The Return of Real Time: An Immediate Response to Episode 6

February 3rd, 2009

I’ve just this minute finished watching Episode 6. Downloaded from itunes. Watching on a 25 inch HD TV. It’s the easiest way for me to watch it in a timely manner, and in good quality.

I wanted to give my reactions to the episode while they where fresh in my mind, before they faded, because thats what this episode was all about. The very real sense that the situation is evolving and changing, and that the facts and scenarios this second could be different in the next. You dare not miss a beat, or you’d be lost. This firmly re-established 24’s true premise, that we see a story unfold one piece at a time, nothing skipped, or abbreviated or summarised.

You didn’t watch this episode, you witnessed it. The cabinet meeting scene made be me feel as if I was an aide sitting in the shadows, whose opinion maybe sought at any second – and if it was, the episode prodded – what would your opinion be. Many people won’t have known what their answers would have been, but I betting a lot of people thought about what their answers would have been. And thats the point, it made you think, forced you to try to form an opinion, and then forced you to re-evaluate it based on new information and thoughts presented.

Right here I have to stop to make an apology, because in the cabinet meeting scene, Cherry Jones as President Taylor suddenly made sense, as if a reveal has been made, a new depth to the character has been unveiled. She gave a terrific performance in that scene. Perhaps it’s only now we’re seeing her give the performance that was apparently always in her as she’s suddenly being given something to work with, and is more than just an explanatory device.

She truely conveyed the sense on conflict in her mind, but also the resolve she felt that the course of action she was taking was indeed the right one. Even as I came to the conclusion that the only logical conclusion in this situation would be to withdraw the invasion force, she explained her own logic and even though I disagreed with her, I couldn’t call her naive or hopelessly idealistic, all I could think in reply to her argument, “Then your braver than I am”.

If she can continue in the same vein for the remaining 18 episodes, she will be worthy of mentioning in the same breath as those other great TV Presidents, Palmer, Bartlet & Logan.

400 words and I haven’t yet mentioned Jack or Tony. Their storyline continues apace, unfolding in a unique and organic way.

Emerson’s revelations about Henderson’s role in Tony’s survival in the van is another great example of why the show has suddenly found it’s feet again. Previously the van ride would have been dead time, they would have cut to the arrival at the hanger and made the journey jarringly quick. Instead they paused. Revealing the further details of Tony’s apparent death at just the right time. Had these details been revealed any earlier and the characters would have stopped at an unrealistic moment, any later and the natural moment would have been gone, any further probing of Emerson for how it was done would have felt false and mis-placed.

Equally organic was Emersons reactions after their arrival at the hanger. He knew something was up, we could see it and probably had his suspicions confirmed by Jack and Tony’s slight hestitation to bury Renee. He had to act, leading us into a burst of action, bourne not out the episode needing another tense action sequence, but that a conflict couldn’t stand unresolved any longer. Tony had to choose between two brothers. Emerson took the action he did in the confidence Tony wouldn’t truly betray him. Tony shooting Emerson had as much emotional impact of Tony and Emerson as it would if he’d had shot Jack, and it was played as such. The betrayal Emerson felt was real and deep, but in different circumstances Tony’s choice might have been different.

These two storylines and their respective key scenes weren’t simply the high points of the episodes, they are simply the best examples of a pattern which the whole episode followed.

Everything felt real, immediate, tense. In short, this episode was the very definition of “real time”.

One Response to “The Return of Real Time: An Immediate Response to Episode 6”

  1. J_Aon 03 Feb 2009 at 11:43 pm

    …and in doing what he did, the way he did it, Tony has put on a godly performance – although he’s now a fallen angel…

    The pain in tony’s eyes, on his face, in the panic he felt when trying to save emerson and offer his apologies was so gut-wrenching that the episode almost had me crying – for the first time in years.

    The van scene was fabulous. I could see Tony going through all those memories again, the death of Michelle, the pain and anger at the government, the “pretty bad things” he’d done while really working with emerson – and the immediate need to betray his one brother in order to save the other. It was clear that whenever Emerson died, it would have to be at Tony’s hands, so it was no surprise. Though I am sorry that we’ve already lost Emerson this early in the season. He was a great villain with some depth and brilliantly played. The whole “It’s not about the diamonds, David! It’s about killin’ innocent people!” dispute showed how much Tony still cared about Emerson, how much he wanted him to know that he was not about to betray him for money.

    And I think you’ll agree when I say that Emerson’s last words will have to enter 24’s Famous Last Words Hit List somewhere near the top. I felt so sorry for Tony, so damn sorry. He’s amassing this guilt in him.. I wonder how much he will be able to take before he breaks. Poor Almeida – hold on, Sweetheart, we’re there for ya!

    I am certain that Tony would have wanted to find any possible way out of this without shooting Emerson, detaining him, knocking him unconscious, turning him – but he knew – during that ride in the van – that the only way out would most likely be killing him. and it was tearing at his heart. Like I said before, his reply to Jack’s asking if his history with David was going to be a problem – that he would “do what needs to be done” was a reply of his head – not his heart – and I am sure that he will on some level be blaming Jack for making him shoot David… It was eventually a choice for the mission – not necessarily a choice for Jack.

    The Brotherhood is in a tough, tough place. And it’s only bound to get worse. Not only was Jack a part of the reason Tony lost Michelle – now he is also a part of the reason Tony lost Emerson… And Tony – well, he did what he did (and we still don’t know exactly what it was that he did while working on the Dark Side) – and we all know how Jack feels about people betraying his country… After all, he did swear to DEEPSKY that he WILL turn them in if they give him one reason to doubt them…

    Boy, we’re in for a ride. This season has been blessed with the writers’ strike. I am so glad it has been pushed back an entire year. The payoff we’re getting is sensational.

    ***********
    P.S.
    If anyone is wondering why we’re suddenly a week behind FOX, this is after all a U.K. site, so Dan and I have decided to run with the Sky1 schedule (which is roughly a week behind FOX), so please keep your comments related to the most current article / episode aired in the U.K. and refrain from posting comments related to episodes which have not yet aired in the U.K. Thanks :)

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