Nothing New In The West – First Thoughts On Episode 5

January 20th, 2009

So… I’ve just watched it. It aired at 3AM my time, and I’d stayed up to watch it live on FOX. so right now, it is way beyond decent bedtime. The 5th ep in this season was an okay ep really. Not quite as strong as the 3rd or the 4th, but good nonetheless. A lot of the energy in the eps 3 and 4 was drawn from the in-your-face Brotherhood revelations between Jack and Tony, of which we got none in ep 5, so I didn’t feel quite as drawn into it as I had been during The Interrogation. However, we did get quite a few more subtle moments between them, secret looks and such – which is really all that you can expect when people are undercover. This episode also got to explore other characters a little more – and above all, advance the plot.  The writers are continuing to bring back stuff we’ve seen before.

As for the plot, you know, it is possible that I have simply watched WAY too much 24 in the past. I’ve possibly spent way too much time thinking and rethinking plot lines, but so far the storyline – none of it – has been a true surprise for me. I still don’t mind it yet because the way it is all being done is still excellent, and frankly – how could you really surprise an audience that has been following the show for 6 years? There are just so many elements and terrorist threats for prime-time television people can come up with (and get approved by the network). But I do wonder how far they can take this before even the greatest addicts among us get bored. We’ll see. That being said, the dialogue is still enjoyable, and Jack’s “Shut up or I’ll shut you up,” was a priceless one-liner.

But as far as surprises go, if Sean Hillinger really turns out to be squeaky clean, that’ll be one, because I still feel like they’re leading us on. They’re still setting him up as a twighlighty character (although the actor said in an interview that Hillinger is a by-the-books guy), I don’t know… It just seems too convenient. Obviously, even if he is a mole, he won’t be the one.  The person helping with the conspiracy must be higher up than Sean, possibly even higher than Larry Moss. I guess a true surprise would be if Janis turned out to be the mole, cause so far, she’s been doing such a great job that she’s the person we’d least expect to be working for the other side. But we’ll see. I just hope it isn’t Moss, because I really like his character.

I do wonder whether the mole at the FBI is actually working for both sides. Does he possibly know about Tony’s true purpose in the group right now? Did Tanner know? If he had, would he have told Renée?

Speaking of Tanner… The way the show is addressing the issue of torture is cleverly written. Without renouncing the whole show and everything they’ve done in the past – or well, everything Jack Bauer has done in the past – they manage to respond to the accusations the show had had to deal with in the past. They shed light on different points of view by letting different characters comment on the issue and allowing Jack to still stay true to himself. He still believes that he had made the right calls at the right time and that was really the only play they had. Anything else would have been faking it.

I really do like David Emerson. I love how he isn’t just a thug, or an ideologue, or just a two-dimensional shooter. Although he doesn’t seem to have a cause in the operation beyond the money (and apparently doesn’t have a conscience either), he actually seems to be a worthy adversary – or a dependable and capable combattant – depending on which side of him you end up. And that loyalty is spelt with a capital L in his book of conduct is paramount to everything that happens in his crew. Which, of course, led to the loyalty test of Jack Bauer, which I’ll come to in a second.

Renée Walker is a very interesting character, and I am hoping for a long storyline for her, because she is the one character so far who has gone through the most significant evolution. It is a little ironic that, in order to catch Jack Bauer, she’s essentially had to become Jack Bauer, and to cross lines which she hadn’t planned on crossing – and more importantly, lines she wasn’t supposed to cross. I do think that she believed in Jack Bauer from the moment (or even before) she convinced Moss to subpoena him, yet she evolved from just trying to understand Jack’s morals and justifications to being willing to accept his methods to understanding their necessity and finally to actually going through with them herself, regardless of the consequences. And she quite obviously has a little thing for Jack, doesn’t she?

I rewatched eps 1-4 before watching ep 5, and paid more attention to Jack and Renée (thanks Kasia, for reminding me I hadn’t commented on that. I know you’re reading this). They take a lot of interest in each other, and there are looks given, moments savored and words said that might mean more than just two people having to work together. I’m not saying they’re falling in love, but they definitely do have a certain admiration for the other, even though they can’t completely support each other. Not yet, anyway. From that perspective, it was more than clear that executing Renée Walker would have to be Jack’s assignment. And naturally, Jack wouldn’t and couldn’t kill her. Frankly, I was keeping my eyes open for a magic flak jacket to appear out of thin air, but I guess Nina Myers’ ghost was out dancing in the desert with the Drazens at that point, and forgot to stand there looking over Jack’s shoulder.

So, after Jack pulled off the impossible non-execution (I really have to hand it to Bauer, he always knows where to shoot people to make them appear dead!) Almeida and Bauer are ordered to bury the FBI agent (clearly, another little test for both of them. Emerson really isn’t stupid) As she starts blinking rapidly, revealing her non-death, Tony notices it and just shoots Jack a look of “How the hell’d he pull that off?”

Of course, Tony wasn’t about to sell Jack out, also out of self-preservation – but Agent Walker must have seen that look, too. So now she has confirmation that Jack and Tony are working together; but as for how evil they are, and how much they’re really into this rogue operation, I’m expecting her to understand that she doesn’t know the whole story yet.

What are her options after she frees herself from her situation? She cannot go back to the FBI unless she wants to end up in the Senate hearing with Jack. So she has two choices. She can start working off the books with Larry, and bring him into the situation, trying to find the real reasons Tony and Jack are aligned. Or she can completely dodge the FBI, Larry and the rule book and start working for Jack and Tony and team up with them eventually. My guess is that she’ll continue to move further down the Bauer route, and conduct her own “rogue” investigation.

And poor Larry indeed! Not only is he being chewed out by the President and his Chief of staff, now he has to worry about his (ex-?)sweetheart, too. As good as he is at his job, now that Renée is in danger of getting killed, Larry’s feelings start interfering with his work for the first time. With the history that he and Renée undoubtedly have, that is understandable, isn’t it? I mean, it’s hard to stay on point when someone you care about is being threatened, or worse… How far would Larry go to keep Renée safe? Hmm. No, I won’t go there.

Going back to the White House, I’m starting to think maybe I was a little harsh on the President. She’s doing a decent job of portraying the conflicts inside her. I am interested to see if she’ll be able to put aside the grief that is about to come to her as well as she’s done with the death of her son. Frankly, I am disappointed at the imminent removal of Mr. Taylor. It was quite clear that the more he dug, the smaller his chances of survival, but I was really hoping that we would get to see more of the brilliantly cast character. Take note, the very first (relevant) character who is getting killed on the show proper is one who was part of a storyline with great dynamics – the Husband – Wife / President – Chief of Staff triangle. But then again, maybe that storyline HAD exhausted itself and it was better not to drag things out. We’d been shown the dynamics, we got to enjoy it for a while, and now it’s time to cut it.

Curiosity killed the First Gentleman. Rest in Peace.

10 Responses to “Nothing New In The West – First Thoughts On Episode 5”

  1. John Sooon 20 Jan 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Well, i don’t think you should write Mr. Taylor off just yet. He’s just paralyzed at the moment and i won’t believe he’s dead untill i see he’s killed.

  2. DRod1983on 20 Jan 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Couple things I noticed. One the silent clock doesn’t mean anything now. At the end of the episode there was a silent clock. We know Renee is not going to die. Also I don’t think that the president husband is not going to die. Something will happen when Roger’s girlfriend comes by (whatever her name is). I hope Sean is not the mole. They are making it too obvious but thats probably what they are trying to do. Can’t wait for next week. Looks good if you saw the previews.

  3. Kasiaon 20 Jan 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Are we certain that Taylor is dead? It seemed kind of ambiguous to me.

  4. hardy24on 20 Jan 2009 at 9:56 pm

    The silent clock seen at the end of this episode isn’t the traditional silent clock, it’s a more ambiguous silent clock which we have seen before. The normal chimes are not present but are replaced by background noise from the scene immediately preceding, in the same way David Palmer’s heart beat replaced the chimes at the end of episode 24 of season 2.

  5. joshw_24on 21 Jan 2009 at 1:46 am

    good point about the silent clock! I didnt think about that! anyone else notice the fact that Dubaku was supposed to hav died in redemption after benson set off the mine? are they gonna explain that and does he know its jack who killed his brother? i hoope they make some sort of reference to it!

  6. jack_addicton 21 Jan 2009 at 3:38 am

    yes, I noticed what hardy24 said too. it is not silent but you hear someone breathing over it. so it is a ‘left you hanging’ kind of silent clock.

    and no, we’re not certain taylor’s dead. I am also hoping he won’t die – I liked him enough to want more. And the bad guys can’t ALWAYS get their way, right? 😀

    A couple of random things I haven’t mentioned previously:

    Before Jack goes undercover with Tony, he is wearing white – while Tony is wearing black. Good and “evil”, hero and anti-hero – quite obvious, quite a nice touch to underline what was the intention.

    And did you notice Jack’s hair? :D. It is so season 1- like that it’s a true back-to-the roots hairstyle ;). I like it!

    Lastly, there’s a moment when Jack is putting on the kevlar vest, at Emerson’s hideout – that moment just looks like it was stolen from season 3 :).

    Aahh, the memories… 😀

  7. hardy24on 21 Jan 2009 at 8:18 am

    Joshw_24, Dubaku is an odd case, in the shorter for air version of Redemption you just hear the grenade go off, but in the longer “extended” edition which aired in some countries and was on some editions of the DVD’s, you see a quick shot of him opening his eyes.

  8. joshw_24on 21 Jan 2009 at 10:54 am

    thanks for clearing that up! I have the DVD but havent got round to watching the extended version yet! I will now tho!

  9. Robsterson 28 Jan 2009 at 1:40 pm

    personally i loved episode 5 getting more into the story 🙂 did anyone noticed the return of season 1 music!! during the scene when jack was about to gas them out 🙂 loved it not been used in 24 for ages that music

    Moss really reminds me of George Mason for some reason mostly during that scene when he talking to that guy “U Can throw Renee to the wolves after we finished” just feels like Renee the new bauer and Moss is the new Mason hehe

    any1 else share same thoughts?

  10. J_Aon 02 Feb 2009 at 4:51 pm

    yeah, I noticed the s1 music, it was cool to have that back :). actually Moss reminds me of tony in some ways – more because he’s being put in the same situation – having to run CTU under duress of having his love interest being abducted. but yeah, I guess you’re also right about him being a bit mason-ish. this season is going back to season 1 in a lot of ways, and that is one. also, another is that the president is more palmerish again. and that was indeed one of the things that cherry jones had been told when auditioning for the part – that this was the intent 🙂

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