"Day 4: 10AM - 11AM"
Written by Stephen Kronish
Directed by Brad Turner
In which Jack decides to stage a hostage situation to keep Kalil in one place while Chloe strives to gain access to the satellite surveillance, while Behrooz learns the price of failing his parents...
Status Report - Final Analysis
Rounding out a four-hour premiere event, this episode continues the trend of the previous two episodes. Some of the elements work very well, but others fail on nearly every level. The crisp and clean storytelling of the first episode is hard to remember, thanks to a return to some of the clichťd character subplots that dominate the hour.
For some odd reason, perhaps related to the notion that the audience would be confused by a masked Jack Bauer and suddenly stop watching after 60+ minutes, Jack takes his mask off and basically reveals his face to Kalil and the other newly minted hostages. If this doesnít come back to bite him, it will be a miracle. As it is, Jack is operating without any kind of safety net, since Driscoll still wants his hide, seemingly above all else. (This once again suggests that Driscoll is part of the terrorist plot, and actively trying to undermine a threat to its success.)
Chloe still doesnít have satellite access, and finally, Driscoll realizes that Chloe is hiding something when she doesnít react to news about Andrewís condition. While Jack goes through all the motions of being a thief, waiting for Chloe to pull through for him, Driscoll puts Sarah, the hot brown-noser, on the task of monitoring Chloe. Considering how often Jack calls Chloe, it really shouldnít take Sarah very long to figure out whatís going on, but apparently Sarah has no brain.
To ramp up the tension in the Heller kidnapping story, itís soon revealed that Heller has a heart condition, and he left his medication in the now-charred limo. Audrey is understandably concerned, especially since they both have to be very convincing, or the guard wonít believe their little ruse. Itís actually rather well done, because it looks more like a lame plot element than a clever ploy!
Meanwhile, the intrigue at CTU also heats up, and itís not nearly as interesting. Chloe decides to recruit Edgar in her little rogue operation, since sheís not nearly as unobservant as Sarah, so she knows that sheís being watched. Edgar apparently operates on some kind of ďfriendship ruleĒ, because all it takes to get him to break the rules is being nice to him. Marianne, the kind of co-worker that inspires murder fantasies, overhears the whole thing and files it away for her own advantage.
Hellerís escape attempt is one of the more exciting moments of the episode, even if it is foiled somewhat by Audreyís insistence on helping her father get away. Hellerís plan was designed to get her out of trouble, and even that was unlikely to work. Even so, itís fun to watch Devane run around the compound for a little while!
Kalilís little attempt at overpowering Jack was amusing, if only because Kalil had no idea how absurd the whole situation had already become. Thereís little chance that anyone would argue that this ruse is completely necessary, but this is one of the oft-overlooked strengths of the series. Every so often, if one stops a considers the situation at hand, itís more surreal than anything else on television. Itís almost as if the audience is taunted with the possibility of Jack throwing up his hands and laughing hysterically. (The arrival of the police officer is one such beautiful moment.)
The highlight of the episode is once again the undeniably creepy Dina, who turns on the charm with Debbie while helping her husband plot a test for her sonís loyalty. Even as she pretends at the understanding mother, leading Behrooz along on a strand of hope, she casually discusses the girlís murder, agreeing with Navi that her son must be the one to pull the trigger. For all that Navi can be brutal, thatís nothing compared to Dinaís fanatic practicality.
Back at CTU, even Sarah begins to wonder why Driscoll is tossing so many of her resources towards finding Jack. Itís quite possible that Driscoll isnít even aware of her own slips of the tongue; she constantly reminds people that their priority is Jack, which is of course not the actual objective. Of course, the writers add a schizophrenic teenager to the list of Driscollís concerns, suggesting (perhaps unintentionally) that Driscoll is slipping off her meds as well.
The episode jumps back to the more chilling subplot when Dina tells Behrooz to use a handgun to deal with Debbie. Predictably, he attempts to grab Debbie and get the hell out of the house. In a clever plot twist, Debbie begins to succumb to the poison Dina already slipped her in some iced tea. Behrooz is forced to watch Debbie die, all under the disapproving eye of his mother, who expected him to shot the girl and prove his loyalty.
Continuing the wildly erratic quality of the episode, Chloe manages to establish satellite access just as the police arrive en masse at the convenience store. Jack is left to figure out how to get himself and Kalil out of the current situation while also preserving the ability to follow Kalil back to Omar. Jackís plan works well enough, but it appears that Jack is a little rusty. After dumping Kalil and waiting for the terrorist to make his next move, Jack completely forgets that the police are looking for the car heís driving!
In yet another display of utter hypocrisy, Driscoll asks Sarah to further misuse CTU resources to pick up her crazed daughter and keep the police from doing their job. For the head of a CTU office, Driscoll doesnít seem to remember that her employees are supposed to be engaging in counter-terrorism! The one person who is doing that job is Jack, and sure enough, Driscoll pulls his only remaining support from under his feet when she finally catches Chloe in the act. Proving that she has one solution for nearly everything, she places Chloe under arrest. (It ought to take only a few more episodes for her to arrest everyone else in the room, at this rate!)
Of course, Driscollís not entirely stupid, so when it becomes clear that Jack was right, she finally lets her employees do exactly what Jack was trying to get them to do. The damage is done, however, because now office shrew Marianne has the goods on Edgar, promising an annoying subplot for the near future.
While the audience is wishing they could listen to Driscoll explain the past few hours worth of insane decisions to the president, they nearly miss the most amusing part of the episode. Jack is so busy following Kalil that heís stunned when the police suddenly surround him. It takes about five seconds for him to remember that he no longer has a badge to wave around, which means he has no support to get him out of trouble. Astonishingly, he considers shooting his way out of it, which says a lot about his personal desperation to save Heller and Audrey. But in the end, heís forced to surrender.
Several plot elements stand out as clever in this episode: Hellerís ruse, Debbieís murder, and even the surprising mistake that Jack makes at the end. Unfortunately, there are elements of the episode that are just plain absurd, like Jackís ruse and the CTU intrigues, which seem to be getting worse by the moment. The end result is still something of a balanced average, which was not the case this far into the third season. Itís also not nearly as well crafted as the first half of the first season, which remains the ever-elusive benchmark. Only time will tell if the writers manage to work out the bugs in the process before things get truly hectic.
Overall, this episode is once again a balance of highs and lows. This is the third episode in a row to come out rather average, undermining its own successes with moments of pure absurdity. While some moments are incredibly chilling and unexpected, other moments are cringe-inducing and derivative of previous seasons. If the season is to improve, the writers are going to have to figure out how to break out of these self-destructive patterns.
Final Rating: 7/10
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