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Throwback Thursday - 24 - Day 5: 7.00PM - 8.00PM

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Throwback Thursday, a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from over the years.

Note: This review will be slightly different to the way I did my Live Another Day reviews

With Valentine's Day falling this weekend, I'm sure there was probably a nice romantic episode of something that I could've chosen to review. Instead, I picked an episode that ripped my heart out on two different occasions, and still does nearly nine years after its original broadcast.

Quick side note – This is absolutely my favourite episode of my favourite television show ever (which I begun watching ten years ago on the 31st January). Since this episode aired, I’d estimate that I’ve watched it well in excess of 20 times; I’ve also watched each season at least 5 times – so as you can probably tell if you didn’t know already, I’m a bit of a 24 fanatic. Anyway, enough of that. Let’s actually talk about the episode.

Previously on 24: Ostroff, a terrorist working with Vladimir Bierko, successfully reprograms Lynn McGill’s CTU key card to gain access to CTU himself and deploy Sentox Nerve Gas. Vice President Hal Gardner suggests to President Logan that he should issue a pre-emptive declaration of martial law in Los Angeles. Jack tells Kim why he couldn’t tell her that he was alive. Bill Buchanan tells Tony Almeida that Michelle's death was part of a bigger plan to supply terrorists with Sentox nerve gas, and that Christopher Henderson was responsible. Henderson is interrogated by Rick Burke. Jack is told by Buchanan that CTU has been compromised. Jack kills Ostroff, but not before the nerve gas is released, and Buchanan orders an evacuation. A handful of CTU personnel make it into safe zones, but Edgar is unable to make it and quickly dies from the gas. Chloe begins to cry as Edgar dies.

The following takes place between 7:00PM and 8:00PM

Bottle episodes seem to be growing more and more popular in recent years, with some such episodes even being among some of the best of the respective show. This bottle episode wasn’t an exception, as it delivered two gut punches with a whole lot of tension in between.

The two deaths are as good a place as any to start. Lynn McGill really wasn’t a likeable character. Sure, they started him off in some likeable manner, with his valuable help in stopping the airport attack and agreeing that Jack wasn’t responsible for killing David Palmer (ignoring for the minute that he had him detained in between these two events).

But then he went off the rails. Having been beaten and robbed by his sister’s boyfriend, the pressure that Logan was putting on him to find the nerve gas got to him – detaining Buchanan, ignoring credible threats to Suvarov and threatening Audrey. Oh, and it took him five hours to report his key card stolen, which meant that CTU was attacked.

Harry Swinton, the guard locked in Holding Four with Lynn summed things up pretty well. “So we’re all gonna die because you were embarrassed?” What I love about this episode is that Lynn went from being the man who indirectly crippled CTU to being the hero that saved its survivors. He probably didn’t deserve the chance at redemption in general, but it was fitting that his sacrifice saved those whom he put in danger.

His death and the death of Harry Swinton was made highly emotional, as most 24 deaths were. The phone call between Swinton and his daughter was heartbreaking to watch, despite knowing virtually nothing about him – a trend often seen when final goodbyes to family members, especially young children, is involved. Lynn’s death made me emotional due to the fact that he was making up for his mistakes with his sacrifice. Also, I have to commend Sean Callery’s excellent score which really adds to this scene. Without it, I really doubt that the scene would have been as emotional as it was.

And then we come to Tony. Poor Tony. His wife died virtually right beside him, and he forgot it because of the injuries that he sustained, injuries that left him in a coma for several hours. He was then lied to about Michelle’s fate before finding out the truth. Then, he found out that Henderson was just in the next room, but Jack prevented Tony from killing him. It had been a rough few hours for Tony.

As the barriers lifted with CTU safe, and with Henderson resisting the interrogation, Tony decided it was time that he got his revenge. Every time I watch this scene, I always think in my head ‘Just shoot him, Tony’ or ‘Run faster, Jack’ or ‘Tony, he’s awake!’ The outcome never changes.

The episode’s end was the moment that defined Tony’s character – his actual character, not whatever he became in season 7. He loved his wife, and would do anything for her (case in point: season 3 – committing treason to rescue her), which included avenging her death. But Tony couldn’t do it. He was better than that, and it cost him his life (ignore for the moment that he didn’t actually die – you didn’t know that when it first aired).

Again, I have to credit Callery for an excellent score here. He really captured the intensity of the scene as Jack tried to talk Tony down, and then the emotion as Jack cradled his dying friend. “She’s gone, Jack” was a great final line for Tony, and it was well played by Carlos Bernard. Kiefer Sutherland was fantastic as always here too. His death was hard to watch, and to this day, seeing that scene still makes me want to cry.

Additionally, Chloe’s reaction to Edgar’s death was also difficult to watch. I though Mary Lynn Rajskub effectively conveyed Chloe’s shock and upset over her best friend’s death. That led to some nice interaction between her and Barry Landes, which in turn resulted in some great interaction between Jack and Landes.

Kim was all Jack had left, but equally, in her time of need, Barry was all she had. That created quite an interesting dynamic in terms of both men wanting to do what they thought was best for her. In actuality, I don’t think either were fully right or wrong. Jack was right in wanting to spent time with his daughter (though her reasoning for not wanting to was sound), but he was wrong in not wanting Barry to be around her and vice versa. The story didn’t really go all that far, but it raised the tension in an already stressful situation, which was good from an entertainment standpoint.

After some pretty major problems between the two in recent episodes, Charles and Martha (Logan) had a great scene towards the end of the episode. Gregory Itzin and Jean Smart were superb in the roles throughout the season, but I especially loved them in this episode. The show of emotion from Logan towards Martha was great to watch. Itzin did a great job and it was nice to see the two connect again, because with Logan having confined Martha to a psychiatric facility and being a traitor, yet still loving her (and until she discovered his betrayal, she loved him too), their relationship was so interesting to watch – nearly as interesting as David and Sherry’s.

The episode also introduced Karen Hayes, who obviously became a more crucial character in the following season. In contrast to Lynn, Karen wasn’t especially great at the beginning, but developed into a well-liked character. Her utterance to Miles (he wasn’t a nice character at all) that they had to send home those who weren’t “up to full capacity” and that it wasn’t “an operational entity” was so far off the mark.

This wasn’t the best episode of season 5 – there were at least four that topped it in terms of quality (the premiere, 6.00PM – 7.00PM, 9.00PM – 10.00PM and the season finale immediately come to mind) but this has always been the one that stood out as my favourite.

Decrypting the CTU files:

  • Bringing back Tony in season 7 was a terrible idea. This was a fantastic way to end his story and there was really no need to bring him back.
  • Lynn and Swinton could have survived had Swinton gone to the armoury and gotten gas masks and to medical storage for the atropine while Lynn disabled the computer system (note: I have no idea where in CTU the armoury or medical storage is in relation to Holding Four, so this plan likely falls apart very quickly).
  • Why was Mike talking to the Vice President on the phone rather than in person, given that he was on the retreat?
  • How easy was it for Jack to cut the panels off?
  • The pink fluid that came out of both Swinton and (in particular) Lynn’s mouths as they died is the only thing on 24 that I just won’t watch. Such a disgusting few seconds.
  • How long was Doctor Besson unconscious for? Tony knocked him out right at the start of the episode and he still hadn’t come around by the end.
  • “What’s with you and the breathing? Is that your solution to everything?”
  • “It could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing, that’s what I don’t know means.”
  • Until I see the opening credits, it never really registers with me that C Thomas Howell, Stana Katic and Henry Ian Cusick are all in this episode.
  • “She’s gone, Jack.” bawls

So, what did you all think of this episode? Did you find the deaths were emotional? Do you agree that they should never have brought back Tony? Let me know in the comments!

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About the Author - Bradley Adams
16 year old based in England, currently Senior Staff at SpoilerTV. Most of his posts are news/spoiler based, though he is currently the reviewer of Person of Interest, as well as being in charge of the yearly 'Favourite Episode Competition'. A big TV fan, his range of shows are almost exclusively dramas, with some of his all-time favourite shows including 24, LOST, Breaking Bad and Friends. Some of his current favourites include Person of Interest, Arrow and The Walking Dead. He also runs an Arrow blog, ArrowFansUK, and aside from TV, is a keen cricketer. Get in touch with him via the links below or via email
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