Oh, that's not true!
So I'm a little behind, what're ya gonna do, go rogue on me and put me out of my misery just to make a point? Sigh... well, if you're Jack Bauer, you probably would do just that, wouldn't you? Still, so much the smarter am I, as I got to watch it while fast forwarding through Dennis Haysbert's Allstate Insurance commercials, to avoid Palmer Overload!
Fascinatingly, this season has managed to redeem itself pretty well from the surprisingly repetitive and logic assassinating plot points of the previous two seasons, and yes indeedily-doodily, this was the first time since the first season that I actually wanted to jump up and shout.
Right at the proper momentos we were gifted with the presence of some of the greatest mementos of past seasons, starting with the now drunk and grungy Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard, now red-and-black 'cause he's a friend of Jack), then moving on to Haysbert's own David Palmer the shamed former president who alone might save the day... after he sells you some good-hands life insurance, and finally, and most tastily, we get a big bowl full of Reiko Aylesworth's ultra-biscuit Michelle Dessler! No Elisha though... She must've been next door.
Still, in spite of the surprises and braiding twists of this seasoned season, we're still facing some completely unbelievable horse hockey coming out of virtually every pore of 24's nether region. Oh, it's great fun to watch and witness, but looking back on the season as a whole and remembering this is all supposed to be ONE FREAKIN' DAY leads to the likelihood that you will merge the words "bull" and "shit" together as your mightiest verbal icon of disbelief.
In fact, the final two episodes of Season Four, bear so little a resemblance to the first few, I had to double check to make sure that I was actually still watching the same season and hadn't pulled a Rip Van Winkle to arrive in Season Six! Yeah, I know CTU agents will have a more exciting hour by hour account than some lame internet critic will, but damn! Trains blow up, fatal car crashes happen, Jack holds up a Liquor store and that dude from Lorenzo's Oil does a photo-op while a computer virus plays Pac-Man with internet data! The Secretary of Defense is Kidnapped, tried by terrorists, barely freed, and is back at work, pretty as a picture and ready to guest star on Stargate SG-1 again... uh, that is after he has his son tortured for a few whiles! Jack sleeps with said Cabinet Member's daughter, tells him about it, meets her husband, tortures that guy, becomes allies with that guy, lets that guy die on the operating table, and then discovers that two of the above six items seem to piss his pretty off enough to dump him for it. Tony's drunk, then he's the greatest secret agent since Bauer, Jack Bauer, then he's reinstated, then he's not, then he's answering to his ex-wife, then he's reconciling with her, then he's dead, then he's not! Dudes and Chicks, I'm not even going to get into the whole Chloe and Edgar thing, along with former boss and deceased daughter all changing like puberty in one damned day! I'm not!
It started out sound and brilliant, and it ended up back in the old crapola-cola... and it's still better than the finales of both season 2 and Season 3!
Note: Here be Spoilers... and possibly Dragons... no, no just Spoilers!
As we come to a close, this seasoned season, we get all excited because the most incredibly hot villain of any season is back. Yep, that big-eyed, big breasted, Barbie doll with a Goth look and Attitude, and the face of an angel... O My Brothers, I'm talkin' Mia Kirshner's Mandy! You remember her, she's the ultra-hot bi-girl baddy who blew up the plane in Season 1 and the ultra-hot bi-girl baddy who poisoned palmer in the season 2 Finale! She's back! She should be credited as the hero just for being so fine! She's beautiful, but she's bad, and we find that out the hardest possible GRANITE way, as she does to CTU what tornadoes do to trailer parks. Once again, as a result, Tony's life is put on the line... but this time, it's Michelle who has do decide whether or not to save him!
It's all because the word of the day (season-long day or no) is Marwan, Habib Marwan. They haven't caught him yet, but that's likely because Arnold Vosloo's portrayal is alternately mean as Maude and funny as Flintstone, episode by episode.
At this point, we're watching the whole sick shootin' match unfurl much like... well, like it has in the last two episodes of last season, and the one before that, and the one before that. See, each season has to be exactly twenty-four hours long, no more, no less, or else they'd have to change the name of the show to some number to be determined at a later hour. And it has to be a life-threatening terror-inspiring thing, or no one would watch. I hear creators Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran toyed with a more mundane day, featuring Jack eating cheetos and watching porn, while Michelle hits the Grocery Store, Tony invites a friend to go fishing, is turned down, then ends up eating cheetos and watching porn, while just for shits and giggles, Kim gets kidnapped anyway. But Fox said no, so damn it all, this is what they did.
Tony is held at gunpoint by Mandy, a beautiful assassin aligned with the terrorists, just before said beautiful assassin is captured in a parking garage. Sounds just like the end of Season One, when Jack's wife, Teri, was held at gunpoint by Nina, a beautiful assassin aligned with the terrorists who ends up getting caught in a parking garage. Why? Because Mandy is the only one who can give the information to save the day, and is offered a presidential pardon to convince her to do it. Sort of like that other time Nina had a hostage (that time it was Jack) and the only way she was going to play ball was with a presidential pardon, which would convince her to do so! Marwan, got his one missile launched toward a "major city" somewhere in the United States, and it's luckily Los Angeles, where Jack just happens to be to save the day. Which reminds me of last season in which only one of Saunders' chemical weapons (distributed to "major cities" somewhere in the United States) goes unaccounted for, but luckily turns up in Los Angeles where Jack just happens to be to save the day. That's not even to mention the fact that Tony is in the exact same situation Michelle was in last season (quel chance), and she's in his. I don't have to mention it again... writer Sam Montgomery is so fully aware of it, he mentions this fact himself several times.
The final minutes of the nasty day are predictable, unless you thought... again that L.A. was about to be a quarantine zone for future seasons! But, if this terrorist threat doesn't end in a literal "Deus Ex Machina", it most certainly ends in a literal "Data Ex Machina", so old Joel and Robert felt the need to run that familiar bait-and-switch to distract the audience from the familiar, and somewhat simple ending.
What am I talking about this time? A hot time in the old town tonight, kiddos, because remember a few episodes ago, when Jackie-poo busted in to the Chinese Embassy and played "Duke Nukem" on their asses to obtain the Eye of Ra (or whatever thing it was he needed)? Surprise, surprise, surprise, Gomer Pyle, the Chinese are still pissed about it, seeing as how the ambassador himself was killed... by "friendly" fire. I guess after all the apologies and PSAs they ran to keep from offending Arab Americans, they figured the Chinese were fair game. Boo! Booooooooooo!
So, in a Hostage scenario, very similar to... at least one episode in each season of 24 so far, Robert Cicchini's Howard Bern sells Jack-o-lantern out like the first edition of X-Men #1 and puts a price on his head bigger than Han Solo's Jabba debt.
Naturally, as the Marwan threat evaporates like propane on the cement, the Chinese Consulate threat looms, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus over the Serengetti (you have to believe, folks, these nerdy obscure references are intentional, I'm not Joe Eszterhas here). This way, we don't end exactly on the hour with the resolution of a terrorist threat, even though each cliffhanger managed to happen on the hour. But Jack's cool, right? Yeah? No, turns out now-President Logan is a bigger dick than Mr. Mugatu from Zoolander, and is willing to sell Jack out faster than Rod Stewart sold out Faces! (Note: last season's presidential electee went down in a plane crash this season... but heeeeeeeeeee's ooooooooooooookay, folks [eyes roll])
And now, for my favorite part... Jack's too valuable, right? I mean, he is played by Kiefer Sutherland, who is one of the producers! Yeah, then! Too valuable to fall into enemy hands! So Logan Loyalists plot to have him eat a lead bon-bon before he becomes Chinese food! So Palmer, Tony, Michelle and Jaques plan to beat the system, all between 6:31 AM and 6:53 AM. What follows is Jack's Death, followed by immediate revival so he can live to fight another day... just like in season 2. And then... Jack... puts on a pair of gay aviator sunglasses and a thick coat... and slowly walks away, a persona non grata, from the rest of his life, along the same train tracks that hosted an explosion 24 hours ago... and he looks just like David Banner at the end of The Incredible Hulk. Dudes, they should've played a slow, sad piano arpeggio over it!
A buddy of mine asked me the other day if I ever just watch TV anymore without nitpicking it. Nope.
But let me be fair, here... 24 is one of the best directed and acted shows on television, and because cliffhangers just happen to take place at the end of each hour of the day, it's irresistible to watch, particularly when you're just having too much fun to realize you've seen much of this before. In truth, this is the best season since the first, and possibly the most believable, and it's most certainly the most rewarding as surprise cast-member after surprise cast-member pops out of the woodwork like a rat on fire. If T.V. is a septic tank, and it is, 24 is the urinal cake that makes it smell just a little bit better, warts, temporal displacement, and all!
Besides, maybe this opens the door to a now angry and orphaned Kim to be the big, barely clothed star of next season??? Ah? Beats my Prequel idea HANDS DOWN!
In the "WHAT THE HELL?" category, check out who Mandy kidnaps from the apartment next door for her nefarious escape scheme! It's Jonathan Del Arco, kids. For the uninitiated, that's "Hugh of Borg" from Star Trek The Next Generation! Kick ass! I don't know how she beat him, though... I kept expecting him to say "Resistance is Futile!", "I choose to stay with Geordi!", or "Third of Five" before trying to Assimilate her, oh so romantically. Maybe he couldn't 'cause she's such a babe, I mean his last girlfriend was Blossom... or maybe she said "I am Locutus of Borg, you will respond to my questions!". Or maybe I went off the deep end a long, long time ago and my reviews are now merely loosely strung together obscure references to goofy shit, with a TV background. Hell and Damn!
Three and One Half Stars out of Five for the season finale(s) of 24! It's a cool closer to a great season, but it's still mired in the quag of the last two, and eventually, they won't be able to pull the show out. Still, they're on the right track, and I'm happy to be back in the fold with the fans. So, until the writers take the scripts from season 2, and run a find and replace on each one, merely changing the names, I'll see you in the next reel, or episode, or hour... but will Jack? Only goofy shit will tell!
Del Arco just Assimilated Dr. Richard Kimble's wife!
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