24 Season 6: 1pm - 2pm (Morris tortured) (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from our favourite television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the latest exploits of Jack Bauer in Season six of 24 between the hours of 1pm and 2pm.
What’s the story? Having successfully detonated one nuclear weapon in Los Angeles, terrorist leader Fayed (Adoni Maropis) must “persuade” CTU operative Morris O’Brien (Carlo Rota) to build a trigger for the remaining four. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), meanwhile, is racing to find him…
Why so controversial? When this particular episode was shown in America, it prompted something of a backlash regarding the use of torture in the series as a whole. See story
As ever, though, the episode kept us gripped as Jack battled to find and save Morris, while in Washington a plot to undermine President Palmer’s presidency gained momentum.
Digging a little deeper: Is there too much torture in 24? It’s a valid question and one that’s ultimately prompted America’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider a report to Congress asking whether it can regulate TV violence in the same way that it regulates indecency if lawmakers permit.
Season 6 had already featured several scenes of torture involving Jack Bauer and his brother prior to the 1pm to 2pm which really blew the lid off the controversy.
One scene in particular left many UK and US viewers wincing – namely when terrorist leader Fayed (Adoni Maropis) took a power drill to CTU operative Morris O’Brien (Carlo Rota) in a desperate bid to build a trigger for the remaining four.
Having already been beaten with baseball bats and “drowned” in a bathtub full of water, Fayed resorted to extreme measures aware that CTU were closing in on his location.
It worked. O’Brien cracked and built the trigger, enabling Fayed to escape within seconds of CTU’s arrival. With the nukes armed, it’s now left to Bauer and co to work against the clock to prevent further detonations on US soil.
Given the heightened playing field upon which 24 operates, it’s little wonder that the series writers are having to resort to such extreme tactics to propel the story forward.
Hence, in depicting extremists, should viewers not expect to have to witness acts of extremism?
Yet, as Mel Gibson will probably testify, depicting such acts on-screen gives rise to the suspicion that the programme makers are becoming addicted to sadism.
And then there’s also the justified fear that putting such images on-screen could well give people ideas…
24 is a show that’s consistently been known for its ability to push boundaries. It’s real-time format was groundbreaking six years ago, while its continued ability to dispense with key characters lends each episode an element of uncertainty.
The questions it poses – about the war against terror, both from the ground and in the corridors of power – are also worth considering for anyone who has their eye on the current political climate.
But is the sustained depiction of torture one step too far? Perhaps… Or is it merely exposing a raw nerve in the collective American psychology? The world knows that torture is used by both sides in the war against terror – but acknowledging it is a little more difficult.
Perhaps 24 is merely exposing some uncomfortable home truths a little too brutally.
As for the episode itself, 1pm – 2pm probably rates as one of the weaker episodes of the series so far.
The tension remained intact but the payoffs weren’t as impressive, particularly as Morris’s story arc didn’t ring true.
Why, for instance, did Morris crack knowing that CTU were minutes, if not seconds away from saving him? Surely, having seen Fayed kill another informant once she had outlived her usefulness, he would have known he was bound for the same fate…
Of course, Jack did get there in time to save Morris but not to prevent the remaining nuclear weapons from being armed. It seemed like a flimsy device to propel the situation forward, while simultaneously casting the torture sequence in a very bad light.
Depicting torture for realisms’ sake is one thing; but when it merely exposes weak logic (or writing), it tends to give fuel to those calling for 24‘s blood.
What do you think?
- Order 24 Season 5 DVD box set
- 24 - Season 6: Was Morris torture necessary?
- 24 - Season 6: America angered by torture scenes
- 24 - Season 6: Did Jack have a choice?
- 24 - Season 6: First 2 hours reviewed
- 24: Season 5 reviewed (with spoilers)
- Sutherland signs on for another three seasons of 24
- Read our review of the explosive Season 4
- Buy 24: Seasons 1-5 on DVD