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24 Season 8 Episode 9, 12:00-1:00AM – review
In a dark alley, weapons grade uranium is being delivered to the political dissidents of Kamistan. Jack Bauer has put on a new outfit, a stylish brown leather jacket, to try and finagle a cell phone trace and track down Russian bad guy’s son, Josef, who is being real grumpy toward Pops for killing his brother. Josef is about to hand over the rods, right into CTU’s hands, when Farhad Hassan kills the short-lived bad guy, and steals the Uranium. Voice print analysis pins Farhad in a few short minutes. CTU tech is by equal measure completely useless, or blazing fast and accurate, serving as a subtle and constant deus ex machina for the writers to steer the plot in whatever direction they see fit.
Hastings is back to being an oppressive boss, and Chloe show some tenderness toward Jack for his unfortunate torture. Jack always has gruff responses to any kind of emotional concern, “Yeah, whatever.” Jack isn’t jonesing for Chloe, anyway; he is interested in Renee and has her wrapped around his little finger after one offer of love last episode. The Prez’s Chief of Staff is pushing Hastings hard, since the two are politically connected. Chief of Staff is talking like a real political operative, no high ideal nonsense scripting, though Hastings plays an unlikely moral foil, talking up Renee’s risking her life for her country.
Agent Ortiz is working with weasel tech-guy Arlo Glass to track down his erstwhile fiancé Dana Walsh. Dana has finally shown some country can-do, planning to shoot her problems away, silencer and all. Hastings and a bitchy DOJ agent are working hard to pin all of the blame for CTU’s continual screw-ups on Renee, and Chloe is immediately suspicious. Farhad takes his newfound nuke material to a (surprise) vacant industrial area, where his henchmen commit mutiny. Now the goons want to set off a radiological dirty bomb in the U.S. The political discourse gets real juicy here. Farhad claims if the weapon is used, the U.S. will invade, and the goon says the U.S. will invade anyway, installing Omar as a corrupt Mid-east dictator on the U.S. payroll, supplied with plenty of guns and money. “That’s what the peace talks are all about.” The goon goes on to say that even a giant can be toppled with a stone. Farhad agrees to go along with this scheme, a good idea, since he has no choice in the matter. The goon tells him reassuringly that America will always be their enemy. This is the first cogent discussion of U.S. foreign policy of the season, and an example of the sparse honest dialogue that shows up from time to time.
Renee is getting grilled by the DOJ lady, who is trying to play mind games with her to make her crack. In the tradition of 24, almost all black women in positions of power are portrayed as insanely manipulative Lady Macbeth types. It is all shades of Sheri Palmer, the archetype of the character. This should be a tense scene, but Renee is fixed to one grimacing pout, so there are only tears to signal changes in emotion. Jack gets real rough with the security guard, and grabs the DOJ lady by the neck, then intimidates his way past another guard, before getting tazed. Jack always gets real mad and unreasonable when people mess with his numerous tragic romantic interests. The goons reveal that they actually don’t have the detonator for their bomb (awful planning; never prepared), and Farhad suggests a professor in the city to help out, but it is all a feint to escape. These guys are real stupid, moving around exposed uranium rods, just standing around like it’s no big deal.
Hastings is pretty understanding; Jack is revealing all of his bureaucratic maneuvers, and they are playing power games with each other. Jack threatens to call the President, but he has overplayed that hand, and Hastings calls his bluff. Farhad Hassan calls into CTU, giving up his Kamistan buds and their dastardly plan. Dana Walsh is about to interrupt a nighttime dalliance with strippers and rednecks, when Ortiz intervenes demanding explanations. Ortiz’s accent is cracking a bit when he gets real tough and gruff, but Dana still spills the goods. Farhad is on the run from heavily armed baddies in a (surprise) vacant industrial area, but CTU’s omnipresent drones are on the scenes. Meanwhile, rookie CTU agent from last episode has been put in charge of the assault, since Ortiz is busy dealing with hicks. Rookie CTU agent Owen is as good as dead, and Hastings knows it, having a heart to heart with Jack about running CTU. Hastings demands Jack be in till the end, and, of course, Jack agrees, to the tune of ominous synth music.
Dana confesses all to Ortiz about her schemes and blackmail problems. Ortiz takes away her gun, and gives her a lecture on cold-blooded murder, while Walsh rationalizes and falls back on, “I love you.” The feeling must be mutual because Ortiz takes care of business himself, defending his woman as it were, and tries to send the yokels packing. The rednecks had an interesting dynamic, but it ends in murder and a last expression of affection from that asshole redneck ex, saving Ortiz and Dana. Ortiz was pretty dumb to turn his back on a couple of dangerous country folk he had just threatened, but it’s not like he’s a special agent or anything.
This was a pretty solid episode; things are starting to move in a steady rhythm, and I might even say the doldrums are done with, and we’re in for smooth 24 sailing. With a 24 movie being scripted, more seasons of 24 are looking a lot more likely, and maybe we’ll even get a climactic build-up.