Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fox's "24": thoughts on "Day 9: 2:00 - 3:00 pm" (aka episode 4)

Can you believe "24: Live Another Day" is already one-third over? Under the 24-episode format, eight hours would've gone by, and typically Jack Bauer seemingly would have stopped the terror threat, only to discover that it was just a diversion from an even more catastrophic attack in the works. Is that formula still in play?


Apparently not, as the main threat is still the potential cyber-hijacking of U.S. military drones to be used against civilian targets in Great Britain....

The main threads in this episode were (1) Jack Bauer's efforts to get the flight data stick belonging to Lieutenant Tanner (the "fall guy" who was piloting a drone that was hijacked as a proof of concept earlier), not an easy task given that Tanner was in custody in the U.S. Embassy in London; (2) the continuation of President Heller's direct address to Parliament regarding the drone strike that killed four American and British troops; (3) tensions in Open Cell, the Wikileaks-like organization that Bauer coerced into helping him; and (4) the quiet rebellion by Naveed, the would-be drone pilot in the terror cell who doesn't want to carry out his critical role in the terror plot.

(1) Bauer beats up a bunch of U.S. Marines and Embassy guards, gets into the detention room with Tanner, convinces Tanner that he (Bauer) is the only one to believe that the drone was hijacked, and finds the flight data stick. However, the Embassy goes into lockdown before Bauer can escape, so with Chloe O'Brian's help (naturally), he finds a secure communications room and attempts to upload the flight data directly to Open Cell. Unfortunately, the data is encrypted and won't transmit, so Adrian Cross (the Julian Assange-leader) sends him a decryption program. Jack holes up in the room with three hostages, waiting for the decryption, with U.S. Marines gathering outside.

(2) Heller's address is stunningly effective, although the bits and pieces that we see and hear sound quite trite to me -- the usual stuff about "how grateful we are for the very special relationship between our countries." Even his chief of staff/son-in-law, who previously urged him not to go forward with the address, seems impressed.

(3) O'Brian openly questions whether Cross is helping, or working against Bauer. Cross says his goal is to get Bauer out of their operation, though later, he does help (as with the decryption program) and says he's not doing it for Bauer, but for her. Ooooh, unrequited love?

(4) Naveed tries to talk his wife Simone, who is also terrorist leader Margot al-Harazi's daughter, into forgetting about the terror plot and just running away with him. Simone tells her mom, with predictable results. Even before it was telegraphed, I predicted that this was going to result in the mom torturing Simone, not Naveed. And yes, when Naveed swears that Margot can do whatever she wants to him but he won't pilot the drones, and when she says, "I believe you," you know what's coming next... Let's just say I hope for her sake that Simone is right-handed.

The episode ends with CIA agent Kate Morgan having dropped into the communications room with Bauer and convincing him that she believes him about the cyber-hijacking threat. When the Marines breach the door, she shouts that she already has Bauer in custody. It's pretty obvious that he's given her the flight data stick.


* Wow, I bet President Obama would love to get President Heller's secrets for how to pacify a hostile and antagonistic crowd! When we saw the start of this address, it was heading rapidly toward fiascoville, with multiple members of Parliament rudely interrupting Heller and mocking him. Yet, in this episode, they're sitting and listening respectfully, and even applaud him when he's done.

* It sure looks like Kate Morgan has crossed completely over to seeing and doing things the Jack Bauer-way. Things didn't work out so well for the last female agent who followed that path (Renee Walker), but I suppose this opens the door for Yvonne Strahovski to take over if there are any more mini-seasons of "24" in the future.

* For some reason, during the scenes with CIA agents Kate Morgan and Erik Ritter, I found myself comparing them to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The dynamic in the show is that Morgan is the more experienced agent but on her way out, while Ritter is hungry and eager to take her place. I think the comparison came to me because of Ann Althouse's blog post about Clinton/Obama and the New York Times' replacing Jill Abramson with the first African-American editor of the Times. It's not a perfect comparison because Gbenga Akinnagbe, who plays Ritter, is a few years old than Strahovski; and to be clear, I'm definitely not suggesting that this is what the writers were thinking.

* Marine Captain Cordero is going to be very sorry that he didn't watch season 8 of 24, when Bauer used what I suspect is the same solution for getting a critical datastick out of a secured area by giving it to a semi-trusted female companion right before being captured.

* Interesting but not surprising that 24 continues its trend of casting actors who aren't of Arab or Middle-Eastern descent to play Middle Eastern bad guys. Here, Naveed is played by Sascha Dhawan, who (like many of the actors playing new characters, is British) is of Indian descent. (I published an article about Hollywood and Arabs/Muslims in which I noted that lead terrorist roles in post-9/11 TV shows and movies tended to be played largely by Indian and Latino actors, but pretty much no Arab-American ones.)

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