24 Retrospective: Redemption & Day 7

If you’re reading this and you’ve watched 24, I hope that Day 7 is not your favorite, because I’m about to rip it to shreds. If it is your favorite, I hope you will at least hear me out on why I think it’s one of the worst seasons. But before I talk about Day 7, I have to talk about 24: Redemption.

The writers’ strike of 2007-08 threw a wrench in the making of Day 7, because unlike other shows, it couldn’t have a reduced number of episodes. Fox decided to forgo a traditional season for 2008 in favor of making the Day 7 prequel its own TV movie. The story of 24: Redemption was supposed to be part of Day 7, but the writers decided it ultimately didn’t make sense. Fortunately, the Sangala storyline fits quite nicely into this two-hour, real time movie.

Given how short Redemption is, there’s not too much to say about it. It focuses on Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) evacuating a boy school so they’re not drafted into the General Juma’s (Tony Todd) rebellion. Meanwhile, Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) is sworn in as President. Redemption serves its purpose, introducing most of the key players for Day 7. It’s not bad for what it is. Obviously it’s about Jack trying to do some good in the fictional African nation. Think of it as Blood Diamond featuring Jack Bauer.

There are two big things you should know about Day 7. The first is it takes Redemption’s lead and is set somewhere other than LA (finally); it’s in Washington, D.C. Day 7 is also the season that brings Tony (Carlos Bernard) back to life. The writers thought about resurrecting him as early as Day 6, but it would have caused issues if it were revealed at the end of that season like they planned. They also felt that not giving Tony a Silent Clock gave them an excuse to bring him back.

To the writers’ credit, it starts out cool. The FBI and Jack track down Tony, who’s apparently working with General Juma to bring down planes, using something called a CIP device. The tension between Jack and Tony during the interrogation is amazing. “So help me God I will kill you and you will stay dead this time.” What a line!

We find out that Tony is actually helping out Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Bill (James Morrison), the remnants of the disbanded CTU. Or so we think, as he betrays them later, revealing he’s been using them to get to someone part of the Sentox conspiracy. He’s all about avenging Michelle.

The problem is that Tony has been working with mercenaries with ties to Christopher Henderson. The reason why Tony is alive blows bags, to borrow a phrase for our Film Editor, Dan Cohen. Christopher Henderson didn’t mean to kill Tony; he planned to use his anger over the government imprisoning him and Michelle’s death. That’s an awful lot of trouble, especially since Henderson ordered her assassination. Why would Tony want to work with him or anyone associated with him? They’re the people he should want to kill!

And even though this season reveals Michelle was carrying their unborn son, mirroring the death of Teri Bauer, it’s hard to believe that the Tony Almeida we knew from previous seasons would sacrifice innocent lives for petty revenge. As Jack points out, Michelle would be ashamed of him, and he should know that.

OK, that’s my rant about Tony. Tony could have been a great villain but the show goes about it wrong. Unfortunately, now I have to talk about the theme of season. The show tries to justify all the terrible things Jack has done in the past. He’s facing a hearing all about it. Saying that he saved lives is one thing but Day 7 basically sings the praises of his methods and their effectiveness. Day 7 is pretty much the spiritual successor to Day 4. It’s the second torture season.

Get off your soapbox, 24. You really don’t know what you’re talking about in this case.

The shining exception in Day 7 is President Allison Taylor. After a string of bad and weak successors, we finally get a President worthy of David Palmer’s legacy. For as much as detractors labeled 24 as right-wing propaganda (fairly for seasons like Day 7), remember that 24 had two African Americans and a woman as President before Barack Obama took his oath. She might be a little too similar to Palmer but the show desperately needed another good Commander-in-Chief after the likes of Charles Logan and buffoon Noah Daniels. Her decision to invade Sangala to stop the genocide is a tough call, considering 300 Americans die when two planes collide. But her resolve should be commended, not allowing terrorists to blackmail America.

To briefly condense the season, the CIP device is destroyed, Jonas Hodges (Jon Voight) threatens to use a biological weapon that later infects Jack, and Tony fails to get revenge. Oh, and Janis Gold is very annoying. It’s comedian Janeane Garofalo in a role she did for the money, despite opposing co-creator Joel Surnow’s politics. She’s one of the season’s worst characters. How’s that for comedy?

Anyway, Jack does get a nice moment to reflect on his actions and his humanity as he’s put in a medically induced coma until he undergoes an experimental treatment that will likely save his life.

Jack’s Onscreen Kills: 14 in Redemption, 30 in Day 7

Day 7’s is pretty low, compared to Day 6’s massacre. However, Jack kills as many people in Redemption’s two hours as he did in all of Day 3. He is in a warzone though, so that makes sense. It features the largest variety of ways Jack kills someone in a single episode (explosive, broken neck, gunshot wound, knife wound).

Silent Clock(s): At the end of Redemption at 4:59:57pm, accompanied by music; “Day 7: 12:00pm-1:00pm” at 12:59:57pm, accompanied by breathing; “Day 7: 8:00pm-9:00pm” at 8:11:52pm, also accompanied by music

The splitscreen preceding the Silent Clock at the end of Redemption, showing Jack and the boys depart Sangala, is the longest in series history. As for the first Silent Clock of Day 7, it resembles the one at the end of Day 2. Breathing accompanies both of them, and the buried alive Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) survives like President Palmer.

The second Day 7 Silent Clock is more traditional, mourning the death of Bill Buchanan. Bill always got the job done before and he does one final time, sacrificing himself and ending the White House siege. It occurs in the middle of the episode, similar to George Mason’s. Both happened to be CTU Director.

Kim Bauer Moment(s): Colonel Dubaku (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) has a girlfriend; Olivia Taylor (Sprague Grayden) has Jonas Hodges killed; the terrorists target Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert)

Kim Bauer’s back! She’s not as bratty as before. She even manages to save Jack’s life for once by volunteering to provide her stem cells for his treatment. But we do have to suffer through her being captured again. Ugh. Day 1 did it best. This is just tedious. While not really Kim Bauer Moments, the season recycles plot lines, like an attack on the President and a biological weapon.

Olivia Taylor is THE worst character of the season. Her assassination of Jonas Hodges just makes everyone’s lives complicated. Meanwhile, Colonel Dubaku thinking he can really make his girlfriend love him when he’s a mass murderer is laughable.

“Damn It” Count: 2 in Redemption for an average DPE of 2.0; 20 for Day 7, with an average DPE of 0.83

The count in Redemption is irrelevant. The Day 7 count, on the other hand, is the exact same as Day 4. Jack has two episodes where he says it four times and one episode where he says it three.

Aaron Sarnecky is The Pop Break’s Television Editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a TV/Film grad of Rowan University and the fraternal twin of staff writer Josh Sarnecky. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed.