”24”: Jack hijacks a plane
It took Jack Bauer nearly an hour on that plane to locate the person who had the tape that incriminates President Logan. This was not my idea of a particularly exciting 24 episode, especially since there are only four hours remaining this season. Last night we were subjected to at least one pointless dead end. (Jack was made to spend quite a few minutes tracking down one passenger with ties to Peter Weller’s Henderson, and the suspect proved to be a complete innocent — and please don’t say that was just being realistic, because realism on 24 is something that left the building when Logan went from nattering doofus to crisply articulate criminal.) And Jean Smart’s First Lady was hauled in to beg for some sedatives and have yet another accusatory rant against her husband, but that didn’t go anywhere, either — no character or plot revelations we didn’t already know about. Most frustrating of all, we didn’t learn anything more about Paul McCrane’s Graham and the Omicron organization than we did when the former Dr. Romano was introduced last week. All Graham/Romano contributed last night was a final-seconds command to the president to order that Jack’s plane be shot down, something that won’t play out until next week. I dunno — when you start stuffing your hero into a baggage compartment for a chunk of time, and set Chloe up in a hotel bar to work just so she can Taser a drunk for comic relief (which I admit was damn funny, especially when she did it a second time), you don’t end up with a 24 episode to submit for Emmy consideration.
And I thought things were pretty promising early on. The show cast Kirk Acevedo, the strong young actor from HBO’s Oz, as an air marshal, but his character existed mostly to get knocked out by Jack, who needed his gun and badge. Also, as I noted last week, I wanted to see how, in this period of post-9/11 drama, the producers would handle the freaked-out-passenger scenes when Jack took command of the plane, but Jack spent so much time in the cargo hold that this stuff barely registered on screen. Probably just as well.
My mind hasn’t wandered this much during any other 24 edition so far this season. When Graham/Romano told Logan to shoot down the plane or he’d ”go to prison for treason and murder,” I thought, ”Well, there’s your crossover episode with Prison Break next season: Watch Gregory Itzin help Wentworth Miller crank up the action on that fading-inspiration show.”
On the other hand, I have to keep this in perspective. Were I not writing a TV Watch for every episode — if I were just watching this as I usually do, as an ordinary fan — I’d be saying to friends today, ”Hey, give ’em a break. So they had an off week; even the best shows aren’t terrific every single time.” So that’s what I say to you, okay? Next week, the plane may or may not get shot down. I just hope it doesn’t land in the same lake Defense Secretary Heller drove his car into, because then Audrey (hey, where was Audrey this week?) will get really upset, reminded once again of her dad’s (probable) death.
So my questions now are more plot-structural this time around: How do you think the writers will crank up the action while beginning to tie together the dangling plot threads as the season draws to a close? Can I please start reading some of your Grand Theories about how everything will form a coherent, slam-bang, satisfying conclusion? Heck, I’ll even entertain your silly theories, if you have those as well. Thank you, and please keep your seat belt buckled at all times; you never know when a CTU agent will cause some turbulence in your life just for the heck of it.