the second skirmish between Jordan and the hitman left Jordan mortally wounded. I'm not sure if he's dead yet, but I'm also not sure it matters. Worst of all for Navarro, Kate started sniffing around Jordan's weird absence in the office. That's going to go very, very poorly for Navarro. 

– No silent clock for Heller, which some people might be upset about. It's certainly not a signal that he survived, right? With Heller presumably dead and Jordan and Simone both pretty close to the other side themselves, the ranks are starting to thin. 

– Fox promoted this episode as the 200th in 24's history, but that doesn't include Redemption. For whatever reason, the network seems really embarrassed by that one-off film, but not Seasons 6 and 8 of the show. That's odd. 


What'd you think of this episode? Will you miss President Heller?


  • Comments (96)
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  • michaelsft Jun 21, 2014

    There is approx. 5 seconds of footage looped continuously while Jack gets Heller out of there, presumably Chloe did this though there are still unanswered questions… I made a few images to explain this after I watched it because I thought I saw something odd about the way Heller was moving throughout the whole scene.

    http://oi57.tinypic.com/2rzt05u.jpg
    http://oi61.tinypic.com/15gwhvn.jpg
    http://oi61.tinypic.com/29n9izk.jpg
    http://oi61.tinypic.com/2e52hoh.jpg

    As it’s in real time, I don’t think we’ll ever get to ‘see’ what happened exactly but any explanation along with these images should clear things up… apart from (possibly) where the looped footage actually came from.

    At first I thought the episode was better for Heller dying but having looks very closely at it, it’s quite clever and I’m less angry about the misdirection than I was at first when I started reading about how Heller wasn’t dead. Let’s see how they explain it next week but looped footage is clearly at the heart of it.

    Michael

  • sleepy-sonic Jun 20, 2014

    Wow, this is what I call an overkill.

  • 24treehills Jun 20, 2014

    Heller isn't dead , already shown in the preview for the next episode

  • current Jun 19, 2014

    Was I the only one who thought fuck me that missile strike was weirdly jumpy and done hella fast? And that they hired someone from the SiFy channel for SFX - I doubt any Wembley fans spilled their beverages during it! It reminded me of the old Flash Gordon B&W;'s where next week's episode reveals something didn't actually happen! Stella work.

  • hiltunen24 Jun 19, 2014

    I heard at least one "DAMNIT"...

  • Ridnarhtim Jun 18, 2014

    This season has really been a surprise so far. Most reboots of anything are usually dreadful and make you wish the object in question had just been left to lie in peace, but this really feels like the final season 24 deserves.

  • collabo Jun 18, 2014

    ya great episode one of the best, yet it was the 200th episode of 24 what a way to lock it up.......f**k the ratings .....give me bauer for season 10 already

  • AlexFrey1 Jun 18, 2014

    This review is rather cynical, if they show wouldn't deliver on it's promises it would be absurd. The only thing I dislike about the season is that it is almost over because the 24 episode model took it's time for twists and turns and failures and "oh so close" moments, which was the essence of the show. Now that it has become more linear the thrill is lost in the rush.
    Anyways some advice for the cynical reviewer. Without 24 this website would probably not exist, without 24 TV Programming would not be at this level today, so show some respect because even when you have seen it before you have seen it the first time in a 24 Episode

  • keithadams35 Jun 18, 2014

    I'm liking all the story threads they seem to be setting up (hopefully for future shows). You have the Russians (where I think the next season will go),
    The wiki guy - who is selling the secrets to china,
    Kate hunting down the mole that ruined her and her husbands lives,
    Jack maybe going home,
    Chloe maybe finding out that her kid and husband were targeted- but not from who she thought
    Also enjoying the Mark/Jack story. First we saw him trying to get rid of Jack, then finding a little respect for him via Heller and this week not naming Jack, to Audrey as the person taking Heller to his death -- Knowing it would have been an easy way to make her hate Jack as well. I see the respect growing between them with Jack one day finding out his new good friend Mark was the one that ratted him out to the Russians

  • Klaussays Jun 18, 2014

    ''Weirldy compelling moral dilemma'' for Margot. Im certainly intrigued to see how this plays out.
    President dies from direct missile drone strike....only on 24

  • CoryBarker1 Jun 19, 2014

    IN A GLOBAL LANDMARK

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