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a series of "whoas" strung together
July 25, 2014 10:36 AM   Subscribe

The success of “24” was just one innovation of the ‘00s that helped change the TV landscape into what we’re living with today. Another was the rise of the premium cable drama. “The Sopranos” wasn’t HBO’s first original series, but it was its first to draw comparisons to Shakespeare. Broadcast networks, seeing all that prestige flowing higher on the dial, started pushing the boundaries of what kind of language and imagery they could get away with in order for network series to be as dark and transgressive as premium-network fare. Or at least, I assume that’s how I came to see a human corpse turned into a cello on NBC’s “Hannibal” last year.
Tara Ariano on Why Jack Bauer Is to Blame for ‘Bonkers TV’
(Article contains some SPOILERs for Game of Thrones, Salem, Scandal, and American Horror Story.)
posted by Atom Eyes (55 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jack Bauer is responsible for desensitizing Americans to the immorality of breaking the law in the name of "anti-terrorism".

Fuck that show.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:43 AM on July 25 [47 favorites]


I read a piece once that described American Horror Story as being like "a series of escalating dares" between the writers. That is apt. I enjoy the heck out of that show, but they will pack the amount of bonkers shit you'd expect in an an entire season of a normal show into the first three episodes.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:45 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


It's one of the only shows that adheres perfectly to the unity of time, though, so I always have to use it as an example in first year Drama.
posted by jrochest at 10:46 AM on July 25


But by the time you notice how thin the characters are, you’re hooked.

Here's where this article goes off the rails. Lots of great TV shows with wonderful writing and deep characters live for the "woah" moments. If you are a fan of the Breaking Bad, I bet you can name 20.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:47 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Jack Bauer is responsible for desensitizing Americans to the immorality of breaking the law in the name of "anti-terrorism".


I think Americans' lack of critical reasoning abilities and an ahistorical understanding of world events are to blame for that.
posted by milarepa at 10:51 AM on July 25 [9 favorites]


People often compare art to a mirror, in that case 24 is a mirror that shows Americans the world as they would like it to be.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:59 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


That's a genuinely weird metonymy in the headline. This Jack Bauer, is he a writer, a producer, a showrunner, or a studio exec?

Of course I wouldn't mention it, since Ariano probably didn't write it, except that the whole rest of the piece is also so shot through with similar form-content confusions that it still seems symptomatic. Unpredictability, implausibility, and surprise have a lot less to do with spectacle, violence, and sex than this piece claims; the highly predictable gore of horror shows should really count as a point against the "bonkers" argument, not for it.
posted by RogerB at 11:01 AM on July 25


Fictional character blamed for creating the environment that created him.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:08 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


Like one of Jack Bauer's suspects, this argument is tortured.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:10 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


IAmBroom:
"Fuck that show."
Eh, I enjoyed that show as well-executed dumb yet thrilling entertainment. Pure anecdata of course: I know lots of people who enjoyed the show. Pretty much mostly liberal lefties like me and not one of them has ever suggested that things really should work that way and, based on conversations we've had they're all quite adamantly opposed to breaking the law in the name of anti-terrorism and seem to be able to distinguish between entertainment and reality at least to some degree.

I'm sure there's plenty of people out there who DO think that's exactly how things should be and who support these kinds of policies but I'm not sure they do so because of 24.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:11 AM on July 25 [4 favorites]


Was 24 that big a deal? I remember it being on and I watched a few episodes but I don't remember it being a topic of general conversation the way that Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad or Walking Dead is today.
posted by octothorpe at 11:13 AM on July 25


I don't understand TV- and movie-centered people who take the events in adaptations of books as a statement about the TV and movie industry. Take Game of Thrones: Ned Stark's death was published in 1996. Yes, it was shocking. No, Jack Bauer wasn't responsible for it.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:14 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


It's not like Game of Thrones is written like that just for TV. Ned Stark died in the first book too. And as many surprises as Hannibal has thrown at those of us familiar with the source material, the presence of gruesome art murder isn't one of them. All in all while there is a little merit to the basic idea, the OP seems very confused about where TV shows come from.
posted by localroger at 11:14 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


"___ killed/abducted my child/spouse/friend and now I have to go on a shooting rampage!"

"There's a bomb and the only way to get the terrorist to tell me where is to kill this baby!"

etc.

That sort of stuff is obviously a great way to make an action movie or show but it's pretty stupid. I guess it's called revenge fantasy. Not that I have never watched that kind of thing but I'm aware of how ridiculous it is compared to, say, Beverly Hills 90210.
posted by freecellwizard at 11:20 AM on July 25


You can have your chicken and egg arguments as to what's responsible for this environment, but when the protagonist of the show regularly engages in torture to extract information to further his cause, the character continues to be delivered fairly unambiguously as the protagonist, and that show is aired in prime-time to a FOX audience...well. That's troubling.
posted by mcstayinskool at 11:21 AM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Argh, I am become that wiener who sees the point of the article, and cannot get past how it is written. I don't know if it needed better editing or was destroyed by it, but I cannot with the run-ons or almost run-ons followed by EMPHATIC FRAGMENTS. Generally I like Tara's output in shorter formats and her podcast, though. Web writers who are masters of their own echo chamber domains often seem to have trouble making these transitions. (I'll show myself out now.)
posted by Lardmitten at 11:36 AM on July 25


Scalia loves 24.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:37 AM on July 25


This article is a bit all over the place to my perspective. TV is a medium for expression, just like sculpture, like painting, like dance, like writing, like music. Over the history of those mediums, we have seen development, boundaries pushed, new methods and styles come and go and branch off. Why expect TV to be any different? Why pin it on one TV show when I think you could argue that the entire development of this or any medium has been to see how to use it to make a point, tell a story, evoke an emotional response, or just to entertain. Which just gives rise to a bunch of questions in my head:

In the larger cultural context of which TV is only one player, has there not been an overall trend of pushing boundaries of acceptability? The rise of "torture porn" horror movies, as an example? Or Fifty Shades of Grey, as another?

I think a question that needs to be asked is - when a show/movie/book/painting/whatever form is transgressing a boundary, why is it doing so? Is it only for the shock value and commercial exploitation of the form, or is there something more behind it? And is there necessarily something bad about one or the other of these options? I generally prefer my "transgressive" stuff to do so the service of evoking some larger ideas rather than just as entertainment/shock value, but there are lots of audiences who don't seem to mind. Why should I judge them?

And maybe another question - are we experiencing a faster rate of shifts and boundary "transgressions" inside these forms? Is TV pushing boundaries faster than music has over its development?

And like all things - these developments cut both ways: Would we have Breaking Bad without shows like 24?

Think the most famous member of an ensemble cast is definitely going to survive the very murderous first season of “Game of Thrones”? Ask Sean Bean, who played Ned Stark, how that worked out.

Or, you know, ask the people who've read the fucking books who knew exactly how it was going to turn out. GoT might be about to head into uncharted territory, but the first four years have been "transgressive" with regards to the plot events only in the sense that they brought in viewers who didn't already know the existing narrative arc. The show's problematic use of sexposition and rape scenes is another matter in terms of transgressiveness.
posted by nubs at 11:39 AM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I'm with IAmBroom -- the politics of 24 caused me instant nausea. Rationalize it all you want -- it pitches torture etc as a solution and sells ads in the process.

A low point in our civilization even if the craft of the show is impressive. That just makes it worse really.
posted by philip-random at 11:39 AM on July 25 [6 favorites]


Eh, I enjoyed that show as well-executed dumb yet thrilling entertainment. Pure anecdata of course: I know lots of people who enjoyed the show. Pretty much mostly liberal lefties like me and not one of them has ever suggested that things really should work that way

Unfortunately, this anecdata does not cover West Point cadets, Fox News talking heads, or Supreme Court Justices about the influence of 24 on the American government's policy "enhanced interrogation":

"The kids see it, and say, 'If torture is wrong, what about 24?' The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do."—West Point lecturer and retired counterintelligence officer Stuart Herrington

"The average American out there loves the show 24. OK? They love Jack Bauer. They love 24. In my mind that's close to a national referendum that it's OK to use tough tactics against high-level Al Qaeda operatives as we're going to get."—Laura Ingraham in conversation with Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor

"24's Jack Bauer has it right. People need to wake up to the possibility of nuclear attack."—Fox News' The Big Story host John Gibson

"Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles.... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives… Are you going to convict Jack Bauer? Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so."—Justice Antonin Scalia

24's place on the propaganda spectrum may be on the fictional end, with its agitprop packaged between cliffhangers, but it's part of it nonetheless.

Seriously, fuck that show.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:41 AM on July 25 [35 favorites]


Actually, the discussion of Salem just reminded me of the ongoing jokes that they make about it on The Wil Wheaton Project (it's not bad, deal with it); where they riff on a theory that the appeal of Salem is that it's juuuuuuuuuuust skirting the line of being softcore porn. You don't watch for the plot or the characters, you watch because there's a slim chance you might see actual boobies.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:42 AM on July 25


I don't know how important 24 is to "bonkers" TV, but it sure goes a long way towards promoting the idiotic machismo notion that well, sometimes you just gotta torture folks to do the right thing.

Mind you, that just brings to mind my grumpy belief that The X-Files made moronic conspiracy theories mainstream-plausible and enabled our present-day endlessly recirculating bullshit breeder reactor of false flag and other post-rationality counterarguments against Occam's shiny shiny razor.
posted by sonascope at 11:48 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Before "24", I used to think of Torture as something evil the Japanese and Nazis did to people during WWII... that damned show made it acceptable, and even favorable to most Americans.

I too think that show deserves a ban hammer.
posted by MikeWarot at 11:51 AM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Was 24 that big a deal?

Oh gods yes.

Pure propaganda for the Bush wars on Terror, massively popular and massively hyped by the chickenhawk circuit and the sort of chinstroking Slate centrist daring to ask the difficult question of when torture should be allowed.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:55 AM on July 25 [8 favorites]


It's been years since I watched 24, but I did watch up to season six or so, and recall that Jack Bauer's interrogation methods would regularly result in him receiving faulty information, and would leave his associates sickened by his brutality. He definitely tortures people who are shown to be innocent.

Beyond that, it portrays a world where spies and terrorists run rampant in the highest levels of government. At least once, the President of the United States is revealed to be the season's primary antagonist. It's not a show with a message about how we should unquestioningly support the government, and America is always the best.

Now, I'm not saying any of this necessarily makes 24 defensible, just that its relationship to torture and the War on Terror is way more complicated and bizarre than most of you are making it out to be. (It's probably fair to call it incoherent, though.)

If some scumbag military contractor says that Jack Bauer's his hero, that guy's probably doesn't watch the show very closely, as Jack Bauer is unambiguously characterized first and foremost as a paranoid, heroin-addicted monster, haunted by the lives he's destroyed.
posted by incomple at 11:59 AM on July 25 [5 favorites]


Or at least, I assume that’s how I came to see a human corpse turned into a cello on NBC’s “Hannibal” last year.

I think CSI is pretty much to "blame" for more graphic material being on tv. First you are able to see it in clinical moments, like in a lab, and then it becomes just normal to see different body parts splattered here and there.
posted by xingcat at 12:06 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


I like the thesis but want to use it with 'The Love Boat' instead.
posted by srboisvert at 12:11 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


Mind you, that just brings to mind my grumpy belief that The X-Files made moronic conspiracy theories mainstream-plausible and enabled our present-day endlessly recirculating bullshit breeder reactor of false flag and other post-rationality counterarguments against Occam's shiny shiny razor.

My even grumpier theory is that Fox is fine with the The Simpsons' liberal streak as long as its more cynical satire helps to undermine the audience's faith in political and municipal institutions, embodied in the likes of Mayor Quimby and Principal Skinner, and to prime them for the kind of mob mentality that fuels the Tea Baggers.

I think CSI is pretty much to "blame" for more graphic material being on tv.

Please, don't get me started about the so-called CSI Effect on real-life jurors' opinions about evidence and reasonable doubt.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:18 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Hannibal's murder porn is taken to such extremes that the meticulousness with which they (are forced to) hide nipples and genitalia from the piles of naked corpses on display is absolutely hilarious. Christ, the sheer scope of the double standards involved. To me, that's still the most bonkers thing about US network TV.
posted by jklaiho at 12:44 PM on July 25 [8 favorites]


At least in the early seasons -- I haven't watched much recent 24, I just lost interest -- it was always made pretty clear that Jack Bauer's methods were entirely outside the law. Hence all the stuff about obtaining Presidential pardons and whatnot, or having to live as a fugitive for a while when things didn't pan out.

That strikes me as a lot more reasonable than legislation that makes what he's doing actually legal. There's at least an acknowledgement in the show that "hey this is really not something that we should be doing regularly, in fact, we probably shouldn't be doing it all, but fuck there's an atomic bomb so..." and then he does something that he knows is illegal as hell in the hope that he'll be forgiven later.

That a lot of the show's audience is too dumb to pick up on the gaping chasm of difference between "hero does something that's illegal in the hope that he'll be forgiven" and "let's make this heinous thing legal on the off chance it might be convenient" is really not the fault of the show.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:14 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Corey Robin's The Reactionary Mind has a good bit about how many conservative attitudes towards torture are exactly this. They do not want for torture to be legal. They want it to be applied outside the law, to "outlaws", in the original sense of the word: those criminals so heinous that they do not deserve the protections enjoyed by the rest of us.

Analogously, I have conservative friends who defend Guantanamo, etc. on the basis that "soldiers out of uniform" had once been shot on sight. Therefore, anything less severe than that is more or less a bonus, a system to be devised at the whim of the US.

Contrast as well with the distaste people have for Dershowitz's views on torture. In general, people either think that torture should be genuinely forbidden, or that it should be applied in Jack Bauer-esque situations, outside of the law. The idea that there could be a "torture warrant" is abhorrent to just about everybody.

Also look at how romantically they depict Bauer's life on the run. He's the lone wolf, a renegade, turn in your badge and gun, blah blah blah.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:28 PM on July 25


I lump 24 in the same category as Dexter -- a story about a serial killer who mostly sticks to killing people worse than him, so ehhh, we'll give him a pass, I suppose, as long as it's mildly interesting to watch him work. (It reminds me of that great line from Weeds about how Shane is on a path to becoming a serial killer that hunts other serial killers.) In the back of my mind I guess I knew that there were people that actually view Jack Bauer as a righteous hero, but dear god is it scary to see it out on display just how vehemently they adore this awful character.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:29 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


24 is without a doubt one of the most addictive TV shows ever created, and that makes it an incredibly fun artistic achievement, period. But it's a superhero fantasy, popular precisely because it fulfilled wishes people already had. At most it reinforced these attitudes a bit.

Anyway, if we're talking about ideas it may have re-enforced, it also featured a highly prominent and competent black president years before Obama took office, and was very careful about gender and racial diversity in its cast of heroes and villains both.
posted by shivohum at 2:08 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


I think the torture-porn aspect of 24 is a bit of a derail here. I only watched the first couple seasons, but I thought that in terms of storytelling the most notable thing about it was that it was "all twists, all the time."

(I binge-watched the first season when I first got (pre-streaming, DVD-only) Netflix, and I remember being really uncomfortable just walking down the street afterward, because I'd just spent hours immersed in the operative principle that most of the people you see are terrorists or moles who will kill you gruesomely the second you turn your back. Which I think is really what makes it a conservative show -- it's a world where existential threats lurk around every corner and you can't trust anyone, least of all institutions. It's paranoid politics embodied.)

I've seen a few prime time soaps second-hand, and I think there's actually a lot of similarity -- constant twists and "surprise" reveals. And I agree (I think) with the author's lament that this is really lazy and ultimately unengaging storytelling. A surprise only works if you actually believe in and care about the fictional world or its characters, and it's hard to believe in or care about things that you know are going to be completely upended the instant the writers find it convenient.

But I don't think this is new. Haven't soap operas done this since forever? And roping in something like Game of Thrones, whose "twists" are clearly part of the larger story, is a bit of a reach.
posted by bjrubble at 2:09 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


24's subtext of the Global War on Terror makes it more significant than "just a series of 'whoas' strung together", in the NYT writer's phrasing. No pun intended, but there's nothing "just" about a hit show tapping into the zeitgeist the way it did. Its M.O. of cliffhangers and plot twists kept the audience watching, even as it expressed its underlying political points and worldview (incoherent as these could be). In that respect, it differs from Scandal, Game of Thrones, and Salem, but that's hardly a derail.
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:26 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


That someone died in a book is really not relevant. There's still a creative decision that this is what should be in television. People decide, from a universe of existing source material, which stuff to make television out of, when, and how. HBO choosing, as a network, to go with source material that contains lots of shocks over other source material is still part of where television is going.

I think perhaps the confusion here is over whether 24 influenced creators versus whether it influenced the television industry.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 2:45 PM on July 25


Jack Bauer is responsible for desensitizing Americans to the immorality of breaking the law in the name of "anti-terrorism".

Superhero vigilantism has been a concept that's been around for decades, maybe even centuries if you consider folk heroes. If Jack Bauer had never lived, he would had to be invented.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:09 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


turn in your badge and gun, blah blah blah.

which was Dirty Harry's thing at the end of the first movie (forty odd years ago now). So why does he feel so much cooler to me than Jack B? Must be the hair.
posted by philip-random at 3:17 PM on July 25


24 didn't really stuff itself and sell itself by cliffhangers and plot twists. 24 was about sustaining suspense and momentum in ways that other shows couldn't copy well because it required 24's gimmick. It wasn't about reveals and "ugh what did I just watch," it was about the split screens and a roller coaster feeling. It deserves heavy criticism, but I don't think it's the source of what the article is talking about.

I think I'd point more at Lost and BSG for the increase of nonsensical herky jerky garbage, and just cable in general for the increase in trash like AHS and Hannibal. (Hannibal is to trash what Lost was to garbage; a pile of it so pretty that people want it to be more.) If there is any increase, really. People have always been selling trash and garbage. Even author-approved Friday Night Lights veered into garbage for awhile.

And, as is usually the case whenever 24 or The Wire is criticized, The Shield is a far better example of what is being talked about.
posted by fleacircus at 3:17 PM on July 25 [1 favorite]


Think the most famous member of an ensemble cast is definitely going to survive the very murderous first season of “Game of Thrones”? Ask Sean Bean, who played Ned Stark, how that worked out.
This is silly. Sean Bean is "most famous" for dying in practically every movie he's ever been in!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:49 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


Think the most famous member of an ensemble cast is definitely going to survive the very murderous first season of “Game of Thrones”? Ask Sean Bean, who played Ned Stark, how that worked out.

Why ask Sean Bean about the most famous member of the cast? Why not ask Peter Dinklage himself?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:58 PM on July 25


philip-random: "which was Dirty Harry's thing at the end of the first movie (forty odd years ago now). So why does he feel so much cooler to me than Jack B? Must be the hair."

Dirty Harry was indeed much cooler than Jack Bauer, but he was just as evil. Which probably made him a bit more dangerous. In any case, it's an old American trope: the guy who sticks it to "those people" who are making life worse for "us," who isn't held back by silly laws and rules and bureaucracy, who just goes in and shoots "those people," or tortures "those people," or does whatever needs to be done to protect "us honest Americans" from danger.

I'd be happy to see this trope die. Once I thought that awful Falling Down movie was sort of a last gasp of that kind of thing. But I guess I was wrong.

Either way, Dirty Harry - ugh. There's the template for all this utter shit, in all its lawbreaking murderous glory.
posted by koeselitz at 10:56 PM on July 25


(Hannibal is to trash what Lost was to garbage; a pile of it so pretty that people want it to be more.)

I cannot imagine a more wrongheaded statement!

It will be pistols at dawn, sir.
posted by Justinian at 11:07 PM on July 25 [2 favorites]


There seems to be a lot of heated argument here and there about whether Hannibal has ended up being terrible or brilliant, although as far as I can tell even fans don't seem to like the more recent eps. In any case, as someone who hasn't watched more than half an episode, I just find the argument amusing.
posted by koeselitz at 11:12 PM on July 25


I don't know how you get that idea about fans, the second season was extremely well received.
posted by Justinian at 1:46 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Interesting you described Falling Down that way, koeselitz-- I've never seen it, but I've talked to more than one person who took the opposite meaning from it-- that we're supposed to understand that Michael Douglas' character is deranged and dangerous.

Really, shouldn't Taxi Driver have permanently skewered the vigilante myth, anyway?
posted by nath at 8:11 AM on July 26


I've never seen it, but I've talked to more than one person who took the opposite meaning from it-- that we're supposed to understand that Michael Douglas' character is deranged and dangerous.

that's definitely the takeaway any reasonable person would have but i don't think the movie strictly plays to this -- most of it comes off as michael douglas complaining about minorities from the perspective of a white man in the early 90s, but he kills a nazi to balance it out, then dies at the end so everything's excused because he didn't get away with it. it's basically an elaborate excuse to whine about 'political correctness' in film form
posted by p3on at 8:36 AM on July 26 [2 favorites]


Really, shouldn't Taxi Driver have permanently skewered the vigilante myth, anyway?

My favorite fact about Taxi Driver is the fact that it was based on a real assassination attempt (George Wallace) and it later inspired a real assassination attempt (Ronald Reagan). And then it was remade into an excellent Seth Rogen "comedy".
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:36 AM on July 26


most of it comes off as michael douglas complaining about minorities from the perspective of a white man in the early 90s, but he kills a nazi to balance it out, then dies at the end so everything's excused because he didn't get away with it. it's basically an elaborate excuse to whine about 'political correctness' in film form

this is entirely my take. A movie that could've been deeply about something plays it safe in the end and tries to redeem its homicidally confused middle-aged protagonist by having him cross paths with and kill somebody worse than him. A net gain for society, or at least a break even.

Gets me wondering what the original screenplay looked like ... and how much it got neutered along the way.
posted by philip-random at 9:51 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


Falling Down reminds me of an attempt to turn Married...With Children into a violent tragedy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:54 AM on July 26 [1 favorite]


And then it was remade into an excellent Seth Rogen "comedy".

I did see Observe and Report and quite liked it. Man, is it dark.
posted by nath at 10:16 AM on July 26


Hoo boy. Yes. It. Is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:28 AM on July 26


A movie that could've been deeply about something plays it safe in the end and tries to redeem its homicidally confused middle-aged protagonist by having him cross paths with and kill somebody worse than him

At first I thought it was going to be a wonderful examination of a middle class white man and his unearned privilege (and derived selfish attitude) coming into conflict with the rest of the world. And then it just gets muddled and confused. I've been thinking that I should watch it again with the idea that the police detective(s) are the actual protagonists of the film; we're just being shown the antagonist for the majority of the screen time.
posted by nubs at 11:32 AM on July 26


In Falling Down the police detective is, in fact, the protagonist. We don't realize it until late in the film but D-FENS is already a lost cause at frame 1, and part of the plot is a bit of horror at the ever expanding reveal of just how lost he is. In the climactic scene at the pier the ultimate horror is that we realize even he is just now realizing just how lost he is, and even he is just realizing that he has somehow wandered far beyond the possibility of salvation.

Until that scene, Dougles' chraracter thinks he is the good guy; he has been wronged by his employers, wronged by the country he believed in, wronged by his wife, wronged and wronged and wronged. He knows he's a decent guy and he is horribly offended that the Nazi thinks he's the same. It is only on the pier that he realizes that to Detective Prendergast he looks just like the Nazi looked to him -- ready to murder his wife and child, like some kind of monster.

And of course he doesn't just die; of a heart attack; finally realizing how lost he is he uses the real protagonist to suicide by cop, leaving that character to deal with how the day has affected him.
posted by localroger at 1:56 PM on July 26 [1 favorite]


The torture on "24" was a mildly updated extension of the way of getting things out of people in action and police films and TV shows for years. As in, sticking people head's in toilets and flushing them, beating bad-guy suspects in questioning, holding people over streets via rooftops and top-story windows, etc. ("L.A. Confidential" had all manner of this, and came out in 1997, a world removed from the post-9/11 universe.)
posted by raysmj at 2:51 PM on July 26


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