"Day 5: 1PM - 2PM"
Written by Manny Coto
Directed by Brad Turner
In which Jack tracks down his only lead on Erwich when Logan reinstates him to CTU service, but things get complicated when Jack must choose between the operation and a girlís life...
Status Report - Final Analysis
The past two episodes have been largely transitional, as the plot turns away from Waltís attempt to use terrorism to destroy terrorists towards something a bit more chaotic. Getting to the point where the plot can take a meaningful turn is a time-consuming process, and it often leaves the writers with a bit too much times on their hands. Since the writers notoriously choose not to plan things out ahead of time, the results can be a muddled mess.
The previous episode was nearly derailed by this problem, but in the end, a focused theme of ďnecessity vs. moralityĒ, the ď24Ē staple, kept the episode afloat. This installment was not so fortunate. While there were some interesting scenes in which Jack had to choose between following orders (sorta) and following his conscience, on the whole, the episode was tracking time.
Part of the problem is the usual disconnect between episodes that are written on the fly. At the end of the previous episode, Jack agreed to continue working with CTU until the nerve gas issue was resolved. This episode begins with a longer discussion on the exact same topic. Itís sometimes necessary to remind the audience where the story was going, but thereís still a feeling that the writers for the episodes didnít hash out who was covering what!
That said, this episode brings up some of the issues that Jack must now face. In particular, Kim doesnít know that her father is alive, and this would be a very bad way for her to learn the truth, since he canít address the matter himself. This is one of those minor issues to be dealt with, since Jack must delegate to someone he trusts.
At the same time, the plot has to stall while these issues are addressed and further complications are introduced, so Erwich needs to deal with the fact that he canít unlock the canisters of nerve gas. He needs new remote trigger codes, which means cutting open the canisters and getting the ID keys. This, of course, takes about an hour, and it also gives Jack someone to track down and torture. Thus begins the usual pattern: leads run out, the bad guys make a mistake, Jack tracks down the lead, that lead runs out, the bad guys make a mistake, etc.
Early-season transitional episodes wouldnít be complete without the truly annoying addition of a CTU agentís wacky family member. In this case, itís Lynn and his drug-addled sister, who needs some cash and seems to think Lynn is a complete and utter moron. As it turns out, Lynn is not a complete moron; he comes in around 95%.
The writers hit a small snag when Jackís status at CTU is reinstated. According to the dialogue, Jack has autonomy in terms of what must happen to achieve the objective. This is all well and good, but where does that place him in the chain of command? Is he answerable only to Logan? Itís not at all clear, and that makes the end of the episode somewhat questionable.
Equally questionable is the relative ease by which CTU intercepts Erwichís call. Granted, CTU ought to have the ability, but it seems incredibly convenient within the context of the story. Itís really just a way to give Jack someplace to go. Even worse, the security system in Rosslerís building is so state-of-the-art that Chloe and Edgar canít break in down; only Spenser, the annoying dupe, can do it. Thus, of course, tossing him back into Chloeís orbit for a little while.
For very different reasons, Jack and Logan turn to the only people they can trust at the current moment. Jack asks Audrey to contact Kim and give her the news, which demonstrates how much Jack still regards Audrey as a part of his life. In a similar sense, Logan defers to Marthaís judgment in terms of how to explain recent events to the public. This is an odd comparison, especially since Jack and Logan are as different as two people could be.
The middle of the episode is devoted to the assault on Rosslerís building, which is a nice little action sequence, but nothing special (unless one counts the shot that Curtis takes). Things get a lot more interesting when Jack finds Rosslerís underage sex slave Inessa. Considering that Jack has Kim on his mind (and family in general), this is not something that makes him happy.
Of course, the moral dilemma arrives when Jackís usual torture tactics donít work fast enough. This leads to the problem presented by Jackís reinstatement. Bill and Lynn both tell Jack to cut a deal with Rossler, which means sending Inessa back into the pervís clutches. But Jack supposedly had autonomy to pursue the investigation and operation as he saw fit. So why is Jack required to defer in this matter?
This would seem to suggest that Jack himself recognizes the necessity of placing one young woman back in risk for the sake of saving millions. But he could have easily gone in his own direction if he wanted to continue with the torture as a means of gaining cooperation. Thus Jack is the one making the call, which gives the end of the episode a very different context, since he is, in fact, using Inessa for his own interests. One has to wonder: would it have been different if Jack took a moment to explain to Inessa what they were trying to accomplish?
In the midst of the most interesting part of the story, the writers take a moment to have some guy beat the snot out of Lynn. As fun as that was to watch, one has to wonder if thereís a point to it. Will this turn out to be the impetus for Lynnís departure at some point in the season? Or was it just some vain attempt to give the audience a reason to feel bad for him? Whatever the case, itís an oddly paced moment.
Things need to get complicated, and a showdown between Erwich and Jack needs to come within the next episode or so in keeping with the usual three-act structure of the typical ď24Ē season, so of course the stage is set for a meet between Rossler and Erwich. Thatís the moment when things get a lot more complicated.
Loganís plans to disclose everything to the public are dashed when Novick finds Walt post-suicide. This will probably not go over well in general. Audrey is unable to put Jackís fears to rest, because Kim is unavailable. Jack and his agents completely fail to do their job, and Inessa pulls out a gun and shoots Rossler dead, just before Erwich is scheduled to call back with a meeting location. (Seriously, the girl is 45 pounds in the rainÖhow hard is it to pat her down and find the handgun?)
This leaves Jack with a bit of a problem, since he needed the meet to grab the nerve gas and get out of the spotlight as soon as humanly possible. Now he needs to find a way to find Erwich independently of Rossler. Thatís the only open question from this episode that could be considered compelling. Kimís obviously not going to show up for a while, Lynnís issue is hardly interesting, and Loganís subplot wasnít really going anywhere yet.
The problem is that this episode felt a bit muddled. The only thing that was truly interesting was the moral complication tossed in Jackís path. Even so, the writers didnít make it clear that the decision regarding Inessa was completely in his court. One could have easily gotten the impression that Jack was just following orders. When even the central moral conflict is a bit muddled, itís not hard to recognize that this transitional episode is one of the weaker installments of the season.
Overall, this episode is the weakest of the recent transitional episodes, filled with far too many muddled subplots that donít pan out to very much. The central issue for Jack is quite interesting, but the writers leave his authority in doubt, thus stealing some of the depth from the moral conflict. Thankfully, the typical episode structure suggests a big turn in the next episode or so, but for now, the story has hit an unfortunate lull.
Final Rating: 6/10
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