Tuesday, March 28, 2006

24 - 5x15 "9 P.M. - 10 P.M."


There comes a time when violence against women is no longer funny. Last night's episode was the tipping point for 24, when its brand of violence moved from over-the-top absurd (punching Mandy in the mouth, shooting Mrs. Robocop in the leg) to pointedly polemic with Shari Rothenberg, Edgar's replacement and better known to those in the San Francisco Homeland office as the Sexual Harrassment Litigator. Judging by this one episode, her character clearly seemed to be a portrayal of Modern, Politically-Correct Working Woman, and of course 24 horribly mangles and skews the stereotype to make her irrationally sensitive. Because you see, women are emotional and prone to hysteria!

But then again, anyone who watches 24 in hopes of nuanced political and sociological critique should probably watch The Biggest Loser instead. True fans of 24 want to see Jack and his improbably accurate hunches cut out Walt Cummings' eyeball.

Start 'em
Chloe O'Brian - In Jack's brief absence as the top-rated player, Chloe recovered her mojo and never let up as she leads the charge for CTU (quite literally) the second-straight week. As CTU's lead-off (she was the first person onscreen this week), she was a force to be reckoned with. Throwing her authority around (Chloe doesn't have time to confirm her name, Shari! Chloe doesn't need the details of the sexual harrassment brouhaha!), she stared down Miles Papazian, and most impressively, she got the ever-elusive Jack-apology! (E.g. Jack's initial disbelief when Chloe broke the news of Audrey's relationship with Walt Cummings.)

Jack Bauer - Now he's upset. Like a flu-ridden Jordan, Jack seems to step up his game when he's under physical and/or mental assault. Check out his line: a game-high 3 confirmed Kills, 2 Insubordinations (with Karen Hayes and the presidential pardon given to Collette Stenger), 2 Women Threatened, and 1 Damsel in Distress Saved.

Vladimir Bierko - Bad Vlad! At long last, he unveiled his smashmouth style of play to rave reviews. Staging a fight among his minions to lure cops into an ambush -- a genius bit of game-planning. With one confirmed Kill to go with his 4 assists (Kills by His Goons) and getting far enough in his Nefarious Plan to actually releas the Sentox, he's clearly had his biggest game, but unfortunately it came with a caveat: not only is he now in custody (or possibly dead), he isn't even the biggest fish anymore for CTU -- no sir, Robocop is. Be very careful with him for next week's game.

Chris Henderson - Robocop became a very hot commodity even with about a minute of screentime, in which his activity was limited to barking into a phone, and yet he still is revealed to be the season's Big Villain.

Aaron Pierce - He recovered from Wayne Palmer from getting the drop on him to saving the former First Brother and fending off a small taskforce single-handedly. He's displaced Curtis as the Poor Man's Jack.

Curtis Manning - Even if Secret Service Man has overtaken Curtis, Superfly had one confirmed Kill to Aaron's none.

Bench 'em
Audrey Raines - With a chance to shine, Audrey failed miserably under the pressure of the spotlight. She was just a pawn to get at a Jack, and she even settled for easy cliches: she dumped Walt because he "wasn't Jack," and she knew in her heart that Jack would save her. She's a potential drop on crowded rosters.

Karen Hayes - Her position was undermined frm the get-go, and last night was no exception when Jack managed to persuade her to give him the first crack at Audrey.

Collette Stenger - How quickly fortunes change! Her presidential plan unravelled, and with Jack's mitts around her neck, she folded easily. Yet another pawn in Robocop's arsenal.

Wayne Palmer - A potential starter, but the current White Administration and Team Terror have been freezing him out of solid minutes. But in a couple games, his contribution could make or break a season -- just putting someone named Palmer in the same room with the VP will surely lead to some surreal confrontation.

Waiver Wire
Shari Rothenberg - "That wasn't right." No kidding. Still, keep an eye on her -- she might become this season's new Chloe.

George Mason - No, he's still dead.

Next column: 10 p.m.
Previous column: 8 p.m.

Indie rating: Solex - "Ease Up, You Fundamentalist!"

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