Dammit Chloe! I met Mary Lynn Rajskub on the 24th!
By Aaron D. Neufeld
The following takes place between 10:00pm and 11:00am
Oh, 24! You’ve come and gone too soon. But what a ride it was! The 12-episode format this season successfully eliminated filler subplots (with the exception of all things Naveed), and succeeded in delivering one of the series’ strongest seasons! And the finale was no exception.
Jack and Chloe finally return to their old awesome ways. No CTU. No CIA. Just Jack and Chloe saving the world together. After apologizing to Jack for letting Cross take advantage of her, she pleads with Jack to let her help him. She feels guilty for everything that is happening and wants to redeem herself… a feeling Jack is all too familiar with by now. Belcheck, Jack’s severely underdeveloped ally, returns, and the three set out on their operation: “Capture Cheng alive.” Chloe hacks into a satellite and guides Jack and Belcheck through a very well executed stealth operation aboard the cargo freighter, swiftly and carefully taking out Cheng’s sentries. But then it all goes to hell, as things on 24 tend to do…
Ever since the prequel to DAY 4 almost a decade ago, Jack and Audrey flying off into the sunset to start a life together away from all the madness had always been my dream ending for Jack. A happy ending. But clearly Jack’s story is a tragic one. And there are no happy endings. Not for anybody. Except maybe the world at large once World War III is avoided thanks to everyone involved. But they all sacrifice too much for the greater good, and sometimes that even means dying. Kate, one of Jack’s best sidekicks in the show’s history of sidekicks, did her best to save Audrey… but sadly her best wasn’t good enough, and the season’s first silent clock guaranteed there would be no bait and switch for Audrey. Yvonne Strahovski did a wonderful job calling Jack to deliver the news with so much emotion, and Kiefer was at the top of his game, as he’s been all season, when he briefly loses all hope, removing his side-arm contemplating ending it all for himself. But his grief quickly turns into sheer rage, and it he decides he will end it all… but not for himself.
“My Name is Cheng Zhi!”
In the wake of Audrey’s death, Jack goes on one of his patented revenge rampages first introduced way back in the finale of DAY 1. Bullets fly in all directions as Jack mercilessly ends all of Cheng’s guards, even taking one of them out by throwing a butcher knife like a throwing star! BADASS. Finally Jack comes face to face with the man who kidnapped and tortured both he and Audrey, the latter of whom he was ultimately responsible for killing. After a brief hand-to-hand fight, where Cheng demonstrated some impressive moves, Jack holds a samurai sword to Cheng’s throat, getting him to confess his name for the CIA to verify. Once they do, Jack’s “capture Cheng alive” mission is completed. “Alive” is no longer necessary. “This is for Audrey, you sonofabitch!” Jack beheads 24’s last big formidable foe by one of his coolest kills yet! Unlike Cheng’s refusal to grant Jack’s death wish back in DAY 5, saying, “Kill you? You’re far too valuable to kill Mr. Bauer,” Jack fortunately doesn’t find the same value in Cheng’s life. So he ends it.
While I still feel that Heller’s survival was a huge mistake, tainting one of the best episodes in the show’s history, William Devane’s performance in the finale was spot on. Heller’s unyielding attitude when speaking with China’s President Wei demonstrated that despite nearly losing his own life only hours earlier, and dealing with mental health issues, he is a strong leader, and the right man for the job. The look on Heller’s face when he learns of his daughter’s death was truly heartbreaking, and his final speech to Prime Minister Davies about how he’d soon forget about the horrible death of his daughter was absolutely tragic, but brilliantly delivered.
And then there was one. Jack saved the day but Russia hadn’t forgotten Jack’s last killing spree back in DAY 8. The Russians kidnap Chloe, agreeing to her release if Jack turns himself over to them. After a 12-hour time jump, the first time jump in the series, Jack and Chloe’s touching encounter during their transfer may have been my favorite moment of the finale. Jack holds Chloe’s hand and admits to her that she is indeed his best friend. Well, dammit Jack! It’s about time! Jack sacrifices himself for Chloe’s release and boards the helicopter bound for Moscow.
- Son of a bitch!” Episode Count: 1, Season Total: 11
- “Damn it!” Episode Count: 0, Season Total: 10
- “You made yourself clear Mr. President. Now let me make myself clear. Once your forces cross the 12-mile limit outside of Okinawa, we will fight.”- President James Heller
- “At this point I think I’m the only friend you have left. Whether you want to admit it or not.”- Chloe
- “You should’ve stayed hidden like a rat! You could’ve died an old man.” – Jack
- “My name is Cheng Zhi!”- Cheng Zhi
- “There’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing anyone can do. I won’t remember anything that happens today. I won’t remember anything that happens, period. I won’t remember that I had a daughter that died in such a horrible fashion.” – President James Heller
- “You were right about what you said earlier. About being my best friend. Thank you.” – Jack Bauer
Can anybody explain to me what a samurai sword is doing chilling on a cargo ship? I’m not complaining because it allowed Jack to end Cheng in a pretty badass way, but it was pretty convenient.
The Bottom Line
If there are any complaints about 24: Live Another Day, there are only a few. The 12-episode format was successful in eradicating unnecessary filler subplots but perhaps at the cost of sacrificing character development. Did we ever get to know anything about Jordan at the CIA? And congratulations to Erik Ritter on his promotion to CIA Chief of Station, but was his character really necessary to the season’s story at all? And there was only one person Jack trusted completely throughout the whole day, and it wasn’t Chloe. It was Belcheck. And we never got around to getting to know him.
The condensed timeline also didn’t give Jack much time to express his grief over losing Audrey who was an integral character to the series for so many years, and it would’ve been nice to see Jack give her a proper goodbye. But these are small complaints in what was otherwise a superb season and finale.
Jack is now a Russian prisoner, and unlike any of the show’s past villains, Russia has no ulterior motives. “We just want you, Mr. Bauer. That’s all we ever wanted.” Will Chloe or Heller step up to get Jack back? The stage is set for DAY 10. Will that day ever come? Only time will tell.
By Aaron D. Neufeld
The following takes place between 9:00pm and 10:00pm
While the plot in the show’s eleventh hour didn’t progress as quickly this week, this hour was just as thrilling as last week’s amazing episode. Following Cheng’s decision to blow up a Chinese carrier, the United States and China begin preparations for all out war while Jack and The White House rush to prevent it.
It doesn’t take long for Cheng’s true motivations to be revealed as he tells Chloe, “China turned its back on me. It’s not my country anymore.” Cheng calls Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Anatol Stolnavich to confirm the attack on the Shenyang, but alerts him that Jack Bauer is going to be coming after him. Turns out, Anatol was responsible for breaking Cheng out of a Chinese prison three years earlier, and is working with Cheng in a Russian off-the-books intelligence operation. Cheng was to start war between the United States and China, which would give Russia a free hand to expand into Eastern Europe. Anatol tells Cheng to go to the docks where he will be assisted out of the country.
Chloe had some great moments to shine this hour. Despite the situations she finds herself in, Chloe is always her quirky old self, and we love her for it. She tries to steal a phone, and although gets caught in the act, she still manages to leave behind a recording of Cheng’s voice for Jack to find. En route to the docks with Cheng, she knocks out a few of Cheng’s henchmen with a pole in the back of the truck, allowing her to jump from the truck and escape into the woods. Cheng and his men begin searching for her, but British military, not knowing who Cheng is, orders him to move his truck, leaving Cheng without a hostage as he and his men retreat.
“Whatever It Takes”
Mark’s forgery finally comes out on the table after Jack learns Mark sold him out to the Russians. Held at gunpoint by Jack, Mark confesses to the forgery in front of President Heller, but explains that all of his actions were done in order to protect the president, and for the good of the United States. He suspected Jack was there to harm Heller, and a tiny part of him selfishly wanted Jack away from Audrey… but he conveniently left that part out. Tate Donovan’s performance is top notch as he tries to apologize to Heller, who wants nothing to do with his son-in-law anymore. You can see the anguish he’s feeling and despite all he’s done, you feel for him when he offers his full assistance to Jack, saying he’d do “whatever it takes to make it right,” which lands him in a mission that could easily get him killed.
Mark is fitted with a pin camera on the lapel of his jacket where he is dropped off at Anatol’s residence, pleading for asylum after claiming that Heller discovered the forgery. After providing enough footage for the Gavin at the CIA to disable the residence security system and unlock the front gate, Jack and Kate move in to take out the security forces. Anatol notices the surveillance feeds go dark and knows he’s been set up. He reaches for his gun and he and Mark enter into a brawl which ends after the two smash through a pair of glass doors, and a shard of glass accidentally gets lodged directly into Anatol’s neck. Jack and Kate swiftly clear the residence of all security forces before Jack questions Anatol on Cheng’s location, but it’s no use. “Bauer… my country has not forgotten. They will not give up until you pay for what you have done.” And with those last words, Anatol dies, leaving Jack and the CIA hopeless without a single lead on Cheng; the only man who can prevent the war that he himself triggered.
The White House
There is still not much use for President Heller ever since escaping death. So he dropped his pills in front of his staff, and he told the Chinese president not to take action until they could prove it wasn’t them. The scenes just don’t seem to matter much with everything else going on. The best part of the White House staff scenes this hour had to be when the Chinese took their first action against the United States by firing two missiles which take out US surveillance satellites, blinding the military from observing China’s actions. Upon being implored to raise the national alert level, there is a beautifully executed zooming close up into Heller’s face as he announces, “Raise the level.”
I can’t get enough of the chemistry between Jack and Audrey this season. The two have so much history and now with Cheng in the picture, they both share a history of violence and torture at the hands of that man.
“Kill him. Cheng. Do what you have to first, and then you kill him,” Audrey orders Jack. Jack wants to do right by Audrey, explaining his sudden reemergence. “The only reason I surfaced today was to protect your father. For you. Also because I tink he’s a really good man. Things have gotten complicated. And some things are going to happen. And I just don’t want you to hate me forever.”
“Jack, stop. I could never hate you. I never have.”
The longing between these two is painful. I want nothing more than for some semblance of a happy ending between them, but something tells me it’s going to be far from happy for anybody…
Audrey finally goes into the field with secret service at her side to meet with her contact, a woman who can pass along evidence that the US drone attacks were caused by an override device, hoping to buy time for Jack to deliver Cheng and stop the war from starting. But Cheng has a shooter observing the meet. The shooter takes out the contact and the secret service agents. Cheng calls Audrey to warn her, “Sit back down… and don’t move. And maybe I’ll allow you to live.” “
- Son of a bitch!” Episode Count: 5, Season Total: 10
- “Damn it!” Episode Count: 0, Season Total: 10
- “Do you recognize the voice?” “… I’ll never forget it.”- Jack
- “My job is to keep your hands clean. That means mine get dirty.” – Mark
- “Stolnavich’s cover is that of deputy foreign minister. He’s a covert intelligence operator, you idiot!” - Jack
The Bottom Line
Cheng is working with Russia. This is Jack’s worst nightmare! While China prepares to go to war with the United States, and the US military begins counter measures, Jack and Kate kill plenty of Russians as they push forward with the search for Cheng. Meanwhile Chloe, the only one who knows where Cheng is headed, is unconscious in the woods, and Audrey’s got a target on her back.
Even if Chloe is able to get Jack face to face with Cheng, it may mean sacrificing Audrey in order to save… not hundreds, not thousands… but millions. Only one hour remaining where we can expect a time jump of eleven hours… but I suspect the jump will occur mid-episode rather than at the start. The season has been great and I will be on the edge of my seat all of next week, biting my nails during the show’s finale. Just like old times.
The balcony of Federal Hall in New York City, where George Washington took his oath of office as the first president of this great nation: The United States of America. Happy Independence Day!
By Aaron D. Neufeld
The following takes place between 8:00pm and 9:00pm
Crazy hour. So much to say, but “we’re running out of time!” Let’s jump right in.
Cross & Navarro
Cross obtains the override from Navarro and leaves Navarro to outrun the authorities which doesn’t last very long, landing him locked up back at the CIA where Kate vows her revenge once she learns that he framed her husband for selling secrets to China. Meanwhile Cross and Chloe make their way to the new Open Cell hangout but when they arrive, all of Open Cell has been slaughtered; including poor Stosh, England’s version of Edgar Stiles. Now usually 24 spends some time with the new baddies. The season has been slowly building up for the big Navarro & Cross reveal once Margot was out of the way, but with the shortened season, it only takes one hour for both Navarro and Cross to be dethroned from their villain status to make way for someone even more menacing…
You’re far too valuable to kill, Mr. Cheng! When Cheng entered into the room, it was a real “Holy Sh*t!” moment… as in I actually said that out loud. Cheng who? Cheng Zhi! As Chloe quickly explained to Cross, Cheng Zhi first appeared back in DAY 4 as the head of security at the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles, before returning to get his revenge on Jack by kidnapping him in DAY 5 and torturing him in a secret prison outside of Beijing for over a year. During the time between DAYS 5 & 6, Audrey Heller went to China to find Jack, but was captured and tortured by Cheng as well and used as a bargaining chip during the events of DAY 6 during which he was finally arrested and handed over to China where he was supposedly imprisoned.
But turns out he’s alive and well, and it was Cheng who commissioned Adrian Cross to build the override device in the first place! Yates sold the device to Margot Al-Harazi out of greed, but Cheng wants it back—he’s been planning something big for a long time, and we’re about to find out what it is.
After Jack smashed Navarro’s hand during his “interrogation,” Kate barges into the medical bay, firearm drawn. The rage she expressed towards Navarro had us thinking she was going to go all Jack Bauer on him, especially after we learned that, like Jack, she’d lost her spouse and has a dark past. But what’s better than Kate pulling a Jack, is Kate working with him. Jack ordering Kate to stand down was a great plan to trick Navarro into thinking Kate was a loose cannon, and quickly brought him to his breaking point. Nice teamwork!
Mark & The Russians
With Margot Al-Harazi dead, and the drone threat eliminated, Mark holds up his end of deal with the Russian deputy minister, by providing him with the transmission codes for Jack’s com-link which allows them to track him. But what Mark doesn’t know at the time is that Jack is leading the mission to retrieve the override, sanctioned by President Heller himself. Mark calls the Russian minister to call him off, but it’s too late. Just as Jack and Kate near the location of the override (and unbeknownst to them, Cheng), the Russians attack. Mark is going to be in some deep stuff, and if Audrey hadn’t bickered with him enough today, just wait until she finds out about this!
In Adrian’s final moments, he semi-redeems himself by proving he was just a misguided visionary who planned to change the world for arguably the right reasons, but most definitely by the wrong means. He confesses to Chloe that he’s known all along that her husband and son’s car accident was just that… an accident. Not a murder. Cheng then tricks Chloe into restoring the override device, and Cross is then promptly shot in the head. Now Cheng has Chloe hostage with Jack right around the corner. Her odds of survival are getting slim. They wouldn’t dare… would they? Poor Chloe.
World War Zhi
After Chloe restores the override to its original state, Cheng orders his men to use it exactly how the DOD technician warned it could be used… to access any military system. In this case, Cheng access the United States naval command server and issues a fire order to the U.S.S Massachusetts, a nuclear submarine. “It’s a fire order. We’re to sink the Chinese Carrier, Shenyang.” The order is confirmed with the codes from the defense override and is carried out. The United States fires two torpedoes at the aircraft carrier. Both are direct hits.
- Son of a bitch!” Episode Count: 0, Season Total: 5
- “Damn it!” Episode Count: 1, Season Total: 10
- “Just so we’re clear, I wasn’t asking. That was me being courteous.” – Jack
- “I don’t need biometrics”- Jack
- “I can assure you full immunity is not on the table. But your hand is” – Jack
- “If it was easy you wouldn’t have me doing it. It’ll be done when it’s done.” - Chloe
- “How about you give me something for the pain.”
“I’ve been instructed not to.”
- Looks like they finally gave Agent Ritter something to do. Acting Chief of Station. But he’s annoying in charge. He hasn’t actually made a single good move this season has he?
- Why couldn’t they let President Heller die in a blaze (literally) of glory? Instead they kept him alive… to do what? All he did is take a shot of whiskey and tell Air Force One to stand down. Really making great use of his survival.
- Cheng is one of only two villains to survive three seasons and remain alive. The other is Mandy.
The Bottom Line
And we thought Margot was evil. She was going to kill hundreds or thousands of innocents in London! That’s nothing compared to what’s about to happen next. The shocking return of Cheng totally raises the stakes. He not only completely wiped out Open Cell, but he may have just started World War III! And it looks like Jack may just get sandwiched between The Chinese and The Russians, a standoff five seasons in the making, which will surely be insane.
By Aaron D. Neufeld
The following takes place between 7:00pm and 8:00pm.
Well, that’s a bummer. After last week’s incredibly tense, emotional, perfectly put-together episode that gave President Heller the greatest character sendoff the series has seen in many years, it was all undone in mere minutes this week. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely love the character of James Heller. Always did since he came into the 24 universe way back in season four. But his death was perfect. It was the way for him to go. The thought that Chloe could have messed with the drone’s video feed crossed my mind but after Heller went out a true hero, I couldn’t fathom any reason for him to survive.
Heller cheating death not only makes last week’s episode so much less powerful, but it also impacts the rest of the season. Heller planned to resign the presidency due to his Alzheimer’s. He knew he couldn’t operate as commander in chief under the circumstances of his health, but now he’s back in charge. I guess his Alzheimer’s is worse than we were led to believe, because it seems he’s forgotten all about his illness effecting his decision making as POTUS. As great of a character as Heller is, this is a rare instance where I’d rather be speaking about how great he was. What a shame.
With that nonsense out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. If it weren’t for the Heller bait and switch, this week’s episode could have been one of the greats. The raid on Margot’s compound was swift and perfectly executed. After learning she’d been duped by Bauer, Margot manages to regain control of her last drone after crashing the others into the strait, actually keeping her word after Heller reneged on his. She targets Waterloo station hoping to punish Heller, but Chloe enlists the help of Adrian Cross to triangulate Margot’s signal.
Kate and Erik storm the compound from the ground level while Jack lands the helicopter on the building’s roof and works his way down to the fifth floor where Margot is. After a badass kill from atop one of the building’s ventilation ducts on the roof, Jack uses an electrical cable as an impromptu safety line to propel down the side of the building. Jack kills Ian and diverts the drone’s missile into the sea, saving hundreds of lives, and after forcing Margot to watch her son killed and her plans foiled, Jack allows her to join the rest of her family by throwing her five stories out the window to her death alongside her son below.
Jack murdering Margot in cold blood was, however, quickly forgotten as the episode seamlessly shifted gears onto our new villainous duo of Cross and Navarro. Although it was reported that Jack had Margot in custody, nobody questions her death, but Jack’s rage would have had a much stronger impact had his murder of Margot been a vengeful one following the actual death of President Heller. What could have been an epic kill, became one that was quickly dismissed to focus on advancing onto the season’s final arc. Just sayin’.
Kate’s police contact alerts her to Jordan’s death (which I was not expected… poor Jordan never had the chance to shine) and Kate sends his assailant’s fingerprints to the CIA for identification. Navarro calls Cross asking for assistance in escaping the country, and Cross promises his help in exchange for the override device that was acquired from Margot. With Jack lurking around the CIA station, Navarro knows his time is running out and needs to get the override device, which the DOD tech noted can hack into any military defense system in the world.
As Jack is alerted to Navarro being the handler of Jordan’s assailant, Navarro chokes the DOD tech and steals the override, escaping through the back tunnels of the station and out into the streets of London, with Jack in hot pursuit. This isn’t the first time 24 used this “Have the mole kill an innocent inside CTU/CIA and have them escape through the back tunnels with Jack in pursuit.” In fact, it’s not even the second time. Remember Nina? How about Dana? It felt all too familiar, yet it worked.
Navarro calls Cross once he’s made his escape with the override and the two arrange a meet. Meanwhile, Chloe is now back together with Adrian, who tells her he has to meet a friend.
- Son of a bitch!” Episode Count: 2, Season Total: 5
- “Damn it!” Episode Count: 0, Season Total: 9
- “Mr. President, please. Get in the car and let me do what I know how to do.” – Jack Bauer
- “I am not American citizen. This is not America.”- Belcheck
- “Belcheck… just one word. Like Madonna.” - Belcheck
- “The only death tonight on my head, is yours.” – Jack Bauer
- What’s Erik Ritter’s purpose? Actor Gbenga Akinnagbe is doing fine in the role, but both Jordan and Belcheck served a greater purpose this season, and they both had much less screen time. Erik seems to just tag along whenever Kate is working on a lead. Hopefully he does something worthwhile before the season’s end.
- This episode marks 279 kills by Bauer, yet Margot is only the fifth female to hold this honor.
The Bottom Line
This highly entertaining, suspenseful, and action-packed hour was only tarnished by the completely unnecessary revival of James Heller. It’s forgivable but left me disappointed with the writers. Moving forward though, the season’s big baddie is no more. Out with the old, and in with the new. In classic 24-style, even with the shorter season, the show manages to seamlessly shift villains in the third arc, and with only three episodes remaining, I’m excited to see what Adrian is planning, what role Chloe will play between Jack and Cross, and where the Russians factor into all of this. Expect one more week in real-time to give us the answers to these questions, and then a 12-hour time jump for what’s sure to be a crazy final few hours in 24’s best season since Day 5.
By Aaron D. Neufeld
AMC network has ordered a second season of the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul. No, you didn’t miss the first season… in fact it hasn’t even aired yet! The show, which surrounds crooked lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) was initially scheduled to premiere later this year but has been pushed back to early 2015. The first season will run 10 episodes, and the second season has already been given a 13-episode order.
Returning to the spinoff prequel series are Peter Gould, the man responsible for creating the character of Saul Goodman as a writer on Breaking Bad, as well as Breaking Bad writer, director, producer, and mastermind Vince Gilligan, who is directing the pilot episode.
Along with the news of the yet-to-premiere series being renewed for a second season, came the release of the very first set photo from the new show. The photo (pictured above) features Bob Odenkirk, Peter Gould, and Vince Gilligan, but what stood out to me right away was the costume design of Saul.
Breaking Bad was known for its attention to detail and carefully thought out costume choices. In season 1, innocent chemistry teacher Mr. White wore green and khaki, Skyler wore blues, Jesse wore red and yellow, and of course Marie wore purple. But by the shows final season, each of these characters went through a color transformation, reflecting the dark turns each of their lives took. Heisenberg, Skyler, and Jesse all wore darker colors with plenty black, and Marie, who largely remained on the outside of knowing about Walt’s drug empire… well Marie still wore mostly purple.
Saul Goodman was a sleazy, crooked lawyer and his attire reflected his personality perfectly. Saul was known for his easily recognizable, flashy, and often ridiculous suits, which only became louder as the seasons progressed. Yet in the first photo from Better Call Saul, Saul is seen wearing a very professional-looking grey suit with a bland white shirt, and what looks like a properly paired tie.
Another thing Breaking Bad was certainly known for was the character’s “chemistry,” so to speak. As Walter White so elegantly put it, “the study of change… it is growth, then decay, then transformation.” As Vince Gilligan has been noted as often saying, the series was the evolution of Walt “from Mr. Chips to Scarface.” Since Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad, this could mean we’ll be seeing the evolution of Saul, and his suits will obviously reflect that. Audiences will finally get to see how Saul Goodman went from criminal lawyer to criminal lawyer.
While there’s still no word on if Walter White (Bryan Cranston) or Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) will be reprising their roles, there is another familiar face that is set to return… Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks.) If Saul is still a straight shooter at the start of the new series, he may very well get himself into hot water and get in over his head, prompting him to find somebody to help clean up his mess… enter Mike.