24: Day 3 – 1:00pm to 1:00am Review

24’s third season has quite the few changes from the previous one: new regular CTU characters, an entirely new plot taking place three years later (for the resolution to the Season 2 story see: 24 – The Game) and eventually it’s the first season to begin to trim down 24’s large cast. Before we get to the latter though we have our first core plot taking place neatly across 12 hours and while I could do without a story about a deadly virus potentially spreading across a populace I won’t hold that against it given it aired nearly two decades ago and all… Let’s take a look then!

Synopsis:

A body is dropped off at a Los Angeles hospital, where it is diagnosed with Cordilla virus, which CTU is informed can cause a fast epidemic. Jack and Chase Edmunds, a fellow field ops agent go to a prison to visit Ramon Salazar, a drug lord Jack had arrested after infiltrating his gang over a long period of time…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Apart from both being Hispanic they really couldn’t choose two people who looked any less like brothers…

Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say Season 3 gives 24 a “new coat of paint” it does at least freshen up the main cast a fair bit. Jack (Kiefer Sutherland), Tony (Carlos Bernard) and Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth) are joined at CTU by a trio of new analysts in Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), Adam Kaufman (Zachary Quinto) and Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert), who is now suddenly a computer expert, though frankly I’ll take it over her running around and being kidnapped. Jack is also joined by a new field agent called Chase Edmunds (James Badge Dale) which frankly it was about time they showed CTU as having more than one agent! Tony and Michelle are now married and Kim and Chase are in a relationship which Jack doesn’t take kindly to finding out about thanks to what happened to his wife while he was an active agent. Finally President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) is joined by his new chief of staff in his brother Wayne Palmer (D. B. Woodside).

The main crux of the story is that Hector Salazar (Vincent Laresca) threatens to release a deadly virus in LA unless his brother Ramon (Joaquim de Almeida) is freed from prison. This comes as a personal problem for Jack as he went deep undercover in Ramon’s gang for months in order to bring him in, even gaining a heroin addiction to cap things off. After trying several ways out and tracking down who they thought was an unwilling human carrier but turned out was some sort of decoy Jack soon comes to the conclusion that he has no other choice than to break Ramon out of prison and deliver him to Hector personally, despite having previously betrayed the group. We then get a great prison riot sequence complete with a genuinely harrowing Russian Roulette set piece before Jack and Ramon escape in the helicopter. During this time we see that CTU analyst Gael Ortega (Jesse Borrego) is actually working for Hector, and Tony is shot in the neck while out on a mission, though he survives. Ryan Chappelle (Paul Schulze) once again graces us with his presence to cover for Tony and he, Michelle and Kim (who is, believe it or not, captured and tied up by Gael during the course of the hour) discover their mole and begin to torture him to find out information…

Nina Myers shows her “not sure if you’re going to kill me or not” face.

This is where things take a turn for the… hard to believe, as Hector warmly welcomes Jack back into the fold and we find out that Jack, Tony (who rushes from a hospital bed straight to CTU…) and Miguel had orchestrated the whole thing in order to get Jack back undercover with the Salazars so he can intercept the actual virus that’s been arranged to be sold to Hector in a few hours’ time. Even for 24 this is hard to believe, not only because at so… SO MANY points Jack was nearly killed by Ramon, or Ramon killed by CTU agents like Chase, all because nobody else was in on it. Even the President is rightfully pissed that this was done without his knowledge! Ah well, Jack is back with the Salazars in Mexico and soon they arrive to do the deal for the virus but it turns out seller Michael Amador (Greg Ellis) is actually auctioning it off between the Salazars and a second buyer, a buyer who is being negotiated for on behalf of Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) of all people, who then wins the auction. Jack and Nina very nearly kill each other, Nina tries to convince the Salazars that Jack isn’t on their side still and eventually Ramon kills Hector as he no longer believes the deal is worth it, all before the deal goes down and Nina has the virus… then a massive shootout happens and she runs before it turns out the virus was a bomb and Ramon is blown up. We leave this lot of 12 hours with Nina on the run and Amador still with the virus…

Other side plots include President Palmer having a hard time due to his current love interest’s ex-husband being a git and trying to ruin his run for re-election and his steadfast refusal to pay him off or resort to his level, then that turns into Wayne Palmer, who was pushing to stoop to his level and pay him off, getting caught out having an affair with the wife of one of Palmer’s most powerful backers. Wayne wants to step down but David refuses to give in to his old friend’s selfish demands and he brings back his ex-wife Sherry (Penny Johnson Jerald) to … well, stoop to his level and try and go after him. So, bit of a turn-around there! Still, it was entertaining enough in between all the more action-heavy stuff. Chase was also tortured by the Salazars but escaped with Hector’s wife, only she died in the escape, and Chloe has a baby of unknown origin by her desk which has started to put her competence in question, but that last subplot continues onto the next half…

The Bad:

The man’s called “Chase”, what else was he going to do with his life? Bake bread? … I mean, he could’ve very easily, but that wouldn’t be as interesting to the plot.

I already mentioned a few in passing during the good: the nonsensical plot twice of Jack, Tony and Miguel going behind everyone else’s back to potentially get their hands on a virus with a very shaky-at-best plan, David Palmer and his two subplots contradicting each other (and his would-be lover putting him through hell then just as they come out the other side deciding to leave him was a bit… crap) and so on, but there were other little niggly bits.

I’m never a fan of “our lead hero is ill, will he make it through his job?!” storyline, I get it: makes the hero vulnerable, adds tension etc, I’m not saying it isn’t a valid plot point to use, but I just never liked it. Seeing Jack struggle with withdrawal symptoms through most of the first half of this chunk and seeing Tony collapse in his office were two of these kinds of stories too many in my eyes. Both also seem to have been dropped as of Episode 12, but we’ll see… my memory is understandably hazy given how long it’s been! The opening few episodes also focus on a teen/20-something smuggling drugs and his not-very-good parents finding out, then he eventually becomes the believed carrier of the virus, but then isn’t… it just wasn’t all that compelling, mostly because the young adult in question was hard to sympathise with on the account of being a bit of a knob.

Also Chase is a bit of the plain macho-hero type, which is one of the things I remember from first watching it, and almost completely lacking in personality. Given how heavily he features it’s a bit of a drag, but at the same time he fulfils his role well enough, I guess.

Overall Thoughts:

How many different types of screen do you want in your room? I mean who does he think he is? The President?!

24 Season 3’s first half has a strong core plot revolving around Jack going undercover in a Mexican crime ring and it very slowly going pair shaped, but some twists and Chase’s void of personality can harm some episodes, while the subplots vary in quality greatly. Overall I’ll rank this half a three, though if I remember right the second half does improve a lot so hopefully the overall will be higher at the end…

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