May 21, 2010

As 24's Clock Ticks Down, The Show Reaches New Heights

Is it just me, or did 24 suddenly get awesome again just as it prepares to wind down?  Last night's episode fully lived up to all the promise the series showed way back in its earliest hours.  After sagging terribly in the middle of this season (as it usually does), the show has become re-vitalized and riveting in recent weeks as rogue agent Jack Bauer has become more and more unhinged.  And this week they turned him into a monster, which was an amazing technique!  He's still the hero, but we saw him mostly from the point of view of his enemies–or, more appropriately, his victims–this week.  First we heard chilling reports of how he had not only killed one of their men, but eviscerated him.  What kind of TV hero does that?  Then Jack put on some full body armor, including an opaque black mask that made him look like The Shape from John Carpenter's classic slasher flick Haloween.  His target was in an armored limosuine, which Jack managed to trap inside a tunnel.  Then Jack, clad head to toe in his black armor and armed to the teeth with with pistols, grenades and semi-automatic assault rifles, moved slowly and purposefully down the tunnel toward his terrified victim.  The target's security detail shot off rounds at the approaching monster, but he kept coming, like Michael Meyers–an unstoppable force.  From inside the armored car, we saw this terrifying, Darth Vader-ish figure launch his methodical attack.  The horrified victim even got one of those Halloween close-up looks at his assailant's emotionless, implacable face: the face of a mask.  Then the Jack monster fired enough rounds at the limo's armored rear windshield to fracture it, and finished the job with his boot.  We see it all from inside the car, like the kids in the jeep as the T-Rex attacks in Jurassic Park.  (Or the scenes where some college students in a car are terrorized by a masked killer in Scream 2.) And its horrifying!  Finally, this monstrous force tosses a gas grenade in through the hole, puts his foot over the opening, and watches inscrutably as his victims are forced to pour out of the vehicle and into his grasp.  It was one of the most well-directed, original, exciting and legitimately scary sequences I've seen on TV all year!  Another standout sequence (also played like a horror film) skipped over Jack's real-time carnage and instead showed us the aftermath in a slow pan across the body-strewn scene of the chaos, revealing Jack's grisley handiwork and ending with a particularly surprising image. Again, very original stuff! Good for 24.  I always rooted for it to make a return to form.  Hopefully next week's series finale won't disappoint.

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