Josef manages to get a safe distance with the rods, but is contacted by CTU and his father. Just as they’re on the verge of working out an immunity deal with him, a sniper takes Josef out and Farhad and his people retake the uranium. Farhad becomes uneasy, however, when he learns that his associates are planning on attacking New York instead of their own country.
At CTU, Weiss calls Hastings and tells him that they’re going to need a scapegoat for all of the mistakes that have transpired in the past few hours, and suggests Renee Walker. He sends a woman over to CTU to try and coax Renee into admitting she killed Vladimir not in self defense, but because of the fact that he was an awful awful human being. Renee is sticking with her “self defense” story at the behest of Jack, but seems to find herself cracking.
Dana is trailing Kevin from the bar to a clearing in the woods, where she waits for an opportune time to remove him from her life for good. But Cole, with Arlo’s assistance, figures out her location and moves out to find out just what’s going on. Farhad, meanwhile, decides that his interests are no longer aligned with his associates, so he escapes and attempts to contact CTU.
Jack, getting wind of what’s going on with Renee, races back to CTU, but is unsuccessful in breaking her out of custody. That’s when Farhad gets in touch, letting them know about the impending attack on New York. Jack strikes a deal with Hastings, he’ll stay around for the duration of the crisis if the charges against Renee are dropped.
Dana has a window to take out Kevin, but Cole arrives at this moment and demands the truth. So she tells him about her sordid past, and after absorbing this, Cole goes to personally threaten the two losers into leaving New York and Dana for good. However, Kevin’s psycho friend takes it upon himself to try and take down Cole, stabbing Kevin once he gets in the way and getting killed himself after Kevin calls out a dying warning to Dana. Now she and Cole find themselves with two dead bodies…
Watching this episode was so strange. During some scenes, I thought “In all honesty, this is actually pretty good. This is probably the best episode of the season so far.” And in the next scene, I was like “My GOD this episode is complete crap, what the hell are they thinking?” Then I took some Thorazine, and I feel much better now. The episode is still wildly uneven though.
At this point, Dana might as well find out that Kevin is inviting Danny Dessler, Gael’s Wife, Maya Driscoll, and Barry Landes to New York for one big Obnoxious Party. It seems clear they’re, for whatever reason, out to make the mother of all “CTU Character is Distracted by Annoying Person from the Past,” subplots, so they might as well just go for it. But instead she shadows them to a park, where she watches from a distance as Kevin and his friend try to date rape some floozies they picked up at the bar.
Eventually Cole shows up, and it’s really distressing how I was one step ahead of every turn in this scene. “So she’s going to tell him the truth, and he’ll be disappointed that she was keeping secrets from him. But he’ll still love her enough to go threaten the two guys to leave town and ahhhh, there he goes. Time for the more psychotic of the two to try and take Cole down. Yep. Now the only question is whether or not Kevin has a last second repent-… My GOD this episode is complete crap, what the hell are they thinking?” The scene even takes place in the exact darkened wooded clearing I was picturing whenever we were speculating about this subplot a few weeks ago.
When all is said and done, this could be the worst subplot we’ve ever seen in 24. As much as I’ve always criticized Kim in the woods/Loonie Lonnie or most of the Palmer family shenenigans in Season 3, those were at least characters we had a lot invested in already. We’ve had our first impressions of Dana shaped irrevocably by what’s going on here, and to say that she has a long uphill battle if she wants to become a liked character is an understatement. Cole has shown promise, but I fear he’s going to get dragged down too. Even both Sackoff and Prinze Jr. seem a little less than enthused with the idea of selling the material this week, but that could have been my imagination.
The worst thing is that a lot of the subplot takes place in one interminable scene that ends the episode. In the same way that the lengthy finale Renee scene in 7×05 made me think I had watched a really great episode, this one had the exact opposite effect. And I can’t even get excited that the death of those two bozos means the same for this subplot. At this point, we can’t really drop Cole and Dana back in CTU, have Hastings be mildly annoyed at them for a moment, then have them resume their respective analytical/field duties. Oooh no, it’s too late to transition them to something else entirely, so I’m prepared for 8-16 episodes of Arlo and Chloe sending them suspicious looks and slowly exposing their cover-up. It would still be a step up, I suppose.
Enough of that, let’s take a look at Farhad’s subplot. Him breaking ways with his cohorts to contact CTU has some negative and positive ramifications. The negative… we’re really running out of villains to even be halfway invested in. Vladimir we’ve already lost. Josef is taken down in the first act after the previous episode’s cliffhanger seemed to set him up as a major villain, but that’s ok, David Anders is used to it. Sergei seems to have been neutralized as a threat. And I’ll be extremely surprised if Farhad makes it through the next hour alive. That leaves some generic guy who wants to blow up New York. I already suspect I’m going to be longing for a Hodges or a Juma type figure to anchor the bad guys, but there’s seemingly no one ready to assume a head villain role right now.
The positive… as derivitive as this is of Vladimir Bierko’s Season 5 agenda, it will almost certainly inject some much needed energy into the UN proceedings. Only one of the four series regulars based there is around this week (Rob Weiss); President Taylor, President Hassan, and President Hassan’s pompadour are all missing in action. And given the lifelessness of their subplot these past four episodes, I didn’t miss them one bit. But when we come back, we should find that Taylor is suddenly finding herself sitting across from a man she might have to go to war with. That’s a new spin on the political subplot, and I’m looking forward to seeing if they can execute it well.
This review has been awfully downbeat so far, surely there was some stuff I really liked? There was! And you’ll never believe this, but it was all related to Jack Bauer and Renee Walker. The idea of these two crazy, damaged kids getting together is actually what I’m most invested in this season. I was kind of against the idea of a romance between the two in Season 7, because TV shows like this tend to fall into the trap of having attractive female characters like Renee defined by their relationship with male characters. But I think it’s fair to say that Renee has been extraordinarily well developed, both in Season 7 and in Season 8 so far. Giving her a love interest would likely just add another dimension to this already multi-faceted and compelling character.
The Jack/Renee attraction does lead to the silliest moment of the episode though, when Jack bursts into CTU and puts the woman interrogating Renee into a choke hold on sight. I know he’s done this sort of thing many times before, and maybe they’re just trying to portray Jack as gender neutral when it comes to strangling, but it leaves a really, really bad taste in my mouth. And of course, he’s mildly reprimanded by Hastings after and allowed to leave CTU immediately after.
This subplot was home to the episode’s two best scenes though. Renee’s interrogation was a lengthy and incredibly well done scene, one in which Annie Wersching did a great job portraying Renee’s internal turmoil. And the scene in which Jack somewhat bonded with Hastings over the pressures that come with being CTU director was great too. Best of all, it would seem that Jack is on board for good now, I was worried we’d fall into a silly pattern of Jack saying every few episodes “My plane is leaving in a few minutes, I have to go… wait what’s going on? Ok, I’ll stay for this one more thing.” A more committed Jack is a more entertaining Jack. So there was some good stuff in this episode. It was spread thin to be sure, but it was there.
I’m really not sure! Would Dana’s shady past and transgressions at work cause flashes of Nina Myers, prompting him to get back in his car and say “Deal with it yourself, b****.” Or would he love her unconditionally and be fiercely protective a la Michelle, and go and waste the two dunces earlier and more thoroughly than Cole did? Take your pick.
As much as I’d like to be the first person on this site to score a Season 8 episode in the 8 or above range, this episode sadly continues the uneven and unoriginal trends that have weighed down virtually every single hour. There is hope on some fronts though, and enough good stuff strewn about for me to say 6.5/10.