[This is a review of 24: Live Another Day episode 8. There will be SPOILERS]
In as much as 24: Live Another Day is like any other season of 24, episodes are generally at their best when taking a moment to analyze the moral tightrope its characters are walking at any given moment in order to achieve their respective objectives. And as far as any given episode goes, '6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.' is willing to delve into the mindset of people like Jack, President Heller, Mark Boudreau, and even Margot Al-Harazi in order to provide some level of understanding that might help explain what, precisely, their particular intention or purpose is at the moment.
If for nothing else, then, it comes as something of a surprise when the seemingly irrational Margot Al-Harazi, a woman whose apparent zealotry toward her singular cause led her to maim and later attempt to murder her own daughter, is suddenly willing to scuttle her plans to devastate London once President Heller agrees to surrender himself to her and her hellfire missiles. The suggestion takes her son by surprise, and he does little to hide his misgivings regarding Margot's potential decision. But that's not really the concern of the moment. Instead, '6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.' winds up asking a different question regarding Margot: Is her unexpected willingness to play fair a character inconsistency, or is it an intriguing wrinkle in what was until now a somewhat one-dimensional baddie? This sudden contradiction certainly suggests the latter, but as positive and potentially convenient as it is to suggest there's a villain wiling to play by a certain code, there are still plenty of episode's left to figure out whether or not Margot's sense of justice and fair play are the real deal.
At the same time, however, President Heller's decision to actually surrender himself and sacrifice his life also affords an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of his mind. Heller's acquiescing to Margot's demands is on one hand a heroic gesture that – provided Margot is a woman of her word – will likely save the lives of thousands of people. On the other hand, as Audrey tearfully suggests during her very heated exchange with Mark, there's some lingering doubt as to whether or not Heller was of sound mind when he made his decision. There's also a question of Heller's desire to die because, as the president explains, his Alzheimer's diagnosis is essentially a death sentence anyway, one that comes with the torture of slowly having his life and memories peeled away from him.
In the end, '6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.' creates a compelling comparison between father and daughter, and mother and son, and how the competing ideologies regarding the parents' beliefs and the doubt their children have concerning the decisions made by those ostensibly in charge say a great deal about both sides without the need for expository dialogue.
Structurally speaking, the episode felt stronger than the previous two outings, and it gives some hope that things will indeed pick up as Live Another Day heads into the stretch of the final four episodes. Here, the hour managed to balance Jack and Kate quite well (even if Jack's escape from the residence with Heller played out like a side mission from a video game), while Jordan's terrible first day in the field managed to breathe some life into the dull and far too tangential subplot of Navarro being a mole. Hopefully, Jordan will act as the catalyst to bring Kate and maybe Jack into the fold to liven things up there a bit.
Mostly, though, '6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.' hinges on the final shot of what looks to be President Heller and a good portion of the pitch at Wembley Stadium being taken out by Margot's drone. Again, structurally speaking, the fact that the episode ends with Heller's apparent demise is telling, especially when it comes to a show like 24, which keeps people like Chloe O'Brian on hand to potentially offer a way out of what seems like a literal dead-end. That leads to the question: Will the next episode confirm what the audience thinks they saw, or does 24 have a familiar trick up its sleeve? Perhaps what's most interesting, then, is that, at this point, it will be something of a surprise no matter which decision Live Another Day makes.
24: Live Another Day continues next Monday with '7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.' @9pm on FOX.
Photos: Daniel Smith