As Fox’s hit espionage thriller 24 draws to a close, the theory that the good guys use Macintosh computers while the bad guys use Windows PCs appears to be reinforced.
The penultimate episode of the show, which aired on Tuesday evening, finally resolved the show’s major cliffhanger -– the identity of a traitor.
The traitor’s identity was a revelation that took most viewers by surprise, but not those who had spotted the producers’ new device to denote villainy in the shady world of spies: The baddies use computers running Microsoft Windows; the good guys use Macs.
The show has turned into a cult hit for Fox, and earned star Kiefer Sutherland a Golden Globe award. The show, which debuted in November, traces 24 hours in the hectic life of counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer (Sutherland), who is trying to rescue his kidnapped wife and daughter while simultaneously foiling an assassination plot. Each hour-long episode unfolds in real-time. The final episode airs next week.
The action is full of plot twists. Central to the drama is figuring out the identity of the mole in Bauer’s group; there is a traitor in their midst, but no one knows who it is.
Until now. The mole turned out to be one of the show’s most trusted characters.
But viewers like Dean Browell, a Web designer from Virginia who championed the Macintosh theory, knew it all along. While Bauer and most of the other agents in his unit used Macs, the traitor used a laptop made by Dell. The baddies, a group of renegade Serbs, also use Dell machines.
Meanwhile, another agent, who everyone suspected was the traitor, used a shiny Apple Titanium PowerBook. To Browell, he was clearly trustworthy and the shady characterization was a dead giveaway.
“It looks like we called it,” Browell said triumphantly. “I had started to doubt my own theory. It feels nice to have been right.”
The vindication is all the sweeter because no one believed Browell when he first formulated the theory a couple of months ago. His idea was ridiculed on fan sites and mocked on message boards.
Not even his wife believed him. She thought it was hogwash. Browell is looking forward to filling her in when she returns shortly from a business trip abroad.
The show’s producers couldn’t be reached for comment.
Charles Colombo noted that in You’ve Got Mail, Meg Ryan’s cuddly, down-to-earth corner bookstore character uses a Mac, while Tom Hanks’ predatory, corporate mega-bookstore-chain-owner uses an IBM ThinkPad. Apparently, the two companies bid to have their machines used in the movie. Apple came out best, it seems.
Sara Tripp noticed the same thing in Legally Blonde: The free-spirit heroine Reese Witherspoon uses an Apple laptop while everyone else at Harvard Law, who are portrayed as a bunch of stiffs, own PC notebooks.
“There is a great scene where (Witherspoon) is pictured sitting in a lecture hall with her orange-colored iBook among a sea of black laptops,” wrote Tripp in an e-mail. “Once again, the good person is seen owning a Mac.”
Garrett Beauvais, a marketing executive at Advanced Micro Devices, which makes chips for PCs, suggested that’s Apple’s famously vigorous product-placement efforts are the source of the plot device.
“Apple Computer outspends all other PC companies in product placement and is perhaps more active in the area than any other technology company outside of Microsoft,” Beauvais wrote.