Take point though, what was originally (in 2001) a brilliant idea (A Real Time Anti-Terrorism Saga that takes place over 24 straight hours, one hour per episode, no sleep) has become such an imagination stretcher I feel like they should start having Rod Serling introduce each episode. Him or Bill O'Reilly! In Season one of 24 (not exactly the most realistic thing in the world) there was a tenseness and a stretching of possibility in a somewhat plausible manner with the worst offense of the season involving Emergency Transports arriving at a plane crash too soon. Hell, Jack even took a nap that season! Season two featured such exceptions to the timeline as Elisha Cuthbert (YUM) being kidnapped thrice in a day, a double amputee springing fully formed from surgery and talking on the phone within an hour, and an arrest being overturned and straightened out not in weeks of appeals, but in minutes.
And now Season 3 has ended. Hully Gee! Not only have they dropped the "Real Time" claim, but they're not even giving a crap about "Time" at all. Let's take a look at some of the suspenseful, exciting, interesting, and completely ridiculous things that have happened in ONE DAY (run-on sentences to follow)!
President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), in the midst of a Chemical Terrorism Crisis is blackmailed, threatened, embroiled in a murder wrap, exonerated, blackmailed again by the person who got him out of the first one and is told of the murder suicide of his wife (Penny Johnson Jerald at last) and the woman his little brother Wayne (D.B. Woodside) loves (who just happens to be the oh-so-lovely Gina Torres). And only lip service was paid to last season's cliffhanger surrounding his poisoning!
Moving on... Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) is involved in an extra-governmental plot, is shot in the neck, undergoes major surgery, wakes up, takes over CTU again, commits treason, is arrested, is put back on active duty after arrest and then goes to jail. In a day! How about his (now) wife Michelle Dessler, the greatly hot Reiko Aylesworth... she's been at her Hubby's bedside, psychologically forced to carry on at work, some crap about a potential move that fizzled, trapped in a Hotel with an infection that makes the Hanta Virus look like a pollen allergy, declared immune, kidnapped, let go, recaptured, then rescued only to say bye-bye to hubby again! In one day!
The ostensible star of the show is Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland o'course) who has beaten a prisoner, injected heroin after a year of posing as a rogue agent, helping a known terrorist (Joaquim de Almeida) to escape by causing a prison riot leading to innocent deaths, some his fault, actually going rogue, actually getting reinstated, getting busy with Sarah Clarke's Nina Myers (again), killing an innocent superior and causing the torture and dismemberment of his partner. Nice guy! Good hero!
Then there's newcomer Chase Edmunds (James Badge Dale). As if fighting in the aforementioned Prison Riot wasn't enough, Chase has gone back and forth to Mexico, has been beaten and electrically shocked by Terrorists and tortured beyond reason, he's struggled with telling old Jackie-poo that he's sleeping with his Daughter Kim (Cuthbert... lucky bastard!), and has struggled with telling Kim he has a daughter of his own, and naturally, in spite of torture and bare misses on his life he's left on active duty because... they need him. Understaffed?
And all that without sleep. As if the constant all-in-a-day's-work reassignment, suspension and reinstatement of staff in one day, the addition and subtraction of characters from the Most Wanted List, and the complete confusion over who is a good guy now and who isn't wasn't enough, this all happens on zero sleep (except Tony... he got some anesthesia for an hour). Hell, Kim was even tied-up, bound and gagged by a CTU Agent who was actually an undercover terrorist, only to have to work side-by-side with him the next hour when it turned out he was really a good guy the whole time (and that was only the first time this season "Cougar Girl" got kidnapped). In short... Good show... interesting, suspenseful, exciting and fun... not so much on the making sense category!
The Season finale's not much different from the season as a whole. Impossible speed and folded space make for another intense episode which is a great treat unless you put on the proverbial old thinking cap! With the grudging help of the most current terror threat this season (there have been three) Stephen Saunders (Paul Blackthorne) all the terrorists with Viral Bombs in the US have been apprehended... except one. Conveniently that one's right here in LA... and so is Special Agent Jack Bauer! Thank GOD! Irony of all ironies the chemical terrorist in question happens to be actor Salvator Xuereb, best known for those charming "Nick and Norm" Drugs-fund-Terrorism commercials. Hmmm.
Anyway, Jack and Chase give chase and end up in a populated Middle School where Chase (quite literally) latches himself to the Chem-Bomb like a fourteen-year-old boy to a nude photo of Beyonce! Does Jack disarm the bomb or "disarm" Chase Edmunds? And why do Kimmy's beaus always end up losing limbs? She hasn't even really told him if they're staying together or not... isn't he going to need that hand?
I digress... I don't think I need to tell you how it turns out. 24 hasn't gone off the deep-end into complete fantasy yet, so no, LA isn't going to be a Quarantine Zone for season four. However, this does set up a lot of curiosity for the future and a wonder what (if not everything) they're going to disregard for next season (remember last year's fizzled cliffhanger?)! One thing seems clear though, if Palmer's still in office they have Gregory Benford on the Payroll! 24 hours of controversy and Murder just doesn't add up to a second term. Maybe next season he'll be a gun-toting new partner for the Jackenator!
One more thing's for sure... Next season isn't going to make any more sense! We close with Jack in tears being pulled back on duty by CTU to help interrogate prisoners. Yeah, that's a smart plan... Do you really want a sleep-deprived, depressed, beaten and tortured loose-cannon agent with heroin in his system in charge of Prisoners? Do the words Abu Ghraib mean anything to you, Sparky? That just shows the fast-pace of this show. I wish the real government was this efficient!
Look, I whine, I bitch, but I still never miss the show... It's better than a lot of crap out there and beats anything produced by Mark Burnett! Writers Joel Surnow & Michael Loceff and Director Jon Cassar are incredible at crafting a continuing story with thrills and suspense, but man, I'll be horn swoggled if they bother making sense or presenting a timeline with any legitimacy. Real time indeed!
Look, guys... DO A PREQUEL before Cuthbert starts looking like the old lady from Titanic! She's young and hot enough to play herself at 17 again. Imagine: Nina's duplicity is still not known, Terri's still alive, David's still a senator, Tony can still hate Jack, the series' most consistently satisfying villain, Sherry Palmer, is still alive and sneaking treats... there's no way to lose in this situation! Trust me... this is the way to save 24! I say again... PREQUEL! preQuel!
This episode's marginally better than last year's finale, so it gets a marginally higher rating of Three and a Half Stars out of Five! Guys, please, you're smart, you've shown it... Make this show make sense again, and don't sacrifice logic for a fast pace. It almost feels like you're trying to move things so fast so people won't notice the flaws! How often is it that a major issue like, oh, I don't know, a terrorist threat to LA, gets solved in exactly 24 hours to the minute, man? So far... apparently three times! Joel, Michael, we're watching! It's when we stop watching that you've got to worry! Start the countdown!
Yeah, I want you to hold it... BETWEEN YOUR KNEES!
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