catch22girl: (awkward reunion by kools_pad)
[personal profile] catch22girl
Hm. So, I haven't said anything on ep 7 and I rewatched it last night. This...isn't about the entire episode.

Who will you lie for?

Who will you steal for?

Who will you cause pain for?

Who will you die for?

Who will you kill for?

24 has always been about how far are you willing to go and what are you willing to do to protect what you love/value. This season isn't about terrorism or saving the day - it's about family and the different permutations of family and how that impacts the character's lives. Especially important this season is the sibling dynamic. In the Bauer family they eat their young and the company is more important than any one person. It kind of reminds me of Enron and the cable company in New York and other companies where CEO's have embezzled millions of dollars and destroyed lives. There are also obvious mafia and organized crime references, only in the family people do what must be done without hesitation.

Since season one, the audience has been introduced to mirrors of Jack, people who share traits but have somehow gone over to the other side. We had Nina, Syed Ali, Saunders, Henderson, and now his actual family. If anything the writers could be accused of bringing subtext into text. Instead of a twisted father figure, we have Jack's actual dad as an evil father and Graem as evidence of the danger of loyalty. Now, when looking back, Jack isn't only afraid of becoming like Nina and Saunders: he fears becoming like his family. By making the patriarch the root of the threat, 24 has moved from action-thriller to tragedy; it also bears the question of how could someone as good hearted and self-sacrificing come from a family so evil?

Now, I could understand the complaints about how making Graem Jack's brother is over the top and ridiculous, but one thing I like about this season is that I don't feel beaten over the head with "Jack is a hero who knows all". Instead, he's human and breaking apart - for the first time the audience questions if he should even be out there or if he's too irrational to do his job. Years of torture have changed him, and when at his most vulnerable, his own father keeps guilt tripping him and telling him that "everything was for him". Jack, for all his suspicion and harshness, is unable to stop believing in people, even when faced with mountains of evidence to the contrary. I thought that it was a sexual thing, but as I mentioned in a review of last season, he always tries to appeal to people's better angels, he has a belief in innate goodness. But while Graem was willing to sacrifice, Philip acted only out of self-preservation. By killing his son, he became the most heartless character in 24 history. And his motive for killing, not because the son disappointed him (unlike Navi who is the other villain that violates this code and there's a mention of how Ramon doesn't care about his children) In almost every other instance, fathers and mothers would do anything to protect their children. Wives, husbands, siblings, those have been betrayed by numerous characters, but destroying your child is rare and goes against one of the themes of the show. In season one, Drazen was motivated by the deaths of his wife and daughter (beyond his own insanity), in season two we had Syed Ali and how he broke when faced with the death of another of his sons, season three brought Saunders and his weakness was Jane, season four, Dina and Behrooz, season five, Ivan's son was in an orphanage and his wife in jail. Now, in season six, we have a villain that is willing to sacrifice his own children to the "greater good"- it's a line few have crossed and by making this person Jack's father, the show edges into some interesting territory.

From Wikipedia's article on filicide - one can see that the 24 writers are reaching into Russian history a bit with the killing of heirs (and hey, I wonder if that's intentional). In light of revelations, Philip's cold behavior and lack of concern for Jack's well being make sense, although one does wonder if he still wants Jack to take over the company or if he's just trying to clean up this mess. But more of interest is how making Jack a product of this man affects our understanding of the character and his history. It also makes his relationship with Kim and the outcome even more tragic because he tried to be everything his own father wasn't and still failed because of things beyond his control.

Now this quote from Gordon makes more sense: "Once Jack's family comes into it, you'll get a sense of the context. And to the extent that character is destiny and family is destiny, you'll see why Jack is kind of cursed.". It's less soap opera and more myth -- it's not too hard to imagine the Erinyes as punishing Jack for his father's mistakes (interesting stuff here: Erinyes). And it's tragic because it means that the character is cursed for reasons both in his control and the sins of his father and this kind of plot twist would have much less meaning on a show that hasn't been on the air so long and that the audience hasn't seen all the evidence of how the character's life goes from bad to worse. By making the family the root of the problem, Jack doesn't suffer for *our* sins, he suffers for his own (and inherited ones), which thankfully undercuts the Jesus metaphor.

The question remains, how did Jack come out of this family and will the writers ever explore it?

The other conclusion? The 24 universe God is a wrathful God.

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December 2011

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