On 24

Honey Traps, Romeos, and Blackmail

By Paul Lytle

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In many ways, the first episode of 24 established the theme. When we first met Jack Bauer, he was not at work, poring over intelligence, or out in the field roughing up some terrorist, but at home with his family. His chief concern in that first episode was not the terrorists at all (even though we saw a great deal of the terrorists as they began their evil plot), but his daughter. Sure enough, Kim slipped out the window just as Jack was being called in to work; the conflict between country and family began within the first hour of this epic story.

It wasn’t very long before we found out that Jack once had an affair with Nina Myers, one of his coworkers, though it was late in the season when we discovered that she had been working against CTU from the beginning. She had been using Jack’s feelings and trust to obtain intelligence.

These individual plot lines are all eventually resolved. But while these particular problems are solved, sex, love, and family remain important themes throughout the series. The agents at CTU seem able to withstand all sorts of torture and coercion except when it comes to these three areas of life. In love, whatever form it may take, we see their Achilles’ heel at last. And it is at that heel that the enemies strike.

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And why should it not be this way on television? After all, real-life espionage is much the same way. 24 is  …

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