24: Day 3 Review

Chase: "Today is not a good day for you to be needing a fix."

Day 3 isn't what I'd call bad, but it certainly suffers in comparison to the exciting wall-to-wall action and depth of emotion that dominated Day 2.

(This review includes massive spoilers!)

The deadly Cordilla virus was the McGuffin for the entire season. Along with hundreds of deaths at the Chandler Plaza Hotel, the focus on medical horror included Jack trying to kick the heroin habit he had deliberately developed when he infiltrated the Salazars' criminal organization; President Palmer taking prescription drugs to counter the damage he suffered last season; Tony Almeida getting shot and operated upon; Gael medically tortured by CTU followed by his gruesome death from the virus; and Alan Milliken dying because Sherry Palmer kept his medication away from him. At least they were consistent with their theme.

The personal

The writers were clearly trying to make Jack less of an unemotional superman this season, but I kept thinking of the continuing Airplane gag that Jack had picked the wrong day to kick heroin. It made me realize that I didn't enjoy seeing Jack Bauer weak, at least when it came to addiction. Strike one.

Strike two was the addition of James Badge Dale as Chase Edmunds, Jack's partner and Kim's secret boyfriend. Everything they gave Chase to do this season should have made us love him: his loyalty to Jack and determination to rescue him, his integrity, his courage under torture. I'm not sure if it was bad writing, miscasting or a combination of both, but Chase turned out to be a younger, blander and ultimately unlikable version of Jack himself, monumentally dull in what could have been a breakout role.

It made sense from a story standpoint to put Kim Bauer in CTU, since her disconnected story in season two didn't work that well. Unfortunately, Kim's storylines this season didn't really work, either. After insisting, at the worst possible time, on telling Jack she was involved with Chase, she was the one who figured out Gael was a double – except it turned out Gael was a triple agent, and a hero.


Kim's best moments in Day 3 were when she successfully doubled for Jane Saunders midway through the season, doing better as an undercover operative than I expected. And in the end, she told Chase that she wouldn't raise his baby for him, although she would raise her with him. Good for Kim.

The political

The addition of the character of Wayne Palmer, the president's brother and chief of staff, was a good move, and I'm not just saying that because I love Sunnydale's last and most successful high school principal. Dennis Haysbert and DB Woodside did most of their dialogue together in Day 3, and their personal relationship gave every conversation added angst and dimension.


There was an abstract painting of a shredded U.S. flag behind President David Palmer's west coast desk throughout much of Day 3. It was a nice visual bit of foreshadowing since during Day 3, Palmer made a huge mistake and deep sixed his own presidency when he brought his ex-wife Sherry in to deal with blackmail threats by one of his major donors, Alan Milliken, whose wife Julia (Gina Torres) had once had an affair with Wayne Palmer. While trying to deal with the situation, Sherry caused Alan Milliken's death by withholding his medication. Later, Julia Milliken folded under pressure like a cheap card table, setting up the scene at the end where Julia killed Sherry and then herself, with an aghast Wayne Palmer right there in the room.


Sherry Palmer was such a great character in the first two seasons and I understood why they felt they had to bring her back and take away all the redemptive progress she had made, but I didn't like the way she went out. I also thought it was disappointing and out of character for David Palmer to lie to the police in order to give Sherry an alibi.

Meanwhile at CTU

Tony Almeida and Michelle Dessler were the emotional center of Day 3 as they learned the hard way about the perils of fraternization. As Director of CTU, Tony was put into an impossible position when Saunders kidnapped Michelle and threatened to kill her, and all that was after spending hours believing she would die from the virus. It was easy to second guess Tony – yes, he should have told Jack – but what Tony did was understandable and he'd better not go to prison for it. Couldn't President Palmer pardon him? After all, as everyone mentioned several times, the same thing happened to Jack during Day 1.

Tony got to be nearly as superhuman as Jack this time, as he was shot and operated upon, and then woke up after surgery only to rush to CTU to save Gael from interrogation. At this point, Tony really should have crashed on an office couch and put Michelle in charge. Instead, he made one critical decision after another for the rest of Day 3 with a huge bloody bandage on his neck. Michelle also had some incredibly heavy stuff to do as she ran the CTU operation at the Chandler Plaza Hotel where hundreds of people were dying. One of the best scenes of the season was Michelle giving the victims access to suicide pills so that they could have a choice about how they died.


The much disliked Ryan Chappelle arrived, and after nearly deciding to let Jack die, he settled in and did his job calmly and logically – right up until his unexpected execution in episode 18. Maybe that calmness and doing a good job in their last hours is always what happens to CTU higher up jerks who are about to die.

Big bads and casting goodness

During the initial episodes, the interesting Ramon Salazar (Joaquim de Almeida) and his boring brother Hector (Vincent Laresca) were the bad guys, bluffing about their plan to infect the people of Los Angeles with the virus unless Ramon was released from prison. I thought Ramon's best scene was on the plane when the partying women were trying to distract him, but all Ramon could think about was killing Jack. By the time Ramon killed his brother Hector in cold blood out of greed, it was believable.


Later, after Ramon blew himself up with the bomb meant for Nina Myers, the Big Bad segued (as the Big Bad tended to do on 24) to Stephen Saunders, an MI-6 agent who had carried out Day 1's Drazen mission with Jack. Saunders actually said at one point that he wanted to "make America clean again," even though he wasn't American. I like Paul Blackthorne, but found it inexplicable that a British Jack Bauer would try to kill thousands of people this way in order to make a statement and effect change. I guess there is really no logical explanation for radicalization.

The return of Nina Myers worked better than it should have, mostly because of Sarah Clarke's terrific performance. I particularly liked how she kept telling Ramon Salazar the absolute truth, that Jack would never betray CTU, and how Ramon refused to believe her every single time. And the scene where she touched and kissed Jack made me shudder. It seemed obvious that she was trying to make Jack lose it, but he didn't.


At least not until he emptied a clip into her. A most satisfying character death. In fact, Jack killed Nina in the same room at CTU where Nina killed Jack's wife Teri. I didn't catch that while watching, but what cool continuity, huh?

Kiefer Sutherland was terrific in Day 3 as always, and I love Carlos Bernard and Reiko Aylesworth as Tony and Michelle. The other Day 3 standouts were Jesse Borrego as Gael, D.B. Woodside as Wayne Palmer, and Mary Lynn Rajskub's advent as future 24 mainstay Chloe O'Brian.

Why is Chloe O'Brian such a successful character? Probably because, unlike nearly everyone else in the series, she's genuinely funny. Prickly and tactless with no people skills, Chloe is also a superior analyst who speaks fluent technobabble and functions consistently at an ultra high level of efficiency, almost like an idiot savant. The subplot with Chloe lying about Chase's baby daughter to the point of getting herself in trouble also revealed that Chloe is loyal to a fault. I think my favorite Chloe scene in Day 3 was when Chloe told Kim the absolute truth – that Chase was Jack Bauer Junior and that he'd never be happy settling down in the suburbs.


It was also interesting that this season introduced future Star Trek star Zachary Quinto as analyst Adam Kaufman, but Mary Lynn Rajskub stole every scene they had together away from him. That's saying something.

The producers of 24 continued to bring in veterans of La Femme Nikita (Joaquim de Almeida, Gina Torres) while also giving us other wonderful guest stars such as Andrea Thompson (Babylon 5), Daniel Dae Kim (Lost), Kevin Chapman (Person of Interest) and Tony Todd (everything).

Although the 24 casting fairy did blow it twice, and significantly, with Chase Edmunds and Kyle Singer (Riley Smith), the teenage aspiring drug dealer who was supposedly Trojan horsing the virus into the states. Kyle went through hell in the first handful of episodes, and I just didn't care. (In episode 3.4, Kyle screamed, "How stupid am I?" So say we all.)

And there was a moment in the interminable Mexico episodes where Jack was forced to put a gun to Chase's head and pull the trigger. Jack did it, believing it was a test and the Salazars wouldn't have given him a loaded gun at this juncture. Honestly, I think that at this point in the season, the producers should have leaped at this opportunity to get rid of a casting mistake. They didn't.



Notable episodes

"5:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m." (episode 3.5) The first few episodes were surprisingly snooze-inducing; episode five was where Day 3 started to pick up for me. As Jack was trying to break Ramon Salazar out of prison, they were captured by rioting prisoners who forced Jack to play Russian roulette. Future Buffy alum Leonard Roberts had an effective scene as a guard who was forced to play, and lost. Kyle Singer tried to hang himself in order to save the life of his girlfriend, and Michelle watched a feed from the O.R. where Tony was under the knife.



"6:00 a.m.-7:00 a.m." (episode 3.18) Michelle told the infected hotel guests that they were going to die and offered them suicide pills. On the phone, Tony and Michelle had an emotion-fest as they discussed the very real possibility that she would die. Saunders demanded the death of Ryan Chappelle. Even though Chappelle initially tried to duck out for a cigarette and escape (and who could blame him), he went to his death with courage – not quite as upsetting as George Mason's end, but still shocking. It was genuinely sad that Chappelle had no one to call to say goodbye. As the sun came up, Chappelle tried to kill himself but couldn't bring himself to do it, and Jack said "God forgive me" as he shot Chappelle in the back of the head. An upsetting scene, bleak and matter of fact, in an empty industrial setting. This episode was a wow.



"10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m." (episode 3.22) Clever Michelle pretended to be infected and knocked out her guard with a brick. It was understandable but infuriating when Jack then told Michelle to let herself get re-caught so that they could get Saunders, but Tony went nuts. There was a hostage exchange at the L.A. River, Saunders was finally captured, and Michelle and Tony were reunited.

"11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m." (episode 3.23) Tony was arrested and brought into CTU in handcuffs, facing charges of treason and possibly the death penalty. (Geez, people! Jack did the exact same thing and he didn't get charged with treason!) Wayne Palmer searched Sherry's house for the incriminating pill bottle as Sherry revealed what she really wanted: to be First Lady. Julia showed up and, terrified of going to prison, killed Sherry and herself. A real shocker.

"12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m." (episode 3.24) Gael's wife killed Stephen Saunders, right in the middle of CTU. Even though he'd been arrested, Tony was needed for tactical and of course, he came through. The last vial of the virus was tracked to a middle school in L.A., and Chase locked it to his injured hand, which of course meant that Jack had to take an axe and chop it off. This should have been a cool emotional moment but wasn't, since I cared nothing about Chase. David Palmer withdrew from the upcoming election.

At the end of the final episode, alone in a car, Jack actually burst into tears. They didn't even have to tell us why.

Bits and pieces

— Jack began the season clean shaven and wearing a really nice suit, a sharp contrast to the beard and flannel he started with last season.

— Apparently, Jack and Kate Warner from Day 2 did have a thing during the three years between seasons, but broke up.

— There were way too many episodes with plot stalling as Jack and Chase wandered around and about Las Nieves, Mexico.

-- I completely neglected to write about two love interests because both relationships ended in a completely unsatisfying way: David Palmer's amour, Dr. Anne Packard (Wendy Crewson) and Jack's abandoned honey Claudia (Vanessa Ferlito).

— Jack, with bound hands, killed a guard on the airplane with only his legs. He's like Van Damme.

— The perch had expanded into an entire second floor, probably because Jack and Tony were jointly running CTU.

— Palmer was trying to get a major health care bill passed. Shades of Obama again.

— At one point, an angry guest broke a window in the Chandler Plaza Hotel. Why didn't the virus escape and decimate Los Angeles?

— Kim again had a really awful hairdo.

— I have to mention that, while Kim Bauer looked very much like her father Jack Bauer, Ramon and Hector Salazar looked nothing like brothers. For that matter, neither did David and Wayne Palmer.

— Jack killed 14 people in Day 3, including Nina Myers (willingly) and Ryan Chappelle (unwillingly).

— Day 3 ran from 1 p.m. to 1 p.m., three years after Day 2 and four and a half years after Day 1, which made it 2008 (the episodes aired 2003-2004). It was also most likely September, since that is when presidential debates usually occur.

— There was a "silent clock" for Ryan Chappelle at the end of episode 18.

A few quotes

Ramon Salazar (referring to Jack): "The man has more lives than a cat."
And I just realized that might have been prophetic. 24 ran nine seasons, if you count Live Another Day.

Tony: (to Nina) "What is it you get out of being a mass murderer?"

Tony: "Chloe, I'm getting really tired of your personality."

To conclude

Not a favorite season. Two out of four digital ticking clocks,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

6 comments:

Jonny said...

I liked Day 3 better than Day 2, largely due to the strength of the villains. I especially Joaquim de Almeida, who was so gleefully evil with no redeeming features at all. I do agree that Hector was boring. I liked Saunders, though, since he serves as such good foreshadowing for certain other characters.

Chase sucked, and so did Kim. It was unbelievable that she ended up at CTU. I guess Jack got her in? Which makes Jack seem stupid, because she didn't get there on merit. Also, what is it with 24 and introducing teenage characters for a span of about six or more episodes? They suck up screentime and they're always painfully stupid.

Oh, and didn't Jack have a girlfriend he promised to rescue from Hector? That kinda went nowhere, didn't it?

I was likewise stunned by Chapelle's death, especially since he'd been so thoroughly vile since his first appearance. He'd always been a less entertaining and more humorless George Mason, so I was surprised how much his death got to me. Testament to the writing and acting, I suppose.

Billie Doux said...

Jonny, thanks -- I just realized that I completely spaced out Jack's amour, who was Hector's wife or girlfriend. She died in the latter part of the season.

Lamounier said...

I don't remember much of this day and I don't like it a lot, especially because what they did to the Palmers and this:

Geez, people! Jack did the exact same thing and he didn't get charged with treason!

I hated that so much. Jack breaks all the rules and nothing ever happens to him. Tony does something wrong once and he is in trouble? Baloney!

it turned out Gael was a triple agent, and a hero.

Did that reveal happen early in the season? I remember I liked an early twist, and by the end of the season thinking that that was the only effective twist the season pulled.

Oh no, wait, Chappelle's death was pretty shocking. It was also supremely dark.

I didn't mind Kim, but that's probably because I was young and liked having a young character on the show. Don't know how I would feel about her today, but the writers should have brought her back only as a recurring/sporadic character after season one.

For some reason, I loved the name Salazar. I wrote a story once with a villain I named Falazar. How original. I was only a teenager, so it was nothing exceptional. I wonder if I have it somewhere.

Thank you for these reviews, Billie. They've been a trip down memory lane.

Billie Doux said...

The Gael storyline was long and strange and pretty complicated, and Jesse Borrego did a really terrific job with it.

WZILLA13 said...

This season got better over time for me; on its original airing I enjoyed it, but it seemed like a letdown after the incredible Season 2. Then as I rewatched it over the years, I grew to appreciate it more and more each time, to the point where it became my fourth favorite (behind Seasons 2, 5, and 7). That being said, Day 3 definitely picks up steam as it progresses, to the point where it plays more like two separate seasons, with the latter half being much stronger than the first. The reasons why:

- I almost agree with Billie's take that she doesn't like to see Jack weak, but then I think of that final scene breakdown in the SUV and it's one of Kiefer Sutherland's most human moments as the character post-Day 1. What I don't like to see Jack Bauer as, however, is flawed, and the heroin addiction was a tough pill to swallow. That fact that this flaw was brushed aside mid-season is one of the most unbelievable aspects of the entire series, yet also one of the most satisfying. I want to see Jack kick ass, not get his ass kicked by drugs.

- Stephen Saunders is a much, much more effective villain than the Salazars. I've never thought much of Ramon and Hector, and though Ramon is portrayed by a much better actor, Hector always came off as the more believable of the two. I really despise Ramon, which could be a testament to Joaquim de Almeida, so seeing him taken out by Nina's bomb was one of my favorite moments of the season.

- Claudia (or Clow-dee-ya, according to Hector) was just not a worthy love interest; shame they wrote out Kate Warner for such a short-lived character (her abrupt death wrote out the character so the actress could film a movie).

- Another weak character who dragged down the first half only to be written out: Palmer's doctor/girlfriend Anne.

- Speaking of Palmer, the early Milliken stuff isn't the greatest, and the guy who played Alan was too over-the-top.

- Chloe was initially really annoying; it's pretty amazing that she evolved into a fan favorite linchpin of the series.

- Even Nina's reappearance was initially somewhat awkward (so Palmer still honored his pardon from Day 2?), but her presence - and the season in general - kicked into high gear once the Salazars were taken off the board.

WZILLA13 said...

(cont.)

- Nina's desperate plays to escape capture were riveting, and her ultimate demise in the basement of CTU remains one of the highlights of the entire series.

- Getting the virus into Amador's and eventually Saunders' hands really focused the threat after it was so nebulous in the Kyle Singer/Salazar episodes.

- Gael's early machinations looked like just another CTU mole storyline, so the revelation of Jack and Tony's secret plan was refreshing - shame Gael went out like he did, inches away from saving the day.

- Aside from the haircut, I didn't mind Kim's role at CTU at all; after what they've already gone through, it makes perfect sense that Jack would want to keep a close eye on her.

- Tony and Michelle continue to be awesome, and the choice Tony is forced to make is agonizing; couldn't say I wouldn't do the same if I were in his position.

- Ryan Chappelle continues the 24 tradition of redeeming a-holes right before killing them off. It was a real shocker when Jack pulled the trigger (I had no problem seeing Frank Castle take out an a-hole played by Paul Schulze, however).

- Sherry's execution was also shocking, but welcome. There was probably no way to reinsert her back into the narrative after this season anyway. It is pretty amazing that Sherry and Julia's deaths didn't prevent Wayne from becoming president down the road.

- The sequence with the jets over the L.A River was pretty awesome.

- I also really love the final episode, and the chase/Chase culmination in the science lab. Seems like a lot of people rag on Chase, but like so many other aspects of Season 3 (Chloe, Gael, the virus plotline), I grew to really like him by the end of the day. The fact Jack had to hack off his arm was a cruel reminder that Jack will do whatever it takes to get the job done, and I've always loved the fact that the national virus threat was thwarted by a faculty room fridge.

- I refuse to believe, however, that Chase was in surgery ten minutes later.

- Like I said before, Jack's final scene to close out the season was powerful, powerful stuff, compounded by his conversation with David Palmer, and the fact he's snapped right out of his misery by a call to duty.


Initially frustrating but ultimately immensely satisfying, Day 3 of 24 is another winner. See you back here for the utter madness that is Day 4!