24

24 Review: What is at Stake?

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The following review takes place between 7:00 a.m. and 7:26 a.m. Words are written in real time...

Rule number-one of any TV show: don't make a murderous traitor to her country into a sympathetic figure. For reasons that defy comprehension, 24 actually did this with Dana Walsh last night. As if the series hasn't handled her character horribly enough this season, viewers were stuck watching her beg for her life and cry for intervention from Chloe.

What, exactly, were we supposed to be feeling during these moments? The episode wasn't trying to start a debate about whether or not torture is wrong; in its view, it's already established that it believes there are times when physical coercion is a necessity (see Bauer, Jack. Every season.).

Instead, the hour made it clear that this example of torture was flat out immoral. That's why Ethan resigned, right? That's why Jack is on the lam and the President is being depicted as off her rocker.

But this was Dana Walsh! She killed CTU agents in cold blood. She allowed terrorist attacks to be planned against Americans. Heck, she lied to super agent Cole Ortiz (who Jack seems to trust and know really well, considering they first met about 19 hours ago)! It made no sense for the show to depict her in any sympathetic light whatsoever.

On the Lam

Then again, most of this hour made no sense. Even for a season that's stretched the limits of believability and repeated numerous situations we've seen on 24 in the past, this episode felt like nothing but contrived suspense.

It was as though the writers felt obligated to put Jack on the lam and force him to be hunted down by CTU because... well, that's just what happens on 24 each season.

Jack's entire mission feels flawed and misguided. This is an individual that is all about the big picture. All he cares about is America's safety. Is the President really so off track in wanting the peace accord to go down at any cost?

All Taylor is doing is torturing an evil individual in order to preserve the safety of American lives. Heck, she probably learned that from watching previous seasons of 24. Why would Jack suddenly take issue with this stance?

The country now knows about the Russians and their plans. We'll clearly keep a close eye on them in the future. And who's to say the peace treaty couldn't be signed and then America exposes what it discovered about the Russians? When did this become a zero sum, either/or game? When did Russia get so much power that its decisions controlled a treaty being signed by dozens of world leaders?

It's one thing for snippets of an episode, or smaller storylines, to feel forced. But this is now season nine's end game. This is the reason why it's Jack and Cole against everyone else - yet it doesn't add up. The sense of urgency 24 wants us to feel over Jack's goal simply isn't there.

I personally don't care if Russia is exposed or not. Do you? What is actually at stake here?

On a closing note, it would help President Taylor be a stronger character if she didn't change her mind based on who she was talking to every 30 seconds or so. Good point, Logan! I understand, Ethan! Oooh, you got me there, Logan! Hopefully, she'll actually stand for what she's decided now - but it wouldn't shock me if the janitor offered up his two cents next week and Taylor went in another direction again.

For a show that's focused on nuclear weapons and worldwide destruction over the last few seasons, it will be a grave disappointment if this is how it bows out. Jack isn't even trying to save anyone's life; he's just trying to expose a secret... that also won't save anyone's life!

Raise the stakes as you come to a conclusion, 24. Please. Also, go back and erase the character of Dana Walsh forever. Thank you.

Review

Editor Rating: 0.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (19 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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I had writen a couple paragraphs about how fucking bad this show has become, and that i completely stand behind the author and his 0.5 rating.. (i would rate 90% of this years episodes the same) ..but then i realized even if i spent hours making my case, if you havent realized that this show is terrible already by simply watching it, nothing you read here will make an iota of difference. Enjoy it if you still can, if not, well.. theres always breaking bad.

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Oh and as for the suspense- it is there. This is a filler episode to some extent, but I can't wait to see Jack Bauer completely fly off the rails in anguish at the loss of his love- how many can you lose before you go flip out? I'd love a scene that came even remotely close to the power of the dockyards scene at the end of Season 1.

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I agree with Butkis- the depiction of Dana Walsh being tortured is supposed to juxtapose the ideals of the peace treaty and show Taylor to be arguing, speaking and acting without the substance to back her ideals. And by the way. We aren't being expected to suddenly back Jack Bauer for going against his previous instincts. 1. Jack Bauer never believes in covering things up. 2. His future life just got destroyed. Again. Then his country, after everything he has done for it, tells him to get lost. He has every right to be angry. If anyone is on a moral high horse over what Jack is/is about to do then you're so high up you're on a flying unicorn. On a final note: Palmer would not have done what Taylor is doing. That thought has been in my head since the moment Logan began his petition to her. As fictional as the Palmer character is, his sense of judgement was right- this peace is empty if the Russians can go on acting like this. @Droc - interesting point, we may get a final explanation of everything when this gets blown into the open, the writers have said they're going to take a bit of creative license when weaving the show to it's conclusion, something they have the liberty to do after eight seasons.

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M.L. House As is often the case, we prolly just haven't seen enough yet.....to feel what is now at stake. Since Day 5 pretty much ALL the events traced back to the "Alan Wilson" conspiracy that noone has ever really been brought to justice for. What if in exposing the Russian involvement Jack finally exposes the WHOLE conspiracy that has been th Bane of his, Tony's and now Renee's lives? Be patient. I do think this was the weakest episode of the lat 5 though.

Matt-richenthal

As for the Russians being exposed: the entire world finds out they were behind the terror plot. Those responsible are arrested. Everyone else signs the peace treaty and Russia is clearly a target for surveillance and intelligence like never before, making it impossible for it to conjure up future plans, as the whole world is now watching.
If you can refrain from such anger because we simply disagree on a TV show, would you care to explain why the treaty wouldn't work under these circumstances?

Matt-richenthal

@Butkis: I'll do my best to respond to that insightful critique, once I look past the cursing and wonder what sort of individual gets so worked up over a television show review...
My main problem with the episode, as stated by the review's headline, is that NOTHING is at stake. Viewers are supposed to be invested in Jack's desire to expose the Russians because... why, exactly? No lives will be saved. Nothing will actually happen except Taylor will lose her Presidency and the peace treaty won't be signed. Doesn't exactly feel like urgent, end-of-the-series suspense there.
It's also naive of you to think a peace treaty can't be signed because torture is taking place. If anything, 24 has spent a bulk of its existence PROMOTING torture and stating its belief that such coercion is necessary specifically to ensure overall peace in the country and to save lives. Of course it was asking us to sympathize with Dana. You saw Chloe's look when she was being taken away. The message is that Taylor is being hypocritical if she's okay with torturing a truly evil individual such as Dana Walsh, yet signs this treaty. But that describes everything Jack has always done to a T. He tortures bad guys to get information and save American lives because he's focused on the big picture. Sounds just like President Taylor to me and like a contrived way for the show to create suspense out of Jack suddenly disagreeing with this stance.

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This has got to be the worst fucking review I have ever read. If you are such as bonehead to not see how a peace treaty couldn't work if the Russians were exposed, then stop watching the show right fucking now. Also, this episode isn't supposed to make us sympathize with Dana Walsh - instead, it urges us understand how the "peace" treaty is meaningless if the President is to allow this sort of torture, an idea was brilliantly depicted in the final split screen of the episode. Yes, this has been a sub-par season of 24, but it has improved by leaps and bounds in the past few weeks. If you are such a raging moron that you're incapable of recognize this improvement in quality, find a new damned profession that requires mush for brains.

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