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A new kind of heroic character trait has emerged on “24:” Brokenness.
Brokenness happens far beyond issues of ethics, morals, or even heroism. It’s the occasion of a life event that almost none of us would ever ask for but that often shapes the rest of our lives. It’s rare to find it in an action TV show, but “24” has found it, as just about all of the show’s main characters are about as broken as heroes are allowed to be. This is when faith is required, because there’s not much else to put hope in.

Presently the main players of “24” are facing brokenness all around them: Vice President Noah Daniels has discovered that his secretary (and mistress) is guilty of treason, having passed information to the Russians. Bill Buchanan is out of a job after having been fired by his wife, and she’s living with the feelings of betrayal for having done so. Chloe O’Brian has lost her boyfriend after nursing him through a difficult alcohol recovery process. Audrey Raines, who risked her life to save Jack, is in a catatonic state and probably suffering permanent psychological damage. Several other characters are experiencing failure (or at least trials) as well. And there’s just not much glory in it. They’re broken. They’ve failed.

And none have failed more than Jack. He’s failed in his mission and pushed China and Russia to the brink of World War III. Worse than that, the woman he’s loved and rescued is now off limits while his sister has been captured with him. He’s the first television character I can remember who’s been under arrest by two different countries and kidnapped all in the same day.

“You’re cursed Jack,” said Secretary of Defense Heller (William DeVane), Audrey’s father. “Everything you touch turns up dead.” His son hates him and his dad is working against him. C.T.U. has been invaded and the White House has been compromised. Character is more interesting than plot, so this show is in for a far more interesting ending then when they were chasing the bad guys with nukes.

I don’t know how the ratings will respond, but I hope America stays tuned in to a show that I praised earlier in the season for its authentic look at heroes. It has now gone a few layers deeper. If you want to catch up, the last several episodes are online.

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