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TV Review: 24 – “The Princess and the Slog”

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Well, we are halfway through the season eight of 24, folks, and it feels like it has been a long slog already. There have been some exciting moments, most involving Jack when he gets to still be Jack (and these days that hasn’t been too often), but it has been slow going for the most part, kind of like a walk through the mud in Army boots.

Still, if you are like me, and waiting for a mole to pop or an attack on CTU, then you should be happier than Helen Thomas asking her one hundred thousandth question at a White House press conference. Last night’s episode brought a bomb within range of Chloe and the rest of the security agency denizens. KA-POW!! Talk about an episode going out with a bang.

Kayla Hassan (Princess Jasmine), daughter of increasingly difficult to figure out President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor), is in a fog of love. She is in love with her father’s security guy Tarin (Aladdin on steroids), who is bad but not really bad but eventually very bad. She can kiss him a hundred times, but this frog isn’t ever going to be turning into a prince, unless it’s a prince of darkness. After a little hanky and lots of panky in a Manhattan hotel, Bad Aladdin takes her prisoner and brings her to the Amir (Jafar) and his Forty Thieves.Agents Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland looking remarkably unmarked by all that has happened thus far) and Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr.), who seems to be thinking, “I’m like Chico and Jack is like the man,” are heading toward the hotel to rescue her, but in keeping with 24 tradition, they are always five or more minutes “out” or away from being there. A bullheaded NYPD sergeant refuses to wait for Jack because he says, “I’m on the ground,” and sooner than he can say “terrorist” he is on the ground all right: and dead. After eight seasons, when will they start listening to Jack Bauer?

Meanwhile back at the ranch, investigator Prady (played by a wild-eyed Stephen Root) is on Dana Walsh’s  (Katee Sackhoff) case, and you have to wonder when the hell the writers will just pull the plug, but the misery of this storyline continues. I am not sure if it is to get Cole all rattled in the field when Dana calls him on her cell and tells him “It’s all over” or whether they want Prady around to spice things up in CTU. But when Jack tells Cole to get his head in the game, you can see him getting serious again and we hope he can keep that head on his shoulders.

Before you can say “Abracadabra,” Bad Aladdin brings Jasmine to an old bank vault where Jafar and his minions are waiting to make her a prized turkey. On a video feed sent directly to Hassan, they put her in a chair, blindfold her, and eventually put a plastic bag over her pretty head. Jafar demands “File 33” from the hapless Hassan, who watches with his wife in horror. By this time Jack has made his way to Hassan's hotel room and is standing there too. Jack has seen this all before and he’s like, “Can we check out ESPN?” Since Hassan and his wife are really upset, instead they try to figure out what File 33 is.

Of course, Hassan knows but makes one of his stooges bring it up on the computer anyway. Jack checks it out and, faster than he can say “wet list,” Jack knows it’s a file that Hassan shouldn’t have and nobody else should either. There is some Gobbledygook about it compromising USA security, but it may just be a list of Hassan’s favorite places for ribs in Karachi. Either way, Jafar isn’t getting it and that means Jack has to get to Jasmine before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, Bad Aladdin finds a way to escape the clutches of the evil Jafar with his princess. Lacking a magic carpet (which would really be useful to avoid the streets of New York), Bad Aladdin grabs a set of car keys and tries to make off with Jasmine. Jafar shoots him dead, but she manages to drive away with Jafar shooting at her. What an unbelievable escape (maybe a little too unbelievable?). The last thing Bad Aladdin tells her before he kicks the bucket is to get to CTU because it’s the only safe place. Ah, what a sweetie that guy is even in death!

Back at CTU the boss Hastings (No Neck), Chloe, Arlo, and the rest are all trying to follow up on the boys at the bank. Dana has pried herself away from Prady’s maniacal hands (he seems awfully hot to find this farm boy turned bad that happens to be Dana’s ex-boyfriend) and helps them in the crisis. Chloe establishes that Bad Aladdin is escaping with Jafar, which is about as likely as saying Robin Williams wants to star in Mork from Ork: The Sequel. No Neck is busy munching on some cold shrimp and can’t believe his eyes, and Jack is like, “Are you sure he’s not dead?” After Tony Almeida, can anyone ever really be dead on 24?

Jasmine is driving around the streets of New York like a tourist who is trying to find parking to see The Lion King, but Chloe does her best to steer the frantic princess right toward the tunnel that leads to CTU’s door. Heavens to Betsy (or is that to hell in a hand basket?)! Jack is listening to all this and starts thinking, but he is too far away to help because he is once again “out” trying to get “in” but the hour is almost over.

Of course, Jack realizes, as only Jack can realize anything when everyone else about him is looking for answers, that since Bad Aladdin snagged a ride with Jafar, the only possible explanation is that they wanted Jasmine to escape and seek refuge at CTU, along with the car. It turns out that the car is carrying something bad (the mother of all bombs known as an EMP or an electromagnet pulse device) that can knock out all electrical systems faster than you can say “Thomas Edison.” Jasmine is pulled from the car and dragged into CTU, and everyone else starts a dash for safety.

As the bomb is ready to explode, No Neck starts running for his life and screaming “Security! Security!” Watching No Neck run and yell like that is probably the funniest moment during the whole season. He looks like an old lady who just got her purse snatched at Macy's. Okay, a rather big old lady with no neck. Anyway, I knew good old Bubba would bring some kind of humor to 24; too bad he didn’t bring some more Bubba Gump Shrimp with him for the cast and crew.

At the end of the episode, CTU is in shambles. All systems are down, and Jack mumbles to himself like he has done for eight seasons now. The poor guy still can’t get the people who should know better to know as much as he does. Ah, cruel world! Jack tells Chloe that the terrorists have taken out CTU and that she must call the NSA (and then maybe Dominos for a pizza; it’s going to be a long night).

Episode twelve marks the halfway point in the season and, as it does in this episode, something usually happens that sets the table for the last twelve shows. If the promo for next week is any indication, things might be getting juicier. The voiceover tells us that with CTU knocked out, only one thing stands in the terrorists’ way: Jack Bauer. God help Bad Aladdin, Jafar, and all those damn terrorists, and thank God for us, the viewers. It looks like Jack is finally back.

Until next time, Klaatu Barada Nikto!

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.