24 – 2×05: ’12:00pm-1:00pm’

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Written by Gil Grant
Directed by Jon Cassar
Original Air Date: 26th November, 2002

Their eyes meet across the room. It’s the moment that we’ve been waiting for since the previous hour revealed that Nina was somehow involved in the bombing of CTU. It’s a look that says everything, but it also indicates just how much things have changed already in the world of 24 in its second season.

It goes without saying that season two was already shaping up to be a considerably darker beast at this stage; the threat was larger scale and Jack Bauer appeared to be fundamentally affected by the loss of Teri and we’d been treated at various points to a more embittered and darker character as a result.

But the image of Nina Myers in handcuffs being affectively marched not only past the work colleagues that she betrayed last season (although Tony is out of the office so we don’t get to see what his reaction would have been) but also through the damage and loss of life that she is partly responsible for hits the audience with a charge about how much the infrastructure of the series is different compared to its first day.

Five episodes into season one, and Nina was on the side of the angels, frequently helping Jack at CTU or over the phone and was a few episodes away from being ‘shot’ by Jack under the duress of Ira Gaines. She was so important an ally to Jack that he managed to save her life by sneaking a flak jacket on to her, although in hindsight he might have wished he didn’t.

However, barely five episodes into season two, not only are we reminded of just how bitter and shocking a betrayal the first season ended with, but we are also reminded, as if we needed it, of the damage she caused even before CTU got blown up to compromise its attempts to stop a nuclear weapon from going off.

Jack keeps his cool while locking eyes with her, but you can see just a little bit of vulnerability creep in when she walks away. This is after all the woman that killed his wife, a person he had a relationship with while he was separated from Teri and someone whose betrayal still stings hard.

I would have liked to have seen Tony’s reaction, but the series has nicely decided to get him out of the office for a bit to allow the plotline involving the Warner family to finally catch up with the main events of the plot. You get the sense that it would eventually (and for anyone who has been indifferent to that plot so far, hold tight, it’s about to pay off big time in the next few hours), but it’s also playing in a pool that says a lot about how white people viewed others with distrust and paranoia.

It would be so easy for 24 to just make Reza a terrorist and be done with it, but you get the sense at this stage the series isn’t going to make things easy in that regards, although one could argue that some of the complexities that are about to take place here would be simplified a little bit when it would return to plots involving Islamic terrorism in later seasons.

The series is about to deliver a wonderful double whammy of interrogation next hour, and that means we do have to wait one more hour for Jack and Nina to finally share screen time again. This has the feel of a placeholder a little bit, the series coming to terms with the bombing of CTU and laying down the character and plot threads that are about to be run away with over the next couple of weeks, but it’s a good placeholder.

There is still a jittery sense of foreboding in the air that the series has masterfully placed over proceedings. A nuclear weapon about to go off at anytime cannot help but give the narrative an air of something borderline apocalyptic, and that our heroes are working in an office that has already suffered considerable loss and damage and are now having to make a deal with someone that is pretty much responsible for allowing it to happen just reiterates how down and dirty some of the plot elements are this season.

At first glance it might feel like a little bit of a let-down after the onslaught of terror and suspense that the last two episodes delivered, but it has a nice sense of pace to it and shows once again that the writers have found a way to pace themselves out for a twenty-four episode without sacrificing that air of suspense that it was becoming famous for at this stage.

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