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24 Season 8 Episode 13, 4:00-5:00AM – review
Terrorists really need to remember the rocket launchers. The distinct lack of explosives leaves the bad guys at a disadvantage during the episode-long standoff with Jack Bauer, Cole Ortiz, Rookie CTU Guy, and Expendable SWAT Officer. Action movie rules state that the Rookie CTU Guy must die in Jack’s arms, and we have seen this coming from a long way off. The suspense wasn’t if he would die, it was how and when would die, thus the fate of Rookie CTU Guy turns into an erstwhile Final Destination wait-and-see guessing game. At CTU Hastings is trying to put CTU back together again after the disastrous EMP bomb crippled electronics at HQ. Underground CTU is flooding from dead pumps, without electricity, and every desk and CTU drone has a cute electric lamp. The bureaucratic wrangling between Hastings and the NSA support team makes up a round third of the episode; it is hard to understand why every government agent is always trying to pull rank and is never, ever, helpful. Dana Walsh and the troublesome Parole Officer continue to bother the viewer with persistent annoyance, until a reveal at the end of the episode puts business as usual to a rest.
Jack and company have followed the rogue Kamistan intelligence officers to a (surprise) nondescript port industrial area. With CTU down, Jack must enter unaware of the trap that awaits him. With cell phones and radio jammed, they drive in, but Jack’s acute sense of danger saves them, putting the pedal to the metal screaming backwards while automatic fire tears the SUV to pieces. Luckily the vehicle is bulletproof, but Jack backs into a corner of shipping containers where the back and forth gunfight begins. While this gun play isn’t innovative, it keeps your attention surprisingly well, and time seems to pass a little slower from the (gasp) tension the writers have generated. The key play that Jack pulls off is a bit of a Spartan Phalanx, pulling the bulletproof plating from the SUV, and walking in between the two sheets to get to a land line. The plan works well until Expendable SWAT Officer loses his cool and bolts. He is shot again and again, used as sniper bait, which pulls in the Rookie CTU Guy to his untimely death. Rookie manages to pool his comrade back, but is shot and mortally wounded, and to add insult to injury, the SWAT Guy dies too. Jack lies to the Rookie that he saved the man’s life, and that he did real good, and what else could you want to make up for your pointless life and death?
At CTU Chloe calls Renee at Jack’s place (she’s finally back after a multi-episode absence) and sends her looking for him. Jack apparently lives at the Hotel Chelsea, and has good taste, because his furniture is really nice. Good thing, since he really wants to impress Renee for a little after-crisis sex. Renee looks real stern as she chambers a round in her pistol and looks blankly into the distance. Chloe then fights with the NSA asshole about some maneuver of tapping into the “trunk line” to get CTU back up and running. A trunk line may be completely made up, but she risks electrocution to make it work. She forces her hand at gunpoint, is caught, and then gets Hastings’ backing to try things her way. The writers are spoon-feeding the characters’ separate motivations to the viewers with a pretty heavy hand. Chloe is looking fresh and beautiful after a rather frumpy season, and she succeeds in getting CTU back online. Dana tries to foil her, which seems like a bitch move, but turns out to be a terrorist move in the end.
Jack’s gunfight gets more and more desperate, and ends on a suicide run by Jack to cover Ortiz. Jack shoots the shit out of black-clad Middle Eastern men with his usual aplomb, but even pulling his pistol in desperation doesn’t save him from being shot in the chest twice with rifle fire. The NYPD should get some CTU body armor, as Jack survives rifle fire, but similarly protected NYPD SWAT officers were killed instantly by small caliber pistol rounds just a few episodes ago. Renee shows up and kills Jack’s assailants with bad-ass cool and collected calm. Renee is really selling her dangerous role; she has ice cold water running through her veins. This gunfight was done competently, and Jack’s endgame fall looked pretty good. 24 should ditch the same old industrial sets for some aesthetic/dynamic sets that deliver some color and personality. Still, I prefer an episode-long gunfight to pretty much anything else I’ve seen this season.
At CTU, the Parole Officer pushes Dana Walsh too far. Walsh uses all of her lying charm to try and get rid of him, but you can’t fool a country boy like him with country tricks. Dana kills his ass, strangling him to death, and dumping his body in an unlikely man-sized vent-cover in a holding room. This body will be discovered at a critical point later this season revealing her true nature. Dana picks up the phone (provided by NSA) to call (Ortiz? NO!) the terrorist leader, loading his goons and the fuel rods in a taxi, the only New York icon the show wants to use. Dana is a terrorist traitor, helping them from the inside! This is a rote 24 plot move, but it raises the question of why Dana didn’t just kill her ex immediately instead of dealing with his shit? Dana is a cruel and ruthless country girl, and she is going to do what it takes, and have an emotional standoff with Ortiz in the process. Not too bad, 24, especially considering the performance so far. Next week, President Hassan is demanded as ransom for the safety of Manhattan, and Jack has to deliver him to the bad guys. President Taylor will be back pursing her lips in concern, and Dana will be acting more and more suspicious.