"Day 6: 9AM - 10AM"
Written by Robert Cochran
Directed by Brad Turner
In which Jack takes control of the operation to stop Fayed’s plan to detonate a nuclear device, while struggling with Curtis’ disagreement with Wayne’s decision to pardon Assad...
Status Report - Final Analysis
(This review covers the second hour of the Monday night season premiere episodes; the first hour was covered in a previous review.)
The episode begins with long scene at CTU, aptly demonstrating why the entire organization needs a serious overhaul at this stage of the game. Immediately after Bill Buchanan rightfully tells the entire room to get their act together, a consideration that should have been dealt with much earlier in the game, the effectiveness of the entire anti-terrorism effort is undermined by petty posturing and self-interest. It’s little wonder that the terrorists this season have been so successful. As usual, without Chloe to set things straight, the world would go straight to hell.
Wayne Palmer faces down an immediate threat on a level that rivals anything his brother was forced to handle. He turns to the one person that he has been able to trust in the past, and the man that David would have turned to: Jack Bauer. Of course, this is made far more interesting by Jack’s current psychological crisis. The central question is raised: is Jack Bauer still the man for the job?
The previous episode established that Curtis is acting more like Jack than Jack, and there were hints of a personal issue between Curtis and Assad. While this is hardly surprising, it is an effective plot device for putting immediate, direct pressure on Jack during the course of his operation. Wayne’s decision to give Assad a pardon only serves to tighten the screws, and the result is one of the best twists in recent memory, largely because it makes sense within the context of the story (unlike, for example, Tony’s death in the fifth season). Jack’s inability to move past his decision to shoot Curtis has nothing to do with the eventual success of Fayed’s plan, but he will no doubt feel responsible.
The situation with Ray, his family, and Ahmed has just enough time to escalate into something truly tragic. It also provides Jack with the means to deal with the pressure on his shoulders and fight past his lack of confidence. Ahmed continues to provide insight into the mind of the terrorist recruit. Despite his friendships, he sees himself as a soldier, and he’s willing to turn on those willing to accept him. This is a frightening yet necessary counterpoint to the exploration of civil liberty abuses.
It’s hard to believe, however, that Sandra Palmer is the best spokesperson for the civil liberty aspect of the debate. Her willingness to ignore the current crisis and the need for the president to see to the protection of the American people is disturbing. It also seems disingenuous that Sandra would constantly use her relationship with Wayne to her advantage when she obviously had nothing to do with her brothers during any other major crisis in the past.
As anticipated, Walid’s situation as a detainee puts him in the perfect position to be contacted by the wrong element. Specifically, he gains the attention of terrorist recruiters. This is a natural progression of his subplot and one that should prove to be provocative if the writers take the unexpected path. It’s quite possible that his decision to pass on information through Sandra will make his situation far worse.
The detonation of the nuclear device in the middle of Los Angeles is a first for “24”, and the effect should be immediate and profound on nearly every character. It’s no longer a matter of preventing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, but keeping that number from escalating to millions. Jack now has a great deal of guilt and shame to overcome in addition to his lack of confidence. The writers have given themselves a lot of good material to work with for the rest of the season, and as they move into unplanned territory over the next few weeks, it remains to be seen if they can capitalize on that potential.
Overall, this episode brings the sixth season premiere event to a close in thrilling fashion. The writers managed to earn the plot twists in the final act, and as a result, the twists were far more satisfying than they would have been otherwise. The writers have given themselves more than enough material to explore for the rest of the season, if they can avoid some of the pitfalls that come with their chosen writing process.
Final Rating: 9/10
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