If you are still hanging in there with season eight of 24 like I am, you may be asking yourself if things seem to be more out of whack than usual. What I mean is in terms of the way CTU is operating and, more importantly, the way they have hamstrung President Taylor (Cherry Jones) with very odd Chief of Staff Robe Weiss (Chris Diamantopoulos), who seems like he’s got his own secret agenda. Since we can’t be sure yet, all I can say is where the heck is good old snake-in-the-grass Mike Novick when you need him?
The plot against President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor), president of a fictional foreign country called Kamistan, has been changed to what seems to be a threat against his country. That’s why the bad guys want those nuclear rods with more high anxiety than a high school kid with acne wants to date a pretty cheerleader. Hassan’s pint-sized brother Farhad (Fart Head) obviously has a Napoleon complex and is involved with these bad guys, whom he discovers are way more bad than he is, thus he gets scared and runs off and calls CTU for help. Getting all this?
This week in episode nine we see the Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff) story get even more ludicrous. She goes into full wacko mode and looks more scary than Sarah Palin at a book signing. Carrying a gun with a silencer, she’s ready to off her ex-boyfriend and his greedy cohort in a van down by the river (no, neither one is channeling SNL’s Chris Farley) but, would-be hero and worshiper of all things Jack Bauer, Agent Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze Jr.) comes to her rescue.
My question is how can two CTU agents like Walsh and Ortiz be unaccounted for during a national emergency as it is taking place? Each one has not checked in with boss Bob (No-Neck) Hastings, played by good old Bubba (Mykelti Williamson) from Forrest Gump. It seems policy is not very clear for CTU employees to begin with, but No-Neck is really at the heart of this “business as unusual” situation. Presumably, he is in charge of CTU, though working for Weiss on the side. How’s that for business as unusual? We’ve had terrible heads of CTU before, most notably Erin Driscoll, but this guy would be better off working at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
Our hero Jack has been tasered, clubbed, punched, shocked, and clocked in the nine episodes of this season, but he looks like he’s ready to take pictures for GQ. Jack has always bounced back nicely from torture, but that’s because of his training and ability to withstand pain. Perhaps he should go on The View and see if he can handle listening to those annoying hosts yak all morning. That could be Jack’s breaking point.
Jack has seemed to be on the periphery of the action this year, killing some bad guys, but not still in the heat of the chase. Of course, everything changes in this episode when No-Neck, after basically throwing Jack out of CTU, goes running after him and asks him to take the lead in the hunt for the rods and to find Fart Head.
How bad off is CTU if they are asking a retired agent to come in and lead a mission? It makes sense for the show and, hopefully Jack will be back in full Jack mode next week, but it is really indicative of the problems going on in CTU, an agency that has never been the same since Jack stopped being in charge of the show.
I think I am most disturbed by what they have done to our gal Chloe (the ever funny and on target Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Agent Renee Walker (the beautiful Annie Wersching). Chloe is subjected to constant disdain from No-Neck, who better turn around (if he could move his head) and realize that she’s the best thing he’s got on this team that includes a new weirdo named Arlo (John Boyd), who makes the deceased Milo and Edgar seem like rocket scientists. Chloe is, at this point, the main reason I watch 24 after Jack Bauer, and I (and I imagine many other loyal fans) would like to see her finally get the respect she deserves.
As for Renee, she has turned psycho ex-FBI agent, cutting off an informant’s thumb and eventually giving another guy eye surgery with a knife. Either the writers have forgotten Renee’s character from last season, or she has just allowed another personality to take over her body. Either way, Renee is acting like she is a female Jack, which may be the whole point to this otherwise ludicrous change in behavior. Still, despite having to follow this weird story line, Wersching pulls it off and does some incredible acting that is worth watching.
As the story ends, we have Cole and Dana figuring out what to do about the two now dead guys (one kills the other and Cole shoots him) instead of checking into CTU. How this storyline is ever going to figure into the bigger picture is beyond me, but if there is no way to redeem Dana then she may go the way of many who came before her, and either die or disappear into the void of the 24 vortex where Wayne Palmer, Rick, Behrooz, Chase, the cougar, and many others wait in character limbo.
I am hoping we get to a point in the next episode when where things start to make sense, but I am not counting on it. For now, season eight is something like a season with no rhyme or reason, but I am hanging in there because I want to see Jack Bauer do all those wonderful things he does with guns, knives, and his bare hands. Oh, and I do hang on his every word hoping to hear the occasional “damn it,” which is music to every 24 fan’s ears.
Come on, Jack, we know it’s business as unusual this year, but we need you to kick some terrorist butt as soon as possible. And maybe, when you get the chance, thank Chloe for all she’s done and give Renee a kiss like you mean it.
I will keep watching and hoping that this season, especially if it is the last one, will bring Jack to a better place. Perhaps he has found in Renee Walker another soul as damaged as his. Together, they may be able to find a way to be happy, and I think most fans of the show want to see Jack live and find some peace when it’s all over. At least I know I do.
Until next time, Klaatu barada nikto!