This episode is very much like the previous installment, right down to the relative distribution of the plot threads. The majority and best part of the episode belongs to Jackâs mission with Renee, while the worst sits squarely on the shoulders of Dana Walsh.
If the previous episode began to reveal the depths of Reneeâs crushing fatalism, then this is the next giant leap into the abyss. Renee may convince herself that itâs all about the mission, but at least part of it is a desire to destroy herself in every respect. The amazing part is not that she chooses to give herself over to Laitanan; itâs that some part of her resists.
This tension within Renee is the one thing that gives the character some hope of restoration. It all comes down to how far she pushes herself down in the process. Jack has been in similar situations before: his heroin addiction in the third season, his imprisonment among the Chinese, and of course, his crisis at the end of the sixth season. Renee has the chance to come back, but itâs going to be a long, hard road.
Jackâs side of the equation reveals a couple of interesting and slightly disappointing facts. First, it would appear that the new CTU hasnât quite shed the legal restraints that forced its resurrection in the first place. Itâs hard to say whether or not that was part of the organizationâs mandate from President Taylorâs administration, or the influence of Director Hastings and his political ambitions.
The second point is simply a minor nitpick. What was the point of making Jack a German, if Kiefer clearly cannot speak the language with the slightest hint of a convincing accent? It complicates a cover that is already rife with suspicion. Itâs shocking that Laitanan hasnât figured out that Reneeâs story doesnât quite add up as it is.
The looming collapse of the peace summit isnât quite as interesting, but it does make one wonder if this was something that Farhad took into account. Killing Omar had to be the primary goal, along with the acquisition of nuclear weapons to solidify his power base. But Farhad also had to know that Omar would crack down on his opposition if he survived, and that it would erode his good standing with the West, weakening him in the process.
Unlike Hassanâs plot thread, the plot thread with Josef and Oleg felt like blatant foreshadowing. Was it to further demonstrate Papa Bazhaevâs brutal ways, thus suggesting that he would be equally cruel to his enemies? Or was it to expose a weakness in his manâs foolish decision to leave a wake of bodies to be discovered, along with plenty of genetic evidence to point right to Josef and Oleg? Itâs hard to imagine that this wonât become a clue to track down Bazhaev later down the road.
As it has been since the beginning of the season, Danaâs subplot continues to be ridiculous. Once again provided an opportunity to hang Kevin and his cohort by their own ambition, Dana instead implicates herself more and more. How easy would it have been to ensure that the keycard would not work, and then claim that the card was stolen? Dana is willing to lie, but only to help someone she hates.
One gets the sense that all of these plot threads continue to service the overall theme of âlearning from the lessons of the pastâ, which is a good thing. â24â is always best when it dispenses with shock tactics and presents its action in a consistent and dramatic context. It worked very well in the seventh season, and it continues to work well this season.
Overall, this was another episode that mixed the good with the bad. The action with Jack and Renee continues to be the highlight of the season, while other subplots continue to disappoint. Right now, Danaâs plot thread is like a dead weight, dragging the season down, so one would hope that the writers adjust before too much longer.