I’ve come to enjoy the regularity of the corporate-sponsored prequels for each season of “24”. I understand the hue and cry over the gratuitous product placement, which turns each prequel into an adventurous car commercial, but at this point, the ship has long since sailed and it’s time to make the best out of a disappointing reality. I thought the lead-in for the fifth season, for example, made contextual sense out of the commercial aspects while giving us a taste of the fun to come.
So the question is: how did the writers fare this time? Was the same balance struck? I’m not sure it was. The fans were definitely given a bit of story to go with the Toyota glamour shots, but I was a little disappointed in it. A third of the prequel was a complete retread of the very end of the fifth season, which is a little bit of a cheat.
We then jump seven months forward, and it looks like we are supposed to believe that the Chinese have elected to use physical torture as an interrogation technique for more than 200 days straight. I’m not sure that makes any sense, especially since the standard CTU techniques involve psychotropic drugs. Granted, the plot is to show why Jack is in the right condition to believe in a rescue.
Of course, one would think that Jack would notice the incredibly clean and shiny Toyota vehicle, completely untouched by the covert ops needed to get it in just the right position, and wonder how exactly that happened. Because a covert ops team always elects to use a silver-shiny civilian vehicle when a camouflaged and armored military transport is otherwise available. But that’s the price of corporate sponsorship!
I have no doubt that many fans were stunned to discover that the “rescue” was all a ruse. Those with a general knowledge of interrogation techniques would have seen it coming miles away. For all that, it does play into the idea that the Chinese might wear down Jack’s mental resistance before he manages to hit American shores again. Wouldn’t it be fun if he turned out to be some kind of Manchurian Candidate type?
Despite the disappointment, the prequel served its purpose. I was struck by the desire to re-watch some of my “24” DVDs and get a liberal dose of Jack Bauer goodness. Whatever the failings, if the prequel managed that much, then what else could we ask for?