Monday, February 20, 2017

24: LEGACY 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Quick Review

What if THE GODFATHER took place in the present-day? Would you swap out organized crime for jihadists? Would you make Vito Corleone some sort of Usama bin Laden-type terrorist? And would you make that person's son (Michael Corleone's character) a man who straddles the worlds of educated elites and reactionary fundamentalists? Hidden within this season of 24 is a really interesting story, and it's so far been given the least amount of attention from among the many subplots being spun simultaneously. The "bin Laden's son" character, Jadalla bin-Khalid, has potential to be a fascinating antagonist. I hope the writers pay this off because as of now, this season is running a very standard "terrorist sleeper cells" plot. Anyway, Jadalla bin-Khalid has the thumb drive, and as expected it's damaged- files are corrupt! Unreadable! But one of the terrorist IT support guys will start to fix it, I'm sure, just not within these 60 minutes.
Hugs occur in real-time.
Eric Carter and the field team arrive at CTU where Ingram is waiting to greet her old pal. It was great seeing Carter's reaction to the CTU "nerve center" and it served as a reminder that Carter isn't a special agent and he's never had a "seat at the big table." Carter is very much swimming in a bigger pond now. Grimes, fresh off his failure from scoring $2 million, is in custody at CTU, getting his scrapes and (what happened to his gunshot injuries) bruises mended while under armed guard. Mullins takes charge of some conference rooms, Edgar Stiles weirdo cousin is giving Andy (formerly known as MacBoy here) odd looks as per usual. Hey, does CTU have a Starbucks? I think I'll go wander around while you all talk about nothing in particular...

Trevor is safe at the hospital, and according to the attending physician, should make a full recovery! Praise be to Alla-oh, the Chechen Murderess is unhappy about this because Trevor is going to tell everyone that his ex girlfriend is an ax-murder/jihadist, and also that she's sleeping with the Chem Teacher who's helping her do terrorist things because... she's sleeping with him, and because he's been in some trouble for sleeping with other students... just somebody shoot that guy already. Anyway, Chechen Murderess calls her terrorist tutor for help with her terrorist homework- "How do I get Trevor dead?" Easy, just inject him with air. "But I thought air was good for people!" Not when it's put directly into the circulatory system, your organs go boom. "Cool!" As the show skips around to some nonsense with Jimmy Smits being upset over Nilaa's arrest, we eventually get to the moment where the Chechen Murderess does the deed. It was a pretty rough moment, you could see she didn't want to do it, but Trev wakes up suddenly, they have an awkward mutual choking moment and she pushes the air-filled syringe into this IV. Trev dies (again). If he's resuscitated next week, I will look up his character's actual name and start referring to him by it. Ha, no, I won't.
What's a Twitter?
Oh yea, I mentioned Jimmy Smits! For a candidate, he has hardly anyone around him- are we sure he's running for president of the United States and not a local bowling league? Well, Senator Smits sees a video that proves Nilaa told him the truth about the run-in she had with a militant imam at a local mosque several years ago. This emboldens Smits to believe his beleaguered campaign manager even though Ingram has some video, which Major Dad and Uncle Luis doctored, that puts Nilaa in a building when CTU's files on Carter's team were compromised. Within a record amount of time, 24 turns this subplot into a confrontation- between Smits and Major Dad. And Major Dad confesses that he was the one who sold out Carter's squad. Why did you do it, Major Dad, and don't say it was to get your son elected! It turns out that Jadalla bin-Khalid pulled a Michael Corleone and blackmailed Major Dad into giving him the intel on the Army Rangers in exchange for not telling the press that Major Dad's company bought oil from terrorists.

Okay, let's stop here for a moment.

A few minutes have gone by since I typed the last sentence because I don't know what to write next about this subplot-- it's just stupid. I hope there's another layer to this that we haven't seen that makes this suddenly plausible. If this is all there is to Major Dad's betrayal, then let's agree to not dwell any further on what the writers have cooked up.

A delightful and ridiculous series of events happens back in the projects when Carter's wife, Nicole, gets the drop on Aisha and one of her goons. Nicole gets the upper hand by running, jumping, hitting people in the head and picking up their guns. Nicole finally gets to call Isaac and tell him that Aisha betrayed him to Royo and that bad stuff is going to happen to Isaac at their meeting. Isaac does a great thing next- he gets off the phone, steps up to Royo and bluffs his way out of certain death by saying "So, before we do this drug deal, I want you to know that I know that you're going to try to kill me, but I have people with guns on you right now, so if I die, you die too." Royo backs down, and the fellas complete their original transaction.  The drug trade in the Virginia area goes on uninterrupted, so let's all celebrate that outcome!

Oh, Aisha and her goon escape as the police arrive to arrest Nicole for self-defense- and for murdering a broken down car's window with a gunshot too. Isaac will later grease the two officers who detained her, which leads to a semi-intimate moment between Nicole and Isaac that ends with Nicole giving him the cold shoulder. Ah, what the heck is this going to end up being about anyway? I vote for Nicole and Isaac getting matching "I'm with stupid" t-shirts next week, maybe hit up a photo booth at the mall, share a Cold Stone sundae. COME ON WHY IS THIS EVEN A SUBPLOT?!

Back at CTU, emotionally intelligent Eric Carter gets Grimes to open up about stuff, and it turns out there's a local arms dealer named "Gabriel" who might have a lead on the Corleo- err, bin-Khalid family's whereabouts. Cool! So let's get Grimes in the field and have Carter go along with him to make contact with Gabriel. All they need is something to give Gabriel, to make their meeting worthwhile- how about the schematics to some highly classified weapons system? Sure, great plan! Mullins kills it, as well he should, the second it's proposed to him by Carter. My question though is this: why not give Gabriel fake plans so that even if it falls into the wrong hands, they end up never working? I'd be so great in CTU meetings! "Hey, yeah, in the back! Why don't you give Gabriel the plans to that Samsung phone that kept blowing up last year? Yeah! No, I don't have any security clearance, but did you all know there's a Starbucks in the North wing of the building?"
Is that kid watching me? Hey, where did you get that Iced Macchiato?!
Carter talks with Ingram after everyone conveniently leaves the room and they agree to break the rules AGAIN and steal real plans from the CTU server so he and Grimes (who's under arrest still) can go on the lam and find Gabriel. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb and dumb. So, Andy sends the plans to Carter's phone, Carter starts punching CTU people and he takes Grimes to the basement to hotwire a CTU vehicle and off they go into the early-afternoon Virginia traffic to find themselves an arms dealer. I still like Carter, but he's been suckered by the writers into yet another ridiculous scenario. Oh yeah, he's still got that CarterClutch™ too, he loves that bag! I haven't identified the brand yet, but when I do, I'll share it here.
CarterClutch™: The Mystery Bag of 2017
Did I miss anything else of note? Sorry, this wasn't a tremendously interesting episode.

Monday, February 13, 2017

24: LEGACY 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Quick Review

YEAH! ERIC CARTER BLOWING UP WALLS AND SHOOTING BAD GUYS!
Be one with the bullet, nanananana....
But let's retrace our steps, shall we?

When we last saw Carter, he was holed up with Old Racist Cop and Young Honorable Cop in the evidence locker with S.W.A.T. ready to eviscerate him with hot lead. Carter had to do a very Bauer thing by stealing $2 million for his old war buddy, Grimes, in exchange for a list of sleeper cells on a thumb drive. The closest thing to an ATM for Carter was the police station's evidence stash of cash from a recent drug bust. All of this is obvious and intuitive, but why not just remind ourselves nevertheless.

Carter works his new-found Bauer Powers by getting the Young Honorable Cop to trust him. "I give you my word" might be more meaningful a statement than "I love you" when it all shakes out in this mortal realm. And it works here, as the Young Honorable Cop gives Carter direction on how to break free from the evidence room- by using the C4 that Carter strapped to his hostage police escorts! YEAH, CARTER USED REAL EXPLOSIVES THAT WAS NOT A DRILL. From where did Carter get the C4? I don't remember, maybe it was in his CarterClutch™ all along. The C4 does its job and Carter escapes with Young Honorable Cop leading the way to freedom. Until S.W.A.T. corners them. Oh well!

But it's okay because Former CTU Director and Presumptive First Lady Ingram is on the phone with the police and all is forgiven! STAND DOWN! Phew! Man, does Racist Cop look pissed!

Within a dizzying 10 minutes, we learn that Current CTU Director Mullins and Ingram probably had some history of a romantic nature (that's my conjecture but when you say to someone "We'll adjudicate this later" that carries some FIFTY SHADES of innuendo in my head) and we also learn more definitively that MacBoy and CTU Agent Locke (the lion in human form) had a concrete, romantic relationship that Locke cut off abruptly to protect his career. You work for CTU, they know what you're thinking before you even say it, so stop with this stuff. Meanwhile, Carter is allowed to not only carry the $2 million he stole from the evidence room but he's being given a "comms package" and CTU escort to the drop with Grimes at the train station! 10 minutes, folks. It took me longer to write this paragraph than it did for these events to unfold.
CTU Director Mullins, CTU Agent Locke and Carter playing name that tune
Did I also mention that Carter calls up Nicole to say "Hi, hon, how's everything at the crackhouse?" Nicole is suspicious of Aisha and intuits that Carter's brother, Isaac, is in danger. Carter says "My drug dealing brother can look out for himself" but relents and asks CTU to pull up the conversation and send it to Nicole. This is a favor, I'm sure, that no actual law enforcement agency would ever allow on such a casual basis. It's 24 though, so let's not question these moments.

Back at Degrassi High, Chem Teach and the Chechen Murderess are still cleaning up after Paper Mache Boy (I call him Trevor, remember?), when a Future Valedictorian knocks on the door to ask if she can go over her 100% correct test with Chem Teach. When he opens the door to tell the nerd to scram, he does a poor job of hiding blood on his hand. The kid eventually leaves but this makes Chem Teach worry that his cover's been blown. When they go to finish cleaning up Trevor's albeit tiny brain matter, they realize Trevor is not dead! Where'd he go off to now? Girl's Soccer practice at a nearby field! As Trevor makes his way towards soccer practice, he collapses behind some bleachers. Chechen waves Chem Teach along to move the body before anyone notices this in broad daylight. We all know how this is going to go, right? Within seconds, a girl chases after a soccer ball near them and notices Trevor is bleeding out of his head. "Hey, EVERYBODY come over here! We need HELP!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! #busted
"Interrogate me all you like, I hate socializing at these things!"
Back at Major Dad's house, Ingram arrives and tells her husband, Jimmy Smits, that Nilaa Mizrani is a terrorist. Smits is in shock but goes along with his wife's information. He watches a closed circuit feed of Ingram asking Nilaa if she's a terrorist. Nilaa says she's not a terrorist and offers up a jogging path for Ingram to verify her whereabouts when CTU's system was accessed and the Special Forces list was compromised. This subplot gets whacky and I'm skipping to the reveal that comes towards the end so we can package this for easier consumption- Major Dad and Uncle Luis were the ones who used Ingram's login to get the list of Special Forces troops to the terrorists. They set up Nilaa and CTU is buying it wholesale. Why would Major Dad betray his country? To get his son, Jimmy Smits, elected president? I guess they want the incumbent administration to look bad on domestic security. Come on, 24. What happens when we get into politics? Wayne Palmer, need I say any more? This subplot is tedious and silly.

On to better things- Carter meets up with Grimes and they board a train to go pick up the thumb drive. While riding towards their destination, we get the best-written character scene of the episode, where Carter talks to Grimes about coming home from war and facing your demons instead of running from them. Corey Hawkins, the actor playing Carter, is fantastic in this scene- he imbues Carter with integrity and empathy. It's a scene worth watching more than once-- well done.

Carter and Grimes disembark at the next train stop and CTU Agent Locke gets off along with them, looking angry about nothing in particular. Just as Grimes chisels a tile loose from the wall and reveals the thumb drive underneath, bad guy terrorists show up because they were tracking a terrorist phone that Grimes was using the whole time. COME ON, GRIMES! You're so paranoid, you went through 4 burners already but you kept the phone you boosted off a dead terrorist? Locke starts shooting at the terrorists and Grimes freaks out, running off with the money and the thumb drive, and Carter in pursuit. A great little moment happens here- Carter shoots a terrorist on the stairwell below him and as Carter passes the dead terrorist on his way to find Grimes, he takes the time to shoot the very dead bad guy once more! Carter, you were born to do this!
"Get this man a fresh trucker's ballcap!"
Grimes gets shot by other terrorists, including the Ivy League-educated son of the "bin Laden" fella that Carter's unit killed before this season started. Carter shows up as Grimes lay on the ground. Where's the drive? The terrorists have it? DAMMIT! But the camera shows that the drive got dented. That could buy us another hour at least right? Sure!

Overall, a great episode for Carter and everyone else fares less well to varying degrees. So, this was a typical 24 episode and that's fine by me.


Monday, February 06, 2017

24: LEGACY 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Quick Review

After years of going silent, here we are, two days in a row with 24 posts. Last night and tonight have been different viewing experiences for me from years past. I used to sit with my laptop while watching the show and type out my thoughts as the episode played. Doing so, I spent more time looking at the computer that watching the episode, and I think I denied myself a normal viewing experience. This go-around, I'm just watching the show, no notes, no thought about how I'm going to recap the episode. In that sense, I might be enjoying this season more than the previous 2. It might also be because 24: LEGACY has all-new characters. For whatever reason, the show is clicking for me, I hope it is doing the same for you.

Okay, let's see what I remember...

Hobo hobo hobo hobo hobo chameleon, you call my phone, you call my phooone!
Grimes, the hobo with the thumb drive (holding all of the sleeper terrorists' names), calls Carter and says "Pay me TWO MILLION DOLLARS!" He may have done that pinky thing, I don't know, everything with Grimes is covered in dirt and heroin. I liked how Grimes explained to Carter "I'd ask for more, but I can't carry more than $2 million." Whatever your vocation, I respect a person who thinks through a situation. Grimes is angry at the US of A for letting him become a heroin addict while serving in Afghanistan. Okay, I'm done respecting this guy. Next, he'll blame the sun for making him like Taylor Swift.  This path is reckless, Grimes, so shake it off.

Carter tells Rebecca Ingram and her tech support guy about Grimes' pinky demand but they all agree that they can't go through official channels to get the money because that will tip off the mole to Grimes having the thumb drive. Yeah, they still don't know who's mole-ing it up in the government, but Ingram and the new CTU boss (who's zip-tied and pissed) chat more civilly about how much Ingram is in trouble.

Sidebar: if this hasn't already been done in real life, why doesn't law enforcement have really convincing, counterfeit bags of money at the ready for ransom situations? Put a few real bills on the top of each stack and fool the bad guys! Grimes doesn't look too sharp, this would totally work. Well, in 24-land, they don't have me there advising them, so Carter has to find the money within the hour from less official sources.

Carter calls his drug-dealing brother, Isaac, and casually asks "Hey how's my wife, what's the score of the Nationals game and of yeah, can I have $2 million?" Isaac doesn't have the money since his small business has been going through a bit of a recession. Jokingly(?), Isaac mentions to Carter that the police took possession of $4.2 million in a recent drug bust. Now, this is where Carter becomes an official 24-hero.  Instead of doing something intelligent, Carter decides that he should steal the money from the police station's evidence locker. Jack Bauer would approve of Carter's idea. Everyone else on Earth knows that this is a terrible plan, but that's why 24 is 24- we celebrate the craziest, most audacious schemes from our star. If we were offered a chance to watch a show called "Smart Person Makes Smart Decisions," we'd fall asleep within minutes. You go and break into that police station, Carter. Show us your crazy side!

Now, let's pause to acknowledge a couple of subplots because they cannot be ignored. There's a Degrassi High meets Homeland thing happening with a Chechen teenage girl and her Chemistry teacher, who (like Grimes) blames the world for his own problems. Chemistry Teach likes teenage girls too damn much. Chechen girl has seized upon this to employ the teacher's help in building a bomb made of chemistry knowledge. Yes, the Chechen kid is one of the many sleeper agents waiting for the boss to call with the go signal. For reasons we shouldn't bother trying to determine, the Chechen also had a fling with a true-blue American classmate- I'll call him Trevor since I don't remember the character's actual name. Trev is totally bummed that the Chechen broke up with him, but when he took a peek at her text messages, he discovered a lot of talk about blowing up the school. Luckily for the school's sake, Trev went to a teacher and dropped a dime on the Chechen. Oh, but he went to the only teacher who's sleeping with the Chechen- that's right, Chemistry Teach. Woops. Trev walks in on the Chechen and Chemistry Teach fooling around and before he can say "I'm gonna turn you both in!" he gets killed by having his head hit the floor. Trev's skull was made of paper mache. Adios, fella.
I know, I can't believe I haven't been on this show yet either!

Also, of note is that Senator Jimmy Smits' dad is Gerald McCraney! Don't worry, I know what you're thinking- they explain that Jimmy Smits' mom was the Latina in the family, as McCraney lovingly tells Smits "I hated when your mom spoke that dumbass language around my house." Ah, memories, rest in peace, mama. Anyway, Major Dad tells Smits that his closest advisor, a Muslim woman, is probably a terrorist and that "You can't win the White House, son, if you have a person that chants 'Death to America' on your team." Well, that's a pretty good point! Smits nods and you know he's going to ignore this sage advice from Major Dad. A few minutes later, Smits pulls his terrorist aide aside and asks "Are you a terrorist?" The terrorist says "No, I was at that mosque telling people 'Stop with the terrorism!' because that's young, unmarried females do with militants jihadists." Smits is convinced and BEGS the terrorist to stay on his team. She reluctantly agrees, and they smile and walk back to the party.

Meanwhile, Carter uses his skin color to get arrested by an all-too-eager old-timer beat cop. As the old man roughs up Carter, the younger cop says to his partner "Hey, that's not nice, be less of a jerk." Carter gets the drop on the two officers and has them escort Carter to the police station to steal the money. Everything's going relatively well inside the station until some lion of a man, Agent Locke, shows up at CTU like Russell Crowe arriving at a breakfast buffet. Agent Locke figures out that the CTU boss is MIA (thanks to the persistent snitch, Edgar Stiles cousin) so he springs the boss free and they all march to Ingram and her Mac Boy and shut down the operation- but not before they learn that Senator Smits' aide, the terrorist, IS A TERRORIST! Don't argue with Major Dad, people. Anyway, Carter is without help to escape the police station, and that leaves us with a great set-up for next week's episode.
Hi, I'm a terrorist, no one seems to care about this fact.

24: LEGACY 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Quick Review

24: LEGACY starts with a horrific attack on American soil as Tom Brady hoists yet another Lombardi trophy over a smoldering field of ash and chaos- all hope is lost.

Eric Carter brings his own baggage to 24.
Quickly, the show introduces us to our new hero.  Eric Carter is a former Army Ranger who's unit recovered a box (called a "strong box" by several characters, but really, my 7 year-old niece could pop it open) on some counter-terrorist mission overseas. The show starts out with new terrorists looking for their dead boss' box because it's the key to everything! I assume it contains proof that Tom Brady under-inflated the footballs- the kind of thing that could take down an empire.

To start, it's downright amazing that the United States of America is still in business in this universe.  I can only assume that the government secretly pumped many metric tons of Prozac into the drinking water to maintain some semblance of social order. How else can the good citizens bear to live in 24-land?

I like Eric Carter- he's a professional; Carter picks up on danger very quickly. In that, we have a proper heir to the Jack Bauer legacy (oh, now I get the show's title). Carter gets tipped off to the new danger by his grungy unit comrade, a guy named Grimes (yeah, I know, well "Pigpen" was already taken). Grimes loves heroin and that makes people distrust him- except for Carter, who sends out an alert to the rest of the unit. The other unit members don't respond because they're all dead. Wasting no time, Carter calls up Rebecca Ingram- the former head of CTU- for help. I like Ingram because she's professional; she picks up on danger very quickly. Right out the gates we have people using their brains and getting together to stop the bad guys.

Somewhere in-between all of this, we learn that Carter loves killing too much, according to his wife, Nicole- who confides as much to her ex-boyfriend, a guy who presumably loves selling drugs and killing folks too. This guy is also Carter's older brother. I'm using Wikipedia to write this post- heavily.

It's also notable that Nicole is the character who first liberates the new Jack Sack from Carter's safe in their home. Ah, fresh air! Now, let's start shooting guys! The bag is different from Jack's Jack Sack, but Carter's Jack Sack is a worthy successor. You might be saying "Hey, Jack Sack, why are we calling Carter's bag a 'Jack Sack' when it should be 'Carter Sack?'" My answer to that is- shut the hell up, I own this domain name and it's gonna stay that way!

Let's see, what else? Former CTU director Ingram is married to Senator Jimmy Smits, played by Jimmy Smits, a former Senator on STAR WARS EPISODE III and ROGUE ONE. Smits' constituents, along with himself, get blown up in EPISODE IV. Let's HOPE Smits' run as a senator in this show does not end with his planet being destroyed.

CTU is still as dysfunctional as ever. Ingram, who no longer works for CTU, is using one of its analysts, a helpful guy in glasses named Andy, to help Carter find Grimes and his box of plot device in time. Enter a nosy analyst, Mariana Stiles, cousin of Edgar Stiles (RIP), a former, nosy analyst at CTU. Stiles uncovers the "unauthorized" operation Ingram is running and tells the new CTU boss all about it. The new CTU boss is a guy who played Jay Garrick on THE FLASH.  Ingram doesn't trust this guy because she thinks he ratted out Carter's unit to the terrorists.  Obviously, this man is innocent because he's the first person suspected of being the mole. Not knowing the rules of 24 plots,  Ingram tasers the crap out of the guy when he confronts her about using CTU pens and pads for unauthorized purposes. CTU takes its office supplies very seriously.

On the kill count, Carter proves his worth when he finds Grimes at an obvious hobo hideout- the rail yards. The terrorists close in on Carter and Grimes as they learn the thing that the bad guys want is a... THUMB DRIVE! On the thumb drive are the names and favorite ice cream flavors of all the sleeper cell members in the US. Before you can say "Rocky Road," the bad guys chase the good guys through some tunnels and up to a work site that has a HUGE storm drain section hovering over them. Carter shoots at the strap holding the storm drain and it rolls down the ramp, killing one bad guy while giving Carter cover to take down the rest with a gun and piece of rebar.

It was an impressive action sequence- I liked how Carter didn't hoof it out of there when the storm drain started rolling towards the bad guys. Most people would have run for safety but Carter decided he wanted to kill more. I guess his wife was right when she said "Eric likes killing people." That's the kind of person we need as the main character on 24. While Carter is doing that, Grimes swipes the thumb drive and runs away (he doesn't like killing and is therefore a stinking coward). Grimes calls Carter on what was his 3rd burner phone in this one hour of real-time to say "If you want this thumb drive, you gotta pay me." I think Carter is going to slap him when they meet up next.

I'm okay with this new version of 24. Sure, Bauer is the ultimate human weapon, but the writers have done him no favors in the last two seasons. I lost a lot of enjoyment seeing Bauer being shoved into ridiculous situations by writers who ran out of ideas for a hero who deserved better. They needed a clean slate, and so did we, the viewers. Carter is off to a good start. Let's get that man a hacksaw.