"Day 6: 10PM - 11PM"
Written by David Fury
Directed by Bryan Spicer
In which the Palmer administration deals with the fallout from their new offensive approach, while Jack tries to get the truth out of Fayed before another terrorist attack is launched...
Status Report - Final Analysis
With this episode, the final leg of the season begins. This is usually considered to be the "resolution" phase of the season arc, when the various plot threads start to come together. This season, there's a laundry list of items to be resolved: the terrorist attacks themselves, the connections to Jack's family, the connection between Philip Bauer and Logan, Logan's fate, and the situation at the White House. Add a few issues at CTU, and the list is practically insurmountable. And one plot element, going back to the very beginning of the season, seems the least likely to be resolved.
Wayne's gambit makes a lot more sense, and given the fact that it yields new information, it will be seen as the end justifying the means. It feels like a bit of cheat, however, and some will no doubt be annoyed with the "shock tactic" plotting. Oddly enough, this is one of the better cliffhanger resolutions. At least the plot progression makes sense.
The conversation between Wayne and Tom is a good one. It's another example of why the White House plot thread has been the solid backbone of the season to date. The characters are a lot more defined and varied as compared to the CTU crew. Some of them are ridiculous (Daniels, for example), but it's a lot closer to classic "24" material than even Jack's through-line can claim.
Jack gets to torture Fayed, which actually seems pretty tame, considering what he's done to his own family this season. More interesting is how similar Doyle's methods are to Jack's methods under similar circumstances. It's just plain weird to see Jack take another agent to task for wanting to take extreme measures against orders when time is of the essence. Jack is still not back on his feet, however little the writers choose to explore it directly.
It's necessary for the plot, however, for Fayed to be "rescued" after a cursory interrogation. Again, this could have been handled poorly, but it was a well-constructed ruse. It also happens to bring the information uncovered by Wayne's gambit into Jack's plot thread, which is a nice touch. The tensions of the moment make sense, even if the timing is contrived. Wayne trusts Jack and his judgment, which is another step in the right direction, as it reinforces Jack's personal journey.
Just when things are moving smoothly, the drama at CTU rears its ugly head. The conversation between Milo and Nadia, and Morris' intervention, saps away much of the goodwill accumulated in the first half of the hour. It seems designed to remind the audience that Milo and Doyle have history. Thankfully, it's a short diversion, and things get back on track with the conversation with General Abib and the slightly predictable fallout.
Up to this point in the story, Jack has rarely been given the opportunity to act on his own as the hero. He's been on his own when manipulated, but this time, he's taking on the problem more directly. In other words, Jack Bauer is acting more like Jack Bauer. Similarly, Wayne Palmer shows the kind of single-mindedness that David Palmer used to display and that Wayne began to demonstrate in the fifth season.
It doesn't seem particularly logical for the terrorists to need that much time to settle on downtown Los Angeles as the next nuclear target. In fact, it's hard to imagine that the terrorists wouldn't have all of those plans in place from the beginning of the nuclear endgame. Whatever the case, Jack's one-man assault on the terrorist safehouse is classic "24", more than has been the case in quite some time, culminating in a brutal fistfight. It is a great way to resolve the nuclear threat, even if it feels a bit early.
With the bombs secure and Fayed out of the way, one of the major plot threads gets resolution. In a move that is genuinely surprising, the writers reintroduce something that was thought long-forgotten: the promises made to the Chinese in exchange for Jack's release. Will the writers manage to pull that lingering thread into a reasonable resolution, or will this feel like a late-season attempt to deflect the audience from recognizing the season's flaws?
That's a concern for the next episode, however, and does not reflect on the success or failure of this particular effort. This is probably one of the best episodes of the season thus far, and it feels more like an episode aligned with the excellent premiere than the substandard material in the weeks that followed.
Overall, this episode completed the turn that began in episode 16, right on the usual season arc plot schedule. The result was one of the best episodes of the season, keeping the nonsense to a minimum. It's still not certain that the writers will be able to pull all the plot threads together by the end of the season, but if this episode is any indication, at least some of the effort will pay off.
Final Rating: 8/10
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