Episode 17 really was top notch, certainly the execution was probably the best we’ve seen since episode 4, even if we as an audience felt slightly detached from the threat which might have hindered the episode from reaching the very highest reaches of the shows potential, but that was not the fault of the episode.
You must be wondering why i’m talking more about an episode i’ve already reviewed, well perhaps to frame the review of episodes 18 and 19. In recent days I’ve read a few criticisms of this season, quite a few of the entire run actually, but there numbers have been growing recently, and while some are measured and balanced, others aren’t. It’s a difficult needle to thread, reviewing, between giving honest critiques and but simply being a list of things you didn’t like and soundly overly negative. I do my best on this, hopefully i’m getting better.
So Episode 17 was always going to be hard to follow, but to look at the big picture for a moment and to repeat something I posted on the forums, if the show can simply, slowly and realistically build up to a finale that is as good, then at this stage that is surely all that we can ask.
Episode 18 was a funny one, as it is a spin on the commonly seen episode where one situation has been resolved and it must as quickly as possible regroup and head off in a new direction. These are the episode hardest to pull off, but 18 was at a disadvantage from the beginning, the driving force for the new plot was revealed in 17 and so it has lost a key component in building momentum, it can tell us again, but information is never as compelling second time round. They reveal what Cheng wants, but really it’s of incidental concern, because really viewer assumptions will more than likely have filled in the picture in already.
In hindsight I would almost have liked to hold off audrey’s reveal until the beginning of this episode, 17 had enough going for it, it was just being greedy to hold on to it for itself.
Nevermind. The episode does it’s best with what it’s got. Which in the main plot is not much, Jack has the chip and is headed for the meet. We do get a few good moments along the way, but in the shadow of 17 it’s hard for these moments to flourish.
So the other stories have to lend a hand, and they certainly do an admirable job trying to fill the void, and do for the most part keep the viewers thoughts off the apparent lack of moment in the main event. CTU weighs in with more Chloe / Morris Comedy / Drama, which is a lot of fun to watch and is perhaps the closest we’ve come to a real ongoing evolving relationship within CTU for a fair while, instead of high, low or nothing which most relationships are on, Chloe and Morris really have shades of grey, a sense that the dynamic between them is being added to with every line. It actually regains the feeling from year one of watching a live event, it’s what the format is supposed to be about, but which has been draining away from the show. Good stuff, which continues into 19.
Though getting back to 18, the white house also chips in. With a move out of the thunderbirds bunker back into the more eye pleasing west wing sets which (with the exception of the oval office set which looks to small) i’m really digging.
Palmer okays Jack’s plan, backmails his VP, then promptly collapses in front of the media. All of which felt a little contrived, and looking back Palmer okaying the plan only so Daniels can yank it feels like the worst possible filler and means that Jack went from not rogue – to rogue – to not rogue then back again in the course of 18, which is frankly to much.
Back to the White House, everything in between was very good, and Daniels taking over does feel like the right thing, oddly enough. Not sure they would be much drama left there otherwise.
19, hmm, definitely better overall than 18. This has definite movement in the plot, though it got there by way of some old 24 cliches. Including Nadia giving the “king is dead, long live the king speech” perviously given by Alberta Green, Tony & Jack (to name a few). Meanwhile Jack gives a rehash of Tony’s “I need to pick the location because of CTU’s satellite surveillance” & not quite in the same league, but worth mentioning, Buchanan leaves CTU for the second time in two seasons because Karen has forced him to, though i’m guessing this one hurt a bit more.
The best moments for me in this episode were all Jack’s. His answer machine message to Bill was an unexpected moment, but one which worked well, and could perhaps have been played for even more. Then there were Jack’s fleeting moments with Audrey, which put a lump in my thought simply for what there were more than what they contained, and the final moments which Jack knows something is truly wrong, was beautifully understated.