Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Supreme Moral Dilemma and Great Writing in 24.8.14

A powerful 24.8.14 last night, propelled by a supremely difficult moral dilemma.  I found the episode all the more compelling because I watched it with the news that this will be the last season of 24.   True, we may be treated to a movie, perhaps a series of movies, of 24 and Jack Bauer, but I will forever miss this revolutionizing television series.   It was one of the initiators of what I've been calling the new golden age of television drama, currently represented not only by 24, but by Friday Night Lights, Dexter, Lost, NCIS, Bones, Mad Men, and much more - that is, the shows you'll find reviewed here on Infinite Regress.

The dilemma in last night's 24 stemmed from the terrorists' demand that "Iranian" President Hassan be turned over to them, otherwise they'll set off the radiological weapon in Manhattan which would take out a quarter of a million people and leave a swath of Manhattan uninhabitable for decades maybe centuries.   Bearing in mind that Hassan is a good "Iranian," someone who wants to bring peace to the region, and also here as the U.S.'s guest, our own President Allison Taylor is not willing to give him up to save the upper West Side of Manhattan.

Although I admire her moral strength, as do members of her cabinet and staff, some are not willing to sacrifice part of Manhattan for an ethical principle.  It's actually more than an ethical principle - the U.S. would have trouble working with any ally in the Middle East or anywhere if we gave up Hassan - but I'm not even sure I would have supported President Taylor in this decision.    A general does not, and he talks the President's Chief of Staff into snatching Hassan and delivering him to his enemies, but making it look as if it was not with any American cooperation.   President Taylor has ordered Jack Bauer to help escort Hassan and his family to safety, so the general will have his work cut out for him.

The story now plays out in perfect, tick-tocking detail.   CTU has a bead on the car with the terrorists and the nuke rods, but Dana the mole blanks the screens just long enough for the car to slip away (see below for more on Dana).   Secretary of State Kanin, loyal to the President, comes upon the general and the Chief of Staff and their plans (because they're using his computer in his office).   He objects.  The general refuses to let him leave.  Kanin tries to call Jack via the cellphone in his pocket.  He then has a heart attack.   This was a good piece of writing.   It would have been less believable for the general to shoot or otherwise assault a Secretary of State to keep him quiet.

Meanwhile, Jack sees that Kanin tried to reach him, and when Jack can't reach him back, he gets suspicious.   This sets up one of the best action sequences of the season.   Jack avoids walking into an outright massacre, but he, Renee, and Hassan's original American guard have to fight the crack, Unit-like American team sent in by the general.   Their mission is to grab Hassan, and kill anyone who gets in their way.   I don't like seeing Americans firing on Americans, but this was well motivated.  As the head of the commando team tells Jack after Jack and Renee prevail, just barely - with a nice assist from Hassan, who shoots one of the commandos, and brave sacrifice by the American woman leading the original Hassan escort team  - the commandos are fighting to save Manhattan.

Meanwhile, Dana's story, which has been irritating up until last week,  played into this excellent episode just perfectly.   After Jack and Cole get the news, earlier in the episode, that the car with the radiological weapons has eluded CTU, because screens went blank at a crucial interlude, they discuss the possibility that a mole at CTU was responsible.  Chloe was in charge of the surveillance.  Jack says he trusts her with his life.  The next logical person they would have turned to is Dana - but they're interrupted by the President's call to Jack to escort Hassan.    Again, very nice writing.

Dana, by the way, does not want the radiological weapon to go off in Manhattan - which raises the question of who is she really working for.  Not the terrorists (who don't care if the weapon goes off - for them that's just as good as getting Hassan).   I'm guessing Dana is working for the same Blackwater-like group that was behind last year's dirty business - the group that was ultimately superior even to Hodges (played by Jon Voight).

This final season is shaping up to be one of the best of 24.

10-min podcast review of 24

See also Season 8 reviews: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hour 8 ... Hour 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hour 11 ... Hour 12 ... Hour 13

And see also Season 7 reviews: Hours 1 and 2 ... Hours 3 and 4 ... Hour 5 ... Hour 6 ... Hour 7 ... Hour 8 ... Hour 9 ... Hour 10 ... Hours 11-12 ... Hour 13 ... Hour 14 ... Hour 15 ... Hour 16 ... Hour 17 ... Hour 18 ... Hour 19 ... Hour 20 ... Hour 21 ... Hour 22  ... Hours 23-24 

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