After a four year absence, 24 is returning to TV in the form of a “limited series.” Shortened seasons for broadcast shows are in right now. Big-network programs like Hannibal, The Following, Sleepy Hollow and Under the Dome are taking a page out of the British/Premium Cable model, offering shortened seasons of around 12-15 episodes without the traditional option of extending the season. 24 is embracing this model as well, cutting Jack Bauer’s “day” in half to (theoretically) tell a tighter story and keep costs down. How well 24 translates into 12 remains to be seen, but there is no denying of the excitement of having Jack Bauer back on the small screen.
As a limited run companion piece to our series-spanning Dead Series Discussions we – Patches, Zach, Jeff and MegaMix – will be posting reactions to each episode of Live Another Day as it airs. These “ReJacktions” are not as long or formal (ha!) as our other posts on the series, but instead give us a chance to add some reflections and observations for each episode. Once the season has ended, we’ll give Live Another Day a proper Dead Season Discussion before bidding farewell to 24. At least until Jack comes back again.
This week’s ReJacktion is focused on Episode 11 of Live Another Day, “Day 9: 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.”
It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of 24 and strong language. Parental discretion is advised. Discussion occurs in real time.
I’ll calling it, guys. Live Another Day is the most frustrating season in 24’s run. Which is not to say it’s the worst, mind you, but rather the least consistent. Season 6, hilariously skewered by our own Zach here, was terrible, but it didn’t do much after E4 to get our hopes up. Season 8 may have been forgettable, but Dana Walsh aside, it was never downright infuriating. But Live Another Day has alternated between great and terrible so many times it feels like I’m watching Star Trek movies.
First, if I may ape Zach’s bit from Episode 7,
THIS WEEK’S REJACKTIONS BROUGHT TO YOU BY NARRATIVE NECESSITY
I swear this episode was the last one written. It’s the only explanation. The writers wrote the finale first, then went back and started from the premiere, except that when they got to this episode, they realized they didn’t know how to logically move the pieces from E10 to the finale. This week’s episode set up the finale, but did so in ways that constantly made me say, sometimes out loud, “Of course. Why wouldn’t that happen?”
Of course President Heller would escalate our military readiness. Why wouldn’t he do that? It’s not like standing down and/or taking one on the chin from China would help our case with the Chinese Premier.
Of course Audrey would tell Jack to kill Cheng. Why wouldn’t she do that? It’s not like he is the key to stopping a globally crippling war or anything.
Of course Ambassador Moustache was killed by a hilariously long fragment of breakaway glass. Why wouldn’t that happen?
Of course everyone with Audrey gets sniped. Why wouldn’t that happen? I’m sure there’s perfectly reasonable explanation for how Cheng knew the meeting’s location or why he would leave a sniper on British soil while making his escape.
Speaking of Cheng, although I was initially receptive to his return, this episode soured me, mostly because I foolishly believed they would explain how he escaped. Instead, we get a throwaway line about how Cheng “must have escaped from prison somehow.”
Christ, are you guys even trying?
Although we all had issues with the explanation of Tony’s return, artfully critiqued by Jeff here, at least they bothered to try. Cheng could have shittily exposited his escape to Chloe. Ambassador Moustache could have told Cheng that he spent a lot of money on his body double. I don’t know. Just give me something.
The good news on Cheng is that Zach was wrong. Last week, Zach called Cheng a stereotype. However, when I predicted Cheng’s reaction to seeing Jack on CCTV and said “Bow-a” in the most racially insensitive way possible, it was only almost spot-on.
Wait a minute…
Good things this week include it not being terrible enough to kill my crush on Yvonne Strahovski or kill anything other than my spirit, my optimism that LAD will end well, and several of my most productive brain cells.
Patches, I’m with you on a lot of this. The most commonly occurring word in my notes on this episode is “convenient.” Audrey’s convenient contact at the Chinese Embassy. The convenient propane tank in the middle of the London street during the shootout. The conveniently dropped cell phone that Chloe picks up. Mustache’s convenient demise. Cheng’s convenient decision to berate his hacker so Chloe can grab a convenient pipe and conveniently escape. Cheng conveniently (and inexplicably) having a sniper follow Audrey and take out everyone around her.
It’s all just too much.
In its favor, the episode does have some momentum, and it feels like we’re headed for the finale. However, as you’ve noted, many of these developments and twists come “out of the blue” because the convoluted storyline requires it at this point.
I don’t know if I found this to be the worst episode of the day so far, but it’s certainly the weirdest. This goes beyond the story. Most of the episode sounds like it was written and acted by an elementary school drama team. Just go back and listen to any lines delivered by Cheng, Erik, Heller, Gavin and Audrey. Either nobody is trying at this point, or the writing just can’t be overcome by the acting. Tate Donovan actually shines in this episode, in my opinion, and having Jack call him an idiot is pretty funny.
Another problem I’ve having is the plot. Let me try:
Cross builds the override for world peace. Yates somehow gets it and modifies it to sell to Margot who wants revenge on Heller. Steve, who has been selling information to Cross (and then to China?) gets the override for Cross. Cheng, realizing that Cross isn’t going to sell him the override kills Cross and takes it anyway. Cheng wants to use the override to start a war between the US and China so that the Russians, who broke him out of prison, can benefit. In return, the Russians are going to kill Jack, who only resurfaced 10 hours ago.
The NARRATIVE NECESSITY of having the override be in the right place at the right time (we’ll just let Margot borrow it for exactly 6 hours), as well as the knowledge and resources of Cross, the Russians and Cheng boggle the mind. I think this is more frustrating than season three’s sting operation and season five’s entire conspiracy plot (which, lest we forget, was somehow run by Alan Wilson).
That said, I have some hope for the finale. 24 typically does finales well, and considering how down I’ve been on the last few episodes, it has to be an improvement, right? As Patches suggests, hopefully they got all of the narratively necessary, convenient and ridiculous twists out of the way in this episode to set the table for an awesome finish. See you at the docks at 10:30PM.
I can’t say I’m nearly as upset about this episode as the previous episode, but that’s because I felt like every which way was up. It’s one thing to disappoint me the way the last two episodes did, and entirely another to just live up to my sad expectations. This episode did the latter.
I don’t know what to say, really. The previously interesting scenario of Chloe being the kidnapped relation of Jack was swapped, “seamlessly” (i.e. pointlessly, in this case) for Audrey, who is gonna die and stuff. Jack is gonna hunt down Cheng. Yadda yadda yadda. Literally nothing new about this episode at all. You know, come to think of it, you could have dropped exactly this episode into the second stretch of S6 and you wouldn’t have thought a single bit was weird, would you have? Maybe wondered why Chloe had so much mascara on. Probably because her and Morris are beefing. Can we get back to that?!?
More to the point: Imagine this season just simply started at this episode. Would you be lost? Would it be weird? Would the motivations of any of the characters need any explaining? Is the storyline even any different than the status quo before this season started? I think the answer is “no” for every one of these. Chloe is a hostage who trails l33t haX0r breadcrumbs. Cheng is kidnapping people. Jack wants to kill but he has to find first. The President is still taking pain pills because he is recovering from driving off a fucking cliff 3, or was it just 2, years ago.
I hope the finale brings us back a bit, but I don’t have much faith that it will. At least, hopefully, there is some resolution to it.
Apparently the sum of all fears is 24.
What’s that? Colin Salmon has better things to do and now General Coburn is AWOL? No problem, call in the US Military Advisor B Team! There’s Admiral Admiral, a minor league “that guy” you’ve seen in several movies. And there’s Colonel Shaw, who was apparently around last episode, and who would sound much more authoritative if he didn’t pronounce “nuclear” as “new-kyoo-ler.” (To be fair, pronunciation of this word is Jack Bauer’s biggest weakness, and even President Heller can’t get it right.) Oh, and don’t spill your Alzheimer’s meds in front of the B Team, or they’ll look at you with such a potent combination of curiosity and disdain that your only response will be to go to DEFCON 3.
Best: With the Russians and Cheng’s goons closing in, Jack sacrifices himself to buy Kate enough time to escape. Jack is shot in the hand, foot, and side before dying in a Crucified Hero Shot. Jack gets the final Silent Clock of the series TEN MINUTES INTO THE EPISODE. The final fifty show Kate going Full Bauer, killing all the goons, capturing Cheng, averting war with China, and shooting Wayne Palmer, whose presence is never explained, in the head several times. The show ends. I spend the next several years writing Kate Morgan fan fiction with creepy Late-Onset Accent Disorder Guy as the new Chloe. Yvonne Strahovski reads it on my website. We marry.
Worst: Jack survives, but Heller has a heart attack and dies. A hidden clause in the original copy of the 25th Amendment, revealed when an old clerk guy blows some dust off the parchment, allows Jack Bauer to become president. Jack takes Audrey in his arms and deadpans to the camera, “It looks like I… live another day.” AC/DC’s Shoot to Thrill plays over the credits.
Best: Audrey winds up sniped just like Renee. Jack goes ballistic and massacres everything. He kills Kate because she’s standing in his way. He kills Chloe by accident somehow. Seeing what his rage has done, he decides to off himself. Yeah, it’s dark as hell, but it’s not like Heller is going to remember to pardon him anyway. Later, rumors abound that someone who looks like Margot is traveling the wilds of Great Britain hanging people.
Worst: Jack and Kate save the day and share a kiss. Heller’s brother, who is an ordained minister officiates their wedding. Everyone is there, including best man Tony Almeida, Chloe, Kim and little Teri, Chase and Angela, Cole, Agent Baker, Erin Driscoll, Alberta Green, Brad Hammond from Division, Karen Hayes and Tom Lennox, Sandra Palmer, James Heller and the Boudreaus, Walid, Hal Gardner, Jim Prescott, The 25th Amendment, Taylor’s VP, Henry Taylor, The Matobos, Meredith Reed, Aaron Pierce, Oriol and Sergio Hernandez, Arlo, Janis, Martha Logan, Charles Logan and Lynne Kresge (in wheelchairs), Noah Daniels and Lisa Miller, sexually harassed Shari Rothenberg, Miles Papazian (compelled to come), Alistair Davies, Evelyn Martin, Belcheck, Spenser Wolff, Richard Heller, the Muslim entrepreneurs from season 4, Dalia and Kayla Hassan, Megan Matheson, Donnie the survivalist and the cougar, Adam Kaufman, Kate and Bob Warner, Nadia Yassir, Sarah Gavin, Keith and Nicole Palmer, Michelle’s brother, Frank Trammell, Willie the African orphan, the Singer family, Scott “It’s ACH-med” Wallace, Milo’s brother, Ann Packard, Patty the speechwriter, One-legged Miguel, Tony’s ex-girlfriend Jen, Admiral John Smith, Marilyn and Josh Bauer, Nicole Duncan, Tim Woods, Rick the Kim-napper, Olivia and Allison Taylor (via Skype from prison), Mike Novick, Mike Doyle, Sunny Macer, Carrie Turner, Mrs. Ortega, Ethan Kanin, probably Mandy and many more. Phillip Bauer shows up with a wedding-night gift, the reveal that Kate is actually Jack’s sister and/or daughter.
Wait, maybe that one’s the best.
Best: Jack watches as Audrey is assassinated live via satellite feed at the exact same time that Kate is shot dead. Bauer goes full Hulk and goes down slow-mo style in an ABSOLUTELY BONKERS barrage of bullets. This occurs while they splice flashbacks in of all the people he’s lost along the way with the last image being of Kim with her family now. We see his eyes close on that image to indicate he has died and will not miraculously live ANOTHER day. I don’t give a FUCK about anyone else on this show, so WHO CARES.
Worst: Everything manages to go perfectly. Jack saves the day and no other people are harmed in the world EVER. He ends this savioristic day with his life-long dream of a menage-a-trois with President Heller and a completely vegetative President Logan. Okay, that’d be crazy to see on FOX, but still…
I already gave one possible finale reveal in last week’s writeup, but here goes two more…
Best: Audrey is saved but Kate lies to Jack about it knowing he’ll fucking ragesassinate everyone. Or Audrey is killed anyway, by like stray bullets in the street, random whatever. Don’t give a shit. Just let Jack go nuts. Jack kills everyone, and especially Cheng. He kills him so hard, actually, that the Chinese don’t have proof of the conspiracy, have no option but to fight the US. Nuclear subs are readied, bombs are launched. Jack finds out Audrey is definitely for really dead (double points if he sees it) while news reports keep rolling in about the ongoing war. He finds out that city X is nuked. He dispassionately says something like “Huh… Kim lived there,” and Kate says, “Kim who?” and Jack says, “It doesn’t matter.” He definitely kills himself. For poetic justice, let’s make it happen in the deadliest place in the world – CTU Medical.
Worst: Chloe is working with Cheng. Or Jack is. Or they both are, and Eastern European Buster is as well. They are doing it because Jack is still super fucking pissed about Heller cockblocking him at the end of S6. “That is the exact reason,” he says, deadpan, while breaking the 4th wall. You go meet the ring leader and it turns out it is none other than Diamond Dallas Page. In a live televised cage match, David Arquette gives a Diamond Cutter to Jack. He dies.
While this match is going on, at some point, the alarm clock starts ticking softly in the background and slowly gets louder. Eventually you notice it’s an actual alarm. As Jack breathes his last breath, the screen goes black and two eyes open. It is revealed that we were in Jerry Seinfeld’s dream all along. He sits bolt-upright and turns to Elaine and says,
“How can you call the show 24… when there’s only 12 episodes?!?!? That’s false advertising, is what it is!”
We suddenly wake up from this dream to find out we were in Jack’s unconscious but not yet dead mind. He is bound by chains to a gurney being pulled along by President Logan who is riding a tricked-out, straw-in-mouth operated, Communist Party bedazzled Rascal that his good friend the Russian prime minister gave him at a back-yard BBQ they had at Martha Logan’s bungalow. Jack is going nuts, obviously, and we watch him lose all will to live gladiator-being-sold-to-slaves-style. By the end, he is crying like a baby and Logan is computer-whispering to him “HAVE A STIFF UPPER LIP, JACK. THIS IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOOOOOOOOD”.
They finally arrive at CTU NYC where everything is dark. The lights explode along with a chorus of SURPRISE!!!!!! and everyone Jack has ever known is there to wish him a happy 8 years sober. You kicked the horse, Jack, and we are all better for it.
It is explained that S4-9 have been a The Game-style prank orchestrated by none other than Jack’s best friend David Palmer (played by Idris Elba as Dennis Haysbert was unavailable). Jack is so infuriated by the whole thing he kills everyone in the room. And then himself.