24: Day 3 – 1:00am to 1:00pm Review

My review of the first half of Season 3 can be read by clicking HERE.

In case you were wondering, no I haven’t forgotten about 24’s third season, it’s just a combination of new TV series and a plot that unfortunately and rather depressingly hits home at the moment made it hard to get through some of the middle episodes of this batch. Still, there are some moments in these episodes that are all-time classics, so let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

The deadly virus is back on the marketplace and Nina Myers, the only person who might have a connection to it is back on the run. Meanwhile President Palmer is facing a losing election if he doesn’t allow his ex-wife to take some questionable shortcuts…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Nina has a “your about to kill me off aren’t you?” look…

The first few episodes put an end to the Nina Myers thread as she’s recaptured by Jack and taken to CTU HQ for further questioning, and by questioning I mean being tortured by having things injected into her but eventually she escapes by forcing a needle into a key artery and then running from the medical ward. She kidnaps Kim in what is obviously a callback to her killing of Jack’s wife / Kim’s mum from Season 1 but Jack arrives in the nick of time and shoots her in the leg… before realising she has no more information and straight up assassinating her, finally getting his revenge. Satisfying, though it rightfully puts him under serious investigation by Ryan and other higher ups…

We’re soon introduced to the new big bad of the show: Stephen Saunders (Paul Blackthorne), a former MI6 operative that was believed killed in the same operation to take down Victor Drazen that was the focus of much of Season 1. After being left for dead by the American-led team and tortured for two years or so Saunders grew an intense hatred for the US and their “spreading of their corruptive viewpoints” so secures the deadly virus and even releases it in a hotel to show he means business before contacting the President and telling him on no uncertain terms that he will do what he says or 11 more vials of the virus will be released in major US cities. He’s a good central villain, if not a little on-the-nose evil for his first bunch of episodes though a weakness does humanise him somewhat later on. Classic Division leader and CTU regular Ryan Chapelle begins to investigate him and soon gets a bit too close so Saunders instructs the President to have Ryan killed, which he eventually agrees to but only because Chase and co are on the way to his reported location. Jack and Ryan play along and head to the assigned point only for Chase to come up empty, leaving Jack no other choice than to execute Chapelle with a bullet to the back of the head. It’s one of the most emotional and dramatic moments in the series’ eventual long history, and full credit to Paul Schulze for his performance here.

Chloe, Steven Saunders and Michelle all having very different experiences at 5:53 am…

The hunt for Saunders eventually leads to the discovery that he has a daughter who he keeps in touch with, though she has no idea of her father’s true self. With the help of Kim doubling for her (and nearly being kidnapped again but managing to kill her attacker! Progress!) she’s caught and used as a bargaining tool that eventually outs Stephen’s position giving CTU a chance to surround the building. He escapes by having Michelle kidnapped and blackmailing Toni to redirect his men, then he even goes as far as to have him break his daughter out of CTU and bring her to him, though Toni is caught by Jack on the way. The two have an understandable argument where Toni points out Jack went through the same thing with his wife back in Day 1 (a lot of callbacks to Season 1 in this half…) so he should understand but they manage to work around to an in-person handover between Toni and Stephen, which is interrupted by a massive CTU / police raid / shootout with Saunders’ men and a failed escape attempt that ends with some jets shooting down a helicopter (no, I’m serious…) Saunders is captured and his daughter’s safety used as a bargaining tool to get him to give up the location of the 11 viral bombs but one of them (the one in LA, naturally) doesn’t ping up and so the last two episodes focus on the hunt for the final vial, which ends in a tense situation where its attached to Chase’s arm and Jack has to chop his apparent future son-in-law’s arm off. This was somewhat telegraphed by Chase admitting to Jack that he was stepping down from active duty after this case, but there you go…

Jack has a bit of a cry in his car before getting back to it as the clock hits 1pm, which given all he’s been through in the past 24 hours is fair enough, really. In case you’re wondering Toni is carted off to prison for committing treason and endangering many lives all for his wife, which is also fair enough. Michelle isn’t quite sure how to take the news that he put her life above potentially millions, which is an awkward position to be in…

“….. Hands up!”

The political subplot was good fun too. President Palmer is being blackmailed by a key backer named Alan Milliken (Albert Hall) because Palmer’s brother and right hand man Wayne had an affair with his much younger wife Julia (Gina Torres) so Palmer hires his ex-wife Sherry to deal with it, and deal with it she does as she takes Alan’s medicine away from him as he’s having a heart attack right in front of Julia’s eyes. Murder not being what he wanted the President drops Sherry like a bad habit (again) but does cover for her with the police to save his own skin. Sherry being Sherry takes evidence of Palmer’s involvement in a murder case to his campaign rival in exchange for a place in his cabinet leading to Wayne and a shady man he hired to break into Sherry’s place to steal the evidence back. Sherry returns, Wayne gets caught, shady man punches Sherry’s lights out and takes the evidence, Julia arrives and says she’s being accused of murder, Julia shoots Sherry dead and then commits suicide in front of her former lover. Any possibility of linking Palmer to Alan’s death is gone but the trauma of it all leads the President to the decision to drop out of the re-election race…

Not much else to say, though I will miss the extended CTU cast seen in this season. Chase, IT wizard Adam and even Kim are all missing next season, with Chloe being the only CTU agent brought across, though Michelle and Toni do make appearances. It gives Season 4 a fresh feeling (and I’m not sorry to see Kim and Sherry depart the show to varying degrees) but it was at least nice to have a bigger and more varied CTU “family” in this season.

The Bad:

Within 24 hours Chase’s left hand gets shot right through with possible nerve damage then he has the whole thing chopped off anyway. Bit of a crap day for him all round, really…

I remember first watching this and not liking the part of the story set in the hotel where the virus outbreak happens, and now in 2021 I’m even more opposed to seeing it. Quarantining the area, people coughing and nose bleeding because they’ve caught it all being rounded into one place to basically die together, the President sending out an advisory to the people of LA not to leave their homes and not to gather in groups to stop the spread of the virus… not very appealing to watch right now, after still going through a worldwide version of it! Gael, the undercover hero from the first half of the season is among the first infected and soon dies, refusing assisted suicide because of his faith… that was unpleasant. Still, Michelle being in the hotel, having to shoot someone who was trying to escape the quarantine zone and generally not knowing if she was one of the few percent natural immune were all perfectly fine plot points and gave her and Toni something to chew on for a good chunk of the episodes, but it was still off-putting… Michelle was immune, in case you were wondering. She was kidnapped by Saunders shortly after the all clear, showing our lead villain isn’t completely stupid…

I really didn’t like Stephen Saunders’ death. He was about to identify the LA virus carrier for CTU when Gael’s widow, who happened to be there picking up his stuff, suddenly shoots him to death before being tackled to the floor weeping. It was like his part in the story is done so let’s quickly kill him off. It’s made worse given in just this half of the season we’ve seen Jack and Julia also kill in vengeance. There was a lot of revenge going around and it became less impactful each time…

Also as time went on it became more and more stupid that Chase was still commanding on the field. He spends this whole half unable to use his left hand and generally looking battered and beaten… because he was battered and beaten a few hours ago. I get suspending your disbelief, especially in a show where the same lead character keeps getting involved in horrible threats lasting exactly 24 hours, but someone else really should have taken point on some of the key Saunders missions…

Overall Thoughts:

The standout scene of the season and one of the standout scenes of the whole show.

24’s Third Season ends with some properly great moments and some tense scenes, plus an effects-heavy shootout in episode 22. While a focus on the potential spread of a deadly virus and its effects on the residents of a hotel were off-putting in 2004 let alone now in 2021, it doesn’t do too much to damage to a fun twelve hours of 24.

I don’t know when I’ll get to Season 4 but it’ll be sometime next year. Far too many new TV series coming to streaming networks in the next two months!

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