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Forum: The Situation Room > Season formats

On the season pages, under the "format" section, we have the claim that every season conforms to a "3-act structure", which I really disagree with. A lot are split into 2, or 4 different acts...I'd say all of them (bar Season 7 maybe) definitely have a "run" of 8-12 episodes at the end where there is a singular focus or objective.

To me, the end of an act in a 24 season is a point at which they could almost (apart from a few loose threads and subplots) end the series there. Times in the seasons when I believe this has happened are:

Season 1 Edit

  • After Jack rescues his family at the end of episode 13. This is kind of the archetypal "end of an act", brought about because they initially thought it would be the end of the season. The threat is over, the baddies mostly dead, and just a little tease of what's to come. I don't believe the reveal of Victor Drazen as alive is the end of another act in the same way at all.

Season 2 Edit

  • Again, this falls neatly into two acts, after the detonation of the nuke at the end of episode 15. Again, the threat is over and we only have a few threads leading onto the next act. The capture of Syed Ali is not the end of an act.

Season 3 Edit

  • I think this one also falls into two halves, after the virus exchange at the end of episode 12. This is probably the season that could be argued as being one long act - but episode 12 marks the end of the main villains from the first half, and everything that had been building up for the first half of the season is over, and the next episode feels like them "starting from fresh" again. The twist at the end of episode 7 is not really the same thing, as it is just a story twist and hasn't concluded anything that has been going on before - although the focus of the season shifts after that, it's not really a "new act", just a revelation of everyone's true motives.

Season 4 Edit

  • Season 4 is where it starts to get tricky. I believe the rescue of Heller in episode 6 is the end of an act; triumphant music plays, the main villain has been taken out, everyone is safe, and then we get a new threat revealing itself.
  • A similar thing happens at the end of episode 11 - the major threat that has been building up, the power plants, is taken out, and although Marwan escapes everything is concluded.
  • The next one is slightly debatable - but I think that after Air Force One is taken out in 16, another act ends. Everything marwan had been doing was leading upto that attack, and as far as the audience knows that is his endgame and he succeeded. Although there's no big action and taking out of villains, I think this could be the end of an act.
  • Then, the missile threat takes up the remaining 8 episodes until the end of the season.

Season 5 Edit

  • The first half of season 5 shifts focus every two episodes (in my opinion, a massive flaw in what could've been a really great season), but I think we get the triumphant "the threat is over" at the end of episode 4 when the airport crisis is dealt with. Then a little tease for the next threat.
  • Then, I think the Sentox gas is the threat right up until it's all (supposedly) destroyed in episode 15.
  • The exposure of Logan is then the thrust of the season for the last 9 episodes. Although the sentox briefly returns, the threat of Logan is the overriding story throughout the end of the season

Season 6 Edit

  • I think the first act of Season 6 is the suitcase nukes which continues right upto episode 17. For some reason atm we have the "end of an act" at 4pm which makes no real sense to me. The detonation of the nuke at the end of ep 4 might be classed as one, as it's the successful carrying out of the attack, but we know that it's not Fayed's endgame and it's been established already that there are lots of nukes out there.
  • Then the remaining episodes form an act with the Chinese threat

Season 7 Edit

  • Season 7 is a hard one to tell about "acts", but a case could be made for the capture of the CIP module at the end of the episode 7. However, it's established earlier that Tony could have easily kidnapped the CIP module anytime he liked, and the whole reason for everything he'd done was to get Dubaku and the list of moles. So really, I wouldn't class the act over until Dubaku is captured and the list of moles recovered, in episode 10. Only then does Jack get a rest to peer into the sunset, when a new threat is mentioned to him.
  • I guess the White House siege being overthrown is the next act end, as everything is nice and calm again for a while. This happens mid-episode, but still feels like the end of an act in the same way.
  • The next act end is the destruction of the missiles at the Starkwood compound, when all the known baddies are captured and the threat is over.
  • Then, the last six episodes are the arc about Tony and the Prion cabal. This agrees with what is currently on the S7 page, but the first two have been grouped to together to force this supposed "3-act" structure onto it.

Season 8 Edit

  • I think Season 8 is three acts: the first 3 episodes, foiling the assassination of Hassan; then the fuel rod crisis, ending with Hassan's execution; then the revenge plot until the end. I don't think the kidnap of Bazhaev signals the end of an act, as the fuel rods are still being looked for and the threat is not over.

Well, all of this is subjective and I dunno if we should just get rid of it completely, but I think it's silly to try and make them all fit into "3 acts". Any other opinions on this?--Acer4666 (talk) 16:12, January 19, 2014 (UTC)

Sounds about right. I assumed it was something that had been discussed while I was away, but a lot of them certainly don't quite match up with three acts. --Pyramidhead (talk) 18:20, January 19, 2014 (UTC)
Hm. Well, could some of the acts be divided up into "sub"-acts? E.g. I think that first "act" of Season 3 could be split in two in the obvious way. OneWeirdDude (talk) 19:46, February 1, 2014 (UTC)
I don't think there is, or has to be, a consistent way for the show to be divided, but I do think there are obvious acts and divisions in every season. I think we can take each season apart, much like it was done here, and reach a consensus on how to define each separately. Thief12 (talk) 22:41, February 1, 2014 (UTC)
But I really don't think that large story twists always equal ends of acts/"sub"acts. The large reveal and twist in the middle of Season 3, became, in later seasons, a standard that happened every few episodes or so (I would cite that first half of Season 5 as one that switched focus every 2 episodes). If we add "sub"acts to season 3, then they'll be more and more "sub"-"sub"-acts added and it will become more and more arbitrary. I believe my definition of what constitutes the "end of an act" that I laid out above is one that is workable as a definition. I would say that twist in S3ep7 is not an instance of this--Acer4666 (talk) 00:14, February 2, 2014 (UTC)
Sorry I've been out since mid-December, so I can't determine beyond this forum page if anything progressed beyond the last post. (That Super Bowl advertisement woke my ass up.) But overall I'm wondering how anyone would have the authority to call something an "act" as if a season were a play. Definitely agree with Acer that it's subjective, perhaps too subjective to be useful. That being said, I believe it is fine to describe when a particular threat was introduced and resolved, but even that approaches a grey area. The Sentox threat was many different targets; the layers of each season's conspiracy were revealed at differing, overlapping points, both to the audience and to various characters. All this makes me believe that we shouldn't be forcing the same paradigm onto all the seasons. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 00:49, February 5, 2014 (UTC)


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