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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

24: Spoiler Alert--You've gotten lame!

Posted on March 31, 2010 at 4:30 PM

For some reason, we have been watching this season of 24. (I use the term “we” very loosely, because whenever I say, “Hey, let’s watch a 24," Dana responds with a dejected sigh like if I’d said, “Hey, I’m gonna go to the driving range for a while.") Actually, it's not surprising that we started watching it; the surprising thing is that we've been sticking with it.

I’ll preface this by saying *Spoiler Alert* if you happen to be planning on watching Season 8 of 24 and aren’t yet caught up. However, in truth, all that I’ll be spoiling is you yelling, “Oh, come ON!” and “You’ve GOT to be kidding me!” at the TV several times per episode. We aren’t totally caught up ourselves, but Episode 13 (4:00 AM – 5:00 AM) was SO replete with the ludicrousness which encapsulates this season, that I thought I would point out a couple of things that especially chapped my hide.

OK, so this episode begins immediately following a giant EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) bomb has been detonated right inside CTU’s headquarters. This would essentiallydestroy anything that has a computer chip in it; cell phones, computers,electronic ignition on vehicles, etc. So, CTU is electronically “blind” right in the midst of yet another terrorist group trying to detonate some nuclear rods in Manhattan (at least that’s what I *think* they’re trying to do; the whole plot is a little foggy). So, on the CTU side of the story, they are trying to get their systems back on line. At this point, I can’t even look at Chloe and not hear Napolean Dynamite going, “Maybe I will! GOSH!” She has one expression which I’d sum up as “I just at a lemon-prune.”

Jack and Freddie Prinze Jr. track the terrorists to this dock area, where eventually a massive firefight ensues. It’s important to point out here that just a few scant hours before, Jack had been brutally stabbed in the chest, and then minutes later tortured in his chest wound. Don’t worry though, that is totallyforgotten! This gun battle reminds me of the old GI Joe cartoon from the 80’s.Thousands, and I mean *thousands* of rounds are expended – “I’M OUT! RELOADING!”– but no one can hit anything. These are supposed to be highly trained agents,and they are taking shots over and over at the same target with fully-automatic weapons with scopes, yet can’t hit anything. Jack shouts out the brilliant piece of advice, “Use the infra-red to find the snipers!” OK. Except it’s pitch black and every time someone rips of this long string of fully automatic fire, this giant lick of flame comes out of their barrel, totally ID’ing their position. Also, calling these guys "snipers" is insulting to the term. Those Navy SEALs who spent an entire day laid-out on the fantail of that ship to simultaneously drop all those Somali pirates instanly on "Go!" -- those were snipers!

Also, they can’t call in for any support because their comms are being jammed. Really? Some random group of four terrorists is jamming all the frequencies of your special, encrypted military comms? Jamming gear they just happened to have with them? This sets up the “drama” of having to run across open ground to a landline phone; a giant red box labeled “PHONE” in case you were too dense to see it.

So, while this is happening, we cut back to CTU picking-up the most ridonkulous plotline of the season. Bill Prady, who is some kind of parole office, is still hanging around for like the third hour harrassing Dana. First off, no way they would keep him around during this crisis. “Who is this? A parole officer? Get him the F--- outta here!” But no. Instead, he continually pulls Dana away from whatever it is she’s trying to do – presumably helping to stop the whole runaway nuclear rod situation – with his obviously creepy, lurking manner.

So, some NSA tech guys come over and of course the lead guy is a total ass since any government agency that isn't CTU clearly isn’t trustworthy. This is even more shocking since practically every year there seems to be a MAJOR CTU employee that turns out to be a bad guy. (Foreshadowing....)

Well, Chloe has this plan to get the computers up and running much quicker, by using some shortcut on the reboot process. However, apparently tying into the computer network’s main trunk-line can either A) burn the building down  B) electrocute her or C) both, which is news to me since computers communicate over a network over virtually zero-voltage Cat wiring.  “Just give me like 10 minutes! Gosh!” NSA guy, of course, isn’t having any of it, so Chloe pulls a gun on him, locks herself in the room, and repairs the problem. Then, like any time youpull a gun on a senior government employee, returns to her desk and continuesworking like nothing happened. “Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!” It’s also nice/convenient thatall of the CTU desktop computers seem to be working 5-by-5 following the major EMP.


Cut back to Jack and he’s somehow managed to disassemble the armor plating on their Suburban and has a Gallipoli-style charge going to get over to the phone. Of course, the two no-name plebes with him get shot, so it’s just him and Freddie P. Jack decides to sacrifice himself for the good of us all and runs out, getting shot several times in the chest. (Don’t worry, it’s Jack. And apparently he's wearing a ballistics Level IV rated vest...) He is just about to get head-tapped when Renee shows up out of nowhere – apparently she's able to just home in on Jack’s manly odor – and kills off the bad guys with like 3 quick pistol shots! One shot is like 75 yards, where she just leans out off-hand and drops this guy. Clearly assault weapons are overrated when all you need is a woman with a pistol. (Oh, and I loved the scene where she slams the clip home and racks the slide back with this stare-off-into-space "Here I come, Jack!" grimace.)

Cut back to CTU, and we find Dana decides to choke out Officer Prady and then stuff his dead body into some kind of conveniently placed giant ventilation hole in this abandoned office. Oh, and then she calls Samir, the lead terrorist, and says she can’t keep her cover much longer. WHAT?!? A traitor inside CTU?!? Totally didn’t expect that!

I’m almost hoping that the nuclear rods DO blow up and take the whole cast with them, saving us from whatever mess the 24 movie might be.

Categories: Mar 2010, TV, Reviews

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Reply MirrorPete
3:56 PM on April 1, 2010 
The repetition of plot lines is a problem. I think this is the third or fourth time CTU has been infiltrated and blown up ? for each.

Also a problem are the huge, ridiculous leaps away from the real world. Just in this episode alone, we've got Godzilla-size liberties in physics (Jack getting shot by a high-powered rifle and being totally OK), engineering (WTF is a trunk line anyway? And why is it running at 10,000 volts?) and law enforcement procedure (Chloe would have been locked up right away).

My biggest beef, however, is that 24 can't seem to follow through with its own epic plot twists. Like the nuke explosion in season 6, the EMP should have changed everything (they even said in the promos that it was supposed to be the episode that did just that). CTU (at least that facility) should have been DONE. Period. Everyone splits up, some regroup at another location, others go to help Jack, or whatever. But that base under Roosevelt Island (at least that looks like where it is) should have been over for good.

I'm not exactly sure what the effect of an EMP would be -- some movies show it being very destructive, others show it more like an "off switch." But it would seem that, at minimum, all electronic equipment would no longer have any kind of RAM or storage. And depending on how the ROM is encoded, some stuff might lose that too. For any kind of computer, you're going to need to re-install EVERYTHING. Just for an MacBook that's going to take hours. And CTU is up and running in minutes? No. No way. Never happen.

But looking at it dramatically, why do this massive thing when you're just going to reverse everything anyway? It would have made for a more interesting second half of the season if Jack had to stop the terrorists WITHOUT the drones, satellites and all the other cool CTU shit. Now it's business as usual.

As you say, lame.
Reply John Sciacca
4:12 PM on April 1, 2010 
MirrorPete says...
Now it's business as usual.

As you say, lame.

Pete Pachal, everyone. Ex S+V co-worker, eater of massive servings of habanero pork, and currently top dog over at who probably sent this from a pre-release iPad. Thanks for your thoughts, Pete! Any idea why we still keep returning to 24 each week?
Reply Rob Medich
10:28 PM on April 1, 2010 
I believe in the series finale of "24," we'll finally learn that Chloe is indeed controlling everything that is happening over at that island on "Lost."
Reply Malia76
8:06 AM on April 10, 2010 
I can not feel bad for you, since you have brought this on yourself. I loved Season 1 and finished Season 2 and ended our relationship after that. I was able to walk away with mostly good memories. You have to know when to say when, and for me that was after Season 2. Forget how many times can Jack get shot or beat and then be fine the next hour, how many times can Keifer get drunk and arrested and still be allowed to film another series!!!
Reply John Sciacca
2:54 PM on April 10, 2010 
Malia76 says...
You have to know when to say when, and for me that was after Season 2.

24 has become like one of those stocks that you buy. You watch as it soars to new heights, counting all the money that you've "made." Then you keep holding on as you watch it flatten out and then start to drop, unwilling or unable to sell, and just ending up bitter, angry and slightly ashamed that you're still involved with it.