Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

24 Day 5 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

In the Previouslies, I am reminded that these terrorists must be Vikings. They burned their boats, er, van, behind them. Blew it up, actually. Not entirely sure why. Perhaps they're just perfectionists, and figure if they're going to blow themselves up, they'll blow up everything they brought, too. Perhaps they believe anything they blow up they'll have in the afterlife, and thought they might need a van to cruise around Paradise.

I am convinced the person in charge of the Graphic Violence warning is on crack. For the first time in a long time, we don't get that warning. But, for the love of Pete, if any episodes needed the warning it was these two episodes. People were executed in cold blood, right on screen. Shot in the head. That does not constitute graphic violence?!? The little "TV-14-V" label is supposed to cover it?

Diane is distraught about her surly son, one kid growin' up in the heartland.

A terrorist is clamping suction cups on a door. Wasn't sure if that was a Junior Spiderman kit and he was trying to scale the doors.

Ah, here's what is going on. This bunch of terrorists is from some "breakaway Russian republic". We're not told which one. They didn't even make up some fake name.

(Like sometimes shows make up fake Latin/South American banana republic names. A Mission Impossible episode was in "Santa Costa". In Die Hard 2 the General is from the fictitious country of Valverde, Proof of Life had Tecala, and so on. They couldn't come up with a Fakeystan?)

What they are doing is a xerox copy of the tragedy at Beslan. There, the terrorists wore explosive vests. These guys have vests. Check. That tragedy involved children, and here we saw a child in distress. Check. There, someone was dragged across the gym floor leaving a bloody streak. Here, someone was dragged across the floor by the feet after being executed. Check. (Though, they didn't leave a bloody streak. Perhaps they realized they forgot to include the graphic violence warning and felt they couldn't go that far.)

The hostages are ordered to toss in their cell phones. Chief Terrorist Guy calls a cop outside. Now just how did he get that cop's cell number?

Two baddies go looking for Dumpy Baggage Guy. They sure didn't look too hard. Obviously didn't go to the back of the room.

Curtis is redirected to the airport. He got redirected a couple times last season, too. He's used to it by now.

Ah, those krazy kaptions. Jack is hiding up in the rafters, giving intel to CTU. He says there are 10-12 terrorists, but the krazy kaptions say "15-20". Just a little bit different.

We find Diane's last name is Huxley. It is a Brave New World when terrorists starting executing our citizens in airports.

Back at CTU, they're widening parameters! Ah, I never tire of hearing about parameters. I kind of wish I had started counting references of that word.

Chloe wants to run a NP-safe adaptive search. Well, duh. Go for the obvious choice. (np-Safe is a commercial product. This is product placement.) At the same time, Chloe is sandpaper-rough Chloe. That's why we love her. Chloe is going to do some data-mining. (Anyone remember that commercial a few years back with the Eurotrash models talking about data-mining?)

We find Chief Terrorist Guy is named Anton Beresch. Meet Beresch, Anton! (Am I the only one who remembers the TV show Meet Susan Anton?)

The bad guys have set up a "localized broadcast". Well, then it ought to be fairly easy to prevent the networks from broadcasting these heinous crimes, which is what they want. But no, can't do that.

Anton gives his speech. He starts out "Citizens of the United States..." He must be trying to emulate terrorist hero Marwan. Last year in his address to the nation from the dance club/grief center, Marwan started out "People of America..."

Conveniently, the terrorists give a deadline of 90 minutes. Just enough time to fit in tonight's episodes.

Hooboy, President RunLoganRun is a tower of strength, isn't he. He barks at Mike "Fix it!" Isn't that what Nixon said to Colson?

Curtis doesn't seem the least bit surprised to talk to Jack. Not even a "Hey, I thought you were dead these last 18 months!"

There are a number of phrases from these two episodes that seemed destined for overuse to the point of eyeball-bleeding. Here's the first. "Adjust the profile". We hear several times about "profiles" and about adjusting them.

We now come to our first slip in the time-space continuum. Going to commercial, the 24 clock and clock clock match, at about the :16 mark. But coming back from commercial, the 24 clock is at :21, and the clock clock is at :19.

The baddies are part of the Dawn Brigade. They're Russkies, of a sort, so they're Red. So, break out the Red Dawn Brigade jokes! ("How did you get shot down, Colonel?" "It was five to one. I got four.")

And, yep, this phrase is going to be worn to a fine sheen. Chloe is told to "data-mine" the call.

Oh, goodness, some poor schmoe is executed on his knees. Graphic. Violence.

And now Derek is put on the execution spot. He was surly and annoying last time, but here, he is vulnerable and scared, and oddly sympathetic.

Curtis is the voice of reason, as he was at times last season.

Coming back from commercial, the clocks are at :28 versus :31.

Martha is a loopy as ever. Evelyn is going to fry for letting the First Lady wander off. What if Martha is found running down the boulevard in her birthday suit singing show tunes?

Jack phones some number at CTU and gets Chloe. Jack is surprised that she's there. What number did he think he was calling?

Jack needs Chloe to do something for him. Just like last season. (There, Jack needed a satellite, and it took Chloe approximately two months to get that satellite in place.) But I'll ask again, just who did Jack think he was going to ask for this under the table help, since he didn't expect to get Chloe?

Ah, it's our old friend Agent Pierce. He goes looking for Martha. Evelyn says she's in "one of her moods" and shut the door. Perhaps Evelyn could've shouted into a pillow and thrown things around the room to try and convince Pierce.

Oh, goodness, Martha goes marching straight into the loo where Burk is doing his business. She uses her feminine wiles and threatens to yell rape. Burk caves, but forget he has the perfect out. Everyone knows Martha is loonier than a Minnesota lake. And she's in the men's room. Who's not going to believe Burk?

After commercial the clocks are at :38 to :42.

We find out Derek is 15 years old. He's trying to maintain.

Jack and Chloe perform magic with the cell phone. Code 6339 is used.

Oh, Ibrim goes BOOM! Buh-bye. Enjoy those 72 crystal raisins.

Anton regroups and orders everyone into Formation B. What is that? The fullback runs a post pattern?

Walt the Mole hears there is a man inside at the airport. You know he'll have to fulfill his mole duties and warn the baddies.

Logan barks "talk faster". Last season, Gregory Itzen was in an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise where he was disintegrated by Evil Archer. I'm beginning to wish someone disintegrates Logan, and soon.

After commercial, clocks are at :48 to :52.

Pierce really really wants to know where Martha. The Secret Service tends to get nervous when First Ladies go missing. Especially ones that are a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

We find that the mysterious white guy in the glowing media center/bad guy lair is named Nathanson. I really hope he doesn't throw open the doors and walk out into CTU, like last season.

One of the terrorists is named "C.T.". That's very preppy for a guy from a breakaway Russian republic, isn't it? And it just begs a "U" at the end.

Curtis has to abort the mission that has taken forever to get going, because Jack is doing the old painful noise in my earpiece routine and can't talk to CTU, and they don't know where the bad guys are. Um, just a suggestion here, but couldn't someone look through the huge plate glass WINDOWS running the length of this airport, and get a visual on the bad guys? (I know my CTU jargon!)

Jack comes out of hiding to save Surly Teenager, and the 24 clock hits 10 AM at the :55 mark.

Coming back, we see previouslies reminding us of what we saw just minutes before.

Audrey clues us in to another phrase that will apparently be beat to death in this season. She says Jack maybe "went dark". We've heard that one several times.

CTU says without Jack the chance of success in the rescue mission goes down to 20%. Now hold the phone! What had they been planning on?! They didn't know Jack was there when they went tearing off to the airport to conduct the rescue mission! Did they plan on botching the mission from the start? Setting expectations low, I guess.

Bill says Curtis should work up a plan that doesn't include Jack. Hmm, perhaps they could use the original plan, the one they had when they didn't know Jack was in there!!!!

Anton says Logan is a very weak man. He's got Logan pegged, that's for sure.

A terrorist is named Vlad. (I wonder if he impales people.)

Walt urges the President to stay the course. What is Walt's game here? The bad guys want the agreement to be put off. Walt is urging them to sign it. Why? Does Walt really want all those hostages killed? You'd think Walt would be urging the President to put off the signing. (And indeed, what would it hurt if they did put off the signing until the crisis is resolved?)

Martha stuffs her bra, but let's be honest here, she really doesn't need to.

Back at CTU, they're going to re-key the grid! Ha! Last year they re-keyed databases. I guess they've expanded the protocol to grids.

Ack! It's Samwise Gamgee! Ah, he must be hiding from Sauron. He's going by the name of Lynn McGill from District. Gotcha. Samwise introduces himself and gives everybody some lembas bread.

(I gotta say though, Sean Astin entered with all the gravitas of Howdy Doody.)

Samwise wants to maintain a more formal mode of address. How about "Your Excellency"? Or, "Your Worship"?

Jack stresses to the point even comatose people will understand that "flank two" is some kind of code phrase.

Curtis is yanked around again and will try to redeploy in 20 minutes.

Two terrorists are named Ivan and Ishmael. (Call me... oh never mind.)

Is Samwise aware of the shortness of time? He wants to review purt'near everything.

I realize English is not the native language for President Suvarov, so he can be forgiven for saying about the signing "If the rescue attempt fails not only will it be rendered meaningless, it will become a mockery". By "it" he meant the signing, but he didn't realize as structured, he was saying the rescue attempt would be meaningless and a mockery.

Walt is an evil man, and you know he will die a horrible death by the time it is all over. Just what is his motivation here anyway? He's willing to be involved with this heinous plot for what? Just money?

We hear the rescue attempt is completely synchronized with the signing. Huh? That's the first time we heard that. They were just about to do the mission before, without any concern for the signing. Don't the writers go back and read what they wrote a few pages back?

We're all of 1.5 minutes ahead of schedule. So we go from almost conducting the mission long ago, to now shaving things to within 90 seconds.

Samwise invites Bill up for a chat. He tells Bill to sit, and then offers him some lembas bread.

Now, how come Samwise figures out that "flank two" is an old code phrase, and nobody at CTU realizes it. Jack was in CTU only 18 months ago. Why would that be changed, and why wouldn't CTU still recall that? With all the re-keying going on, perhaps someone just missed it. Heck, Curtis was in CTU 18 months ago, wouldn't he know what that phrase was?

Another terrorist is named Akhmed.

Anton hands something to some suit in the huddled masses of hostages. What was that all about?

And Curtis gets redeployed yet again! Yikes, Agent Baker from Season 3 must be thanking his lucky stars he was only yanked around and redeployed once. This is, what, the third time for Curtis?

Oh, there's dissension in the bad guy ranks.

Ah, finally, the rescue mission begins with all the bad guys facing one direction. Obviously not well-trained military types, who would know to at least watch other directions. The mission starts with two CTU agents doing a pratfall over a cabinet.

Hooray. Bad guys dispatched, hostages saved. Jack hugs Derek.

Ah, the suit has disappeared, and he has some kind of key card that Dumpy Baggage Guy was supposed to have.

Holy Cats, what is this hole in the ground? In this fairly short amount of time some bad guys were back here chopping a hole in the thick concrete floor? What's down there? Did they find a Star Gate?! A black monolith?!

The krazy kaptions refer to the suit as "Yellow Tie". Must be Native American.

They open up this case, and inside are a bunch of cylinders. Oh, I sure hope they aren't nuclear bombs. We've done that to death on this show.

Ah, I see a biohazard symbol. (The previews for next week give away the contents of the cylinders.)

Now, after the rescue mission, didn't CTU do a very thorough sweep of the entire airport to make sure there weren't terrorists hiding off somewhere else? Wouldn't they have found this huge hole in the floor?

And why are these dangerous cylinders at some podunk airport in LA? And not on a military base?

We wrap up with Walt KO'ing Martha with the old ether in a handkerchief trick. Must have had some handy. Perhaps in the medicine cabinet in the men's room.

Or, again, maybe they learned the lessons from terrorist hero Marwan, who was prepared for absolutely everything. (Like having the tunnel under the dance club/grief center ready to blow even though they didn't know they had been found.)

Next we settle down to one hour episodes. Good. My fingers are worn to nubs.

And now, after faking his own death, here is guest critic Frank Flynn. I mean, Paul Foth. He made a mistake and even staged his own funeral, and got locked in a mausoleam, and it's taken him 18 months to chisel his way out with someone else's femur. He comments on the first four hours.

Before I get to the actual premier, I'll mention that I saw Kiefer on the Charlie Rose show Friday night. A couple of interesting things: he said that they were going back to balancing intrigue with action, something that had been slipping away since the first season. While the action will be important this season, apparently there's going to be a fair amount going on underneath all the explosions and yelling. We'll see.

He also said they'd already shot fourteen episodes. Maybe there'll be a better sense of an overall story operating this time around because of it. Maybe we won't have the chief bad guy escaping again and again and again like we did with Marwan last year. Maybe.

After Kiefer said they had the first fourteen episodes shot, Charlie asked, "How many episodes are there in a season?" I'll let that sink in for a moment. Apparently, Charlie hasn't quite figured out what the rationale for the entire show is yet.

So, onto the premier.


Why was it not a surprise to see David and Michelle get killed? First of all, because the commercials leading up to the premier screamed at us over and over that we weren't going to believe the first ten minutes, that the opening of the season would completely blow us away, blah blah blah. Of course that means at least one character we've come to know is going to die. Second of all, because Dennis Haysbert and Reiko Aylesworth were introduced in the credits as making "special guest appearances." Yes, seeing Michelle in a spaghetti strap top and heels was pretty special, but having her and David die would've been much more shocking had we not been told ahead of time it was going to happen.

(Another reason it was obvious David wasn't going to stick around is that Haysbert is working on a new series called "The Unit." No, it's not The Randy Johnson Story, but a tale about, according to, "American super-secret operators." If Haysbert's character, Jonas Blane, is anything like David Palmer, we're doomed. But, this show was created by David Mamet, so it's got potential right away.)

Didja notice that before Michelle met her doom, she said to Tony that they were the only ones still around who were at CTU when the original attempts on David's life were made? Really?! There's nobody else? Has everyone else been killed (a distinct possibility, I guess, given how well those crack CTU security teams perform) or left strict orders never to be called by CTU, ever again, even if the fate of the world depends on it? Talk about turnover.

I wouldn't be surprised if Tony buys the farm too, but not before regaining consciousness (or maybe I should say, being forced to regain consciousness) to give Jack some vital piece of information. Then again, this is Tony, the guy who got shot in the neck and was chasing bad guys just a few hours later. Give him a Band Aid and a couple Advil; he'll be fine.

Are we going to see the Palmer kids this season? They were both in the first season, and Keith showed up briefly at the beginning of the second season. How are they going to cope with both of their parents being shot to death? Worse yet, how are they going to cope with being raised by Uncle Wayne?! Perhaps they'll simply join Beiruts on the Island of Forgotten Characters.

Once again, President Shakes proves himself to be nothing but a smarmy milquetoast. We can give him a bit of slack for going a bit nuts last season, considering the circumstances under which he came to office, but it's now a year and a half since then and he still caves in at the smallest hint of danger, worrying more about his image than about the country. How many times during these first four hours did he talk about how the treaty with Russia was going to be the hallmark of his Presidency? The writers have done a good job instilling fear that sooner or later he's going to go completely round the bend, but where they fail is in making him President in the first place. Say what you like about Presidents past and present, but they don't freak out like Shakes, nor do they pick VPs who do.

That's a common theme with a lot of elements of the show: What's on the surface is often very exciting, emotional, visceral, et cetera, but it rarely stands up to even the most cursory probing. Martha (or is her name Cassandra?) constantly being thwarted in her attempts to get someone to believe her has made for some excellent drama, and Jean Smart is absolutely sinking her teeth into the role, but much of this thread hinges on Walt the Mole's activities. Will we ever learn how he managed to get himself that close to the President? Not likely.

And the bad guy who's heading up Bad Guy Central's operations (although dollars to doughnuts he's not the absolute head, we're too early in the season for that) is once again someone who's got a bankroll that seems to be a sizeable fraction of our national debt. Where did he (or his boss(es)) get the money? Hush. We're not supposed to ask such things.

The producers have finally acknowledged that the show is technofantasy by hiring Sean Astin to play Samwise McGill--er, Lynn Gamgee--um, a guy who really looks like he's in over his head. I think at some point he's going to get his insistance at calling Bill "Mr. Buchanan" mixed up with everyone else using first names, and with his calling Frodo "Mr. Frodo," and we're going to get (you can see it coming now, can't you?) Mr. Bill. Look for Bill Buchanan to be torn apart in some comically grisly way. Noooooo!

All in all, I think this was a decent beginning to the season, but so far I can't see much of the intrigue Kiefer was so keen on on the Charlie Rose show. He did imply, though, that there's going to be some kind of "the enemy is us" foundation to it all so, again, we'll see.

Number of times Jack says "Now!": 3
Number of times Jack says "No!": 5
Number of times a "protocol" is mentioned: 12
Number of times someone says a variation of "Go!": 4
Number of moles: 1
Approximate Body Count: 22

<- 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM ->


  • At Tue Jan 17, 01:37:00 PM, Night Writer said…

    When I commented last week I had just watched the first two hours of Day (year) 4 on DVD, and thought the show was fairly interesting. Yet five minutes into hour 3 I'd already started talking back to the tv, and after 50 minutes (as Jack is about to hold up a convenience store to delay the terrorist - apparently decidng that letting the air out of one of his tires wasn't heroic enough) I turned to my daughter and said "This is stupid" and clicked it off. 21 more hours of this? I don't think so.

    I went to Fox's site with the episode summaries and skimmed through to see if things got any better - but it looked as if the show just kept piling aburdities on top of inanities (a human rights organization gets a call at 2:00 a.m. and gets a lawyer to CTU nearly as fast as the team in 10 minutes?).

    I know you have to adopt a certain verisimilitude (which a lit prof once described to me as "the willingness to believe the talking frogs in the garden are real") and I don't mind a story that toys with me if done in a clever way, but I won't be yanked around by my collar. I slipped the DVD back into its envelope to be mailed back to Netflix and cancelled the rest of the series from my queue. And now I feel great - I can watch football without the slightest sensation that I'm missing out on something when the breathless commercials for Day 5 come on.

  • At Tue Jan 17, 02:04:00 PM, Jeff said…

    Yep, that's why my reviews of last season turned into rants.

  • At Tue Jan 17, 02:24:00 PM, Jeff said…

    Paul reminds me that if you had stuck with Season 4, you would've seen the NUCLEAR football. Must be kismet.

  • At Tue Jan 17, 06:06:00 PM, Robert said…

    "I'm in flank 2 position" Possibly my biggest beef in five years of watching 24. The man says this same phrase THREE times, and no one from CTU gets it. It takes a (hobbit) villager to decode this???? Didn't ANYBODY stop to wonder what Jack was saying and why he kept repeating it?

    I understand continuity breaks. I understand magic devices that color code the players for our convenience. I understand that the terrorists always have three more fallback plans. I even understand the blankety-blank cougar! This I do not understand. How on earth could anybody have expected this to be taken seriously?

  • At Tue Jan 17, 07:56:00 PM, Robert said…

    "After Kiefer said they had the first fourteen episodes shot, Charlie asked, "How many episodes are there in a season?" I'll let that sink in for a moment. Apparently, Charlie hasn't quite figured out what the rationale for the entire show is yet."

    There is only one possible response to that: "Here's your (24) sign!"

  • At Tue Jan 17, 08:02:00 PM, Jeff said…

    You understand the cougar?!? ;)

  • At Tue Jan 17, 09:38:00 PM, Robert said…

    It was a desperate cry for help. I thought everyone knew that.

  • At Wed Jan 18, 10:23:00 AM, Jeff said…

    Oh yes, the cries for help have been legion.


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