24 Live Another Day: 9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.

"If the U.S. goes to war with China, who do you think benefits?"

This was a bit of a hodgepodgy mess, which makes sense given the jumble of plots we have left to solve in this penultimate episode.

With Margot Al-Harazi out of the way, we were left to deal with the lurking subplot that has been working behind the scenes up until this point in the season, specifically Stolnavich, the Russian diplomat who turned out to actually be a Russian intelligence operative. The details were a bit murky, which is unfortunate given we only have one episode left, but basically Stolnavich hired Cheng Zhi to start a war between China and America... for reasons that defy logic. (That was my sarcastic voice, which I'll admit sounds a lot like my regular voice.)

Getting the override device makes sense, since it is a dangerous and scary MacGuffin. The rest, I didn't really buy it. It felt mostly like an excuse to bring back an old villain to give Jack and Audrey some closure for the obscene amount of torture they lived through. I loved how Audrey bluntly asked Jack to kill Cheng if he had the chance, and I have no doubt that Jack would do just that.

That being said, this final arc feel a bit small in comparison to the Margot arc. Maybe because I truly doubt that the show is going to plunge this fictional world into a war between the U.S. and China. It would be one hell of a bummer of an ending to the season/series. But it does ratchet up the stakes, since our heroes are literally fighting to save the world this time. Which makes me feel that they are setting up Jack to die in the next episode.

Case in point, the heartfelt conversation between Jack and Audrey. That felt like a goodbye scene, although it could be Audrey who dies. If yet another love interest for Jack dies... who am I kidding, they've already killed off like four of them already. Sheesh, that's a pretty horrible track record there, Jack.

At least Chloe had some fun moments. First she tricked Cheng into leaving behind that phone on which she had managed to record his voice. Second, she kicked ass and escaped from that truck at just the right moment. She now has the only lead to finding the override device before it leaves the country.

Unfortunately, Kate has now been relegated to Jack's sidekick. She had only a few lines, and mostly just kicked ass. This is probably because her emotional arc is now over for the most part, with the discovery that her dead husband wasn't a traitor. I'm not sure what else they have planned for her character, but I hope she has a satisfying final moment at least.


The whole diplomatic strategy that Audrey came up with turned out to be nothing more than a set up. I'm not sure how I feel about her being in direct danger because it is so clich├ęd.

That long protracted firefight with the Russians at the beginning of the episode was a touch boring, which is unusual for this show.

At least Michael Wincott (Adrian Cross) got a paycheck for this episode. He's been a favorite actor of mine for a long time, and I think he played one of my favorite characters this season. His actions were at times a bit frustrating, but at least he was interesting.

I rolled my eyes when I found out Stolnavich was actually working with Cheng. Up until that point I'd thought it was nothing more than a misunderstanding because of Boudreau's screw up with the rendition paperwork for Jack.

Winner of the 'Within The Hour' pool goes to: Cheng, who has to get to the port and out of the country in less than an hour.

I wonder if Heller realized how absurd his explanation was to the Chinese president? If one of my ships had just been attacked, and the leader of the nation that attacked tried to pass off some bizarre story about a magical machine that can infiltrate any defense system, I'd be skeptical, too.

This exchange illustrates how utterly stupid Boudreau is:
Boudreau: "What happens when the bullets start to fly?"
Jack: "You're gonna want to try to stay low."

Not the best penultimate episode I've ever seen, but then again maybe it'll be better in retrospect after I've seen the finale.

2 1/2 out of 4 cliched hodgepodgy MacGuffins.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.


ChrisB said...

I completely agree with your review, J.D. The episode felt rushed (except for that long bit at the beginning) and unsatisfying. All Kate had to do was look at Jack with concern.

I felt at the end of this episode like I feel as I approach the end to a book I am loving -- I want to know how everything is resolved, but I don't want it to end.

Having said that, I am very interested now to see how the show is going to wrap up. I'm sure that someone we care about a great deal is going to die and I am still clinging to hope that Tony appears. We shall see...

Billie Doux said...

I wasn't crazy about this one, either. It didn't feel penultimate at all, and Boudreau didn't even die, which is what I was waiting for. I'm apprehensive about the finale, especially since it might be the absolute end of 24. If they leave us with an uncomfortable cliffhanger, I'm going to be massively ticked off.

Chris, I share your love for Tony, but it feels like he's too dead a character to bring back, you know? And if they were going to do it, it should have been several episodes ago. Of course, I've been wrong before. Many, many times.

WADEZILLA13 said...

I'll have to disagree with the lot of you and say that I thoroughly enjoyed this one; it would've been just about perfect were it not for the 11th hour (literally) Audrey mission that clearly was meant to a) Give her something important to do and b) Put her in danger for the finale. It was painfully obvious that her friend was going to get sniped, wasn't it?

Otherwise, this was an exciting, breakneck hour that almost felt like it had too much awesome - which is to be expected with so many balls in the air and only one hour to wrap it all up. And is it all a bit convoluted? Of course it is, but I learned back in Season 4, with Marwan's insane 88-faceted plan to just go with it and enjoy the ride, because that's what's 24 is all about. That mindset has worked for me ever since (except for Season 6, which stretched the limits of credulity too far).

And Billie, Tony wasn't "too dead a character" to bring back when he was actually supposed to be dead. 24 fans love him, and would be more likely to watch a (Kate) spinoff if he was involved. Unfortunately the writers worked themselves into a bind when they had him kill Larry Moss, making it really hard to bring him back in any governmental capacity. But if they do, I will be thrilled - and I'll be along for that ride as well :)