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”24”: Jack makes a nearly fatal error
We all have our really classic stupid moments. Mine came several months ago when I pulled into a Santa Monica parking lot and nabbed what I thought was a choice space — only to discover about 40 minutes later that I had parked in a handicapped spot that would cost me a fine of $550. And it’s not like there wasn’t light-blue handicapped signage all over the damn parking spot. Because there was, all over the spot.
Stupid stupid stupid.
Jack had his classically stupid moment on this episode. Surely he didn’t think that a dangerous terrorist like Habib would believe that a middle-aged matron like Dina Araz could take a guy like Jack at gunpoint. Come on! I know the writers had to get us that much closer to Habib, but this seemed particularly uncharacteristic of Jack. But then many things didn’t make sense in this episode. What’s with Michelle rolling over for Jack back at CTU and allowing him to set the agenda to capture Habib? Um, somebody get Driscoll on the line! And what’s with Jack telling Audrey he’s sorry two times for Paul’s injuries? He didn’t do it, the bad guys did! And how to explain Edgar’s sudden meltdown with Tony? And why did Dina seem to kiss and grope son Behrooz as if he were her long-lost husband? And what’s with the gratuitous semi-nudity of that pilot after he slept with the enemy? (On second thought, I guess I really didn’t have any problems with that.)
But when Jack was in Habib’s custody — and when Habib dared Dina to shoot Jack — I did get that temporary rush of only-on-24 adrenaline. Suddenly I started to wonder: Is this the heart-stopping moment we’ve all been waiting for? Jack can’t have bad days forever, you know! Kiefer’s gotta be tired waiting for the Emmy that will probably never come, and he’s gonna wanna go back and do movies someday! Will he finally be killed off?
Hell, no. What am I, stupid? Light blue, Lynette! Light blue means handicapped spot and you shouldn’t park here!
But this little exchange opened up a pivotal moment for Dina. Up until this moment, Dina had continued to talk of her ”belief in the cause” and how she’d like to see Jack dead. But already knowing what we know about the producers and their continued attempt at balance — you know, we need an equal amount of good Muslim Americans to balance out the bad Muslim Americans — I’m thinking that Dina will start to go soft on Jack. Even the actress who plays Dina, Shohreh Aghdashloo, said to EW a few months ago that we should ”wait until the story finishes” before we make conclusions. It’s beginning, my friends: 24 is preparing for Dina to not only turn on ”the cause” but play a key role in bringing down the terrorists. Now that she and Jack are in Habib’s custody, she’ll see firsthand how dirty her fellow terrorists can play, and she’ll start to change her mind. (This is, of course, based on the pretty safe assumption that those two gunshots at the end of the episode were just there to build suspense till next week and didn’t actually kill her.) Finally, a heroine on 24 who saves the day! You agree?
As for whether there’s a second bad guy or mole at CTU, I have my doubts that Heller’s hands are dirty. 24 would have a lot to explaining to do, since he was tortured at the beginning of the season — right before he tried to gas himself to death. That’s not really the behavior of a guy on an evil mission. If we’re gonna go that far, we might as well remain open to the possibility, however slight, that the President has a role in all this as well. Remember, this prexy did show a dark side last season during the debates with Palmer; remember how he was trying to expose the shady dealings of Palmer’s girlfriend’s ex-husband? This guy doesn’t play nice — must be a terrorist, then! (And let’s not forget rumblings that actor Dennis Haysbert could be back this season.) Granted, I can’t think of a bigger political nightmare than having a TV show that features a U.S. President who’s aiding and abetting terrorists. But hey, if the Muslim family down the street can be terrorist sleepers, then our Commander-in-Chief can be one, too. After all, this is just fiction, right? It’s not based in reality, right?
And now, a word about the continued violence. I often wonder how NBC’s Fear Factor is going to remain relevant — i.e., interesting — for viewers if it doesn’t stage harder, more dangerous stunts year after year. The fact is, it can’t. I have to think 24 faces the same issues. To make this show provocative (i.e. the great ratings grabber it is), the show needs plenty of edge-of-your-seat suspense. That means more blood, more killings, more severed fingers. 24 walks a fine line with this; there’s always the danger of becoming a caricature of itself — and when I say that, I mean Jack’s decision to mutilate himself yet again to pull off the whole Dina-captured-me ruse. I’m so done with moments like this. Let’s move on!
So what do you think? Do you still suspect that Heller is on the wrong side? Is Audrey ready to give up on Jack? And is Chloe just about the best character on TV?