Red Highlighters and House Arrests: Does 24 Feel a Little Tired?

Is it just me or is 24 feeling a little ... tired this season?

Sure, it's had to face a crippling onslaught from new kid on the block Heroes, but it just sort of feels this season as if the series is just going through the motions: another presidential assassination attempt, another possible raid on a foreign consulate (don't get trigger-happy, Jack!), familial drama, etc. When half the episode involves Chloe wondering if Morris is drinking (hell, after being tortured with a drill and forced to create a suitcase nuke trigger, I'd need a drink too) and bursting into the men's room, something's not right in Bauer-land.

Yes, there were some nice twists ... like Logan being the one that Jack needs to turn to in order to find Gredenko, though seeing as it was Jack's murderous dad Phillip that gave him the phone number, I wouldn't totally trust the crazy SOB to play fairly. And, wait, no one knows that Logan arranged the assassination on Palmer? So the grizzly dude is now under house arrest at his palatial estate and no one in America wonders where he is or what went down? Um, okay.

But the entire episode felt way too stretched out and a little unbelievable. (I also have a hard time accepting Jack tenderly stroking Marilyn's cheek as he bundles her and Josh -- so obviously their son that it's infuriating -- back in the car headed for CTU.) There's no way Morris would still be standing, much less plugging away at work. Why would Jack and Logan drive 45 minutes to the consulate when going via helicopter would be so much faster?

But why oh why would Reed Pollack plant that tape-recorder-turned-bomb on the podium and activate it before Palmer got up there to speak? That's just foolish. As soon as he started to position it (and it's highlighter-laden lode) on the podium, it was painfully obvious that it was Assad who would be killed/injured/plot deviced away by the blast. Similarly: why wouldn't the Biscuit (aka Harry Lennox) have told anyone about the assassination plot rather than go and meet his deputy chief of staff in a darkened basement room alone?

And that's perhaps the problem this season. In a show that's governed by the unexpected twists and turns (along with a clear through line and theme), 24 feels a little bit like it's gone off the rails lately. We've gotten so far away from any concise understanding of what's going on (or going on inside these characters' heads) that it's hard to really take this seriously ... and we're nearly halfway through the season already.

Was it really only a few hours ago that Jack was nearly executed after being released from a Chinese prison? Did a nuclear bomb really go off in Valencia just a few hours ago? 'Cause no one seems to be acting that way. Instead, Chloe is moping around CTU, suspicious of Morris' erratic behavior, Bill Buchanan seems willing to give Morris "one more chance" despite putting at risk the lives of millions should the recovering alcoholic analyst not be up to the task.

But the real question is: where the hell did Jack get a suit from, all of the sudden? And why are they waiting around for Charles Logan to get dressed when there are millions of lives at stake?

Hmmm. Maybe that's just me asking that. But if that's what's sticking out most in my mind as the burning question after an episode of 24, there might just be something wrong.

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Jace is an LA-based television development and acquisitions junior exec who watches way too much television for his own good and would love a TiVo for every room in the house. (He’s halfway there.) His blog, Televisionary, can be found at televisionary.blogspot.com.