"There are no good guys here."
Perhaps not, but while Cole Ortiz may be jaded by the players involved, as evidenced by a brief conversation with Chloe O'Brian in last night's shocking episode, I can't help but think these past couple hours of 24 are the baddest this season, if not the entire series. Bad in the good way—in the way we watch good people turn bad and bad guys influence the good. Strange that a show normally so clear on the Good vs. Evil motif is ending on such a deliciously messy buffet of food for thought, while ABC's Lost, also in its final season and usually much more ambiguous, is beginning to clearly define that very subject matter.
If you thought Jack's vengeful execution of Dana Walsh in the previous hour was unnerving... well, let's just say he would not be outdone this hour. So worried was Fox, the show's network, that it aired two viewer warnings: one at the top of the hour and an unorthodox encore parental warning prior to the final few minutes. Like, "Hey, we really mean it. Get the kiddies outta the room... NOW!"
What follows has to be one of the show's most violent—strike that, the show's most violent interrogation sequence. We find our protagonist, Jack, alone in a room with Renee Walker's murderer. At this point, you know despite what information or lack thereof the covert Russian agent relinquishes, he's toast. When we go to commercial before Jack digs in, I suspected we'd return to the man all bloodied up, therefore bypassing most of the unpleasantries. Can you blame me? This season seems to have gone out of its way to play it safe up to this point regarding torture and coercive questioning. But surprisingly, the snarky Russian is primp, untouched and ready to be destroyed. And the more he eggs on Jack, the more Jack enjoys himself. First pliers, then a knife, some kind of fluid to intensify the pain and finally, a blowtorch. All this before Jack realizes answers may lie in the man's phone; it's missing the SIM card. He looks around and comes to the conclusion the "dumb bastard" swallowed it. Unwise, for even if you missed the episode, you have a gut feeling, pun intended, what happens next. I'll just say when the creators of Scream 4 think about casting their next ghost-faced killer, Kiefer Sutherland should be in strong contention. Just sayin'.
So after he fishes the chip out of the man's body, he discovers his next target: President Charles Logan. And next week's preview verifies he finds the man responsible for much of the cover up. Would Jack go so far as to kill an ex-president? In any other season, I'd say it's unlikely, but with only three hours remaining, expect shock after shock from here on out.
Back to last night's hour and Logan's involvement. More great stuff from him. I'll be the first to admit I was a little skeptical when they brought him back; however, I'd go so far as to say he's one of the main reasons the final leg of the season has exceeded expectations. Simply, he's an opportunist looking to redeem his public image, conniving and charming along the way. When it looks like Jack will be caught and this whole saga will be put to rest, he finally pops the question to President Taylor; essentially, When will you publicly acknowledge my involvement in securing the peace agreement? Since the president agreed to let her press secretary make the announcement at 1 p.m. (expect that next week), everything's gone awry. Jack suspects the trap and guns down all the Russian operatives sans Renee's killer and the man he will torture, and Logan's aide, Jason Pillar, the man in charge of finding Jack, wants to back off the mission shortly thereafter. Still, the once-disgraced U.S. leader is all or nothing.
Also, while it appears Chloe and Arlo are trying to in a sense help Jack this hour, you have to wonder how long their loyalties, namely Chloe's, will hold out. Especially after authorities discover the mutilated body of Jack's latest victim. And of course, there's Logan next week.
Meredith Reed, President Hassan's mistress and blond journalist from the first couple hours, is back. Jack needs her to be the one to go public with the evidence if he's caught or killed.
Again, we get a great glimpse into the mind of Charles Logan. As he prepares for the press conference, he looks down at a table presenting four or five brand new ties still in their plastic wrappers. This guy is all image. We chuckle, but it's another great scene showing how he calculates every move.