"Day 5: 7AM - 8AM"
Written by Howard Gordon
Directed by Jon Cassar
In which everyone who knows the truth about Jack Bauer comes under fire, forcing Jack to return to his old life to protect his friends, just as President Logan prepares for an historic summit...
Status Report - Final Analysis
The producers and writers promised that this season would begin with a punch to the gut, and they certainly delivered on that promise. In fact, the events are so overwhelming that the first episode is almost entirely devoted to them. Already, there is the feeling that the writers are taking this season to the next level, avoiding some of the pitfalls of the past by jumping directly into the scenario, rather than taking several episodes to work up to the first twist.
There is a gamble involved with that, since the series is often criticized for its shallow, non-stop-action nature. But this first episode is bathed in character as well as explosive action. It would be hard for the characters not to be sent reeling by the sudden assassination of a former president and at least one beloved agent. Jackís pain, for instance, is written all over his face, especially when he discovers that his friends were killed in a bid to frame him for something else entirely.
This episode certainly answers one of the primary questions: how many people knew that Jack was still alive and in hiding? Only four people knew, and two of them are dead. Palmer and Michelle are particularly unfortunate victims, because they were beloved characters and some of the better actors on the series. At the same time, the series must evolve, and if Tony survives, this will launch him in a very different direction. (More into Jack territory, one would think!)
One wouldnít expect Chloe to be a natural character for the spotlight, but this episode supports the idea of Chloe as a highlight of the series. Her character has certainly evolved! Who would have expected her to come so far? And who would have expected her to be desirable and even hot? Sheís very unconventional, and wears angst and worry a little too well, but some shots reveal an unexpected beauty and resolve. Thatís quite a transformationÖno wonder Edgar and Spenser are fighting over her (even if it is rather unprofessional at this point).
At any rate, Jack and Chloe have established a strong relationship since the third season, and in a way, she could be considered a substitute for Kim. Jack doesnít really have anyone to take care of, and Chloe has been more loyal than most. Itís only natural for Jack to give up his relative safety and comfort to protect Chloe and find out why his friends are being killed.
More importantly, thereís the big picture. Itís one thing for someone to target those who know about Jackís survival. Itís quite another when the killings take place on the day of an important political summit and the goal is to make Jack look like the assassin. If the killings werenít about Jack per se, then they were designed to implicate Jack for a purpose. Why was Jack chosen as the fall guy, and what would be so important that the assassination of a former president was not itself the primary objective?
Clearly it has something to do with President Logan, who seems to have only progressed along the path of self-aggrandizement. Logan was concerned with his Legacy above all else in the latter episodes of the fourth season, so why should it be any different now? It seems ludicrous that he would place his own political interests above the need to shepherd the nation through its grief over a terrible tragedy, but that is completely in keeping with the logic that led him to sacrifice Jack to the Chinese.
Itís interesting that Loganís wife Martha seems to know something about the big picture. Palmer was distracted by something, and itís possible that he wasnít sure what the full scope of the conspiracy might be. Whatís interesting (and a little convenient) is that he needed to communicate his concerns through a woman who has psychological issues. That in and of itself is questionable: is she nutty because of a condition, or was she put on medication wrongfully to addle her brain and keep Logan distracted?
Other new faces are completely in the dark, but they represent something that Jack never thought he could have again: a normal life. Looking back at the third season and his conversations with Chase, Jack had long since come to the conclusion that having a family was a bad idea for a CTU field agent. Itís not hard to understand why. Never expecting to return to his old life, why wouldnít he search for a situation where he could step into that role of husband and father again? He might have even enjoyed Derekís resistance.
That said, itís a little annoying to have Derek caught in the middle of this situation, only because heís incredibly annoying, right down to the awful makeup job that makes him look like a cross-dresser. Granted, there had to be a reminder of what Jack was being forced to leave behind, but characters like Derek have been the kiss of death for previous seasons. The truncated introduction to the season should mitigate much of the nonsense, however, and since Derek doesnít know much about the real Jack, it could be used as a means of updating new/returning viewers on what happened last season.
Even though it was the final appearance for some characters, it was good to see so many established characters return for minor appearances. One has to wonder if that was the influence of Manny Coto, who has a track record of keeping a close eye on continuity concerns. Regardless, credit must be given where credit is due: this is one of the best Howard Gordon scripts in a long time, with minimal plot contrivance thus far. In fact, this is probably the best opening episode for a season of ď24Ē since the second season.
Overall, this episode was a strong and shocking premiere for the fifth season. The producers promised that the season would begin with a harrowing first 15 minutes, and the episode lived up to the hype. Most importantly, the rationale for Jackís return actually makes sense. There are some surprising moments for established characters as well. This is easily one of the best season openers in the seriesí history.
Final Rating: 9/10
Back to Season 5
Back to CTU Headquarters
Back to the Shrine