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4/17/2007
OF SHARK JUMPING AND THE DEATH OF KINGS
CATEGORY: "24"

And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings.

King Richard II. Act iii. Sc. 2.

Are you ready to bury Jack, not to praise him?

I may be the last person who comments regularly on the show who has faced up to the fact that 24 has hopelessly jumped the shark. The plot has collapsed into a heap of unfinished threads, an endless exposition of plot lines to nowhere. Do you care one whit if Milo gets Nadia alone for 15 minutes? Is there no further use for Jack’s father in this set up - a very promising storyline that has dropped off the scope with nary a word on his fate? I’m even beginning to yawn at the by-play between Chloe and Morris - a sure sign of something having gone out of the show.

In fact, Chloe’s character has absolutely gone off the banal scale. To take this beautiful bitch of a woman and rob her of her snark, her scowls, her hooded looks of disapprobation when a co-worker made a mistake, is like taking away Betty Grable’s gams or Marilyn Monroe’s … smile. Chloe’s thoughtlessness and inappropriate behavior around her fellow CTU officemates - always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person - has disappeared. She is now simply a geek appendage to the show. Need someone to hack into CalTrans? Let Chloe do it. Need someone to download the updated schematics for the suitcase bomb? Piece of cake for supergeek Chloe.

But perhaps the clearest indication that the show is done for came from a speech that Little Ricky made to Jack thanking him for saving the United States. Since there has been plenty of speculation on the boards about Ricky Schroeder taking over for Kiefer Sutherland whenever the producers decide to kill off Jack Bauer, I ask you to imagine Jack Bauer saying this at any time in his life to anyone:

DOYLE: Jack, I know you’ve been through hell - not just today but the last couple of years - I just wanted to thank you for what you did today. ‘Cause it could have ended a helluva lot worse…and it would have if you weren’t here.

Gag me.

Jack’s fatalism regarding his rescuing Audrey from the evil clutches of the Chinese does not engender sympathy for Bauer or even elevate his character beyond the heroic nature he already enjoys. This willingness of Jack to die is simply seen as another plot device to manipulate our emotions and try and build suspense.

And what about the honking travesty of using an “algorithm” contained on a board in the guts of the suitcase nuke that would give the key to the entire technology of the Russian defense department? The Russians may be dumb but the idea of such a thing existing in the real world is so awesomely stupid as to beggar belief. And that’s the problem with the show. It’s no fun suspending belief for an hour if the writers are going to so insult your intelligence that they take you out of fantasyland and set you down in Never-Neverland with the full realization that a little common sense would tell you such a scenario couldn’t exist except in the script of a children’s show.

I will continue to watch and write about 24. But even if the writers knock my socks off for the remaining 5 shows, I can’t help but think that the production has gone about as far as it can go and has hit a wall. Ratings for the show are as strong as ever (#10 among the coveted 18-29 age group) but I would predict that if the last few episodes of the show are as slow and determinedly boring as this last one, that too, will change.

SUMMARY

Little Ricky informs Jack that the nukes will be handled by the military from now on. He also gets out the kneepads and genuflects at the altar of Bauer, thanking him in the most effusive and nauseating way possible for saving the country.

I’ve had the opportunity to hobnob with the kinds of special warriors who would more than likely make up the TAC Teams at an organization like CTU. And if one of them spouted off like that - even if it was fully deserved - the chances are the rest of the team would pants the guy and give him an underwear snuggy for good measure - or worse. Gushy is the last thing these practical and dangerous men are. What they do - putting their hides on the line in the absolutely most dangerous situations imaginable - is done with a minimum of fuss and with a tremendous pride in their own competence and professionalism.

After politely thanking Little Ricky for his kind words, Jack excuses himself to call Mr. Cheng. Ignoring Jack’s plea to talk to Audrey again, the Chinese security chief fills Jack in on how he can get old Needle Nose released; he must steal a “component from the trigger mechanism” - a “prototype algorithm” that is impervious to “modern encryption technology.” This little piece of technology will allow the Chinese to penetrate the entire Russian defense establishment.

I’m sure the damn component walks, talks, and wets itself as well.

To believe that any such “algorithm” could ever exist is to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the good intentions of liberals all at the same time. Why not ask Jack to do something realistic like hand over launch codes for American nukes or something else that would threaten the United States? Do you care - even if it were remotely possible - that the Chinese would be able to steal Russian military secrets? Not I. In fact, given President Putin’s recent boorish, thuggish behavior, it may be that allowing the Chinese to get a leg up on the Russian military might not be such a bad idea.

Anyway, Jack agrees and gets to talk to Audrey again. The poor dear looks like a little lost girl who can’t find her way home after wandering around the forest for a few hours. Jack assures her that he will rescue her from the clutches of the evil Asians.

Back at the White House, Tom catches President Palmer gazing off into space, looking for all the world as if he’s about to have a relapse. But the writers wouldn’t do that to us now, would they?

Palmer insists he must stay on the job or the Veep will try and take over again. (Palmer obviously has no more faith in the writers than we do.) Tom reluctantly spills the beans on what he’s got on Daniels - the damning tape recording of him plotting to commit perjury. The President’s interest is definitely piqued by this info - it may come in handy later.

Suddenly Karen bursts in with the news of Fayed’s death and the recovery of the nukes. This bit of good news cheers the President and he suggests that they leave the underground bunker and return to the oval office. He asks Tom to schedule a press conference to tell the American people.

Back at CTU, Bill is congratulating the gang on doing such a bang up job - despite the fact that their top secret, multi-gazillion dollar computer system was easily hacked and one of their top geeks refused to die an honorable death and instead enabled the terrorists to set off a nuke on American soil by building a trigger for the bomb.

Outside of that, everything went swimmingly.

Chloe’s phone buzzes during Bill’s encomium. It’s Jack, of course, calling to ask Chloe if she would be up to committing a little treason. Chloe says fine except she has to hack Morris’ computer to get the info Jack needs. Easily penetrating her former husband’s system, Chloe downloads the schematics for the suitcase nukes to Jack’s phone.

Is there anything Chloe wouldn’t do for Jack? I mean, in a purely non-biblical way?

Meanwhile, back in the oval office, Wayne greets the Vice President like a Mongoose about to take down a rattler. After thanking the Veep for his idea to nuke a lot of innocent people (which led to Wayne’s fake nuke gambit) he shows his appreciation by asking for Daniels’ resignation within the week. The stunned Vice President refuses - until Wayne lets on that he knows all about his planned perjury. The air is visibly let out of the Veep upon hearing that and he slinks away to write his resignation letter.

Back at CTU, Morris finds out that someone had hacked into his computer thanks to his precaution of adding an invisible log to prevent just such an occurrence. Before he calls security (as if those dolts would have been any help at all) Chloe spills the beans about her little escapade with Jack. Still feeling guilty about not sacrificing his life so that 12,000+ of his fellow citizens could live (silly Morris!) he tells Chloe in no uncertain terms that she must tell Bill about her little project to rescue Audrey from the Chinese or he will. Reluctantly, Chloe makes the trip to Bill’s office.

Jack shows up at the site where the military is getting the nukes ready for transport. He talks his way past the guards with ease:

JACK: You don’t need to see my identification.

GUARD: We don’t need to see his identification.

JACK: I’m not the kind of man who would steal anything from the nukes.

GUARD: He’s not the kind of man who would steal anything from the nukes.

JACK: I can go about my business.

GUARD: He can go about his business.

JACK: Move along…Move along…

GUARD: Move along! Move along!

Unfortunately, Bill is aware of what Jack is trying to do thanks to Chloe and sics Little Ricky on Jack. After a brief, tense standoff between Jack and Doyle, a Marine recovers from Jack’s mind control and cold cocks him upside the head with a rifle butt.

Within a couple of minutes, Jack is awake pleading with Bill to let him use the circuit board as a bargaining chip in his quest to free Audrey. When Bill refuses, Jack asks him to get the President on the line.

Palmer obligingly takes the call and listens to Jack’s pleadings. No way, says Wayne. The Russkies would be mad at us (as if they aren’t anyway) and besides, it wouldn’t work, the Chinese would still get the algorithm.

Not so fast, says Jack. I will guarantee the Chinese won’t get their hands on it. How, asks the President? I’ll kill myself first.

Jack giving up his life for his own country is a given. But Jack willing to die to protect Russian military secrets? Yes, he would be preventing the possibility of a war with the Russians. But that’s only if the Russians found out how the Chinese got a hold of the technology in the first place. I just hope the next thing Jack is willing to die for isn’t something stupid like foreign civilians or UN diplomats. Especially the latter. We could actually do with a few less of those fellows.

The clincher comes when Jack calls in all his chits with the Palmer family. “You owe me,” he tells Wayne. And that one phrase resonates with Wayne who has seen Jack sacrifice himself for the Palmer’s for 5 years. He gives the go ahead for the operation to rescue Audrey.

Jack asks little Ricky to tag along as his point man on the TAC team, making Little Ricky’s day judging by the look on his face. They get in the official CTU black SUV and start for the rendezvous with Cheng.

Morris meanwhile is confused. He actually didn’t think Bill would allow it. Chloe explains that the President trusted Jack unlike Morris who didn’t trust her and help her in her plan to commit treason. Morris immediately understands that Chloe will not forgive and forget easily. “You’re going to hold this over my head for a long time, aren’t you?” he asks. But for how long? “I’ll get back to you,” is Chloe’s lukewarm response.

Are you telling me that’s the best the writers could do? Please give your ideas for a proper Chloe response in the comments.

With all tracking devices and explosive charges in place, the SUV speeds off into the night and toward whatever fate is in store for Jack and Little Ricky.

Back at the White House, a morose Daniels is contemplating life after the Veepship when his trusted aide and good time girl Lisa enters the room. After being told he is being forced out, Lisa can barely contain her excitement at the thought of spending more time with old Noah. Her flushed skin and heaving chest make it apparent that if nothing else, Noah Daniels sure hasn’t lost his touch with the fairer sex. They both hurry off to the Presidential press conference.

Wayne starts off the conference in fine fashion, mouthing platitudes about healing and so forth. It’s only when he starts to take questions that we see that something is terribly wrong. The President appears ill. And when he topples over like a giant sycamore going down, we’re sure something is wrong. Daniels, watching in the back, carefully folds his letter of resignation and carefully stuffs it into his jacket pocket. Fate has just handed him a second chance (as have the writers who apparently are desperately searching for something interesting to happen).

The news regarding the health of the President is grim. Dr. Arthur tells us he has suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Unless the writers want to endow Jack with supernatural healing powers, it is doubtful whether we will see President Palmer during the last six hours of the show. I will not miss him as I always believed him to be something of a weak sister. But he was at least honorable and honest - the best you can say about any politician these days.

Daniels gets no argument when he invokes the 25th Amendment this time. He instructs Karen to make the necessary arrangements with the military. And Lisa, already on the job, brings up the Bauer operation to save Audrey and its apparent transfer of Russian technology to the Chinese.

Everyone in government seems to know a lot about this one, tiny bit of a circuit board, including the Vice President who orders the operation cancelled. Karen has to call Bill and tell him this, a job that she obviously found distasteful.

And Tom Lennox? Given his possession of evidence that could ruin Daniels, how long do you think he has to live? I’m sure the next major character to emerge will be the “Mr. Fixit” that all politicians have for emergencies like this - men who will do anything in service to their political masters. Even David Palmer had one of these men so don’t be surprised if the guy who handles the Veep’s dirty work is introduced shortly.

Bill Buchanan is no fool. He knows Jack and how he will react. He instructs his staff to get roadblocks up so they can stop the SUV and sends another TAC team just to take Jack into custody. He then calls Little Ricky who tries unsuccessfully to make the conversation about cancelling the op as casual as possible. Silly Ricky. Jack sees right through it. With a sudden move, Jack has his gun drawn and is pointing it at Little Ricky’s head:

JACK: Don’t you move.

DOYLE: (innocently) Jack, what’s the problem?

JACK: Earlier today, I shot my own partner, a friend of mine, because he tried to stop me from doing what I had to do. Don’t think in a second I won’t do that to you.

After kicking Little Ricky out of the SUV, Jack begins to drive away. “You can’t go against the White House,” Doyle calls after him. But Jack isn’t listening. Besides, when did going against the White House ever stop our Jack in the past?

BODY COUNT

The Grim Reaper not only had the night off, but is contemplating turning in his own letter of resignation.

JACK: 23

SHOW: 403

By: Rick Moran at 11:00 am
16 Responses to “OF SHARK JUMPING AND THE DEATH OF KINGS”
  1. 1
    Juan Paxety Said:
    11:17 am 

    I could take the rest, but the destruction of Chloe this season is maddening.

  2. 2
    Joel Hoekstra Said:
    11:45 am 

    “Please give your ideas for a proper Chloe response in the comments.”

    My humble suggestion:

    Cloe: (rolls eyes) Well, let me think…how long does eternity last again? Oh, right. Nevermind.

    “Is there anything Chloe wouldn’t do for Jack? I mean, in a purely non-biblical way?”

    If we’re lucky, we’ll have a full-blown Jack/Cloe/Morris love triangle (if only to relieve the tedium of Milo/Nadia). Best Case Scenario: in the final episode Cloe/Audrey/Marylin challenge each other to a mud-wrastlin’ tournament - “winner” gets to take Jack home and keep him.

    In past seasons, the writers always managed to pull off at least one plot twist that I didn’t see coming. Aside from Graem turning out to be Jack’s brother (and perhaps Jack’s surprising willingness to shoot Curtis), there haven’t really been too many twists and turns that surpised me this year. Did anyone really believe Audrey was dead (I mean, besides Jack)? Or that Wayne would follow through on a nuclear attack?

  3. 3
    hobbitqueen Said:
    12:11 pm 

    Here, here! I miss the old Chloe. She hasn’t even gotten to shoot anybody this season.

    Chloe response to Morris: “If by ‘a long time’ you mean forever, yes. You need to stop overcompensating for getting all those people killed.”

  4. 4
    Wes S. Said:
    12:47 pm 

    Are you telling me that’s the best the writers could do? Please give your ideas for a proper Chloe response in the comments.

    “Button up your shirt collar, Morris; your circumcision scar is showing.”

    Although that line would better be reserved for Little Ricky Schroeder’s character…

  5. 5
    refugee Said:
    12:55 pm 

    “The air is visibly let out of the Veep upon hearing that and he slinks away to write his resignation letter.”

    And that’s when I turned off the tube and went back to doing my taxes, because Palmer gave him a week or so to submit the resignation, instead of demanding it on the spot in front of witnesses.

    Sure enough, as your synopsis relates, Daniels doesn’t have to wait a week for an opening; he gets it later that same episode.

  6. 6
    D.J. McGuire Said:
    2:19 pm 

    “Are you telling me that’s the best the writers could do? Please give your ideas for a proper Chloe response in the comments.”

    Chloe’s response: “Only until your next drink.”

  7. 7
    Mark H. Said:
    2:51 pm 

    “After being told he is being forced out, Lisa can barely contain her excitement at the thought of spending more time with old Noah. Her flushed skin and heaving chest make it apparent that if nothing else, Noah Daniels sure hasn’t lost his touch with the fairer sex.”

    Hmm, I read her body language and expression more along the lines of: “You wish Noah, without power you’re useless to me, I’m off to find another ladder up.”

  8. 8
    Jennie C. Said:
    4:41 pm 

    Okay, I’m going to be disagreeable this week :).

    I would agree after seeing the endless episode about the 25th amendment on the shark episode, but I had hope. And I thought last week’s episode (”Death Struggle” to Rick) showed great promise. It was fun, anyway.

    But I don’t think the shark has ducked. At least, I’m still enjoying. This isn’t the first time the main threat has disappeared before the end of the season (#2, wasn’t it, when the bomb blew up and Kimmy thought dear-old-Dad had bought it?), only to have another, lesser threat (in that case imminent war - less than an H-bomb) to be dealt with. Okay, Audrey’s situation isn’t a threat exactly, but c’mon, we know that Jack will do anything to save her. After all, Debbie from Season 5 and Marilyn are safe and healthy, she’s his only woman at risk (i like debbie, by the way, but marilyn is an opportunist).

    Jack’s being willing to die to get Audrey out while not betraying the country (altho i agree that this one component’s giving up a whole country’s defense system is ludicrous - it’s a suspension of disbelief thing)? Not unusual, he had been prepared to be killed by Fayed for the sake of the country in the first hour - after he’d been released by the Chinks, which must have been the shortest-lived feeling of relief on record. And seems logical he’d be perfectly happy to waste Cheng in the process.

    Chloe and Jack and the non-Biblical’s doing-anything-for? We’ve seen this before and it should be taken as a given. Chloe is absolutely loyal to (and possibly smitten by, but I think she knows it’s hopeless) Jack. Rick commented that Jack’s defied Presidents before. Well, so has Chloe, for Jack.

    Maybe I’m a fan of understatement, but I liked her “I’ll get back to you.” Seemed like a usual worker-bee thing to say, but with greater implications.

    Joel: I wouldn’t call Jack’s shooting of Curtis “willing.” He was devastated, threw up, and threatened to quit at the time (i suspect not just from ctu).

    Finally, the VP’s resignation. For what it’s worth, he wouldn’t give the letter to the prexy. It goes to SecState. Haven’t you folks read Clancy’s Executive Orders? But of course, that was a plot device, so he wouldn’t have to actually hand it over.

    Okay, disagreeableness over for now. I’m still having fun with the show (except between 8-9pm in virtual time). And Rick, your Star Wars bit was priceless, I hadn’t thought of that.

  9. 9
    Bic Said:
    5:56 pm 

    Maybe Jack knows the Russians built a fail safe feature into their board. Any nation who tries to access the information will automatically go sterile.

    No manly man would kiss up the way little Ricky did last night. I think Chloe is a better candidate to replace Jack, once he and Audrey sneak off to that Artic circle hideaway.

  10. 10
    Eric R. Said:
    7:01 pm 

    I have not watched network television shows, apart from very occasional sports (and FNC of course) since Seinfeld went off the air.

    Sure, that means I miss “24″ and I miss South Park. But they way I look at it, Hollywood is an evil, Marxist, morally debased, anti-American institution with no hope of ever reforming. Thus, even if I watch a “good” show, I am boosting advertising dollars for evil people.

    To me it’s not even a boycott. These people will not change, so I have written television pretty much out of my life.

    Try it, folks. You’ll find you won’t miss it.

  11. 11
    Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » 24 Jumping The Shark Pinged With:
    7:14 pm 

    [...] Before diving into his recap of last night’s episode, Rick Moran says what many 24 fans are thinking: I may be the last person who comments regularly on the show who has faced up to the fact that 24 has hopelessly jumped the shark. The plot has collapsed into a heap of unfinished threads, an endless exposition of plot lines to nowhere. Do you care one whit if Milo gets Nadia alone for 15 minutes? Is there no further use for Jack’s father in this set up – a very promising storyline that has dropped off the scope with nary a word on his fate? I’m even beginning to yawn at the by-play between Chloe and Morris – a sure sign of something having gone out of the show. [...]

  12. 12
    The LLama Butchers Trackbacked With:
    7:43 am 

    Heresy!…

    Rick Moran on the gaping, wheezing, suckage that is 24 at this point…….

  13. 13
    leila butler Said:
    10:53 am 

    It’s just a TV show and how many books, movies, etc. do we suspend belief on and manage to just go with the flow and enjoy the ride? I think the #1 rated show is still CSI Las Vegas. And yet I look forward much more to 24. Something like American Idol would make me retch. I often hear HBO praised to high heaven, but Rome did not float my boat. The Sopranos sparkles, but is nearing the end. Others laud Battlestar Gallactica. I found it sucky. I guess I might my number one pick The Shield right now. And of course if you look around you’ll see people praising Rosie O’Donnell as a seeress and a fountain of great knowledge and virtue. Even Keith Olbermann has his fans.
    In any case, it looks like Kiefer will be around on 24 for quite some time. I doubt I’d bother watching if Ricky Schroeder took over the reins. I know Bauer’s daughter is not much of an actress, but don’t understand the criticism heaped on Audrey. I’d like to see more of Jack’s dad and some resolution there. Would even be great to see William Devane again.
    I, too, never bought the second Palmer presidency and loathe his lawyer sister and that irritating blonde national security advisor. ..so concerned with rights of everyone but Americans. Screw European sensibilities and the UN.

  14. 14
    Arthur Said:
    3:41 pm 

    First off, the show wasn’t as bad as you made it out to be. You probably were in bad mood.
    But there were sure a lot of howlers. My favorite was at the press conference. Less than 18 hours after a US city gets nuked the SECOND question was “what about all those detainees?”

  15. 15
    walt Said:
    5:56 pm 

    “I’ll get back to you.”

    I thought this was the perfect response from Chloe and almost fell off the couch laughing. Your responders above have not improved on it.

  16. 16
    laurie Said:
    1:37 pm 

    It would’ve been better if she had said nothing at all and just given him the usual scowl or something along the lines of “you should go back to selling shoes, Morris, we’d all be better off”

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