24: Day 8 Review

"Tick tock, Mister Bauer. You're running out of time."

Jack was ready to give up the game. Unfortunately, the game wasn't ready to leave him be.

(This review includes massive spoilers!)

This time the action moved to New York City and the United Nations as President Allison Taylor attempted to broker a nuclear non-proliferation agreement, and dissidents tried to stop it two ways: with assassination, and by setting off a dirty bomb in Manhattan.

The political

President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) was never more presidential than she was in Day 8. Her personal life had been destroyed in Day 7, and here, she worked diligently toward a lasting world peace along with progressive President Omar Hassan of the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan, also referred to as the I.R.K. (an unfortunate acronym).



Initially presented as an entirely positive character, Hassan showed his brutal side after his brother Farhad tried to have him assassinated (who could blame him. When my brother tries to assassinate me, I get testy, too). In the end, Hassan refused under torture to recite a false confession of his "crimes," and sacrificed himself heroically to save thousands of American lives. Interestingly, Anil Kapoor, who played President Hassan, is currently starring as the Jack-Bauer-like lead in the TV series 24: India.

As is standard on 24, President Taylor was betrayed by those she trusted. This time, it was her new young and aggressive chief of staff, Rob Weiss (Chris Diamantopoulos) and the rather nasty General Brucker (Michael Gaston), both of whom were charged with treason.

Sadly, returning ex-president Charles Logan's attempts to corrupt President Taylor succeeded. It was hard to see a woman as principled as Allison Taylor decide that the greater good of her peace treaty was more important than individual lives or freedom of the press. She had made a selfless decision at the end of Day 7 to allow the prosecution of her daughter, even though it cost her her marriage. In Day 8, she went the other way – at least until the final episode, when she came to her senses. I particularly liked how they showed President Taylor talking about the importance of peace in a press conference while Dana Walsh was actually being waterboarded. Point made.



While Taylor's downfall made me unhappy, it was fun to see the delightfully slimy and morally bankrupt Logan again. In one scene, he was actually ordering murders while picking out a new tie for a press conference. In the end, faced with total ruin once again, Logan shot himself but somehow managed to stay alive, possibly with brain damage. How very much in character.

The personal

When Day 8 began, Jack was living in New York, finishing up medical treatment (see Day 7) and preparing to move back to Los Angeles to work as a security consultant in order to be near Kim, Stephen and granddaughter Teri (Claire Geare, an absolutely adorable child who could deliver lines). When an old informant showed up with information about Hassan's possible assassination and pulled Jack back into the game, Kim showed that she had finally grown up and that she accepted her father for who he was – she let him go without an argument. You've come a long way, Kim.



Instead of Kim, Jack's primary personal relationship in Day 8 was with Renee Walker (Annie Wersching), who apparently had a nervous breakdown after nearly killing Alan Wilson after Day 7. When CTU asked her to go back undercover with Russian mobster Vladimir Laitanan (Callum Keith Rennie), a man she'd targeted six years ago who was romantically obsessed with her, Jack kept trying to get her out in order to protect her, as well as the operation.

Jack verbally committed to a romantic relationship with Renee, something he might have regretted as he had to listen to romantic banter and worse between Renee and Vlad. I liked Renee as an FBI agent in Day 7, but as a suicidal loose cannon, not so much. Her unexpected death did work as Jack's motivation for revenge in the final episodes, though.

Meanwhile, at CTU New York

Just like betrayal by presidential insiders, there's always a mole at CTU. This season, they took some serious time to draw out and set up the mole story by casting the outstanding Katee Sackhoff as analyst Dana Walsh.

We learned almost immediately that Dana was hiding her past when her old boyfriend Kevin (Clayne Crawford) showed up and started blackmailing her. It appeared that she went to jail as a minor because she made poor decisions, which tended to make us feel sympathy for her. Sackhoff did a marvelous job with her expressions of fear, frustration and panic in the earlier episodes; Dana wasn't revealed as an actual villain until she killed Kevin's probation officer in episode 13 and hid his body behind a wall panel, and then called bad guy Samir Mehran on the phone to give him information.

Cole Ortiz, Dana Walsh, Brian Hastings
Katee Sackhoff is amazing. When you watch this season knowing ahead of time that Dana is evil, it's really fascinating how everything she does, all of her expressions, can be taken two ways – that she's a good person trapped in a terrible situation, or that she's a bad guy. But why on earth did they pair Katee Sackhoff with Freddie Prinze Jr.? 24 is usually so spot on with the casting, but he was underwhelming. I mean, he wasn't terrible, but the role of Cole Ortiz was a big, complicated one in Day 8. It felt like Prinze wasn't quite up to the heaviness of helping Dana bury bodies while still remaining a good guy that Jack respected.

Mykelti Williamson, one of my favorites from Justified, seemed uncomfortable in the role of CTU director Brian Hastings. Was the character too rigid? Was it that they never gave him a personal story and instead gave it all to Dana? In the beginning, Hastings treated Chloe as if she knew nothing. Maybe it was just karma that in episode 17, Hastings was removed from his job and Chloe was appointed his successor.

It isn't 24 unless CTU is attacked. This time, it was an EMP in a car driven right up to CTU by President Hassan's daughter Kayla. Fortunately, Chloe was there to pull a gun on the NSA, tap into a "trunk line" and save the day.

Big bads and casting goodness

Was this 24's Battlestar Galactica year, with both Katee Sackhoff and Callum Keith Rennie on board? It's just a shame they had no scenes together, since their characters on Battlestar were obsessed with each other. Rennie was written out too soon. Maybe he should have played Cole.



Day 8 also featured Jurgen Prochnow as Russian crime nasty Sergei Bazhaev, who actually killed one of his two sons. His other son Josef, played by beloved Alias heavy David Anders, died too soon, darn it. If you're going to hire Callum Keith Rennie and David Anders, for pity's sake, use them, why don't you? Prochnow at least got to do some acting when he showed regret for killing his son Oleg and when Jack handed him a phone and told him it was the President on the line.

(Jack talking directly to the president has always been one of my favorite things about 24.)

A real standout this season was Rami Malek, currently the star of Mr. Robot, as a young American suicide bomber named Marcos who locked himself in a hyperbaric chamber at the hospital when his vest didn't go off. Mare Winningham was brought in to play his clueless mother, who tried to talk him out of it as he was trying to manually set off his vest. When she was unsuccessful, Jack got very scary and threatened to kill her if Marcos didn't give him a name. Although we got the real Jack back when he frantically tried to disarm the vest in time but couldn't, and had to toss the unfortunate Marcos back into the hyperbaric chamber before he exploded.



Bob Gunton returned as Ethan Kanin, now Secretary of State; T.J. Ramini did a good job as Tarin Faroush, Kayla Hassan's hot but duplicitous lover; Mido Hamada was sufficiently threatening as I.R.K. dissident Samir Mehran; and Necar Zadegan did a terrific job in the ultimately important role of the martyr's widow, Dalia Hassan. We also got Reed Diamond as Logan's evil minion Jason Pillar; Benito Martinez from The Shield as the informant who pulled Jack back into the game; Domenick Lombardozzi from The Wire as a cop who gleefully beat up Jack in an early episode; John Boyd as Arlo, an analyst who was hot for Dana but ended up a big help to Chloe; Eriq LaSalle as the Secretary General of the United Nations; and movie star Michael Madsen as Jack's old friend Jim, who backed Jack up in the final few episodes.



All in all, a great group of actors. Except for Freddie Prinze. You know, that's mean of me. What if he ever actually reads this? Freddie, I apologize. You're Buffy's husband, after all, and that alone makes you special.

Notable episodes

"7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m." (episode 8.16) Dana ran but was caught by her fiance Cole after an actual gunfight at CTU. Jack led the team to rescue President Hassan but arrived too late because the internet feed they were watching was time delayed, and Hassan was already dead.

"8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m." (episode 8.17) Tim Woods relieved Hastings, who left gracefully and still without a subplot, and made Chloe acting director of CTU. (Her face when she received this news was laugh out loud funny.) Former president Charles Logan, who had a personal relationship with the Kremlin (sound familiar?) returned to the series, and we learned that Russia was behind the I.R.K. dissidents. Jack and Renee went home to his New York apartment and made love – is this the only day in the series in which Jack had sex? – and Russian assassin Pavel Tokarev (Joel Bissonnette) shot Renee through an apartment window. Jack carried Renee, naked and wrapped in a bloody sheet, to the emergency room, but it was too late.



When Renee died, Jack was wearing a white shirt covered with blood in the shape of a broken heart.



The last five episodes: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (8.20-8.24)

Jack has always been a violent man and he has gone on revenge rampages before, but this one felt like the worst so far. Angry and grieving after Renee's death, Jack took his revenge, starting with killing Dana Walsh at the end of episode 20. This was not the first time Jack outright executed villains who had surrendered to him: Victor Drazen, Nina Myers and Christopher Henderson come to mind and I'm sure there were more. Executing Dana Walsh was disturbing, though. Probably because she had just left Cole alive, and the secret recording implied that she really did love him. Or maybe because it was Starbuck.

In episode 21, Jack tortured Pavel Tokarev, Renee's killer, in what was probably the most explicit torture scene in the series, ending with Jack cutting a cell phone sim card out of Tokarev's stomach. Way too brutal. But it almost immediately got funny when Jack tried the last number on that phone and got Charles Logan's voice mail.

Injured but determined, Jack was unstoppable as he followed the trail from Tokarev to Logan to Russian council Novakovich to the person ultimately responsible for Renee's murder, which turned out to be Russian President Suvarov. I found it sad that Jack was about to end his long career as a savior by assassinating a president, and yet, it made sense at this point. Fortunately, Chloe stopped it from happening.

I must applaud the producers of this series for how they chose to bring the series to an end. Although Chloe wasn't in the first two seasons, her solid, unbreakable and decidedly non-romantic friendship with Jack was a huge element throughout 24; Mary Lynn Rajskub managed to pull off a brilliant, efficient character who was also excellent comic relief, no easy task. In episode 19, for the first time, Chloe had to betray Jack and follow the President's orders, and it was just lovely that Jack knew right away what Chloe would do and reacted accordingly without hating her for it. In the last hour of the series, Jack made Chloe shoot him in order to protect her. This is pretty deep and twisty emotional stuff, but it all worked in context and showed how close Jack and Chloe were.

After President Taylor rescinded the order to execute Jack and told him to leave the country for his own safety, Jack and Chloe said goodbye – appropriately, with him in the field, and her monitoring electronically, much as they had communicated for years. She promised to watch over his family, and he thanked her for being such a good friend to him. It made me cry.



Chloe got the last words of the series: "Shut it down," as the clock ticked to zero.

Bits and pieces

— Day 8 was filmed entirely in Los Angeles. Anything looking New York-like was added digitally.

— Jack was continuously injuried throughout Day 8: beaten, broken ribs and bruising, a stab wound inflicted accidentally by Renee, a brief bout of car battery torture, and finally shot by Chloe. Unlike Day 7, he didn't show signs of pain. Is it wrong of me to prefer Jack as a superhero?

— CTU New York was shiny and new, with big screens on the walls. This season's callback to La Femme Nikita was the circular white room used for interrogation. (Oooh, I forgot! Callum Keith Rennie played Nikita's boyfriend in two episodes of LFN!)

— We learned that President Noah Daniels was the one who pardoned Charles Logan. Clearly a mistake.

— Could I mention the weirdness of Allison Taylor's wardrobe? She wore simple dress/jacket combos that were in the same plain color in Days 7 and 8 and it looked almost like they were going for some sort of generic non-clothing. I suppose we couldn't have the first female president look girly in any way.

— To contrast, Dana Walsh started Day 8 in a little black dress and small diamond earrings like she was going out to dinner. After a lot of death and destruction, she changed into jeans and a jacket.

— In Day 8, Jack spoke German while undercover (loved the glasses). According to the 24 wiki, he's also spoken Spanish and Russian and a few words of Arabic during the run of the series.



— One more time, Kiefer. The word is "nuclear." That's noo-clear. Not nuke-u-ler.

— Jack killed 38 people in Day 8, and (gasp) 270 people during the run of the series. It doesn't seem quite like Jack is running around killing people all the time, but he really did, didn't he?

— The deaths of Omar Hassan and Renee Walker gave us our last two silent clocks.

A brief digression about time, and praise for Kiefer Sutherland

Day 8 took place eighteen months after Day 7 in September of 2018, which is still a couple of months in the future as I'm writing this review. The entire eight season series (not counting the revival or spinoff) began in March 2004 and ran until September 2018, which is fourteen and a half years.

HOWEVER, the filming of the series began in 2001 and concluded in 2010, which was only nine years. Kiefer Sutherland was 35 years old when Day 1 started to air, and only 44 when it ended, so he was always playing a character that was significantly older than he was. In fact, Elisha Cuthbert was only sixteen years younger than Sutherland. No wonder Kim said at the beginning of Day 8 that Jack didn't look like a grandfather.

Playing the lead in a one-hour action series is utterly exhausting, and doing it for nine years is a marathon. There aren't a lot of actors with the stamina to pull it off and do it well, but Sutherland did. This spring and summer, I rewatched all eight seasons in succession and he was clearly in excellent physical condition every single season, including the last. And in my opinion, his acting was just as good in the eighth season as in the first, and probably better. The producers of this series were lucky to have him, and I doubt that 24 would have gone on as long as it did without him.

Quotes:

Jack: (re: CTU) "I hate this place."

Jack: (to Hastings) "So this is the new CTU. You hang your own."

Chloe: "I told Mr. Haynam, but he wouldn't listen so I pulled a gun on him. I didn't want to. I don't even like guns."

Chloe: "I'm not good with praise."

President Taylor: (to Rob Weiss, her traitorous chief of staff) "The charge is treason. It carries the death penalty, and so help me God, I'll throw the switch myself."

Cole: (to Chloe) "We can't stand by and let Jack assassinate the president of Russia."

Logan: "Isn't morality relative, considering what's at stake here?"
Well, it certainly is for you.

To conclude

Day 8 was pretty darned good, better than I remembered. Not the best season of 24, but I thought they went out with a strong one, and I enjoyed it. Three out of four ticking digital clocks.

You all know that digital clocks aren't supposed to tick, right?

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

2 comments:

Billie Doux said...

A quick programming note: I'm planning to do season reviews of 24: Live Another Day and 24: Legacy. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

"All in all, a great group of actors. Except for Freddie Prinze. You know, that's mean of me. What if he ever actually reads this? Freddie, I apologize. You're Buffy's husband, after all, and that alone makes you special."

No apologies. He was underwhelming and absolutely a bad choice here. He destroyed the Wing Commander movie, another horrendous decision for a lead (ok, the movie didn't have that much going for it, Roberts thought too highly of himself). And Star Wars Rebels was too good for him to tank it, but he detracted from it.

There is a reason why you sholud give him roles like those in Scooby-Doo and She's All That, and not in other properties. Producers would do well to remember it.