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Monday, November 24, 2008

Some Random Thoughts on 24: Redemption

Introduction: please note that I will talk a bit about plot and so if you haven't seen it and want to, you may not want to read further.

No one got a more raw deal from the writer's strike than fans of the show 24 which saw the entire season cancelled because of the timing of the strike. That's why this season's prequal 24: Redemption was a welcome to all super fans. Here are a few thoughts.

First, I immediately put myself in the postion of the President. There was a military coup trying to take over a country we are allied with. The government is democratically elected. Yet, the country offers no strategic value to ours and we would be inserting ourselves into their Civil War. Would I, as President, insert troops to help the Democratically elected government? While I reserve my right to change my opinion based on new information, at this point I would not. The President of the United States represents the interests of the United States. The President is not the chief do gooder. Our country needs to have a strategic reason to insert itself into a war, and merely avoiding a genocide of an internal conflict is not enough reason.

Second, the scene that will stick with me for the longest period of time is the scene in which Jack's special ops buddy, Robert Benton, turns himself into a suicide bomber in order to take out the posse that was out to assassinate them in the woods. There is something perverse and very powerful about showing a scene in which someone uses the technique of a suicide bombing to a strategic asymetrical warfare victory of sorts. By drawing the posse in, Benton was able to blow them up with him (he had stepped on a mine trying to save one of his kids from the same mine). This gave Jack and the kids he was with a free path into the city.

Third, I just love how the UN peacekeeper was portrayed as not only hapless but also as totally void of character and courage. That's the television show version of giving your audience red meat. Furthermore, the description is totally accurate and appropriate.

Fourth, many of the scenes reminded me of the movie, Blood Diamond. That's frankly because both are able to rather accurately portray the unfortunate realities of life in much of Africa. The use of children to fight Civil Wars is a very unfortunate fact of life on that continent. The initial scene in which a child is essentially forced to behead a prisoner is very similar to one out of Blood Diamonds. That's frankly because both portray everyday realities of Civil Wars in Africa.

Finally, it appears the show may take a decidedly left slant this season. If this is intentional, it is also brilliant. There are quarters of liberal thought where this show is seen as some sort of a right wing schill. This season may present injecting ourselves into a Civil War to avoid a genocide as good and noble, a la the Sudan and many other left wing causes. Certainly, the new President will be in favor of such an action. It also appears possible that the show will take a decidedly more negative stance to Jack's torture, another sore spot for the most rabid leftwing critics of the show. If the show presents a more left wing perspective, that will leave critics with little more to criticize. It's hard to criticize it's suspense, acting, writing, presentation, or anything else. The only thing you could criticize is its supposed politics. By presenting this season from the other ideology, that will leave no more criticism at all.


Soccer Dad said...

The Left likes to portray the show as glorifying torture. But that's only a superficial understanding of the show. 24 is about what happens when your choices are between bad and worse.

Benton's death was a perfect example of that. Once it was established he would die, he decided to make it worth it. (Like Samwise Gamgee in Season 5 who had to stop the poison gas from killing everyone else.)

I hope that the show isn't moving leftward, but I fear you may be right. One of the things that ruined Season 6 was the pervasive PC-ness.

mike volpe said...

As long as there is non stop suspense, Jack being Jack, plenty of office politics involving national security, political intrigue, and everything else that makes the show great, I really don't care what their political ideology is. It isn't as though I will be convinced that inserting ourselves in the Sudan is a good idea because that's how it's portrayed on 24.