Monday, March 27, 2017

24: LEGACY 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Quick Review

A week late but time has no meaning in the world of 24, right?
"I don't use hair product, and these are not designer threads" are among many of his lies.

Eric Carter has successfully managed to get himself and Andy Shalowitz (Geek Squad) into the caring custody of Jadallah bin Khalid in exchange for the release of Carter's brother, Isaac and Carter's wife, Nicole. Carter's big plan is to have Andy destroy the thumb drive with a virus so Jadallah can't activate the remaining terror cells who are poised to wreak unimaginable, simultaneous mayhem upon the United States. As of now, a prematurely-activated cell from New Jersey ("Amira!") has set off a truck bomb on the George Washington Bridge. Caught up? No, let's look at the same footage of the bridge again for the first two minutes... alright, enough!

Isaac and Nicole race away in a pickup truck but are intercepted by some of Jadallah's men, whom they kill! This is great stuff because there's something rewarding in seeing regular people take down trained killers, even if these bad guys are magnificently bumbling. It's at this point that I get most excited as a viewer because FINALLY Isaac makes the call to his crew- we're gonna bust some terrorist skulls! If you're a fan of history and have read about the mafia aiding the United States' efforts during WWII, you'll understand the greatness that our country's criminals possess. But before we get any such payoff, we have to convince these gang members to do what's right! Isaac's grip on power is weak, like a fading merchant in Renaissance Italy. Some in his crew voice skepticism at the idea of taking on terrorists ("Let the government handle this" and "What's in it for us?"). I suddenly found myself agreeing with these goons! Just as Isaac promises the guys all of his money in their criminal enterprise, Nicole comes to the rescue with an inspirational speech- she asks the guys "Family's gotta mean something right? Or else what's the point?" Yeah, what's the point to dealing drugs to the neighborhood kids and shooting competitors in cold blood? FOR FAMILY! HUZZAH!

Back in the Warehouse of Terror, Andy gets to work on the thumb drive and effectively wipes it clean with a Shalowitz Trojan Horse! As Carter and Andy prepare to be executed, Jadallah smiles and pats everyone on the back. "I didn't let you mess with the real thumb drive, but you have destroyed my brother's collection of Rachael Ray episodes! We will take it out on you later, lest there be no doubt!" I like Jadallah, he's smarter than a 4th grader, which unfortunately cannot be said of Carter and Andy at this point. As Andy gets to doing actual Geek Squad work on the real thumb drive, Carter decides it's time to become a human punching bag. By taunting Jadallah, we see Carter get in a few good verbal punches but I'm left wondering why Jadallah has let Carter live this long. Seriously, why not just take out Carter? It's not like he can do anything to help fix the thumb drive, except maybe as a piece of leverage to motivate Andy to do the job right, but the big knife that went into Andy's leg was pretty damn motivating too.

Carter kills a chair too- it's pretty inspiring. Look.

As this is happening, CTU is working to find Carter, and they're very good at this- too good, in fact, because the SecDef wants to send in a missile strike on the location instead of bothering to storm the location with a CTU tac team. This complicates the fact Mullins has already prepped Locke and his team to go to the very place that's going to be leveled by the US military. We get a miniature showcase of Mullins' backbone here as he begrudgingly agrees to give the DoD the warehouse location. And Edgar Stiles' cousin only hovers over the keyboard an extra 5 seconds before sending that information herself to the military. Oh well, I guess this new crop of CTU folks are not going to risk their pension by breaking the chain of command. You know what, I'm glad we're finally getting some professionalism back at CTU.

Tony begins to doubt himself as Major Dad takes an express ride on the Pain Train.
Back at Tony's Large Syringe of Pain, Major Dad is not breaking. Tony gets angry, and Jimmy Smits tells Ingram that she's a psychopath. Ah, family drama, who doesn't have to deal with that, right?

Before the missiles even get to the warehouse, Carter spots someone that absolutely sets him off, some guy who looks just like Tony Almeida but goes by the name Naseri. So, this "Tony Al Qaeda" fella seems none-to-pleased to see Carter and tells our hero to shut up. Their exchange makes me think Naseri and Carter may have once been working together and Naseri betrayed the good guys. Before we can get anything more on this subject, Isaac and his crew show up and effectively cause their own brand of chaos!
"My dawgs are hongray!"
YES! I loved this action sequence-- a lot of bad guys get preemptively slain by Virginia's Finest Drug Cartel before the missiles arrive. And then the missiles do show up, and the warehouse gets demolished.

Carter, Isaac, Andy, Jadallah and even Naseri (who's like a puma, jumping and slinking through rubble!) all survive. But at least Jadallah is finally in custody! Isaac got shot in the leg, so he's not going to be running around much for the near term, but he's not going to die- not until he and Nicole advance their forbidden relationship a little further. Andy claims that the thumb drive has been destroyed but we don't really see it smashed on the ground so maybe he's just guessing. Andy may be lauded by his co-workers for being courageous but he was mostly dumb in this episode, so let's not give him that employee of the month parking spot in the front of the CTU campus just yet.

A solid episode, some great action and Carter yet again puts a lot of emotion into the story. I'm not so sure why or how Major Dad has managed to not give up any information, and maybe there's a bigger, scarier dimension to this that even Major Dad cannot accept setting off by confessing. Let's hope it gets more complicated than the current arc.

The CarterClutch™ is still MIA as well.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

UPDATE: Quick Review of This Week's 24: LEGACY Coming Soon

TUESDAY NIGHT UPDATE: I'm too tired to write the review tonight. This is becoming a dangerous new precedent...

I watched this week's episode but I haven't been able to write my review yet. I'll probably have it done Tuesday night. But in the meantime, who was that mysterious man, Naseri?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

24: LEGACY 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Quick Review

On a very special episode of 24: LEGACY...

But first, let's remind ourselves of how we got here:

Television has become the dominant force in storytelling over the last 15 or so years. Big name actors, writers and directors have all moved from the big screen to TV to enjoy the format's benefits-- more creative control and longer running times. In November of 2001, 24 premiered a couple of months after actual events turned our world view on its head. No longer were Americans safe from large scale attacks, and the margin for error for preventing them was practically nil.

I came late to the 24 party mostly because I didn't want to experience the show in the aftermath of so many people losing their lives. I started watching 24 in 2005, and by then the show had established itself as a phenomenon. 24 changed TV, and I believe it did so for the better. While it made efforts to avoid exploiting what many of us were feeling, the show nevertheless gave us an opportunity to explore our fears in this fictitious setting. 24 also portrayed smart, courageous characters who worked through problems as they appeared- including some morally questionable decisions too, which were thought-provoking amidst our new reality.

Last week, on 24: LEGACY, terrorists succeeded in setting off a truck bomb on the George Washington Bridge- a blast which caused a massive loss of life and damage.  As the visuals rolled across the screen, I felt a surprising lack of impact from the characters- both at CTU and among the terrorist command. I didn't realize just how flat it all felt until when we reached the end of tonight's hour. I almost forgot about the bridge attack too, and I think that's a result of the writing, acting and direction all focusing on a different story. Maybe the showrunners' old policy of avoiding things that are too real kept them from delving into the emotional impact of an attack on New York City, but I'm of the opinion that if you're going to do it, give it some prominence.

This season is the big gamble- a new hero and a new supporting cast of characters- and I think within a handful of hours, the show has succeeded in getting all of these pieces set up effectively. The bridge attack should be a pivot point-- where we see some new aspects of these characters, and move forward from their earlier arcs. Instead, we got a lot of the same stuff for Andy, Nicole/Isaac, Ingram/Smits and Locke. As for Eric Carter, we see probably his most complex mental state yet, but none of it has to do with the smoldering crater in NYC. No, Carter is freaking out over his wife and brother being held hostage by Jadallah bin-Khalid. And since that's where Carter's focused, so goes the show. We end up with an episode of ONE TREE HILL with guns.

In terms of a recap- Major Dad gets "released" so that Ingram's outsourced, enhanced interrogator (some dude named Tony Almeida) can really work over the old man and make him offer some intelligence about the bad guys. We learn in passing that Almeida had a relationship with Ingram which can only mean that Ingram is a human being, since no human can resist Almeida. Almeida's lady partner, Sidra, HAAAAATES Ingram for being a human being, and lots of glaring goes on between these ladies as poor old Major Dad (never one to witness female rivalry himself) gets various velcro straps secured about him.

Back to Carter, he manages to convince Andy to help him free Nicole and Isaac (and potentially his missing bag, the CarterClutch™) from the terrorists in exchange for Andy fixing the broken thumb drive. But what Carter and Andy really want to do is destroy the drive once they manage to liberate Carter's family. It's kind of a silly plan, slightly below the apparent IQs of these two guys, but they seem sincere in their intent to pull a fast one on the terrorists who have been ahead of them at each turn this season.

Amazingly, Carter gets bin-Khalid to release his wife and brother by threatening to shoot Andy in front of the terrorists. You'd think bin-Khalid would have a sniper take out Carter right away since he's the ONLY person who poses any threat to the bad guys' plans. Instead, he releases Carter's family and off they go into the night with Carter's Ford pickup. Now, Carter and Andy have to deliver on their end of the bargain- but wait, bin-Khalid is not an honorable fellow. We hear our Ivy-League terrorist order his goons to shoot Isaac and Nicole before they escape the premises. Oh, terrorists, you just can't bargain with them!
Don't call it a comeback! I've been here for years!
The highlight of this episode was the return of Almeida- not because he did anything spectacular, but rather Almeida seems pretty good with his life. Almeida mentions his dead wife but he doesn't lose his marbles in doing so. And his hair is absolutely magnificent- graying but luxurious! Almeida's presence is also a reminder of this show's charismatic heritage- and that's not a knock against Carter, who's been a powerful character thus far. Nevertheless, there is no substitute for the quiet power an old hand like Almeida brings to the proceedings. Tonight was a good start for the (re)resurrection of Almeida.

Monday, March 06, 2017

24: LEGACY 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Quick Review

Well, that was an hour of complete mayhem!

In as much as the "Events occur in real time" can be believed, this episode pulled off about three episodes of plot, action and twists.
"These gunrunners aren't like T-Rexes, they can see you even if you're completely still."
Previously on 24: LEGACY, Eric Carter watched his brother-in-arms, Ben Grimes, take a bullet to the head from the now also-dead arms dealer, Gabriel. While CTU agents with technological expertise rifle through Gabriel's laptop, they chuckle at the guy's Amazon order history (eyedrops and 1,000-piece cat puzzles!), CTU Agent Locke starts ragging on Grimes to Carter. Come on, Locke, show some class! Carter (barely) keeps his cool and tells Locke that Grimes knowingly sacrificed himself to get to Gabriel, so you best believe in what that laptop full of Golden Girls torrented episodes will eventually yield.
"Listen, he watched JURASSIC PARK too many times and it got him killed."
Meanwhile, somewhere in suburbia, Amira(!) and her brother Khasan are finishing preparations for a terrorist attack. Papa is still tied up with duct tape (what can't you do with that stuff, right?) and the poor guy is still being ignored by his two psychotic kids. As we'll discuss later, I'm surprised that Papa isn't making a bigger effort to get himself free from his chair while his kids go off to the garage to make ammonia nitrate bombs. Maybe he thinks they'll knock off this game of "Cops and Terrorists" because millennials never actually finish what they start. I don't think they're playing around, Papa. Get out of that chair!

Back at Gabriel's treehouse of terror, the CTU Geek Squad happily informs the team that they found a ton of valuable intel, so Grimes redeemed himself in the end. I still wonder why Gabriel told Carter "I don't deal with terrorists" just before killing himself last episode. Anyway, we learn that Gabriel imported Jadallah bin-Khalid and his band of terrorists in a shipping container marked as livestock. This one's a head-scratcher because Customs usually gets antsy if you try to bring beef jerky in from another country, let alone living animals! Gabriel kept great records though- he had copies of the bad guys' fake passports, all having the same home address, which happens to be their real hideout. Huh?

Mullins tells Locke to go to the address and to bring Carter along since he's a motivated guy! Let's ignore the grand theft auto and stolen, CLASSIFIED, missile plans Carter used to get to Gabriel too. Mullins is either very smart or very dumb, but the writers seem to not care which is the case because we need to keep Carter onscreen for the action. In the car ride over to the bin-Khalid's hideout, Locke even tries to ease the earlier tension by complimenting Carter on how he cleaned his rifle. Carter, like all of us watching, basically tells Locke to shut the hell up. This undoubtedly sends Locke back to his well-worn copy of "How To Win Friends and Influence People" which he keeps in his breast pocket. I sure hope you're better at shooting bad guys, Locke.

Before the CTU tac team can make it to bin-Khalid's house, some no-good, lousy freelance journalist (a "stringer," as they call it on 24: LEGACY) publishes a TV news report showing Gabriel's place crawling with law enforcement. If you've seen the film NIGHTCRAWLER, you'll know how these folks operate- they monitor the local police band and show up to get whatever footage they can, which they later sell to a news station. Mullins and Ingram (yeah, she's still on the show!) realize that this will tip off bin-Khalid that his location has been compromised- and they're right. One of the terrorists (tired of monitoring the local police band apparently) was watching Rachael Ray peeling a mango, when the local news broke in with a SPECIAL BULLETIN about a no-name warehouse where a bunch of police cars are hanging out with their lights on. "Jadallah! Mangoes are rich in vitamins and fiber and Gabriel's house has been invaded!" The terrorists immediately close up operations and evade capture by CTU. DAMN IT!
"Billy, reach for the knife, I dare you! I double dare you!"
Adding to the list of "close but no cigar" moments of victory, Chem Teach shows up at Amira's(!) house with the final chemical mix for the bombs. He also wants to take Amira(!) away from her brother so they can "be together like we talked about." While everyone not named "Chem Teach" rolls their eyes at this sicko, he swipes Khasan's gun and shoots its owner in the gut. This allows Khasan a few minutes of painful existence in which he can tell Amira(!) to finish what he started. Amira(!) stabs Chem Teach in the back and heart with a screwdriver and swings by Papa's room to tell him "Thanks for all the fish." Papa, realizing that his terrorist kid is actually a terrorist, manages to free himself of his duct tape shackles within 30 seconds of actually trying. Oh come on with this junk! Papa gets to the garage and calls his daughter using Khasan's phone. I half expected and wholly hoped that Papa would impersonate his dead son and say "AMIRA! I was wrong to store all those bombs in the box truck you're now driving. Come home and let's eat soup with Papa!" but unfortunately Papa does the same thing that failed to work the first ten times he tried- he begs his daughter to not be a terrorist. She tells her dad that she's going through with the attack, just as she passes a sign for the George Washington Bridge. Uh oh...

Papa calls 911 and within a minute his call's transcript is sent to CTU. Okay, fine, I guess we need to remember that this is a TV show, but let's go easy on the whole "Your government and its agencies are faster than a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru" schtick. However, this leads to the single most ridiculous sequence of the season so far- Mullins calls a Port Authority officer who's stationed on the bridge's upper level. Officer Jenkins is having an iced coffee and listening to James Taylor's Greatest Hits when Mullins orders him to start walking on the bridge that is full of speeding cars so he can intercept the box truck full of explosive fertilizer. Jenkins actually does this, almost getting clipped several times along the way. But he spots the truck and immediately shoots at the driver, stopping it cold! Wow, look at Jenkins! Before Jenkins can secure the scene, Mullins excitedly calls Jenkins' cell phone to ask him how it feels to be a badass American hero. "Uhh, Mullins, I gotta check to see if the driver's really down, oh I found the trigger, it's in her dead hand, OH NO SHE'S NOT DEAD!"

And then the bomb goes off.

The explosion takes out the middle section of the bridge and many people die. I won't go into my genuine feelings on this because 24 is a fictional show and it isn't meant to be taken seriously. Let's just say that I don't derive any entertainment from seeing something like that happen.
Here's the traffic cam from Narnia or some other mythical, bullshit realm.
I will, however, mock the shit out of the traffic pattern depicted at 5:55 p.m. Here's your daily reality check: the George Washington Bridge at rush hour is its own version of hell. I drive by the bridge twice every weekday and it looks nothing like the NASCAR speedway from tonight's episode. Heck, you could do a whole episode of that box truck just trying to get past the NJ tolls! That traffic jam would have probably done more to prevent any attack than the entirety of federal/state law enforcement- just ask Chris Christie how that traffic works.

Odds and ends: Carter was without his CarterClutch™ for the second episode in a row and it's no coincidence that events are spiraling out of control.  Also, Jadallah bin-Khalid and his crew managed to kidnap Isaac and Nicole while taking out a CTU Uber vehicle and a bunch of Isaac's worst shots. Jadallah calls up Carter and says "I need tech support to fix my busted thumb drive or else your brother and wife will be forced to watch the 22 hours of Rachael Ray I have on my DVR!" "JADALLAH YOU MONSTER!"

Next week, Carter shoots Jadallah('s DVR). OH AND THE ONE TRUE SOULPATCH IS BACK!