Spoiler alert: this article contains potentially plot-revealing information.
Jack Bauer’s stating, “The following takes place between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.,” has never introduced such a surprisingly entertaining, yet unexpectedly peaceful episode of “24.”
Monday night’s episode of “24” did not disappoint.
Season eight, hour five introduced a new phenomenon: A great balance of drama facing the entire U.S. and the individual characters themselves.
Thus far season eight seems to be finding a balance in standard dramatic situations that has been lacking in the past.
This can be seen through the tribulations facing CTU employee Dana Walsh. Last week’s premiere episodes showed Walsh being stalked by a mysterious ex-acquaintance. This mysterious ex-acquaintance has become a little less mysterious episode by episode. It is first exposed that he used to be very close to Walsh. He knows where she lives and that she is engaged to her co-worker at CTU, Cole Ortiz. In the next episode, audiences learn that Walsh has something to hide, something that could devastate her career at CTU.
Monday evening’s episode of “24” finally put a much-needed end to this annoying anticipation of what Walsh could possibly have to hide that is so detrimental to her reputation.
Audiences now know that Walsh is an ex-con.
While a little on the predictable side, having an ex-con turned in to a law-abiding citizen working for a government agency is an interesting plot twist. This twist is made more dramatic as Walsh’s ex-acquaintance, a man named Kevin, blackmails Walsh, threatening to expose her identity if she does not use her standing at CTU to steal a large sum of money for him.
Someone corrupt working on the inside is not a new dramatic performance on “24.” An ex-con-turned-legitimate-government-employee that becomes a potential money embezzler, however, is a refreshing surprise on a formulaic plot line.
This personal character drama introduced in Monday’s episode is nicely balanced with the national drama of a confirmation that a Russian mob has plans to use weapons grade uranium to launch an attack somewhere in the U.S.
This new national security threat nicely, if not inevitably, adds to the tension of the new season of “24,” but does not come unexpectedly. Who would Jack Bauer have to brutally torture and ruthlessly interrogate if no foreigners posed a threat to national security?
Thus, the Russian mob becomes season eight’s token “bad guy.” At least the writers of this season switched up their villains; usually Middle Eastern terrorists take the role of the token “24” bad guys. It is nice to see a little diversity in the show’s villains.
The new villains introduced in Monday night’s episode are accompanied by a new leading lady: Walker. Walker, who was the main focus of last night’s episode, became boring; her initial failure to fool the Russians as a legitimate co-conspirator in their illegal activities was a little bit of a dramatic bolt. Nevertheless, the lack of Jack Bauer in the episode made it evident just how central his presence is to the whether or not the show is entertaining.
Without a lot of Bauer airtime, it felt like watching a generic, mediocre network drama.
Luckily for any bored audiences, Bauer was reintroduced as a central figure in the episode, recklessly driving around the streets of Manhattan in pursuit of the Russian mob that abducted Walker upon not trusting her discretion enough to assist them in their plot.
And as though reading the audience’s Bauer-depraved minds, Walker’s character showed some complexity not seen in many other “24” characters aside from Bauer. Held at gunpoint by a main player in the Russian mob that was plotting against the U.S., Walker pleads to be shot, claiming to be sick of her life.
What makes this situation more entertaining than usual is Bauer’s earlier stated concern for Walker’s mental state, questioning whether she is emotionally stable or not.
This episode sets up an interesting plot line as audiences are left to question Walker’s motives, whether or not she is undercover to put herself in danger or actually help CTU. Knowing the show’s history, it would not be far-fetched to wonder if later in the season Walker might end up actually working for the Russians.
The new approach of honing in on more personal drama and conflict within each character is thus far proving much more captivating than the prescribed, formulaic violence that is usually featured in each week’s episode.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jamie Magyar at Jamie.email@example.com.