Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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TV O.D. : “Have Ye a Valediction, Boyo?”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 7, 2007

(Spoiler Alert)

All right, so I know I’m a little behind on this, but I only got a chance to see this week’s 24 for the first time today, and I gotta say, I’m very disappointed. Not that it was a quality episode–any episode where Jack gets to elaborately torture someone and yell “DAMNIT!!” (read: ~35% of 24 episodes) is good in my book–but the last minute spoiler, in which it turns out that not only is Jack’s brother Graem evil (which we pretty much knew from the getgo, as he played Anonymous Director of Evil Festivities in a Remote Room Somewhere for the last quarter of season five), but so is his father Philip, played of course by the peerless James Cromwell. This is disappointing for a number of reasons:

1. Rules out potential for a two-gen Bauer teamup, which would’ve been a force of fucking nature. Watching Bauer & Son work perfectly in tandem to defeat their captors just before being executed without even so much as giving a glance at the other for coordination purposes was certainly exhilerating enough. Notice how on the car ride there, they don’t even bother plotting their escape–they end up talking about past regrets, but they could’ve just as well been talking about grocery shopping, or what movie they should see after they were done disposing of the two goons. The roster of their supposedly imminent deaths barely even registers as a threat. Awesome.

2. The subversive, double-cross plan of Graem and Philip barely makes any sense. So Philip had Graem order his own death, knowing that he and Jack would inevitably break free and murder their inevitable captors? Seems like a hell of a chance to take. Even without that, Graem claims that everything “is still going according to plan” and that yeah, he’ll have to “do a couple years” but at least the company is protected. Um, didn’t he just confess to ordering the assassination of President Palmer and a number of CTU workers, as well as being behind the entire conspiracy and terrorist threat of last season? Isn’t that, like, a big deal? Since when do we give limited sentences in this country for assassinating an ex-president? Moot point, I suppose, but sort of an obvious plot hole.

3. The reveal of Philip actually being evil was maybe the most predictable “Big Twist” in any season of 24 thus far. First off, he fatally shoots the second captor after Jack clearly has him subdued, feebly explaining “They were trying to kill us, Jack!” Yeah, not at all suspicious–even Jack gives him a big “WTF?” look after he does it. Then, later in the episode, just before Jack leaves, he says he “needs a few minutes,” but will catch up with him at CTU later. Anyone who watches even the slightest amount of spy TV or film knows that when someone “needs a few minutes,” they plan on spending that time to cover up whatever loose ends they have left before continuing on with their deception.

And of course, the thing that most makes this twist so stupid and predictable is Cromwell’s performance as Cpt. Dudley Smith in L.A. Confidential. If you’ve seen this movie even once, you’re gonna automatically assume that no matter what role James Cromwell is playing, he’s eventually gonna turn out to be evil and kill somebody out of the blue. When I was watching Babe for the first time in over a decade recently, I kept expecting him to whip out his gun and peace one of the farm animals for no particular reason. Are we actually supposed to be surprised when Cromwell’s 24 character turns out to not be on the up-and-up?

Knowing this, shame on Graem Bauer for not at least whispering “Rollo Tomassi” as Cromwell killed him.

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2 Responses to “TV O.D. : “Have Ye a Valediction, Boyo?””

  1. Erick said

    Very incisive analysis; I’m inclined to agree with you, but I liked the other twist a bit more (the identity of the guy they’re getting to arm the nuke). I knew it would be somebody recognizable aka ‘a twist’ but I didn’t guess it.

  2. Andrew Unterberger said

    Oh yeah, that was great. Except at first, I thought the dude was trying to decode a photograph of the guy who was arming the nuke, not the guy they were gonna co-erce into programming, so I was under the impression he was being exceedingly cocky and crafty by decoding a picture of himself and skipping out before he could be properly identified. Now that would’ve been mind-blowing.

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