Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Season 5; Hour Twenty-Four (6:00AM - 7:00AM)

Air Date: 22 May 2006
Reviewer: J

Well, here we are at the close of the fifth daylong glimpse into Jack Bauer’s life and that of the myriad of people, both dead and alive, that Jack leaves in his unforgiving wake. It’s hard to believe we’re already at the finale and that we’ll now have to wait another eight long months for more 24 goodness. But this season was masterful, I must admit. And it’s not because it was perfect or even necessarily “the best season of 24 ever,” as Fox wants us all to believe and spread around. No, it’s because 24 continued to push the boundaries and keep us on the edge of our seats, rarely (if ever) resorting to cheap gimmicks (like, oh, say, the flashback stupidity over on Lost) to string us along. I think D and I agreed that there were far fewer “filler” or “transitional” episodes this season. And when there was an episode that really didn’t advance the plot much at all, it was one that was stunning for its own reasons; the hour spent with CTU locked down and with Sentox killing everyone is the one I’m thinking of. Perhaps this paragraph should be at the end of my review, but I felt compelled to say it here and, well, I’m the writer. You want to be considered for some reviews of 24 for Season Six? Email me at Webmaster@NotTheRock.com and we’ll discuss.

So we go right into Hour Twenty-Four after a few commercials and don’t you just love it when there’s back-to-back episodes and they still do the “Previously on 24” routine and you get to see the freeze-frames all over again? My only complaint about the freeze-frame intros is this need to give CTU its own title. I don’t know why it bothers me but it does. If someone is watching who doesn’t know who CTU is, then they’re not ready for 24. Especially not a finale like this. Because this finale assumed that we’ve all been paying attention since the Spring of 2005. But we’ll get to that.

We pick up right where we left off. As you’ll recall, Martha, Novick and Pierce were conspiring to help Jack beat a confession out of Logan. Or at least facilitate Jack having a convo with the Prez. I guess they drew straws sometime off camera and Martha lost and was the one who had to have sex with Logan. I’m sure Mike and Aaron were relieved.

As we begin Hour Twenty-Four, the Logans are already pretty much dressed. Wait a second… yeah, I just checked the tape and they were not quite getting busy at 5:55 AM. And at about 6:00 AM they’re dressed already. So Chuck’s a quick shooter of airplanes as well as…. well, you know.

I thought Novick’s role in this was interesting. Remember, Novick is the guy who undermined his good friend Palmer when Palmer was President (in Day Two) and then swore in Day Four that he’d never do it again. Well, here he is, fixing up some credentials for Jack to get on the chopper that will be transporting Logan to the airfield where David’s body is being flown back to Washington. I do like that all it takes to flummox the security of a Presidential chopper is a color printer and a laminator. Good to know.

I also liked Novick’s startled response when Martha shows up behind him to tell him that she can’t delay her husband any longer due to Charles’ quick-shootin’ ways. I guess Novick was just as shocked at the Prez’s premature hoo-yay as the rest of us. [Perhaps Charles didn’t pop his cork so quickly with Mike…-D]

Anyway, the upshot of everything is that Jack is able to sneak onto yet another “secured” aircraft. I guess at 6:05 AM everybody is a little groggy.

Some more trickery occurs as Martha needs to beg off of the chopper ride. Logan, who as D has pointed out has been occasionally suspicious of Marty, is blinded by his interest in having a sparkling public image. Martha suggests his getting off the chopper alone will look more regal or some such shit like that. Logan looks like he doesn’t totally understand but figures if his crazy wife thinks it’ll look good then maybe the rest of the crazy Americans will think so, too. And off he goes. And Jack is able to resist letting a smile curl his lip.

On the chopper, Jack very organized-like takes over the situation. He pulls a gun on the pilot, has him rip out the communications unit in his helmet, tasers the Secret Service agents on board and nabs Logan. Who can’t really run anywhere anyway.

After Jack instructs the pilot where to go, there’s an interesting scene between him and Logan, wherein I love Sutherland and Itzin even more. Logan begins babbling about “what had to be done” and how he didn’t expect or intend things to get this out of hand (which, for the record, I actually believe). All through this, I was hoping Jack was somehow recording this. Instead, Jack was trying to burn holes through Logan with his death ray stare. Jokes aside, Jack did look so pissed, angry, hurt and so many other emotions during this scene… like he’d just like to really whack Logan across the side of the head with a pistol.

The chopper touches down at a warehouse (I guess Presidential chopper rides have no fighter escorts) and Jack herds Logan inside. Once they’re there, Logan’s fear becomes even more palpable as he babbles some more at Jack, offering to give him whatever monetary gains he wants, things like that. All the while, Jack is frisking him. For some reason, I liked Logan’s comment when he said, “Jack, I’m the President of the United States; I’m not carrying a weapon.” Jack empties his pockets anyway. Logan’s pockets, that is. You knew what I meant. I suppose I’d like to have a pen with the Presidential seal on it but there are probably easier ways to get one.

Chloe’s oddball ex-husband Morris shows up at the Logan Proving Grounds and when he sees Jack, he mutters something about how he “should have known.” I liked this brief interaction that clearly showed that Jack and Morris vaguely knew one another thanks to his friendship with Chloe. Morris and Chloe having been married, though? I don’t want to go into that. And, quite honestly, I’m not sure I even see the point. Like D, I agree it was interesting to a point but it just seemed oddly unnecessary in a season finale.

Anyway, as this pretty damn spectacular episode continues, we stay with Jack and Logan in the warehouse as Chloe watches over a video feed through the equipment that Morris brought to Jack. I am not sure here whether this was all part of a ruse from the start by Jack. What do you think?

If it wasn’t part of his ultimate plan, then I think this was a rather questionable approach. It felt all along like the President had the upper hand and it even looked like Logan was waiting to see what Jack was going to do, even going so far as to bring up that he knows he might be tortured. The anticipation was clearly worse than anything else to that point for Logan. Once he was on camera he refused to divulge anything and insisted that Jack was a loon. Which, to be fair, he certainly did appear to be.

We get to see the preview-friendly showdown wherein Jack tells Logan he’ll be facing Jack’s own personal brand of justice if he doesn’t start talking. Jack forgoes the torture aspect and just flatly tells Logan that he’ll kill him if he doesn’t tell him what he wants to hear. Which, um, I’m not sure how admissible or reliable a confession obtained in such a way would be. Logan says as much and Jack seems to not care and gives him the old, “you’ve got to the count of three” routine. This, as we all know, is about the highest-stakes game of chicken you can play since, obviously, if you’re the counter and the countee has the stones to call your bluff, the game’s over. Amazingly, Logan has the fortitude to actually not sing like a canary. Itzin’s portrayal of Logan’s utter fear as Jack gets to three and levels the gun at Logan’s melon was palpable and excellent. Similarly, the realization on Logan’s face that, in fact, he’s not dead and is merely in need of new Presidential undershorts was outstanding. You could see him realizing that he had regained the upper hand just as you could see Jack realizing that he had essentially lost. It was over. Logan states: “It’s okay, Jack. It’s okay that you can’t do it. I’m the President.” While at first that seemed condescending and smug to me, when you listen to it, I almost think it’s Logan actually saying, hey, it’s okay, you tried to best me but even you can’t murder a defenseless ninny like me. I don’t think it was as condescending as it seemed – though let’s make no mistake that Logan now felt he was clearly out of the woods.

Five minutes after the commotion at the warehouse, the President’s chopper is touching down at the airport. A few things here: For one, I hope they spent a few seconds at least checking the credentials of whoever was sent to fly that chopper. Second, is this Van Nuys Airport, which Jack blew up half of? Or is it Ontario Airport, where there’s still blood in the food court? Never mind. We’ll move on.

Martha, upon learning from Novick that Jack was unsuccessful, flips her shit yet again and rants about the President being unfit. Presumably, she means “for office” and not “in the sack,” but clearly it could be either. Logan responds angrily, regardless of which Martha meant, and has her tossed into an airplane hanger. Within seconds, though, he decides to go in there and have his way with her. However, since he’s already gotten some ass that morning, he decides to just slap her around a bit.

I loved his checking Martha for a wire before admitting his involvement with Palmer’s murder as well as the other badness from that day. D seemed to think Martha was in on this ruse and that this entrapment was all part of a brilliant plan hatched by Jack. I know many fans would like to believe that but I think it’s just a little too much like something out of Ocean’s Eleven. That is, way too much prediction of human actions. I think that more likely it was a contingency hatched by Jack. If he wasn’t able to get the President to confess in his interrogation at the warehouse, I think Jack was hopeful that the cockiness the Prez has displayed when he’s thought he’s had the upper hand would lead him to do exactly what he does with Martha.

And that is to fully incriminate himself. We see back at CTU that Chloe is getting a call set up with the Attorney General as Bill and Karen walk in and admonish her, apologizing to the AG like embarrassed parents. I was getting truly excited at this point, thinking that perhaps Jack had somehow recorded the interlude in the chopper wherein Logan more or less made a confession as to his involvement. I must admit, after the interrogation in the warehouse failed, I actually thought the twist to end this season was going to be that Logan gets away with it… at least for now. But no! Jack planted a sneaky-deaky listening device on the President’s fancy-ass pen.

Some more raving about Greg Itzin’s acting – as he’s delivering his eulogy/self-backslapping speech to the people assembled at the airport, you can see Logan (nervous as ever) notice the Secret Service agents and federal marshals getting what appear to be urgent communications through their earpieces. Then they move towards the stage, yet politely wait until the President is finished with his remarks. No sense in unnecessarily panicking the public any further. I find this somewhat realistic, actually.

Logan’s defiance is stalwart until he realizes his goose is cooked. I absolutely loved the exchange with the marshal and the SS agent that came to collect him. They still referred to him as “sir” and “Mr. President,” while also being firm in the fact that his time is done. Line(s) of the night may have been:

“You take your orders from me.”
“Not anymore, Mr. President.”

As the depth of the shit in which he's standing begins to sink in, Logan turns to see Novick and Martha looking back at him, almost smirking. I note that Novick is behind Martha. Smart move, Mike.

And then we see the last of Charles Logan this season, as he quietly allows himself to be escorted, sans handcuffs which was nice and respectful of the agents, to the Presidential limousine. The Fox summary says that Logan is “placed in a limo for arrest.” (Only in L.A.) Greg Itzin is then given a long, silent slow-zoom shot so that we can see him act without even saying or doing much of anything. His blank stare says so much all by itself and I thought it was a cool way for the writers, director and producers to send him out of this season. Finally done in and ultimately rather subdued, possibly partially relieved.

We swing back to the warehouse where we last saw Jack and see that he has been quickly absolved of his sins because, as we all know, you will be forgiven by the U.S. government for absolutely anything – no matter how illegal – if it turns out you were right. Less forgiving than the U.S. government: the Chinese government.

As Jack basks in the glow of his victory and macks with Audrey, clearly looking forward to some quality time, he is alerted to a phone call. In the warehouse. From Kim. You remember Kim… his daughter who doesn’t want to talk to him. For some reason, this raises no red flags for Jack, nor does the utter absence of agents/personnel inside the warehouse near the waiting phone. As he takes it, he’s abducted by some masked men. Masked men whom, I must say, I noticed immediately were Asian. This can’t be good.

We swing back to CTU now and see Bill actually ask out Karen for breakfast. He does not, to my chagrin, follow up with the “Should I phone you or nudge you?” line that you’re obligated to use when you ask a girl to have breakfast with you. Karen turns him down but asks for a rain check. Who the hell says that anymore, anyway? Nevertheless, Bill lights up like a fuckin’ Christmas tree at the rain check idea and I dare say that’s the first smile we’ve ever seen from Bill Buchanan. And it’s kind of nice. I like Bill. Which probably means he’ll be dead soon.

After being turned down by Karen, Bill casts his seductive gaze upon Chloe and for a second I thought he was going to swallow hard and move onto plan B – breakfast date with Chloe. But no, he only wants to give her a picture among Edgar’s possessions that was of him and Chloe. (Edgar and Chloe, that is. Edgar having a picture of Bill and Chloe would be kind of weird.)

[Quick aside: I just had the occasion to see the actor who plays Buchanan, James Morrison, in an old episode of “Six Feet Under.” He played a guy who regularly goes to “swinger” sex parties and ends up “doing it” with one of main characters, Brenda. I know it’s a different show and all but imagining that this was part of Buchanan’s back story added an interesting angle to these scenes…-D]

As Chloe again shows a trace of being human and tears up at the sight of her portly old buddy Edgar, her wacky ex-husband shows up again and asks who he is. When she tells him, non-snottily, about how he was her friend and he died today, Morris quite genuinely asks her if she’d like to talk about it. In a sweet turn of events, Chloe is not smarmy and simply nods with sadness. Well done by Mary-Lynn, and she walks out of Season Five a certainly broken individual. I do like how they’re giving some of the main characters decidedly clear exits this season, almost like a play unfolding.

Well, except for Curtis, whom we haven’t seen since he caught a bullet in the first act of Hour Twenty-Three. See ya, Curtis. Hope you went to a real hospital and not the clinic. Nice of Bill, Chloe, Karen and all them to ask around about how Curtis is doing. Oh, that’s right. They didn’t.

Eight minutes after Audrey told Jack to “take as much time as you need” on his phone call with Kim, Aud is on her way to nag Jack. Remember, boys, even if you’re a super-agent super-hero, your woman will probably be on your back about something. [She’s just anxious to get the memory of her last bed mate, Walt Cummings, out of her head…-D] Anyway, Audrey heads into the warehouse and deduces from the hanging phone with its ominous DA-DA-DA-DA-DA noise that something bad is afoot and alerts the agents in the area. She’s right.

We cut to a dark room with chains hanging from here and there as Jack, hooded, is being dragged, unable to walk. He is dropped to the floor and his hood is removed. Into the light steps… Cheng Zhi!!! The Chinese Consulate Head of Security from last season who was downright diplomatic and polite with the United States and CTU, right up until he got pissed off and decided to start kidnapping and threatening American federal agents. He started with Agent Bern, you’ll recall, who was sufficiently scared into giving up Jack’s name. Logan and Walt then conspired to have Jack killed so that he didn’t leak any secrets to those commies. And that led us to Jack’s disappearing act at the end of last season. So we have some terrific continuity and yet one more of those treats about which you’ve seen me rave before: another nod to those of us who’ve been paying attention. I loved how calmly Cheng points out that China has a long memory and then sort of cocks his head as he looks down at Jack on the floor and says, “Did you really think that we would forget?” Eerie and outstanding.

Jack, for his part, is a mess. In just a few minutes he’s been beaten to a pulp, he can’t get off the floor, one of his eyes is swollen shut and looks like it may never be usable again and he’s honestly begging for a bullet to finish it all. (And let’s not forget, that faux doctor who snuck into CTU the previous morning broke a couple of his ribs.)

Interestingly, Jack asks Cheng if he can make one phone call before they dispatch him. Cheng looks like he considers it for a moment before ultimately denying it, though not by saying so but simply by not responding. My question is who was Jack going to call? Audrey to tell her he loves her? Kim to tell her he loves her? Chloe to tell her he loves her? Chloe to tell her to call in the frickin’ cavalry right frickin’ now?

Regardless, after not getting his “one phone call” request granted (seems this isn’t your normal arrest), he simply asks to be killed and put out of his misery. Cheng, in that perfectly calm, frightening and eerie tone, simply tells Jack that he’s “far too valuable to kill.” Yikes.

And then we see that Jack is, yes, on the slow boat to China. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that joke.)

Some miscellaneous thoughts: Has the curfew been lifted yet? Has anyone seen Wayne Palmer? Do you suppose he’s still holed up in Bill’s attic? Oh, and remember Graham? Hope you got your fill of him because neither he nor his Bluetooth make an appearance this hour. I guess he and his business partners were from the firm of
MacGuffin & Associates.

So what happens next? My guess is that the between-seasons mini-episode that will be featured on the Season Five DVD will have some detail of what’s happening to Jack in China or wherever he’ll be being kept. It’s possible that the new President, Hal Gardner, will be instrumental in getting Jack back to the United States. We’ll see. Regardless, I’m sure they’ll have Jack back in America (and likely L.A.) by the start of Season Six. Otherwise, we’d see 18 hours of the 24 featuring Jack coming back from China. And that wouldn’t be much fun. Or maybe the entire Season Six will take place on that freighter. No, that would suck.

Regardless, I’ll be watching.

[Author’s Note: Special thanks to everyone who reads these reviews – you’re the reason we do it. And another reminder that if you’re a writer – or fancy yourself a writer – and would like to be a potential reviewer for Season Six, drop me an email at Webmaster@NotTheRock.com.

And a hearty and heartfelt thanks to D for his work on The Unofficial 24 Page. D began writing here during Season Three and has contributed about thirty-two reviews by my count. Or roughly 100,000 words on the subject.

There’s no way I could have handled this without him and I think the quality of the reviews here increased geometrically thanks to his presence. Mine were better because of not having to write all of them and his were terrific because of many reasons, not the least of which was his comic timing and general knack for high-quality writing. D, you’ll be missed and are always welcome back. – J]


Season 5; Hour Twenty-Three (5:00AM - 6:00AM)

Air Date: 22 May 2006
Reviewer: D

Shocker! What a complete shocker! Like nothing else this show has ever done, a revelation this hour nearly knocked me on my ass. I am of course talking about Chloe’s ex-husband. Just when you think 24 has used up all of its tricks, it pulls another one out of the bag. And the fact that Chloe’s ex is a flirtatious, boorish, British (?) techie geek is just icing on the cake.

The introduction of Morris O’Brian at this late hour was just one of the many awesome (sorry – this season has exhausted my storehouse of adjectives; we’ll have to go with this one) elements of this finale. Even though Hour 24 had some even more cool things going on, this hour was no slouch. Let’s get into it, shall we:

We start out with Bierko the Jierko giving his troops the rah-rah speech I’m sure they need as they sit in a completely sealed metal container with no viable exit strategy. Translation of his speech: keep up the faith boys because we are all going to be meeting our maker before too long. I think this scene was one last shot at giving Julian Sands – a pretty damn good actor in certain circumstances and pretty much underutilized on 24 – a chance to strut his stuff. The PR folks were really touting Sands as the big bad of this season before it started; who would’ve thought the real big bad would turn out to be Dr. Romano?

I loved the geeky little computer interface Audrey used to hook up with the Point (Mr.) Mugu Admiral, particularly the big advertisement for Cisco Systems! Might as well plug someone else besides Ford, HP and Apple. All these explosions on 24 cost money!

With those rockets set to fly off in less than 20 minutes we have a real time crunch now, something missing from usually time-intensive 24 for a while. I wonder, though, if Chloe could get such accurate information on when the missile launches were going to happen, why she couldn’t also shut them down. Oh well.

How about those explicit instructions from Jack on how to slit someone’s throat? There wasn’t even a little “don’t try this at home” disclaimer with it, which I would expect during these litigious times (hey, there’s an adjective I haven’t used these season!) I was almost certain little engineer Rooney was going to catch a bullet later on for his trouble but luckily there was a disposable CTU agent around to go down for the cause.

The newly armed (or is he???) Henderson apparently is well enough versed in the weapon systems of Russian subs to disarm the launches. Is there anything these CTU guys can’t do? With all the cool graphics of the warheads, I’m surprised the whole operation wasn’t a point-n-click sort of thing, with message boxes that pop up and say “Are you sure you would like to annihilate the west coast? [OK] [Cancel]”

The final confrontation with Bierko was cool enough – does the Jack Bauer action figure have that same scissor-kick leg action used to break bad guy’s necks? Doesn’t it make you wonder whether Jack used to be a gymnast? Maybe a
gymkata fan? You know, “the skill of gymnastics, the kill of karate???” Anyway, you knew Bierko’s time was up before they even got in the sub. The whole sub thing mostly served as a nice way to set up the final confrontation between Henderson and Jack. With RoboChris always seeming a step ahead of Jack (as J pointed out last week), it was gratifying to see Jack finally end up one step ahead of Henderson. I’ve read some chatter that folks think Henderson might not be dead, with his last line (something like “this is how it works”) actually referring to how he was going to be allowed to disappear. I would go for that if either a) there was an audience around for the scene to play out of in front of and/or b) Jack had pushed Henderson into the ocean, allowing him to swim away relatively stealthfully. But without those, I’m thinking he’s dead. As dead as a doorknob. Just as dead as Tony, Michelle, and David Palmer. Even deader than Edgar (but not Better Than Ezra). Another bad guy sent to hell. Amen.

And hey, we finally have a commercial break. I really had to take a leak at this point but seriously could have sat for another 90 minutes with my legs crossed as gripping as it all was so far.

So, I left out the scene where President Bird Neck is getting briefed by Novick because really that just was put in there to remind us that the Commander in Chief has quickly gone from the triumph of last hour to being a peeved little boy again. It’s surprising he doesn’t get whiplash. Pierce is biding his time, looking for new places to bleed, while waiting for Martha to enlist the help of someone who isn’t quite as loony as she is. Finally, after the whole sub mess is over, Novick leaves the side of his main man and Martha grabs him.

Now we have a lot of redundant explication, with Novick getting brought up to speed but hey you need to make allowances for that kind of thing. Particularly when the resolution is one of the great interpersonal moments of the night, the sort of hug, moving toward kiss but non-kiss show of affection between Martha and Aaron. What, are these guys teenagers? I can understand Aaron being a little reserved – hell, she is the First Lady (I’d think you’d want to take on the Second or Third Lady first before moving right in on the First one.) But hell, Martha, this guy did save your life and almost got killed for his trouble! How about spreading a little love on Aaron’s blood and spittle laden puss? (Wow, I’m finding that last sentence more disgusting than the throat-slitting description. What does that say about me?)

OK, while this has been going on, Jack is off on what appears to be a mini-rampage in order to bring Logan to justice. With the blood of Bierko and Henderson on his hands already, Logan almost seems like small potatoes. He of course needs whipping-girl Chloe’s assistance, now equipped with sidekick Morris for near-comic relief. Is there a sitcom spin-off in this relationship somewhere? A sort of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” for the seriously techno-geeky?

And finally, in the perhaps the best and certainly oogiest scene of this hour, we finish up with Martha coming to her nasty-ass husband willing to give her all for the cause. At the beginning of the scene, I never would have thought it ended up the way it did. Gregory Itzin continues in what I can only hope is a juggernaut roll to Emmy-town with some great stuff. He seems alternately suspicious of Martha, mad at her, imperious at one point and then nearly breaking down when he says that he needs her. Oh my, this boy can act. And, oh but how my flesh doth crawl when I think of him and Martha doing the nasty. (In my musical version of 24, there’d be a song called “You’re a cruel one, Mr. Prez” to the tune of the Grinch song but I’ll leave appropriate lyrics to someone with more adjectives at their disposal…) Certainly sex was the most conclusive way to delay Bird Neck but I wouldn’t have thought Martha could do it without wretching. Nothing the Chinese will do to Jack could be as bad as what our girl Marti went through for her country…

Of course, I also laughed out loud when we find that the whole interlude lasted about 5 minutes. Apparently, Charles is a little quick on the trigger. Perhaps this contributed to Martha’s mental fragility? Years and years without an orgasm can take its toll. [I’ll say. I mean, um… uhhh, nothing. – J]

This hour ends with Jack on deck to sneak on to Logan’s helicopter and willing, of course, to go “as far as I have to” to get Logan to confess. And all of us little 24 lemmings are thereby well-conditioned to think that Jack is going to beat bad ole Bird Neck to a pulp, torture him like he’s hurt no one before. Oh you clever 24 writers, with your ingenious psychological tricks. Do you really think we’re going to be lead so easily down this path? Well, I daresay we are!

Anyway, I’m getting into J’s territory here so I’ll leave the rest to the master. But before I go I’ll put my little endorsement in for this being the best damn season of 24 ever. Sure, some of the novelty of some of the twists has worn off and there was sloppiness in some of the plotting as per usual. But all in all, there was less filler and more wicked coolness than ever before. And some truly amazing performances, Itzin taking the gold but some spectacular second places as well. I’m more than stoked to see what next year will bring.

And thank you all (or should I say, you both) for reading. On to the grand finale…


Friday, May 19, 2006

Season 5; Hour Twenty-Two (4:00AM - 5:00AM)

Air Date: 15 May 2006
Reviewer: J

Sometimes a show like 24 is predictable. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Such was the case in Hour Twenty-Two, which I found riveting, just like many of the hours this season. Sure, there were plenty of suspension of disbelief moments and some genuine head-scratchers (why would Bierko waste his last nerve gas canister on a sub with maybe 20-30 men aboard?), but the roller coaster keeps going and the plot keeps thickening, just like my waistline.

We kick off Hour Twenty-Two with everyone thinking things are about to explode, what with the Attorney General calling in shortly for a 4 AM conference call and the President about to go down for treason. Of course, as you’ll recall last hour, Miles the Asshole Extraordinaire is angling to bail out the Prez, and he succeeded in pulling the wool over on Chloe and using a handy, digital tape-eraser device to wreck the evidence we just spent the past five or six episodes watching Jack chase after. And just like that, Evelyn died for nothing, her daughter may have died for nothing, the bank manager died for nothing, the bank manager’s wife has spent half a dozen hours tied to a chair, the Secretary of Defense did a vehicular swan dive for nothing, Audrey was sliced and diced for nothing, a planeload of people shit their pants for nothing and that plane is now located on the 118 freeway (and is unlikely to be removed in any way other than dismantling) for nothing. The list goes on. But you know what’s cool? 24 doesn’t care and is unapologetic and for as often as there are ludicrous things we’re asked to accept, this is true-to-life: sometimes shit happens and your best chance goes out the window.

It doesn’t take long until Chloe is asked to (finally) give a practice run of the audio recording. Predictably (and wonderfully), it doesn’t work. The “oh shit” look on Chloe’s face is absolutely priceless and it takes her longer than usual to realize who did the deed, probably because she can’t believe she’s been outfoxed on the technical front.

After Jack rabbit-punches another CTU guard in the solar plexus and does his best to crush Miles’ larynx, the truth comes out that Miles has been transferred to the White House. At 4 AM? Or is this like an Aaron Pierce kind of “transfer”? When he mouths off to Karen, she smacks him across the face like a disobedient child. Which he is. Fucknut.

Greg Itzin continues his stellar acting this hour, going from suicidal and defeated last hour to an unbelievably cocky bastard this hour. He even calls Hayes at CTU to inquire about the conference call he heard about and to also cancel Jack’s detention. He claims the “evidence” he had is now “inconclusive.” Even though there’s nothing she can do about it, I wish Hayes had said something like, “Oh, you mean the evidence that you felt was strong enough to blow him out of the sky about an hour ago?” But she doesn’t.

Just then, they learn that Bierko has escaped. Fortunately, one agent survived what looks like a war zone attack. How the hell did this happen, I want to know? Did they accidentally take the 118 and get pinned down? And when I say it’s fortunate one agent survived, that’s because if he didn’t we’d have no one to bring us and CTU up to speed so quickly on what the hell is going on. Surviving Agent even was able to overheard some chatter (evidently in English) and believes Bierko has yet another nerve gas canister somewhere. Uh-oh. I am sort of glad, though, that the writers remembered that the Counter Terrorist Unit needs to fight terrorism and really isn’t the entity that would be chasing recorded evidence that indicts the President. I’m not sure which department would, but it’d probably be the FBI or something. So, anyway, presto! We have some manufactured terrorism! Bierko is back… (you know the rest).

Soon thereafter we have one of the coolest scenes of the season, wherein Logan goes to see Pierce, who is tied up and has been roughed up. Logan looks like he barely has the stomach to face this but he musters up his nuts and sits across from Aaron. Logan asks if Aaron can keep this stuff quiet. Basically, he’s trying the same approach he used on his wife which, I think it’s safe to say, is unlikely to work on a man with the integrity of Aaron. Logan even promises him his choice of Secret Service details if he agrees to shut his pie-hole, remembering to add, “Except for the White House, of course.” To my chagrin, Pierce does not say, “Okay, I’ll take sniper detail,” just to see the blood drain out of Logan’s face.

Instead, Aaron tells Logan he’s a disgrace, clearly still not over the fact that he (Logan) was involved in Palmer’s death. And in perhaps the best line of the season, Aaron (who is one of the most respectful men we’ve ever seen), tosses in this barb, “Is there anything else….Charles?” I mean, if that wasn’t an “oooooooooooooooooooooo” moment, I don’t know what is. Outstanding scene by both men.

The fathead agent who Martha referred to as having no personality a little while ago is clearly in the murdering and pillaging camp with Logan as he tells Charles that Aaron is loyal to Palmer and must be done away with. Logan gives a tacit authorization without actually saying it and I know I was worried when Agent Fathead scurried back to Aaron’s holding stable. Does anyone actually ride horses around here or is this just for secret meetings and hiding places?

Back at CTU, the decision is quickly being made to cut a deal with Henderson to find Bierko. Ah, I see. So let’s take the one prisoner who we haven’t let escape (well, not since the previous evening, anyway) and set him free with immunity. That oughta work. Jack balks at this notion, too, since he wants to fry Henderson for having Palmer killed. However, he does realize they have little choice so he wants to present the deal. Of course he does. Because he’s not compromised or anything.

Henderson changes gears a bit, admitting that immunity isn’t what he had in mind since Logan will not hesitate to squash him like a bug now that the recording is gone. He offers to help but wants to disappear “like [Jack] did” with his wife. Well, Jack was pretending to work at an oil refinery about twelve seconds from CTU, so I don’t know if I’d do that, Henderson. But I catch your drift.

So thanks to Henderson’s known contacts, Chloe is able to start data mining (or something) and comes up with Victor Malina, a guy who apparently deals in information much like Collette Stenger did (is Collette still in holding somewhere with an unconscious marshal?), only Malina’s an even bigger computer nerd that Chloe. Evidently, he has a device that even Chloe doesn’t want to fuck with. I did love how everyone was all like, “Chloe’ll handle it,” and she’s all like, “Hey, just because I can literally make satellite images appear out of thin air and because I can identify whose car is whose from a satellite image doesn’t mean I can do everything.”

So, as you must have expected, Henderson and Jack are on the move to Malina’s place, with Henderson planning to go in to talk to him. Yeah, this should work out great.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (or retreat), Martha is out taking a stroll and spots Agent Fathead pulling a car into the stable. Knowing this is her favorite hiding spot and not wanting him to find her weed stash, Martha makes for the stables. She walks in on Agent Fathead and Pierce struggling. And I don’t blame Pierce for taking his chances on armed Agent Fathead – when you’re led to a trunk and told to get in and the trunk is lined with plastic…. well, that’s almost never good.

Agent Fathead isn’t sure what to do with Martha and you can see the wheels turning. Fathead isn’t a quick enough thinker to remember that everything she says can just be blamed on her wack-a-doo-ness and that she can be shipped off to Vermont at any time. Aaron knocks his gun loose and Fathead goes for the tire iron to clobber Aaron, but before he can, Martha plugs him with his own weapon. That’ll teach you to take off your vest before quittin’ time, Agent Fathead. As Martha flips out, Pierce calls out to her, “Martha.” Oh, all first-name basis-y are you now, Aaron?

In yet another building that is fortuitously less than seven minutes from CTU, Jack, Curtis and Henderson prepare for Henderson to go in to see Malina. You know, maybe if these terrorists just spread out a bit, it’d at least take CTU longer to throw a net over them. Like, maybe give L.A. a break, huh? I never thought I’d say that, but jeez. The Clippers are finally good and all these terrorists want to nuke the city.

Malina makes Henderson go through countless forms of security to get into his building and then pulls a gun on him just for good measure. Henderson immediately rats out Jack, Curtis and the “phalanx” of CTU agents outside (I loved how he said “phalanx” – Henderson is always so fed up with whomever he’s talking to, regardless of the situation; I wonder if he’s like that at Dunkin’ Donuts, too) and Malina begins to do something technical with his computer data. Jack hears this and is pissed that Henderson did exactly what he feared and sold them out. CTU crashes Malina’s surprisingly unsecured place. Malina hits Curtis with a bullet (he’s a big target, I guess that’s why he’s gotten shot no less than three times that we’ve seen between last year and this year) but doesn’t kill him. They secure the two and Henderson is all, “Way to go, Jack, I had him right where I wanted him!” Nice cover, Henderson, but Jack’s no buying. But then Henderson makes a valid point that he did it to get Malina to quickly put his info onto a flash drive so it’d be easy to rummage through. Jack doesn’t exactly concede this point but it’s hard not to at least consider it. As it stands, Chloe can at least work on Malina’s stuff, but it’s not going to be as easy as it could have been. Heh, interesting dynamic. How many times today has Henderson out-thought Jack? I count several big ones. I really like this character interaction where Henderson is always a step ahead of Jack, often beating him at his own game. It’s clearly frustrating Jack and Jack is a bit skittish and less confident than usual that he can keep someone under his thumb.

Back at the stables, there’s no clear indication that Martha and Aaron have spent any of the last eighteen minutes making out. But they haven’t gone anywhere, so maybe old Aaron got a hummer or something. Regardless, he tells Martha he’ll take care of Agent Fathead but that she has to go back in and spill her guts to Mike Novick. I’m not sure how Aaron knows he can trust Mike, except I guess that he knows how loyal Mike was to Palmer. That has to be it. But I’d definitely be a bit wary of the Chief of Staff of the guy who is behind all this.

Lo and behold, it only took Chloe about seven or eight minutes to discover that Bierko’s target is probably a Russian sub, docked at… you guessed it, Los Angeles harbor. Jack asks Henderson what it would be armed with, because I guess Henderson knows this kind of shit. This exchange looks so natural, these two look like they play Trivial Pursuit on the weekends when they’re not chasing each other around.

Bierko is indeed at the submarine and he uses his last canister of lung-destroying, brain-melting, skin-eating, seal-burning fart gases to fuck up… Americans? Russians? I can’t follow this. The man Jack was talking to on the phone was an American Navy officer. I guess maybe he was there for some legit reason because, come to think of it, we’d probably be a little antsy if armed Russian submarines were creeping up to our coastlines without an American chaperone. (“Hey, mind if I park here? I am really lost…”)

Bierko and his men then descend into the sub they just gassed. Um, okay. Would it not have been easier to save the gas and just go in and kill the men with their guns? I guess the gas approach is a lot less risky to them insofar as making the kills successfully. But then if you’re going to go into that confined space, I sure hope he has a Russian version of Chloe to reverse the airflow and clear out the gas.

What he does do with his masked men, according to the Fox Web site, is take control of the sub’s weapons system.

Ruh-ro, Shaggy.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Season 5; Hour Twenty-One (3:00AM - 4:00AM)

Air Date: 8 May 2006
Reviewer: D

First off, thanks to J for letting me spew my babbling snarkiness all over his site every other week this season. It’s been a lot of fun but, just like Jack, I don’t have quite as much time for fun anymore. Gotta disappear for a while, find a job working an oil rig and look for a hot single mom with an impressionable teen to hook up with. Also, thanks to both of my fans for the support. And mom, you don’t have to post as anonymous anymore.

Second off, I guess it’s true that if you ask for something, it will come. And here I had stopped believing in Santa Claus some 25-odd years ago. [Wait, what? –J] A couple of weeks ago I asked about all of the missing bodies and lo and behold, this ep we find out about several of the MIAs. And, as might have been expected, my prediction about them was all wrong.

But before we get into that, how about those “previouslies?” When they showed the gas canisters, did you react like me: “Oh yeah – THAT’s what this whole thing was about!” There used to be an actual threat to people in this show – you know, a terrorist threat like the kind CTU is supposed to worry about. Not that this whole “the President is bad” plot isn’t exciting in its own right and all, but it is a little off the strictly terrorist beat. Except technically I guess Logan is now the Terrorist in Chief, so we’re still on message. Sort of. OK, taking off the logic hat again now… [I also noted that the only freeze-frame intros were Bierko, Logan and Jack. Seemed like less than usual, but maybe not… –J]

In possibly the lamest scene of the night, Curtis – who has been relegated to “pick up and delivery” the bulk of this season; note to Joel: how about we give Curtis another hot love interest like last season on Day 6, please Mr. producer guy? – comes in to Audrey to tell her that her dad (code name:
Toonces) survived his high-flying leap off a California cliff. Them airbags really work! So, great, Devane lives to deliver trachea punches another day. I do think this is good news for 24 fans because Devane is the only guy who’s been able to chew up as much scenery as Jack and without David Palmer around, we need at least one public official in 24-land that stands for truth, justice and the America way, circa 1945.

Audrey, by the way, all disheveled and stripped down to her skivvies, looks downright hot, a phrase I never thought I would ever apply to her. Obviously, I go for disheveled.

Meanwhile, up over the desert somewhere, Jack checks in with Karen to say he’s got the goods but that hordes of Logan Lemmings might be after him so could she blow some smoke up the Chief Exec’s veto hole so he (Jack) can scurry back to CTU. Karen, now thoroughly in Jack’s camp, is all over it. Jack then guarantees a calm and enjoyable landing by placing a gun against the pilot’s temple. Clever motivational technique.

Dr. Graham Romano – who we still don’t know the first single little bit about except that he’s one of those Bluetooth assholes that J and I both do so adore – reveals that he can by some magical means make it appear that a hijacking signal has been broadcast from Jack’s plane, thereby justifying it being shot down. Can we all just reflect for a moment how things might be different right now if this kind of thing had been implemented oh I don’t know, say September 10th, 2001? Hmmm…

Now, it is of course patently absurd that Jack would try to use the plane as a weapon and all it would take to be sure about that is to track the trajectory of the plane and make sure it was going to the airport. Chloe seems to be able to do that, the military couldn’t? And it’s great that we have Mike Novick around to tell us (and the buttoned-down Admiral as well) that, yes indeed, it is patently absurd. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Mike had reminded the President that he himself had told Jack he could act with impunity only the day before. And if impunity meant hi-kiefering a plane and cruising over the desert, well, what good is impunity if you can’t abuse it? [Speaking of the Admiral, where was he transmitting from, a submarine? Or perhaps a discotheque with that funky reddish lighting? –J]

Anyway, this all sets up what is either the damn cleverest dovetailing of 24 plot elements in history or one of those lucky breaks that happen when you throw everything up in the air and it all lands in some cool way when it comes down. Jack has to find a place to land. A length of freeway might be a possibility except for traffic of course. Cars on the road would endanger both the plane and the poor guy on the road in the new Ford Focus who is NOT going to be as lucky as Heller when the landing gear comes through the windshield. And I could check with Dennis Haysbert on this one but, even if you were lucky enough to survive it, I don’t think State Farm covers landing gear extraction.

But wait a minute! There’s not going to be any cars – it’s 3am and there’s still a curfew on! So really, any highway out there is potential runway right now. Genius!

So now there is an extended sequence of a really nasty descent, the eminent approach of the F-18, oxygen masks popping out of the ceiling, the plane getting caught in the dive, feral lab monkeys spreading Ebola virus through downtown Detroit, Jack valiantly helping to pull the plane out of the dive, a rough and nasty landing, air brakes being pushed to the limits and the plane stopping just before slamming into an overpass. A couple of things about all that: first, I threw the Ebola thing in there just to see if you were paying attention (though, who knows what the hell is going on in Detroit these day?) and second, wouldn’t it have been cool if the plane had plowed through the underpass with just the wings breaking off? C’mon guys – we haven’t seen any real good pyrotechnics since Jack blew up that tanker at the airport! I’m getting withdrawal pangs. [And how about that CGI shot of the plane slamming down onto the freeway? Not bad, and a bit better than the flaming Air Force One shot that was shown last year in the previews but not in the actual episode because it was so laughed at. – J]

In the midst of all that, Chloe trots back into CTU thereby causing Miles to take a persnickety dump in his finely tailored trousers. Or at least, that’s what his expression said to me. Without any time for small talk (“hey Bill, guess what? I tasered a guy!”), Chloe gets ordered right back into the fray. All which leads me to ask: does CTU actually need a staff? Bill, Chloe and Jack pretty much can get it all done, apparently. There are a lot of folks milling around CTU but I’m thinking most of them are busy posting stuff on the “subnet,” playing Pong on their Macs, or surfing Adult Friend Finder (“Work long hours under intense pressure. Looking for relationship that can take place in office parking lot.”)

And while I’m rambling (for a change…) can I get hooked up on Jack’s cell phone network? Never a dropped call even at 25 thousand feet! Jack should do one of those Cingular ads they’ve been doing during American Idol (what can I say – I’ve got the McPheever…). “I was just going to call the leader of the free world and ….the call was dropped! The result: Nuclear annihilation…and you can blame Verizon!”

Also, right as the plane is nearing the ground, the admiral gets with the program and, realizing that Jack isn’t going to crash into Camp David Palmer or anywhere else inhabited, suggests perhaps it would be imprudent to kill a bunch of innocent people for no reason. Showing that he is starting to come a bit unhinged, Logan demands that the plane be shot down. Or at least a dog be kicked. Or something, goddammit! Mike clearly believes Charles has gone around the bend at this point. Luckily, cooler heads prevail and the F-18 goes back to Point Mugu (obviously named after the beloved cartoon character and national hero, Mr. Mugu).

I loved it that after the plane is down, Jack goes back into the cabin yelling “Exit to the rear of the plane!” which the passengers are already doing quite promptly all by themselves. Is this Jack’s last attempt to endear himself to these people?

Of course, it’s to make sure no one is going through the same door that he goes through and soon he’s in the safe confines of “Curtis’s Rogue Agent Pickup” service (yes, that does work out to C.R.A.P. – that’s just my little happy accident of the night). [An accident involving crap? Ew. – J] And finally we do get to see some acting chops from our pal Roger Cross as he tells that Logan’s Lemmings Marine dude that if he wants to shoot down some federal agents you can be damned sure he is NOT going to get a Christmas Card from him. Shamed and distraught at the prospect, random Marine guy lets the target slip through the web. Which is all a good reminder that, even if you have a Bluetooth and a direct line to the President, your effectiveness is only as good as your human capital. It’s Meglomania 101, people. Dr. Graham Romano was obviously sleeping off a bender on that day.

So next up, we have the setup for the slimiest betrayal that we’ve seen in a while, with Karen confiding in Miles, even with his bad skin and all. If you had any illusions that Miles was going to end up being one of the bureaucratic jerks that actually ends up being alright in the end (a la Mason, Buchanan, that Hobbit guy whatever his name was…), well, prepare to have that expectation shattered.

And in our musical moment of this episode, I give you, to the tune of “My Boyfriend’s Back”:

Bierko’s back and there’s gonna be trouble, hey-la-day-la, Bierko’s back…
Wants to blast the city to rubble, hey-la-day-la, Bierko’s back.

Though they obviously saved several grand by not requiring Julian Sands to speak as Bierko this ep, he still made quite an impression with just a simple nod. It is a very sweet thing about 24 that all it takes is that nod to know that this will not be the last we see of our pal Bierko.

The episode essentially ends with two of the oddest and most interesting interludes perhaps in 24 history. You have Jack getting back with Audrey at the clinic and essentially signing her death warrant by bonding, being nice to her, and talking about how over it all is. OK, maybe she’s not totally dead yet but don’t these people remember the last time they thought everything was all worked out? It was only a few hours before for crissakes and in the intervening time Jack got a fist to the neck, Audrey’s dad drove off a cliff, and Audrey leaked more than the Bush White House, enough to nearly drain the 7 ounces of fluid in her little twiggy body. They don’t even knock on wood or anything when they say all of this “we did it” business!

There’s also this tinkling little music playing over this whole scene which will undoubtedly show up on the CD next year. Oh boy – can’t wait! Has anyone ever bought one of these theme music CDs from 24 before? Do they have anything interesting on them, like Kiefer singing “Rocket Man” or something? Chloe rapping “My Humps?” Couldn’t you just imagine that: “I’ma gonna get you drunk, get you drunk…what’s your problem stupid?” I’m just wondering…

So while Jack and Audrey are being tender, Logan has had been told by his pal Graham how the trial of a sitting president – while it would undoubtedly usurp O.J. for trial of the millennium by a long shot – would be uncomfortable in terms of national pride and all. So Logan pulls out the Presidential Revolver. I was curious whether there was a Presidential seal on that baby. I love how this next part is described on the Fox web site: “[Logan] knocks back a glass of scotch for liquid courage.” Never took Logan for a scotch man. Always thought he was more of a Pina Colada with a cute pink umbrella kind of guy. But obviously, we have been lead to believe many different things about Mr. Charles Logan.

Then in a couple of scenes we are prepped for Logan to do the unthinkable (that is, unless you are one of the approx. 27,492 terrorists/bad guys that have popped their own cork on this show over the past 5 years…) Martha blows him off, getting one last good toss off line for the road. What makes these scenes great is how the director takes his time with them. Logan wanders back to his den slowly and deliberately. After all of the frantic action, this change of pace really sets the tone for what we are thinking is just about to happen.

But dammit, isn’t it always the case that, as soon as you are about to do something important, the freaking phone rings? I’m surprised Chuck didn’t go ahead and shoot the damn phone. Anyway, in a nicely orchestrated reprieve, Miles “the Snake” Papazian, upgrades his standing in the game of politics and volunteers to essentially pull the gun out of the President’s mouth. (Euphemistically, of course.)

And to show that once in a while, someone can out-Chloe Chloe, the Snake does some magneto magic that apparently is going to screw the tape of Logan once and for all. And can we all cry out in unison at this point, and ask Jack, “why the hell didn’t you at least play the damn thing for Karen and Bill so that they heard it, so they knew what they were dealing with?” If this wasn’t one of those “scream at the TV and throw beer cans” moments, I don’t know what is. [Or, hey, how about dub a few copies instantly?? –J]

So we are one step closer to everything wrapping up, a bittersweet prospect for sure. This season has totally kicked butt and its wheat/chaff ratio has been the most favorable that I can remember. Last week was a little fluffy, but this week more than made up for it. And next week, which promises to see the return of our favorite stalwart Secret Service agent, not to mention Henderson stonewalling yet again, should be a pretty good kicker as well. And RoboChris’s ominous warning – “they can hurt you” – had me thinking Jack better be sure Audrey [or Kim? –J] is tucked inside his chest pocket for the next couple of hours if he wants any more snuggling with her in the future.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Season 5; Hour Twenty (2:00AM - 3:00AM)

Air Date: 1 May 2006
Reviewer: J

Editor’s Note: I wanted to take a moment to let our loyal readership know that D will be winding down his time as an official, on-staff reviewer in these final hours. Much like the cast of 24 in previous seasons, his contract has not been picked up for next season. No, that’s not true. The truth is, like all of us, he’s got a lot going on in life and as is often the case, it’s time for a change. I’m not going to let him get away from us that easily, though, so you may see him as a “Special Guest Star” next season, but he has made me promise that, as such, he will not be subjected to bullets to the throat or plunges off a ravine. Hey, D, no promises.

In light of this, I’d like to invite those of you who enjoy writing and think you could write for this site to send me an email at Webmaster@NotTheRock.com and I will get back to you with some questions and details around what it might entail. Professional experience is (clearly) not required, but being a smart-ass with attention to detail and a good work ethic is. Would you be obligated to write as many as me or D? Not necessarily. Email me and we’ll discuss. – J

It’s kind of hard for me to believe we’ve already reached May, the month in which 24 will again leave us for the summer. As I said above, D will also be leaving us as a regular cast member so be sure to tune in for his reviews of Hour 21 and Hour 23. And hey, read mine, too, while you’re at it.

Anyway, we’re down to the final five hours as we entered Monday night and they spent Hour Twenty focused on just a few places: the hi-kiefered plane, CTU/DHS, Camp David Palmer and Bill Buchanan’s Safe House and Nearby Safe Hotel. I want to bitch about the lack of Audrey, Henderson, Bierko, Curtis, Wayne, etc…. but I can’t because I really still enjoyed this hour. Sure, it wasn’t as crazy as some of the other ones and it didn’t end with a 19-way split screen because so much was hitting the fan, but they can’t all end that way so I liked this one, which is likely to have been our last “transitional” or sort of “filler” episode of the season.

As you’ll recall, last hour ended with Karen Hayes deciding to help Bill and Chloe and give them the heads up that Miles’ tactical team was on their way. Apparently, DHS tactical teams wear suits and trench coats rather than CTU body armor, like Curtis and CTU teams do. Interesting. [DHS is still relatively new; the body armor’s on back order…-D]

We also saw Jack sneak onto the diplomatic flight that is leaving at 2 AM from the same airport in which Jack blew up a tanker truck half an hour ago. I know Jack’s a master of stealth, but I would think security would be extra tight given that.

Anyway, Karen learns from Bill and Chloe what’s going on and spends most of the hour backing up their attempts to help Jack obtain this recording. I keep finding myself wondering why she’s making it harder on herself by not coming clean that she thinks she should back Jack, but I guess the main reason is that if Jack is wrong, she’ll look pretty bad for doubting the President, who is kind of everybody’s boss at this point. So she’s making the mistake of trying to back two horses. Or a horse and a donkey.

Buchanan sends Chloe through the alley and to a nearby hotel (perhaps Bill picks up young businessmen there or something) just as the Homeland Tic-Tac-Toe Team are arriving. Bill musses up his hair and removes his dress shirt, presumably to appear as though he’s been awakened by their presence, which would work fine if all the interior lights in his house weren’t already on and if he didn’t immediately yell a response when they began pounding on his door.

Chloe gets to the hotel with no problem – unlike CTU, which sets up “perimeters” that people always “slip through,” it looks like DHS has just decided to scrap the whole perimeter theory. [I liked Karen’s suspicious little bit of misdirection – ‘she’s got a car so she’s probably 15 miles out.’ Wouldn’t the DHS guys have seen her car in front of Bill’s house? - D]

The DHS guys stride around Bill’s house and one clicks on the monitor to his computer, which still has a recent screen up that Chloe was using. DHS agent #1 surmises, “only O’Brian could have accessed this.” Wow, that was some fast deduction. And hey, Bill, way to shut down your computer. That could have at least bought a few minutes of denial about knowing Chloe’s whereabouts. As it turns out, they arrest Bill at Karen’s request and bring him in. Back at CTU, Miles wants them to interrogate Bill on site but Karen declines that request and says he’ll be brought in. She really had no choice, given that she wants to back him up, but Miles spidey-sense is pinging.

On the plane, Jack appears relieved to know that either A) the luggage compartment is pressurized or B) this is a low-altitude flight. Either way, he’s alive and his cell phone works (I wonder if the captain has ordered they be turned off) and Chloe hooks him up with the info as to where the federal air marshal is sitting. Jack pops up into the main cabin through the cargo hatch, narrowly missing an opportunity to look up a flight attendant’s skirt. The guy playing the air marshal looks really familiar but I can’t place him and I’m too lazy to look him up. [I didn’t recognize him but apparently
he was in Oz which I only watched once.-D] But he strikes me as a guy who would make a good CTU agent.

It turns out that Mr. Marshal is actually not CTU material, as Jack sits down next to him under the pretense of his regular seat being near the galley (why not say near the shitter?) and that it was noisy. The air marshal is uninterested in small talk and his lack of suspicion proves dangerous as he is knocked out by a quick elbow from Jack. Summer project: I need to learn how to deliver knockout elbows without drawing blood.

Karen Hayes has proved to be more than just a bureaucrat as she has mad computer skillz, too, and is able to hook Chloe up with the plane manifest and other such things. Of course, Chloe is now in a hotel bar, which might be good to allow her to slug back some gin to stay calm. Predictably, there’s a creep there who approaches her. The storyline is pointless except for the amusement we get when Chloe invites him to sit down and then tasers him unconscious – the funny part was that just before she does that, he asks the model of her laptop and the geek in Chloe cannot resist answering him even when he’s unconscious. Good stuff.

Anyway, Chloe links a German national on the plane to Henderson (who is presumably soon to be back at CTU for the second time today, perhaps in a bed between Bierko and Audrey) and so Jack diplomatically approaches him. Hey, how else can you approach someone on a diplomatic flight? He gets “Hans” to come to the galley where he puts on the sleeper hold and whispers about the Defense Department’s budget statistics, thus getting Hans to nod off. He then dumps Hans down into the luggage compartment which will now double as the interrogation room of the plane.

Hans claims to be innocent and, at least at the moment, it appears he actually is. Meanwhile, the air marshal has come to and has locked Jack down in the luggage compartment and notified the captain, whose name is Cotter. As in “Welcome back,” I guess. Anyway, Captain Cotter begins to let the pressurized air out of the luggage hold, as per procedure, and starts turning around. Chloe also realizes that Hans, who she fingered to Jack a few minutes ago, was in customs for three hours and couldn’t have taken the handoff from Henderson. Oh, um, sorry about that, Hans. Here’s some Tylenol for the headache you probably have now.

Jack gets patched through to the cockpit through some myriad of techno gobbledy-gook by Chloe and Karen and he demands pressure be restored to the makeshift holding cell he has commandeered. For a guy locked in the belly of a plane, Jack is being awfully pushy. Captain Cotter listens but has no intention of helping out the guy who popped his air marshal in the chops and snuck onto a plane. And in the post-9/11 world, I think this is an accurate representation of our pilots, diplomatic flight or no.

Jack, though, gives us the best scene of the hour in my opinion, by basically throwing a tantrum of tantrums. Much like a child will break things or throw food, Jack decides to mess with something that will get the pilot’s attention. Not his trust, perhaps, but definitely his attention. Jack locates a panel that he can remove under which he finds a mess of cables. Being a pilot himself, Jack chooses the right cables and hangs on them with a belt. The cables turn out to evidently be the ones that adjust the flaps or shear or something. Whatever it is, it causes the plane to pitch (or yaw? I’m not a pilot) dramatically and the Captain knows exactly what Jack is doing. He finally agrees, based on this behavior, to let Jack up. Of course, Captain Cotter is no dummy and keeps the cabin door locked as Jack proceeds to search the passengers. The passengers, to their credit, keep their hands up as Jack orders despite it being 2:30 in the morning and undoubtedly time for some Zs.

As all this is happening, we are treated to some more scenes back at Not Camp David of Martha Logan being a wack-a-doo. Her crying and instability, while important to the plot I realize, are beginning to really wear on me. [This is where I caught some Zs…-D] Novick can tell something is up and he tries to get it out of both her and the President but they both rebuff his requests. So you’re caught up on that dynamic. In other news, Martha wants her “pills,” which are being withheld from her for reasons passing understanding. Hell, let her OD; problem solved, right Logan? I find it amusing that she takes her meds with a swig of wine. I also found it amusing that when she called Novick and asked him to come to her suite Novick looked like he would rather have his fingernails pulled out one by one. Again, more quality acting from the 24 cast.

On board the hi-kiefered plane, Captain Cotter is heading back to Van Nuys (and a good thing, too, since this plane was bound for Frankfurt and it would have been boring for Jack to be stuck on an airplane as the season ended) as per law, despite Jack’s protests that he needs time to find what he came for.

Meanwhile, Logan is a bit twitchy about this development and he calls Karen Hayes, who takes the call in the interrogation room with Buchanan, who is now at CTU. His appearance at CTU was outstanding, with him facing down Miles and calling him “a little kiss-ass.” Normally, I’d say that’s funny coming from Bill but Miles is such a slimeball I loved it. Miles, of course, tries to undermine Karen’s authority by calling Novick who is great in just being so tired of nitwits like Miles.

Anyway, as I said, there’s now a call from Novick and Logan to Karen Hayes, wherein Logan decisively says they need to take down Bauer, dead or alive. If the order isn’t crazy enough, Logan has aroused more suspicion by being decisive than anything else. And where is the Vice President? I thought he was involved in things today? Or is he still recovering from the exchange he witnessed two hours ago between Heller and Logan?

I have to say, I laughed at Karen’s responses during this hour when Miles filled her in on things like Chloe slipping away (a faux “damn!”) and when Bill called Miles a kiss-ass (“Don’t talk to my people that way, Bill!”). In the holding room, Karen fills Bill in on what’s going on and cuts the camera feed so nosy Miles can’t watch. Hey, Miles, why don’t you figure out where Chloe hid your keycard? I bet you’re “cold” right now.

Speaking of Chloe, she has figured out some more news for Jack. Not only did she have the wrong guy before, she had the wrong section of the plane. The guy tied closely to Henderson is the co-pilot, a guy named “Evans.” Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnnnn!

Well, that’s not good. Jack gets himself patched through to the pilot only and tells him that the man he’s looking for is Evans. Captain Cotter thinks, yeah, right, what a convenient way to get into the cockpit. He ends the call and then his spidey-sense starts pinging and he asks Evans about how he got staffed on this flight at the last minute. Evans actually plays it pretty cool and we shouldn’t forget that they’re also on the way back to L.A., so the recording isn’t getting very far. Cotter does the old, “I gotta stretch my legs” routine and tries to bolt for the door, but Evans clobbers him with a flashlight. However, Jack hears the commotion and Cotter apparently was able to unlock the door. Jack busts in and kung-fu’s Evans to the floor. Um, excuse me, but who is flying this bird? I didn’t see anyone put it on autopilot. What a disaster that would be. No recording, no Jack, season’s over, goodnight. But you know that’s not what’ll happen.

Anyway, Evans is no hero and, unlike Henderson, is indeed afraid of what Jack might do to him so he dutifully hands over the recording as the hero music swells. Jack gives him to go-ahead to hop back into the saddle and land the bird.

Meanwhile, Martha Logan calls her husband in a drug induced stupor and tries to ask what the hell is going on until Chaz Logan hangs up on her to take a call from his new boyfriend, Dr. Graham Romano. Graham is still wearing his Bluetooth lookalike like a cyborg. Don’t you just hate the assholes who wear them in public, yammering on like they’re important? And in that scene last hour when all his minions had in their own Bluetooths (Blueteeth?), do you suppose they were actually conferenced in with one another despite being in the same room?

Anyway, Graham tells Logan his only option at this point is to have the plane shot down. I can’t wait to see how Logan makes this seem like a reasonable option, given that it’s full of diplomats and that it’s on its way back, as per procedures. It’s not like Jack has forced to pilots to take him to Bora Bora or something.

As always, we shall see.

Oh, hey, has anyone seen Wayne Palmer or Aaron Pierce?