24: Live Another Day Episode 7 Review

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I’m sure you’re all still reveling in the annual gaming bounty E3 brings to us like a Santa Claus who expects to get paid, but perhaps you could find it in your hearts to spare a thought for Jack Bauer?

If you could just spare thirty seconds to listen to the story of Jack Bauer and welcome him into your hearts, you too could have a personal relationship with Him and know spiritual fulfillment forever after. Also, explosions.

Lots of explosions.

So, my spidey-sense was proved right once again and Simone has indeed survived her disagreement with that bus. Margot tries to call her and the paramedic answers instead, so she sends one of her goons to eliminate Simone and her niece, Yasmin, before they can talk. And with that, Margot and friends begin packing up their shit just in case. Dun!

Meanwhile, Jack and Kate head on over to the hospital to interrogate Simone. I can’t tell you how many times 24 has reused Jack’s patented I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU SAY REVIVE THE PATIENT SO I CAN INTERROGATE THEM schtick. And every time the doctor’s like o no that’ll be so bad for them it’s too risky and then Jack gets his way anyway. On a show well known for its twisty plot it’s always irritating to see the writers reusing the same tricks ad nauseum.

However, I was rather impressed with the conversation between Jack and Simone in this scene. I was very pleased to hear Simone essentially telling Jack to take a hike, and that just because she took pity on her sister-in-law and her niece doesn’t mean she’s going to betray her mother or cooperate with Jack in the slightest. Not that it stops Margot from trying to kill her anyway.

Had she just rolled over on mean old mum I’d have called bullshit, but her defiance keeps the character intact. Her hesitation over killing off her own relatives is certainly understandable and human, though I still don’t quite understand why she’d be concerned for their welfare over her husbando’s.

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Plus, Jack’s not exactly gentle with her, rather cruelly pressing on her pinky-stump until he accidentally makes her faint from the pain. His comments to Kate outside the hospital room offer some interesting glimpses into Jack’s brain. The fact that he admits he shouldn’t have done that is rather interesting. In the past, when someone called him on how brutal (and illegal) his methods are, his response is that he just did what he had to do and regrets nothing. So getting a hint of remorse and with no external prompting to boot is quite intriguing. I wonder if perhaps Jack might be pulling back from his precipice, however slightly.

He also says that the reason he hates extremists so much is because he just can’t tolerate the fact that they think the cost in innocent lives is ever justifiable, no matter how their goals look on paper. I think it says a lot about the kind of man Jack is, and it makes sense given how driven he is to save lives. It’s also a little ironic coming from a man who regularly beats and tortures suspects well beyond acceptable limits and is prone to going on violent rampages.

Kate also gets to have some designated character development time as she bonds with poor little Yasmin. There’s not anything really wrong with it, it’s just not as interesting as what Jack’s up to. For a child actor, Yasmin’s side is played rather well. It’s not hysterics, but it’s not wooden either. It’s a kid having an understandably hard time dealing with the shit that’s just gone down.

The enemy agent in the hospital is another hoary old 24 gag, but I don’t mind its use here. Sure we’ve seen assassins disguised as hospital staff time and again, but in this instance the writers are clearly playing with expectation. We assume that the assassin will bamboozle his way in and kill his target, just like the many hospital assassins before him – but no, he’s rather quickly found out by Jack and pals, and in the end it doesn’t matter anyway because time’s up. Margot’s decided to simply rain down fire and brimstone and be done with it.

Margot al-Harazi is just a cold, hard bitch, yo. I can’t say her ruthlessness towards Simone was shocking, because, well, she’s just a bad seed and that’s how she rolls. However, I think there is great dramatic value in allowing your characters to make good on their threats. One too many empty threats, one too many clever bluffs, and the audience will cotton on to the fact that you’re not really playing for keeps. 24 has usually managed to avoid this, showing us just how hard both the heroes and the villains can be.

Watching her calmly order the drone strike on the hospital was a really pivotal moment and established a ton of cred. Unlike luring the CIA team into a trap, the hospital is not filled with enemy combatants. No, this is her daughter, and her niece, and hundreds if not thousands of innocent people. But she presses the button anyway. I love it.

In addition to upping the stakes, it just goes to show how false her moral high ground really is. Earlier, she had claimed that her plot was about justice; the United States should pay for the innocent lives lost to their drone attacks as collateral damage. Her attack on the hospital proves beyond any possible take-backsies that she’s out for bloody revenge, pure and simple.

Of course, by the time Jack realizes what’s about to happen it’s really too late to save everyone. He discovers the impending attack with just ten minutes to spare, and while it’s enough time for he and Kate to scoop up Simone and Yasmin and GTFO, it’s nowhere near enough time to evacuate a hospital before shit starts going boom. It’s total panic.

The chaos and the destruction on display here was above and beyond anything else seen in the series. It’s complete and total carnage on an impressive scale for network television, and that’s before you factor in what happens immediately afterward.

Margot spots Jack’s group about to leave the area, and it would seem she’s not one to give up her prey easily, as she orders Ian to chase them down and fire on their vehicle.

Fasten your seatbelt, please
Fasten your seatbelt, please.

And let me tell you, Jack Bauer in a speeding car being hunted down by a drone and blowing several more holes into London is hands-down the best action scenes I have ever seen from this show. It’s an exhilarating chase through streets and back alleys, and such an elaborate sequence I’d have no trouble believing you if you told me it came from a feature film.

And it’s not just bombastic explodey action either. There’s also an element of strategy at play – Jack can’t outrun the drone; he has to outwit it, swerving down alleyways, and pulling a GTA by switching vehicles when he could. And on Ian’s side of things, the drone only has so many missiles and the others aren’t quite in range yet, so his shots have to count.

I cannot praise this scene enough. I was on the edge of my seat with my jaw on the floor and my review full of clichéd phrases. Because…well, holy shit. Holy fucking shit. I’m just absolutely stunned and I’m apologize I can’t be more eloquent than that. Standing ovation, Emmys for everyone.

After all that excitement, I guess we ought to check in with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch again, and in this thrilling installment he’s arrived at his meeting with the Russian diplomat, who ferrets out his little scheme in about five seconds flat.

It’s a lot of fun to watch Mark squirm as the Russian warns him that if Moscow doesn’t get Bauer handed over to them, then the President is going to hear all about how Mark decided it was okay to forge his signature.

This story doesn’t take up a whole lot of screen time, but it seems to me one of those elements that will bubble along quietly for some time before blowing up in everyone’s face.

Navarro’s story seems to be on a similar trajectory. I ranted last week about the extreme overuse of moles on this show, I must admit I’m curious in spite of myself. Here it’s revealed that the one holding Navarro’s leash isn’t Margot like I had suspected, but rather Cross, and he’s been selling secrets to the Chinese the whole time.

And it’s really the mention of the Chinese that intrigues me; much like the Russians they’re no friends to Jack and Beijing is out for his blood just as much as Moscow is. I could see this season easily winding up as a three way scramble between the United States, Russia, and China to get their hands on Jack before anyone else snatches him up.

I remember a time when Jack Bauer lived in a house. With a family. And board games. And bed-time. I guess there’s really no going back to that for him.

Chloe hasn’t done much of anything this week. She gets a warning that the police are about to barge into Open Cell HQ, and so….she leaves. And sets up her laptop in a pub down the road. Oh. Okay.

Anyway, Jordan the Techie is still digging into the Margot video despite Navarro telling him not to, and is getting more and more suspicious. Navarro sends him out into the field on some pointless errand, where he is promptly shot by one of Cross’ goons but manages to escape.

I’m not entirely certain where they’re heading with this. I mean, Jordan has pretty much had his suspicions confirmed, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does with that. President Heller is understandably rather pissed at MI-5’s interference last week after Davies promised him that it’s exactly what he wouldn’t do. Davies, meanwhile, lets Heller know that his Alzheimer’s is no longer a secret and his abilities are now suspect. Their confrontation devolves into a shouting match, and you know, there’s something to be said for watching to excellent actors yell at each other. It’s really engrossing stuff.

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Word of Heller’s condition getting out seems to have changed something, made him realize just how hard trying to govern will be once it’s common knowledge. He decides to resign once he returns to Washington. I can’t say I disagree with the move, personally. While suffers of Alzheimer’s have my deepest sympathy, the President needs to be of sound mind, after all. What’s harder to understand is his decision to contact Margot al-Harazi and offer himself up. Yes, her time limit was mere minutes away from being reached and they still have no idea where Margot is, but I’m a little puzzled.

I could buy that Heller is willing to sacrifice himself. He seems like that kind of guy, and with his decision to resign, it’s possible he no longer thinks of himself as valuable, politically. On the other hand, he did make a phone call to Jack and summoned him to the residence, so it could be some kind of stall tactic. For her part, Margot promises not to unleash the drones at her disposal if she gets Heller with no tricks, but I’m sure she’d be perfectly capable of burning London to the ground anyway.’ Episode 7 might have a handful of small annoyances, but boasts a number of truly staggering scenes and one of the best action setpieces ever to grace the small screen. MOAR.

Rating Banner 5