The New York Times talked yesterday about all the challenges facing several series, including “24,” whose writers and producers are still trying to figure out how to wrap up their season-long plot lines. Over the last couple of weeks, “24” has fallen into one of those plot lulls that make you wish the bad guys would nuke Fox network HQ. Essentially, the show has slumped back into a soap-opera stew as viewers wait for the Islamic terrorists — who seem to be getting more and more non-Islamic help –to spring their next nasty scheme. Something awful is coming: The script, in combination with the preview for next week, is telegraphing a terror strike against the president, who is in his 13th consecutive hour flying somewhere in Air Force One. But the mold-growing-on-bread pace of the latest plot makes you wonder whether the writers had any idea themselves of what’s coming next. In last night’s episode, it took one of the terror operatives a full hour to put on a uniform he’s using as a disguise.
In the moments when action was allowed to occur last night:
–A team of mercenary commandos working for an Evil Defense Contractor implicated in the day’s terrorist attacks goes after Jack and Paul. The team was led by a guy who at first glance looked kind of like Prince. Jack killed him.
–The Evil Defense Contractor’s security chief is terminated, too; but not before playing dead and nearly succeeding in shooting Jack. Paul, who at one time looked like a terrorist mole, heroically takes the bullet meant for Jack. Not sure whether Fox’s patented miracle medical technology will be able to save him from the killed-in-action list.
–In an effort to show they know that Arab Americans are loyal citizens, the show’s writers have the gun battle between Jack, Paul and the Evil Defense Contractor commandos take place at a sporting goods store owned by two Arab American brothers. After Jack forces his way in to get guns and ammo for the upcoming fight — he appears to find a state-of-the-art assault rifle just waiting for him, and he didn’t even have to wait for a background check — he urges the brothers to leave. But they selflessly stay and fight — to defend the store their dad started and to make a stand against terrorism with Jack, the United States of America, and Fox TV.
The scene was so self-conciously uplifting I forgot to cry, though I did get a little weepy when Jack promised government help to repair damage to the sporting goods establishment. Rule One in the War on Terror: Torture when you must, but always take responsibility for property damage.