Monday, December 29, 2008

On Nina Myers

I started watching 24 this past summer, reluctantly, at the suggestion of a friend. I dilgently plowed through Day 1, hoping that I could just drop the whole project, but finding that the end of each hour forced one, as if by logical compulsion, to go on to the next hour. Furthermore, it was emotional torture to watch, because it just seemed so hopeless. It seemed such an impossible situation. I wanted it to stop. But I couldn't stop.

Thus, after watching five more seasons--less torturous to me, more torturous to the villians on the show (hoo-haa)--I avoided rewatching Day 1. Until now. And it is probably the best season of all. Granted, I love Day 4; really like Day 3; and think Days 2 & 5 are laudably epic. But Day 1 is so conspiratorial; so impossible; so personal. Apparently that's something they're going to go back to for Day 7; the personal element.

As much as I could say about any of the main actors, I find myself perpetually intrigued--knowing what I know now, post-Day 1--by Nina Myers, portrayed by the lovely Sarah Clarke. I cannot think of a more duplicitous con artist, a more amoral, dastardly sociopath, than this unholy villianness in the history of film. At least, not in any of the films I've seen. She has absolutely no redeeming qualities. She is as mephistoclean as they come.

Indeed, most characters of whom we say "she plays both sides against the middle" are not actually out for themselves alone. They are in it, often, for what they perceive to be a Higher Purpose; like Communism, anarchism, vengeance, or something. Nina Myers has no underlying motive. She is duplicity itself, greed itself. If you offer her more money for the same job as her present client, she will murder that client and ask you to keep talking: and if someone else comes along who offers her more than you can, you will certainly get the worst of it. As her archnemisis, Jack Bauer, says to her on Day 2: "You're worse than a traitor. You don't believe in anything."

I could say even more about her, but I won't, for now anyway. All I wanted to say here is that Sarah Clarke constructed not a brilliantly evil character: Sarah Clarke constructed a brilliant Evil.

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