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24: Season 7 - 12pm to 1pm (Review)

24, Day Seven

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 Season 7 episode of 24 entitled 12pm – 1pm (as aired on Sky1 on Monday, January 26, 2009).

What’s the story? Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) and Tony (Carlos Bernard) use creative means to force Matobo out of his safe room and prepare to leave with their captor when Agent Walker (Annie Wersching) arrives on the scene, prompting Emerson (Peter Wingfield) to make some quick decisions. Henry (Colm Feore), meanwhile, receives new information about the death of his son when he follows a lead from Samantha Roth.

Was it any good? Hell yes! And we thought Jack Bauer had it bad… try being FBI agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching)! Having allowed Jack to escape from custody with Tony Almeida a few hours earlier, and then tortured a leading suspect to attempt to relocate them, Walker endured a torrid 60 minutes between 12pm and 1pm.

Firs off, she was captured by the terrorist group she was trying to expose. Then she was bundled into the back of a van, shot in the neck by Jack and – as the credits began to roll – buried alive by Jack and Tony.

It’s testament to the enduring power of 24 that its writers can still find new ways to shock simply by recycling previous scenarios. Jack has been told to kill colleagues before – most notably in the first season, when asked to shoot Nina Myers, and then during season 3, when he executed Ryan Chappelle (Paul Schulze).

It’s with this knowledge that the fate of Renee Walker remains so uncertain. Jack did his best… escorting her – as requested – to a ditch and then shooting her in the neck to maintain his cover. But having done the deed and rolled her into the ditch, Emerson then “made sure” by asking Jack and Tony to bury her body. The last, claustrophobic shot of the episode featured the last shovel full of dirt landing on Walker’s face… Will she escape? Who knows at this point!

It was a haunting end to another great episode. But that wasn’t all. The President’s husband, Henry Taylor (Colm Feore), also faced his own dire predicament having been drugged by Agent Brian Gedge (Warren Cole) and facing near-certain death.

Gedge, it transpired, WAS complicit in the murder of the Walkers’ son and Henry was about to stumble across the information that would inciminate him. Hence, Henry’s fate also hangs in the balance… as does that of his informant, Samantha Ross. Will either survive? Again, who knows…

Whereas in most shows, the future of two such vital characters (Walker and Taylor) would all but be assured, 24 has a habit of discarding anyone (except Jack) at any time. So, it was little wonder that the sense of anticipation surrounding next week’s episode is so great. We really don’t know what’s going to happen next!

Prior to this grim but great ending, it was all about extracting Matobo from his safe room and raising the stakes for President Taylor and her decision over whether to withdraw US troops from an impending African invasion.

As ever, the writing was first-rate – neatly balancing the complexity of each decision with the need to inject plenty of action.

At the centre of it all, Jack Bauer remains one of the most fascinating characters on TV. More conflicted than ever before, and operating in the dark as he puts his faith in former colleagues, he’s also more volatile and unpredictable than ever before.

Sutherland channelled the silent inner turmoil of his character superbly when being quizzed by Walker… and his look of frustration at being asked to bury her body was heartbreaking. It speaks volumes for Sutherland’s command of the character that he can express so much without words.

Strong, too, is Wersching’s FBI agent Walker, a tough female foil for Bauer, who seems to be growing in stature with each episode – so long as she can survive the fallout from her latest hour!

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