Thursday, 3 July 2014

24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY, episode 10 – '8:00PM – 9:00PM'

Thursday, 3 July 2014

written by Adam DaSilva (story by Robert Cochran, Manny Coto & Evan Katz) | directed by Milan Cheylov

Whenever 24 resolves its main threat earlier than expected, you usually end up with an entertaining but meandering batch of tail-end episodes before the finale. Does anyone remember what happened after that nuke was safely detonated in a desert mid-season 2? You just tend to lose interest when the driving force of the narrative vanishes, but keep watching because of momentum and, at best, to see how a few dangling plot-threads are tied up. Colour me impressed with 24LAD, then, which brought the hijacked drones situation to a close with Margot's last week, but appears to have evolved into an equally compelling threat that's tightening other sub-plots...

I liked how episode 10 put Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) on the wrong side of the law (for awhile), working with Adrian Cross (Michael Wincott) to grab the override device, so they can leak its inner workings to the world and nullify the modern world's reliance on technological warfare. It was also a good idea to maintain Adrian's perspective on society, because he wasn't hiding a megalomaniac alter-ego but genuinely thinks he's doing a good thing. And, for awhile, you half-believed Chloe had been brainwashed enough to buy into Adrian's bold, world-changing plan.
Jack: Just so we're clear, that wasn't me asking. I was being courteous.
Jack's (Kiefer Sutherland) eventual capture of rogue Agent Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) also delivered some juicy scenes for Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski), whose world was torn apart after realising her husband killed himself not because he was a traitor, but because she eventually came to believe he was (thanks to the expert frame-job Navarro did on poor Mr Morgan).

I do like Strahovski as an actress, but her performance here didn't pack the emotional clout I was expecting it to. Discovering Navarro's secret was a huge deal for Kate, whose back-story hinges on this tragedy with her dead husband, and it could have been sold better. Still, to compensate we had some tense scenes with a Jack/Navarro interrogation sequence, plus the fun ruse to make Navarro give up the code to a tracking device he'd installed on the override before smuggling it to Cross. Where would 24 be without tracking devices and homing beacons for techies to triangulate, huh?

Also, for fans of 24, there was the unexpected return of a recurring villain in the form of ruthless Chinese traitor Cheng Zhi (Tzi Ma)—whom we learned bankrolled the override's creation by Yates, and now wants its 'factory settings' restored so he can issue a fake order for a US nuclear sub to destroy a Chinese aircraft carrier. Which actually happened at the end of this episode! 24 appears to have taken a step towards World War Three, so it'll be interesting to see the repercussions of America's act of aggression next week. Can President Heller (William Devane) assure the Chinese they were the victims of an elaborate, cutting-edge hack?
Chloe: If it was easy you wouldn't have me doing it.
And I haven't even mentioned the Russians being given a code to track Jack's whereabouts by Boudreau (Tate Donovan), in an effort to get them off his back and to keep his forgery of the President's signature a secret. Yes, more narrative shortcuts with a tracker! They're almost as crucial to 24 as mobile phones. The situation with the Russians has been simmering for almost the entire season, and now Jack's mission has collided with the Russians at the most inopportune moment possible now he's leading the search for the override at Heller's request.

Overall, this was a surprisingly strong and bold episode, coming late in the season. It has refused to let the pace go slack after last week's finale-like hour. The writers clearly have a good idea where 24LAD is heading in its final stretch, to avoid the story suddenly turning hesitant and stupid. This is where 24LAD only having to fill 50% of a standard season's quota is going to justify itself more obviously, as there are only two episodes left and I'm not worried about them having no material to fill them.

2 July 2014 | Sky1