In honor — or disbelief — of the fact that apparently people still watched “24” this year, let’s remember Arturo’s struggle to grasp how this show can still have any fans after the turgid intercalary chapter in 2008 that saw Jack Bauer go to Africa.
By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
… No, really, people watch this show every week? No wonder the Bush presidency lasted two terms.
24: Redemption is both set-up and appetizer for the show’s
incomprehensible fanbase, setting the table three years after the surely cataclysmic sixth season, which left Super Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) on the lam and out of a job, what with his beloved Counter Terrorism Unit being disbanded.
As we begin this two-hour slice of Jack’s traumatic life, the former Republican role model is moonlighting in the fictional African country of Singala, helping out an old special ops buddy (Robert Carlyle) building a school/living shelter somewhere near the country’s border. Where these kids’ parents are, why this school is not co-ed, or staffed by anybody who’s not white, is never explained. The only other person at the camp is a slimy, United Nations worker. Of course the UN guy is French, and verbally fahrts in Jack’s general direction.
But never mind the kids or their harsh socio-political realities, Jack is emotional, man!
He’s depressed about how Season 6 went down, and beset upon by an Annoying Liberal U.S. Bureaucrat (Gil Bellows) serving a subpoena for Jack to testify to Congress regarding “human rights violations.” If we’re talking about the rest of this series, can we move to upgrade the charges to Crimes Against Humanity?
(By the way, we know Bellows is playing a Liberal because he wears dorky glasses and complains about the heat. An Annoying Republican Bureaucrat would have hiked his way across the jungle, carrying the subpoena like Christopher Walken did the watch in Pulp Fiction.)
Jack’s mellow gets harshed even further by a seemingly out-of-nowhere coup organized by the People’s Freedom Army, led by the evil Gen. Benjamin Juma (an under-used Tony Todd) and his #1, Col. Ike Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim). You know they’re important characters because they’re not featured in a single publicity still Fox released for the movie. Though Juma and Dubaku decry the Singalan government as working for their “white masters” in the U.S., we learn the PFA is in fact being funded by evil American Jonas Hodge (Jon Voight).
In shepherding the schoolchildren to the rapidly-closing U.S. Embassy, Jack has what you could call an off day: 10 kills in just under two hours, as they make their way to asylum before the embassy is evacuated under orders of lame-duck President Noah Daniels (Powers Boothe). The fall of Singala, and Jack’s and the kids’ final march to safety, plays out alongside the inauguration of Daniels’ successor, the “idealistic” Allison Taylor. In order to get the kids on the last helicopter to safety, Jack is forced to forego his “What, me, accountable?” philosophy and turn himself in for testimony.
On the “real world” side of things, the program featured a commercial for Malaria No More and referred viewers to a documentary on child soldiers on its official website. And it’s encouraging, I suppose, that writer Howard Gordon didn’t attempt to give Redemption a “feel-good” ending: you know, Jack killing Juma and Dubaku with both arms tied behind his back (don’t laugh; he killed Dubaku’s brother in that condition) and making Africa safe for Hot Topic and horrible NBA expansion teams. And Juma and Dubaku might get to become true Big Bads along with Hodge when the show resumes in January. But if that’s the best thing to come out of this two-hour informercial for Real Americanism, then … like I said earlier, people watch this every week?
Take me back, Tim Kring, all is forgiven!