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''24'': The explosive nature of faith

In the series’ 4 p.m. hour, a dramatic focus on the will to do ill in pursuit of a ”higher goal” helps renew our belief in ”24”

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24, D.B. Woodside


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”24”: The explosive nature of faith

Last night’s 24 was all about faith, both sincere and misguided. It began with Jack still trying to capture his father, who’d escaped not only with his criminal guilt and some of the knowledge Jack needed to forestall further nuclear attacks, but also with the forgiveness Jack had sought from his father when Jack had tried to explain the reasons he’d left his family to pursue his current career.

Pretty soon, we moved on to the Russian nationalist Dmitri Gredenko, whose faith in a renewed Soviet Union was based on his belief that he could make, as he said, ”the Arabs and the West… destroy each other.” This in turn led us to Jack’s meeting with former President Logan, who said Jack would have to trust him — have faith in him — to lead him to Gredenko before more nukes are detonated. Logan, safe in a comfy retreat via a deal he’d brokered during Jack’s imprisonment in China, told our hero that he’d had ”time to reconnect with my faith,” and that he’d take Jack to the Russian Consul General, who, Logan claimed, has ties to and knows the whereabouts of Gredenko.

Ever suspicious, Jack wanted to know what Logan wanted out of this, and Logan, who was seen reading the Bible, said simply, ”redemption.” When Jack called Bill Buchanan to update him on Logan’s info, Jack thumbed through Logan’s Bible and came across Psalm 40, where he saw a highlighted passage in which God is addressed by the Biblical David: ”You brought me out of a horrible pit and set my feet upon a rock.” This was the same passage Logan recited while looking at himself in the mirror, adding words that aren’t in that passage of the Bible: ”One step at a time, Charles,” Logan said to himself. ”One step at a time.”

By probably no coincidence at all, however, these are words that are an echo of a central tenet of Alcoholics Anonymous — ”One day at a time” — which circles back to another subplot: the slip and fall of Morris, who’s undergoing a real crisis since giving the reprogramming device to Fayed. He told Chloe that he’d called his AA sponsor to get some guidance but was probably lying, and we saw him, in a moment of torment in a CTU bathroom, empty a partially full bottle of booze down a sink. The implication is that Morris has been drinking, which breaks the faith that Chloe has had with him that he’d remained sober.

Last night there was renewed emphasis — another reminder — that this plot that Lennox and Reed are involved in, which Reed has escalated to include the assassination of President Wayne Palmer, isn’t just something they and a couple of other hoodlums have cooked up. It’s a big conspiracy that includes the Vice President and who knows who else. ”You can’t go soft on us now,” Reed told the trussed-up Lennox. ”We’re trying to save this country.” (Earlier, remember, Reed had said, ”We’re not cold-blooded murderers; we’re just trying to save our country.”) Again, the language of faith: ”save” — salvation, used in the name of patriotism but to commit a treasonous act.

We didn’t get to the bomb-exploding-at-the-podium scene that we’d been shown during last week’s coming attractions until the very end of this hour. Yet this episode didn’t feel slow or like a placeholder at all. Instead, it unified all the emotion that had been floating around pretty aimlessly last week and put it to good use — it was one heck of a tense, nerve-racking hour. It was possible to see one of the through-line themes of this season’s 24: the episode’s writer, Manny Coto, was coaxing us to try and understand why people do despicable things in the name of God and honor to their country.

In the coming attractions, we saw Jack brandishing something that looked like super-size gardening shears and telling a bloodied Russian Consul that he’ll give Jack the information he needs ”or you’re going to start losing your fingers.” It seems as though this was almost certainly shot before one of 24‘s producers, Howard Gordon, promised to cut back on the torture stuff, but I’m not going to pass any judgment on that scene until I see the whole thing. Context is everything, even when it comes to using torture in a prime-time drama — and, well, I gotta have faith until I’m proven wrong, right?

What do you think? Do you buy Logan’s new earnest seriousness? Do you think we’ll see Jack’s dad again any time soon? What kind of conspiracy do you think is at work that’s trying so hard to put the Vice President into power?