24 is really starting to spill a lot of blood on a regular basis heading into the home stretch of the series. Death, of course, raises all of the stakes and makes for much more dramatic and dynamic storytelling. Additionally, since the show doesn’t have another season to worry about, it can throw away main characters like loose change. This is an all and all good episode, a set-up to be sure, but with plenty of story to offer. The mask has finally been pulled off the shrouded face of the true threat, and it is a huge menacing shadow that’s about to fall over Jack. The Russian government was behind the rogue IRK terrorist the whole time, and the self-assured Russian foreign minister is doing everything he can to throw the peace agreement off the rails. The politics and palace intrigue that is taking shape is responsible for some of the biggest whopper lies the show has ever perpetrated, and makes clear that this season is all about a dichotomy of Islam.
With Omar Hassan dead, the widow Dalia Hassan is encouraged to take his place as the interim president of the IRK. The idea that Kamistan/Iran would allow a woman to even come near the presidency, or any other powerful political office, is absolutely ludicrous. The magnitude of this lie about Middle Eastern governments is almost incomprehensible; women are subjugated, not shepherded to power by well-intentioned aides. If a person has any doubt about this, they need only look to Benazir Bhutto, a potent political opponent to President/General Pervez Musharraf who quickly found herself dead in a coffin by the schemes of assassins. This is a problem 24 has with itself; on the one hand it has been a main driver of the Muslim terrorist stereotype, on the other it now wants to portray the culture as inclusive of women and seeking peace with the West. In fact, 24 is probably trying to imply an ultimatum by subtext that Muslims must either choose to be Western-friendly, or the only alternative is to be a whole cloth terrorist in the mold of Samir Mehran.
Poor Samir Mehran, having survived being shot by Jack, is promptly poisoned by an assassin EMT working for the Russians. EMT assassins are a real plague to CTU; they should really screen these guys eventually. Renee recognizes the killer from her time undercover with the Russian mob, and seals her fate. Jack, fresh from a somber mea culpa to the President, calls it quits for the day and takes Renee promptly to his apartment for some hard-core sex. Not trying to judge Jack or anything, but Renee did sleep with that oily Russian goon not even a day ago; this is a clear and disgusting case of sloppy seconds. Additionally, how are these two in the mood, anyway? Was it the gaping cut throat of Omar and his cold dead eyes that turned them on? Maybe it was the thrill of shooting that evil Muslim mom that got Renee all hot and bothered. Whatever the case, it’s a good thing they got off while they could, because Renee gets assassin-shot right through the gut. Again, not trying to judge, but shouldn’t a guy like Jack, who has offended so many powerful interests (from crime syndicates, to terrorists, to forces within our own government), not choose an apartment with giant windows, or maybe close the fucking blinds? Jack had to know that one day a sniper would come knocking (twice as likely on the day you’ve been on a 24 rampage); you could say that he damn well deserved it for sheer stupidity.
The rush to the hospital shows that 24 can still be visually dynamic when it wants to be. Look at Renee in her pure white shroud, the blood really pops, and the whole scene is going for a pseudo-biblical vibe. It is kind of weird that the doctors just leave her sitting in the operating room alone, but it gives Jack a chance to do his classic despairing sad face. It also gives him the impetus to be so fucking angry that he cuts through the new Russian threat like a buzz saw. Speaking of threats, classic nemesis President Charles Logan is back, being very shady while talking to President Taylor, and revealing a Presidential pardon from President Noah Daniels (a lot of Presidents). This scene has a little too much staring and zooming in on faces, and Taylor lets Logan be very vague about using unnamed leverage on the Russians. At CTU Hastings is removed in favor of Chloe as Director, and Hastings drives to the often-mentioned (but never seen) Division. This seems like the natural evolution of Chloe into the top spot at CTU, and she is on the ball, spotting Samir’s poisoning (hell, she’s been through enough 24 to know what’s what).
The set-up is pretty great, but the next episode looks an awful lot like more filler. 24 seems to be getting all of its ducks in a row to finish business. Logan is a classic villain, and it is natural for him to be there for the endgame. Tony has to be there in the last episodes, likely as Jack’s final sidekick on a desperate errand against impossible forces. It would be a sore disappointment if Tony wasn’t there for the curtain call; if he isn’t there, why did they even bothering keeping him alive last season? And do you remember the Secret Service team that got killed escorting Hassan a couple of episodes ago? How the fuck did the Secret Service not think it was odd that communication with the whole team was cut off? And the President waiting with bated breath for his arrival, not even informed of what was happening. In the land of 24, the Secret Service is severely shitty.