24 Recap 8.21: Jack Bauer Continues on Path to the Dark Side

We’ve seen Jack Bauer torture plenty of people on ’24’ over the years. It’s kind of a staple of the show. In the abysmal Season 6, he even tortured his own brother. We know that Jack can go dark. Even so, there’s something a little unsettling about this week’s episode (‘Day 8: 12:00PM – 1:00PM’). Jack’s “interrogation” of the Russian assassin who killed Renee is particularly graphic and gruesome. No, this isn’t suddenly a ‘Saw’ movie or anything. Still, it’s pretty intense for network television.

The good news about this new episode is that it doesn’t completely spoil the good will earned by last week’s better-than-average episode. I still don’t think the show is anywhere near the heights of entertainment or suspense it earned in its prime (Season 5, in my opinion). But recent developments have returned the series to the realm of competency. And it feels like a big treat to get two fairly good episodes back-to-back. That’s been a rarity over the last three seasons, where any individual moderately decent episode would inevitably be followed by three or four crappy ones.

The thing that makes the torture this week so disturbing is Jack’s motive for doing it. He’s no longer fighting for justice or to save the world. He straight-up wants revenge for what was taken from him. He wants anyone involved to suffer and die – emphasis on SUFFER. He wants to watch them scream as he disembowels them. That’s all he has left to live for, and he’s willing to destroy the President’s peace agenda (no matter how well intentioned it may be) if that’s what it takes. Jack Bauer has gone dark before, but there may be no turning back this time.

In other plotting business, ex-President Logan has insinuated his conniving aide, Jason Pillar (Reed Diamond), into CTU to take over the hunt for Jack. I’m pretty sure that can only end with Jack shooting Pillar in the face. Reed Diamond seems to get shot in the face a lot on television. All this leaves Chloe in a lame duck position as the ostensible head of CTU, something she’s not happy about. It’s enough to push her back onto Team Jack, for which she can only recruit douchebag Arlo to help.

The episode has a few bits of silliness, such as Jack’s cell phone miraculously being compatible with the computer chip he took from Dana last week. I thought I had a fancy smartphone, but I can’t just insert random computer chips into mine and get it to play video files. Do you suppose Jack’s runs on Android and has lots of cool apps? The episode also has a really obnoxious bit of Sprint product placement. As if all the shilling for Cicso TelePresence in previous seasons weren’t bad enough, this shameless plug for some new Sprint thingamajig has actually been written into the dialogue between Chloe and Arlo.

The episode ends with Jack discovering Logan’s part in the Russian plot. I’ve been wondering for a while now who this season’s Big Bad was supposed to be. There hasn’t been much of a coherent centralized villain for Jack to take down at the end. I guess that’s going to be Logan now. Which I suppose will be fine, though it still leaves the season seeming rather unfocused.

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