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24: Season 7 - 10am - 12pm (Review)

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in 24

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from current television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the two-part Season 7 double episode of 24 entitled 10am – 12pm (as aired on Sky1 on Monday, January 19, 2009).

What’s the story? (10am-11am) With Tony (Carlos Bernard) in custody, Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) leads his interrogation, but is shocked when a code word Tony whispers in his ear leads to old friends and a plot much deeper than anyone in the FBI anticipated. Jack once again takes the law into his own hands when he breaks Tony out of the FBI’s custody to deliver him back to the terrorist faction.

(11am-12pm) Buchanan (James Morrison) takes Jack to “CTU”, a secret hideout where he and Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) had been working with Tony to uncover the conspiracy within the US government. Jack agrees to help get Tony back in play by joining Emerson’s crew himself. President Taylor (Cherry Jones) is forced to meet with Matobo to inform him that she may be required to withdraw her forces from Sangala to protect American lives. Her Chief of Staff, Ethan Kanin (Bob Gunton), agrees with this decision, but Taylor is not yet convinced. Henry (Colm Feore) meets with Samantha, Roger’s former girlfriend, who tells him that Roger was indeed murdered and provides him with proof.

Was it any good? Day seven continues to shape up well… and the emphasis seems to be on trust more than ever. The tension remained nicely intact, the stakes were as high as ever, and the action set pieces worthy of a place in any big budget movie.

Turning to the latter issue first, Jack’s brilliant rescue of former colleague Tony provided one of the finest examples of 24‘s ability to deliver first-rate set pieces. It was tense, exciting, meticulously plotted and suitably explosive (with even a passing nod to the hard-hitting intensity of the Bourne films).

Initially, it was about breaking Tony out of a secure room – done by Jack overpowering former female sympathiser, FBI agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching), and then threatening her superior, Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling), with violence. All standard operating procedure for Jack…

Then came something altogether more tricky… breaking out of FBI HQ. Using surveillance help from former CTU ally Chloe, Jack used her to get part of the way before the FBI realised they’d been hacked into and attempted to block the camera streams from being used as an escape tool. As Chloe attempted to stay one step ahead of the game, Jack and Tony negotiated their way past security guards – and the cat-and-mouse games that ensued were well-orchestrated.

Once they got to the car park, however, the inevitable fire fight ensued… with Jack eventually having to resort to a Jason Bourne-style escape plan (from Ultimatum) by crashing a car through a brick wall. Somewhat glibly, Jack joked to himself: “This is going to hurt!” And then did so.

It was good, too, to see a finely coiffed Bill Buchanan in the field to complete the rescue.

If the first of the latest couple of hours concentrated on Jack and Tony’s escape, the period from 11am to 12pm was when the issue of trust really came to the fore – and it’s where the brilliance of 24‘s writing team came into play.

Who can be trusted in this seventh season? Past shenanigans have taught us that even the closest ally can be a future enemy, while a mostly new cast prevents us from getting an easy handle on anyone’s true motivations at this point.

We all knew Tony, for instance, couldn’t have been THAT bad (he didn’t crash the planes, after all). But just how far is Bill Buchanan prepared to go in exposing the latest government conspiracy? Having got Jack on board, he seemed prepared to sacrifice him almost immediately afterwards.

And speaking of Jack… has he managed to convince new Brit baddie Emerson (Peter Wingfield) of his worth?

At the FBI, can systems analysts Sean Hillinger (Rhys Coiro) or Janis Gold (Janeane Garofalo) really be trusted? Hillinger, in particular, seems shady – which probably means he’ll turn into one of Jack’s greatest allies! His subterfuge to secure the safety of his wife (stranded on a plane) may be more than it seems.

Similarly, who is the leak? Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) appears to be a safe bet – but her ruthless determination and ability to resort to torture could showcase a darker side, if pushed. And what of the FBI boss, Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling) – at this point he could go either way – although his relationship with Renee would leave her well-placed to gleen information she may not otherwise be privy to if she was the spy. Remember, as far back as Season 1, 24 has found enemies in the most unlikely of places (Nina Myers, anyone?)…

At the White House, meanwhile, it’s anyone’s guess who’s good and who’s bad – who is part of the conspiracy and who isn’t. President Taylor (Cherry Jones) appears to be a world leader in the thoughtful but firm President Palmer mode, but her husband could be a weak link.

And can Henry (Colm Feore) really trust his current bodyguard, Agent Brian Gedge (Warren Cole)? Or will Gedge turn into a loyal aide, just like Aaron Pierce (Glenn Morshower).

Presidential aide Ethan Kanin (Bob Gunton) is playing things extremely poker-faced, too – although don’t bet against him being a key component in the conspiracy that’s unfolding… or other players yet to be introduced.

All in all, then, Day 7 (at four hours old) is throwing up some interesting questions. It’s gripping, exciting and reminiscent (so far) of the show at its very best. Can the suspense and momentum be maintained?

What do you think?