Tuesday, July 06, 2004

24 - The Final Season

I think I'm probably the only person I know who's still watching 24 on Monday nights; the sensible thing woould be to check out the episode guide, find out the ending (which has something to do with the world being kept a safe place for democracy) and have done with it. Looking back on the previous 21 episodes (or at least those of them I didn't miss), the whole series has been one big shark steeple chase.

For those who came in really late, or had the good sense to skip it entirely, the series kicked off with the discovery of the corpse of someone who had died from a deadly haemorrhagic virus which had somehow got into the hands of Latin American drug-lord, Hector Salazar. Hector's brother Ramon, a psychopath whose lawyer should really have insisted on hazard pay, was in a Los Angeles prison and Hector wanted him released. Hector more or less got what he wanted, thanks to CTU agent Jack Bauer who, in pursuit of his sworn duty to keep the US safe from the threat of all forms of terrorism, engineers a prison riot to cover his escape with Ramon (this happens at around 4:56 pm).

Over the next couple of hours, Jack flees Los Angeles with Ramon, arrives in central America where he appears to be working with Hector and Ramon to obtain the virus that they used in their attempt to blackmail the US Government to obtain the release of Ramon. I can't remember the rationale, but a lot of money was involved; I think the idea was to buy up the entire world supply of the thing, then sell it on to someone else at a profit. If that makes any sense at all to you, I can put you in touch with someone who owns the exclusive world commercial rights to the bubonic plague.

Later that night (or perhaps some time in the wee small hours of the morning) we learn that, contrary to appearances, Jack hasn't decided to take early retirement from the bureaucratic drudgery of defending whatever it is he defends, in fact the whole engineer a prison riot, get a few guards killed, run away in a hijacked helicopter business was an elaborate sting operation, which was intended to get the virus out of the hands of the terrorists (who can't be trusted) and into the hands of the Counter-Terrorist Unit (who can be trusted, but only by definition).

By the next morning the sting operation has gone completely wrong, the virus is back in the hands of another terrorist, who enhances and weaponises it, releases it into the air-conditioning of a Los Angeles hotel and sends the US President a special cell-phone so that he can make his demands without his calls being traced; presumably he was able to pick up what's left of the Iridium satellite telophone network at E-Bay, or wherever it is that international terrorists get their stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if were E-Bay; the terrorists on 24 are very web-savvy; they even run to creating their own "hostage-cam" sites when they want to need to do a spot of personal extortion.

I'm not sure if there's going to be a fourth series of 24; if there is, I won't be watching it. Unless they shift the action from Los Angeles to Washington, and the first episode starts out something like this:

Wide Angle view of committee hearing room in congress. Senator John Keeler is centre screen, flanked by several other senators, obviously committe members. The room is crowded with journalists and onlookers. Senator Keeler raps the table with his gavel.

SENATOR KEELER: This hearing is now in session. We will continue with the testimony of CTU agent Jack Bauer. As Agent Bauer is already under oath, I propose to proceed directly to my next set of questions.

Agent Bauer, is it correct that last year you were involved in a CTU sting operation and that during that operation you held prison guards at the Downey federal holding facility and demanded they release all prisoners from their cells?

Cut to: Jack Bauer at the witness table. He takes a sip of water from the standard senate committee tumbler, next to the standard senate committee water jug and mutters something to the woman sitting beside him, who is obviously his lawyer.

JACK: Under legal advice I wish to assert my fifth amendment rights in answer to that question Mr Chairman.

Cut to:

SENATOR KEELER: So far agent Bauer, this committee has put 168 questions to you and you have answered every one by asserting your fifth amendment rights. At any time in your career with CTU did you ever do anything you can tell us about without risking self-incriminination?

Cut to: Jack, in
sotto voce discussion with his lawyer again.

JACK: ...no, it's OK, I can answer this one. On my first day at CTU, I had to go out for the office lunches. They always make the newbies do that (his lawyer interrupts - they mutter some more) ... under legal advice I must assert my fifth amendment rights in relation to any further questions on CTU lunch procurement.

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