24: Day 7 Review

Larry: "The rules are what make us better."
Jack: "Not today."

Day 7 takes place entirely in Washington, DC. Early episodes centered around a "CIP device" that could, and did, penetrate the U.S.'s computer network firewall; later episodes followed a bio-weapon developed in Sangala as it was used in terrorist attacks in the DC area.

(This review includes massive spoilers!)

Do the rules make us better? What Jack does when he goes rogue has always been the most controversial element of 24, and I thought it was effective that they spent pretty much this entire season debating the question, starting with Jack being grilled in a televised Senate subcommittee meeting about using torture on suspects at CTU.

Throughout Day 7, this torture dilemma was mostly explored by FBI agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching and her magical freckles, who did a good job portraying Renee's conflict). Renee started out convinced that she and the FBI were too good to torture anyone, no matter the circumstance; her most upsetting moment was when she had to threaten to kill a baby in order to get information out of a bad guy's wife. 24 usually features Jack constantly at odds with his superiors at CTU, but this season, it was Renee who was constantly at odds with her boss Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling), complicated by the fact that Larry was in love with her.


Bringing back a dead character can be a jump-the-shark moment, but not this time. Resurrecting Tony Almeida was a development that made nearly every 24 fan want to tune in. Tony as a bad guy was also the perfect way to bring Jack out of the Senate hearing and into the action.

Unfortunately, Tony's motives were just too murky, even after we got to the end and it was revealed that he had spent four years trying to bring down Alan Wilson (Will Patton), the head of the cabal ultimately responsible for the deaths of Michelle Dessler and David Palmer. Tony spent his final few minutes with Wilson ranting about the fact that Michelle had been pregnant, and even far enough along to have determined the sex of the baby ("You killed my son!"). I don't remember Michelle looking pregnant in her final scene, but okay. Maybe if Tony hadn't killed three innocent FBI agents, including Larry Moss, during his quest, I might have felt more sympathetic.

The political

President Allison Taylor showed determination and resolve as she ordered the United States military to invade Sangala and stop the genocide, while her chief of staff Ethan Kanin (Bob Gunton) and members of her cabinet insisted that hundreds of thousands of deaths in a far-off African country were less important than losing hundreds of Americans to terrorist attacks.

While I loved Cherry Jones as the president and Colm Feore did okay as the First Gentleman who was obsessed with uncovering their son Roger's murder, my least favorite Day 7 plot was Taylor's daughter Olivia (Sprague Grayden), who was appointed acting chief of staff in the second half of the season. Olivia Taylor was so emotionally disturbed, incompetent and almost unbelievably homicidal that the only good thing about her plotline was that she did most of her dialogue with Aaron Pierce (Glenn Morshower), who came out of retirement to help Jack during the White House siege.


The personal

As I said above, I thought this season's exploration of Jack's use of torture was smart. Senator Mayer (Kurtwood Smith), a morally positive character, said he wanted to put Jack in prison forever, while Jonas Hodges, probably this season's worst bad guy, told Jack he thought of him as a hero for using torture. (Note that Jack didn't like that at all.) Near the end of Day 7, Jack admitted that when innocent people were in danger, he lost control, knew it was wrong, but couldn't help himself.

My second least favorite Day 7 plot line was Jack being poisoned by the bio-weapon. While Jack having to strip off his clothes in the middle of a freeway while Renee gawked at his many and varied scars was fun, making him patient zero was stupid because we know Jack Bauer isn't going to die. And while Kiefer Sutherland is a strong actor, his seizures, constant wincing and addict-like multiple injections were unconvincing. Maybe his heart wasn't in it. Mine certainly wasn't.


The one good thing that came out of it was that after years of not communicating, it reunited Jack with his daughter Kim. She flew to DC to attend the Senate hearing, had a tearful reunion with Jack, and wound up providing experimental stem cells in the end, much against Jack's will. And I'll admit it was fun to see her as a bad ass during the airport hostage scenes, and when she pulled the all important laptop out of a burning car.

And I loved the phone calls to her husband Stephen, played by future Vampire Diaries star Paul Wesley. And that Kim and Stephen named their daughter Teri.

Was Kim always this blonde?
Meanwhile, at CTU the FBI CTU

CTU went rogue! After being dismantled, Bill Buchanan, Chloe O'Brian and Tony Almeida formed an off-the-books operation and kept fighting evil together because – evil still exists! I absolutely loved this, especially Bill's rumpled bearded look, and the third episode of Day 7 was one of my absolute favorites in the series. (More on that under Notable Episodes, below.)

The FBI office run by Larry Moss ultimately became "CTU Lite," with Renee Walker as second in command when she wasn't under arrest, and Janis Gold (Janeane Garofalo) trying to out-Chloe the real Chloe as the office's resident super-analyst. Dueling workstations. That was fun.

Big bads and casting goodness

Hakeem Kae-Kazim dominated the first part of Day 7 as Colonel Ike Dubaku, the "Butcher of Sangala." I thought he was one of 24's most despicable and effective villains. Dubaku told his unfortunate American girlfriend Marika that he was saving his country, and it actually seemed like he believed what he was saying.


The role of lead villain was taken over midstream by Academy Award winner and Angelina daddy Jon Voight as Jonas Hodges, a man who also believed that he was saving his country by slaughtering innocents. Hodges was the head of a Blackwater-like private military organization called Starkwood, which I kept wanting to call "Starkwater." Voight effectively chewed the scenery with his delusions of grandeur, at one point beating a character to death with a crystal decanter.


One of my favorite actors, Peter Wingfield from Highlander, played Emerson, the bad guy that Tony Almeida worked for after he was "retrieved" by Christopher Henderson. Tony was forced to kill Emerson, whom he obviously liked, in order to save Jack.

Sebastian Roche returned in a terrific performance as Hodges' most effective assassin. His massive fight with Jack that ended with a forklift was one of the violent highlights of the season.


There was a continuing character named Greg Hillinger in the original La Femme Nikita. In this season's most obvious LFN homage, Rhys Coiro played a slimy, brilliant FBI analyst named Sean Hillinger. Any relation? Kris Lemche, who played LFN's original Hillinger, had a brief role as an analyst in 24: Redemption, the TV movie that set up the Sangala action this season.

The bad guys were all either African or American this season, and the only Arab characters were good guys. I especially liked Jibraan Al-Zarian (Omid Abtahi, who also played one of the sporting goods guys in Day 4), who was kidnapped and forced to pretend he was committing a terrorist act, and Muhtadi Gohar (Ravi Kapoor), an imam who ended up as Jack's spiritual comfort at the end of the season. I thought Abtahi in particular did a terrific job making his character sympathetic; I was very pleased that Jack saved him.


Notable episodes

"10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m." (episode 7.3) I absolutely loved this episode. The captured Tony Almeida managed to whisper "Deep Sky," a CTU code, to Jack, who then called a number and connected with Bill Buchanan and Chloe O'Brian – surprise! It was just the best time ever as Jack rescued Tony and got him out of the FBI building and drove off the second floor of a parking garage; Bill drove the getaway van.

"12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m." (episode 7.5) Jack went undercover in Emerson's organization with Tony Almeida and was forced to execute Renee Walker. Although Jack managed to convincingly fake-shoot her, he and Tony then had no choice but to bury Renee alive. Very tense. (Although now that I think about it, it strongly resembled Jack fake-killing Nina Myers in Day 1.)


"7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m." (episode 7.12) General Juma (Tony Todd) and his forces actually attacked the White House, and it was so outrageous and unexpected that it worked. There was a gun battle in the West Wing, and Jack went into lockdown with the President herself. The thing I thought didn't work was that Juma himself led the attack. A guy like him, a dictator who loved himself, probably wouldn't choose to die a martyr; he'd force his followers to do it for him.



"8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m." (episode 7.13) Bill Buchanan died in Jack's place (noooo! I loved Bill Buchanan) by setting off the gas in the presidential lockdown. Jack killed General Juma and was arrested by Larry Moss. Renee betrayed Larry by going around him to chief of staff Ethan Kanin, and Moss suspended Renee because he couldn't trust her.

"1:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m." (episode 7.18) This episode featured Jack at the FBI directing Tony in the field as he blew up Hodges' missiles, while Hodges met with the President and she led him on, listening to his grand plans to make the private military a fifth branch of the U.S. Government. (Except, aren't there already five branches?) After Tony blew the missiles, the President had Hodges arrested, only to discover that Hodges was only a "cog" in the greater conspiracy machine. Jack was reunited with Kim in one of the most emotional scenes in the series.

Unfortunately, this episode ended with Tony murdering Larry Moss in cold blood. Seriously, WTF?

"7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m." (episode 7.24) In the finale, the President's personal life was destroyed as she had to choose between hiding the fact that her daughter Olivia paid to have Hodges killed and her duty to the American people. Jack stopped Tony from killing cabal head Alan Wilson, although Wilson was possibly facing torture at Renee's hands in her final scene. Was this Day 7's ultimate answer to the torture question that was debated throughout the season? That Jack's choice to torture was a mistake that good people sometimes can't help but make in desperate situations?


Jack went to the hospital to die, and as much as I hated the bio-weapon plot, his deathbed scene with the imam, Muhtadi Gohar, was genuinely touching. I thought it was excellent writing, having Jack ask a Muslim to help him make peace with the terrible things he'd done in the name of saving the innocent, since most of those terrible acts were committed against Muslims. I also liked that, as Jack went into a coma, Kim was able to legally take control and make the ultimate choice for Jack. (In a way, Kim went rogue in the end, like Renee did.)

The final few episodes did make it feel as if Jack was really going to die, that perhaps they had chosen to end the series this way. It sparked a conversation with my son Daniel about how a character like Jack Bauer should die. We decided that it would have to be complicated and multi-tiered, with Jack ultimately choosing to die in a blaze of glory while doing the most possible good. Not like this.

Bits:

— It felt throughout as if Renee Walker had been introduced as a love interest for Jack, but they never went there.


— Fun fact: All of Senator Mayer's lines criticizing what Jack did were taken from published criticisms of 24.

— The Sangalan genocide was, of course, taken from what happened in Rwanda.

— Aaron Pierce revealed that he was no longer with Martha Logan and referred to something that had happened to her without revealing what it was. Darn.

— Chloe and Morris O'Brian had a baby, a boy named Prescott, whom we saw briefly when Morris dropped Chloe off at the FBI.

— The writers' strike occurred in the middle of this season, and there was a five month gap in filming. When they returned, they shot around Mary Lynn Rajskub's real life pregnancy. Chloe then disappeared for a few episodes before returning to the series. I thought it was fun that, since 24 characters never seem to sleep, Chloe, Morris and Prescott were sleeping at a hotel during Chloe's absense.

24 writer David Fury, the Buffy writer probably best known as the Mustard Man in "Once More, With Feeling," had a brief cameo in episode 9. I met him a couple of times while I was in the throes of my Buffy obsession.

Star Trek writers Brannon Braga and Manny Coto were also on the writing staff. Two names that the President considered for her new chief of staff were Robert Justman and Rick Berman, both well known Star Trek producers.

— There were several beautiful outdoor scenes at famous DC buildings and monuments.


— Jack's left ear was burned by a machete in 24: Redemption. I thought we'd see some make-up on his ear in Day 7. Interestingly, no; Jack looked great. At least until he started dying.

Jack kills 30 people in Day 7.

— Day 7 runs from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. on March 26, 2017, 65 days after 24: Redemption.

— There are two silent clocks in Day 7: when Jack and Tony are burying Renee alive at the end of episode 5, and Bill Buchanan's death at the beginning of episode 13.

Quotes:

Jack: (to Tony) "So help me God, I will kill you, and you will stay dead this time."

Chloe: "I saw the hearings on C-SPAN. I can't believe what the Senator said to you. You looked good, though."

President: "You resigned from government service and the Senate regards you as having been a renegade agent. How am I supposed to know where your loyalties really lie?"
Jack: "With all due respect, Madam President, ask around."

Jack: "Trust isn't my greatest asset."

Jack: "I regret every decision or mistake that I might have made which resulted in the loss of a single innocent life. But do you know what I regret the most? It's that this world needs people like me."

Chloe: (to Janis) "You don't know me very well, but if you did, you would understand that this is the last place you should be looking for any validation."

To conclude

I really enjoyed the beginning with the rogue CTU and the return of Tony Almeida, and the White House siege was terrific. But it felt like the season lost momentum in the second half after Bill Buchanan's death and the introduction of Jack's "fatal" poisoning. And the extreme twists with what the heck was going on with Tony Almeida were more confusing and frustrating in the end than exciting.

So… three out of four ticking digital clocks, maybe?

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

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