Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fox's "24: Live Another Day," episode 5 (aka "Day 9: 3:00 - 4:00 pm")

"24: Live Another Day" continues to speed along with sharp, laser-like focus. No ridiculous "Kim Bauer stalked by a mountain lion" or "Dana Walsh's psycho ex-boyfriend blackmails her into using CTU to help him rob the police evidence lock-up" subplots that existed just to chew up time. It's all storylines that tie into the overarching plot, which Fox has cleverly taken to nicknaming "Game of Drones."


At the end of the last hour, Jack Bauer's hostage siege ended when the U.S. Marines blew open the locked door to the communications room where he'd been trying to upload the flight data from the hijacked drone to Chloe O'Brian. CIA agent Kate Morgan had seemingly persuaded him that she believed him about the drone hijacking and she was seen claiming custody over Bauer. At the start of this hour, it's clear that Bauer has given her the flight key so that she can complete the uploading of the data to O'Brian, which Morgan does. O'Brian turns out not to be the smartest nerd in the hacker group Open Cell, because it's the Julian Assange-figure, Adrian Cross, who sees the "override" inserted into the drone flight data. O'Brian sends the proof to Morgan, who passes it along to CIA tech nerd Jordan Reed, who agrees. CIA station chief Navarro calls the President and discloses the discovery. President Heller, over the skepticism of General Coburn, orders the grounding of the entire drone fleet, but not before terrorist Margot al-Harazi has taken control of six of the Vanguard drones, each armed with multiple missiles capable of destroying entire city blocks. Meanwhile, al-Harazi's son-in-law Naveed, who at this point is being coerced into complying with the terrorist plot, has tried to give away the terrorists' location by making al-Harazi's terrorism demand video traceable, and CIA nerd Reed indeed traces what he thinks is the true location. Thus, when Heller meets Jack Bauer, and Bauer offers to lead a mission to track down the one source that he thinks could lead them to al-Harazi, Heller declines because he thinks he has a line on her already. Navarro leads the mission with Ritter and dozens of other U.S. troops -- but no Kate Morgan. She's been ordered to stand down because the U.S. Marine captain in the embassy filed a complaint against her. Stuck at the CIA station, Morgan gets suspicious about the video trace and asks Chloe O'Brian to look at it -- in the process, giving O'Brian open access into the CIA system. O'Brian realizes it's been faked. Al-Harazi's son, Ian, figured out what Naveed was up to and altered the data; no dummy, Ian has also watched Naveed long enough to be able to replace him as the drone hijacker, which he demonstrates by firing two missiles from one of the six hijacked drones at the location where Navarro and others are searching. Fortunately for Navarro and Ritter who get out just in time, but too late for many other U.S. troops, Morgan alerts them that it's a trap!


* "24" has long relied on clueless bureaucrats and others who obstinately refuse to acknowledge reality, but this season has been refreshingly short on those. (Not non-existent, just short.) When Navarro calls for the President and it's the shifty chief of staff who answers, Navarro won't tell Mark Boudreaux what's going on; he insists on talking to the President. We've seen too many past seasons where critical information would get suppressed because the person with the information unwittingly trusted a "mole." I don't know whether Boudreaux is a mole, but at least Navarro showed some brainpower by going directly to the top.

* Also, Heller doesn't start doubting the information about the hacked drone, or questioning the source, or engaging in otherwise time-wasting and useless activities. He takes immediate action.

* Similarly, Navarro doesn't doubt Morgan's warning; he also immediately orders everyone out.

* Another clue that the writers have actually been thinking, rather than just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks, is that when people do seemingly crazy things, they get called on it. Last episode, when Jack Bauer took hostages in the communications room in the embassy, President Heller called him and ended up asking him why he (Bauer) didn't just notify him (Heller) about the drone hijacking threat. This indeed is something that viewers might have wondered as well. However, Bauer's answer made sense: the U.S. government had declared him a terrorist, captured him (well, he let himself be captured), and tried to disappear him; he felt he needed proof before he could come forward. Similarly, at the end of the last episode, Kate Morgan simply asserted that Bauer was under her custody, but why would Marine Captain Cordero accept that? The answer is that he didn't, and he had Morgan escorted away. Of course, Cordero's mistake was not searching Morgan for the flight key, and when he later found out what happened, he filed an official complaint against her.

* That was a very well-done scene between Jack and Audrey, when she finally sees him in person, and he admits that he did what the government said he did, that he killed "all those people."

Can you believe "24: Live Another Day" is almost half over?

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