As always it’s been a while since I chimed in, although in the meantime you’ve had J_A filling in nicely keeping you all up to date. Unfortunately due to circumstances i’m fairly behind to schedule and only now starting to catch up. But having just watched episode 15 I noticed that the last review posted was of 13 so I thought it was the perfect moment to post my thoughts on the season and put down a marker to compare against when the season is over. In all likelihood my musings at the end of the season maybe a little clouded. So hopefully these can be slightly more clear headed than those will probably be. Spoilers for episode 15 follow…
It stuck me watching episode 15 just how good the show still is at setting up a individual scenes, individual moments, individual “scenarios”, for all the roll your eyes bad moments the show can have, it can still deliver a good edge of your seat moment. Dana and Arlo (is that how you spell his name) was a perfect example, it had genuine suspense, genuine intrigue, Arlo’s reveal made you jump, and for a split screen put you on Dana’s side as you shared her surprise, then you quickly where back on Arlo’s side as you remembered what Dana had done (and was doing), and was they quite literally switched places you hoped Arlo wasn’t going to get a surprise of his own. Fortunately he was saved by the bell.
Another great moment was the countdown to the bomb possibly going off. In both these moments the show used our knowledge of the show against us, we’ve been watching the show long enough to know that it really doesn’t mind killing off supporting characters when it serves the very immediate purpose, or indeed setting off nuclear weapons. We’ve been trained to expect the unexpected, Dana killing Arlo and the bomb going off was the unexpected, so we expected. And thats why neither happened. We’ve now come full circle in which we have to retrain ourselves to expect the expected!
It’s in these moments when the show really flourishes, when it has your full attention. Unfortunately in between these moments the illusion is really starting to slip, the threads holding all these moments together is starting to become frayed. Everything is becoming more and more unbelievable, and I mean everything, even the moments i’ve mentioned above, it’s just that with these moments your too enthralled to notice and so you don’t care. But then the immediate threat passes and you have time to think…., why aren’t agents banned from taking calls on personal cellphones?, why would the President invite the wife and daughter of a visiting president into too watch and operation the odds suggested could go horribly wrong?, why after 8 years have CTU still not learned to establish a secure perimeter to ensure the baddies don’t just drive off? (and those are just the questions I can remember asking myself during this episode).
Looking beyond these questions and the glue which is supposed to be holding the season together, to make all the episodes relate and build on top of one another. Hmm, I’m struggling to think what that glue is supposed to be. I suppose it’s supposed to be the peace talks, but really the show got bored with that a long time ago, in recent episodes it’s just been something to keep Taylor busy. We’ve had other things, (Renee’s dark side, A Russian Mob Family, IRK Rebels trying to overthrow Hassan, Hassan slowly going mad) etc etc, but none of these things have been consistent. That’s the problem with this season, it’s got no overridding theme, no arch, one conspiracy doesn’t fold into another, one conspiracy simply takes up the reigns when another fails. Of course even that would be enough if only we understood the motivations of the antagonists. In this episode Hassan’s chief of security, had the chance to explain his motives, but they simply didn’t make sense as the best he could come up with was accusing Hassan of enjoying the limelight too much. But at some point Terran agreed with Hassan politics, what does it matter too someone that a politician enjoys the limelight if you agree with his policies?
With the main thread having no weight or credibility, it means that each episode only has the momentum it’s able to generate itself, as you have no sense importance brought from the previous events, there is no sense that the stakes are continually building.
Wow, that sounds like I hated it, I didn’t, I actually enjoyed, but when the episode was over I didn’t feel an urgent need to immediately watch the next episode (odd since I could have clicked a few buttons and started the next episode) like I used too. The 7 day wait for a new episode used to be torture, Sunday night after i’d just seen a new episode i’d barely get any sleep, Monday it’s all i’d be able to think about, by Wednesday i’d seriously be jonesing so bad i’d often rewatch the previous episode (or previous episodes if it was really bad). On Sunday morning i’d think the anticipation just might kill me.
I just don’t feel that any more, when I’m watching an episode i’m enthralled, when i’m watching those perfectly crafted scenario’s play out i’m hooked again. But it doesn’t carry the weight it once did.
This is why the show is having to end, it can still pitch a perfect ball, that perfect scenario like it always has, but it just doesn’t seem able to knock em out the park any more.
It’s got my attention for another 9 hours, i’ll keep watching and waiting for that last home run.