Saturday, July 19, 2014

another day

I've watched the final episode of "24: Live Another Day," which finishes, like the finale of Season 5, on an open-ended note, with Jack being carted away by an enemy. There were some satisfying moments of violence and vengeance, some ridiculously implausible moments (involving bladed weapons), and some moments of genuine pathos and tragedy. William Devane, as an Alzheimer's-stricken President Heller, deserves special mention for his heartfelt performance; at times, he evoked the smarts, dignity, and integrity of President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), and through Devane's portrayal, the presidency became great again.

Jack finally lets himself be captured by the Russians at the end of the show, and the last scene gives us Jack in a helicopter, on his way from England to Moscow for what is sure to be a long, long session of torture. Will the Russians break Jack as the Chinese could not? The door is open for a tenth season of "24"; a lot can happen.

Thankfully, this truncated season featured not a peep from perennial annoyance Kim Bauer, Jack's daughter as played by the ever-luscious Elisha Cuthbert. Cuthbert is undeniably hot, and she can act, so the "annoyance" issue isn't really her fault: it's just the way her character was so often unnecessarily shoehorned into the plot (e.g., the much-mocked "mountain lion" scene). Kim's absence was welcome, and there's also this: her character is now a mother, which is an unpleasant reminder that Jack Bauer is a granddad.

The Brits come off looking terrible this season: incapable, untrustworthy, and always too late to do the right thing—not to mention conspicuously absent while the American CIA runs rampant throughout their sovereign land. I felt bad for Stephen Fry, a fantastic actor who played the mostly hapless and feckless Prime Minister Alastair Davies, a man always offering to help when no help can be given. "Our country owes you a great debt," says Davies to an American at several points throughout the series. I can only imagine actual Brits watching Season 9 and throwing food at their TVs. England, this season, was little more than America's fifty-first state—a mere backdrop for the business-as-usual action. Not that that action was uninteresting, mind you: it wasn't. But I came away feeling that Old Blighty had been underused, not to mention betrayed by the series's filmmakers.

Still, "24" was watchable as always, the de rigueur implausibilities and silliness notwithstanding. I'm sad to see it go, yet again, and can only hope the writers have enough brain-juice left to produce a decent tenth season.


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