Friday, March 31, 2006

Season 5; Hour Fifteen (9:00PM - 10:00PM)

Air Date: 27 Mar 06
Reviewer: J

I want to start out this week with a quick word about the “
silent clock” that has apparently caused an uproar among some of the shows fans. Mainly because Tony did not “get a silent clock.” Okay, in my opinion, the silent clock is used for dramatic effect and it’s very hard to define when it’s appropriate. Using it sparingly, as they have, is part of what makes it work. If a silent clock was done every time someone of significance died, we’d have them every other week. The reason, I believe, that we saw one at the end of Edgar’s death hour was because it was one of the most catastrophic losses of human life that we’ve seen on the show to this point. And especially this season. The people being killed were the backbone of the only entity that we, the fans, believe could possibly thwart Bierko – CTU. And after the drama of seeing so many workers die and knowing CTU was being rendered moot, we then had the pile-on of seeing Edgar come chugging out onto the floor. Chloe’s face, Edgar’s face, the overall significance of that hour… it all culminated with the silent clock.

As for Tony, his death was somewhat predictable. You could see he was going to lose his nerve in his distraught state of mind and you also knew he didn’t care much about living anymore now that Michelle was gone. And quite simply, having the show end without the beepboop beepboop for two weeks in a row would make it seem kind of silly. So that’s my opinion on that hoopla.

On to Hour Fifteen, which had some more interesting nuggets that continue to serve to keep 24 fresh. For instance, can you ever remember an hour where we didn’t see the President, whether it was Palmer, Keeler or Logan? I can’t. In this hour, not appearing are Logan, VP Gardner, Looney First Lady Martha and Mike “I hate my job” Novick. Last we saw Logan, he was fretting about the martial law order he had just given while Gardner smarmily told him he had things under control. Martha Logan was like, “Dude, I may be crazier than a shithouse rat but even I can see what the VP is doing.” And Mike just rubbed his bald head and wished he hadn’t made the trip to Obscurely Hidden Valley, California. What did they do for this past hour? Perhaps Logan took a nap? Maybe he went and groped Mrs. Suvarov? [Where are those pesky Russians, anyway? – D] Maybe Logan, Gardner, Suvarov and Novick busted out the cards and played gin rummy. (They don’t seem like poker men to me.) Regardless, they are unseen for the hour. And you know what? That was just fine with me. Besides, McGill is dead so Logan isn’t sure who he should yell at right now.

As you’ll recall from last hour, Hot Collette (whose breasts are magnificent, I must say) fingered Audrey, which made Jack angry. Uh, well, you know what I mean.

Anyway, back at CTU, word has traveled fast and Bill has told
Chloe to start digging up dirt on Audrey and any connections to the baddies we know of so far. Bill then pulls a McGill and orders her taken into custody. Curtis isn’t there to threaten to draw his weapon if the security guards carry that order, so the motion passes and Audrey is hauled off the one of the holding rooms. Whether it’s the holding room of death that McGill bit it in is unclear. (Interestingly, the CTU guards who take Audrey away are now back in white shirts, circa Seasons 1-3.)

Jack, rather quickly, arrives at CTU and herds Collette in, who is still singing like a parakeet about Audrey. She confirms that she met her and can ID her. Jack is getting increasingly agitated.

I must say, I really liked Jack in these scenes at CTU. His acting was well-done and not just the screaming it has been recently. When he walks into the conference room where Buchanan is arguing that Audrey shouldn’t be tortured by Burke (who was so successful with Henderson), he immediately tells Karen Hayes from Homeland Security that it’s “ridiculous” and that he’ll handle the interrogation. Hayes, quite rightly, points out that his bumping uglies with her is not exactly a secret. The way she delivered that line was great, too, with a mixture of accuracy and discomfort. Jack points out that he wouldn’t let his judgment be impaired just because he’s seen Audrey naked, to which Hayes – again, quite accurately – says, “Is that what happened with Nina Myers?” Ooooh! Burn! Jack looks like he doesn’t know what to say. I guess the Nina stories have made the rounds to every federal agency in the country, huh? Jack recovers nicely and points out that a lot of people were fooled by Nina. I really liked this calling back to characters who are long since gone. As I’ve said before, this is a bit of a shout-out to those of us who’ve been paying attention for all these years. And if you think everyone knows who Nina is, you’re wrong. I know several people who started watching last year or this year. For the most part, they love it, but then there are these kinds of exchanges where they find themselves going, “What? Who?” The truth is, most shows don’t harken back to things that happened years ago, mainly because they don’t think their audience is smart enough to remember or draw the connection. One more reason we love 24, even with its flaws. They know they have a madly devoted following and they play to it with little tidbits like this. Was it necessary? No, but it continued to remind us that Jack’s character has many layers. Just like a cake. [Or as Donkey in Shrek would say, like a parfait. –D]

Anyway, Jack wins, as usual, mainly because he points out that Audrey’s papa is the Secretary of Defense and that Karen’s ass will be in a sling if she’s wrong and tortures Audrey for no reason. And on the subject of torture – since when did Homeland get so casual with torture? Or is this just an example of Karen playing with her new CTU toys? I thought this torture thing was one of the dark secrets of CIA-born CTU?
Regardless, Jack gets the first shot at Audrey and knows he has to be tough with her.
Chloe has learned that Audrey stayed at a hotel with our old friend, the late Walt Cummings. And not only did she stay at the same hotel, the hotel has them in the same room. Silly hotel records. (Incidentally, the links to the pics of Chloe are for D – he’s been a fan from Day 1.) [Thanks, J. How can you not love a chick who can begin investigating a lead, uncover a clandestine affair between relatively high-ranking government officials, AND have said affair verified ALL WITHIN 8 MINUTES? –D]

Jack proceeds with his interrogation of Audrey and she looks taken aback by his abruptness/professional demeanor. What, Audrey, were you expecting a hug? A nice piece of acting by both of them here. Kim Raver is fantastic, folks. Whether you like Audrey or not, Raver does an amazing job of portraying emotions and feelings with her glances, her mannerisms and, most of all, those big, beautiful eyes. Eyes often convey true emotion in real life and I think Kim Raver has amazing abilities when it comes to using her peepers.

As for Kiefer, as I said earlier, this episode gave him a chance to do more than fire his weapon. During the interrogation, he catches Audrey lying that she’d only met Cummings in briefings, when in reality she’d taken off his briefs and made him come. (See what I did there? See how I turned that around to make a funny?) When Audrey confesses that she didn’t want to admit that because she was afraid Jack wouldn’t be able to forgive her, Jack calls bullshit by saying, “Because you slept with someone after you thought I was dead?” The way in which Sutherland almost spits out the words was spot-on, as though to say, “Don’t be ridiculous.”

Continuing on my waxing about Kim Raver, her fear in this episode was palpable. She knows what CTU is capable of and, more to the point, what Jack is capable of. She saw him torture her husband and knows that they tortured her brother by playing Michael Bolton in his ears.

Jack does shock her when he suddenly throws the table aside and puts her against the wall with his hand on her throat. What’s great about this is that you can see how truly frightened Audrey is – she can barely breathe out the words, “I am telling the truth.” She also knows that Jack is in there because he is trying to get what CTU needs without letting Burke in. She even says, “Do what you have to do, Jack…” which only pisses him off more. He even asks whether or not her father is involved, to which she sadly points out how well Jack knows him. In the end, Jack relents and believes she doesn’t know anything. Hayes, in the observation room, says, “Looks like she broke him, not the other way around.” Uh-oh. Cue Burke.

Jack tries to beat down the guards who are there with Burke to take Audrey back to the holding room but Burke (who was put in a sleeper hold by Tony not long ago, you’ll recall) hits Jack with a taser and cuffs him. When we come back from the commercial, in one of the split screens we can see Jack rubbing his hand and Bill behind him busting a cold compress for Jack to use. We eventually get to this scene and Hayes tells Jack he needs to calm the hell down (I’m curious as to who dragged Jack up the stairs and into the director’s office where they now sit). Jack continues to insist that Audrey’s innocent, presumably because she gives really good head. Or because he believes her. Hayes eventually lets him work with Chloe to figure out if Collette has had contact with Henderson, thus negating her immunity. Not sure how that negates it, but whatever.

Meanwhile, a few other things are happening, though as I mentioned, none involve the President. A girl named Shari is sent down to replace Edgar and Chloe is bitchy at first but relents and is kinder to her for a while, clearly remembering that the last “friend” she wasn’t nice to ended up dead. It turns out that this Shari filed a sexual harassment claim against Miles. (Interestingly, Miles’ character is named “Papazian” and the actor who plays Burke is actually named “Papazian.” These are the tidbits you don’t get anywhere else.)

Anyway, Miles clearly remembers her and at one point tries to mess with Shari, but Chloe backs her up and gets Miles to back down, quite rightly pointing out that they don’t have time for nonsense right now. Idiot. What the hell is Miles doing simultaneously trying to undermine techies while also sitting in on every meeting where torture is discussed? And have you noticed what a creepy stare he gives everyone? Good god.

Meanwhile, Bierko’s men are taking advantage of the martial law issues by carjacking a couple of LAPD officers so that now they can use the cop car to ferry their gas to “the location.” Nice call, VP Gardner – that worked out well. Also, I can’t help but think here about how casual death has become on this show. During the first season, you may recall Jack working with a female LAPD officer to apprehend a suspect but she gets shot and killed in the process. LAPD is pissed about it and Jack clearly feels awful. However, now, we have two officers killed and it barely feels like a bump in the road.

The location they’re heading towards, it turns out, is a natural gas facility. Uh-oh. Does that mean all of their paying customers will be gassed to death while those who shirked their bills and had the gas shut off that morning will survive? Hardly seems fair.

Also, Wayne Palmer is still missing. You’ll recall last hour that he got through a security checkpoint on his way to the Presidential retreat because he wanted to speak with Aaron Pierce. VP Gardner gave the okay to let Wayne through, clearly leading us to believe he’s got something to do with the badness going on. Then a van full of armed men pulled alongside Wayne and, with a clear shot at him… they shot at his tire. Interesting. We learn this hour that they do indeed want him dead, at the order of Henderson, who has about 7 seconds of screen time this hour. You know, this reminds me of one of the reasons I don’t read any of the message boards anymore. It’s because there are so many clueless fans who it seems have no idea what’s going on, saying things like “Person X is definitely involved.” What? The one that confirmed I don’t want to read them anymore and made me close my browser last week was one where, a little while after I posted a comment about Wayne getting run off the road by a Ford van while driving a Lexus, some clueless dolt wrote that Wayne was in a Mercedes and the van was a GMC. Now, I know it doesn’t make a difference at all to the story, but when your observation skills are that poor, why should your opinion on far more complex parts of the story carry any merit?

Anyway, Aaron is getting concerned that Wayne hasn’t showed yet and he keeps getting Wayne’s voice mail when he tries to call. Perhaps Wayne’s phone was lost when he rolled his car down the hill? Probably. And good call by the writers, actually. Again, a little touch of reality. Aaron speaks with another agent who confirms Wayne was allowed through a checkpoint a half hour ago. Aaron then goes to look for Wayne. By himself. And only telling the one agent. This doesn’t seem like Aaron to me, but perhaps he is becoming far less trusting with so many questionable things happening in this administration and it’s causing him to break protocol. He ends up creeping around in the woods in his suit and is almost capped by… Wayne! Who now has what appears to be a sniper rifle. I’m fairly sure that wasn’t a collapsible rifle that he had stowed in his back pocket, so I can only assume a scene was cut where Wayne gets the rifle away from one of the mercenaries on his trail. He and Aaron work their way through the woods to where Aaron’s Secret Service SUV is parked and they get away, though not without having missiles fired at them. These guys are serious about killing Wayne. How did they get through the checkpoint? This damn well better be explained. Regardless, Wayne gets knocked out but we see in next week’s previews that he’s awake […and using the same ‘yelling really intensely’ interrogation methods so popular at CTU…-D] so it’s clearly not all that serious.

Back at CTU, Jack is still frantically trying to exonerate Audrey while Burke pumps her full of truth serum (I just realized how foul that sounds but I’m keeping it in anyway). She is sweating through her blouse and her hair looks as though she spent some time in a steam room. Jack goes into the holding room where Collette is and when the federal marshal (no relation to martial law) attempts to stop him from questioning her, Jack renders him unconscious and takes his service weapon. Hmmm. Now Collette is beginning to get nervous and Jack confirms that she should be when he says he’s going to kill her if she doesn’t tell him the truth since he has found connections to Henderson in the form of phone calls. Collette’s stony disposition begins to crumble and Jack presses her harder. Nice little job of acting here, too, by Stana Katic. The tear rolling down her otherwise nearly expressionless face was well-done and she breaks and admits that she used Audrey’s name because Henderson told her to. She also admits that she knows the schematic is for a gas distribution center. Jack rushes back out and tells Buchanan that this admission voids Collette’s immunity agreement, although I think a confession at gunpoint and with no other witnesses might be hard to get classified as legally admissible.

Nonetheless, Jack rushes in and stops Audrey’s interrogation. Rick Burke, to his credit, immediately disconnects the IV and backs off. After he leaves, Audrey (again, kudos to Kim Raver) tells Jack she knew he’d come for her and it’s the only way she got through it. Kind of sweet, kind of weird…. not really the best time to be making out, but they do finally kiss. Perhaps it’s the solid acting, but I don’t find it hard to see that these two still very much love one another. Diane who?

Somehow, Bill has determined that they have less than 15 minutes to figure out where the gas is being deployed from (I guess he looked at his watch and knew that the hour was ending in 16 minutes). Chloe has many gas distribution centers on her screen and Shari, our pixie little friend, pipes up that she was a chem major and that the pressure would have to be reduced in order for the gas to not be inert. We, of course, saw Bierko bust into the Wilshire Gas Company a little earlier and start shooting workers until the foreman agreed to help him. Bierko must have at least a minor in Chemistry since he also knows that the pressure must be reduced in order to allow the gas not to be rendered useless [Maybe he and Shari were study buddies? –D]. Wow, that would be a kick in the head if he overlooked that, wouldn’t it?

This lowering of the psi cannot be done instantly, you understand, because then it wouldn’t give CTU time to find them. Or because of some technical gas pumping reason. Thanks to Shari’s help, Chloe is able to zero in on the Wilshire company because their pressure has lowered a shitload in the past 30 minutes. Buchanan congratulates Shari and pats her arm as he takes off to inform Jack of where he and Curtis are going. Shari looks after Bill and comments that his touching was “wrong.” Well, unless he also groped her ass, she’s clearly off her rocker. Chloe looks a little weirded out. Why do I think this will come up again? Watch Bill survive a sentox gas attack only to be taken down by a sexual harassment suit.

Jack and Curtis bolt for the Wilshire Gas Company. Evidently, the scene where Jack apologizes to Curtis for carjacking him seven hours ago and leaving him by the roadside has happened offscreen. Or maybe Curtis is just waiting for the opportunity to push Jack out of a helicopter.

At the Wilshire Gas Company, the chopper is able to set down in silent mode. Or, I mean, Chloe says the noise from the place will cover the chopper noise. And the wind, too, I guess. Jack, Curtis and the TAC team descend upon Bierko’s team and begin taking them out with silenced guns. They get to the door of the control room and Jack then gives the curious command to unsilence their weapons. Um, why? What’s the difference?

Anyway, they bust in just as the psi level is getting to where the gas will still be noxious when it’s pumped into people’s homes around L.A. I wonder, though, what if you have oil heat but also have gas for cooking (this is how my house is set up)? Are you slowly killed as the gas comes in via your stove’s pilot light? Or if you have a more modern gas stove, are you okay until you decide to cook an omelet and turn on the burner? So many questions.

Jack, Curtis and the JackCurtisettes bust into the control room and gunfire ensues. Bierko remotely activates the canisters to release the gas into the distribution tank and Jack then learns from the foreman, Sam, that there’s no way to shut the system down in time. (He can not stop the gas, not without a blast, and none of that will change the past. I do not like this Sam I am.) The only option left is to incinerate the sentox by, well, incinerating the natural gas that it’s mixed with. But, J, wouldn’t that create a molotov cocktail the size of a small Mexican village? Why, yes, yes it would. Given the alternative, though, this really is quick thinking by Jack. He gets Curtis and the team to evacuate the people who are still alive and he sets a detonator (good thing he had one in his bag of tricks) for 30 seconds. And then he hauls ass.

Shit starts blowing up when the detonator detonates and Jack is coming close to not getting out of the facility. Just as he does reach the outskirts, he sees Bierko and makes an ill-advised U-turn and runs back into the exploding gas facility. Yes, those words are correct: Runs back into the exploding gas facility. Curtis calls out to him that it’s going to go up like a giant roman candle and for a minute it looks like he’s about to follow Jack. Then Curtis remembers how Jack left him lying in bark mulch on the side of the road and thinks, “The hell with it.”

Back at CTU, this is being played in surround sound on the Spectravision screens just as Audrey – who took only 15 or 20 minutes to freshen up and is now back in her suit jacket with her hair looking nice and full-bodied again – strolls onto the floor and sees that Jack is endangering himself again.

At the soon-to-be-out-of-business Wilshire Gas Company, Jack corners Bierko by the squad car they stole and with his gun on him, there’s a tense moment before an explosion appears to knock Bierko unconscious. However, as Jack goes to collect Bierko (I figured he’d pull him into the police car and squeal out of there) Bierko comes to and the two scuffle. You know, boys, I think that this might be the time to work together. But no, the two fight one another as apparently a major part of the gas company explodes, raining debris down upon the police car. Just before this happened, it looked like Jack and Bierko sort of fell into the open police car door. Of course, the trailer for next week doesn’t show either one of them… is this supposed to make us think Jack’s dead? I haven’t looked at the message boards but I’ll bet there are morons who think he is.

If you were waiting for the typical end-of-episode split-screen, then you were jarred by the ending just as I was. There was that explosion right above Jack and Bierko and then we immediately snapped to the 9:59:56 clock before all the debris had even hit the ground.

As I said, no Jack in the previews for next week (and no Logans, either, for that matter) and I can’t help but wonder where we go from here. I’m sure there is some other objective and a way to carry it out. But for now, the nerve gas is gone since Bierko was using all of the remaining canisters at the gas company. Henderson is still at large so I assume we can expect to have a showdown with he and Jack matching wits. I also assume there is something larger afoot, as Henderson indicated when he said Jack really doesn’t want to know what he knows. Regardless, I will say again how much I love this show in that they could easily have dragged out the gas canister deployment for the rest of the season but they chose not to – they led us down that path with one being released here and there but now they’re all gone. So I would expect some minor back-patting at CTU and perhaps at the Presidential retreat before the next stage of the threat is revealed. Could the Chinese be involved again as they learn of Jack being alive? Is Kim going to come back into play? Was Elisha Cuthbert really brought back just for those two hours? What, for the love of god, does Wayne Palmer know? Will we find out that Novick spent the last hour making a ham sandwich and watching Lost?

We shall see.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Season 5; Hour Fourteen (8:00pm - 9:00pm)

Air Date: 20 Mar 06
Reviewer: D

Generally, I don’t like it when 24’s plot seems to be driven by when an actor is contracted to appear. Also, my eyes start to glaze over when the highest amount of anxiety generated during an episode has to do with bureaucratic wrangling within CTU. And I tend to find it annoying when a simple misdirection is the best thing hyper-smart Chloe can come up with when faced with a technical roadblock.

And most of all, it’s a darn shame that one of the truly vital and interesting characters on 24 is wrapped up and rolled out without so much as a second thought.

So, given all of these negatives, why was this past episode still above average in my book, and not the outright stinker it could have been. Two reasons: a slice of true mystery (what’s up with Wayne Palmer?) and a gasp-inducing surprise (Audrey?). I spent 45 minutes watching this episode getting more and more aggravated, but, in a dramatic turn-around, I was smiling again by the time I turned the TV off. And that smile had nothing to do with surfing hottie-with-a-heart-of-gold Stana Kanic’s website. (Warning: this mother takes forever to load…)

In seasons past this would have been one of those transition episodes where the folks at CTU sweep up dead bodies, mop up explosion debris, miraculously reconstruct vital clues from discarded chewing gum, install a new mole or two around the office, and generate some new plot twists. But instead, even though CTU was apparently littered with dead folks last hour, everything is spic and span as the new Homeland Security wonks arrive on site at the beginning of this hour. [Yeah, and, um, is there any residue from the noxious, seal-eating gas that was breaking down bio-seals an hour ago? --J] The only body we see is Tony’s as it is rather unceremoniously covered up and carted out. I don’t know what I expected – a twenty-one gun salute or something – but I think Tony deserved better. Even Lynn McGill got to be heroic before he drooled out his last breath; Tony (once known affectionately as Soul Patch) helped make the show great, particularly last season. I hope he and Michelle are happily making out in that CTU death clinic in the sky.

Meanwhile, Peter Weller will not be cashing a check this week as apparently RoboChris Henderson has left the building without much of a trace. What’s with that? Henderson was the biggest/only lead Jack had a couple of hours ago and, his unwillingness to crack notwithstanding, he obviously knows something. (I'm surprised Jack hasn't resorted to the old 'scream-a-question-over-and-over-again' method that has worked so well for him in seasons past…) But apparently it is important for Henderson to have a one-hour headstart in his getaway before he’ll become a concern again. Is Weller just costing too much per episode or what? Do the producers have to make the call: do we pay Weller for Hour 14 or pay for a groovy car crash with Wayne Palmer? Sorry, Pete, cool your jets for a few days… [Honestly, how much could Peter Weller cost? -- J]

Luckily, in the familiar CTU tradition, there is a miraculous computer breakthrough to fill the space as Chloe is finally able to get something off of Henderson’s computer that points conveniently to our hot and sexually vigorous information broker, Collette. I have to say, that German intelligence dude Theo has got to be the luckiest agent in Interpol history. When I think of undercover international brokers, I think old, fat guys like George Clooney’s character in 'Syriana,' not chicks with custom crotch-enhancing gun holsters. I’m thinking Theo wouldn’t have been nearly as insistent on bedding his mark if it was Clooney.

At Camp David (maybe soon Wayne?) Palmer, Logan has made one of those things he avoids like the plague – a decision – and the troops start to roll through the streets of L.A.. I loved how literally 5 minutes after making this momentous announcement to the press, after repeatedly and strenuously asserting to his wife that he’s made up his alleged mind, Logan is already tossing attitude at Gardner because of the mixed press reaction. Did he expect the press to laud his strong and well-considered leadership? Of course, in the real world, the biggest outcry probably would have come because he made the announcement at 8pm, probably pre-empting 'American Idol' and thereby throwing millions of teenagers across the country into AI withdrawal, while at the same time they wonder, 'Who's this Marshall dude and why does he have his own law?'

And maybe I was just on the rag, but I didn't understand why the hell Wayne Palmer was calling Pierce? Don't get me wrong, I love the guy. But he's a Secret Service agent with little real authority in terms of the functions of the US government. Surely, there has got to be someone else Wayne could call. And at the same time, doesn't Pierce have a real job involving protecting our national leaders? Does he really have time to play secret agent man?

So now let's spend a very little bit of time talking about the Homeland Security / CTU spat. OK, is that enough?

Fine. So this Papazan-chair guy is an asshole. We're clear on that, right? He could almost make Chloe seem warm and fuzzy in comparison. [And could he have been any creepier in his staring at Chloe? I thought he wanted to eat her. --J] This Karen chick seems tough and all, but don't all the newbies that wander into CTU seem tough at first (even Lynn) before Jack mashes them up into refried wonk-meat?

And the real question here is, does it make any sense at all for one agency to completely take over the operations of another in the midst of a national crisis? And be complete jerks about it while they're at it? Any effectiveness they could have reasonably hoped for -- from the people whose jobs it is to counteract terrorists (remember, the CT part of CTU?) -- would be pretty well shattered after Papazan-chair snatched all of their keycards. [And a HUGE missed opportunity there -- when he demanded Chloe's keycard and she flatly said "no," why not have her follow up with a bitch-rant about how being casual with keycard locations is how they got into this current position of not having to worry about layoffs for a while? --J]

For the next 15 minutes, things kind of poke along. Call me jaded but the Stoller - Jack - Curtis standoff was pretty ho-hum, particularly since Stoller's jump from the roof on to Curtis was played and replayed in the promos. We have the makings of a relatively interesting complication of European and American anti-terrorist work being at cross-purposes but Jack cleverly circumvents this, stating in the most unemotional tone imaginable for Jack: "This is personal." It may be personal but Jack has yet to go very far off the rails as far as playing by the CTU book goes. Sure, he gives the Germans the WET list (which might be more interesting if it actually existed. Why did they decide to call it the WET list -- to reflect that people would be spitting on it all the time, or something?). Clearly this is a heck of a bad thing, darnit. But where's the raging loonie who wants to avenge the death of Michelle and Tony? Where's the sorrow-addled nutjob that turns so anti-Russian he'll shoot anyone he finds eating caviar and drinking vodka? If we saw a little of that in Jack, I'd be more convinced this was personal…

In order to get Jack this all important terrorist list, Chloe has a most brilliant idea involving spilling coffee. Clearly this Papazan-chair guy has never matched wits with the likes of a supergenius like Chloe. Or a 4 year old.

Our babe Collette gets together with Bierko in the midst of this, where she is leeringly searched after slinking out of her sweet red Lexus. Perfect car for someone who generally wants to remain under the radar. [Hee! --J] Bierko transfers her scads of money she'll undoubtedly never see and she decrypts some schematic of a mysterious gas distribution facility. And I don't think we're talking a Boston Baked Bean manufacturer here.

So now we're about at the 8:40pm mark and things start to show signs of getting interesting. Gardner lets Palmer in through the roadblock. Hmmm. It's seems Palmer would be the kind of distraction they wouldn't exactly want around at this point. Plot begins to thicken.

Stoller asks Jack about growing attached to a woman while undercover. (Was this a vague reference to Jack's Mexican chica of Day 3?) This also gives some foreshadowing that this might be personal for Stoller too -- maybe we'll see him again down the road?

Soon after, Jack and Karen have their first shouting match, with Stoller listening in. Very nice. Jack puts the bureaucrat in a bind, laying the responsibility on her if he can't get what he needs. Her "there will be repercussions" was a prime example of the impotent cry of powerless bureaucrats everywhere. What exactly will happen to Jack? A firm shaking of the finger in his general direction? This is a guy who faked his own death to avoid repercussions; you really think he's gives a crap what Homeland can do to him?

Jack grabs Collette while Stoller drives away, never to have as good a lay ever again (unless maybe that Clooney thing works out…) Before long, Stoller's cute little PDA turns into a 4th of July sparkler and he's screwed. Jack will clearly not be getting Weinerschnitzel from this guy on Octoberfest. Back at the airport, Collette is pulling the "I want immunity" ploy (at Camp David Palmer some underling is overheard saying, 'We're going to have to print up more of these immunity agreements. We've run through another batch…')

And in a climax that belies the mediocre build-up, Wayne is run off the road. What could this mean? Gardner is dirty? Gardner is working with Henderson? Logan forgot to turn off his robot assault team security alarm? Assuming Wayne makes it through the tunnel and eventually into Camp DP itself, we have the makings of some real intrigue here. [And, seriously, Wayne? You're rolling in a Lexus, dude. If you can't outrun/outmanuever a Ford Econoline van, you deserved to get carjacked. --J]

Then back at the airport, Collette drops the A-bomb -- Audrey bomb that is -- and somehow Audrey is either mixed up in all of this much deeper then we would have thought or someone has framed her rather expertly. Either way, Jack will be grabbing her by the throat sometime real soon, in a development that is sure to hobble his reconciliation with his former lover. Maybe it's not too late to get Kim's boyfriend back in here to help these lovebirds work out the little roadblocks in their relationship. Maybe he could get them to breathe deeply together…

From the coming attractions, we know that poor Peter Weller will again be picking up a paycheck next week. But if he's that expensive, I don't expect he'll be around long. We know Jack will be picking on Audrey -- though presumably not using the electricity conductivity test on her that he used on her husband. We know little or nothing, however, about Wayne which leaves me slightly salivating in anticipation of next week and the twists and turns we still have in store.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Season 5; Hour Thirteen (7:00PM - 8:00PM)

Air Date: 13 Mar 06
Reviewer: J

Let me just say right up front that I loved this hour and felt that as much as D lucked out with last week’s second hour, I am privileged to be bringing you this week’s commentary. Hopefully, I won’t seem “flyby” again. Of course, when you’ve written a couple hundred thousand words about any subject, you’re bound to have off-nights. My apologies if any of our loyal readers ever feel short-changed. This hour marks my sixtieth (60th) review of 24 over the course of three and a half seasons. I like to think I’ve had a lot more good ones than bad […or when they’ve been bad, they’ve been, like, wicked bad, which really is good. – D]. Regardless, believe me when I tell you that both D and I are true writers, in that we often beat ourselves up over our work much more than anyone else could. Anyway, onto the review.

As we crest the hill and begin barreling down the hill into the second half of the season (can you believe we’re only just beginning the second half?), 24 once again does not disappoint. For the second week in a row, we have an awesome episode that seems a bit more focused and, thus, a bit different than 24’s usual herky-jerky style. Where there used to be many storylines at once, we’re currently embroiled in one major-league storyline into which all the other parts seem to pretty much mesh nicely. What this allows is for us to basically see only two locations in Hour Thirteen – CTU and the Presidential Retreat.

Well, we don’t really see all that much of CTU. We specifically see the rooms that are safe to inhabit during a time when noxious gas is permeating the building. Presumably, these are the rooms the staff gather in after Edgar has a Mexican lunch. (Is it wrong to continue making fun of the big guy posthumously?) Anyway, let’s do a headcount: We’ve got Jack, Audrey, Kim, her shrink boyfriend Barry and Chloe holed up in the conference room. They’ve also got some extras along with them who are evidently mute. It appears a few techies were wise enough to get in there as well as a field agent or two and a security guard or two. Bill, wisely, booked it up to his office since he really wanted it back from Lynn. Or maybe he didn’t want to be cooped up with all those nutbags in the conference room. The Death Clinic, ironically, is one of the four safe zones (although I could swear there were only three at the end of last hour – someone must have realized they needed to save McGill) and in there we have Tony and the doctor who tried to save Paul Raines last season but was forced at gunpoint by Jack to work on another patient who had been injured during Jack’s international incident-caused raid on the Chinese consulate. Oh, yeah, what about that, huh? Please tell me that won’t be a completely dropped storyline because that would be….. stupid.

Also in the clinic is Henderson and Burke, who is the new special agent in charge of torture for this season. As I mentioned, Lynn is still in his holding room. Interesting that CTU ensures that any criminals they have will be safe – safer than their employees. Anyway, there’s also a security guard named Harry in the holding room with McGill. Early on, McGill confides in Harry that this is all his fault. Yeah, that’s a great idea, Lynn. Harry has a gun. Anyway, Harry – rightfully – expresses indignation that Lynn was such a stupid ass that he didn’t report his keycard stolen until it was too late. In fact, Harry goes so far as to say, “So we’re all gonna die” because of McGill. Oh, Harry, not everybody’s gonna die. Some people have guaranteed contracts with Fox.

One of the first things Bill does (and I give him credit for still running point on everything and staying under control) is call Curtis in the hopes that he can help from the outside. And, presumably, to give him a heads up not to walk right into the building. Curtis is in his truck (not the one Jack boosted from him, I guess) and reports that it could be 30 minutes before he’s back at CTU. Which is interesting, given that he was on his way back to CTU at 6:17 and it’s now 7:01. Thirty more minutes means that the hospital was an hour and fifteen minutes away. Jack, however, was able to get from the mall to Omicron to Henderson’s house and back to CTU in probably less time than that. And during rush hour to boot. Maybe Curtis is just a slow driver. Or maybe he’s smart as hell and isn’t going to go anywhere near the festering death stew that is CTU. Regardless, take a good look at Curtis since you won’t see him again this hour.

Fortunately, the writers of 24 are catching on that there are a lot of us nit-pickers out here and they had someone ask Buchanan early on where their gas masks and atropine (which, evidently, can combat nerve gas?) are. Buchanan points out that they’re in the armory, which is contaminated. Good planning. Knowing the threat level that’s out there, I’d have had mine on since the Ontario Airport situation.

Meanwhile, in the conference room, Chloe has flipped her shit even more than usual and is having some serious PTSD issues. Nobody else is, but she refers to Edgar in this hour as her “best friend” so we know something is seriously wrong with her. Jack tries his usual smooth techniques of demanding she get back to work until Barry the doctora steps in and says maybe he can help. You know, being a clinical psychologist and all. Plus he’s had experience with other CTU employees who were dealing with issues. I’m referring to Kim, for those of you slow kids in the class. He’s also “experienced” Kim, if you know what I mean. And I hope you do. Because I’m laying it on kind of thick. Sort of like Barry’s done to Kim. Okay, I’m done. For this paragraph.

Jack calls the Death Clinic to see if Henderson made it in. The doctor, within 10 feet of Tony, tells Jack over the speakerphone that Henderson and Burke are indeed in there. Smart move. Tony now knows there is someone there he can blame for Michelle’s murder and puts the doc in a sleeper hold. He then heads into the room where Henderson is and relieves Burke of his sidearm. He even refers to Burke as “Rick” when he says, “I don’t want to shoot you Rick, but I will if I have to!” Rick realizes his $40,000 a year job as torturer extraordinaire isn’t worth it and backs off. Jack pipes into the room via the intercom and talks Tony out of killing Henderson. Of course, Tony should have just shot the phone but he listened to Jack turn on the velvet and convince him that he really does understand since he lost his wife Teri the same way. Well, not really. Teri was shot in cold blood by Nina; Michelle was the victim of a car bomb. Or, as I said in the premiere, a hell of a factory recall.

Anyway, Tony relents, giving full implication that CTU can try to continue to break Henderson but then he plans to kill him. Burke doesn’t even ask for his gun back.

Incidentally, Burke is injecting Henderson with something that Jack as well as the Fox Web site refer to as “hyoscine-pentothal.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the reason that it isn’t working on Henderson is that it doesn’t exist. Seriously, I’m amazed they chose a drug that doesn’t even exist. The only results on Google were for 24 Web sites and Wikipedia had absolutely nothing on it. However, I dug a little further (because we’re all about full service here at The Unofficial 24 Page) and I learned that hyoscine itself is also known as scopolamine. In the medicinal form,
it’s known as “scopolamine hydrobromide” and has indeed been used as a truth syrum. The government looked into this in the 1950s but subsequently abandoned the use of it since it was known to cause so much delirium that it couldn’t be considered reliable. Or maybe its use wasn’t abandoned.

Ten minutes into the episode we finally leave CTU and go to Camp David Palmer, where the prez and vice-prez are speaking with Karen Hayes, who is apparently a Homeland Security…agent? I didn’t realize Homeland Security had such a role in our governmental decisions. Anyway, VP Hal Gardner (who gets his own freeze-frame intro this week, interestingly) is played by Ray Wise, who I always remember from
The Chase. I don’t know why, but I do. Anyway, Gardner is evidently making the decisions for Logan now, who is only too relieved to have someone do this for him. Last year, it was David Palmer. This year, it seemed to be Walt and Mike, until Walt died and Mike decided to make Logan be a man (good day for that lesson, Mike). Now Gardner comes in and begins barking orders and Logan gets all turned on and allows it. Not a good sign. You know, come to think of it, Vice Presidents on this show are for shit.

Anyway, Ms. Hayes from Homeland Security confirms that CTU is in deep shit and that they’ll head over there (apparently not in a rush, though) and take over operations. More on this later.

Hal Gardner continues to push Logan to declare martial law and to herd the people off the streets. Yes, that’s a great idea. That could cause mayhem and panic in Peoria, Illinois – Gardner is suggesting doing it in Los Angeles. Logan weakly protests but Gardner makes the point that if they control the streets it will be a lot harder for the terrorists to move about. Well, yes, but that’s one of those messed up arguments with so many holes I don’t even know where to begin. So I won’t. But the point Harold makes (I like calling people with nicknames that cover their dorky names by those dorky names) is seemingly legitimate enough to Logan that he clearly is leaning towards going with Hal’s idea.

Back at the increasingly tense situation room (I’ll call it situation room now since it’s clearly become a situation), Jack belittles Barry’s profession and again implores Chloe to help them work. Basically, he needs her to hack Henderson’s computer since Henderson won’t talk. Barry accuses Jack of not being there for people who need him. This is an interesting approach by Barry considering that a) he knows Jack’s a trained torturer/killer and b) he’s a psychologist who should know better how to handle people who are a smidgen unhinged. Anyway, Jack walks right up into Barry’s face and C. Thomas Howell plays this scene very well by his subtle backing away from Jack until he’s against the wall. Jack accuses Barry of taking advantage of his daughter and comments, “You’re twenty years older than her, don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing.” Barry is incensed at the accusation but Jack grabs Barry by the throat to prove he is getting tired of being pissed off by Barry. Nobody in the room seems to think this is unusual or tries to intervene. Hey, I guess the thought is that Barry got himself into this. Chloe, usually the cause of tension, reduces it by agreeing to get back to work.

And it’s a good thing, too, because right about then we learn that there’s a problem with the seals in the room. What is it? Not enough fresh fish to feed the seals? Not enough water to keep them wet? Oh, not
those kinds of seals. Gotcha.

No, it turns out the nerve gas has a corrosive agent (did Bierko’s boys add this?) that is eating away at the seals. Yikes, that’s some persistent nerve gas. Fortunately, though, it doesn’t affect every
seal. Only the ones in CTU.

Buchanan tells people of the seal situation and makes it top priority to figure out how to flush the air out of CTU. As though there was ever any other top priority. In the midst of this, Jack dumps some of his guilt on Audrey, saying that he’s the reason Kim stuck around. Audrey tells him there’s no way he could have known she’d be in danger at CTU. Jack looks at her as if to say, “Do you not know anything about this place?”

Chloe, meanwhile, has figured out that she can cycle the air out of CTU with the A/C system but there’s a computer program on another terminal that she can’t access and it’s complicating matters. This is the computer we saw Ostruff mess with last hour and it’s the issue that cause Hot Carrie to go looking for trouble and get killed. I would say nice continuity, but since they film two episodes at once on 24, this probably wasn’t that hard.

They realize the seals are being eaten quickly and Jack, of course, is willing to climb through the walls and find his way to that terminal and then get back to the safe room that Chloe can somehow air flush. In an interesting twist, Chloe is wrong about Jack being able to access the computer in question because when he pulls the paneling away from the wall, there is metal jail bars in his way. Well, that sure sucks. He (barely) gets back to the room that Chloe can air flush and reports this bad news. Chloe then finds the bars in a CTU schematic, saying they were an addition (perhaps in the wake of Nina Myers shenanigans).

I do find it interesting that Jack is able to be out in the contaminated air without the nerve gas burning him. I mean, it is corrosive enough to eat through rubberized protectors in a matter of minutes – imagine what this could do to skin. He does sort of explain that he won’t be exposed long enough but I think I’m calling “bullshit” on this story. [Also, don’t you wonder why all the bodies lying about CTU aren’t displaying some radically nasty form of decay? If the gas is that corrosive, CTU should be entrail city…--D]

Regardless, Chloe informs the crew at CTU (and us) that the only way to that terminal for anyone currently alive in CTU is from the holding room that Lynn is being held in. Looks like you drew the short pipe cleaner, Lynn. The phone in his room rings and he punches the speaker button and says “McGill here.” I don’t know why, but I liked that answer for some reason. Almost like, yeah, we all had our differences and whatnot, but now we’re all in this together so speak to me. Anyway, Jack tells McGill the situation and how he’s the only one who can get to the computer and that he’ll have to run out there unprotected. “I see,” says McGill. “No you don’t,” says Jack, always having to be right. Jack then proceeds to tell McGill that once he does what’s needed at the terminal, he, too, will be….terminal. That is, his room can’t be re-airlocked (which is an interesting twist of luck for everyone involved) so he’ll be dead for certain. McGill seems to absorb this well and, magnanimously, his first thought is that Harry is in there with him. He tells Jack as much and Harry gets a little panicky. Lynn eventually convinces Harry that they have no choice and must do it. I must admit, I was really impressed with Lynn’s approach. I thought, however, that Harry might choose to draw his weapon in order to stop the unarmed McGill but he did not. I also think it’s interesting that McGill went from pain-in-the-ass division guy to reasonable dude to out-of-control division dude to contrite understanding man to holding room occupant to fearless hero who goes out honorably while saving lives. Things move much faster on 24 than they used to – George Mason had this same career trajectory but it took years, not hours.

Approximately ten minutes after agreeing to do the deed, McGill and Harry are still in the holding room. There is no evidence that they spent the past ten minutes doing that deed, you perverts. No, currently, Harry is on the phone with his little girl. This scene bothered me for a variety of reasons. Yes, it was heart-tugging because of the little girl’s voice and Harry’s humanity. However, we don’t know Harry so it’s a bit ridiculous to ask us to care about him when 24 routinely makes security guards so expendable. Harry tells his daughter to do what mommy says, including “When she goes to bed, you go to bed.” It’s a good thing Harry’s daughter isn’t 17, or else he might be saying “When mommy tells you to stop screwing guys in your bedroom while she’s asleep in the living room, you listen to her.”

McGill has clearly tried to be patient but he knows they have very little time so he tells Harry to say goodbye. Harry capitulates and McGill uses his wadded up tie to block his breathing orifices as he rushes up to the computer in question and stops the program that is running on the A/C units. He then bolts back to the holding room (I wish they all chanted “
Ruuu-dy, Ruuu-dy” over the intercom), where Harry is still holding his breath. This was a well-done scene, too. I wasn’t sure if we’d see all this or if we’d be left to understand that they died a horrible death. But no, 24 comes through and shows us how it might really go down. Sure, you’re holding your breath, but for how long? Until a miracle happens? Harry, sadly, thinks that he might just have found that miracle when he finally has to breathe, and he says as much. Then, naturally, the nerve gas actually gets into his lungs and he chokes to death. Poor McGill has to watch this. Meanwhile, Jack has spoken to them over the intercom and thanked them for their service and dedication. He promises to tell their families how heroic they were. McGill is doing his best to hold his breath for the 15 minutes it’s going to take Chloe to clear the air so he is unable to respond to Jack with, “Hey, man, do me a favor and put a stop on my L.A. Times subscription.” Instead, he finally has to breathe and he, too, suffers the horrible nerve gas death. Much as McGill was an ass for a while there, I was sad to see him die.

Jack takes the few minutes they have to ask Kim to stick around so they can talk. What? Weren’t you just beating yourself up for asking her to stay, Jack? Jesus, make up your damn mind. Regardless, Kim has decided (again) that staying away from CTU is a good idea and she tells him to go scratch. When the building is safe, she and Barry head out but not before Barry (who might be bipolar himself) goes to Jack to thank him for saving their lives. Jack just growls at Barry to get Kim out of the city.

Back at the Presidential Retreat-ranch, Gardner has succeeded in getting Logan to effectively declare martial law in Los Angeles. Novick is disgusted and Martha tries to convince Logan to reconsider. Greg Itzin gives yet another masterful performance as Logan about breaks down to his wife. He admits he doesn’t know how much more of this he can take and, damn, it’s just so well-acted I can’t really make fun of it. He even asks Martha if he “lost” her when he almost “lost” her in the limo attack. Wait, didn’t these two make up last hour as Logan studied the stars above? (The stars that were out the same hour the sun set, I might add.)

It’s at this point that we’re introduced to a really hot bad chick whom the Fox Web site refers to as Collette Stenger. Evidently, Mandy has already been hired out for this particular day. [In with the bad hot chick, and out with the good (Kim). Balance is restored to the Force. – D] Anyway, Collette gets a call from Bierko who is looking for some sort of “high-security schematics.” Why does he need schematics? Just put the gas canisters anywhere near a vent system and you’ll kill everyone in the building. Just where is this going? We also see this hour that Bierko plans to release all of the remaining gas in one location. Interesting. Guess he’s not saving any for a rainy day in Moscow. You know, I must admit, in the scenes Bierko got into this hour he made the most of.

Karen Hayes from Homeland Security is on her way to CTU with Miles Papazian. (Is it me or does this name sound suspiciously like “
Papa John”? Mmmm, pizza.) Anyway, she lets Buchanan know they’re coming and she then tells Miles that Buchanan will be relieved of duty and that nobody at CTU will be able to keep working after what they’ve been through. She effectively suspends the existence of CTU Los Angeles as they drive towards it. Miles has himself a nifty little laptop, on which he has changed everything in CTU-ish to Homeland Security-ese. I say the laptop is nifty because he’s making changes to the CTU system while he’s in transit. Hell, I can’t get my home wireless Internet setup to work from more than 15 feet away.

Our last scene was truly another shocker. Tony decides (again) that it’s time to kill Henderson. He knows if Jack gets to him he’ll talk him down with his velvety smoothness. But just before Tony (who has always been my favorite 24 character) injects Henderson with what’s presumably a lethal dose of hyoscine, he gets a pang of conscience and realizes he probably shouldn’t do this. In an non-Tony way, he looks away from his prey for a second. Of course, he probably believed Henderson was in the coma Burke reported he was in since, hell, Peter Weller looks even more dead now than he did two hours ago. But he’s far from dead. Much like Nina Myers a few years ago, Henderson was faking his coma and turns the syringe on poor Tony. Noooo!! My mouth fell open as Tony took what I knew was a death injection right to his chest. Henderson then took the gun and did something I found amusing. He jacked a round into the pipe and then chose to release the clip to make sure it was loaded. Why wouldn’t he drop out the clip to check this first and then jack in a round after re-inserting it? I don’t know. Perhaps Peter Weller screwed up. Or maybe this is how Robocops check ammo.

Random thought here: You know Kim isn’t walking away that easily. Want a prediction? Robocop Henderson somehow oozes out of CTU and comes across Kim and Barry. Since Kim knows Henderson (remember, he and Miriam checked in on her), she won’t be afraid of him. That’s when Henderson will nab her and just like that, Kim will be kidnapped for the 4,367th time.

Anyway, Jack gets to the Death Clinic just as it’s about to claim another. Tony is dying as Jack cradles him in his arms. Tony tells him he couldn’t kill Henderson and as Jack asks Tony to hold on and screams for help (towards a hallway of dead people) Tony, heart-breakingly whimpers to Jack, “She’s gone…” He means Michelle and his implication is that he has nothing to hold on to anymore and no reason to stick around. This hurts so bad to watch as Carlos Bernard utters his final line on 24. I am truly saddened as I sit here and type this, just as I was when I watched Tony die. Jack, consistent with his character, sheds tears as well. And if you blew over this, you haven’t been paying attention. When was the last time Jack cried over a death on 24? His wife, that’s when. Final minute of Season One. Jack and Tony had a special bond and both of them played it beautifully over the past four and a half seasons. So long, Tony. I can’t believe it’s really over.

So that marks three somewhat regulars in the past hour alone. Edgar, McGill and Tony. What’s next? I don’t know, but whatever it is, we’ll be here to ramble about it.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Season 5; Hour Twelve (6:00pm - 7:00pm)

Air Date: 6 Mar 06
Reviewer: D

Shazam and gadzooks, the sparks just continue to fly. I barely know where to begin with this epi what with all the knifing and torturing and gasping and emotional reeling going on. Even at some of the worst moments in seasons past – the bomb going off at CTU, the bioterror event at the hotel, planes and trains exploding – there hasn’t been anything that demonstrated in more starkly horrible terms the ghastliness of terror as the few safe CTUers watching helplessly as their coworkers tumbled and succumbed outside the situation room. That was just some evil shit, man. I almost feel like that scene gave me PTSD and I was sitting on the couch drinking hot chocolate.

I also must admit to feeling a little apologetic because I get to talk about the kick-ass second hour while J got the excellent – but still only spank-ass – first hour. Still, there are no losers when 24 is hitting on all cylinders like it has been these past several eps.

So, in one of those small things that probably just gives us 24-philes a stiffie, Hour 11 transitions into Hour 12 without hardly a hiccup in between. While we all go, “wow, that’s cool, they’ve never done that before,” it also has the effect for the public-at-large of making the show seem even more cinematic than it already is. And really, by the end of Monday night I had that nice fulfilled feeling I have after just being out to see a flick, and without the $25 smack on my wallet (admission for lovely wife and I plus popcorn) and the butter stains on the front of my shirt.

Boris Badguy shows us that the Russians have the same kind of magical image manipulation software that they have at CTU, putting his surly blonde head on top of Lynn McGill’s stumpy little body. He leaves the apartment of Skank McGill and boyfriend, leaving them physically brainless to match their intellectual brainlessness. And while we’re here, it’s worth at least mentioning the pretty massive gaffe 24 has made with this whole keycard subplot. Even my 5 year-old son would have been wondering how Lynn got back into 24 without it (if he knew what the hell a keycard was). The only thing that I can think is that McGill tapped into that elfin magic that Hobbitts have at their disposal. Or maybe it was that old movie theater trick of coming out a side door at the same time someone’s coming in. Or maybe once in a while the 24 writers have to screw up so as not to offend the almightly television gods. Who knows, but let’s just admit it and move on, shall we?

Next we are treated to those magic words that I’ve been longing to hear: “Kim Bauer is here.” I know I am pretty much alone in this sentiment. In fact, Entertainment Weekly had about the funniest line I’ve read to this effect (“The world is full of unnecessary objects: napkin rings, tea cozies, Jack Bauer's daughter, Kim. And yet that didn't stop 24's producers from asking Elisha Cuthbert to reprise her utterly useless role.”). Still, I stand by Kim (oh, if only I could stand by her…) because of several reasons: 1) I still say that without any family ties, Jack loses a key piece of his humanity and becomes one of those soulless revenge-driven superagent types that countless lousy movies have centered around, 2) despite the negative ink she’s gotten, Elisha Cuthbert has shown she can be a pretty good actress but after the first season 24 has never really known what to do with her, and 3) besides the vague MILF factor of the First Lady, the hotness of 24 is deeply depressed this season and any bolstering of this intangible, yet vital, aspect of the show should be welcomed. Hell, I was even happy to see JoBeth Williams briefly for this reason, though she doesn’t quite do for me what she did back in the “Big Chill” days (a long series of snaps on any woman’s garment will always be sexy as far as I’m concerned, thanks to JoBeth…).

So, anyway, Kim has arrived on site (also conveniently at the top of an hour) with her shrink/boyfriend in tow, who seems like just the pencil-necked, overly sensitive type that Kim would hook up with after having a rocky relationship with superagent dad and having a fling with superagent Chase crap out on her. One cosmetic note: did Elisha have a little acne situation going on with her chin or what? A girl’s certainly allowed a zit or two but I found it distracting.

Audrey breaks the news to Kim and, as the Fox website puts it, her reaction is “stoic.” I’d more succinctly say that she looked like she’d taken a quick trip to the “House of Wax.” Or like someone had just asked her a really complicated algebra problem. Any way you put it, she reacts little or not at all, we assume because shrink Barry has effectively scrubbed all spare emotions out of her. We can also assume that she’s pissed because that’s what kids get at their parents, whether it’s over gas money or faking your death to hide from a federal government that’s trying to snuff you out. Different stakes, same emotions.

Meanwhile, we finally have someone new on the scene at Camp David Palmer (tm, reader Bill), as the VP flies in presumably to deliver a backbone injection for President Logan. If you presumed this, you would be wrong since what he really wants is to implement a hair-brained scheme that circumvents the legitimate legal processes that keep our government solvent. It’s good to see that Logan has surrounded himself with advisors as idiotic as he is. A pre-emptive declaration of martial law sounds like a good idea, a good idea, that is, if you’re a looter and you want to get a head start on breaking windows, ripping off stores, and rolling old ladies.

Jack is bringing Henderson (aka RoboChris) in to get jacked up with some not-so-happy drugs. Luckily for JoBeth she must have been shipped to a real hospital because as we shall soon see, even more so than usual, CTU is a deathtrap. Henderson’s oblique “you don’t want to know what I know” is certainly intriguing. What do you think he’s alluding to? That fat-free food doesn’t make you lose weight? That penis enlargement drugs don’t work and that size really does matter? That love really does mean having to say you’re sorry? It’s so mysterious! Whatever it is, I believe his intimations that there is something deeply nefarious going on is the only thing that’s going to keep him alive. That is, if the Sentox doesn’t get to him first…

The scene between Jack and Kim was my favorite of the night and it didn’t even involve Kim flashing her underthings. It was that moment Barry interrupts the two Bauers and Jack looks at him with the most penetrating, vaporizing stare I think I’ve ever seen. I’m surprised they didn’t cut to a puddle spreading around Barry’s shoes; I think many a man would have lost all bladder control in the face of that stare. I also enjoyed Kim’s line that “there’s something wrong with people like you.” Well, duh, of course there is, babycakes. But again that’s a typical daughter/daddy dynamic isn’t it? In some families, a daughter bitches because Daddy walks around in his underwear or burps the alphabet after a couple of beers during March Madness. In the Bauer family, Kim bitches because her dad tends to put his life in mortal danger on a near daily basis. Is there really that much difference?

Later, there’s also that nice little scene between Chloe and Kim where Chloe reveals the hard-on she has for Jack by telling Kim to cut him some slack. It was a nice way to reinforce to Kim that Jack really was protecting her. It’s too bad that Chloe didn’t go the extra step and, in that classic Chloe tradition, say something like, “So Kim are you doing the nasty with your shrink? And hey, do you need some Clearisil for that chin thing you’ve got going on? Oh, and does it feel oogy that guys spend untold hours salivating over Internet tributes to you?”

As if there aren’t enough complications brewing, Tony is now determined to find out who made smithereens out of his beloved Michelle (though he doesn’t at all seem interested in finding the twisted nutjob who took all those pictures of his dead wife) and Buchanan – never one to be evasive when spilling details can complicate matters – gives Tony Henderson’s name. He could have told him about Bierko or Cummings or Nathanson or about a half-dozen others, but no, it’s Henderson he mentions. And who else would get rolled into the CTU clinic right in Tony’s neighborhood once things go all to hell? Why RoboChris of course. Let’s hope Tony has a little more restraint than the Russian sex slave and let’s Henderson spill the goods on what it is that is so mysterious that he knows before Tony rips his jugular out.

The goings on between Martha and Novick were nice in that they showed Martha cutting through the B.S.. I liked Marty’s reaction to Novick’s “the country’s in crisis.” Her little laugh/cry said it all – “country? Hey Mikie, my husband was going to let me die, do you think I give a rip about the country?” I don’t really know what to make of her subsequent sort of reconciliation with Logan (who she finds aimlessly staring off into space…what was he thinking, “it’s the earth that revolves around the sun, right? Or is it the other way around…?”) She doesn’t really try to sway him one way or another, just telling him that the country needs him. Is this supposed to be like spinach to Popeye? Will Logan suddenly become a real President thanks to Marty’s support? Guess we’ll see.

It’s becoming clear that the folks at Fox are following this site with devoted interest because, in response to my snarky comment about the character of Carrie (Cary? Kerry? C’kairy?) who was noted on the Fox website simply as “a techie,” the friendly folks at Fox have specified her as ‘Carrie Bendis’ (played as it turns out by the actress who was the stunt double for Trinity in the Matrix sequels). It’s a good thing we know who she is, just in time for her to take an unceremonious knife to the back. In the last Carrie / Edgar scene we see the kind of interplay that made Edgar a “beloved” fan “favorite,” Edgar snapping at Carrie but then looking after her as if he wants to apologize, never suspecting that he’s sending her TO HER DOOM! I quote the words “beloved” and “favorite” because as far as I’m concerned, the rotund one was kind of interesting and the Chloe/Edgar dynamic could be kind of fun but he was still second-tier all the way. The only reason he stood out is because he was among the few characters on the show that the writers bothered to develop a personality for (note that Kim is not included in this list).

The last 15 minutes of the show are all about CTU and the impending gassiness. Quick thought: wouldn’t the terrorists done best by setting off another canister at the same time as the CTU batch, so the CTUers couldn’t react at all, amidst running for their lives? Anyway, McGill finally decides to do what a smart guy – you know, like a government agent – would have done hours ago and tell someone that his keycard was swiped. Within minutes, Jack is on the trail of Boris Badguy who suddenly finds out that generally it’s harder to leave CTU alive than break into it. Jack, always with his wits about him, figures out that Boris is listening in on CTU radio chatter (ok, his real character name is Ostroff…I’ll use the Fox strategy and use it just before…), sneaks up behind him and eventually blasts him to that Chechen stronghold in the sky. It’s clear that an indoor air pollution problem is eminent, and Buchanan sends people running just as folks start falling.

And suddenly, wonderfully 24 becomes another show altogether as now the core CTU crew has to figure out how the hell they’re going to get out of their momentarily airtight enclosure. This is another brilliant move by the writers, setting up a mini-trauma inside the bigger one, allowing short-term tension and resolution while maintaining the greater threat from the terrorists. Elegantly constructed, so much so that I don’t have a snarky thing to say about it. I do wonder about this scattergun deployment of the canisters, though. It is starting to seem enough like my suggestion of a weekly canister deployment from several hours ago that I may have to pursue a copyright violation action, a la Dan Brown and “The Holy Blood…” lawsuit.

Some last questions to mull over while waiting for next week:

-- Did Edgar really deserve the silent clock tribute?

-- Where’s McGill? Did he make it to safety? Is he hiding under Henderson’s gurney? Have we seen the last of the Hobbitt?

-- Will Kim eventually kick the bucket, satisfying the bloodlust of the millions of Kim-haters out there? More importantly, is the only way to avert the current crisis for Kim to rip off her clothes in order to rig up makeshift gas masks?


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Season 5; Hour Eleven (5:00PM - 6:00PM)

Air Date: 6 Mar 06
Reviewer: J

I want to start off by saying that this past Monday night might have been the point where this season went from “having potential” straight to “excellent,” at least for me. There have been plenty of good scenes, good episodes and the like to this point. However, those two hours back-to-back just felt like endless excellence and excitement, while seamlessly blending together scenes at the Presidential retreat, CTU, the terrorist hideout and so on. Scenes shifted from one to another without jarring imprecision and the acting was, as usual, excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed the two hours and honestly (like almost everyone, I would imagine) I thought the second hour was superior. But D gets to opine about that hour. For me, I will be focusing on the first hour shown on March 6: Hour Eleven.

We kick off with Tony finally being a factor again. We haven’t seen Tony since he played the role of a vegetable while Jack was fighting with an assassin and the killer was whizzing bullets over Tony’s melon and into the wall of the clinic. Little did Tony know that that was the best things would get for him for a while. Sleeping, that is. Tony comes to (conveniently as an hour begins) and asks to speak with Bill Buchanan. Bill wants to tell Tony the truth about Michelle’s death, which happened like ten hours ago, but the doctor is worried that Tony is too fragile for this. Interesting, since soon after the doctor and Bill both play shifty-eyed games of denial with him, Tony goes to find out for himself what’s up with Michelle. I mean, did Bill forget that Tony was a federal agent for quite a few years? Tony, predictably, goes to pieces when he finds out that Michelle is dead. The CTU database is replete with pictures of Michelle strewn on the Almeida lawn. Who shot those pictures? A neighbor ambling by with a camera phone? Tony does tell Bill that he needs to speak with Jack. Interesting. Bill ignores this request.

The President is in a doghouse like no other as we begin this hour. The Suvarovs and First Lady Martha are choppered back to Camp David Palmer and ushered inside. Yuri Suvarov finally voices his concerns and intimates suspicions that all is not kosher. I was wondering when this might happen since I imagine Mr. Suvarov is former Russian military, being the President of that nation and all. Logan blames his wife’s weirdness (and presumably her lack of willingness to engage in a First Lady sandwich) on her recent chemical imbalance. Suvarov clearly wants to call bullshit on Logan’s story but he simply walks away. Prior to this, there was an interesting scene where Logan actually acts Presidential and says that they’re going to need to honor the treaty they just signed to pool information about potential terrorists. You mean, like you did just last hour, Charles? Instead of asking this, Suvarov agrees. Interestingly, Suvarov has yet to ask, “Meester Pres-ee-dent, vwhere eez your cheef of staff?”

Jack is on his way to Henderson’s house to pull a little surprise spy versus spy on Robocop. And I imagine he’s more than a little pissed after Christopher’s little exploding clipboard gag back at OmicronSentoxVille. Anyway, somehow Jack beats Henderson back to his house. Maybe Henderson had to stop in at the morgue to have some new embalming fluid inserted. Seriously, is it me or does it look like they exhumed Peter Weller for this role? Anyway, at the Henderson house, Mrs. Henderson is surprised to see Jack, but not as surprised as I’d expect her to be since, you know, they all thought Jack was dead. Well, not Henderson. He used his Robotic senses to detect that Jack was still alive.

While Jack is rooting through Henderson’s computer files while Mrs. Henderson sits on the couch, Chris Henderson himself has called his bank “in Buenos Aires” according to the Fox Web site and “asked for access to his safety deposit box.” Really? He drove to Brazil and back to L.A. in like 15 minutes? Now that’s just silly. I mean, I’m assuming that’s where he got that suitcase of cash that Jack eventually uses to try to convince Mrs. Henderson that something’s amiss. Henderson himself of course denies it, even preparing to take a bullet from Jack the torturer. Jack decides instead to put a bullet in Mrs. Henderson’s leg to make Christopher talk. It doesn’t work. Jack folds, the first time we’ve seen him quit on torture this quickly. He just knows Henderson won’t talk so he decides to trundle him back to CTU where they have more than bullets with which to torture.

Meanwhile, this year’s most dubiously twisted connection begins to come into focus. McGill’s lame-ass sister’s boyfriend, Dwayne (incidentally, is “Dwayne” the first name with the highest percentage of losers attached to it?), is in contact with one of Bierko’s men to sell him Rudy McGill’s CTU keycard. Uh-oh, that can’t be good. But, really, I don’t see why they’re going to all this trouble to get into CTU – didn’t McGill get back in without the card after getting his ass kicked a few hours ago? And if the guards didn’t stop him then (cardless, bleeding, disheveled), then they’ll probably let a well-groomed terrorist in. While waiting to make the exchange (reportedly for $20K), Dwayne and Sister Switch use the keycard to cut lines of cocaine. I bet CTU keycards aren’t used for that very often.

McGill is permitted to call these morons again and he does, once more threatening to call the police. Which he does not make good on. Nicely done, McGill. You think you’re in a world of hurt now.

Meanwhile, the terrorists are still pissed that the Suvarovs survived the motorcade attack and spend the hour attempting to deploy the nerve gas in a hospital. Long story short, Curtis and a tactical team save the day by locating the canister, running through the busy hospital hallways with it and depositing it in what looks like a neo-natal incubator. Hopefully, they took out whatever preemie was occupying it previously.

Back at the ranch, Martha is refusing to see her husband. She even goes so far as to order Evelyn (lucky Evelyn) to bar the door and not allow any visitors, especially her rat-fink, chicken-shit husband. Evelyn dutifully blocks Logan’s way when he comes to visit, saying that Martha doesn’t want to see anyone. I liked Logan’s awesome reply: “I’m not anyone, Evelyn.” Of course, then he pusses out and backs down to her. Typical.

In another interesting scene, Martha asks to see the hobbling Aaron Pierce, who is still apparently on duty. She clutches his hand and thanks him for saving her life and he is very professional yet warm in his response. Mike Novick walks in on them and it’s made out to be like Novick walked in on Aaron bending Martha over a chair, when in reality she was emotionally touched by the fact that Pierce saved her life. I don’t know, I don’t think it’s out of line to squeeze a true friend’s hand who just risked his own life to save yours. Either way, Aaron is as flustered as we’ve ever seen him and Novick gets all pissy with him to not let it happen again. Oh, whatever, Mike.

We wrap up this exciting-yet-only-an-appetizer episode with Bierko’s henchman having McGill’s sister and Dwayne bound and gagged in their apartment. This is an odd way to do a money exchange. This terrorist (named “Ostroff”) then clips Dwayne in the back of the melon. Oh, so I guess he decided to pay them in a different manner. He then helps Jenny McGill kick her drug habit cold turkey by aerating the back of her skull. Yikes. A rather brutal scene, even for 24. Ostroff swipes the keycard and strolls out. We don’t see whether or not he took their last line of coke to add insult to injury.

This leads us right into (and I do mean right into – there was nothing in between) Hour Twelve, which was quite awesome. And it is here that I will hand the baton to D and sit back and enjoy.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Season 5; Hour Ten (4:00PM - 5:00PM)

Air Date: 27 Feb 06
Reviewer: D

My, what a difference a couple of weeks makes!

Hour Eight my attention started to wander. But with Hour Nine -- thanks to Lynn’s freak-out, the Jack-on-Curtis action, and the First Lady’s impetuous limo-hopping -- I was glued to the tube again. And then this latest hour paid off with a tightly-wound, suspenseful series of events full of nice surprises and scads of the moments we 24-philes salivate over. My formerly droopy BauerHour flag is now flapping wildly and, thanks to the little tidbits dropped by the coming attractions, well, let’s just say I expect to be at full attention next week. And I think you know why. [Is this review bordering on soft-core porn only one paragraph in? -J]

But before I get to k…k…k…KIM [Ah, yes, it is... -J], let’s review, shall we, and distribute the appropriate props all around. First off, we see Novick and Logan already starting to sort out the political wheat from the chaff in the presumed aftermath of a shredded Suvarov. But then what a sweet slap in the face for Logan to find out…for the umpteeth time…that when he actually goes so far as to make a decision, there are consequences, some of them unexpected. Particularly when you have a wild-card wife like Marty.

Now if America was a true meritocracy and Logan had a station in life appropriate to his actual leadership ability, the land of 24 would be fine since the most important thing he’d be deciding would be “paper or plastic” But when you’re the President you may think you’re going to save the country, but then find out you’re going to get your wife killed. Just goes with the territory. Next time, Logie-boy, you might want to think outside the little 10 minute window of time you usually live in.

Most curious to me is the role of Novick here. Clearly, he wouldn’t mind Marty getting a little shrapnel injection and yet his entire dialogue for this episode was, “Do you want me to call the Secret Service? Should I have them divert the motorcade? Do you want to stop this? Yo, Prez, do you want to save your wife’s comely ass or not? Hellooooo Logie!” Is Mike just trying to be a good egg, reneg on his previous advice, or divert attention from the possibility that he’s in with the terrorists?

I mention that last thing because there’s been a fair amount of chatter about this in the fan sites. I have to say, I can’t conceive of Mike being in with the bad guys. He’s shown himself to be a political opportunist, not an ideologue. Of course, by stating this in print, given my track record, I’m probably guaranteeing that Mike starts tossing Molotov cocktails next week. [I'm with you -- no way Novick is dirty. -J]

Wouldn’t it have been great if, as the tension mounted and the motorcade neared the downtown corridor, Mike had turned to Logan and said, “Buck up, Charles, there’s plenty of fish in the sea. Hell, I hear that Keeler’s wife’s available – and she already knows the job!”

The phone call between Logan and Martha was priceless and cemented my affection for the First Lady that has only grown since she flashed her cleavage back in Hour Three. Though it didn’t have the satisfying physical impact of her slapping him a few hours back, it had virtually the same emotional effect, tying poor Logan up into tight, balding, jowly, little knots. At the same time, I’m wondering whether Russian President Suvarov is cruising along idly in the back of the limo thinking, “First Lady threesome? That’d be one for the Guiness Book!”

But the action that really drove this episode was the intrigue and infighting at CTU. If CTU were a real federal agency, it’d be FEMA during Katrina. Lynn is so out of control that he’s firing people before we even know who the hell they are. Carrie? Cary? [Keri? Kerry? -J]We’ll never know since the Fox website just calls her “a techie.” Anyway, the writers have clearly decided they can make more dramatic hay out of Lynn the Paranoid Hobbit versus the brief glimmer we saw of Lynn the Brilliant Division Stiff Who Shows Us that Following Protocol is Good back when he saved Jack’s ass at the airport. So the screw that got loosened when Lynn got rolled in the parking lot has come completely unthreaded and his head is nearly spinning on his neck like Linda Blair’s. [Ah, D...showing your age again. -J]

My favorite line of the show happens early on at CTU when Audrey approaches Edgar and, in a moment of Bart Simpson-esque guilt, Edgar responds “Am I in trouble?” Is Edgar’s tail just permanently stapled between his legs or what? And to stick with our rotund friend for a moment: was it just me, or were you too afraid that Edgar might stumble and start rolling as he lumbered down the corridor to the CTU server room, becoming a human bowling ball that would flatten the stick-figures Audrey and Chloe like a 5-9 split?

So Audrey has the techies on her side. But what does she gain from Edgar’s nervous complicity in her little behind-the-back operation? When challenged by McGill, Edgar says that Chloe stepped away for a minute. Brilliant! This is clearly someone who should be working for the CIA!

I have to give props to Audrey though. Clearly some of Jack rubbed off on her back when they were sleeping together (hey, you want G-rated commentary, you gotta surf elsewhere) because she was practically channeling the man during this hour. She even blurted out his favorite “We haven’t got time” line when she was talking to Curtis. She’s taking the role that Michelle used to play at CTU (short moment of silence please…), that of the clear-headed woman focused on the real problem in the midst of the politics. But I like Audrey in it better than Michelle (blasphemy I know) because she’s not CTU, so she has the leverage to go a little ape-shit if she wants to. And there’s nothing quite as noisy as when a brittle stick cracks. Audrey also clearly doesn’t care that Lynn’s dick is bigger than Buchanan’s so she doesn’t think twice about usurping his authority.

To continue with the props (where did that word even come from anyway?), I gotta give it to my man Curtis. I like the way he calmly played the middle in his interaction both with Lynn and Audrey. He also gets a cool little twist to his mouth that says, “man, I wish I could just start busting some asses around here.” And then, in the showdown scene of the night, played endlessly in previews but no less cool in the context of the show, Curtis gets all emphatic with “I WILL draw my weapon.” As I’ve said so many times that it probably makes you want to give me a frontways wedgie and staple my underwear to my forehead, it’s the small moments that really make 24 soar, and that brief interlude where the nameless Red Guardsmen are making up their minds is what tension is all about. Of course, the conclusion was never in doubt. Let’s see here: large black man with gun on one hand, pasty-faced white man with suit on the other. You make the call.

Meanwhile, Jack is taking nearly as long to get to OmniMegaExoCron (or whatever) as it would take in real life. We are treated to a nice “Insert exposition here” scene when Audrey calls Jack and he spills the backstory on Christopher Henderson. He recruited Jack…too bad there’s never any flashbacks on this show. I’d love to see that scene. Was a toaster offered? Was Jack pulling the wings off flies during college biology lab when Henderson spotted him? Did their eyes meet across a crowded room? Were they both rescuing the same old lady getting mugged in an alley? Was it clown camp? Come on – how about some details?!?

Anyway, I think the fact the Jack was part of an investigation that implicated Henderson in something nasty is a nice bone to throw us long-term fans. Way back during Day One there were insinuations about Jack being involved in an internal investigation that pissed a bunch of people off. I can’t remember the details (hell, I can’t remember my kids’ names half the time) but still, it was enough to give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

The technology mumbo-jumbo that Chloe has to run through actually made vague sense to me (pushing a web page of information into a system that only updates periodically) but I wonder if a truly on-the-ball guard wouldn’t have seen the little “updated as of 2 seconds ago” message on the bottom of the screen and been a little suspicious.

And I gotta hand it to the writers for finally having someone get half a step on Jack. I didn’t see the taser shot to Jack’s neck coming and clearly, Jack didn’t either. Then of course the writers blow it to some extent by making Henderson wait two full minutes before blowing up the lab. This is a guy who apparently hides behind the door whenever his secretary goes to take a leak; you think someone that paranoid is going to give Jack more than 30 seconds to figure out he’s locked in a bunker? I don’t think so.

Anyway, there’s a lot of great stuff between Henderson and Jack in these scenes. Henderson’s “Buchanan? What a stiff!” line is a classic, for instance. But what were these guys doing in the half-hour between their scenes? Reminiscing? Telling their favorite “he’s so stiff” jokes? (Buchanan is so stiff he makes Al Gore look like a slinky. Buchanan is so stiff that his face splintered when he smiled. Buchanan is so stiff that he pees starch. I gotta million of ‘em…) Frolicking about the OmniMegaUberCron grounds, sniffing daisies? Unless this bunker was in Seattle, they spent way too much time walking.

Back at the White House, Logan is thanking god for Polaroid cameras so he can still rifle through those shots of Martha in velvet handcuffs (skipping over the ones of her in the straightjacket) after she’s been blown to First Lady bits. Showing both their knowledge of history and their clever construction of this wimpy, maddening creature that is President Logan, the writers have him go full-blown Nixon on us and ask Mike to pray with him. All they need is to bring in a new Secretary of State with a German accent and the cast will be complete (confused? Go here).

Lynn pops his cork back at CTU, Curtis invokes “section 112” (are sections 1 through 111 all about chain of command and how to subvert it?), and finally Billy B. is back in the saddle (Buchanan is so stiff he craps Viagra.) His first call is to the White House of course and then we have another one of those priceless moments, possibly the one that wins Mr. Itzin his Emmy. When Buchanan tells him they’re about to call Secret Service with their suspicions of a hit on the Russian motorcade, what’s happens on Logan’s face is priceless. I used to see that look on my son’s face when he was about 4 and it meant there was no way we were going to make it to the Porta-Potty in time. I expect it was the same for Logan (and he probably doesn’t carry around Baby-Wipes like I used to…) Just how many ways can this get more fucked up, Mr. President?

In another classic stroking of the 24-phile’s sweet spot, a very groovy shoot-out breaks out in downtown L.A., complete with missiles and flamethrowers, in which it appears that fan favorite Agent Pierce is creamed. But NO! He comes to in time to blow away the last of the bad guys before they can give the Russian first family a third-degree tan that no sunscreen will protect them from. Dude, they have got to be setting this guy up for a spin-off series. Sure, Dennis Haysbert has his “Unit” but wait until next year and maybe we’ll see “Pierce, Impervious.”

So Logan is screwed at this point and Bad Boy Bierko calls him to make sure he knows it. Of course, we viewers with half a brain (apparently disqualifying us from leading the free world) knew he was screwed regardless. Even if Bierko had successfully stewed up some Suvarov stir-fry, he still would have the gas and still could have used it at his leisure. As madwoman Marty insinuated last hour, there’s a reason you don’t negotiate with terrorists.

Jack, meanwhile, is digging himself out from a nasty little blast at OgreMaxiMultiCron, and will undoubtedly be quickly on the tail of his old pal Henderson to ask him more pointedly why they can’t just be friends.

And so now let’s speculate about our two hour event scheduled for next Monday. Among the highlights we saw were: Tony wakes up, some nerve gas gets released somewhere, and D gets an erection. The last one of course has to do with the return of Kim who will find out that her dad lives. This is not a good sign. In fact, what I’m predicting is that a perfect storm of circumstances will collide in which Bierko somehow gets Lynn’s key card, uses it to smuggle Sentox into CTU, then releases it whereupon Kim and every other even vaguely hot woman on CTU’s staff dies. This will make Jack go truly beserk and he…then he…well, I haven’t worked that part out yet. But I expect the good folks at 24 have, which is why I’ll be riveted, eyes fixed with eager intent, in front of my TV one hour earlier than usual next week.