This episode has in a sense caused the show to go off course. The focus has shifted from President Hasad (Who makes a token appearance here) to Renee and Dana and their personal troubles. That in my mind is a liability because this episode lacked the suspense and intensity (Except for the scene where Agent Ortiz works some magic with the sniper's rifle.) that is a trademark of "24." As I watched the story concerning Dana I kept asking myself how her true identity is a secret. After all doesn't any government agency do a through background check? Mediocre episode.
To me this "day" is disappointing - at least until now.
Usually at this point Jack Bauer should have at least tortured 3 terrorists and disabled 1+ WMDs but all we got to see are whiny female characters, a plot-wise-unnecessary distracting ex-boyfriend, a couple that's supposedly engaged (seriously? after 1/4 of the season we got maybe 2 scenes with them in the same room), the most stupid head of CTU yet, a president locked in her chambers and another president with PTSD resulting in a persecution complex.
The ep got better by the end, when Renée pulled herself together even though she had basically been raped (what I liked about her last season was that she had been portrayed as a strong character), and Jack managed to turn around the hit and had Cole standing by as sniper (who took out the Russians).
But what I really liked was the fact that the "bad guys" showed emotions (tho whole trying-to-save-a-brother-thing) and Arlo Glass spying on Dana/Jenny after Chloe covered for her. (After the 10 hints in the previous episodes she must be suspecting something herself.)
As expected, Jack and Renee's main plot continues to be the most interesting aspect of the season, providing us personal conflicts with the best two characters of the show right now. However, unlike the majority of the seventh season, this season's choice of subplots has been nothing but bad. Although Hassan and Bazhaev's subplots can be endured long enough (even if it seems that the Bazhaevs thing will become totally irrevelant in a few hours), the Dana subplot is still ridiculous and overlong. Knowing in advance the plot twist of Episode 13, it can be considered "partially" necessary, but if the real intention was this all along, at least they've could rewrite the whole subplot or think of another thing. On the positive side, Annie Wersching and Kiefer Sutherland give convincing performances, as always, and Jack's cover as the German dealer with Harry Potter glasses was kind of hilarous and very unusual for a serious character like Jack Bauer and a show like "24". Several times during the scene, it seemed like Kiefer was on the verge of laughing. (P.S.: This is the first and only time in the whole show in which Jack smoked. Amazing. Kiefer couldn't resist his smoking habit not for one second while he was filming).
Dana Walsh: Dana the dipstick keeps making stupid decisions, burying herself into even deeper trouble on her own part. Seriously, the side story, already heavy on the cheese and unbelievability, did not get any better. Thankfully, however, we didn't see much of a it. A few short scenes were all that were necessary to only slightly push this terrible plot forward. At the beginning of the hour, Dana, rather than thinking even somewhat rationally, gives her redneck 'friends' a call, informing them of a location where they can cop an evidence container worth over $100,000. The two, obviously, are happy with her findings, and give each other an honorary high five (if that's what it was...). And... that's pretty much it. Nothing else about this story is worth mentioning. Not impressed. Moving on.
President Hassan: Not too much went on at the United Nations this episode... save for Mr. Hassan getting more paranoid of the people around him by the second, ordering arrests for almost everyone he knows or suspects has dealings with the people wishing to impeach him. The ones who once trusted them, obviously, are bewildered by his actions and demand him to calm down and revise his ways. Hassan is adamant that his cause will not be obstructed, and proceeds with his antagonistic manner, demanding that a man from within his own party is arrested and questioned at length. While the plotline isn't necessarily badly written or illogical, it's not particularly compelling. Something major needs to happen down the line for the pace of this these slow moments to quicken, because, right now, it's just wasting time.
David Anders and Company: In the episode before, Sergei's son, Josef, arrived at doctor's office requesting, no, demanding that his suffering brother be treated for radiation poisoning. In time, daddy calls, wondering why they have not yet reached the cottage, where they were supposed to be. OF course, Sergei becomes suspicious of the two and sends several of his men to investigate, following Josef and his brother's trail. Later in the episode they show up, killing everyone in the office and exfiltrating the two. Upon their return to their father's restaurant, they find an unhappy Sergei, furious that his son had defied him. Maddened and aware that Oleg, his sick son would not survive, he shoots the boy with Josef looking on in fear. Apparently, Sergei is a man who will do anything to meet his goals, even if that means murdering his son to ensure a smooth operation.
Jack, Renee and the Russians: Ah... finally, the main storyline; the most compelling one of all. Jack, apparently, is fluent in German, and, as part of the undercover coup must pose as a German wishing to deal in nuclear arms. The scene where Jack meets with a member from Vladimir's group is wonderfully scripted, with the Lugo chatting in German to test Jack's proficiency. The tasteful piece concludes with Lugo pulling a gun out on Jack and Cole swiftly taking down three of the four Russians with a sniper rifle, sparing Lugo. Jack, thankfully, is still good at what he does. On the Renee side of things, little occurs plotwise, yet her character development continues to be strong. All of Wersching's scenes in the episode are with Vladimir, a suave yet compulsive and demeaning Russian mob leader played by Battlestar's Callum Kieth Rennie. The chemistry between the two on-screen is phenomenal; the range of emotions palpable and each and every moment is a joy to watch.
This episode is very much like the previous installment, right down to the relative distribution of the plot threads. The majority and best part of the episode belongs to Jack's mission with Renee, while the worst sits squarely on the shoulders of Dana Walsh.
If the previous episode began to reveal the depths of Renee's crushing fatalism, then this is the next giant leap into the abyss. Renee may convince herself that it's all about the mission, but at least part of it is a desire to destroy herself in every respect. The amazing part is not that she chooses to give herself over to Laitanan; it's that some part of her resists.
This tension within Renee is the one thing that gives the character some hope of restoration. It all comes down to how far she pushes herself down in the process. Jack has been in similar situations before: his heroin addiction in the third season, his imprisonment among the Chinese, and of course, his crisis at the end of the sixth season. Renee has the chance to come back, but it's going to be a long, hard road.
Jack's side of the equation reveals a couple of interesting and slightly disappointing facts. First, it would appear that the new CTU hasn't quite shed the legal restraints that forced its resurrection in the first place. It's hard to say whether or not that was part of the organization's mandate from President Taylor's administration, or the influence of Director Hastings and his political ambitions.
The second point is simply a minor nitpick. What was the point of making Jack a German, if Kiefer clearly cannot speak the language with the slightest hint of a convincing accent? It complicates a cover that is already rife with suspicion. It's shocking that Laitanan hasn't figured out that Renee's story doesn't quite add up as it is.
The looming collapse of the peace summit isn't quite as interesting, but it does make one wonder if this was something that Farhad took into account. Killing Omar had to be the primary goal, along with the acquisition of nuclear weapons to solidify his power base. But Farhad also had to know that Omar would crack down on his opposition if he survived, and that it would erode his good standing with the West, weakening him in the process.
Unlike Hassan's plot thread, the plot thread with Josef and Oleg felt like blatant foreshadowing. Was it to further demonstrate Papa Bazhaev's brutal ways, thus suggesting that he would be equally cruel to his enemies? Or was it to expose a weakness in his man's foolish decision to leave a wake of bodies to be discovered, along with plenty of genetic evidence to point right to Josef and Oleg? It's hard to imagine that this won't become a clue to track down Bazhaev later down the road.
As it has been since the beginning of the season, Dana's subplot continues to be ridiculous. Once again provided an opportunity to hang Kevin and his cohort by their own ambition, Dana instead implicates herself more and more. How easy would it have been to ensure that the keycard would not work, and then claim that the card was stolen? Dana is willing to lie, but only to help someone she hates.
One gets the sense that all of these plot threads continue to service the overall theme of "learning from the lessons of the past", which is a good thing. "24" is always best when it dispenses with shock tactics and presents its action in a consistent and dramatic context. It worked very well in the seventh season, and it continues to work well this season.
Overall, this was another episode that mixed the good with the bad. The action with Jack and Renee continues to be the highlight of the season, while other subplots continue to disappoint. Right now, Dana's plot thread is like a dead weight, dragging the season down, so one would hope that the writers adjust before too much longer.
In this installment, the general plot of the season stills being so slowly and without so much movements.
But its small plots about its characters are quiet interesting and so entertaining.
And this hour is a remarkable proof of it.
Afterwards the end of the previous hour, in which Jack did anything, finally Jack makes some movements and takes an important role in the plot.
While, Renee keeps the audience in some tension because of the darkers remembers with Vladimir.
That thing is not very important, yes, but the writers have managed to do all that things interesting enough to please the audience one more week.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jack and Renee's undercover soiree continues to be the best thing about 24, with both Sutherland and Werschung acting their little socks off to create something truly captivating. For whatever reason, as soon as the writing staff turn their attention to these characters, they automatically become about ten times better at scripting dialogue (or maybe it's just that the actors are so talented that they can disguise the hokum nature of what they're given). The dynamic between these two, the desperate determination of Jack and the resigned melancholia of Renee, is mesmerising and creates a far greater level of suspense than most of the show's extraneous dramatic events. It helps that they have an excellent foil in Battlestar Galactica's 2 (or Leoben), who plays the duplicitous Vladimir. His quietly methodical portrayal makes for something truly sinister.
It is a slight pity that the writers play the 'madcap' card so early in the day; it would've been nice to see a more tempered progression towards the sort of ruthless masochism and misogyny that is depicted here. Did he really need to threaten Renee so soon after being reunited with her? Was it necessary for him to lapse immediately back to his aggressive ways? Some build would have been nice, as this suddenness gives the story a slightly artificial after taste. Plus, the two make the beast with two backs in the space of about five minutes. We cut to commercial and... bang! That's it. All over. While it's tempting to suggest that this says rather a lot about Vladimir, it's likelier that it as such for convenience's sake. Still, for the most part, this is all very good stuff, and it only improves when Jack shows up dressed like Great Uncle Hans, complete with ludicrous glasses, and starts speaking in plain English with an American accent. If they'd gone the 'cod German' route, this would have fallen flat on its face. Thankfully, we are spared Sutherland's attempts to pronounce his 'w's as 'v's and consequently, we are able to invest in the dramatic tension of the narrative without any niggling distractions.
Elsewhere, President Hassan's predicament proves to be somewhat interesting as the writers continue to layer his character. His knee jerk reaction to the assassination attempt counters our previous impressions but helps to give a more rounded and believable political viewpoint. This works in conjunction with the problems facing Taylor to manufacture some intriguing political manoeuvring, and the inclusion of the European representatives only magnifies this, lifting the urgency and significance of the plot by incorporating a macrocosmic element. Kensei's attempts to save his desperately ill brother are also rather entertaining, even if the boy's murder at episode's end is completely predicable. The only truly problematic storyline belongs to poor old Katee Sackhoff, who must, by now, be thoroughly sick to the back teeth of the pointlessness of what she's been given. No longer is this a passable deviation with some nice acting (well, from Sackhoff anyway). Now it just irritates. The story completely obliterates the narrative's forward momentum and is made even worse by the fact that it's woefully obvious that Agent Ortiz is just going to find everything out and 'bury' (or some such euphemism) Evil Kevin. Couple that with Arlo's frustratingly smarmy attitude to the whole thing and the terrible, terrible combination of 'please, won't you stare at my ass as I walk past?' with an actual shot of Chloe's ass and you've got a cringeworthy load of gumf that the show would be infinitely better without.
Generally, '9pm - 10pm' is a fairly solid episode with some interesting plot developments, a number of excellently written and executed scenes (usually involving Sutherland and Werschung) and a great deal of forward momentum. It's just a shame that a horribly redundant storyline and a handful of minor niggles prevent it from being truly great.
This episode left me with some vice versa feelings. Ok, I have to admit, there were some developments and Dana Walsh storyline is going somewhere but it still feels little lame. Cannot help myself. other storylines were stronger but not as strong as I wished. The whole Jack-Renee thing seemed to be driving Renee deeper and deeper into that self-destruction mode and nothing good can out of that.. so that one has potential and the scene on the parking lot with Cole intervening was clever turn as that moment really started to catch tension and it was well solved.
The whole presidential storyline.. I am not sure were it goes and even if they tried to kill him, he is acting too much out of the man we saw on the first episodes. So.. what's going on? Is he losing it? That's confusing one.
After eight years of watching this show, you can still find me standing in front of my TV, wide-eyed, nerves completely shot from watching the writers drag us to the edge of the cliff and leave us hanging. For the first twenty minutes or so, I felt uninterested in the episode, as if the writers had included this episode as a way to get fill in some additional hours. However, 24 never ceases to surprise me. While the first half lagged a bit, the second half was chockful of adreneline, twists, snarky Chloe comments, dark Renee moments and Jack Bauer just being a badass. If that's not enough to keep you interested, than I don't what would be able to do the job.
Is it just me or has Jack had very little to do this season? So far, there hasn't been too many memorible moments with him. I know that every episode can't consist of Jack Bauer taking out bad guy after bad guy with a dizzying array of weapons, but I'd like to see him doing more than following Renee around and listening to her talk. However, the end of the episode, with him going undercover as the German dealer, was superb. If I'm not mistaken, Jack has never adopted a foreign language in order to create a more realistic undercover persona. For a moment (just a short one, of course), I forgot he was Jack Bauer. Next week looks to advance the Renee and Jack relationship, which I'm only slightly interested in. Save that stuff for the end of the season: I want to see Jack taking out some terrorists.
Note to writers: Please, for the love of all that is good in the universe of 24, wrap up the Dana Walsh/Jenny Scott plot. It's certainly a compelling idea, and much better than 24 has done in recent years in terms of supporting character storylines (Ponder this for a moment, if you will: Would you rather deal with Dana Walsh and her ex-boyfriend woes or deal with another scene of Jack scolding Janis for being unbearably irritating? Exactly.) Dana Walsh is supposed to have a relationship with Cole Ortiz, but they've had maybe one or two scenes with each other. And as a result of her dealings outside of CTU, Cole has been shoved to the backburners, resulting in a few minutes here and there of air-time.
Also, President Taylor hasn't had a lot of great scenes to work with, but that's to be expected. Last year, her family issues were at the forefront of the season, which gave her a lot of great scenes to work with. However, this year has been a lot of political talk and sitting around, mulling over what to do. Hassan has also been delegated to the bench, yelling at his subordinates for a moment before cutting away to CTU or Jack and Renee. I hope that there's some more scenes with both of these world leaders in the next few hours.
24 has done a great job of keeping the plot minimal to this point. By now in Season 6, there was about a half dozen antagonists who were out to spill Jack's blood. However, by focusing on the undercover deal with Vlad, the writers have allowed the show to carry out it's storylines for a little longer, even if this leads to some mundane interludes. In a way, this season is starting to remind me of Season 3, if only because of the heavy undercover scenes with Renee. It'll be interesting to see how Jack and Renee will get there way out of this.
And last but not least (24 has the tendency to have so many plots that it's exhausting to write these recaps and analysis'!), David Anders' character as Bazheav's son has done a great job of remaining sympathetic amidst the entire nuclear rods plot. The ending was shocking, even if I could see it coming. It was brutal to see him kill his own son, and the warning he gave his last remaining son was haunting and something that will hopefully carry into the next episode.
For an episode that I originally expected to be a filler, I've found that there's plenty to still talk about. That's the thing about 24: they surprise you even when there's nothing in the episode that's necessarily shocking. That may not make much sense, but hey, 24 is like that sometimes.
Jack certainly has a cool set of eyes and hands covering his back and it was good to finally see that the Jack Bauer of years gone by, can still handle himself in a tense situation. The German conversation with subtitles was a nice touch also; a little Bourne-like. There is nothing more attention-getting than Jack pointing a pistol at someone and screaming at the top of his lungs!
Renee needs more than a shower after her "encounter" with Vlad. That is serious dedication to the mission. Hopefully, the writers will eventually have a "Renee's Revenge" segment. She is very adept at dismemberment with rotary tools. Perhaps an "appendage" removal and then death by exsanguination or maybe a lethal dose of RAD's for Vlad.
President Hassad is closing ranks and rightfully so. His country is in a dangerous neighborhood. It is beginning to look as if President Taylor can kiss her peace good-bye. If she expects Hassad to totally change his political tactics at this point, all she will end up doing is getting him killed on American soil and then she will have a mess on her hands.
The Dana/Jenny storyline is like a soap opera clip that was accidentally inserted into the wrong show. If she thinks her sociopath ex-boyfriend is going to stay gone for $120,000, she really doesn't have the instincts needed to work at CTU. The writers need to wrap this thing up and throw it in the East River.
Jack, Renee, Chloe, and Cole are major players in Day 8 and their storylines need to make up the majority of the remaining eighteen hours. Maybe the writers didn't want to play their hands too early, but the season is a fourth over and its time to show 'em or fold 'em.
I am happy the writers recruited Mary Lynn Rajskub for another season as Chloe. It always seemed like all the old cast members slowly left the screen leaving Sutherland (Jack) as the longest reigning cast member. Chloe hasn't lost the personality most people admire about her, and that's good. That comment she made had me laughing from the moment she rose off the chair, but what sealed the deal was Arlo actually watching her ass. Sad thing she's married though, otherwise Arlo would be constantly hitting on her as well right? I believe Arlo's friendly side is when he tries to be flirtatious, but I also believe he has a huge crush on Dana and that's the only way he could explore his feelings. It looks as though he is on to something...
On the topic of Dana, what's up with her anyway? Why does she feel the need to succumb to her ex's manipulations? How did he find her again? That question still hangs in the balance and who is his oddly quiet friend? Dana believes that if she helps him satisfy his money-hungry ways, he'll just go away, but what happens when the money runs out? Dana should have him arrested, tell her fiancee the truth about her past and get on with CTU business, but I guess things wouldn't be that easy. Somehow her ex would be connected to the later events in the day, or his friend anyway, that entire story is just not adding up. Dana needs to toughen up, I mean she is a CTU agent, she has a power she could use and her past is not as implicating as she may believe, it is not as though she is a fugitive.
Vladimir get your dirty man-paws off of our Renee *yuck*. This is definitely not the same Renee we left off in Season 7, what happened? How long was she undercover with this scumbag again! A woman needs time to herself while in the shower, you don't just show up, I thought Renee locked that door anyway (hmmm). Jack despised putting Renee in that situation, his facial expression during that 'dirty scene' was evidence of that. He probably wanted to wring Vladimir's neck for what he did to Renee in the past, give him a few broken ribs as well. I wonder how would the confrontation be between Jack and Vladimir? Not pretty since just under an hour, he tried to have him killed and rip him off for a measly Five million. (Ha, I just thought of the glasses Jack wore during that entire operation-hilarious). Was Jack trying to sound American while speaking German, or was that all Kiefer :) and he was very witty with his statements as well, surely shoved it to Vladimir's men.
Hastings was obviously not present this hour (thank you). They focused mainly on Jack and Renee's story along with Dana Walsh and her ex. They were also the main plots of the episode for me, but equally entertaining was watching a father murder his son in cold blood. He actually showed no remorse and condoned it by saying it was because his son betrayed him (well if that took away the guilt). I guess it was better than having his son suffer from poisoning. I actually applaud his brother for trying to save his life. I believe the brother could be the 'hero of the day' kind, the one who Jack or someone else could use to bring down his father. The brutal murder of his brother could be enough incentive for him to turn to the authorities to bring his crazed father on death row, because let's face it, his brother would not be dead at all had his father kept his hands clean and earned a living the decent way.
Compared to all the other seasons, I believe this season started off on a slow rate, steadily developing each character and giving them a decent background - I like it. There has been the action in between and a few blasts here and there, but I admire the curiosities and dilemmas instilled in the plot. It leaves you wondering what's going to happen next and I really have no idea what to expect.
The last two episodes have been nice character development episodes. I have no problems with this at all because I do want consistency and actual realistic characters on the show. These are great episodes that show that 24 isn't just about action and explosions, but it's about the psychological, and emotional turbulations of the characters.
So with that said glad that they are focusing on Renee and remaining consistency with the harrowing ordeals that the character is going through. She's now at a dark place that everyone goes through at one point in their life add to that the stress and severity of the job and well it be silly to just expect the character to be fine. So I don't mind these episodes really establishing what the character is going through. Same thing with Dana Walsh storyline it's going somewhere. Yeah it's been done before but a lot of things on the show have been done before and guess what? It doesn't matter when it's done right.
Renee is where Jack was a couple of years ago. Every season we see somebody at CTU with issues and baggage. I give the writers credit for adding characters that aren't picture perfect characters that would be boring television.
So a nice character development episode with a lot nice scenes with an ending that we expected but nonetheless was fun to watch.
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