I think it can be said that Jack Bauer kicked a hell of a lot of ass this week. Bauer dropped a level of kick-ass we have not seen in him for a few seasons. Exhibit A: Renee Walker stabs him in the abdomen in a fit of rage. He collapses behind a couch. Moments later one of, Vladimir Laitanan's henchmen enters the room and draws a gun. Bauer hops up and is able to backhand-throw a knife into the henchmen's neck! But marveling in Jack Bauer's Jack-Bauerness is not what we are here for. To the Torture Counter!
Official Torture: Attempt 0 / success 0 / accurate 0
Terrorist Torture: Attempt 0 / success 0 / accurate 0
Bauer Torture: Attempt 0 / success 0 / accurate 0
Vignette Torture: Attempt 0 / success 0 / accurate 0
Okay, so there was no torture this week. We did, however, see how the on-going psychological torture of Renee Walker played out.
At the beginning of the episode, Bauer is brought to Laitanan's body shop to talk about the deal. While Bauer is en route, Laitanan begins to work his network of contacts. But by the time that Bauer gets there, Laitanan has not been able to get any leads. During this time Walker's mood shifts dramatically. At some points she seems like she is shock. She moves slowly, stares off into the distance but acts subservient to Laitanan's orders. At other times she seems in full control. When Laitanan is unable to get any leads about the location of the nuclear rods, Renee uses her feminine-wiles to pressure him to work harder.
However, Laitanan is unable to get a lead of the nuclear rods and gives up. Walker becomes frustrated with his unwillingness to work harder. She does not think that $5 million is enough. At this point the trauma of the last few hours takes over. When he refuses to continues his search tempers rise and Walker stabs him in the eye. After he falls to the floor she continues to stab him until she is interrupted by Bauer. In her fit of rage she stabs Bauer.
After she realizes what she has done, she collapses to the floor. Over the next few scenes she is hardely able to look Bauer in the eye. While the wait for the CTU team to arrive, she tells Bauer that she had no idea what she was doing. Just like we saw in last week's episode, we are getting to see the long term results of torture and the psychological impact. One of the hallmarks of Battlestar Galactica is that we are given a chance to see long term trauma play out. This has never really been a part of 24. The fact that each season takes place over twenty-four hour period, and a large majority of the cast changes from season to season limits the space for this sort of long term character development. Even when we do see characters traumatized by torture it never seems to last. At the beginning of season 6 Bauer is released from a Chinese prison after more than a year of captivity. While in prison he was brutally beaten. After being released, he would not make eye contract with anyone. Like Walker, he had resigned himself to die. But as soon as he saw a way to escape, he snapped back into his old ways. It does not look like Walker will make such a fast recovery-- mostly because she is a supporting character in a conservative male narrative. Her recovery, if allowed to happen, cannot equal Bauer's, as this would break his solo hero status. If 24 follows its typical protocol, Walker will either be dead or have suffered a complete, irreparable, exhaustive psychological break that will remove her from the overall narrative. If the show's producers decide to break formula, and make Walker a torture victim equal to Bauer, it would bring the show into new and welcomed territory.