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24: Season 6: 8am - 10am (Review)

Curtis Manning, CTU agent, 24: Season 6

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from our favourite television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the second 2-hour episode of 24 in season six. (Please note: spoilers are contained within).

What’s the story? Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) rushes to prevent a devastating nuclear strike on the city of Los Angeles by Islamic terrorists. During the ensuing two hours, he must deal with his own personal angst, a volatile follow agent and a major moral conundrum…

Why so good? Given its proximity to real events, 24 continues to push some pretty emotive buttons in every viewer, juggling some intense ethical dilemmas with exciting action set pieces. Season 6 (or day 6) may have lacked the jaw-dropping opening that made season 5 so highly regarded, but it continues to pose some difficult questions while ensuring that viewers nerves are as strained as ever.

Digging a little deeper: The final 10 minutes of this latest double bill provided 24 fans with a double whammy of thrilling complexity. Jack Bauer was forced to take desperate action to prevent a terrorist-turned-ally from being killed, while a suitcase nuclear bomb was successfully detonated.

The build up to these seminal moments found Jack working with new ally Assad (Alexander Siddig) to find the location of the extremist Abu Fayed (Adoni Maropis), during which he was forced to enlist the help of CTU Agent Curtis Manning for back-up in a sting operation. Manning clearly held a grudge against Assad, who had previously been the terrorist mastermind behind countless atrocities. But his decision to defect offered CTU with their only possibility of preventing a devastating attack on US soil.

Manning spent much of his time pleading with Jack to do what was right. But once Jack had confessed to having lost sight of that, and the President has granted an apology, Manning snapped and attempted to take Assad’s life in revenge for the loss of his men while a member of the Special Forces. Jack intervened, however, and was forced to shoot and kill his former colleague. He then broke down in tears and declared his intention to quit to CTU, only to be confronted – moments later – with the horrific image of a mushroom cloud emerging on the LA skyline.

The unthinkable had happened. Terrorists had successfully detonated a nuclear bomb on American soil and viewers were left to contemplate, open-mouthed, the fallout and the realisation that there were five more bombs awaiting detonation.

Just four hours in and 24 once again had us in a vice-like grip. Viewers used to seeing Jack Bauer save the day in the nick of time were now faced with new territory. How will America cope in the aftermath of the bombing? And what of Jack himself?

Clearly a shadow of his former self following his experiences in China, Jack is struggling to keep it together and wants nothing more than to turn his back on terrorism.

Both the bomb detonation itself and the fractured state of Jack’s mind open up plenty of mouthwatering possibilities for the ensuing 20 episodes.

And that’s not forgetting the talking points that have come before. The central debate, in particular, was a corker made all the more frightening by their relation to reality. Should terrorists ever be forgiven for past deeds? Was Jack right to shoot and kill Manning, or could he have acted differently? Who are the real villains in the war against terror? Is a bullish politician who seeks to take away civil rights any better than an extremist who would strap a bomb to himself in order to kill hundreds, if not thousands.

The fine line that exists between right and wrong is something that 24 continues to tread so effectively. It’s exciting, challenging viewing that just keeps finding new ways to surprise and impress. If elements of season 6, such as the suburban family who played a key role in the detonation of the bomb, tend to get in the way of proceedings, it can still be forgiven for keeping us all so utterly enthralled.

There’s obviously plenty more to come in season 6 – but the omens are good for another cracking season and an even more torrid time for its central character. We can’t wait for that clock to continue ticking…

Tell us what you think…

  1. Jack had to shoot Manning. He had no choice. But then the writers didn’t really give him one, did they?

    James    Feb 7    #
  2. Manning’s death was unnecessary in my view. Jack didn’t have to shoot him and things could have worked out. The central conceit was interesting and, up to that point, well debated. But the writer’s seemed to cop out by ending the debate with a bullet and thus preventing a really interesting moral argument from developing. It’s evidence that, so far, this season seems to be struggling.

    Liam    Feb 7    #