24: Day 4 Review

A streamlined villain, a more focused plot, and a relatively successful season.

(This review includes massive spoilers!)

All of Day 4's plotlines were centered on a terrorist named Habib Marwan and his numerous, massive, and (thankfully, in a real life sense) improbable plans to attack the United States in the space of 24 hours. The season began with a train derailment that was cover for stealing an override device that would force every nuclear power plant in the country to melt down, followed by the kidnapping and planned televised execution of the Secretary of Defense. The action later shifted to shooting down Air Force One, and ended with a nuclear missile launch intended to hit Los Angeles.

At the start, Jack was no longer at CTU; he worked for James Heller, the aforementioned Secretary of Defense. William Devane and Kim Raver joined the cast as Heller and his daughter and aide, Audrey Raines. Both were popular characters in the 24-verse, and it's not surprising, considering how bravely they comported themselves when they were kidnapped in their very first episode and faced almost certain death. They even tried to commit suicide together in order to take themselves out of the terrorists' hands.


Creating a love interest for Jack Bauer is a thankless task – see Teri Bauer in Day 1, Kate Warner in Day 2, and the unfortunate girlfriend of Hector Salazar in Day 3 whose name I can't even remember. Audrey was more successful, probably because her character was better written, and Raver is a stronger actress. (Or maybe I just like her more.) Jack's relationship with Audrey gave him an interesting personal arc as the events of Day 4 forced Audrey to realize that Jack would always put duty before anything else, even the woman he loves. He's just built that way.


Much like the Warners in Day 2, some of the early action centered on the Araz family, a sleeper cell of terrorists waiting for their moment, only to discover that five years in the United States had inevitably changed things for their teenage son Behrooz. He balked at killing his girlfriend Debbie, sparking an ultimately fatal conflict between his parents Navi (Nestor Serrano) and Dina (Shohreh Aghdashloo of the wonderful voice). It turned out to be an interesting exploration of the depths of terrorist commitment. Navi was willing to kill his own son for the cause, but even though Dina was fine with killing millions of strangers, killing Behrooz was where she drew the line. Dina had some interesting and powerful scenes in Day 4.

The political

I've always found it interesting that, while 24 was often accused, and understandably so, of being too right wing, it was David Palmer, the Democratic president, who was strong, decisive and consistently ethical, much superior to his successor. At the end of Day 3, David Palmer decided not to run for a second term, and in Day 4, his somewhat slimy Republican debate opponent, Senator John Keeler (Geoff Pierson) was president. When Air Force One was shot down and Keeler was in critical condition, Keeler's veep Charles Logan was sworn in.


While Keeler was clearly no David Palmer, Charles Logan wasn't even in the parking lot outside the ballpark. A cowardly, extremely dangerous dishrag of a man, Logan immediately had a My Pet Goat moment of paralysis and hid in the presidential bunker, leaned constantly on Mike Novick for everything, blamed everyone else for his own mistakes, and kept taking the advice of the last person to speak to him because he apparently couldn't hold complicated situations in his head long enough to analyze what should be done. I have to praise Gregory Itzin's performance as Charles Logan because he was simply terrific in this part: three-dimensional, dangerously weak, and totally despicable.

Meanwhile, at CTU

As much as I hate to admit it, Alberta Watson's entire arc as CTU director Erin Driscoll didn't work, even a little, and that made me sad. She was so incredibly diabolical as Madeline for four seasons on La Femme Nikita; you'd think playing Jack's adversary at CTU would be a lead pipe cinch. What went wrong? Was it that Jack kept successfully bypassing her every evil attempt to bring him down, making her look incredibly ineffective? Was it the subplot about her schizophrenic daughter Maya, my least favorite Day 4 plot, that fell with a distinctive thud? Driscoll losing her daughter did exemplify the sacrifice of family to the altar of duty, but not all that well because it was just so improbable. When Driscoll left the floor after Maya's suicide, all I felt was relief that both characters were gone.


While Driscoll didn't work out, this season introduced two other popular characters. Curtis Manning (Roger Cross) joined the cast as second in command to Driscoll and antagonistic toward Jack... at first. It took half the season for me to realize that Curtis is awesome. And James Morrison came on board as Bill Buchanan, replacing the late Ryan Chappelle from Division. I always liked both Curtis and Bill.

I was also glad to have Chloe O'Brian back, even though she was absent for several episodes in the middle of the season because Mary Lynn Rajskub had another acting commitment. Chloe was less comic relief this season and more a true ally of Jack's. It's probably difficult to like the later seasons of 24 if you don't like Chloe O'Brian, and I like Chloe O'Brian. However, I did not like Edgar Stiles (Louis Lombardi). He just irritated me throughout Day 4 and I never felt sympathy for him, even when he lost his disabled mother during the meltdown and had to keep working.

Just as in Day 3, Tony Almeida and Michelle Dessler were the emotional center of Day 4, with the two of them reuniting in counterpoint to the disintegration of Jack's relationship with Audrey. More about that below.

Marianne Taylor (Aisha Tyler) got the thankless job of this season's requisite CTU mole and ended up dead. Sarah Gavin (Lana Parrilla) was underused but luckier; she survived the day but was undeservedly tortured, and later fired when she started making demands for restitution. Geez. Who'd work for CTU? How do they manage to retain staff at all?

Big bads and casting goodness

Instead of shifting bad guys, Day 4 featured only one: Turkish terrorist Habib Marwan (Arnold Vosloo), who unfortunately turned out to be a dull villain.

It's not surprising that 24 always makes me think about civil liberties. When do the rights of individuals cease to matter? When do the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few? The show often says interesting things about the nature of terrorism, too. For me, one of the most interesting scenes in Day 4 was near the end, when Jack tried to negotiate directly with Marwan. He asked him, what is it you actually want? What will stop you from nuking us? You have the ear of the president, and whatever it is, we'll give it to you. Jack called Marwan's bluff, but Marwan wouldn't play. As it turned out, it wasn't about principle at all; Marwan really just wanted to kill a whole lot of people.

President Charles Logan was a much more successful and infinitely complicated villain: spiteful and irrational, so powerful that he could not be stopped. Small spoiler if you haven't seen the rest of the series – it's not surprising that Logan is a major player in Day 5, which is my favorite season of 24.

While Lana Parrilla and Shawn Doyle were wasted, and Kevin Alejandro, Darby Stanchfield, Keith Szarabajka and Francois Chau showed up but were gone too soon, it was lovely to see Jude Ciccolella as Mike Novick again, Mia Kirshner returned as the mysterious Mandy, and Tzi Ma was chilling as Cheng Zhi, the representative of the Chinese government.


But it was James Frain, playing Audrey's estranged husband Paul Raines, who was season four's most valuable player slash guest star. After Jack was forced to DIY torture Paul with a wire from a hotel room lamp when he thought Paul was a bad guy, Paul turned out to be a truly good guy, worthy of Audrey's love and Jack's respect. Later, Paul even took a bullet for Jack's sake and in service of his country. When Jack had to force the CTU doctor to save a terrorist's life and his decision caused Paul's death, it was a shocker because at this point, I really cared about Paul. It wasn't surprising that Audrey completely lost it and screamed at Jack. I understood why Jack did what he had to, but I felt like screaming, too.

Notable episodes

"1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m." (episode 4.7) When Jack and Audrey were trapped by assassins in a building in Burbank, Jack called the only person he could rely on for help: Tony Almeida. Lovely surprise.

"6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m." (episode 4.12) Tony, in jeans and a tee shirt, got his old job back... at least until his ex-wife Michelle Dessler unexpectedly showed up as Driscoll's replacement. (Tony's and Michelle's mid-season entrances were both exciting and really fun.)


"10:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m." (episode 4.16) A frantically busy episode where much happened, culminating in a shocker as Air Force One went down.

"1:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m." (episode 4.19) President Logan dithered and ordered Jack arrested at the worst possible time – while he was actually leading a critical mission. Later, Logan admitted the mission failure was his fault and showed remarkable self knowledge that he wasn't ready to lead during such a critical moment; he took Mike's advice and called David Palmer for help. Like Tony and Michelle, David Palmer unexpectedly showing up to take over was a wonderful moment. And in one of the best scenes of the season, Chloe was sent into the field (she hates the field) and ended up firing an assault rifle on a car.


"5:00 a.m.-6:00 a.m." (episode 4.23) It was shoe-on-the-other-foot time, as Mandy kidnapped and stripped Tony (ooh la la) and used him as a hostage to force Michelle to work with the terrorists. Interestingly, Michelle didn't do what Tony did in Day 3; she told Bill Buchanan almost immediately, and it was the right thing to do. (Nuke, people!) Meanwhile, David Palmer tried his best to teach Charles Logan how to be presidential, to no avail.

"6:00 a.m.-7:00 a.m." (episode 4.24) In an action-packed finale, there was a chopper versus chopper battle, Marwan killed himself to evade capture, our heroes watched the nuke get shot down from a rooftop in Los Angeles, Tony and Michelle were reunited, and Audrey broke up with Jack. Sadly, Mandy got a plea agreement, even after Palmer realized she was the one who nearly killed him back in Day 2.

The best part of the season finale was when Logan's villainous aide Cummings set Jack up for assassination, Mike Novick overheard, and Jack found out who his friends really were as Tony, Michelle and Chloe faked Jack's death to save him from being turned over to the Chinese government. One thing I've always enjoyed throughout the series was Jack Bauer and David Palmer talking privately on the telephone, always cutting directly to the chase. There was one of those conversations at the end of this episode after Jack "died." It actually made me cry.

Bits:

— No Kim Bauer this season, and no Chase. Jack said that they "just got a house in Valencia" and neither was working for CTU. Yay.

— Keeler's scenes were all on Air Force One and Logan's in the bunker, which meant there was no White House set. Convenient.

— To counter the fact that most of the terrorists were Middle Eastern this time, there was a subplot about a patriotic American Muslim family, who owned a gun shop in L.A., helping Jack in the downtown firefight.

— The pronunciation of the word "nuclear" as "nucular" is one of my pet peeves. Heller and Jack both did it in Day 4. You'd think that the Secretary of Defense in particular wouldn't mispronounce such an important word. Although I remember hearing somewhere that one of the first people to do it publicly was President Dwight Eisenhower.

— Heller's son Richard was an embarrassing caricature of an unpatriotic liberal: dirty, unkempt, lying, petty, cowardly, and as it turned out, hiding the fact that he was gay. Did they have to do that?

— Traffic problems in Los Angeles were acknowledged, as agents actually got stuck in traffic in episode 11.

— Jack got rehired by CTU and fired again a few hours later. I used to work in Human Resources and was wondering, how did that work, personnel-wise? Did they sign him up for payroll? What about life insurance? Will Kim get a payout, since Jack just "died"?

— Jack killed (good lord) 43 people in "Day 4." 43! And that wasn't even his highest seasonal body count.

— Day 4 ran from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. about 18 months after Day 3. It was March or April of 2010, the second year of the Keeler administration.

— There was no "silent clock" in Day 4. I would have expected Paul Raines to get one. Or at the very least, Air Force One going down. But no.

— Alberta Watson passed away in 2015. Too sad.

Quotes:

Terrorist: "Take off your clothes."
Heller: "You first."

Paul Raines: (to Audrey) "Your boyfriend is just a thug with a badge."

Tony: "Some people are more comfortable in hell."
Audrey: "Are you talking about Jack, or yourself?"

Chloe: "I was inappropriately blunt, wasn't I? I do that a lot."

Bill Buchanan: "Chloe, we're in active code. We don't have time for your personality disorder."

To conclude

Day 4 is better than Day 1 and Day 3, but not quite as good as Day 2. Would that make it three out of four ticking digital clocks?

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

6 comments:

Mark Greig said...

This and season five are my favourites, mainly because they have the show's best villain (Logan) and no Kim. They also have what I think is my definitive CTU team: Jack, Chloe, Curtis and Bill.

Billie Doux said...

I totally agree about Logan being the best villain in the series. It doesn't hurt that the actor looks like Richard Nixon and George W. Bush had a love baby.

Mark Greig said...

Thank you for that wonderful image, Billie. I'm sure it will haunt me for the rest of my days.

Billie Doux said...

In all seriousness, I thought that was one of the reasons they cast him as the president -- because he looked like the two worst U.S. presidents in history. At least then. If they were casting Logan today, they'd have to give him an orange comb over.

Jonny said...

Excellent review, Billie.

I liked Day 4 well enough, mostly due to the introduction of Logan, Audrey and Heller. I think I liked Marwan as a villain a little more than you, but it certainly strained credulity that he kept escaping. He was meant to last six episodes, but the writers liked Arnold Vosloo's performance enough that they made him the main villain, which I can understand.

You are absolutely right about Shohreh Aghdashloo's amazing voice. She was a real stand-out for me; she's been killing it on The Expanse for three seasons now. Her and Gregory Itzin really made the season, in my opinion. And of course, I love Logan, and did from the start. He's like a Gregory, like a Farnum; I don't know why I have a soft spot for these hilariously slippery characters with essentially no redeeming traits.

WZILLA13 said...

Season 4, with its high-octane pacing and umpteen terrorist plots, is simply batshit crazy - yet somehow it works. There are a lot of things I love about this season, a few things I strongly dislike and many things this review and I jibe perfectly on:

- It was great to see Jack regain some stability, and even a little happiness; that being said, I can't stand Audrey. Never could, not even a little. I don't know why that is exactly, but her mere introduction brings Day 4 down a spot or two in my overall rankings.

- As much as I dislike Audrey, Erin Driscoll is even worse, and the Maya subplot is the single worst aspect of the season. I was so relieved when they both exited the series, especially since it opened the door for Michelle's return.

- Fun fact: the Season 3 DVD set has a scene where Driscoll fires Jack from CTU over his heroin habit, and Jack responds with an f-bomb.

- Speaking of returns, Tony's surprise rescue of Jack and Audrey is one of my favorite moments of the entire series. I legit jumped up and cheered when it originally aired. I love how Jack gradually pulled Tony out of his funk and back into the world of CTU afterwards.

- I didn't much care for Bill or Edgar this season, but they both grew on me in Day 5.

- The reveal of Curtis's Bauer-esque badassery was another cheerworthy moment.

- I think this was the first season to premiere with the first four hours on back-to-back nights, and the events of those episodes unfold at a rapid-fire pace; Jack's awesome one-man rescue of the Hellers following those events was riveting.

- Machine gun Chloe is my favorite Chloe. Awesome scene.

- I'd say there was a villain shift this season, as the focus moved from the Araz family to Marwan; I thought both were very effective. Logan didn't blossom into a true villain yet in Day 4, he was just a spineless bumbling oaf.

- Logan's ineptitude was a great vehicle for David Palmer's reappearance.

- I too have always been irritated by 'nucular'.

- I liked Sarah Gavin and was bummed by her abrupt firing; but hey, like you said, at least she got to live. Unlike poor Debbie....

- I love continuity and callbacks, so Mandy's surprise reappearance was cool; and she's still alive!

- I guess I'm one of the only people who missed Kim this season.

- That final shot of Jack walking into the sunset with only his duffle bag was so reminiscent of Bill Bixby/David Banner; intentional or not, I love it (The Incredible Hulk is another of my all-time favorite series).


24: Day 24 throws a lot at the wall, and surprisingly most of it sticks. They would take a similar approach in Season 6 - with far less successful results - but before getting there the show reaches another high point in Day 5.