One more hour and I’m all caught up. After the shock of Hour 4’s wham-bam finale – with Curtis and LA being dealt critical blows – we pick right up with the city plunged in chaos.
1. The episode opens in the White House as President Palmer and his staffers gather around a television, incredulous to the images beaming out of LA. Mad props to the effects techs that mocked up a frighteningly realistic mushroom cloud hovering over the City of Angels in that news feed. The thing is photo-realistic and it seems they got the details absolutely correct – with its slight size on par for that payload’s estimated yield. Early estimates reveal that the bomb killed “at a best case scenario – 12,000 people.” Damn – that’s gotta’ exceed Jack’s annual kill count by six or several. Our boy better get cracking if he’s gonna’ beat his personal best.
2. Assad’s entrance at CTU was handled with the right mix of chills and awe. As I mentioned in my last post, Assad is a composite of Gerry Adams and Osama Bin Laden. Imagine Osama strolling through your work place. The look of shock on the CTU staffers was well done.
3. I’m the type of viewer that hones in on the technical craft with equal regard to the narrative. I sung his praises last year but it deserves equal mention here. Composer Sean Callery, who has been with the series since the beginning and also scored the original Splinter Cell, turns in a top-notch cinematic score on a week-by-week basis. Mark Snow (The X-Files) used to be the best television composer working but Sean Callery has raised that bar. Take a listen to 24’s constant soundscape. This is some vibrant work that really underscores the action and sets a scene nicely.
4. Am I the only one who doesn’t hate Peter MacNichol’s character, Tom? MacNichols plays the typical corporate weasel (he’s Palmer’s Chief of Staff but if you want a good comparison – think William Atherton in the Die Hard flicks). Anyway, MacNichol came off as a major Napoleon in the first few eps with his constant threats to round up Muslims without discretion and pursue due process later. As one character mentioned – “He treats the Constitution like it’s a list of suggestions.” In the last couple of episodes, he’s grown on me. He doesn’t seem evil – just genuinely believing that this course of action is the right course of action for the safety of the country. I thought he had a nice aside with the President who remarked that he worried about showing his fear on a nationally televised address. Tom remarked “Bravado would be no more appropriate.” It just seems like there’s a nice point-counterpoint playing out there. He even shot down that general who suggested that if the terrorists wanted to act like it’s the stone age, “let’s put them there.” Of course, in the teaser for next week it appears Tom is pulling strings to off Karen, so what do I know.
5. So Assad has been summoned to meet the President in Washington – due to arrive in 7 hours. That puts him smack dab in the middle of the season which is usually where the producers like to throw a curve ball. What if this is all a shell game? What if the peace-seeking Assad is seeking a close audience with the President so he can strike and take down the big target? Odds are slim but just in case it happens, you heard it here first.
6. The big news is that Fayad obtained his nukes from a disgruntled Russian general who has ties with Bauer’s Dad, Phillip. I’ve read some complaints on the web where people cry foul at the introduction of Jack’s family this late in the game – having never heard reference to them before. Two things – 1. Jack wasn’t hatched in a lab so of course he has folks and 2. Each of the past 5 Seasons has taken place in one 24-hour period. That’s five of the longest days in Jack’s admittedly strained life. During those national crises, it’s unlikely that Jack is gonna’ reflect on his pappy issues unless Dad is in on the scheme. On the Sixth Day we find out – maybe he is.
7. This news brings Jack to his bro – who we most certainly have seen before. Graeme Bauer is played by Paul McCrane (ER’s Dr. Romano) – who we saw skulking in the shadows last season pulling the strings on his puppet President Logan. While the whole evil brother/Daddy thing sparks of soap opera histrionics – it’s a potent twist – as Jack is just bound to go ballistic when he finds out his big brother was behind President Palmer’s assassination.
8. Credit to an AICN forum poster who mentioned that the whole Jack-Graeme biological brothers reveal smacks of Twins – with poor Graeme getting all the Devito DNA.
9. Two hours before, Jack bristled at torturing an anonymous terrorist. Now he’s in his brother’s home ignoring the posted safety warnings and using a plastic bag as a plaything. It’s good to have Jack back.
10. Next week, James Cromwell joins as Jack’s Dad.
That’ll do Jack. That’ll do.