Exposition, Posturing, Plot Twists

We’re through the 8:00 hour of Fox’s television show 24, and I must say that I actually find it quite interesting. I have always been an avid conspiracy nut, and for a good period my favorite show was The X-Files, coincidentally another Fox showing. With X…well…sucking for the past few seasons, I’ve lost all interest in it, and have found my solace primarily in the incredible, oft-dissed, frequently misunderstood Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Basically, I like shows that have over-arching stories that last more than a single episode or two. While the episodic format is fine, I want to see real character development, interaction, and change. Over time in life things do change. Sure it would be great to have Buffy’s gang stay in high school for a few more years and live in that (comparatively) care-free world, but that is not how the real world works. Things change, people change, time marches on.

I like 24 because time marches on in complete context. They can’t pull any of those time tricks, moving events around and letting episodes span multiple days for purposes of the story. Being, as I am, so interested in all things time, I see 24 as a grand experiment in the medium. Like Buffy, 24 is completely implausible and requires a viewer to suspend disbelief. Of course most shows are this way, but the reason I compare these two is because they consciously suspend reality, as opposed to other shows that try to pretend like what happens in their plot lines really occurs in the real world.

Many people found The X-Files grating when it spent too much time delving into the whole big conspiracy thing and not just focusing on individual events. I found it fascinating. I loved the contrast between day-to-day affairs and sinister old men in the background, working slowly to some secret end. After Fight the Future, the X-Files movie, the conspiracy was basically ended in the stupidest way possible. There was literally an episode where every worldwide member of the Syndicate crowded into a warehouse and was exterminated by some evil aliens. Poof! Conspiracy gone! It disgusted me, and that is when I stopped watching the show.

24 gives me the huge conspiracy like I see in Buffy and The X-Files, combined expertly with individual stories, all compressed into one twenty-four hour time frame. The fact that it works is a testament to the brilliance of the story producers and writers.

So it is hour 9. Where are we? We have a blown up plane, a stolen ID card, plastic surgery, computer hacking, lots of shooting, and a few deaths. Kiefer’s wife and kid are kidnapped in the Compound of Terror ™ and he is the puppet of the conspirators. The question up until 7:00am was whether Palmer was the real target of all this, and whether his assassination was really in order. At the end of that ep, we found out that it, in fact, was. I am still convinced, however, that Palmer is only a small pawn in this game. My friends here disagree, so allow me to elaborate.

If you want to kill a president or a presidential candidate, there are many options. There is always shooting, which is generally effective and can be done with one person. Or there is the standard conspiracy theory, with shadowy influences paying off smart people to carry off an expert hit done in just the right way to cause the most damage. So here we have terrorists blowing up airplanes, tapping into sophisticated security systems, planting dozens of agents in the area, all so that one guy can walk in, pull out a gun, shoot Palmer, and hand the gun off to Kiefer? This is completely non-sensical. As mentioned over at Flak, it would be much easier to blow up Palmer than to blow up an entire plane just for purposes of getting an ID card. Especially since it is obvious that Gaines already had several agents in the Palmer breakfast that day.

Furthermore, why all of this obsession with Kiefer? Killing Palmer would be much easier without using him, and much quicker, with far fewer variables. Additionally, why the keycard? What data is stored on it? Jamie says all she did was give Gaines access to CTU’s security camera system. If so, then who was smuggling top-secret information out of the CIA? Obviously this is much bigger than one presidential candidate. After all, if you don’t want him to win, you could always rig the election.

No, this is something big, involving very powerful corporate or military interests, not necessarily America. This is a sophisticated and well-coordinated plan to bring down much more than just one man. Using Kiefer as an inside man is brilliant in that he has a relatively high position in the CIA power structure, he has lots of access, and there is probably reams of psych profile information on him thanks to his well-publicized exploits within the Agency.

I think you can see where I’m coming from when I say Kiefer is no Lee Harvey Oswald. There was a specific reason why they wanted him at that breakfast to hold the gun that shot Palmer, a gun that, we notice, was marked with fingerprints by the assassin, fingerprints of unknown origin. Surely they aren’t Kiefer’s — he is going to hold the gun anyway — so who else are we linking to the gun, and why? What is the ultimate plan here? What are we trying to do? They consistently keep us guessing.

This is the kind of show I like. 🙂

One reply on “Exposition, Posturing, Plot Twists”

  1. When the UPN network first started there was this great show called Nowhere Man that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, it disapeared when the UPN changed target audiences. I too enjoy long story arcs, which is why I liked such shows as DS9 (also oft-dissed, frequently misunderstood), Babylon 5, and the X-files during that period where everyone liked it. It is however, very difficult to have a massive amount of backstory, and if your show lasts 5 seasons or longer (such as babylon5 or ds9) new viewers are extremely difficult to gain. Most people are not losers like me and as such, can’t watch soap opera Sci Fi or drama =)

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