30 January, 2007

Semantics & Rhetoric or, a 'slow' hour in 24

So not much has happened in the past two weeks of 24, right? Well, sort of. Not much has happened action-wise. We're in the 'coffee break' period of the show, just before noon when the day is lagging for anyone who got up at 6am. Or, you know, stepped off of a Chinese prison plane at 6am.

There has been a lot of plot development though, lots of talking and facts flying around. As a recovering Communication major, I spent four years of college in classes such as 'Interpersonal Communication,' 'Persuasion' and 'Communication and Rhetorical Theory.' I suppose I gained an appreciation of how people communicate in some way, so I gravitate toward that sort of thing when watching television.

Since there wasn't much going on in the way of killing, interrogation or things exploding, these past two hours of 24 were rife with just the sorts of things I spent college studying. Here is a discussion in a rather lucid format of some observations from hour 6 (11:00 AM - Noon), focusing mostly on what was said rather than what was done.

I'd like to touch on Nadia for a moment.

I speculated at the beginning of the season that she was a mole, or at least not trustworthy. I don't really feel as such anymore; only partly, but more on that later. This is based on a few things.

Her first appearance in hour six finds her griping to Bill Buchanan in confidence about the new security measures. We've seen this sort of thing happen before from pretty much every other CTU mole (Nina Myers/Jamey Farrell, anyone?) When Milo and Morris question her as to why her production is down, she's unwilling to disclose to them the reason why. She doesn't take either of them aside and try to convince them to log her on to the CTU servers. She keeps things to herself and tries as best she can to do her job; she's probably trustworthy.

That said, there's something else going on here. The CTU office has been suspiciously slow, focusing on Chloe getting publicly groped and the Milo/Morris throwdown instead of the normal goings on. Milo logs her in with his own name, setting up some interesting possibilities: Maybe Milo and Nadia are working together to subvert the efforts of CTU. Maybe Nadia is just very clever and earned Milo's trust, knowing (hoping) that he would log her in. Maybe Milo is somehow 'dirty' and will use a backdoor route through her system to go about his ways, knowing that it could be traced back to her computer. Then he could admit he logged her in and receive a slap on the wrist, and she's be in trouble (until Jack wrecks Milo, that is.)

Also, as Milo says, "She's a registered Republican." Maybe this is just a ploy by the writers to try and discredit the idea that 24 is a show that endorses the polarization of ideas when it comes to Muslims. By creating a character who is both Muslim, a Republican AND a good guy, they may be attempting to blur the lines. When Bill says to Nadia 'we'll take care of it when this is all over,' that means it will most certainly become an issue at some point within the next oh, 4 hours.

I am disappointed in a few things that came out in this past show, however. There were a lot of sections of dialogue that I found less than believable, or that were marred by poor acting.

First, there is no way that Wayne Palmer is a convincing President. He has a voice more suited to narrating bedtime tapes than he is to giving an impromptu State of the Union address. There will be a play by the Vice President for control of the government at some point soon, mark it down.

Despite a nicely crafted story from Graem Bauer, and a good cover up for his recent terrorist efforts, I balk at Jack's intuitive interrogation of him. It seems like He's using his Jump to Conclusions mat a little too effectively; I think that for the sake of Graem's wife and because of any shred of a sense of family that Jack may have left, any other person would have given Graem the benefit of the doubt for a little longer than he did. I mean, look at what happened to Paul Raines when HIS name showed up on a watch list. It so happens that he's correct in assuming that Graem is a terrorist, but still. I'm not buying it (entirely.)

The whole storyline with Sandra Palmer, Walid Al-Rezani and the Irish FBI agent who was in Oz is ridiculous. Every time she's on screen I get more and more pissed off. Why hasn't the Irish dude punched her yet? Who knows. Walid is not a convincing terrorist by any means, evidenced by his rather flat "no, I did not take it" refusal when asked about the phone. I don't feel any sympathy for him when he gets kicked. He comes out of it alright, a little bruised but alright. That's what he gets for putting it to that overzealous but well-intentioned co-worker. And for being completely unconvincing in the role, even when he's playing a role within a role in the detention center.

The removal of Karen Hayes wasn't that convincing either. I think it's a very thinly veiled attempt at getting us, the viewers, to thin she's out of the picture. It's too early in the season for that to be so; too early in the season for any twist to be permanent. I don't think she's out by any means; she wasn't maimed, didn't get kidnapped or shot or anything, and that look she gave Wayne during her resignation (the only decent acting from Palmer) says "I will return, and I will own Thomas Lennox more than he's ever been owned."

SO, despite all that, I loved the twist at the end. As a sidenote, what does Jack's mother look like? Graham and Jack sure didn't get their looks (or their bad-ass-itude) from Phillip, that's for sure.

Of COURSE it was Graham all along (or so we assume at this point.) That said, does anyone really think Jack's going to be 'handled' by two priggish looking guys in suits and the powerful but dorky Graham for more than a few minutes? The only reason they'll keep him for as long as they do is because he is waiting for vital information to be spilt for a a new lead.

The Two teasers and one actual ending in the past three episodes have ended with Graham in a chair being interrogated by Jack "it puts the lotion on its skin" Bauer. I'm liking this trend. Jack's got the older sibling syndrome,' wherein he seems torture his younger brother for the fun of it. Then again, Graham has the 'younger brother syndrome,' using words ("Your dead wife") to antagonize Jack.

Can't wait until next week.

Random notes:

- Single shot musket compared to nuclear bomb. Foreshadowing for a potential Bauer weapon? Here's hoping?

- Karen says that Tom is wearing her down. The only one wearing down Karen Hayes is Bill Buchanan. Zing! Wait, eww.

- This work you're 'doing for me' doesn't go unnoticed, says Tom. Hmmmm. He's such a bastard, doing all sorts of background work on Bill Buchanan. Something about this screams "Wayne Palmer is in on Lennox and is working with Karen." You know, or not.

- If this show is in real time, that bag was on Greg's head for over a full minute. He'd be dead. As in not gushing information about Phillip Bauer like a veritable family fountain.

- Smoldering look between Jack and Mrs. Greg Bauer. She wants his business. Audrey's going to cut her. I bet MGB knows something and gives Jack a critical bit of information later in the show. Seems like she's still loyal / very sexually attracted to Jack.

- Still no traffic in LA. WTF.


Blogger The Jack Sack said...

Excellent points, Lou.

Overall I think that Hour 6 did a lot to lay the groundwork for some interesting developments later in the season. A lot of people gripe when too much happens in an episode but here we have all this plot development taking place and people seem disappointed. The Bauer kill count has been extremely low thus far but the preview for next week promises a lot of chaos. That's the payoff people! MGB could be a huge x-factor... and a hot one too.

1:51 AM, January 30, 2007  
Blogger Drew said...

I wouldn't be surprised if Jack's dad ate it in the next few episodes. James Cromwell is listed as a "special guest" in the opening credits.

2:02 PM, January 30, 2007  
Blogger James said...


3:03 PM, January 30, 2007  

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