Downfall – Episode 19 Review

I’ve just finished watching the 19th episode, and it was one of those rare eps this season that have kept me really interested, one of those rare eps that I had to watch twice in a row because they were so good. Before the tension wears off, I’d like to share a few thoughts on it. I’m even putting off dinner so that I can write these lines. While I do, I’m letting the ep run in the background for the third time.

It’s probably too much and unnecessary to try and dissect every single detail of the ep. But on the whole, it stroke me as the perfect combination of character development, action, tension, politics, betrayal, moral, intrigue and great directing/camerawork. And military choppers in pursuit of Jack Bauer; too bad that part ended after just 3 minutes (but then again, the F/A-18s in Season 3 didn’t last much longer either). Seriously, though: who doesn’t enjoy watching Jack land a chopper on the roof of a building and go against everyone and every rule in the book to do what he believes is right? I know I do.

The keyword of this ep: conflict. One really must have conflict for 24 to work. Without conflict, it’d have a whole different brand of viewers. We have Jack and Chloe, Logan and Taylor, Logan and Kenan and Kenan and Logan, and to a lesser extent, Cole and Jack/Chloe…

The Jack and Chloe situation isn’t really a surprise. Jack has been known to butt heads with Acting Directors of CTU, so why should it be any different with her? However, if Chloe’s sticking to the presidential order and going against Bauer isn’t proof enough that she’s grown up then I don’t know what is. Then again, she might have done it only because she really believed that Jack was wrong. Or maybe because there is no Director to go up against by siding with Jack. It’s her in the hot seat now, her head that will roll if things go bad. She could be acting out of self-preservation, but I’d like to think that it’s purely because she’s a loyal CTU employee under presidential orders… After all, the friendship she and Jack have had for years shouldn’t be worthless all of a sudden.

So, rather than yet again supporting Jack’s rogue operation, Chloe goes against him. The funny thing is that Jack knew in his gut that she would. I’m going to enjoy the next ep(s) with Jack and Cole running field ops together. Let’s just hope Cole doesn’t get killed in the process…

However, no matter how fun it has been to watch Jack do his action parts, the real strength of this episode lies in the moral disintegration and corruption of President Alison Taylor by none other than President Charles Logan, that sleazy bastard I’d been wanting to see dead since Season 5: the snake, the apple, the temptation and the Devil on Taylor’s shoulder.

Greg Itzin’s so brilliant he makes me yet again hate Logan with a passion. Obviously, Charles Logan has planned this whole thing including all contingency plans from the get-go, figuring out how to stay ahead of Taylor’s every move, anticipating her decisions and manipulating her into a situation where she’ll have to do what he wanted from her… Yes, he definitely had pursued his own agenda… Who’s surprised? It indeed seems that in the years since his own conviction he has perfected his manipulative skills. Step by step, he’s led her “so far into the woods she’ll never be able to find her way back” as Ethan Kenan has so fittingly put it.

It really hurts to watch Alison follow him down this slippery road to Hell, and break with the morals she has so strongly been in touch with since we first met her. She’s put her own daughter in prison in order to uphold her morals, for God’s sake! And now she’s authorizing illegal detention and torture… The very things she wouldn’t let Jack get away with not too long ago. And yet, the crumbling of her moral ground and her stance on torture is painfully credible. Thanks to Logan, she no longer has another option if she doesn’t want to let everything she worked for just slip through her fingers… To be continued…

Logan played center court in the political game, not only with President Taylor, but also with Ethan Kenan… I must say I almost got goose bumps during that last scene between the two. With Kenan depicting Taylor’s corruption by the ever-scheming Logan, her downfall, his break with her administration, the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife…

“She wasn’t like you. She wasn’t like any politician I’ve ever known.”

“That’s right. She’s finally got some teeth!”

If you didn’t want to just punch Logan’s smug face… I did.

I’m sorry to see Ethan go, but I’m still hoping this won’t be the last we’ll see of him. It’s true, for now, Taylor seems to be siding with Logan, and it seems a logical step for him to resign since she’s not following his advice. “[There’s] only room for one of us.” He’s right. For now. But maybe, just maybe, she’ll come around again. It is to be hoped.

Many moments have been beautifully put to the screen but maybe the best and most memorable part was right at the end… Alison’s speech about the price that has to be paid… That peace has to come, sometimes at a very steep price.

“Peace must and will prevail, no matter the cost…” Ethan leaves, and Taylor is momentarily stunned into silence… “No matter the cost, no matter the compromises.” At the same time, Dana Walsh is subjected to waterboarding, on the authority of the President of the United States.

Yes, compromise she did. She’s crossed the line. A line I don’t think she’ll be able to live with in the long run. I want to see how it’ll end. With a resignation, most likely. I’ll leave you with this thought of Early Jack Bauer from Season 1:

“You can look the other way once, and it’s no big deal, except it makes it easier for you to compromise the next time, and pretty soon that’s all you’re doing; compromising, because that’s the way you think things are done. You know those guys I busted? You think they were the bad guys? Because they weren’t, they weren’t bad guys, they were just like you and me. Except they compromised… Once..”

5 thoughts on “Downfall – Episode 19 Review”

  1. 24 hasn’t been this smart, compelling, and realistic in a long time! Spot on with that final scene – chilling stuff!

  2. I don’t look at television anymore since time ran out from the most heart-throbbing series to hit television. This episode is yet another masterpiece of the work of the cast, crew and producers, especially the one and only Executive Producer, Kiefer Sutherland, passionately known as the man- JACK BAUER!!

  3. I’m a bit late, but I just have to say when I heard that chilling speech from Taylor I also instantly thought of that quote from Jack in the first episode.

    I would love to know if this was intentional.

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