Good Stuff on Season 7

May 1, 2014 11:50 AM
Analysis 8 Commments

It’s good to know that there are still folks out there stretching their minds and doing hardcore critical analysis on 24. I came across this piece:

24: The Longest Dead Series Discussion of Our Lives – Season Seven

It has lots of great analysis, and a good section on Tony. Here’s the highlights:

After heroically saving the day by blowing up Starkwood’s missiles, Tony very un-heroically suffocates Larry Moss and teams up with the bad guys to launch an attack on the DC metro. We’ve never seen Tony go to these depths before and it’s disheartening.

The writers again twist Tony by making his evil actions all about getting revenge on Alan Wilson for the death of Michelle. These motivations are somewhat consistent with his character—manipulated along by the emotionally convenient reveal that Michelle was pregnant—but they come at the expense of another large retcon which, in one line, declares Wilson “the man behind Charles Logan,” giving unearned credit to a dull, unfamiliar bad guy and calling the past two seasons into question.

Retcon aside, these fourth-quarter twists allow us some great moments between Jack and Tony. These men are brothers who have faced similar hardships and just happened to fall on opposite sides of the razor’s edge. It’s devastating.

If I’m being honest, I think the problem lies mostly with me. Despite narrative continuity issues, there’s nothing “wrong” with the writers making Tony a vengeful “bad” guy. I just like the character so much that it’s hard for me to see him resurrected so successfully only for his story to end without redemption or remorse.

  • Cee Almeida

    Great read, thanks for the link.

  • Mary

    A comment in response to this that then segues into part of my Day 7 Theory, while we’re chatting about Tony & Day 7 again 🙂

    Larry Moss was as good as dead before Tony smothered him. He used killing Larry as a way to up his do-not-f-with-me cred in front of Galvez because that kid was starting to wobble and not going to help him reach his end goal of getting the last of the virus in order to get to Wilson. Why is killing Larry Moss a bad thing but just because David Palmer said it was okay, Jack shooting Ryan Chappelle in the back of the head was an okay thing? As for the metro attack? Tony tried to contain the attack to the smallest number of people possible to again achieve his goal of getting to Alan Wilson. Remind me of how this was different than when he *and Jack* gave a sample of the Cordilla Virus to Hector Salazar and a whole Mexican village died as a result?

    The thing with Day 7 is that there is not one moment of it that Jack Bauer would have done differently than Tony did, if he was in Tony’s position. Jack can’t even say he wouldn’t kill the guy who killed his kid without first thinking to question him about larger conspiracies because that’s what happened with Victor Drazen on Day 1. Jack thought Kim was dead and he put a bunch of bullets into a (total asshole of a) guy because he considered him responsible, never really caring about the fact that Victor might be able to clue everyone in on why the U.S. government had set Jack up, got his whole team killed, and was secretly holding Victor in the first place.

    What Jack does on Day 7 is prevent Tony from becoming him as much as is possible. He tries to stop Tony from killing Alan Wilson because he ultimately sees Tony as a better man than Jack himself is and wants to keep him that way. He knows if Tony kills Wilson, he’ll cross a line he can’t come back from and just like how Jack tried to stop Tony from the same situation with Henderson, he does so with Wilson. He doesn’t shoot to kill– neither does Renee. They refuse to let Tony go, to let him commit suicide by cop by trying to go for a gun he knows he won’t reach to kill a man he now knows he’s failed to kill. The only sense Jack makes the entire time his mind is being torn apart by a deadly parasite is to realize that he can save Tony from Jack’s own fate.

    The irony here is that Tony was a different guy a few hours earlier. When Jack showed up, Tony had a reason to keep on going besides his mission to get to Wilson. He was still messed up but there was an element of hope. When Jack gets exposed to the virus, things begin to change. There is now truly nothing left on earth for Tony, especially because the virus makes Jack not exactly man up when Kim shows up and there’s a chance. Tony looks at Jack, getting off on the needle in his arm from the anti-seizure meds a clear parallel to all the Jack-on-heroin hell Tony had to deal with way back when, and he sees that the virus has, in a sense, already claimed Jack. He won’t man up and go let Kim help him, won’t go be there for his daughter. It’s the opposite of who Jack Bauer is. It’s a dishonorable man lacking in guts. Instead of beginning to die and becoming George Mason, Jack begins to die and goes in the opposite direction. Tony has no idea that Kim is going to force the treatment on Jack (at the time, Kim didn’t even know she was going to do this), so for Tony, it comes down to giving his friend an honorable death. Jack Bauer would have *chosen* to be the one to take out Alan Wilson, had his brain not been being scrambled by the virus. He would have *volunteered*. That’s the tragedy that happens on the end of Day 7 is not that Tony betrays Jack but that Jack, fundamentally, betrayed Tony by betraying the kind of men they both were.

    There is also another aspect to this that you can factor into it if you want to, which is that Tony might also have been dying from the virus. He is shown without a mask on in a scene that lingers on this fact while kidnapped in the car by the Starkwood people. He was also the one who took out the rest of the canisters of the virus– if one little close-up whiff of the stuff exposed Jack, what did seven canisters do to Tony? There is also a lot of supplementary evidence to this end: why, for instance, does Tony have a doctor on hand in the warehouse at the end of the day, who happens to know a lot about how to manage the prion variant stuff? Has this guy been giving Tony the same injections Jack was getting from Dr. Macer? Earlier in the day, we saw the affects of the virus in that video Taylor watched, and then later when Jack started having them. Tony’s ear begins to bleed at Starkwood and by the end of the day (after the doctor has been dead for awhile and Tony’s been otherwise occupied so no injections), he starts foaming at the mouth. These are two out of the three primary symptoms we are shown for prion variant, so I’d find it a little convenient that they just so happened to be ones that Tony also exhibited, unless he was infected. This would also explain why it *absolutely had to be today* on Day 7 that Tony got to Alan Wilson– he was running out of time and going to be dead by tomorrow.

    Which brings up the next point which is irony. The show makes it clear that the only hope and prayer that someone exposed to prion variant has to survive it is an experimental stem cell treatment which may or may not work but they can’t be just anyone’s stem cells. They have to be a parent or a child– an extremely close relative, a near-identical genetic match. Tony’s entire day on Day 7 is built around seeking justice for the death of his unborn son. His whole run as a character throughout the entirety of 24 has shown him to be someone very much alone. Almost every other major character has mention of a parent or a sibling but Tony is the exception to that rule. He is shown, over and over again, to have no one. By Day 4, he’s telling Audrey with tears in his eyes that the only friend he has is Jack. Tony is built to be a mirror reflection of Jack– they are either exactly alike or exactly the opposite, depending on what the topic is. Jack is the one with a family throughout 24, Tony is the one who desperately wants one, tries over and over again to make this happen, and by Day 7 winds up possibly exposed to a virus in which only a having a child could really save him. A virus he possibly gets exposed to while trying to get to the man who killed his chance at a family.

    This would be the epitome of tragic if it weren’t for the fact that Tony Almeida is clearly alive still in the world of 24 and very likely coming back to 24. Even if he wasn’t exposed to the virus, the most obvious thing you could do with Tony at this point in the story is to give him a family. He has to have a reason for moving forward and with Jack on the dark side– living a life like Tony did for years underground– the best twist here for Tony would be that he finally got what he’s always needed. Better yet, you can make an argument that Day 7 almost ended with giving Tony that family…

    …who else’s kid can be responsible for 50% of the effort to rebirth a character named Teri back into the plot of 24 but Kim’s suspiciously Almeida-esque husband who, for some reason, she hesitated talking about to her father on Day 7? What’s a better irony than if Kim’s decision to spare her father the apparent pain of never getting to meet his granddaughter and son-in-law, she’d told him that the ring on her finger wasn’t from (as Jack probably assumed, poor guy) Barry Landes and that she’d married the kid from The Vampire Diaries and they had this baby who looked freakishly like Jack himself named Teri? What if she had said while Tony was going crazy and you were out trying to find yourself with the Peace Corps, this guy showed up on my doorstep one day looking for the dad who didn’t know he existed and ta-da… yes, Dad, this is a soap opera on crack.

    From a literary standpoint, there’s a laundry list of reasons why this was a plot that was put on the back burner for awhile. It’s the kind of thing that fits better into the story when Tony returns than it did as a footnote to the end of Day 7. It’s kind of a story in its own right. In the meanwhile, it’ll wind up something like the Graem Bauer reveal– this whole plot that was happening for awhile before you realized what the plot actually was. Until Graem got the last name of Bauer, you thought he was just some guy who really hated Jack. You didn’t know he was Jack’s psychotic little brother. Well, if you see Jack’s son-in-law and daughter and granddaughter again on Day 9 after having watched them on Day 7 and Day 8, then a whole bunch of things look potentially different if you find out that they are now all related to Tony, as well. There’s the fact that Dr. Steve and Little Teri don’t have a last name yet in canon. Both are just credited as ‘Stephen’ and ‘Teri’ and Kim has kept her maiden name so far. Steve is the right age to be that ol’ soap standby of the product of some condom-less encounter Tony had way back when in the Marines and never knew his lady friend was pregnant.

    There’s a great irony in Tony having to deal with Kim getting accidentally caught up in his mission to avenge his son while not aware of the fact that she was his daughter-in-law. Steve looks so freakishly much like Tony that it makes one contemplate Kim’s daddy issues problem. Steve on Day 7 visually parallels Tony– the short hair, the mint plaid shirt like Tony got stuck with at the end of Day 4, the talk with Kim about how to handle Jack’s death that then parallels a conversation going on between Tony and Jack themselves, albeit in less sweet terms. By Day 8, Kim is in the car saying she just doesn’t know how to reach her dad anymore about moving home and Steve offers to talk to him. It’s clear this might actually *work*, which is the biggest shock of the scene. Jack and Steve are all smiles when they see one another– Steve is officially the first guy to ever sleep with Kim and get a grin from Jack. (Granted, after Barry, Jack would probably be happy to see Kim sleeping with Logan. Sorry for that visual.) This all brings up an even better question: *why* hasn’t Jack moved back home by Day 8? He’s healthy enough, it’s been over a year, he clearly loves and misses his family, and yeah, he’s adrift. He can’t go save the world anymore and he’s all sorts of depressed, falling asleep while babysitting his three year old granddaughter, pills on the counter by his journal, etc.. But he’s recently started to make an effort. He’s got some private security job. He’s moving in with a friend whose name he does not drop to Kim. (Curiously enough.) Maybe he can’t go home because he can’t face Tony again and it’s only when there’s going to be a peace treaty and Jack has nowhere else to go, nothing left really, that he decides he’s got to man up and deal with this. This would also tie into how Kim and Jack both look to Steve for a reaction and it’s Steve’s reaction that cinches their happiness. Sure, you can read this as just what it is on the surface but in terms of dialogue that could get another meaning in retrospect, every scene with the family from Day 7 & Day 8 could be potentially read a different way if Day 9 decides to explain to us that the reason why Jack doesn’t look like a grandpa to Little Teri is because grandpas are sexy, dark-haired, soul-patched Latinos. 😉

    • Sonja Kummer

      @Mary – I must think about this, it’s been a very long time since I last watched either of the seasons… but I think you make sense on a lot of levels. OF COURSE Jack would have done the exact same thing as Tony did. He got to kill Nina in the end, the person who’d killed his wife – Tony made a big sacrifice in doing what he did in season 7 so that he could get to the person responsible for Michelle’s and her unborn child’s death… I keep discussing these things with a friend and she reminds me that she could have lived with it all if Tony hadn’t killed innocents… I can’t remember when he did that, I suppose my brain effectively deleted those details from my memory. be it as it may, the idea of jack doing what he did in order to prevent tony from becoming Bauer II is intriguing. heck, jack had done so many things – unforgivable things – for the “greater good” that one person can’t even count on all the fingers and toes… how is he any better?… you’re right. he’s not.

      • Tony didn’t kill innocents, but he was prepared to accept the death of civilians in the subway attack if it meant getting closer to Wilson. So the intention was ostensibly there even if the attack didn’t pan out. The idea of Kim’s husband being Tony’s long-lost son is just too far out there for me, though.

        • Sonja Kummer

          that’s what I thought. he didn’t kill innocents. thanks for that, kas. I was starting to doubt my memories. I just hadn’t seen anything beyond s4 enough to remember well 😉

          • Cee Almeida

            Well he /did/ kill Larry, but he would’ve been killed by Galvez anyway. And I remember Tony killing a police man (or possibly an FBI agent?) after Jack figured out Tony killed Larry. But yeah other than that no innocents.

          • By “innocents”, I meant civilians, not government agents or police officers. Doesn’t make his actions any less murderous, but there has always been a line on this show between “innocent civilians” and those people who accept the risks of being in law enforcement.

  • Sonja Kummer

    kas – thanks again for being back 😀 if it helps any, I found some files embedded on my harddrive (just had to say that) with almeida verbatim and godlike moments from season 7. looks like I’ve only copy pasted up to 7×17 but it’s better than nothing. maybe those of us who were here back then can help rebuild some of the AIG archives…