January 13, 2009

Jack Bauer Growing in the Job

There has been a lot of talk about this season's kinder, gentler Jack Bauer on 24, and Rick Moran talks about the evolution of the character and the culture in Jack Bauer in a Post-Bush World

No matter how the plot plays out, this will be a much different Jack Bauer than the one we met 7 years ago. It can hardly be otherwise. We are a much different country than we were then. We are sobered by our experience in Iraq that while apparently winding down to a successful conclusion is nevertheless seen by a majority of Americans as an effort we should never have undertaken in the first place and not worth the cost in blood and treasure. We have less faith in government, more suspicion of what it does in our name. And the belief that we must bring freedom and democracy to the dark places of the world has taken a hit as well.

In short, the native optimism that has made us such an exceptional people has been shaken. It shouldn't surprise us that this should be reflected in the Jack Bauer character. Television, if nothing else, tends to reflect trends rather than create or lead them.

Clearly Jack's cynicism and distrust of just about everyone does show through in the first four hours of the season, and he may be increasingly questioning his methods, but so far that doesn't seem to have given him more than a fleeting second thought. He has already physically assaulted two witnesses, nearly killed his old friend Tony in an attempt to squeeze information out of him, knocked the head of the FBI unit unconscious, and put the sleeper hold on the female FBI agent he was working with in order to escape.

Leading by example, Jack has so inspired the female agent that she felt okay about cutting off the oxygen supply of a critically wounded suspect in his hospital bed in order to extract information from him. This is the chastened, reflective Jack Bauer? The one with a renewed caring for the people he deals with?

I guess he did have some remorse about almost choking Tony to death. Later on, he did say "sorry about that".

Posted by dan at January 13, 2009 11:10 PM