So Mrs SWFToys and I have finished watching Season 6 of 24. Yes, it’ probably the Season with the least impact of all 24 seasons so far. And it’s the low of a thrilling roller-coaster ride from Season 1 to the high of Season 5. After winning the Emmy with Season 5, I would have expected the creative team to be encouraged to exceed expectations with the subsequent season. Alas, it was not to be. It seems that winning the Emmy might have pressured the team to stick to a 5 season long formula that was starting to lose pace with the characters’ development.
Caution: Spoilers below. Avoid if you have not watched up to 24 Season 6.
Jack getting shipped to China was probably one of the best Season endings so far. The second I could think of would be Season 4’s. When Season 5 was putting in the exhilarating paces through each episode, everyone was wondering in the far reaches of their minds… “What about the Chinese?”. Isn’t Jack running out in the open an open declaration to the Chinese that he is not dead? Wouldn’t they grab him when he is in the field?
But Season 5’s story was superbly crafted that gave a reason so compelling that Jack would break his cover and get back to his 24 routine. I knew the Chinese thread was still loose and it will be tied at some point in time. And it came at the end when Audrey and Jack was about to be finally reunited. It was most heart wrenching when Jack was whisked away leaving Audrey waiting outside and having to live with him being gone once again. Season 5’s ending made EVERYONE want to watch Season 6! It was that great!
Before watching Season 6, I kept wondering how will the story play out? I didn’t thing a covert operation to rescue Jack from China was likely. Breaking Jack out covert will not address the issue of soothing the Chinese’ displeasure over the trespassing of their embassy grounds. It’s like reliving Season 5 again and Jack will always have the Chinese on his back. It had to be something which the Chinese will willingly agree to.
While Jack was released at the start of Season 6 due to under-the-table pact between POTUS and the Chinese, it dramatically lost the anticipation fans had waited a year for. It was too easy and too rushed to get Jack back on U.S soil to fire up the 24 routine. I felt it wasted away a great start to the Season and a great conclusion to something major in Jack Bauer’s life. For a few minutes, Jack wore a beard looking disheveled and before long, he was shaving himself taking the first step to return to the patriot we all recognise since Season 1.
Season 6 was also rather incredible in rehashing/resurrecting/reusing plots from the previous seasons. Here’s a quick lowdown of what was rehashed/resurrected/reused:
- Attempted Presidential assassination: Season 1, 2(David Palmer), Season 4(John Keeler)
- CTU Compromised: Season 1(Moles in CTU), Season 2 (CTU blown up), Season 3(Mole in CTU), Season 5(Nerve gas released)
- Nuclear threat: Season 2(Nuclear weapon), Season 4(Nuclear meltdown)
- Removing the President: Season 2(David Palmer), Season 4(John Keeler)
- Trespassing another country’s embassy: Season 4(Chinese embassy)
Yes, all five of these past plots were packed into Season 6. And reliving these plots again was truly agonising. How many times must CTU be infiltrated? The nuclear threat was used in 2 other seasons. Making them suitcase size is hardly creative. Jack going into another embassy after he was released by the Chinese? Is this now a positive demonstration on how to trespassing an embassy and not be prosecuted?
Another incredulous issue I find with Season 6 was how one of the conspirators in Season 5 turned out to be Jack’s brother! Then the father was involved. There was no mention of Jack’s family since Season 1 and all of a sudden they are conspirators and manipulators? And brother and father died on the same day. Wiping the slate could not be any cleaner.
With Abu Fayed finally killed, it’s just crazy timing for Jack to receive a call from the Chinese minutes after he strung up Fayed. It’s really the ending of a plot and the beginning of another. And it felt like the Fayed nuclear threat story line was unable to last through the 24 episodes and the Chinese story was roped in.
And finally, the most outrageous sequence in 24 came along when the Chinese stormed CTU from under their noses. With infiltrators getting into CTU from the door and underground water ways, I guess the next infiltration will be by parachute and from the roof. At least that seems to be the way the writers’ think. “Oh, we’ve used the door too many times, hmm… how about we let in the bad guys this time from sewage pipes this time?” As always, the CTU guards got shot before any of their bullets helped the situation. It’s weird that a government building with super agents like Jack and their field teams are guarded by such incompetent security personnel.
And to rub salt into the wound, the Chinese commandos entered CTU wearing a singlets and casual wear while CTU’s commandos are always decked out in field wear. I’m sure the Chinese government can fit their commandos with appropriate unidentifiable field wear as well right? Zhou Yong in a singlet is just as nuts as the brazen storming of CTU.
Despite my rantings about Season 6, it is still a much better watch than other TV offerings anytime. But for an ardent 24 fan who has followed through the seasons, Season 6 is a unimaginative hotchpotch of story lines from past seasons and the insertion of crazy story lines.
It’s sad that it took the disappointed voices of fans(and not an Emmy) to make the creators of 24 rethink how to take series beyond Season 6. They decided to do away with CTU… which is good although I will miss the place. I’m not sure what Jack’s role will be and if Audrey and him will be together again.
I start another year of waiting for the next season of 24 and Jack not quite fulfilled as with past years…