It’s episode 10 of 24: Live Another Day, full of betrayal, enhanced interrogation techniques, and the return of a familiar face.
As much as I am disappointed by The Navarro Thing, Jack’s pursuit of him is quite suspenseful nevertheless. Navarro proves to be surprisingly resourceful as he jacks a British soldier’s machine gun and sends a spray of bullets Jack’s way. The tension of the chase through London streets and alleyways is only heightened when Jack and the CIA goons apprehend Navarro, only to realize he’s already dead-dropped the device, and that Cross and Chloe have collected it. It’s very very exciting to watch Jack chase after the two of them, down into the tube station, and get this close to them before the train’s doors shut in his face and they’re whisked away down the tunnel.
And it’s not just the chase itself. I know I praise Kiefer Sutherland to high heaven in these reviews, but he’s so good in this scene. Just watch his face when he gets a glimpse of her. He conveys everything Jack feels without speaking. He doesn’t need words. He’s Jack Bauer.
As for Navarro himself, I’m glad we’re not dwelling on him overly much. Yes, we do the whole please-Bauer-don’t-hurt-him and I-want-immunity schtick, but he doesn’t take up a whole lot of screen time. By the end of the episode, we’ve pretty much gotten what we needed from him, and we can move on to better and more interesting things. I still maintain this was an annoying, tumescent growth the storyline didn’t need, and that we could have transitioned from Margot to Cross (if we must) in a more original fashion, but eh, let’s just go forward, shall we?
One of the best consequences of Navarro’s molehood is that Erik finally gets more to do than just stand around in the background, as he assumes command of the CIA station. Naturally, he doesn’t make life terribly easy for Jack, and unlike certain other characters who shall be named in a bit. I am a little amused that this late in the season, the writers still feel the need to have authority figures trying to tell Jack what he can’t do, but for Erik it makes enough sense. He doesn’t want to tank his career by breaking the rules as soon as he takes charge, and finding the override device is more important than taking out our frustrations on Navarro. I got a good chuckle out of Jack’s utter disregard for what Erik wants.
And so, Jack and Navarro find themselves together again in the interrogation room, as they had in the first episode, but this time on the opposite sides of the table. As I mentioned above, this is a recylced scene, really, played out so many times before. I know I’m probably harping on it too much, but it’s one of those things that’s gotten under my skin, as much as I love the show. I mean, to a certain degree it’s unavoidable given the genre. There will be prisoners, and they will need interrogating. It’s the nature of the beast. However, I do feel that 24 could make a little more effort to keep these things fresh. And sometimes they do, and then other times, we rehash the same beats: Jack wants to interrogate someone, he’s let in on the promise he’ll keep his hands to himself, the suspect won’t talk, Jack decides not to keep his hands to himself.
Having said that, I think this scene is well played by both parties, and it allows Benjamin Bratt to show off some of his skill as an actor beyond the ho-hum material he’d been given up to that point. I don’t think I have to say anything more about how much I enjoy Kiefer. Navarro asks for immunity, Jack doesn’t take kindly to that, and smashes the man’s hand with his sidearm. Fucking ouch.
In the meantime, Random Scottish Techie has taken up Jordan’s unfinished work. It turns out I was totally right about Navarro being the real leak and setting up Kate’s husband to take the blame. I love being right. And surely now that the truth has come out, Mr Kate can be released and they can be happy forever and…Oh, he killed himself in prison because even Kate had stopped believing in him. Jesus Eff. That’s really quite heartbreaking, and indeed, Kate more or less has a complete meltdown over the revelation. She’s been a tough cookie the entire season, but here she’s exhibiting something more – a vicious, barely constrained hatred of Navarro, and she’s willing to throw it all out the window for the sake of revenge. Out the window. GET IT?
In the end, it is that wrath that gets Navarro to talk. For the second time in about four hours, she barges into the medical ward waving a gun around. By now, the doctors are probably used to this, and when they see her coming, they’re just like, Here we go again. I mean, honestly, now. Anyroad, she puts her gun to Navarro’s head and is fully prepared to go through with it before Jack arrives and talks her down. Navarro knows Jack, and, perhaps foolishly, he’s not scared of Jack. He knows Jack needs him alive, but Kate doesn’t care about that right now. Luckily for him, he put a tracker on the device, and that’s enough to save his bacon. Plus, he spilled the beans without getting his stupid immunity so neener neener.
All of that leads us to a really excellent conversation between Jack and Kate, where he refers back to Renee Walker’s death and his subsequent vengeful rampage from the end of Day 8. He tells her he thought it would numb the pain but it wasn’t worth it; in the end it cost him everything and he still hurt on top of that. I really enjoyed seeing this side of Jack, and it’s one of the rare times the armor comes off. It’s also the most remorseful I think we’ve seen him. I mean, this is a man who stood up at a Senate Subcomittee hearing and defiantly maintained that he regretted nothing. I really like where Jack’s character has been taken over the course of the season, and it’s really up in the air how it’ll play out as we head toward the end.
On the presidential side of things, Heller and Audrey haven’t got much going on this week. And that’s perfectly fine; I imagine I would want a little downtime after faking my death and everything. Upon learning that the override had been stolen, Heller cancels plans for a flight home and an “I quit” press conference, understandably so. He considers giving Navarro the immunity he asks for, but it ends up not mattering because Kate had a temper tantrum. I was, however, very amused when Stupid Mark poked his head to deliver a message while Heller was having a conversation with Audrey, and they both kinda glare at him like ugh, what do you want NOW. I’m so glad my hatred of him has been validated on screen because throughout this entire episode it seemed like everyone he interacts with is sick of dealing with him.
This is the point where Stupid Mark drops any pretense of his anti-Jack stance being anything other than small-dicked butthurt. He sits at his desk like a petulant, jealous teenager and whines to Audrey about how she’s changed since Jack resurfaced because obviously she loves him more and blah blah blah. Just fuck you, Mark. It’s totally unfair, and when Audrey refuses to play his little game, he throws his toys out of the pram and calls up Anatoly in a fit of pique. He can’t deliver Bauer, he says, through tears of impotent rage, but he can give them Jack’s location. Anatoly agrees to this, most likely just so he can keep the conversation as short as possible.
The Russians ambush Jack and Kate as they’re tracking Cross by fucking T-boning them with a big fuckass truck and sending their car flipping down the road. Both of Our Heroes emerge completely unharmed, which I have kind of a hard time buying. Maybe CIA vehicles have like, reinforced rollcages or something. Anyway, the ensuing firefight is an exciting, well executed sequence; a welcome return to form after a lacklustre battle or two.
I get my answer to Chloe’s involvement or lack thereof in Cross’ scheme as we follow them making their way across London to the new Open Cell hideout. This is the first she’s heard of it, and she’s not at all pleased with his scheme to sell a device that can hack just about any nation’s defense network to the Chinese. Like Jack, my gut said she probably wasn’t in on it, but her oddly affectionate behavior at the end of the last episode made me wonder.
It’s not all awesome, though. Her attempt to gank the device and escape was just sad, really. Her plan was to tell Cross she had to pee, grab the MacGuffin and…just run away down the street hoping that a passing motorist will stop for her. I know she’s not a field agent, but she’s proven before she can do better than that.
When they arrive at Open Cell’s new squatting place, we’re greeted with a fantasically bloody scene. The Chinese have arrived early and they have no intentions of playing fair. And to make matters worse, their leaders is none other than our old friend Chang.
I still miss Margot al-Harazi after her premature defenestration last week, but I’m equally pleased that the Chinese, and specifically Chang, have turned up on the scene. As soon as I saw Tzi Ma’s name in the guest credits, I was like
I am absolutely thrilled to be picking up the China thread once again. Chang is definitely up there as one of the scariest motherfuckers ever to grace the series, and he’s something of a white whale to boot. He first appeared all the way back in Day 4 (2005), as an employee of the Chinese government out for Jack’s blood. With good reason, too – Jack had lead an illegal raid on their consulate which resulted in the death of one of their officials. He then appeared in the next two seasons, responsible for the kidnapping and torture of both Jack and Audrey, because, as he so chillingly put it, “China never forgets.”
And he’s never killed, captured, or dealt with in any conclusive way. He appears to ruin Jack’s already no good very bad day, and then disappears back into the ether until he’s needed again. So, I think it’s a really fantastic idea to bring him back. I mean, if we simply must have a man-behind-the-man scenario in every single season, I’m glad it’s someone we’ve already come to know and fear, an old thread yet unresolved, instead of yet another new puppetmaster. Chang might be independent now, but he hates Jack Bauer something awful, so having both him and the Russians in play at once should prove to be extremely delicious in the final two hours.
Chang bamboozles Chloe into giving his techies access to the device, and shoots Cross right in the face because he’s not useful anymore. I had warmed to Cross over the course of the season, but at the same time I’m not sorry to see him go. With the arrival of Chang, it feels like he’s served his purpose. His last conversation with Chloe is so very in-character. He’s not sorry, he thinks he was doing the right thing, and that’s that. Unfortunately, Chang’s idea of “the right thing” is to send fraudulent messages to USN submarines in the Mediterranean, getting them to start launching missiles at a Chinese vessel and sink it.
So, basically, the world is fucked.
After last week’s utter disappointment, Episode 10 has renewed my enthusiasm for the season and once again I am left wanting more right the hell now. Provided the writers don’t decide to just throw the board across the room, all the pieces are in place for an amazing sendoff to one of 24‘s best seasons. I can’t wait.