Season 8 Episode 5

Day 8: 8:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M.

Aired Monday 8:00 PM Jan 25, 2010 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (10)

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  • After a somewhat bumpy start to the season, 24 is thankfully finding its feet again.

    After a somewhat bumpy start to the season, 24 is thankfully finding its feet again, delivering a well-constructed and refreshingly open-ended episode that proves eminently rewarding. The vast majority of the narrative strands in '8pm - 9pm' are distinctly scant, featuring little in the way of intricate minutiae. Key information is crucially withheld - the story behind the 'good brother's infection, details of the events in Kamistan, the nuances of Renee's history with Vladimir (well, until Jack unearths some of it, that is) - and as such, the stories feel loaded with possibility and, in several instances, unpredictable. Such surface-scratching steers the narrative away from inevitability, around obvious conclusions and pay-offs, and helps to disguise the fact that this is, in essence, a transitional hour, which is something that the show's writers have notoriously struggled with in the past.

    As is perhaps to be expected, the episodic highlight is undoubtedly the continuation of Jack and Renee's undercover operation. Annie Werschung is outstanding throughout: whether she's convincing Zia that sawing off his thumb is a good idea (credit, once again, to Joseph Hodges for a wonderfully grizzly visual depiction of the horror of the situation), confronting Vladimir for the first time in however many years, begrudgingly confessing her troubled past with the guy to Jack or proving herself to her would-be assassins at hour's end, the actress pitches every single line beautifully, with just the right mix of stern-faced cold-heartedness and introspective melancholia to delineate the character's fragility. Kiefer effectively takes back seat to all of this, acting as her foil, and it's clear that he's quite willing to do so, given that this is truly brilliant stuff. Indeed, it's somewhat refreshing to have the microscope turned so vividly on a character other than Jack Bauer; over the course of the show's eight years, our superhuman hero has been put through the emotional wringer so many times, and with so much gusto, that it's hard to imagine what more there could possibly be to maintain our interest. The effect this life has on his family? Been there, done that. Emotional tiredness from all the sick and twisted things he's done or been subjected to? Meh, old news. The morality vs. expediency debate? Please, change the channel. What is intriguing though is the focus on another, less well explored, character and through this, the effect it may have on our protagonist.

    It is a stroke of absolute genius to turn Walker in this manner, and in such a starkly contrasting fashion to the woman we knew in the previous season, because really, 24's never done it before. There is a palpable feeling of uncertainty running the course of the narrative: you just don't know where they'll go next, how Renee's instability will manifest itself. The first confrontation with Vladimir is loaded with tension precisely because you feel like she might snap and start slitting throats at any minute. And then there's her potential death; now, rationally, it's clear that Walker is not going to snuff it, given that the likelihood of the production crew bringing back an actress of Werschung's calibre for a meagre two hours is about as great as the Pope declaring tomorrow International Orgy Day, but credit to both she and the writing team for making it seem entirely possible, even if only for a split second. From a storytelling perspective, the uncertainty is considerable. It feels entirely like she could go the way of Zia, unceremoniously dumped into the sea (how awesome, by the way), at any moment, even when she's delivering her harrowingly psychoanalytical monologue. This is truly stellar stuff, wonderfully written and executed, cutting right to the heart of the character's agony without ever seeming extraneous or forced. The scene is considerably moving, and the added increment of Bauer's quietly desperate observation only intensifies its power. His coda, "they bought her cover", provides the perfect episodic period on the situation, summarising the scenario in beautifully understated fashion.

    Amongst all of this incredible material, it's easy to forget about the episode's other myriad highlights. The journey that the Brothers Grimm take to the hospital, in order for the guy who's been Rod Stewarted to receive some snappy treatment, is an interesting little C-storyline that benefits greatly from its obliqueness. As mentioned earlier, we know little to nothing about these characters, which makes their interplay all the more believable and intriguing. It is definitely good to see a familial verismilitude amongst the 'bad guy' element, if you will, that isn't simply an unknowing, innocent lover or mildly misguided son who has second thoughts about what he's doing. Speaking of relations, Farhad's slippery, slimy descent into 24 villaindom continues apace as he shows little to no sympathy for the Roded one, communicates with fellow insurgents and anti-Omarists in his home country of the unbelievably-made-up-and-laughably-named Kamistan (which, it should be noted, is a nice touch in itself, allowing the viewer to appreciate the story's wider socio-political context) and then bags himself a couple of willing prossies to boot. Nice work if you can get it, eh? His brother doesn't get quite such a break, however, as he's hauled over the coals by President Taylor for rounding up and executing those that he believes to be a threat to the stability of his regime back at home. Again, this adds a much welcome political dimension to the show that is actually grounded in factual event. All too often, 24 tends to gloss over the consequences of attempted terrorism by foreign interests on US soil for the countries involved. Here, we get to see a head of state being proactive and making a response, and that it is a morally murky one only adds to the brilliance of the concept. This is highly complex stuff, and the writers treat it with the respectful ambivalence that it deserves. There is no right or wrong answer; the viewer empathises with both Kapoor and Jones and is able to appreciate the gravitas of the whole situation. This sort of thing is far, far more welcome than the sort of internal backstabbing and nepotism or emotional blackmail that has dogged the Presidential storyline in seasons past. More please.

    The only weakness in '8pm - 9pm's well-woven tapestry is the furtherance of Katie Sackhoff's extraneous storyline. While the actress' general all round brilliance has been sufficient to keep this element of the show afloat for the past few episodes, now that it has opened up to reveal some of the detail behind past events and has been given more than the occasional minute and a half of screentime, even this cannot disguise the fact that the whole thing is utterly and hopelessly irrelevant. Sure, the cast involved all do a fairly admirable job of playing their respective roles, even if Dana amounts to little more than a wet fish and Kevin is a one-dimensional loutish stereotype, but come on... do we really need to press pause on the progression of the central, super-intense, edge-of-your-seat dramatic narrative in order to find out that Dana was in prison for accessory to murder when she was a minor? And to have her psycho ex-boyfriend push her around and threaten her life if she doesn't get him, "mwah ha ha ha, 1 million dollars!" (or some such)? Guys, this is all resolutely uninteresting, the sort of soap opera filler that would do well to maintain the interest of an As The World Turns viewer, never mind a 24 one. The narrative trajectory doesn't look particularly promising either; what are the odds that the next episode is spent scrambling for the money, then Ortiz'll find out what's going on, episode seven will see him struggle with her lies and by the end, he'll promise to stand by her and 'sort it out' (without telling her what that means), and then in episode eight, he'll gun down Kevin and his layabout friend, dump the bodies and pretend he just convinced them to fly to Bermuda for an extended vacation? Actually, maybe that's wishful thinking. That would only take the story to an additional three episodes. We're gonna spend at least half the season on this gumf, for sure.

    Aside from the regrettably lengthy and thoroughly uninteresting nature of poor Katie Sackhoff's plot, '8pm - 9pm' is a considerably solid episode of 24. The script is mostly taut and occasionally unpredictable, and has a great deal of forward momentum that bodes well for the direction that the central narrative looks set to take in the next few episodes. Kiefer Sutherland and Annie Wershung continue to steal the show with a series of absolutely stellar scenes between Jack and Renee, and the writing staff's decision to intricately explore the tortured nature of Walker's character pays off exceptionally well. All that and very little Brian Hastings to boot. Win!
  • Quietly hour, but very entertaining

    This fifth hour is not better than the last, or on its same level.

    It´s too much worse, but with a limit. You can still follow the season after this one.
    But despite being worse and more of the same, the plot of this hour is quietly and without any new detail, but very entertaining and fairly satisfying for me and i hope that for the audience.

    Althought this season is going throw a way which is not truly effective, it has got resources enough to attract the viewers and hook them to see another installment.

    In this episode you can see the same problems from the all the previous: not very atracctive in new roles and not very improvements.
    But yes some twists which puts you on the edge, like in the end.

  • 24 starts getting coherent, and, more importantly, consistent.

    24 has a history of inconsistency, especially in its early episodes. A story arc that lasts no less than 24 hours is long for any TV series so most of its missteps are excusable early on. Regardless, however, each episode still needs to be interesting to watch and provide ample realistic set-up. Here, in the fifth episode of season eight, the show's plot is still unfolding and becoming more complex by the minute, even though most of it will be forgotten later on. That's conventional with nearly all television shows, though even more so with a program such as 24. Unfortunately, season eight seems to be having a little trouble getting its footing right and not all of it is working as well as it should. A very enjoyable, fresh and dramatic main plotline is marred by some silly and sloppily written storylines that tag along. This, of course, makes for episodes that feel very unbalanced.

    Last week finished strongly and promised unique interactions between Jack and the damaged Renee. With its tense and well-acted scenes, I'm happy to report that 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM's main plot continued this narrative in a fashion that was, for the most part, quite fun to watch.

    First, however, let's get to the things that were not fun to watch. Yes, I'm talking about Dana Walsh's laughably useless side story. What an unfortunate position Battlestar veteran Katee Sackhoff is in. The actress who once played the brash and short-tempered Starbuck has assumed the role of a character taking orders and nearly tearing up as she's thrown against the wall by degenerate white-trash. What's more, she must excuse herself from her job in the middle of an undercover operation for Jack and Renee to meet up with him at her own apartment. The fact that CTU would allow her to even leave the building during a time such as this is completely unbelievable on its own. Apparently they don't care. So, she submits to her ex and the story gets worse from there. When she arrives, Kevin has the audacity to demand that Dana steal information from CTU so he and some guy named Nick can make off big time… sigh… Please, writers, either wrap this story up, or tie it in. Hell, I'd consider the whole plot redeemed if Dana would just put a bullet in Kevin's head next week and have her deal with things from there on. You have one last chance with this one.

    Anyway, on the villain side of things, little worth mentioning occurs, despite the fact that the episode begins with Farhad Hassan on the phone in mob boss Sergei Bazhaev's posh restaurant. While the conspiracy against President Hassan deepens and beings to spread to his country of Kamistan, the ramifications of such happenings aren't clearly defined yet. As Farhad's phone call progresses, a military contact is introduced, as well as potentially a new side plot that could have legs. But, the conversation is quickly silenced as Serfei enters the room inquiring about his payment in exchange for nuclear weapons. Conveniently, it'll take five hours for Farhad's funds to be transferred, and 24's mid-season event will undoubtedly tie into this fitting occurrence. In an effort to pacify Farhad for a few hours, Sergei gives Farhad a private room and a couple of prostitutes to hang out with. Enjoy!

    President Hassad has his own share of troubles in hour five, finally catching word of political strife in his homeland. To calm the uproar he begins efforts to penalize the conspirators and naysayers, though President Taylor has issues with his ways, and worries about the fate of her peace treaty as a result. While it makes sense in practice, Taylor will have to offer some compromise here, as Hassan must be allowed some reaction to chaos back home.

    Thankfully, the meat of the episode more than made up for some disappointing side stories. Renee, fearless and tolerant, is subjected to unrelenting questioning by a Russian mob outlet to get her back undercover. Even when things get tough for her, she remains forceful in her ways, and is successful in the end. It is revealed that she has a disturbing past with a Russian contact named Vladimir, a history that could create an interesting and compelling dynamic if handled correctly. Renee's part in the show makes the sometimes senseless sequences in the eighth season of 24 worth watching, and, just as she stared down at the barrel of the gun in the final few minutes of the episode, unsure of what would happen next, I too am uncertain of what direction the show will go in the next few episodes. It's anyone's guess from here.
  • Bravo acting Wersching, you are truly bringing out the Renee I grew to love.

    Although I am a bit upset about your damaging past, it surely looks as though it would take you a while to get out of that hole you sunk yourself into.

    In a way, Jack is obligated to her, because now he's the white chariot horse and Renee is the dark outcast. I admired the tear that slid along her face when her life hung in the balance. I believed that the actual Renee character didn't want to live, had things not worked, it was more than a ploy on her part.

    The sole reason Renee took the task to go undercover again, is to shed some light on her loathing character she probably despises. She somehow wants to redeem herself. She keeps stressing she's the only person, because she wants to be, she couldn't cope otherwise.

    Honestly had Ziya kept his mouth shut, he would still be alive, at least for a longer time. He annoyed Vladimir to the point where the trigger was too much of a burden to resist.

    I believe that it is Renee that is making these hours interesting for me. It probably has something to do with my fondness for Amy Wersching and her portrayal of Renee. What I don't get is why Jack kept shouting at her, did he really believe that she was gunning for a bullet? Was she that convincing that she even deceived Jack? I figure that Jack sees Renee as a risk to her own health and it confirms my speculations about Renee really wanting Vladimir to pull the trigger, because she had nothing else to live for.

    At CTU, the Dana Walsh character is developing beautifully. Her ex is foolish enough to mess with a government agency as serious as CTU. I believe he is probably putting her through it to punish her, because he believed she sold him out as a 'get out of jail' free card. What I am curious into, is to how exactly he discovered where she worked, because that means anyone else could probably get a hold of CTU the very same way. I feel sorry for her fiancee, why bother to keep the secret at all. It would all unravel by the end of the day or early the next day, anyway.

    It is amazing how much could happen in a few hours. So far we have a terrorist attempt, an undercover operation reenacting itself, an ex boyfriend bully and his weird friend, a couple of murders... sounds a whole lot of 24 to me. Could you imagine an old Jack telling the stories about how his life changed in 24 hours. How would that conversation start off?

    I look forward to the development between Dana and her ex, and probably having Renee and Jack in the same scene together, they create brilliant moments. Oh and I also want to know what happens to Olivia and some development into the President's personal life. Let's not have too much happen until then.

    Lexa Reviews



    Four and a Half Stars

    Grade A
  • Jack begins to have his doubts about Renee being in the field. When he tries to cancel the operation, Renee goes in too deep. Meanwhile President Assad tries to deal with personal problems and the drastic measures he is taking in his country.

    The storyline which centers on Jack and Renee is the high point of this episode. What is definitely the low point is the storyline in which Dana's past has come back to haunt her. Her former boyfriend/partner in crime comes off as a major contrivance. The Southern accent, the tattoos, the evilness about him. Please. Hopefully Dana will show some guts and get rid of him soon. Cherry Jones does very well in this episode. Her scenes with President Assad are well done. Jones once again shows that she deserved the Emmy she received. Things look good so far. Compelling.
  • Day 8 is quickly becoming an enthralling entanglement of plot and sub-plots that keeps "24" in a class by itself.

    Jack has never been one to scrub a mission simply because of a few diversions in operational integrity. However, Renee's behavior has him on edge and slightly out of phase with his usual tactical awareness. Sooner or later, Jack is going to realize that Renee is his alter ego and she is doing nothing that Jack hasn't done in the past or would do again if the situation arises . That's what makes this duo such a perfect match for advancement of one of the best storylines yet. Once Jack sets his personal feelings for Renee aside, look out Russian gangsters. A thumb will be the least of their worries! President Hassan's situation is getting worse by the minute. Betrayal by his brother, abandonment by his wife, and President Taylor telling him it can't be Middle Eastern business as usual, ie off with the heads of your enemies. All this while Russian mobsters are trying to sell his political opponents weapons grade uranium. Taylor doesn't seem to be much help other than pursing the nuclear component, so that leaves Hassan pretty much on his own. It will be interesting how the political ramifications play out.

    Of course Chloe is on track and is covering Jack's backside, but the Dana/Jenny problem is certainly to become the proverbial "fly in the ointment." Cole was noticeably low key in this episode after last week's big play in saving Hassan. He definitely showed "Jack-like" instincts and hopefully his role will not be underutilized. Hastings seems to have a certain respect for Jack's past accomplishments and willing to help without a lot of red tape. He is quickly becoming Jack's ally which is unusual behavior for a CTU director.

    Things to look forward to: Gregory Itzin's appearance as former President Logan, possibly a Tony sub-plot, and nineteen more hours of surging adrenaline.
  • A mild, but appreciated, improvement on the premiere

    Ever since abandoning the scattershot writing style that demolished earlier seasons of the series, the writers have been much more focused. They still cover tons of plot threads over the course of the season, but they seem to have a better grasp of how much complexity is enough or too much. Three or four concurrent plot threads are a good target, and this episode falls right in line with that thought process.

    The downside to this streamlined process is that the success or failure of an episode depends on the quality of those plot threads, particularly within the context of the overall season arc. Since the season arc is still relatively unclear, that makes the quality of each of the plot threads all the more important.

    It's a good thing that the main story is Jack's mission with Renee. It is, by far, the most interesting thing about this season. The writers could have glossed over the depth of Renee's nihilism and self-hatred, but they are not stepping away from the abyss. If anything, they are dragging the audience right to the edge and forcing them to take a good, hard look. This is easily some of the darkest material on the series in quite some time.

    Perhaps more importantly, this is a direct reflection of Jack. Jack knew what the personal consequences of his choices would be, but that wasn't a perfect defense against the accumulated remorse and regret. It took years, and the elimination of his support system again and again, for Jack to succumb to his personal demons. The difference is that the producers chose to skip that portion of Jack's life. The sixth season ended with Jack at that dark crossroads, and the seventh season began at the end of his self-imposed exile.

    Perhaps the writers decided, in planning the eighth season, that bringing Jack to a full sense of redemption and restoration would require something more. In this case, Jack doesn't just have to pull out of the downward spiral; he has to help someone else out of the abyss himself. In this way, the writers get to have the best of both worlds. They only had to rush Renee's collapse into instability to make it happen, and that is a fair enough tradeoff.

    The truly daunting aspect of this character turn is the knowledge, by the end of the hour, that this is just the beginning. The depth of Renee's psychological damage has yet to be seen. On most other shows, one might have some assurance that Renee would survive to find some peace of mind. But this is "24", and that means any outcome is possible. And unlike other characters in other seasons, a negative outcome would seem very much earned.

    Unfortunately, the main plot thread is saddled with a subplot that couldn't be more different. It was already apparent from the premiere that Dana Walsh's character issues would be a serious problem, and Katee Sackhoff fans were almost universally disappointed with the stupidity of the writers. Already on thin ice by having Dana be an assumed identity, the writers deepened the wound by having her be an ex-felon. Minor or not, that sort of thing should have been easily discovered by the typical intelligence community background check.

    It's even more grating to see "Dana" letting some ridiculous hick toss her around. If she had been smart enough to change and protect her identity long enough to get a job in a counter-terrorism unit, then she should have been smart enough to keep tabs on anyone that could have presented a threat to her new life. And accordingly, she should have been smart enough to ensure that such a threat was neutralized.

    While politics on "24" tend to be simplified and modified as per the needs of the plot, the writers have been more and more willing to explore different aspects of counter-terrorism and how different political atmospheres can affect the nature of such efforts. The seventh season was dominated by a long-term exploration of extreme methods. The writers, within the context of "24", made the case that such methods can be necessary.

    This season is playing out some of the caveats to that conclusion, along with the ongoing theme of "lessons from history". Not only is Jack going to be forced to apply lessons from his own descent to Renee's situation, but President Hassan is going to have to consider whether the ways of the past serve his present. Is his violent reaction to his brother's attempted coup a reasonable response, or is it a sign that his claims to reform are exaggerated?

    President Taylor's reaction is not out of character, but it is annoying. Taylor seemed to come to the conclusion that extreme methods must sometimes be taken, as evidenced by her restoration of CTU and her faith in Jack Bauer in the seventh season. Are Hassan's methods particularly different? Perhaps the difference is the overt nature of it all. Whatever the case, it's too soon to tell where the writers intend to go with this, and which side will ultimately turn out to have the strongest case by the end of the season.

    So, in terms of the three major plot threads in this episode, it's something of a draw. One is already working very well, another is getting progressively more ridiculous by the minute, and the last could go either way. Considering that this was something of a transitional episode, that's not a bad balance.

    Overall, this episode was designed to transition the characters out of the premiere into the longer stretch of the narrative, and for the most part, it worked. There is one major weakness to be addressed, but that doesn't look like it's going away any time soon. Still, this is an improvement on the premiere, which is a very good sign.
  • Not too bad, 24 writers, not too bad..

    It appears 24 may be able to avoid the problems that plagued Season 6 after the superb season premiere event. Season 6 suffered from a lack of good ideas after all the good ones were used up in the first four episodes and the show as a whole suffered. Season 7 seemed to be plotted out from the beginning, which made it a fast and fun ride. Season 8 seems to be somewhere between, because right now, I'm not sure how interested I am in every plot, but it's definitely a compelling set of plots at that.

    What I'm liking the most right now is Renee's much more assertive and dark version. She stole the show tonight, and may have even cemented herself an Emmy nomination(?) Or maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Either way, she did a superb job, letting the intensity and anger of last week's episode give away to depression and apathy. Her final speech to Vlad after she assumed she was about to die was one of the show's best moments in awhile and watching Jack have to listen to her basically give her deathbed speech was great as well. I hope they continue to explore Renee and Jack's relationship as the season goes on, because it's providing some of the best material.

    As for the main plot, about the uranium rods and Bazheev and his sons AND Farheed, everything sort of slowed down to a grinding halt. When I heard Farheed say that it would take FIVE hours for the money to get ready, I immediately began to wonder at what stupid plots they would use to fill in the time. I am interested in David Anders' character (the good son who's taking the younger brother to the hospital), but I hope it amounts to something significant. And as for Dana Walsh's plot, I'm just hoping at this point that her fiancee Cole will beat the crap out of him and get the plot over with.

    But as I mentioned before, this episode gets all of its strength from the incredible performance from Renee and the great connection between her and Jack. Jack knows what it's like to be at in a rough patch, and in trying to get her out of this situation, he's saying a lot about his feelings for her without even saying a word about it. At times, 24 can be criticized for it's predictability, but I truly felt that Renee could've been shot by Vlad (speaking of Vlad, how cool is it that the guy who played Lew Ashby from Californication is playing the new villain?).

    I hope they can get the main plot involving the nuclear rods jumpstarted within the next couple of episodes. So far, I like the direction the show is headed in, but let's keep our fingers crossed that they won't burn out early and run out of ideas before the halfway point.
  • Brilliant

    Oh.. I think the best thing of this episode was the ending. I am not only thinking about the clever twist with cars and the whole way things were going.. but that scene Renee had.. and how Jack was not talking when Chloe was asking "what's going on"... I mean.. the whole sequence was very powerful. Some brilliant acting.. Maybe even more brilliant than you would expect from action serie but.. surprises..

    Other than Jack/Renee storyline.. the other storilines where not so strong. The whole Dana Walsh thing is still quite boring even with some developments and it was so obvious where it is going. And also the thing with russian mob's son.. that was quite obvious turn too.. But hey.. maybe it can get some excitement and I am all happy about that.
  • Renee is either really cool under pressure, or...

    ...Jack is right and she has a death wish. I think she might have HAD a death wish right up until Vlad, the fool, spared her life! Now, he is so screwed! And I can't wait to see it, however impressed I continue to be with Callum Keith Rennie in this, or any of his roles.

    I must say though, the whole story line with Katie Sackhoff's character; what's her name? "Dana Walsh"? I just don't care. If she's got a past and she managed to hide it from background checks, then she should have a big enough pair to deal with this loser. I don't know, she just doesn't fit the character profile requirements for 24 and CTU. I say, slip a stiletto between the guy's ribs and lets move on to some Freddie Prinze Jr. story line already...

    Thankfully, 'Jack' and the others are managing to do their jobs and keep the story on track, and I'm well into the season...
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