24: Live Another Day – 8.00 – 9.00pm


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Looking around, it’s becoming increasingly clear that I am out of step with the entire Internet, which seems to be in consensus that 24: Live Another Day is an absolute corker of a programme,rip-roaring, exciting, engaging and pretty much the best 24 since the very early seasons. True, they keep stumbling ever so slightly over some of the series’ most bull-goose lunatic notions, but things which no-one could ever sanely contemplate as being plausible are being dismissed as, well, ‘just being 24.’

Episode 10 will no doubt go down as pure heroin to the fans, even as it left deeply unimpressed little me rubbing my eyes most of the time at its tortuous logic, when there was any semblance of logic, which was not often.

So we start with a continuation of the Bauer-Navarro getaway Olympics, complete with optional cellphone conversations. Navarro’s is with Monotone Adrian, directing him to Liverpool Street Station where he can pick up an envelope and drop off the override device. Cannily, Special Ops Veteran Navarro asks if he can trust Monotone Adrian, and then, the moment he shoves his manbag through a hole in the wall, the conversation ends: betrayed.

(Mustn’t forget the truly magical moment where Navarro happens to see a British solidier, fully-armed, on the streets of London, so unaware of his surroundings that he lets Navarro cold-cock him from behind and seize his rapid-fire shooty rifle, which proves to have only about sixteen rounds left in it, as you might expect. Fuck me, what a stupid bit of writing that was.)

Meanwhile, Jack has been spreading the word about Navarro’s perfidy and organising Tag Teams (is that what they’re really called? Surely they must have more practical names.) to arrive at the precise second Navarro is shat on and caught up with by Jack. All may not be lost sinceJack recognises a very familiar manbag heading down to the Tube on someone’s shoulder but (and you won’t see this coming) Monotone Adrian and Gothic Chloe get on the Tube and the door closes before Jack hits the platform.

And even Jack Bauer can’t outrun a London Tube train, nor rip its doors open, though you should probably have seen the first draft…

Meanwhile, Adrian has let Chloe in on the fact that he’s taking his override deviceback, though it is of course for purely altruistic reasons, since he’s going to give every Government in the World the unfettered ability to rummage through everybody else’s weapons dossier and set them off any time they choose, and that will mean World Peace Forever, because no-one will actually do anything like that.

Yeah, right.

The crazy thing about that s that it takes Chloe half the episode to turn round and point out quite how demented an idea that is, but her truly feeble attempt to steal the override device back again has her ever-attentive lover leading her off to the new, secret hacker base at gunpoint. Secret? Hah!

But let’s come back to that one after a trip to CIA HQ, where Navarro needs interrogating. Hapless Eric, as Senior Agent, takes over temporary Chief-ship, putting on appropriate gravitas exactly as if the writers had forgotten that he was supposed to be a frustrated hot-head, envious and spiteful of Barbie Doll Kate (oh, wait…). Meanwhile, Barbie Kate asks Slightly Scottish Analyst Glenn to check the departedJordan’s systems for any indication of why her bessy mate Steve had Jordan killed. Despite Glenn being decidedly inferior to Jordan, he comes back with the conclusive proof that Navarro framed her late husband Adam faster than it takes to pick a shopping list off a kitchen table.

Thos leads into a very silly sequence where Jack tells Eric he’s going to interview Navarro and he’s going to do it his way. Eric approves this on the strict understanding Jack can’t actually physically torture Navarro (was he even listening when Jack was talking about his way?) Navarro, pretty smugly for a man on the fast track to the electric chair, demands Full Immunity: after all, he’s slipped a tracker into the device. So Jack smashes his left hand to buggery with the butt of his gun in the most pointless and fatuous of reactions there’s ever been, and gets hauled out.

Meanwhile, it’s all going quiet at the Embassy. President Heller (see, I told you they’d forget he’d resigned at 7.00pm) has has Airforce One wheeled up to the door and, his mission over the drone bases an abject failure, is going to go home and give THAT  speech, i.e., the one about his Alzheimers, and then resign all over again in favour of the Veep. That’s until the latest plot twist gets flagged up so goodbye to all that. There’s a very carefully flagged up bit of foreshadowing about a Chinese Aircraft Carrier steaming about somewhere (was it really in the Med or did I just refuse to pay attention?) and everybody’s planning to give Navarro his Immunity.

That’s when Audrey takes Creepy Mark off into a room to offer him an olive branch, an apology for her snottiness to him over Heller’s Sacrifice. It’s honestly and sincerely meant but, instead of accepting it with relief, Creepy Mark – worried about how they’re going to bring the Russians back into the story – goes all-fired self-righteous on his wife, virtually accusing her of having her knickers on standby for when Jack comes round. This gives him a lovely, justified feeling over selling Jack out to the Russians by giving them his encrypted phone number and telling them to go out there and take him, with Mark’s blessings, PS, don’t tell anyone I told you to.

Even a piece of dreck like this is capable of impressive moments, and we get the first of these back at the CIA, as a wrathful Kate bursts into the surgery, holds everybody at gunpoint (a familiar experience, one gathers, as she’s done that once ready today) and threatens to blow Navarro’s brains out for framing her husband, and fuck the override device. With Jack’s gun virtually on Kate’s forehead, screaming at her to stand down, Navarro gives up the tracker code, only to realise he’s been well and truly scammed by the terrible two: see that Immunity? Out the wiondow, pal, and Kate promises to be there when they throw that switch.

So, Adrian’s secret base can now be tracked down, by Jack and Kate in a car and three Tag Teams in vans. The other impressive moment in this episode comes in the car, as a quiet Kate (a superb performance by Yvonne Strahovski here) admits to Jack that she believes herself to be the one who killed Adam: he’d gone to jail, they were working on his appeal, until that last visit, when she had stopped believing him. Her lack of faith caused his suicide. How can she now live with that? There are no fancy words or soft soap from Jack. Not unkindly, he tells her the only thing he can: You do.

At the Embassy, Creepy Mark’s panicking, trying to get the Russians to hold off seizing Jack in the middle of a World-Threatening Emergency but it’s too late. Enter one massive truck to smash into their car and disgorge gunfiring Russians.

And, if that weren’t enough, since 24 probably can’t even spell the word enough, let alone recognise the concept, there’s the Chinese.

What? Where the hell do they come in? Well, remember when I laughed at the idea of Adrian’s secret base? He and Chloe arrive to find the whole hacker crew slaughtered, by the Chinese. You see, Monotone Adrian was either not as altruistic or as clever as he thought he was. He’d been paid by the Chinese to develop the override, and they didn’t take kindly to the thought of it going out free to everybody else. Result, utter slaughter, including Adrian, though not before he has chance to tell Chloe that she shouldn’t be guilty over the deaths of Morris and their son, it really was just an accident. Still, lying got her to work for him, so where’s the harm?

But, and get this, the Chloe knows the guy leading the Chinese! He’s only the guy who tortured Jack between seasons 5 and 6, and for good measure, Audrey too. He’s supposed to be out of favour, in a Chinese prison, but here he is, taking his override back, despite Chloe’s attempts to sabotage it. (In a display of acute consistency of character, he shoots Adrian dead but leaves Chloe alive).

It’s getting near the end of the episode, and of the series (and I don’t believe we’re going to get this twelve hour jump at all, not between episodes, certainly. Maybe from 10.30pm to 10.30am). Mr Evil Chinese sends an order to an American Nuclear Submarine to sink a certain Chinese Aircraft Carrier (you remember it being mentioned?) and as slick as shit through a goose, and without questioning their orders, they do so.

I rather imagine that the Chinese Government will take against that, more than somewhat, but fear not. There are only two hours left and Jack will have saved the world long before that.

Sheesh. You lot seriously think this isn’t risible bullshit?

 

 

24: Live Another Day – 7.00 – 8.00pm


A spoiler?

Sigh.

Ater last week’s dramatic drone attack on Wembley, there were plenty of people on-line convinced that Heller wasn’t dead: that Chloe had doctored the feed, fed in a cloned loop and that Jack had spirited the President away from the centre spot in the nick of time. I hoped they were wrong. I’d rather admired Heller’s quiet dignity in going to his death and this kind of convoluted, oh so clever trickery was, in dramatic terms, flat and banal. Needless to say, the internet got it right, despite 24‘s usual trick of leaving William DeVane’s credit out of the opening titles.

At first, it looked like a success: everyone hung around in mourning, Stephen Fry paid tribute to the late President (I’m sorry, I cannot give credence to Stephen Fry as anyone except Stephen Fry, which is why he just doesn’t work as Prime Minister Alistair thingy), Audrey refused to be consoled by Creepy Mark and, most importantly, things started crashing into the sea off Dover. Yes, Mama Terrorist Margot was keeping her side of the bargain, despite Smartarse son Ian’s fanatical reservations. Five down, one to go, until Smartarse sussed out the trick. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so the wrathful Mama Margot sent the last drone to bomb Waterloo Station, where people were desperately trying to get out of London in the wake of the Wembley bomb.

Fair enough, thinks I, at least it’ll get Sky’s poisonous Kay Burley, who’s down there lending her own special branch of ignorance to the scene.

But we are failing to take into account Jack Bauer. Browbeating the still pub-bound Chloe into tracking Mama Margot to an otherwise deserted office block in Hackney, Jack calls in the Cavalry in the form of Barbie Doll Kate and the much-chastened Eric (plus an entire truck of guys with tommy guns) to clean out the guards whilst Jack inflitrates from the roof, climbinmg down the outside of the building on a makeshift rope of cables. Envisaging his making the traditional dramatic entrance, shattering glass as heswings into the room, I could think of nothing more than the legendary Stan Freberg in ‘The Banana Boat Song (Day-Oh)’ and that lovely line ‘I come through the window’.

However, Smartarse Ian, having shot the windows to buggery on sight, makes the mistake of leaning out, whereupon Jack grabs his hand and hauls him out for the fall (fifth floor). Time being tight, he shoots Mama Margot through the shoulder and, with the Waterloo bound missile already in flight, uses the override machine to divery it into a nearby lake at the literal last second.

Then, with Mama Margot screaming at him about all the deaths today that have been at his hands, he wraps up the plot by throwung her out the window too! Eight and a half hours, a new World Record!

But this show is called 24 (and there’s something like a twelve hour leap between episodes scheduled yet), so there’s time to kill (heh heh, poor choice of words there, sorry). This is not, however, to be three and a half hours of mopping up operations, do not fear, action lovers. First there is a suspiciously timely call to Barbie Kate from her Police contact, who’s just found the body of the late Jordan Reed, plus dead assailant, over in Camden.

Consternation spreads. She and Eric head over there where the total lack of any identification on the killer makes them suspect a Pro (and what was Jordan doing in Camden anyway?). Jack, who is securing the override device to bring in to CIA, suspects a connection to the now obliterated El-Harasi family (incidentally, the late Mahmoud, in whose name dear Mama has been working, turns out to have been only a second husband, stepfather only to Smartarse and Baby, in case anyone had been worrying about their genetic purity). And Mole Steve Navarro is shitting bricks over his eventual exposure.

Monotonous Adrian offers him a way out: escape, money, safety, on condition Navarro brings him the override device. This means getting it off Jack, not to mention out of lockdown in a secure CIA facility with the DoD already there to remove it for analysis. Navarro is sweating, knowing that Jack’s back-channel detection of the dead Pro’s fingerprints is going to lead to him. So what ingenious plan does he deploy? In a glass-panelled office, under the view of staff starting to look at him strangely because he’s being a bit wierd over Jordan’s death, he knocks out the DoD man with a sleeper hold, stuffs the override device into a holdall and – Station Chief that he is amd constantly in emand – walks unnoticed out of a back door. A back door in a secure, lockdown room. A back door in a secure, lockdown room that leads to deserted corridors, the basement and a fire exit (with no apparent security) into the back streets.

There are people who are taking this show seriously, who think it’s actually exciting.

Jack, of course, is hot on his heels, but just not quite hot enough. He was decoyed out of the way by a phonecall from Audrey, thanking him for saving her pa. There is an old flame seriously a-kindling there, possibly timely since Chloe, who has gotten out of that pub unmolested, after about three hours saving the world without apparently drinking even half a shandy, has finally brushed him off. Jack wants her to come in to CIA HQ to analyse the override device (a magical weapon, it transpires, that can override anything military, not just drones): that’s CIA HQ where, nine hours ago remember, Chloe was being tortured. No, Chloe’s done her bit and she’s not doing any more. Chloe’s going back to Monotnous Adrian.

Who, as the clock ticks, is driving her to Finsbury Square, to meet the runaway Steve Navarro…

Before we go, let us not forget (since the split screen reminds us in timely manner), that the President’s Lazarus-like reappearance spells all sorts of shit for Creepy Mark, in the shape of a forged Executive Order handing the now pardoned Bauer over to the Russkie’s.

And let us also not forget, since the scripters obviously have, that James Heller is no longer President of the United States of America: he resigned the post as of 7.00pm this evening. It will be interesting to see if anyone remembers that little wrinkle…

24: Live Another Day – 5.00 – 600 pm


Do NOT vote for this man.

Last week’s unexpected excursion into genuine tension and interest does carry over into the second half of 24: Live Another Day yet, in the way you know the show can’t resist being fatuously improbable, it couldn’t help dropping back into complete farce.
The first of these related to Baby Terrorist Simone, last seen having a head-on discussion with a London bus that sent her flying at least five yards in a horizontal direction.
Needless to say, the fragile-looking, pre-Raphaelite Simone was rapidly surrounded by Ambulances and all those head brace and splint thingies that prevent seriously injured people from moving any muscle still in an active state. She has multiple fractures, contusions and internal injuries, enough to have her rushed off to the nearby St Edwards Hospital in a critical condition.
Equally needless to say, Jack and Barbie are also rushing headlong towards St Edwards, anxious to keep all knowledge of Baby Terrorist’s incarceration from Mama Terrorist (some hope: Mama Margot phones Simone to find out why it’s taking so long to slaughter her sister-in-law and niece, only to find that St Edwards is the place to be).
Our anxious heroes’ only chance is to get Baby to turn against Mama, especially as little Yasmin confirms that, before killing Farah, Simone did urge them to get out of London.
But Simone is all battered and banged-up and in no fit state to speak: until, that is, Jack persuades the Doctor to administer that wonderful wake-up drug that drags patients back from death’s door with enough presence of mind to not only undergo interrogation by Jack Bauer, but also undergo torture from him.
This isn’t the bit where the episode goes lurching into improbability, though. No, this is just the bit where Simone wakes up, spits (metaphorically) in Jack’s eye when he asks her to betray her ever-loving mother, thus inducing him to unwrap her maimed left hand and start twisting Simone’s little finger: you know, the one that, not three hours ago, Mama lovingly had chopped off with a cold chisel, and which hasn’t yet been treated.
Simone’s loyalty to Mummy and the cause is impressive. Unfortunately, Mummy has no trust in her betraying daughter any more and has the next drone diverted to blow the shit out of the Hospital.
This is where it does get loony. Jack dedicates himself to getting Simone out. On foot. On Simone’s feet that is, with Jack supporting her, but she’s stumbling quite adequately out of the hospital. More than adequately, given her multiple fractures… Gah! I say, and gah!
Anyway, Mama spots that her beloved traitorous daughter has been got away and sends the drone after Jack’s car, through a wild chase through London traffic, side-streets and extreme parking that’s merely unrealistic in any practical sense and perfectly standard for 24. Jack somehow manages to avoid hitting at least fifty different cars, whilst stealing two others en route, until the last drone missile is used and Mam realises she’s still not killed her lovely child.
That’s where we’re up to in the principal plot, so it’s time to go back to the Residence and catch up with Heller and his circle. They don’t get too much play this time out, but when they do, it’s a doozy. Heller gives Stephen Fry a much needed bollocking. The Russian contact still wants Jack, ASAP, and if thwarted will use his knowledge that Creepy Mark forged Heller’s signature to an Executive Order.
And we’re on our way to major, bull goose loony notion number two. Heller witnesses the scenes of carnage at the hospital. He gets changed into a suit, and uses a hitherto wholly unsuspected backchannel to set up a Skype call with none other than Margot El-Harasi. The deadline still hasn’t passed for her ultimatum for Heller to hand himself over to her tender mercies. Heller’s been looking at the devastation caused at the hospital: he’s all set to hand himself over.
No, I’m sorry, not even in the world of 24 is that notion even remotely plausible. In a foreign country, the President of the United States of America is prepared to hand himself over to a vicious, brutal terrorist, who will stop at nothing to inflict brutal torture upon him and use him as the greatest propaganda coup terrorism has ever had. Ok, yes, he’s going to have Jack Bauer accompanying him, but even so, this one is so far-fetched it’s circling the sun somewhere outside the orbit of Pluto. Even assuming that Mama Margot’s word not to kill anyone else today can be trusted (and even if it can, she never promised not to start again tomorrow).
But let us not forget that there is now a sub-plot. For new readers, CIA Station Chief Steve Navarro has been revealed as the real traitor passing secrets to the Chinese, not Barbie Doll Kate’s disgraced and dead husband. However, puppy dog analyst Jordan, who worships Kate, is now running a retrieval program that will expose the CTU Mole (well, you know what I mean).
However, Navarro’s contact warns the baddie that his orders to ignore this are being ignored and Jordan needs to be disposed of. With a sense of shock that lasts for all of 0.2 seconds, we discover that Naughty Steve’s contact is Adrian the Monotone Hacker.
As for poor Jordan, he suddenly finds himself sent out into the field for the first time ever in of-course-not-suspicious circumstances, to retrieve a parcel from a message drop down on the canal. Where a thuggish looking thug shoots him in the chest, causing him to collapse, Dirty Den-style into the canal.
But fear not, something in all of this has triggered Puppy Dog’s sense of self-preservation and, despite having been shot at point blank range by a professional assassin, he swims hundreds of yards underwater, under canal water too thick for him to be seen, before pulling himself out with a flesh wound, a mere scratch. Currently being worked on by every kind of nasty bug ever to have lived in a British canal, so that’s him done for…
My overall verdict? One step sideways, three colossal ones downhill.
More idiocy next week, unfortunately.

24: Live Another Day – 3.00 – 4.00pm


So, where were we?

Episode 5 is a bit of a breather for Jack, who gets to do no more than sit in a room at the American Embassy, under token guard, interrupted only by private interviews with, firstly, President Heller, and secondly, First Daughter, Chief of Staff Creepy Mark’s missus, ex-lover and torture victim (this girl’s been around), Audrey Heller Raines Boudreau. Considering that she’s not seen him for three full seasons and the interregnum, and that she was last seen virtually catatonic after extensive Chinese torture incurred through looking for Jack, Audrey gives a more-than-creditable impersonation of someone who’s not even going to wait to be asked to drop them, whilst Jack plays the noble, masculine, save-her-from-herself role.

Actually, both actors play the scene with considerably more skill than it deserves, which almost redeems it whilst in play, but it’s still risible, much like the rest of the cartoon events.

The Jack role for this hour is taaken up by Barbie Doll Kate. Kiefer Sutherland’s apparently said this will be his last outing as Jack (so will we end the series with The Main Man being killed off?) but that Fox are planning some kind of spin-off. Everybody is pointing at Yvonne Strahovski’s character as the blatantly obvious choice, whilst simultaneously suggesting that she’s so damned obvious for the part that she’s going to be this half-season’s Justly Famous CST Mole: come on down, Kate!

This is the episode where Jack is proved to be right. Kate nicks the Flight Key (and as it’s known to be lost, and was last seen in a locked room that she invaded with total lack of authorisation, no-one so much as thinks of asking her of she’s got it: duh!), uploads the rest of it to Chloe. Creepy Adrian – who mumbles the unconvincing words ‘I love you’ to Gothic Chloe in a manner that suggests that even he can’t believe tis latest plot twist – spots the over-ride code, and Kate immediately convinces everyone.

Which is the most unbelievable moment 24 has ever tried to pull off.

Meanwhile, what’s going on at Terrorist Luxury Mansion Central with Mama Terrorist and her little band of tools? I could accept Margot Al-Hasari, who’s being played with fanatical steeliness and self-righteousness by Michelle Fairley, if anyone involved with writing this series could put over any suggestion of her beliefs. It’s a serious failing: Mama Terrorist is a terrorist because she’s a terrorist and does terrorist things, but what the fuck is she doing them for? We may not agree with terrorists but they are usually fighting for some cause. Mama Margot isn’t even being shown as having an unreasoning, irrational hatred of America and all it stands for.

True, she’s out for revenge for Daddy Terrorist getting killed by a drone attack, but it wasn’t that that turned her into a terrorist, so what is she about? She’s about being evil, heartless and fanatic, that’s what she’s about. It’s a fucking cartoon, that’s what it is.

After making sure that Baby Terrorist Simone, she of the four fingers on her left hand after Mama’s impromptu surgery, knows that she’s not to blame for getting her finger chopped off with a cold chisel, Mama makes sure that fearful husband Naveed knows that he is the one to blame for his wife’s disfigurement. Naveed hasn’t given up hope yet: he’s dropped a tracer that will lead the CIA to Terrorist Luxury Mansion Central. Unfortunately, he confides in his loving wife, and his loving wife confides in Mama. So, as was predictable from the moment we saw him in episode 3, Naveed ends episode 5 with a bullet in his head, with Simone’s blessing: ooch, that smarts.

And, get this, Mama Margot just so happens to have a second Terrorist Luxury Mansion Central tucked away under her pinny. Despite the fact that Naveed doesn’t confide in Simone until after the tracer has gone out, Simone’s betrayal has enable Margot and son Ian to change the tracer to misdirect the CIA hit squad to the deserted Spare Terrorist Luxury Mansion Central, where fast learner Ian directs a drone strike that’s probably wiped out CIA Station Head Steve Navarro (thus explaining why Benjamin Bratt has only been on the Guest List, and not Cast, so far).

Incidentally, I’ll leave to others to explain how, having left Central London at about 3.37pm, the CIA squad can deploy at Spare Terrorist Luxury Mansion Central – a large and isolated country mansion – by 3.55pm.

So: that’s one drone used to strike at the UK, leaving five more under Margot’s control. Heller has refused to allow Jack to go into the field to pursue the only contact, an arms dealer who can contact Mama Margot, but next episode he’s going to be forced to do so, with Bauer-manque Kate as his partner, even though she got re-suspended in this episode. Tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, oops, wrong show, to find out if I’m right. Or don’t bother, because you know I’m going to be.