24 Season 8 episode 13 review

24 slaps its loyal audience in the face with an unnecessary and insulting twist in the final few seconds of episode 13...

UK readers please note: this episode doesn’t screen for another couple of weeks on Sky1. There are major spoilers ahead if you’ve not seen the show.

24 Season 8 – 4:00-5:00pm

There was a fair bit of action this week on 24, both with and without guns, and even uber-geek Chloe got a chance to shine in an episode that, on the whole, continues to keep the show’s pulse going.

After the EMP strike on CTU last week, it’s no surprise that the major crux of this episode featured the team trying to make the best of a bad situation, and after Jack’s plea to his NSA buddy for help, even the usually dull offices of CTU got a bit of excitement, thanks mainly to Chloe and her rather unique way of getting people to cooperate, but also, shock horror, thanks to Dana, whose plot takes a rather dark (and plain silly) turn, indeed.

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With the NSA showing up like a bunch of bullish, top secret nerds, ready to kick ass and chew bubble gum (only they were all out of gum), it’s not long before geeks clash, and some rudimentary techno babble is strewn around the place, with subnets and trunk lines being mentioned as if to get some technical kudos from the masses. The NSA bods demonstrate a ‘my way or highway’ solution, much to the annoyance of Chloe, who thinks she has a better way of doing things, so she decides to make her point, with a gun.

By tapping into the trunk line (one for the euphemism spotters out there) she claims to be able to get CTU up and running, and so she forcibly evicts the NSA out of the rather small server room and gets to work. Even after security break in, thanks to Hastings giving her some slack, CTU is up and running. Amazing what you can do by shoving some CAT-5 cable into a line that connects a couple of phone exchanges and networks, eh? Although, quite how this is supposed to negate the physical damage done to the local servers by the EMP is unclear, but we’ll let that lie for the sake of entertainment…

Of course, the episode wasn’t all computers and tech support, and we also witnessed what could possibly be the longest, and most drawn out gun fight ever, as Jack and Ortiz find the terrorists and enter a stalemate against some enemy snipers for the majority of the episode, but not before the nukes are placed on a boat and start across the river.

With comms down, Jack spies a hard phone line away from their position and quickly, in an anti-terrorist Blue Peter special, gets his team to fashion some A-Team-style shields out of their banged up SUV. Unfortunately, yet another highly trained officer who supposedly knows how to follow orders doesn’t listen to Jack and promptly breaks formation to end up on the wrong end of a bullet, and Agent Owen, always destined to be a 24 red shirt, bites the dust whilst trying to save his reckless buddy.

During the course of this fire fight, and up until this moment, not even one terrorist is killed, and although Jack has, in previous series, been able to single handily take out whole gangs with a pistol, even with a fully automatic rifle here he fails to kill a single guy, until he wanders into the middle of the crossfire in an attempt to distract the bad guys as Ortiz makes a beeline for the phone.

Jack is promptly hit, and taken down, and just as a sniper is about to score a headshot, Renee shows up, after being called in by Chloe earlier, and kills Jack’s would-be assassin. She then proceeds, with a measly pistol, to do what Jack, Ortiz and two other SWAT guys and automatic weapons couldn’t do, and kills off the snipers. You go, girl!

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Of course, Jack’s not seriously injured, and his bulletproof vest stopped the deadly rounds, and thanks to their efforts, and Chloe’s help, CTU are back on track, with info on the location of the nukes. Phew!

This brings us to Dana. Yep, it’s no secret that her story isn’t winning over fans, and up until now it’s been a little bit ropey, to say the least, but the arrival of Bill Prady injected some life into it, if only a little.

As I suspected last week, Dana does, indeed, reveal, truthfully or not, that the video feed Prady was after was wiped during the EMP blast, and with that, the story was seemingly over. That is, until Hastings gets a message that Prady is waiting to see him, much to the dismay of Dana.

Now, I saw the next bit coming, and as Dana made her way to the holding room where Prady was located, I knew that his days were numbered. However, I thought this would also be a very good move, injecting some much needed drama and urgency into her story, not to mention some interesting personality and character, which Katee Sackhoff has been unable to convey due to the poor writing so far.

True enough, in a move that would make number 47 proud, she takes down Prady with some strangulation wire, and promptly shoves his lifeless body into a wall panel (very convenient). But, just as I was thinking that her story may liven up, we get one of the most ridiculous, cheap and downright clumsy plot twists ever, as she calls the leader of the terrorists, revealing she’s been a mole all the time. Oh come on, guys! That’s just cheating.

What’s worse, the twist just wasn’t needed, or even hinted at in an acceptable way. The main plot was going along well enough, with Tarin’s involvement and the movement of the nukes, and Dana’s story, if it was left at the murder of Prady, could have flowered.

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As it stands, I’m now quite happy to think that President Taylor is, in fact, the ruler of a satanic cult ready and coiled to take control of the government, Hastings is actually Tony Almeida in good make-up and prosthetics and under deep cover, and the nukes are really alien bodies that need to be picked up from Madison Square Garden by the mothership (Will Smith is apparently on standby).

And with that, I was left more than a little irked. Up until the closing seconds, this had been a very promising, if a little stretched episode. Dana’s revelation quickly shot that down, though, and it just reeks of desperation, as the writers struggle to keep viewers guessing, no matter the cost, and even if things come completely out of left field.

Still, things may straighten out, and we’ll have to see where Dana’s involvement leads. That is, if Jack doesn’t turn out to be a robot, from the future…

Read our review of episode 12 here.