Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"He didn't metabolize the alcohol.": 24

A friend of mine, who's a rather quiet, liberal fellow and a HUGE fan of 24, says that when you strip away the crazy Bauer family antics, this season has mostly been sort of mediocre and average (and the crazy Bauer family just makes everything seem more over-the-top than anything else), aside from the torture, which he finds more reprehensible than usual this year (good news, dude! they're going to scale back on it). I sort of agree with him, but 24, for all of its predictability this far into its run, still has one thing in its favor -- a stable full of great characters. But we'll get to that in a minute.

The episode focused on Jack's attempts to get back his nephew, Josh (and does anyone think that Josh ISN'T Jack's son at this point -- clearly his mother had a thing for Jack at one time, and the kid looks so much like Jack and/or Kim that it's not even subtle). Josh was being held by his evil grandfather, Phillip Bauer (the still potent James Cromwell, having a good time, even with lackluster material). Jack jumped through a complicated series of hoops to track down his father, only to take Josh's place, almost face death at the hands of his father, then have his father disappear. It was a rather convoluted set-up, and while Kiefer Sutherland can sell quick changes like having a wounded man take charge of a prisoner followed immediately by slamming his sister-in-law against a wall, it all grew a bit yawn-inducing, aside from the good times with Josh and Phil back at the hotel (and Josh's gradual realization that his family is completely nuts). Still, this was a welcome break from Jack torturing everyone he could lay his hands on, and at least it offered a little taste of Bauer family politics (apparently, no one can ever say how much they love someone else without a gun held to their heads). Still, by this point, why hasn't anyone killed Jack when they had the chance? It's starting to get ridiculous.

Things at CTU were worse, largely because Chloe's ex-husband, Morris, was wandering around the LA area and getting drunk (or, rather, taking sips of whiskey, then spitting them out). Just hours ago, Morris was being tortured by terrorists, but that would have been an ideal excuse to ship a mostly uninteresting character off somewhere. Instead, we get to watch him wander through a bad Long Weekend copy, wondering when he'll be the show's sacrificial lamb for the season.

Unless, of course, that sacrificial lamb is Thomas Lennox, aide to the president and unwilling conspirator in an assassination attempt. The show, apparently tired of duplicitous men inside the White House, has decided to knock him out and truss him up after he had a change of heart and decided to report the assassins (who are going to use a former Muslim terrorist as a cover story somehow). Chad Lowe is doing nicely evil work as the man who recruited Lennox, and, on the whole, the storyline has spiced up the terminally dull White House scenes from earlier this season (which mostly revolved around debating civil rights and things).

But, finally, there's the last scene, where Jack Bauer gets in touch with disgraced former president (and terrorist conspirator) Charles Logan. Logan is one of the show's great characters (and the writers had the good sense to keep him alive), and it'll be interesting to see how he and Jack spar next week (we only got to see him for the first time -- sporting full hobo beard -- this week). A lot of what makes Logan work is Gregory Itzin's portrayal of the character, so here's hoping that Itzin brought his A game. It may be just what the season needs.

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