You might be wondering why I chose to begin this review with a photo of a dude who was blown to pieces by a direct drone strike last week, but I thought it was fitting to say goodbye to President Heller one last time. "7:00 PM-8:00 PM" rightfully began with most everyone watching the news report about the Wembley Stadium attack in hushed voices while Margot and Ian ditched their drones just as they told Heller they would. It was a nice send-off for one of the better characters in the 24 universe, and a lovely follow-up to last week's mostly moving hour.
OH WAIT, JK this episode also revealed that President Heller was in fact alive thanks to Chloe's unbelievably quick hacking and film looping skills. Shout out to those of you in the comments of last week's review who projected this possibility; we have some nice parting gifts for you at the door. At a certain point, what can you say? I could spend a lot of time poking holes in the logic of how Chloe managed to hack the drone's feed in a short amount of time, but what would that really accomplish? It's 24! I'm not saying we shouldn't be critical of the show, because believe me there were some really dumb moments in this episode that made me beat my head against the desk. But if you—like me—thought it was great to watch Heller get blown up by a direct attack drone then any explanation of how he wasn't is fine enough by me.
And best of all, the news that Heller is actually still walking around was part of a hell of a first 25-30 minutes. Last week's episode ended with the destruction of a major international landmark and somehow, this one was substantially crazier and more entertaining. Once everyone—from Audrey to Margot to Kate—figured out that Heller survived, "7:00 PM-8:00 PM" turned into a hectic race to produce or prevent a counter-attack. Jack, Chloe, and Kate rushed to find Margot and Ian's location while the terrorist mother-daughter combo scrambled to retrieve one final drone to let loose on another populated area, Waterloo Station. It was another one of those great moments where 24's editing and pacing kicked into full overdrive, with characters descending on one spot to participate in a big firefight.
At first, the firefight itself wasn't especially memorable thanks to that TV-y style of shootout where it's dark, no one can really see anything, and there are only scrubs in true danger. Thankfully though, Jack landed nearby in a helicopter, snuck through the backside, killed a few bros, and then scaled down the side of the building to get directly into Margot and Ian's hideout room. That in itself was quite enjoyable, the kind of thing that 24 diehards have probably been waiting all season for. But Jack wasn't finished. In one fell swoop, Jack went directly to the Al-Harazi's window, drew Ian to said window so he could quickly toss him out of the window, and then he popped Margot in the shoulder. And just when Jack called it in and Margot delivered a relatively solid screed about how the day's prior deaths were on his hands, Jack more or less said, "F*** it. Byeeee." and tossed her directly out the window as well.
My feeble words are simply not doing it justice. There are nutty 24 moments and then there was this; the season's big villain, right out the window by Jack's hand, with very little discussion of what happened afterward. Compound this moment with Heller's miraculous survival and we have ourselves the wildest episode in Live Another Day and one of the more notable hours in the show's run—or should I say, one of the notable half hours? Things didn't quite screech to a halt in the second part of the episode, but they did slow pretty substantially as the show unspooled those familiar 24 scenes of characters thinking some disaster is over, only to discover—usually through negligence or stupidity—that they were wrong and there is more evil and destruction to come. Here, it was all about our mole friend Steve, who made a deal with Cross to try to protect himself from Kate's investigation into Jordan's disappearance/now confirmed death. This deal involved stealing the suddenly VERY IMPORTANT override device that Margot and Ian used to hack into the drones, but really it's just a MacGuffin to inject a little more life into the story and raise the stakes here at the end of the season.
The problem, of course, with making big, somewhat unexpected moves in hour nine is that there are still three hours to fill. 24 has made a living at pulling the rug out from underneath the audience to reveal larger forces behind some terrorist plot and for better or worse, Live Another Day appears to be no different. In theory, I'm okay with it. What I don't like, and what happened here that resulted in the headdesk moment, was Jack nonchalantly leaving the room while on the phone, conveniently allowing Steve to choke out a tech dweeb, steal the override, and set up a few more hours of DANGER. There should be only one rule of the 24 universe: Jack Bauer is not an idiot. That's it. He can make mistakes, but anytime the show has to make its superhuman leading man do something as silly as leave the room to take a call simply to maneuver the story, it's gross.
Despite that very dumb single moment, I do like that some of the season's mini-arcs are coalescing near the end here. The show hasn't done an especially good job with establishing Cross as a character, but at least he's not either the scenery-chewing blabbermouth or the creepy politician in a nice suit. There's something slightly different about this type of character--one who, as far as we know, has true feelings for Chloe—as the Final Boss* of a 24 season. Even if he doesn't, Live Another Day has cycled back around to the consequences of Chloe's involvement in this rogue organization, sort of near the place where she began this season. And hey, I'm willing to be forgiving toward Navarro if it means we get at least a few scenes where Benjamin Bratt is able to really swing for the fences and get crazy.
*Who am I kidding? There's probably another baddie around the corner. President Logan, where you at dawg?
Traditional seasons of 24 were structured in fairly similar ways, with some kind of pre-finale climax that then spins off into another story, and it was interesting to see that similar type of structure reappear here. We're three-fourths of the way through Live Another Day and the first big villain has been dispatched, in truly fun fashion. How the show closes out the next three hours will determine where this event series thing stands up against the other seasons, and let's hope the writers can come up with something as half as wild as this hour.
– What was with the weird green tint in the final foot chase between Jack and Navarro? Didn't dislike it, but couldn't exactly tell if it was the result of the exterior location or some strategic choice.
– Mark seemed a little bummed that he didn't get to be all valiant and such now that Heller's alive, right? And what about the resignation letter Heller signed? That's probably going to matter to somebody.
– RIP Jordan. You go down in the annals of 24 tech dudes getting slain. You will probably not be missed.
– No DAMMITs this week, but one nice SON OF A BITCH from Jack. By my count he killed four people--two in the firefight and then Ian and Margot--but I just love it when you guys correct me. Big week for the KILL TRACKER then.
– Guys. Where's Tony? Come on.
What'd you think of this CRAZY episode? What was more surprising: Heller's survival or Margot's death?
AIRED ON 5/24/2010
Season 8 : Episode 24