Monday, March 23, 2009
Things just got real serious.
Let's start at the end- Jack Bauer may have been exposed to the deadly biological weapon that Jonas Hodges and his gun-toting crew arranged to smuggle into this country. No, Jack won't die, we can all safely take comfort in that fact. But Bauer is definitely hurt. And it will get worse as we learn more of his condition next week. I'm freaking out a little to be honest. But damn, this is awesome television.
There is a great moment that happens in tonight's episode that I think elevates this season far past Day 6- where Jack and Tony are setting up their ambush of Starkwood's crew (headed by the formidable newcomer Stokes). As Jack and Tony are about to stop the bad guys, Bauer sees an opportunity to save the Port Authority guard that unwittingly got himself involved in the terrorist plot. And the ghosts that haunt our hero (Chase Edmunds, Ryan Chappelle and Buchanan to name a few) push him to make the tactically incorrect decision in order to save the guard's life. For too long, Jack has been making the mathematical tradeoffs- letting one person die to save hundreds, etc. In a TV show, it's easy for the audience to accept those moral justifications. But Bauer defies the correct course of action and instead makes the "right" choice- saving the guard despite the risks.
Look, I'm not going to beat your heads with a 2 X 4 of morality or some other type of philosophical lumber. You either like that decision or you don't. I can see it from both sides of the argument. But either way, you have to give the writers credit for not making this a plain shoot 'em up tonight. I see Bauer changing as a result of this season's events. He's not so quick to sacrifice lives to win the day. As Senator Mayer alluded to last week- heroism is not always taking the most straightforward path. And maybe Jack is not a hero for selfishly doing the less repugnant thing, even if it risks thousands dying later. Tony certainly wasn't buying Jack's moral dilemma, but true to his nature he stuck by Jack and sacrificed his own safety.
On the other side of this moral equation sits Jonas Hodges. He is willing to act in any way necessary to protect his interests. No life matters to Hodges. He is completely Machiavellian in his deeds. And the President's daughter, Olivia Taylor, to a less homicidal degree, is acting with the same disregard for others. There are moral choices being considered on "24." Tonight's episode reminded me of this show's unique value.