I’ve given ’24′ a lot of grief in recent seasons. The plain fact of the matter is that the show just is, for the most part, a pale shadow of its former self. Nonetheless, every once in a while, there will be an episode (or, more likely, a specific moment within an episode) that reminds me why I continue to watch. I’m thinking of how Jack, trussed up and dangling from an overhead pipe while a Russian interrogator repeatedly tasers him, takes the baddie out with just his bare feet and steely resolve. Improbable? Perhaps. Totally badass? Absolutely. Last night’s episode (‘Day 8: 11:00AM – 12:00PM’) had at least two such moments. (Spoilers after the break.)
The first happens early on. Jack and Cole have teamed up to steal Dana back from the Blackwater-like private military firm that’s been granted Presidential license to torture evidence of the Russian conspiracy out of her. They have no great love for Dana at this point, of course. They just want to get the info first. (As an aside, how much fun was it to watch that bitch being waterboarded? I wouldn’t have minded a whole episode of just that.) Jack takes out a few guards and fools the rest into running outside the building so he can lock the door behind them. Then he has a face-off with the head dirtbag named Bledsoe (D.B. Sweeney, who’s been set up as if to be an important character for the rest of the season). Bledsoe holds Dana in front of him as a human shield and tries to argue that Jack should stand down, because there’s no way he can possibly get a clear shot. So Jack, not really giving a crap whether he hits Dana or not, pops off a round right between Bledsoe’s eyes. Game, set, and match.
That’s nothing compared to the way the episode ends. After some shenanigans at a bank where she claims to have stored the evidence, Dana uses her conniving ways to escape Cole’s custody. (That boy is seriously a dope, isn’t he?) Jack chases her for a bit, waits until she’s out of ammo, and corners her. Unarmed and out of plays to make, Dana hands over the evidence and pleads with Jack that they can make some sort of deal. At which point Jack gives her a cold hard stare, tells her that she has nothing he wants, and puts a bullet in her chest point-blank. As she’s on the ground gasping, Jack gives her another cold hard stare, as if to let her know that he missed her heart on purpose the first time so that she could really understand in her last few seconds just what he was doing, and finishes her off.
I’m telling you, this episode is dark.
I’m reminded of the way that Jack finally took out Nina Myers at the end of Season 3. This goes a few steps beyond even that. When Jack put Nina down, he did so knowing that she was still dangerous. His actions were also motivated by the rage he felt that she had killed his wife (in that very same room, in fact). Dana, on the other hand, isn’t really that sort of threat. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a murderous bitch. But Jack’s nemesis, not so much. And while he’s obviously pissed about Renee dying and wants to take that out on someone, he knows full well that Dana wasn’t directly responsible for that.
No, Jack appears to have crossed a point of no return this time. He killed Dana just to do it, because she annoyed him and he felt she deserved it. Which she did, of course. Still, even though Jack has always been an ends-justify-the-means sort of guy, he’s always been motivated by his own personal sense of justice and moral code (which may or may not align with the law). This isn’t about justice. It’s just pure, cold-hearted retribution.
All in all, the show was in pretty rare form last night. The suspense scenes were actually suspenseful for a change, and made really effective use of the split-screens to build tension (as opposed to the gimmicky overuse we often get). Even the sillier parts, like the brief glowering contest between Jack and Cole (pictured above), were more amusing than eye-rolling.
For quite a while now, I’ve been suffering through ’24′ out of some (perhaps misguided) sense of obligation to see the damn thing through to the bitter end. After this week, I may actually be interested to see where it goes. Let’s see if the producers can maintain that good will for another week.