Love and Terror, 24 Style
Tuesday, January 23, 2007 | Author: Mad Typist
So, a new season of 24 is upon us. I have a love-hate relationship with this show. On one hand, it's compelling, edge-of-your-seat type of action. Jack Bauer is awesome - a TV version of Jack Maclane from the Die Hard movies, really, since the man is clearly indestructable. However, the show has a nasty habit of taking torture a bit too glibly and pretty much ignores the ethical/moral implications of having the "hero" turn to torture the minute he needs information from a hostile. See, Jack's always right, because the guy is always eeeeeeee-vil (read: deserving of torture) and he always cracks and gives Jack the exact intel he's looking for. So, Jack never has to question his methods (thus we the audience, by extension, are also relieved from questioning). It's squiggy, given the real world reality that torture is a heinous act that is arguably never justified (moral argument) and has been shown to give less than ideal results, because people will confess to anything, including false things, just to make the pain stop (logical argument).

Anyhoo, enough high level thoughts. 24 works best when we just turn our brains off and accept that it resembles the real world exactly 0%. I mean, no one can get across LA in a car in 15 minutes. It violates all laws of physics.

Each season is pretty much the same:

  • Hour 1: Intro the players. Who's the new president? Who's in at CTU this year? Hint at conflict to come

  • Hour 2: Intro eeeeeee-vil villian #1. He seems bad, but is really a henchman in the bigger plot to Destory Freedom. The bad guys inexplicably decide to bring Jack Bauer, the only man in the world capable of defeating them, into the mix. Usually they frame him for something bad (see: seasons 1,5), bring his family/friends into it (see: seasons 1, 4, 5) or just seem to want revenge (see: seasons 1,3,5,6).

  • Hours 3-6: Evil plot #1 revealed. Usually something dramatic, i.e. nukes, killer viruses, more nukes, nerve gas, and even more nukes. Government moles 1-3 introduced (along with Red Herrings 1-6).

  • Hours 7-12: Evil plot #1 resolved, as Evil plot #2 (a.k.a. "the True Threat") is revealed. It usually involves high-level government corruption (see: Season 2's World Conspiracy headed by Lady Palmer, Season 4's Robocop contractor and Season 5's slimy president). A key character that the audience feels strongly about is killed in a shocking fashion. Hour 12 often culminates with a "holy shit!" moment.

  • Hours 13-20: The chase is on, as Kiefer encounters increasingly more difficult obstacles. Somehow, he takes down the bad guy and saves the world

  • Hours 21-24: Wrap up time. Bad guys get their comeuppance. Good guys celebrate. Jack Bauer is rewarded for saving the world by having Something Really Bad happen to him, leaving him a broken man going into the next season. Something Really Bads from past seasons:

    1. His pregnant wife is murdered by Nina the Mole (who Jack had an affair with once upon a time). Meanwhile, Spawn (his stupid stupid daughter) lives. Not fair!

    2. Spawn lives, despite the best efforts of one noble cougar. Meanwhile, his secret boyfriend President Palmer, is struck down by the assassin Naked Mandy

    3. Jack is forced to cut off his partner's hand to save his life, causing trauma all around. Spawn STILL lives and is injury free.

    4. Jack is forced to fake his death, since the Chinese are looking for payback, after he was forced to kill one of their diplomats. He can't even tell his hot fiance goodbye.

    5. After saving us from the EVIL president, Jack is captured by the Chinese and taken away for Torture Summer Camp

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