Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Season 5; Hour Twenty-Four (6:00AM - 7:00AM)

Air Date: 22 May 2006
Reviewer: J

Well, here we are at the close of the fifth daylong glimpse into Jack Bauer’s life and that of the myriad of people, both dead and alive, that Jack leaves in his unforgiving wake. It’s hard to believe we’re already at the finale and that we’ll now have to wait another eight long months for more 24 goodness. But this season was masterful, I must admit. And it’s not because it was perfect or even necessarily “the best season of 24 ever,” as Fox wants us all to believe and spread around. No, it’s because 24 continued to push the boundaries and keep us on the edge of our seats, rarely (if ever) resorting to cheap gimmicks (like, oh, say, the flashback stupidity over on Lost) to string us along. I think D and I agreed that there were far fewer “filler” or “transitional” episodes this season. And when there was an episode that really didn’t advance the plot much at all, it was one that was stunning for its own reasons; the hour spent with CTU locked down and with Sentox killing everyone is the one I’m thinking of. Perhaps this paragraph should be at the end of my review, but I felt compelled to say it here and, well, I’m the writer. You want to be considered for some reviews of 24 for Season Six? Email me at Webmaster@NotTheRock.com and we’ll discuss.

So we go right into Hour Twenty-Four after a few commercials and don’t you just love it when there’s back-to-back episodes and they still do the “Previously on 24” routine and you get to see the freeze-frames all over again? My only complaint about the freeze-frame intros is this need to give CTU its own title. I don’t know why it bothers me but it does. If someone is watching who doesn’t know who CTU is, then they’re not ready for 24. Especially not a finale like this. Because this finale assumed that we’ve all been paying attention since the Spring of 2005. But we’ll get to that.

We pick up right where we left off. As you’ll recall, Martha, Novick and Pierce were conspiring to help Jack beat a confession out of Logan. Or at least facilitate Jack having a convo with the Prez. I guess they drew straws sometime off camera and Martha lost and was the one who had to have sex with Logan. I’m sure Mike and Aaron were relieved.

As we begin Hour Twenty-Four, the Logans are already pretty much dressed. Wait a second… yeah, I just checked the tape and they were not quite getting busy at 5:55 AM. And at about 6:00 AM they’re dressed already. So Chuck’s a quick shooter of airplanes as well as…. well, you know.

I thought Novick’s role in this was interesting. Remember, Novick is the guy who undermined his good friend Palmer when Palmer was President (in Day Two) and then swore in Day Four that he’d never do it again. Well, here he is, fixing up some credentials for Jack to get on the chopper that will be transporting Logan to the airfield where David’s body is being flown back to Washington. I do like that all it takes to flummox the security of a Presidential chopper is a color printer and a laminator. Good to know.

I also liked Novick’s startled response when Martha shows up behind him to tell him that she can’t delay her husband any longer due to Charles’ quick-shootin’ ways. I guess Novick was just as shocked at the Prez’s premature hoo-yay as the rest of us. [Perhaps Charles didn’t pop his cork so quickly with Mike…-D]

Anyway, the upshot of everything is that Jack is able to sneak onto yet another “secured” aircraft. I guess at 6:05 AM everybody is a little groggy.

Some more trickery occurs as Martha needs to beg off of the chopper ride. Logan, who as D has pointed out has been occasionally suspicious of Marty, is blinded by his interest in having a sparkling public image. Martha suggests his getting off the chopper alone will look more regal or some such shit like that. Logan looks like he doesn’t totally understand but figures if his crazy wife thinks it’ll look good then maybe the rest of the crazy Americans will think so, too. And off he goes. And Jack is able to resist letting a smile curl his lip.

On the chopper, Jack very organized-like takes over the situation. He pulls a gun on the pilot, has him rip out the communications unit in his helmet, tasers the Secret Service agents on board and nabs Logan. Who can’t really run anywhere anyway.

After Jack instructs the pilot where to go, there’s an interesting scene between him and Logan, wherein I love Sutherland and Itzin even more. Logan begins babbling about “what had to be done” and how he didn’t expect or intend things to get this out of hand (which, for the record, I actually believe). All through this, I was hoping Jack was somehow recording this. Instead, Jack was trying to burn holes through Logan with his death ray stare. Jokes aside, Jack did look so pissed, angry, hurt and so many other emotions during this scene… like he’d just like to really whack Logan across the side of the head with a pistol.

The chopper touches down at a warehouse (I guess Presidential chopper rides have no fighter escorts) and Jack herds Logan inside. Once they’re there, Logan’s fear becomes even more palpable as he babbles some more at Jack, offering to give him whatever monetary gains he wants, things like that. All the while, Jack is frisking him. For some reason, I liked Logan’s comment when he said, “Jack, I’m the President of the United States; I’m not carrying a weapon.” Jack empties his pockets anyway. Logan’s pockets, that is. You knew what I meant. I suppose I’d like to have a pen with the Presidential seal on it but there are probably easier ways to get one.

Chloe’s oddball ex-husband Morris shows up at the Logan Proving Grounds and when he sees Jack, he mutters something about how he “should have known.” I liked this brief interaction that clearly showed that Jack and Morris vaguely knew one another thanks to his friendship with Chloe. Morris and Chloe having been married, though? I don’t want to go into that. And, quite honestly, I’m not sure I even see the point. Like D, I agree it was interesting to a point but it just seemed oddly unnecessary in a season finale.

Anyway, as this pretty damn spectacular episode continues, we stay with Jack and Logan in the warehouse as Chloe watches over a video feed through the equipment that Morris brought to Jack. I am not sure here whether this was all part of a ruse from the start by Jack. What do you think?

If it wasn’t part of his ultimate plan, then I think this was a rather questionable approach. It felt all along like the President had the upper hand and it even looked like Logan was waiting to see what Jack was going to do, even going so far as to bring up that he knows he might be tortured. The anticipation was clearly worse than anything else to that point for Logan. Once he was on camera he refused to divulge anything and insisted that Jack was a loon. Which, to be fair, he certainly did appear to be.

We get to see the preview-friendly showdown wherein Jack tells Logan he’ll be facing Jack’s own personal brand of justice if he doesn’t start talking. Jack forgoes the torture aspect and just flatly tells Logan that he’ll kill him if he doesn’t tell him what he wants to hear. Which, um, I’m not sure how admissible or reliable a confession obtained in such a way would be. Logan says as much and Jack seems to not care and gives him the old, “you’ve got to the count of three” routine. This, as we all know, is about the highest-stakes game of chicken you can play since, obviously, if you’re the counter and the countee has the stones to call your bluff, the game’s over. Amazingly, Logan has the fortitude to actually not sing like a canary. Itzin’s portrayal of Logan’s utter fear as Jack gets to three and levels the gun at Logan’s melon was palpable and excellent. Similarly, the realization on Logan’s face that, in fact, he’s not dead and is merely in need of new Presidential undershorts was outstanding. You could see him realizing that he had regained the upper hand just as you could see Jack realizing that he had essentially lost. It was over. Logan states: “It’s okay, Jack. It’s okay that you can’t do it. I’m the President.” While at first that seemed condescending and smug to me, when you listen to it, I almost think it’s Logan actually saying, hey, it’s okay, you tried to best me but even you can’t murder a defenseless ninny like me. I don’t think it was as condescending as it seemed – though let’s make no mistake that Logan now felt he was clearly out of the woods.

Five minutes after the commotion at the warehouse, the President’s chopper is touching down at the airport. A few things here: For one, I hope they spent a few seconds at least checking the credentials of whoever was sent to fly that chopper. Second, is this Van Nuys Airport, which Jack blew up half of? Or is it Ontario Airport, where there’s still blood in the food court? Never mind. We’ll move on.

Martha, upon learning from Novick that Jack was unsuccessful, flips her shit yet again and rants about the President being unfit. Presumably, she means “for office” and not “in the sack,” but clearly it could be either. Logan responds angrily, regardless of which Martha meant, and has her tossed into an airplane hanger. Within seconds, though, he decides to go in there and have his way with her. However, since he’s already gotten some ass that morning, he decides to just slap her around a bit.

I loved his checking Martha for a wire before admitting his involvement with Palmer’s murder as well as the other badness from that day. D seemed to think Martha was in on this ruse and that this entrapment was all part of a brilliant plan hatched by Jack. I know many fans would like to believe that but I think it’s just a little too much like something out of Ocean’s Eleven. That is, way too much prediction of human actions. I think that more likely it was a contingency hatched by Jack. If he wasn’t able to get the President to confess in his interrogation at the warehouse, I think Jack was hopeful that the cockiness the Prez has displayed when he’s thought he’s had the upper hand would lead him to do exactly what he does with Martha.

And that is to fully incriminate himself. We see back at CTU that Chloe is getting a call set up with the Attorney General as Bill and Karen walk in and admonish her, apologizing to the AG like embarrassed parents. I was getting truly excited at this point, thinking that perhaps Jack had somehow recorded the interlude in the chopper wherein Logan more or less made a confession as to his involvement. I must admit, after the interrogation in the warehouse failed, I actually thought the twist to end this season was going to be that Logan gets away with it… at least for now. But no! Jack planted a sneaky-deaky listening device on the President’s fancy-ass pen.

Some more raving about Greg Itzin’s acting – as he’s delivering his eulogy/self-backslapping speech to the people assembled at the airport, you can see Logan (nervous as ever) notice the Secret Service agents and federal marshals getting what appear to be urgent communications through their earpieces. Then they move towards the stage, yet politely wait until the President is finished with his remarks. No sense in unnecessarily panicking the public any further. I find this somewhat realistic, actually.

Logan’s defiance is stalwart until he realizes his goose is cooked. I absolutely loved the exchange with the marshal and the SS agent that came to collect him. They still referred to him as “sir” and “Mr. President,” while also being firm in the fact that his time is done. Line(s) of the night may have been:

“You take your orders from me.”
“Not anymore, Mr. President.”

As the depth of the shit in which he's standing begins to sink in, Logan turns to see Novick and Martha looking back at him, almost smirking. I note that Novick is behind Martha. Smart move, Mike.

And then we see the last of Charles Logan this season, as he quietly allows himself to be escorted, sans handcuffs which was nice and respectful of the agents, to the Presidential limousine. The Fox summary says that Logan is “placed in a limo for arrest.” (Only in L.A.) Greg Itzin is then given a long, silent slow-zoom shot so that we can see him act without even saying or doing much of anything. His blank stare says so much all by itself and I thought it was a cool way for the writers, director and producers to send him out of this season. Finally done in and ultimately rather subdued, possibly partially relieved.

We swing back to the warehouse where we last saw Jack and see that he has been quickly absolved of his sins because, as we all know, you will be forgiven by the U.S. government for absolutely anything – no matter how illegal – if it turns out you were right. Less forgiving than the U.S. government: the Chinese government.

As Jack basks in the glow of his victory and macks with Audrey, clearly looking forward to some quality time, he is alerted to a phone call. In the warehouse. From Kim. You remember Kim… his daughter who doesn’t want to talk to him. For some reason, this raises no red flags for Jack, nor does the utter absence of agents/personnel inside the warehouse near the waiting phone. As he takes it, he’s abducted by some masked men. Masked men whom, I must say, I noticed immediately were Asian. This can’t be good.

We swing back to CTU now and see Bill actually ask out Karen for breakfast. He does not, to my chagrin, follow up with the “Should I phone you or nudge you?” line that you’re obligated to use when you ask a girl to have breakfast with you. Karen turns him down but asks for a rain check. Who the hell says that anymore, anyway? Nevertheless, Bill lights up like a fuckin’ Christmas tree at the rain check idea and I dare say that’s the first smile we’ve ever seen from Bill Buchanan. And it’s kind of nice. I like Bill. Which probably means he’ll be dead soon.

After being turned down by Karen, Bill casts his seductive gaze upon Chloe and for a second I thought he was going to swallow hard and move onto plan B – breakfast date with Chloe. But no, he only wants to give her a picture among Edgar’s possessions that was of him and Chloe. (Edgar and Chloe, that is. Edgar having a picture of Bill and Chloe would be kind of weird.)

[Quick aside: I just had the occasion to see the actor who plays Buchanan, James Morrison, in an old episode of “Six Feet Under.” He played a guy who regularly goes to “swinger” sex parties and ends up “doing it” with one of main characters, Brenda. I know it’s a different show and all but imagining that this was part of Buchanan’s back story added an interesting angle to these scenes…-D]

As Chloe again shows a trace of being human and tears up at the sight of her portly old buddy Edgar, her wacky ex-husband shows up again and asks who he is. When she tells him, non-snottily, about how he was her friend and he died today, Morris quite genuinely asks her if she’d like to talk about it. In a sweet turn of events, Chloe is not smarmy and simply nods with sadness. Well done by Mary-Lynn, and she walks out of Season Five a certainly broken individual. I do like how they’re giving some of the main characters decidedly clear exits this season, almost like a play unfolding.

Well, except for Curtis, whom we haven’t seen since he caught a bullet in the first act of Hour Twenty-Three. See ya, Curtis. Hope you went to a real hospital and not the clinic. Nice of Bill, Chloe, Karen and all them to ask around about how Curtis is doing. Oh, that’s right. They didn’t.

Eight minutes after Audrey told Jack to “take as much time as you need” on his phone call with Kim, Aud is on her way to nag Jack. Remember, boys, even if you’re a super-agent super-hero, your woman will probably be on your back about something. [She’s just anxious to get the memory of her last bed mate, Walt Cummings, out of her head…-D] Anyway, Audrey heads into the warehouse and deduces from the hanging phone with its ominous DA-DA-DA-DA-DA noise that something bad is afoot and alerts the agents in the area. She’s right.

We cut to a dark room with chains hanging from here and there as Jack, hooded, is being dragged, unable to walk. He is dropped to the floor and his hood is removed. Into the light steps… Cheng Zhi!!! The Chinese Consulate Head of Security from last season who was downright diplomatic and polite with the United States and CTU, right up until he got pissed off and decided to start kidnapping and threatening American federal agents. He started with Agent Bern, you’ll recall, who was sufficiently scared into giving up Jack’s name. Logan and Walt then conspired to have Jack killed so that he didn’t leak any secrets to those commies. And that led us to Jack’s disappearing act at the end of last season. So we have some terrific continuity and yet one more of those treats about which you’ve seen me rave before: another nod to those of us who’ve been paying attention. I loved how calmly Cheng points out that China has a long memory and then sort of cocks his head as he looks down at Jack on the floor and says, “Did you really think that we would forget?” Eerie and outstanding.

Jack, for his part, is a mess. In just a few minutes he’s been beaten to a pulp, he can’t get off the floor, one of his eyes is swollen shut and looks like it may never be usable again and he’s honestly begging for a bullet to finish it all. (And let’s not forget, that faux doctor who snuck into CTU the previous morning broke a couple of his ribs.)

Interestingly, Jack asks Cheng if he can make one phone call before they dispatch him. Cheng looks like he considers it for a moment before ultimately denying it, though not by saying so but simply by not responding. My question is who was Jack going to call? Audrey to tell her he loves her? Kim to tell her he loves her? Chloe to tell her he loves her? Chloe to tell her to call in the frickin’ cavalry right frickin’ now?

Regardless, after not getting his “one phone call” request granted (seems this isn’t your normal arrest), he simply asks to be killed and put out of his misery. Cheng, in that perfectly calm, frightening and eerie tone, simply tells Jack that he’s “far too valuable to kill.” Yikes.

And then we see that Jack is, yes, on the slow boat to China. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that joke.)

Some miscellaneous thoughts: Has the curfew been lifted yet? Has anyone seen Wayne Palmer? Do you suppose he’s still holed up in Bill’s attic? Oh, and remember Graham? Hope you got your fill of him because neither he nor his Bluetooth make an appearance this hour. I guess he and his business partners were from the firm of
MacGuffin & Associates.

So what happens next? My guess is that the between-seasons mini-episode that will be featured on the Season Five DVD will have some detail of what’s happening to Jack in China or wherever he’ll be being kept. It’s possible that the new President, Hal Gardner, will be instrumental in getting Jack back to the United States. We’ll see. Regardless, I’m sure they’ll have Jack back in America (and likely L.A.) by the start of Season Six. Otherwise, we’d see 18 hours of the 24 featuring Jack coming back from China. And that wouldn’t be much fun. Or maybe the entire Season Six will take place on that freighter. No, that would suck.

Regardless, I’ll be watching.

[Author’s Note: Special thanks to everyone who reads these reviews – you’re the reason we do it. And another reminder that if you’re a writer – or fancy yourself a writer – and would like to be a potential reviewer for Season Six, drop me an email at Webmaster@NotTheRock.com.


And a hearty and heartfelt thanks to D for his work on The Unofficial 24 Page. D began writing here during Season Three and has contributed about thirty-two reviews by my count. Or roughly 100,000 words on the subject.

There’s no way I could have handled this without him and I think the quality of the reviews here increased geometrically thanks to his presence. Mine were better because of not having to write all of them and his were terrific because of many reasons, not the least of which was his comic timing and general knack for high-quality writing. D, you’ll be missed and are always welcome back. – J]

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6 Comments:

Blogger Phoenician said...

A great, great episode, but should I comment now? I guess a little snippet for now, right?

Novick is Lord of the 25th Amendment. There has been no Presidency he hasn't served that hasn't had to deal with it!!

And I really don't like Cheng Zhi . . .

8:38 PM  
Anonymous David H said...

I've been a 24 fan from the very beginning but I have to say I wasn't overly impressed with this season. It was a good season, but most definitely not the best season. The body count sky rocketed unlike any other season and so many characters from previous seasons were killed off it left me rather disappointed. Once Palmer and Michelle were killed off, it only seemed like a matter of time before Tony and Agent Pierce bit the big one as well. Fortunately Pierce survived, but will we get to see him again next year? Does he still need to be in hiding now that the President has been found out? We shall see.
Anyway the real reason for me leaving a comment is that I just wanted to vent my displeasure at the end of the season. I loved the past 4 episodes, (and how about 21 minutes of Hour 23 without commercial interruption!? Has that ever been done on television before?) but when I looked at my watch and saw there was 15 minutes left in the hour that guaranteed trouble. And As soon as that Agent told Jack his daughter was on a land line inside the warehouse that screamed setup. How many times has Jack gotten phone calls patched through to his cell phone? And I think he left his cell with Pierce, but why not patch a call from his daughter into one of the hundred cell phones around Jack. And as soon as Jack started inside you knew he was going to get attacked, and who wanted him dead? Oh yeah....the Chinese. That was to be expected with 15 minutes left to go...but if I remember correctly he entered the building with 7 minutes left in the hour. (I could be mistaken, I don't have Tivo) I think the writers and producers really messed up the real time aspect of the show here. Essentially what we saw was Jack attacked, Jack dragged in front of the evil security guy from the Chinese Embassy, and then as the camera pans out we see Jack is on a tanker bound for China. (They claim Jack killed the Consul, but wouldn't an autopsy show that he was shot from behind by one of the Chinese security officers? Eh, whatever. The biggest beef I have with all of this is that the Chinese somehow managed to 1. Fight with Jack, 2. Knockout Jack, 3. Drag Jack to the waiting tanker, 4. Chit chat with Jack about how good the Chinese memory is, and 5. Have the ship presumably steam towards China all in 7 MINUTES!!!
Oh well...we shall see how this all works out. Looking forward to the final reviews.
-David

12:38 AM  
Blogger Phoenician said...

Mind you, Jack was probably on the Cargo ship ALREADY when Cheng Zhi talked to him.

But go ahead, rant away . . . everyone has to do it now and again . . .

2:50 AM  
Blogger Phoenician said...

Okay, NOW I feel comfortable to rant.

First off, the Writers have said they have no plan on a DVD Prequel, which can effectively change the course of next season.

Second, Cheng Zhi put it quite bluntly when it came to Jack. And it may perhaps finally prove what 24 has been all along - the prolonged suffering of Jack Bauer. The man CAN NOT find peace, even after saving the nation and world after more than 7 and a half years (Make that 9 and a half if you include Operation Nightfall). He is a wounded character, and if Jack were ever to find peace, the show would be over, I'd imagine.

Third off, Gardner may not even be President anymore. True he just got sworn in (and with the help of Novivk - Geez, that's the third time the man's been around for enacting the 25th - Did he secretly write that blinkin' amendment??), but if the 24 timeline returns in another 18 months, the Keeler (1.5 years)/Logan (1.5 years)/Gardner (1 year) 4-year term will be up, and if Gardner doesn't get elected, we may have someone new . . .

Fourth: President Palmer's 'eulogy/ceremony' was both creepy and amazing and unbeleivably sad. Did anyone notice Palmer's theme from Day I being played throughout the entire scene?? Even with sleezy Logan's speech going on? Oh, how do those writers do it??

I just wish Wayne was there. Make it a bit more complete. But I guess he wouldn't want to be if Logan still wants his head (of was that Henderson? Whoever . . .). No, Bill's attic seems alot more safe.

Fifth: I do beleive that Jack had the pen for a contingency, but sheesh, I thought the removal of the pen was simply a reference to Day III when Ramon took out his guard in 3.1 - i.e. Jack's learned that "ANYTHING" could be a weapon. But I guess I was wrong . . .

Six: I love Morris! I hope they bring him back next season! He's hilarious in his Irish (I think, explaining the 'O'Brian') accent.

Seventh: Back on next year's Prez. I'd like it to be Heller. Why else would the writers bring him back from the dead? Seems to be such a great character to waste.

Eighth & Final: Great ending, because quite simply, it wasn't a twist. Just simply, like you said, a nod to the loyal fans of 24. It also forces next year's storyline to become even more related to the Chinese, which we all thought was going to happen THIS year.

All in all, a great season, which I agree. You've been Great J & D, and I hope you continue to post randomly through our seventh month hiatus!!

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh,goodbye Unofficial 24 Page...until next year,that is. And so long,D! "D & J" was something like Mulder and Scully to me: anybody can write a review on 24,even an hilarious one,the real difference is being able to create a character. I don't like the idea of having a bunch of Robert Patrick wannabes mailing in their forced-(un)humourous 24 reviews to J's attention,I hope the replacement will be met at something like a bus station or J's bank during a robbery.

My last words on this season: exaggerated, hypercompressed and barely spionistic anymore. Jack was no Bruce Wills in S1,but now he rarely spends time thinking at all. He's become a kind of histeric hercules and even worse,no character even notices this anymore: remember Mason's words about the bodycount that follows Jack on his trail? Nobody even notices this anymore,tell me this is acceptable. And Chloe has become a deus ex machina: from her laptop,it takes her 5 minutes to unravel any plot in human history and get the address of its closest losangelian supporter. Slow down...or season 6 will win another emmy for best shoot 'em up.

5:37 AM  
Blogger J said...

Outstanding comments, everyone. I especially like our anonymous poster's suggestion for D's replacement(s). I haven't yet decided which bank to rob, so we'll see.

10:26 AM  

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