>TV Round-Up: 24

>Day Six: 6 – 8 a.m.
The sixth worst day of Jack Bauer’s life begins, though you’ve got to imagine the 18 or so months full of days leading up to this one weren’t so hot either.

I like that day six is starting out with the threat (for now) already in motion. For the past eleven week, the United States has been under attack from terrorists. There’s a sense of panic, unrest and worry as the day begins along with a clutching at straws kind of feeling. To the point that now-president Wayne Palmer is willing to sacrifice one person in an attempt to make the attacks stop. That person is, of course, our hero Jack Bauer.

It was no secret Jack would have a long beard and even longer hair. The scars on his body from the torture are an outward manifestation of the inward scarring Jack now has–to the point that he wonders if he can still do the job. When we first see Jack, we can tell something has changed. He’s more subdued, more resigned, almost as if the world has finally broken his spirit. (Look ath furtive glances he gives his Chinese captors when Bill tells him to go with Curtis, almost as if asking for permission). I guess 18 months in a Chinese prison will do that to you. In some ways, it appears Jack has lost the edge he had in the early seasons, especially when it comes to the do whatever it takes to stop the bad guys. We see him here quickly believe the subject of interrogation won’t give up anymore information because he “sees it in his eyes.” Of course, we also see a more animal-like Jack in his escape, biting the neck of his captor to get the keys and escape. It was that moment that made me go–yep, Bauer is still in there.

He just may be a bit more buried than usual. And it makes me wonder if we’ll see him come across Kim and Audrey this year and how that will go. Has Jack finally been beaten down so far that he won’t be able to connect on a human level with his daughter and Audrey? I guess we’ll wait and see if that plotline comes up.

Jack is merely one pawn in a game being played between fundamentalist. One wants him dead, the other now needs him to clear his name and stay alive. I had to admit, so far this plotline is working for me as well as the clear issues president Wayne Palmer is having with doing what needs to be done. Maybe it’s just the five previous seasons talking but Peter MacNichol’s character has to be up to something more. That said, I like the character. I don’t necessarily agree with what he says, but his pragmatic stance is interesting. I wonder how many episodes he’ll last.

On a side note, I wonder what exactly the price was Wayne paid to get Jack out of prison. And will that come back into play later in the day? It also makes me curious as to why it took so long to negotiate for Jack’s release. Did they know Jack was in prison all this time and try to get him out? Or were they willing to let Jack rot in prison in the interest of the diplomatic relations with China? Until they need him, that is…

And I have a feeling that before day’s end, they’re going to need him even more. Even take out the personal connection Jack has to this particular terrorist and I have to wonder if, at some point, Jack will take out his years of captivity out on someone else–presumbly a potential suspect who is under Jack’s interrogation.

And we’ve got the usual updates on CTU things. Bill and Karen are married now, though given the track record of CTU relationships, don’t bet they make it to the end of the day unscathed. (Man, the couples counselling guy on the CTU insurance plan must get paid a ton of overtime). Chloe is with her ex-husband and still Chloe. Milo is back from season one (it took me a minute or two to place him) and we’ve got a new woman in middle-management. What exactly her role will be–beyond a plot device to keep Chloe from helping Jack–I’m not sure yet. That said, she’s not unpleasing on the eyes.

But for all those good things, there are still some things that didn’t thrill me. The whole plotline of the Arab family with a sleeper agent. It was done so much better two years ago, at least so far. And the son being the agent while the FBI came for his dad. If the FBI and other authorities of the world of 24 are so into the profiling, it doesn’t make sense they don’t take both into custody. Also, I find it a bit absurd that the neighbors are waiting around at 6 a.m. to kick the crap out of everyone and then come back over at 7 a.m. I guess it’s a Saturday or Sunday since no one seems in any big hurry to head off to their jobs.

Oh wait, I’m thinking too much again. I’ve got to stop doing that.

Then we’ve got the Palmer sister, who shreds documents that I’m sure will later prove to be vital to the day. I guess that’s why we have Chloe around. A mouse clicks and those files will be restored just in time for a plot twist.

Please don’t get me wrong–it’s not that I don’t love 24 . I do. It’s just that these two plotlines are a bit transparent and cliched by 24 standards. One thing that worked so well last year was the show didn’t rest much on its laurels and fought (for the most part) the tempation to become too predicatble, too much of the been there, done that syndrome that can easily overtake a show this late in it’s run.

And don’t think I’m going to give up on 24. As with all good shows, the good in it more than outweighs the bad–at least so far. Plus it’s still one of the most entertaining shows out there. I’m glad it’s back and I’m interested to see where the next two hours take us.

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