Friday, January 26, 2007

Season 6; Hour Five (10:00AM - 11:00AM)

Air Date: 22 Jan 2007
Reviewer: J

And there we have it, folks! The first filler/expository episode of the season! That’s right, the plot basically didn’t move forward and people fretted for the hour about the nuclear blast, which, really, is probably what would happen in reality. This week’s review is late for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that this week’s hour didn’t do much for me (and don’t worry, I’ll tell you why). The main reason, though, is because I was traveling for business this week and since none of you slackers – err, I mean, readers – stepped up and offered to join me as a staff writer/reviewer for this season, I’m all lone wolf…like Jack.

So let’s get into what I did and didn’t like about this episode.

I enjoyed the reaction from the military at the White House bunker which, sadly, it looks like we’ll be experiencing again this season. As Wayne looked around, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was thinking about the last man to utilize this office – the guy who sanctioned the murder of his brother. I keep hoping Logan will come up and we’ll learn what’s become of him. Did Hal Gardner pardon him? Is he in prison? Is Wayne still angry at him and quietly conducting torture sessions wherein Logan is forced to listen to Martha carp about mysterious phone calls and the ex-Prez’ poor sexual skills?

Anyway, back to the point. The Admiral who is speaking suggests that the U.S. basically bomb the shit out of the middle east, regardless of who’s who. So, basically…genocide. Interesting tactic. What I find very intriguing about this is that I just read the latest book from Nelson DeMille, which is called Wild Fire. It’s about a secret government plan of the same name that dictates that if a nuke is ever detonated in a U.S. city by Islamic terrorists that the President has an automated, no-questions-asked plan in place to essentially carpet bomb the middle east with nukes. The nation of Islam would be wiped out and, likely, so would their terrorism. At least that’s the theory. There are people who believe such a plan exists and I don’t think it’s that far-fetched since if a nuke ever actually did go off in the U.S. the panic would be widespread and devastating and it might take a really drastic response to calm people down a bit.

Among the interesting things in this scene is that the Admiral suggests putting the folks from sandland “back to the stone age,” and when Wayne tries to advocate a modicum of patience and for the U.S. to be certain they are attacking the right country rather than just, you know, everyone, the Admiral interrupts him… and then Tom Lennox interrupts him with a very stern, “The President is talking…don’t interrupt.” The only way it could have been more condescending would be if he added “…douchebag” to the end of the sentence. And that brings us to Tom, whom I can’t quite figure out yet. Which probably means the writing staff of the show haven’t figured him out yet, either. I see strong potential of Tom being like Mike Novick of Season Two; that is, hard to pin down on the good or bad scale and kind of making viewers go back and forth about him. We’ll see.

The bombshell of the episode, of course, is that we find out more about Jack’s immediate family. His father comes up as someone who’s had dealings with a Russian nuke salesman (is that, like, door-to-door?) through his business, Excellent Blow Jobs Technologies… or BXJ technologies, something like that.

Jack calls Sam, his father’s…manservant? Sam looks like he’s very tame and emasculated from years of being a butler of sorts. Jack looks actually warmed to hear Sam’s evidently familiar voice on the phone. Sam, too, seems touched to hear from Jack and you can tell he’s not sure what to say since he, like many people, thought Jack was dead or captured. Or both.

Sam is clearly not in on any shenanigans because he’s worried about Phillip Bauer. Apparently, Jack’s dad left under hazy circumstances and didn’t take his cell phone. Odd, indeed. Way to be stealthy, Phil. Jack, too, finds this shady, especially in light of the fact that CTU turned up his name as someone who has recently dealt with a Russian arms dealer of sorts. His spidey sense continues pinging and he asks for his brother’s cell number. Wait, Jack has a brother? I know! Sam the manservant dutifully gives up “Gray’s” cellie.

And “Gray” is none other than…Graham from last season! Leader of the Bluetooth gang of marauding bandits! Fox’s Website even refers to Graham as the leader of the "Bluetooth power broker conspirators."

Now, I did like this twist but it bothers me that it’s so obviously something that was just thought of this season to clear up who the hell Graham was last season. If the writers knew he was Jack’s brother last year, then kudos to them. But I’m willing to bet they didn’t. But won’t it be interesting when Jack realizes his own brother was instrumental in the conspiracy to assassinate David Palmer. Yikes.

Turns out Graham has a family, too, and his wife is played by Rena Sofer, who I’ve always found insanely hot and alluring. She’s known as being a kind of kiss of death for TV shows since every one she’s been a star of has tanked, but you could say that about a lot of TV actors who you never knew until their famous show caught on. Anyway, enough of my defending Ms. Sofer. I think it’s the jet black hair and piercing blue eyes that do it for me; it’s the same reason I’m never able to take my eyes off of Courteney Cox when I see her. Hoo-yah.

As for other things I liked, I found the bringing up of Jack’s deceased wife interesting. Jack surprises Graham at his palatial estate somewhere in the hills and the two exchange an awkward hug. Or at least Graham tries but Jack just leaves his arms at his sides. So he already knows his brother is up to no good? Or he just assumes it since Graham is always up to no good? Hard to tell and Jack doesn’t let on. When Graham, trying to make conversation, asks when they last saw each other, Jack quickly replies, “When Teri died.” Nice touch of continuity and another of those nods to the regular watchers that I always bloviate about. Graham’s wife and son appear and his son looks like, well, an Aryan Youth Movement kid. He seems pleasant enough and as he enters, Graham introduces him to his “Uncle Jack.” This cracks me up for some reason… Uncle Jack. Jack does greet the kid rather warmly…for a guy who’s been in a Chinese prison for two years anyway. Speaking of which, Graham knew this because he set it up we learn… but he admits he knew it to Jack. Is Graham okay with Jack knowing he has connections that would allow him to know this? Or did the Chinese announce this to a local news crew or something? How does it make sense for Graham to know Jack was in the custody of the Chinese. How the hell did Wayne even know, come to think of it? So many questions, so few answered.

Anyway, Graham’s son eventually breaks the silence by suggested that maybe he and “Uncle Jack” can sit down and talk “later.” Jack snaps out of his daydream of tearing off Graham’s arms and beating him about the head with them enough to reply, “I’d like that.” And I think he really would seeing as how he’s go nobody left in his life and was welcoming death a couple hours ago.

We then see Rena Sofer again, whose name is Marilyn. Marilyn and Jack have a history. How come every woman we’re introduced to early in a season has nailed Jack? Is Jack spending all the non-24 days feeding his voracious appetite for hot asses? Apparently so. Teri, Nina, Kate, Clowwwdia, Audrey, Diane…and now Marilyn. I’m sure I forgot someone. Maybe he boinked Michelle Dessler in there somewhere or Palmer’s press secretary from Season One. She was hot.

The fact that Marilyn fondly remembers Jack’s velvetness is not lost on Graham, which might explain why he was willing to have his own brother killed last season.

Jack and Graham go into Graham’s study where he, again, admits he knew Jack was in China and that he and dad tried to get him out…which is complete bullshit and Jack seems to know it. I also found it interesting how Jack and Graham both referred to Phillip Bauer as “Dad” a couple of times. Not “Our father,” but “Dad.” Makes it seem like they both at least have some level of a relationship or rapport with him. Jack has acknowledged he hasn’t spoken to his father in nine years so either Phil wasn’t at Teri’s funeral or it’s been nine years since Teri died.
On that note, my local paper today had a tidbit. One of the writers spent a day on the 24 set and noted that all the computer screens at CTU have a date of 2012, which would be about right if you do the math on all the in-between time of the seasons.

Anyway, Jack soon tires of Graham’s stalling and slugs him. When Jack went and pulled the wire out of the back of a lamp, I thought he was going to go all Paul Raines on his brother but he just used the wire to tie Graham’s wrists. I wonder if he left that wire plugged in because that would be interesting.

He begins insisting Graham tell him what he knows, to which of course Graham pleads ignorance. Again, I’m still not sure how Jack is so certain Graham has something to tell or if Jack’s just realized he really does miss torturing people so he’s getting back into it. Nevertheless, he threatens to hurt Graham while choking him to tightly Graham can hardly breathe. I loved Graham’s response: “Actually, you’re hurting me now.” Jack of course gives the rather chilling response, “Trust me – I’m not.”

We don’t get to learn what Graham knows this hour but we do see Jack starting to suffocate him with a plastic bag. An interesting tactic, or Jacktic if you will.

A few last comments on the revelation of Jack’s fraternal relative… as I said earlier, I enjoyed the twist but that’s because I’ve become really good at suspending my disbelief for this show. The truth is, it’s way too obvious that the writers had no intention of making Graham Jack’s brother and it’s something they thought up just recently. I’m sure it’ll lead to Jack having to kill, torture or imprison his own family thus making him even darker but still… seems dangerously close to a cheap tactic to shock us.

The rest of what happened in this hour was somewhat expository as well and is leading us to, hopefully, more significant happenings. At the detention facility, Walid is being used by the FBI to infiltrate the baddies who are being detained. They make a big show of roughing him up and putting a wire on him but the whole show of pushing him around is a little ridiculous. For one thing, if these terrorist accomplices don’t know this is a set up, then they’re really frickin’ dumb. At the end of the hour, they’ve shown interest and Walid has dropped the right name (Abu Fayed) to get them interested in how he knows/supports Fayed…BUT, couldn’t this all be a ruse by the bad guys who always seem a step ahead of the government on this show? And why is the FBI handling this covert gathering of intel that could really help the CTU team across the country? Shouldn’t CTU be in on this operation?

Sandra Palmer is there making all sorts of annoyed noises at the FBI agents, including the blonde one who arrested her and Walid earlier. And frankly, I’m bored with her and her complaints. Walid is trying to be helpful, Sandra, and he’s doing it of his own volition. So lay off.

We also learn shortly after the nuke blast that CTU is basically out of field agents. Milo lets us all know that besides the team that was engaging Numair and the other hostiles in Valencia, all their other Tac Teams were “too close” and were similarly incinerated by the nuclear blast. So what the hell is going to happen to CTU now? Do they pull in field agents from San Diego, Vegas or San Fran? Or will Bill Buchanan go out into the field with a weapon. I’d love to see that. I suspect it would be the cleanest and shiniest gun anyone’s ever seen. And probably with a Gucci holster.

Speaking of exposition, we learn in the opening minutes that a conservative estimate of the death toll is currently around 12,000. Which, damn. That certainly puts any previous terrorist killings to shame. And probably fairly accurate given where the bomb was detonated.

Another random thing I enjoyed was Tom Lennox crapping all over the team trying to work on a speech for the President to give to the American people. They’d referred to the nuking as “the latest incident,” to which Tom scoffs hilariously and says, “This was a nuclear BOMB. Can we call it what it is?” Good stuff.

Otherwise, this hour didn’t do a whole lot for me. We learned some things we’ll clearly need to know later on but not a whole lot was done. Well, Assad was escorted out of CTU and told he was wanted in Washington, D.C. And I guess he’s going by car or train since all air travel has been grounded.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Season 6; Hour Four (9:00AM - 10:00AM)

Air Date: 15 Jan 2007
Reviewer: J

We pick up right where we left off after a boatload of previouslies, just so we definitely know that we’re in some major shit right now.

It’s becoming apparent that this Numair guy has somehow slipped away during the very organized, chain-gang style march of the prisoners onto a rather nice-looking jet. I wonder if any of these guys know what the hell is going on or if they just are so numb to being marched around that they just go with it.

At CTU, we see Bill becoming a bit more unhinged than usual, shouting at the wind that they have to do better. In fact, I think he said, “We have to do better and we have to do it faster!” The CTU drones around him get over his outburst as fast as they can and try to get back to their Tetris-playing faster. I don’t know, it sure looks like everyone’s working as fast as they can to me.

Now that we’ve established that there’s a good chance Numair is wanted by Fayed for help programming a nuclear bomb, the White House has sprung into action. I especially like how Karen says that the Russian suitcase nukes were all destroyed…but there was a report of some going missing a while back. Wait, what?

Karen also shows us a graphic similar to what David Palmer was shown when he was at his Oregon retreat back in Season Two and a nuke was in the plotwheel then. It shows little figures meant to represent a certain number of American lives and those multiply when buttons are hit that tell the rodents in the computer to simulate nuclear fallout. Of course, Karen does give an estimation of hundreds of thousands of lives lost “if it’s detonated in a major city.” This key phrase may be important later. Like, say, if one was detonated in the suburbs.

Wayne decides that Jack is the best person to lead this search. I guess this is because of his loyalty to Jack and because he’s learned that Jack always seems to come through when it counts. But still, Jack’s been in China for twenty months. Have we all forgotten that? If I were Jack, I might also ask Wayne what the hell took so long for him to negotiate Jack out of China. I know Jack holds the Presidency in the highest respect, but still.

It’s right after this that we have more indication that Curtis is going off the grid. Jack tells him that Wayne wants him, Jack, to lead the search of Fayed. Which it appears Curtis has no problem with. What he does have a problem with is working with Assad. Jack asks him to behave and Curtis, uncharacteristically, mouths off to Jack, asking what the Chinese did to him. Jack gets in Curtis’s face – which, because of Jack’s diminutive size, is more like Jack getting in Curtis’s sternum – and asks if he’s got somethin’ to say. Curtis still looks pissed but agrees, sort of, to work with Jack. This is not good and I’ll believe you if you began to think something really bad was going to happen between these two. After all, I’m sure Curtis hasn’t forgotten the time when Jack put him in a sleeper hold and stole his SUV.

Jack has caught on to the signals from Curtis (which were, like, about as obvious as can be) and so he asks Chloe to run some background on Curtis and Assad to figure out what the H is going on in Curtis’s melon.

Over at Chez Wallace, Ahmed is still bleeding and holding two hostages. Ray calls him and demands he release his family. Ahmed calls Ray’s bluff saying that even Ray knows that that would leave him with no leverage. So, to play ball, Ahmed has Ray choose which one to have released. Ray, being a parent, says to release Scott, his son. Ahmed, being a smart terrorist-in-training, lets Jillian, Ray’s wife, go. Ray protests and Ahmed says Ray just revealed who he “values more.” If you’re thinking this is kind of a shitty thing to do to his wife, you’re wrong. I don’t have kids but even I know there’s an unspoken (or sometimes spoken) agreement when you have kids that you’d sacrifice anything for them, including each other. And I’ve got no problem with that. It’s part of being a parent. Or so I’m told.

It’s irrelevant but I liked Ahmed showing the caller ID to Jillian as she was leaving and saying, “Will you remember this number?” so that she can call her husband who, inexplicably, does not have a cell phone. She looks at the number, memorizes it, and leaves. I don’t know why I liked that except, I guess, that it’s another one of those little touches of reality that they toss in there. I know there’s a lot out there about how ludicrous this show can get sometimes but sometimes I think these little touches almost balance it. As I’ve said before, these are the little things that we would actually deal with ourselves if put into similar situations.

Anyway, Ray and Jill hem and haw about how to handle Scott. They agree not to call the police and then, promptly, Jill…calls the police. Should have taken her cell phone away, Ray.

At CTU, we learn that Chloe “dated Milo a few times.” Uh, what? Why would that have ever happened? Let’s just hope they didn’t screw.

Jack and Curtis end up getting Jillian Wallace on the line and she tells them about Ahmed and how he was talking to a guy named Fayed. Well, that’s a good thing that she called 911, I guess, then. Point taken, writers. Curtis bitches about taking Assad on a tactical mission but, really, what are their options? Maybe Curtis wants to leave Assad at a bus station or something? Or maybe he wants to just shoot him. Yeah, that actually might be it.

Meanwhile, Wayne’s administration is quickly deciding that Assad is suddenly an ally despite the many deaths his terrorism has caused over the past “two decades.” They even go so far as to put together a pardon for all past crimes in return for his cooperation. Well, I’m not sure you needed to overbet the pot like that, Wayne. I mean, he’s already in your custody and you could just say, “Hey, either help us or we’ll cut off your fingers one by one.” I mean, Jack could say that or something. Why are we giving Assad a free pass on everything he’s done in the past? I guess to sort of guarantee his cooperation and make him realize he has something to hold on to when he wrestles with thoughts as to whether peace is the right answer. But still, I’m sort of with Curtis on this one, whose eyes get kind of wide when he hears Assad asking for something “in writing.” Maybe he’s talking about a contract on a new house, Curtis.

Sandra Palmer appears this hour and tries to call Wayne again. Seriously, little girl, let your brother do his damn job, will you? You say you don’t want preferential treatment when you got arrested but now you want to whine to the President whenever you have a bug up your ass? You can’t have it both ways. And Tom Lennox agrees with me, intercepting her call and turning her away. She makes some threats about embarrassing the administration which, I’d have to say, would ring sort of hollow to me at this point. I mean, shit’s getting blown up all over the country and people are dying left and right. I don’t know how much further the administration’s pants can be pulled down.

Meanwhile, Walid – Sandra’s boy-toy – learns from a loose-lipped Islamic brother in the joint that the Americans “will all pay.” Walid’s all, ’scuse me? And the guy walks off and talks in Arabic, which Walid listens in on and even gets himself in a better position to hear. Yet it turns out he doesn’t understand Arabic. Well-played, detective. What good are you?

It turns out that Ray Wallace is a reliable delivery boy as he gives Fayed his box of White Castle burgers, AKA nuke detonator device. You know, do you think Marcus, the guy who unwillingly sold the component to Ray/Ahmed/Fayed, knew that it was going to be used to arm a nuclear bomb?

Anyway, Fayed calls Ahmed and tells him he got the package but that he shouldn’t have involved outsiders. Ahmed replies, “But Fayed, how else could we bring an innocent family with whom the audience could sympathize with into the fray?”

Actually, no, he doesn’t say that.

Fayed ends up telling Ahmed to plug Scott and Ahmed shows his hesitation, to which Fayed tells him that the boy has seen and heard too much. I guess Ahmed didn’t reveal that he’s already released Scott’s mom. And how could he have seen too much? Aren’t they planning to nuke LA? And if they are indeed planning to nuke LA, why did they blow up a bus and try to blow up the subway in the past couple of hours? Isn’t that kind of moot if a nuke is going to be detonated? Silly me, trying to find logic.

Jack, Curtis and their helmeted brethren descend upon the Wallace house just as Ahmed is about to execute Scott, Chappelle-style. I’m not sure about you, but I think I would have tried to fight for my life a little more than Scott did. I mean, if it’s “death” or “possible death,” I’ll take “possible death.”

Anyway, Ahmed is winged in the crossfire and Jack freaks that they need him alive to talk about where the package of burgers went. In an interesting twist, Jack is saved from having to rub kitchen salt into Ahmed’s gunshot wound because Scott remembers the address that Ahmed gave to Ray to deliver the…White Castle package. Silly Kumar.

At the Wallace household, we learn that Curtis indeed did not know what Assad and the President spoke about on the phone in the car. Assad is signing his full pardon in the dining room while Curtis flags down Jack and asks him what the hell is going on. Jack explains, as delicately as he can, that Assad has been pardoned and is officially an ally now. Curtis, unconvincingly, gives the answer that if that’s how it is, that’s how it is. This is remarkably similar to “It is what it is,” which is something I find myself using at work a lot, especially when a situation is kind of shitty. Of course, that’s where my approach and Curtis’ stop being similar.

While two-thirds of the Wallace family is freaking about whether Dad/Ray is going to be okay, Jack gets a call on the horn from Chloe, who has gotten around to backgrounding Curtis and Assad. Yeah, it turns out that Assad was responsible for an attack on Curtis’ platoon in Desert Storm and killed several of Curtis’ men in brutal fashion. Including beheadings. So I guess that explains why Curtis hates Assad. In fact, when thinking about this, it makes me wonder how Curtis didn’t go ballistic sooner. Regardless, I was waiting to hear a shot ring out in the background as Jack was learning this info about Curtis. There’s no shot at this point, but Jack clearly realizes there’s a huge problem when Curtis isn’t in the house anymore.

Jack races outside the Wallace home and it’s at about this time that Curtis has confronted Assad with the truth about who he is and how they’ve met before. For his part, Assad looks clueless, but that’s probably because he’s killed a lot of Americans and is somewhat numb to it. Plus, we all look alike anyway.

Then we have a scene that may very well end up in the annals of great 24 scenes and has a better-than-average chance of being the best scene of Season Six, despite being only in Hour Four.

Jack is forced to pull his gun on Curtis and tell him to lower his weapon, which he (Curtis) has trained on Assad. Curtis pulls his shit together long enough to realize that having his back to Jack is not the best approach. Remember, Curtis is a career soldier and anti-terrorist field agent. So he swings Assad around to shield himself while simultaneously putting his gun at the base of Assad’s skull, where one shot will surely end Assad fast.

Jack, of course, knows this too and again demands that Curtis lower his weapon. One thing I’d like to interject here is that I have found the use of U.S. flags interesting in the first few hours. In the safe house in Hour Two when they were getting info from the traitor in Assad’s organization, there was a U.S. flag behind Assad at one point. And in this scene in the Wallace’s driveway, as Jack is aiming at Curtis, you can see an American flag behind him. It’s subtle but very interesting. Anyway, where were we?

Ah, yes, Curtis is refusing to lower his weapon. To which Jack, almost pathetically, says, “Please.” What this means, of course, is “I really don’t want to kill you but I’m realizing I’m probably going to have to.”

Curtis clearly thinks about Jack’s demand and also, I think, realizes that he himself has lost it. Yet he has something within him that won’t allow himself to release Assad. He appears to think for a second and then confirms this by saying, “I can’t let this animal live.” As Curtis is screwing up the courage to blatantly execute someone in front of a dozen witnesses and basically end his career, a shot rings out and Curtis is hit in the neck and ends his career even faster. It, naturally, came from Jack who zinged a shot from a pistol right over Assad’s shoulder and into Curtis’ windpipe.

The look on Curtis’ face is some good acting by Roger Cross, who I really did like. His face is a mixture of shock and sadness as he realizes his time on this mortal coil is over and he sinks to the ground, vainly clutching his throat. Bye, Curtis, it’s been fun.

As I said, I liked Curtis a lot, not because he brought all that much to the show from a dynamic perspective but more because he was consistent and had been there for a while. You always knew what you could expect from Curtis – loyalty, efficiency and quiet tones. I remember Curtis as the guy who helped stand down McGill last season and who broke free of his captors in a bad-ass sort of way back in the early hours of Season Four. Curtis was a good guy and a resilient character who seemed to take a bullet every season but always was back for more. Well, not this time.

Jack, for his part, reacts like most of us would if put in an impossible situation such as that. He drops his gun and has himself a good freakout. He walks away and ends up stumbling and vomiting, coming to rest against a small tree on some neighbor’s grass. Mere seconds after having killed his colleague and friend, Jack’s phone rings. And Jack answers it, which I wouldn’t have. But then, I ignore calls when I’m not doing anything else so that’s not a fair comparison.

It turns out it’s Buchanan on the horn and he’s trying to get Jack to buck up. He says he was filled in on what happened and that Jack had no choice. While this is technically true, how could Buchanan possibly know this so fast? Was the agent who told Bill about it on the phone with him giving him real-time info on the standoff between Jack and Curtis? How would that have sounded?

“Okay, Jack just told him to drop it…Curtis says no…Jack says please… and Curtis looks like he means it but – WHOA! Holy shit, Bill, Jack just shot Curtis just below the pie-hole. Annnd, Curtis is dead. Am I in charge now?”

Anyway, Jack wants nothing to do with Bill’s consoling and says he can’t do this anymore, which is at least the third time since the season began that Jack’s made the unusual comment that he’s not fit for this anymore. It takes a lot for Jack to admit he’s not good at something and he’s trying hard to tell us all that he’s done with this shit. But Bill, too, won’t take that as an answer and says he’s done great work and that they’re gonna find the suitcase nuke because of him (oh boy, are they ever). Jack gives the wise-ass response, “Good, then you don’t need me anymore.” He ends up hanging up on poor Bill who just lost his two best field generals.

Wow, what a scene. I loved Curtis’ reaction to being shot and Jack’s reaction to having to do it. It simply makes Jack’s character that much darker and further illustrates how he’s not the man we met back in Season One and he’ll never be that man again.

But oh no, the hour isn’t over! We see that Numair has gotten the suitcase nuke ready to roll. Of course, I must point out here that the whole “suitcase nuke” thing is being taken a bit too literally. Real suitcase nukes aren’t like, the size of a Samsonite. They’re more like the size of a massive trunk, like the one John Candy carries with him in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. But fine, 24, we’ll go with it.

Anyway, the CTU Tac Team that was dispatched to the location that Scott happened to remember moves in and, in true CTU fashion, isn’t sneaky enough to not be noticed. A firefight ensues and Numair is given the command to detonate the bomb. And, with it, the northern suburbs of Los Angeles. For a second or two, it looks like Ray Wallace may turn himself into a hero by intervening but all he can do is scream as Numair flips the switch and everything goes white and silent, which is probably exactly how it would happen. I imagine when everything in a several-mile radius is melted it gets quiet pretty fast. The light blast is scary, too, and I love the way the scene cuts to Jack who is still crying on the ground. We see his face in the light and the brightness in his eyes. In reality, I think looking at a nuclear blast can blind you but maybe not with smaller suitcase nukes. The mushroom cloud is impressive, too.

Of course, the gravity of this almost knocks over everyone watching. The White House gang look like they’re going to vomit and Wayne’s the first one to react, telling Karen to let the first responders in LA know that they get whatever they need. Wayne is the quickest to absorb what’s happened presumably because he can now write about his nuclear blast on U.S. soil in his own memoir someday and it just might be a better seller than David’s. Hell, David’s went off over the desert and killed nobody except maybe some hippie campers.

The CTU bunch looks equally disturbed and Bill doesn’t look like he knows what order to give next. Milo chooses this time to come up and give information about an Arabic phrase that Walid kept hearing at the detention facility (which is apparently picking up at least some of the right people) and that Sandra passed along to the FBI. The phrase is something about “five visitors,” which of course clues Bill and the others in to the fact that Fayed has four more of these mothers out there and CTU is short a Director of Field Operations.

Ah, so these nuke suitcases are going to be sort of like the eighteen canisters of nerve gas from last year, eh? Sure hope it’s a different approach than that. And I also am a bit disappointed that Jack is shown in the preview for next week saying that he’s not quitting after the nuke went off. Sort of killed the idea that he might have been serious, at least temporarily, didn’t it?

Anyway, Hour Four was indeed amazing and as I said to D, every time they promise an hour that “changes everything,” they seem to deliver on it in some way. As I said, I think we all knew something bad was coming with Curtis… but I don’t think anyone expected the nuke to go off. Where do we go from here?


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Season 6; Hour Three (8:00AM - 9:00AM)

Air Date: 15 Jan 2007
Reviewer: J

Holy hell. Excuse me, I’m still recovering from last night. Not the four-hours-in-two-nights thing – really just the last ten minutes of last night. However, this review is for Hour Three so I’ll focus on that as best I can right now and then get on to Hour Four later.

As you’ll recall, there are some significant terrorist attacks going on around the country as we began Day Six. Jack has gotten back from China and formed an uneasy alliance with Assad, a man who has been a known terrorist for something like twenty years. Just how a brutal a terrorist we will soon learn.

We move into Hour Three with Jack somehow finding Assad as he promised to do and jumping into the little Toyota Corolla that the two liberated earlier. The two debate what to do and I must admit, I’m really impressed with Assad’s resolve here. He wants to work with Jack and had every opportunity to disappear but he really does care about enacting a real ceasefire and potential “lasting peace.” There’s no other explanation as to why he’d continue to work with Jack in this episode and in the next one.

Assad, however, does not trust CTU or the U.S. government enough to let Jack pull in their assistance with following the “handler,” whose name is Masheer for purposes of this review. To illustrate this point, we see CTU having a conference call with the White House about the happenings in LA and how they’ve confirmed Jack is working with Assad. Bill acknowledges that Jack’s “been dark” since they didn’t listen to him about Assad. Wayne says, “I didn’t listen.” It’s nice that Wayne wants to take the blame and it’s a very stand-up thing to do. However, he wasn’t the only one who didn’t believe Jack and there was significant compelling evidence to support the attack on Assad. We never got invested in that evidence as it was gathered in previous months by Karen Hayes’ team and others, but still.

About this time, Fayed calls in to speak with the President. I love how Fayed can just call in to speak to the President and actually gets him on the phone. I encourage my readers to try this to see how easy it is. Call 202.456.1414 and ask to speak to the President. See how far you get. For an added challenge, say your name is something Islamic, like, ohhh, say, Fayed. Not only will you probably not get the Prez on the phone, you might get a personal visit from the FBI at your door.

Anyway, Fayed wants to speak to the President and demand the release of prisoners, whom he calls “Freedom Fighters,” yadda yadda. I don’t care, terrorist! There’s no way my man Wayne Palmer is going to give in to your demands! The U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists! Plus you already lied to the government in a so-called “deal” once about an hour ago. Right, Wayne?

Wayne ignores me and goes about sort of agreeing to Fayed’s demand.

Jack of course uses his velvety powers of seduction to convince Assad to let him call CTU and bring them in to help, namely in the form of satellite surveillance of Masheer. CTU can’t get a satellite into position for another 10-15 minutes. Assad, to his credit, does not sneer and say, “See? No good to us.”

Jack then hatches a clever little plan. Since it’s going to be hard to follow Masheer without getting spotted, Jack carjacks some guy’s Jeep Cherokee away from him and then drives like a maniac to head off Masheer and basically slam right into him. I have to say, I knew the plan Jack was hatching but it still looked like a professional ramming to me. And I would think Masheer would have been a bit suspicious, too. But he’s not. Of course, Assad pulls up and acts like a good samaritan and offers Masheer a lift to wherever he’s going. Masheer falls for it because, as we all know, they stick with their own kind. Ha!

Anyway, Assad does indeed play up this angle and he surreptitiously dials Jack cell phone, which amazingly has the same number as Berhrooz’s dead girlfriend from two seasons ago.

Jack loops CTU in and they all work on triangulating where the hell Masheer is going. Along the way, Assad is spouting off their location so that it’s easier for CTU to follow but can’t Chloe just triangulate on the cell phone signal that he’s putting out there? I mean, that’s probably safer than Assad casually reading each exit as they pass it like somebody’s senile grandmother.

Hey, remember Kumar – I mean, Ahmed – from across the street from Joe Family? Well, his leg wound is apparently pretty bad because by my count he took Scott hostage at about 7:45 and it’s now 8:15 as they re-enter the Wallace household, which, remember, is right across the street. Half hour to cross the street? Okay, okay, I’ll let it go. Maybe they had a burger or something. Anyway, Ahmed is so badly injured that he feels he cannot deliver the package of White Castle burgers to Fayed so he orders Ray Wallace to do it. Ray, put in an impossible position, agrees to do it and leaves. The number of times Ahmed leaves himself open to be cold-cocked is astounding and I guess it just demonstrates Ray’s average family’s average averageness.

In the unnecessary plot device portion of the show, Wayne’s useless sister is freed from the “detention center” she was taken to basically because she knows the big boss but her boyfriend Walid is not privy to the same courtesy. Mainly because he’s Islamic. Sandra Palmer and her brother get into an argument about civil rights and whatnot, and I’m not sure if the irony is intentional in a fictional black President sort of justifying a lack of civil rights… on Martin Luther King Day. Whether it’s intended or not, it’s noticeable, at least from my seat. Look what the terrorism has done to Wayne’s perceptions of what’s fair and what’s not. Hell, not just Wayne – look at how mistrustful Walid is by the end of this hour!

Anyway, back on the tracking front, Masheer politely thanks Assad for the lift he just got and exits the vehicle. I thought sure he’d cover his tracks by killing Assad. And, more to the point, how does he not know Assad? I mean, I know Assad said Masheer wouldn’t know him but why not? If Assad is so influential and is so well-known worldwide as a terrorist leader of sorts, then how could Masheer possibly not know who he is? That’s a big hole there, although it made for an entertaining car ride.

CTU quickly hones in on Masheer and realizes he’s in a storage facility, the kind where you store your apartment furniture over the summer during college. Only there aren’t stained sofas and 30-year-old coffee tables in Masheer’s storage unit. No, there are stacks and stacks of ammunition, along with laptops. And grenades, it turns out.

Meanwhile, Curtis is being a bitch about things by continually showing unhidden contempt for Assad, who Jack clearly sees must have a history with Curtis. We’ve definitely never seen Curtis this unhinged and reticent to follow orders. It was about this point when you could tell something bad was in the offing for tonight.

Anyway, one of CTU’s assault team members is spotted by Masheer who opens fire. Before long, he’s pulled a grenade and detonates himself and the ammunition around him. Amazingly, Jack goes into the charred remains and finds that the laptop Masheer was using actually has part of its hard drive salvageable. This is…kind of ridiculous. However, word is that IBM Toughbooks are a major sponsor of the show so I’m kind of surprised Jack didn’t say, “Well, Bill, fortunately it’s an IBM Toughbook so let me jump in my Toyota Corolla, which gets great gas mileage by the way, and head back to you guys.”

Back in unnecessary plot filling land, Ray Wallace gets to where he’s supposed to deliver Ahmed’s package and we learn that there’s cash in the package and not White Castle burgers. But Ray is supposed to get another item in return. Oh, that must be the White Castle burgers. There’s some back and forth between Ray and the seller, Marcus, who wants more money for the item. Isn’t that always the way? Ray ends up bludgeoning Marcus to death to get the item for him at the agreed-upon cost. Perhaps I underestimated Ray. Or at least his bargaining skills.

Meanwhile, from Masheer’s cooked laptop, CTU and Assad have collaborated to determine that Masheer was looking at a schematic of a nuclear device and detonator. Uh-oh. But wait, didn’t the nuclear device storyline already play out on this show? Wasn’t it detonated somewhere in the Mojave Desert, along with George Mason?

Regardless, I guess Fayed’s men don’t mind repeating storylines they weren’t a part of. It turns out that one of the prisoners that Wayne is in the process of releasing from Palmdale is a nuclear physicist or something. His name is Hasan Numair, though I don’t know why we care, and he’s been slipped out of the group of prisoners who are being put on a plane and he’s been freed by a rogue US prison guard. For money, one assumes. Apparently enough money to kill a fellow American, since the guard blows the head off the prison bus driver’s head.

We end the hour with the prisoner release stopped and Numair running out of the bus and on his way to Fayed’s to, presumably, do some bad shit with a nuclear bomb.

Yeah, that’s just the first hour of the night. It gets a lot worse.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Season 6; Hour Two (7:00AM - 8:00AM)

Air Date: 14 Jan 2007
Reviewer: J

As I was saying, we get the second hour of Season Six right away, which is so cool I could barely contain my excitement all day. Of course, this four hours in two nights business is amazing until next week when we get a lone hour and are so hungry for more. But it’s a master-stroke by Fox, who is able to dominate Sunday and Monday night and also rope in some new viewers. If it’s this easy to get four episodes deep into this show, they’re more likely to get some casual viewers to stick around. For those of us writing reviews? It kind of is taxing, I must admit.

Anyway, we pick up right where we left off after a boatload of previouslies. Fayed is pissed that he’s somehow let Jack slip through his fingers and he acknowledges to his henchie that Jack knows the truth. His henchie quite rightly points out that it doesn’t really matter since CTU is already on their way to cap Assad. Sayed reluctantly agrees to depart with them since apparently something else is pressing on their terrorist to-do list.

Jack eventually gets out of the storm drain and busts into an old Oldsmobuick hooptie parked nearby. The Oldsmobuick has a cell phone left inside – how handy! Jack manages to remember the main number to CTU Los Angeles and gets put through. Everyone’s surprised to hear from Jack since they figured he was killed by Sayed. Jack doesn’t have time for everyone’s warm wishes and insists Buchanan call off the assassination of Assad. Bill demurs and connects them all with the President. Wayne gives a little laugh like, “Jack, you old hard-to-kill dog, you!” But Jack gets right down to business and explains how Sayed exposited what the real story is. Tom Lennox, having had lots of experience with this on Ally McBeal, agrees with Karen Hayes assessment that they still need to bomb the shit out of Assad, regardless of this new intel. Wayne doesn’t want to hold off, either, despite Jack’s plea. Karen points out that Jack’s been in a Chinese prison for twenty months (which, apparently, everyone knew and was sort of okay with) and, thus, might not have the best judgment or be hearing everything perfectly. Jack can’t really argue this point but continues to insist he has the facts correct. It’s interesting to note how much Jack cares about this since, really, why should he give a shit? He’s been in prison and being tortured for 20 months. Why does he care which terrorist is killed? And it’s not like Assad doesn’t have bloody hands – he’s been a known terrorist for years. Even if he’s decided to make a New Year’s Resolution to turn over a new leaf, he can still burn for what he’s done in the past.

In the end, Wayne decides to go forward with the strike on Assad. I must admit, I was expecting him to give in to Jack but this was a nice twist and shows how much the attacks on America have impacted him. He’s also being level-headed and listening to the intel Karen Hayes and other security agencies have gathered, which all point to Assad as the head of the snake.

Jack, frustrated, looks a the cellie he’s just liberated from the hooptie he broke into and, fortunately for him, sees that it has a navigation feature! So whoever’s car this is clearly spends their money on their technogadgets and not their vehicle. Not only that, but Jack immediately knows how to use this feature. Anyway, he puts in the coordinates and the map tells him where Assad lives. Now, I’m not sure what kind of phone this is, but it’s a rare occasion when I’m headed to a restaurant and look up the fucking coordinates to figure out where they’re located on the globe:

"Yes, sir, we’re at 324 West 47th str---"

“No, no, just give me the longitude and latitude, please. Thanks.”


Anyway, Jack heads over to Assad’s pad and sneaks into the backyard. He knocks out a passing sentry with what the Fox site describes as “chopped firewood.” In Southern California. Okay.

Jack busts into the house and there’s a bit of a standoff with Assad as he identifies himself and tells Assad the story, namely that there’s a couple of choppers on their way to the house to turn he and his friends into vapor. Assad doesn’t believe him, of course, because how could anyone know where they are? Well, Jack got there somehow, right Kojak? Assad eventually agrees that it’s possible and asks his men to empty their pockets to see if anyone is carrying a transponder. One is and Assad hustles him outside with Jack while Assad’s other men set about securing the premises. Within seconds the CTU attack choppers arrive and make toothpicks out of Assad’s house.

So let’s see… in the time since Sayed called CTU with Assad’s coordinates, Jack broke free, hid from Sayed’s men, escaped the basin, acquired a car, called CTU, argued with Bill, argued with the President, figured out Assad’s location, drove to Assad’s location, had a standoff with Assad and then got him out of the house. Meanwhile, CTU launched their attack which they were ready for about an hour ago.
Was a pilot late or something?

Anyway, Jack and Assad take Assad’s traitor terrorist (who’s worse than Assad, we’re to believe) to a nearby empty house where a U-Haul is casually pulling away. I say casually because it looks like we’re to believe this house is a good place for Jack and Assad to hide since the people are in the process of moving and aren’t there. Of course, a house just exploded a block or so away. Whatever.

Jack and Assad take turns interrogating Omar, the rogue henchie. Jack learns during this time that he’s lost his edge insofar as invasive interrogation. Maybe he just can’t do this to people anymore. Assad has no such hangups and stabs Omar in the knee with a knife – OWIE! Omar talks, telling Assad where a couple of Fayed’s men will be. Assad then guts Omar with the knife and watches him die. Brutal, that Assad.

We also learn during this time at the house that Assad is trying to have his men and the governments they align with to agree to a cease-fire with the West. So he…is good? It’s hard to tell. In addition, Jack ditches the clothes that Bill brought for him (the buttons aren’t his style) and he puts on some clothes he finds in the house that is in the process of being moved into or out of. Hard to tell, but either way it’s likely someone will be coming back for their shirt and will find Omar dead in the living room.

Meanwhile, across town at the Islamic-American Alliance (not making that up), Sandra Palmer is an attorney who is a bit concerned when the FBI arrives looking for personnel files. She denies them this request even though her lover, Walid Al-Rezani, suggests maybe they should just give up the files since they have nothing to hide. Beware the Islamic man who says he has nothing to hide. S’all I’m sayin’.

Sandra Palmer calls her brother… Wayne Palmer! Bet you didn’t see that coming, did ya?! Oh, wait, you did? Yeah, okay, well, where has this sister been all these years? I don’t know, either, but I definitely don’t remember her being mentioned. Oh, and this is random, but speaking of family ties, did anyone else notice that Wayne is wearing a wedding ring now? I think that’s worth inventorying in your melon.

Anyway, Sandra is worried about the FBI’s invasion and Wayne promises to look into it. Well, is it authorized or not, Wayne? He seems not to know but says he’ll figure it out. Well, Wayne, if you’re not aware of it, it’s probably not kosher since, you know, you’re the President. I guess Wayne’s still getting used to this job.

At the temporary hideout of Jack and Assad Incorporated, Assad walks into the frame clicking a keyfob remote to the Toyota (surprise!) out front and saying, “We have a car.” That struck me as funny for some reason. Jack seems hesitant to go on with this, especially after seeing Assad’s brutality on Omar and realizing he’s clearly losing/lost his own touch for inflicting pain to get answers. He goes so far as to say, “I don’t know how to do this anymore,” to which Assad replies, “You’ll remember.”

At CTU, Chloe has been snooping around – though, authorized this time, it appears – and figures out that it was Jack who helped Assad. She tells Bill who’s all secretive about it and tells her “good work.” Okay, so Bill’s already breaking protocol and keeping information to himself, less than an hour after almost firing Chloe for being underhanded? Nice example to set, Bill. Plus, wow, what a different guy Bill has become since being the requisite tight-ass sent over from Division in Season Four.

Over at the boring storyline, Sandra Palmer continues to interfere with the FBI requisitioning personnel files (with a warrant, I might add, making it legal) to the point where she and her Islamic lover are arrested. Somehow, I don’t think the FBI would arrest the President’s sister under any circumstances.

At the other somewhat boring storyline, Ahmed (Kumar; or Taj, if you prefer) has located the package of White Castle burgers he has hidden in the house for Sayed. Meanwhile, hillbilly neighbor from Hour One busts down the door and kicks his ass for no apparent reason other than Ahmed being Middle Eastern. After a pretty thorough ass-whipping, Ahmed is able to get his hands on a gun which he uses to kill Angry Neighbor. Gee, dude, if you really thought he was a terrorist, why did you look so surprised when he was ready to kill you?

Naturally, idiot long-haired stoner Scott Wallace, the WASPY kid from across the street barrels in and find Ahmed beat to hell and sees Dead Angry Neighbor on the floor. Scott sizes the situation up and wants to call for help but Kumar the angry White Castle eater tells Scott he’ll hurt him if he has to but these burgers need to get delivered. Scott does what he’s told. Why Ahmed doesn’t just kill Scott is a bit of mystery to me. He killed Angry Neighbor when he clearly had the chance to let him live. Weird.

Meanwhile, in the exciting part of the hour, Jack and Assad are taking on Sayed’s terrorist network themselves. I see a buddy cop in the making. They identify Sayed’s men at an intersection that Omar had supplied and they follow them into the LA Metro system. What’s the deal with all the face time the subway gets on this show? I would guess most Los Angeles viewers have seen the subway more on 24 than they have in real life.

Anyway, Jack decides to follow the bomber onto the train while Assad goes after the info man, who apparently confirms the job is done and then phones in to the boss. Gosh, that’s a much better assignment than being the one with the C4 strapped to your torso.

Also, hey Jack? Maybe letting Assad out of your sight wasn’t the best idea. Wasn’t it Jack who suggested capturing Assad for information just 45 minutes earlier? Now he could be gone.

Anyway, on the train, we’re treated to Jack trying to wrestle the detonator away from the bomber, which I thought was weird. I mean, why not remote-detonate so the guy doesn’t chicken out? Neither here nor there, I guess. Jack almost gets the detonator away from him but when he sees in a split-second that he’s not going to be able to, Jack does an impressive kick and sends the bomber out the back of the train where he explodes in the subway tunnel by himself. It sure is a good thing they were in the last car. Of course, maybe Jack didn’t care and just wanted him off of his car.

It turns out that Fayed isn’t that upset that this bombing isn’t successful since apparently there have been bombings at the same time in Baltimore and Chicago.

As the hour ends, we see that Wayne learns from Karen that CTU intercepted a cell call wherein Sayed is ordering/orchestrating the bombings. At the same time, CTU hears that someone identifying themselves as Jack Bauer (which Jack did to the ticket agent who didn’t like that Jack was on without a ticket; I’ll have to try that approach next time I’m on the train) is the one who foiled the train bombing. Bill wants visual proof that it was Jack, presumably so he can show it to the President who, as I mentioned, is also realizing that Jack was right earlier this hour.
We’re then treated to another round of My, Jack Was Right And Saved The Day Again. Regardless, you just know he won’t be believed in other cases as we move forward.

I also wonder about Jack’s whole existence for this season. Remember the promos? For the security of the U.S., Jack Bauer has to die. Something to that effect… but now, apparently that’s not the case anymore. Oh, good, season over, Jack goes back to China for a vacation.

It was at this point that I was continuing to shake my head at Jack for parting ways with Assad, the man who is probably most pivotal here. However, it turns out that Jack and Assad exchanged cellie numbers and they get on the horn to discuss Assad’s current role as a surveillance agent. Assad is following the other henchman who they’re hoping will lead them to Fayed. Jack says he’s not far from Assad’s location (Assad is driving, remember) and that he’ll “find” Assad. And then what, Jack? Jump onto the roof of the car? Oh, what am I saying? He probably will.

In other news, Jack is jogging and fighting rather well for a man who could barely walk two hours ago. I hope he got some sleep on that flight from China.


Season 6; Hour One (6:00AM - 7:00AM)

Air Date: 14 Jan 2007
Reviewer: J

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd, we’re back. It’s time for Season Six. Since D abandoned me (just kidding, D), I’m going to be hammering out four of these babies this week alone. The good news is that after this week, reviewing one hour at a time will be cake. So strap in and behave yourselves or I’ll turn this review around.

We open on Fox News telling us about all the bombings that have been going on, which we all know from the endless promos we’ve been seeing for the past month. A sketchy looking dude – middle eastern, of course – is trying to catch his bus but the bus driver won’t let him on. This, of course, after stopping the bus to look him up and down for about 30 seconds and then pulling away heartlessly. Turns out the joke’s on you, racist bus driver! There’s already a terrorist on board! Maybe if you’re going to practice racial profiling, you shouldn’t just limit it to those who are late. Sometimes, terrorists are on time, bozo.

So the bus goes ka-blooey and we then move to Washington, DC, where, lo and behold! We see the Oval Office! Holy Moses, I never thought it would happen. And there’s John Cage from Ally McBeal fame arguing with our old friend Karen Hayes, who is now the National Security Advisor. Cage, whose name in this show is Tom, wants to set up “detention centers” for, well, all people who aren’t lily-white, I guess. Karen is argument is that might upset the law-abiding middle Eastern folks who reside legally in the United States. Tom’s argument is, basically, “oh well.”

We then see they’re arguing in front of President Wayne Palmer. I love television and the way that they can show us a world where things happen that might never happen in our lifetimes, like a black President. I mean, I’d have voted for David Palmer for sure but you just know that nobody in the South would. Oh well. In 24-land, Wayne is now President, which probably wasn’t too hard to win since he was likely running against Hal Gardner, Logan’s successor. I imagine it was like the Nixon/Ford years – the country lost trust in that party and in came the new guy. Plus, people loved Wayne’s brother so there you have it. Whether or not they know about Wayne’s breaking and entering back in Season Three is anyone’s guess.

Anyway, Wayne is clearly struggling with all of this, especially all the terrorist attacks on the U.S., which is pushing the death toll towards 1,000 civilians. We also learn that the terrorist alert level is at red for the first time since the formation of the Department of Homeland Security. I like Wayne in this role and I like that he’s clearly struggling with the morality of detaining people based on the color of their skin (for obvious reasons) while also weighing unending acts of terrorism in the U.S. To illustrate how frequent these attacks are getting, we see Karen, Tom and Wayne get the news of the bus that just blew up in L.A. and see that they’re not all that fazed by it. One thing Wayne isn’t afraid of is ordering the death of a known terrorist, Assad. I like that about him.

We get our first look at CTU Los Angeles and see that the floor layout hasn’t changed all that much, although there are probably a lot of employees not yet vested in their company-matching 401(k)s seeing as how many died last season. We learn that Chloe’s ex-husband Morris was kept on after helping out at the end of Day Five and that he’s just as boorish as he was last season. We also learn that Milo is back and, apparently, has some sort of management role. Good choice, CTU.

It also appears that Chloe and Morris are back together, or at least boffing again. The Fox summary says that Morris responds to Chloe “by grabbing her from behind.” I’d suggest they remove the “from” lest this turn into a porn blow-by-blow – er, description.

Since it’s the first hour, we’re meeting all sorts of people, including another newbie at CTU who also appears to have a management position (Assistant Special Agent in Charge, as it turns out), Nadia Yassir. Nadia is hot. This must be what has prompted Chloe to get a new hairstyle and to dress in a snappy black suit. Anyway, Nadia exposits for us that they have a lead on killing Assad and that they’re using Jack Bauer for bait. Chloe spits out that Jack is in a Chinese prison.
Okay, so let’s hold the phone a second here. How exactly does Chloe know that? I thought the Chinese were going to keep that secret so the U.S. didn’t interfere. Who else knows? Does Audrey know? Does Kim know? Evidently, Wayne Palmer knew, because he somehow negotiated the release of Jack… to use as trade bait for Assad. Apparently, there’s a member of Assad’s cell named Abu Fayed who is willing to give up Assad’s location in exchange for Jack. He’s very thorough and has all the CTU surveillance protocols and is tapped into their systems so that he knows he isn’t being set up. It turns out his brother is one of the many people Jack has tortured and killed over the years and Fayed wants to exact some revenge for “what happened in Beirut,” or so Buchanan eventually exposits.

Ah, yes, Buchanan. He and Curtis, who gets like two or three lines, are at the airfield to pick up Jack from the Chinese. We get to see Cheng Zhi again, who we learned in the prequel to Season Six is a much worse dude than we realized. I found myself thinking during the exchange as Jack stared down Zhi that this guy has been a character on 24 since April 2005, roughly. His story arc has been a long one. I think it’s safe to assume it’s over now.

However, I am indeed curious what Palmer traded for Jack. Zhi says the Prez paid a high price for him so it leads me to hope that Palmer gave the Chinese Charles Logan. However, Wayne knows what a weak man Logan is and that he probably would give up state secrets that Jack wouldn’t so that’s likely a no.

Buchanan looks sickened at Jack’s appearance and we see that Jack’s hands have been burned. They take Jack into a hangar and tell him the situation. It’s kind of a good news-bad news kind of thing. Buchanan gets right to it:

Good news, Wayne Palmer negotiated your release.

Bad news, you’re being sacrificed in the name of U.S. citizens.

Jack clearly is confused at first, especially at the phrase “President Palmer.” Yeah, Bill, way to not convince Jack he’s really lost it. Buchanan explains that Wayne is President and says, “I’m sorry Jack, how could you know?” He fails to fill Jack in on the Cardinals winning the World Series, however.

Anyway, Jack is allowed to freshen up after 20 months in a Chinese prison (how thoughtful, though it’s probably because Buchanan doesn’t want Smelly Jack in his car) and we see the many scars on Jack’s back from the torture. This guy definitely went through hell.

Chloe is up to her typical ways, bitch-snotting Nadia into telling her the deal with Jack. Chloe is upset but realizes that Palmer has approved it and there’s nothing she can do. We do see throughout this episode, though, how much she still cares about Jack. It’s still interesting to me how she knew he was in a Chinese prison. Maybe she reads the fan sites.

Jack is clean-shaven and looks pretty good for a guy who just got out of prison. Strangely, he’s wearing his new button-down shirt with the top button done like he was expecting one of Bill’s ties or something. Or maybe he’s hoping to be mistaken for a member of the clergy. Anyway, Bill and Curtis take him to the drop point for Fayed, at which point he’ll be “on his own.” Man, that sucks. Jack takes it all in stride, though, even giving us the impassioned speech we’ve heard many times in the promos (although I didn’t realize it was to Bill, who looks even sicker that he has to leave Jack handcuffed to a storm gate in a drainage basin), about how this gives him the chance “to die for something.” Fair enough. Bill and Curtis depart and head back to CTU where they’ve left the kids running things long enough.

At about this time we’re introduced to some Caucasian long-haired Angelinos, Jillian and Ray Wallace, who are worried about their son Scott going to school. During the hullabaloo, they see that their neighbor is being arrested by the FBI. So maybe Tom’s detention centers are already going into effect? Hard to say. It turns out, though, that the gentleman’s son, Ahmed (or Kumar, of Harold and Kumar fame), is the one who is actually working with Fayed in some way. We don’t see that at first but there’s got to be some reason we’re being introduced to this character so I think we all fully suspected it. Ray Wallace actually goes over to the house to defend Ahmed/Kumar from a racist, hillbilly neighbor (who may or may not have been part of the group who killed Yusuf in Season Two) who wants to beat him senseless. Which, as it turns out, is an accurate instinct but one we were to believe was not accurate at this point in the story.

Back at CTU, Morris pleases Chloe (not that way, pervs) by telling her that he has access to a non-government satellite and that they can look in on Jack with it without Sayed knowing. Well, what good does that do? So you can see him be killed? Because, you know, that’s probably what Sayed wants to do right away. Oh, but no, Sayed says to Jack that he’s been waiting for this for a long time and Jack is knocked over the coconut and thrown in a van. At this point, one of Sayed’s henchies calls him to tell him he’s being monitored by a non-government satellite. Heh, nice one, Morris. Sayed calls CTU and does the whole threaten thing while Nadia and Milo truthfully say that don’t know what he’s talking about. They, of course, do figure out that it’s the O’Brian Crime Fighting Duo who are fucking around with satellites and quite recklessly risking the operation. They shut down as Sayed asks but he toys with CTU by saying he might not tell them where Assad is. Way to go, O’Brian Crime Fighters.

Bill comes in and is ready to throw Chloe through the plate-glass wall. She offers herself up to be fired – and she really should be, for once – but Bill says he would if not for the fact that they need the manpower. What a lame – and tired – excuse for not firing people. Just shit-can them and replace them with people who do what they’re told. Jesus. Or Allah. Your call.
At Fayed’s underground hideout, he gives Jack a few punches and sits him in a chair hooked to a heart monitor. Fayed, in true Bond villain form, tells Jack that Assad isn’t here to carry out these attacks – he’s here to try to stop the network he has from doing them, and that it’s Fayed who is masterminding the attacks. And will continue to after Assad is dead. Ruh-roh!

Fayed acknowledged the Chinese didn’t leave him much to work with but gets right to the business of stabbing Jack in the nerve bundle located in front of Jack’s left shoulder. Jack actually doesn’t seem the mind the stabbing but he really doesn’t care for the liquid that is then poured into the wound. I’m not sure if it’s alcohol, acid or what. Regardless, Fayed’s reaction is marginally amusing as he says, “Better.”

We also see Fayed shank Jack in the back with what looks like a shish-ka-bob skewer. That has got to hurt a bit and Jack does react like he’s…well, been stabbed.

Fayed then decides to move on to cutting off Jack’s finger and for a minute it appears we’re going to see it happen until Fayed is… interrupted by a phone call. Fricking telemarketers. Get on the “Do Not Call” list, Fayed! Did you hear that they’re going to have our cell numbers soon, too??

Fayed takes the call which is just a freak-out session from Kumar/Ahmed, whose innocent father has been abducted by the FBI. All Fayed cares about is “the package,” which may or may not be a sack of White Castle burgers.

While Fayed is preoccupied with this call, Jack gets his heart monitor off and plays dead. The lone guard in the room rushes over to assess and Jack goes all Hannibal Lecter on him, taking a chunk out of the guard’s neck with his teeth. Blech.

Jack gets loose and opens a grate, which Fayed’s men assume was his escape route when in reality Jack is hiding in the grate under the torture area. Sure hope there’s another way out of that grate, Jack, and that they don’t leave someone behind to look for you.

And, basically, that’s the end of Hour One. CTU is planning to detonate the house that Assad is holed up in (in LA, fortuitously) and hope that it quells the terror attacks. Of course, we and Jack know that that’s a fruitless cause. What will happen? How will Jack get the word to CTU and will they believe him? I can’t believe I have to wait until the next episode to find out! Oh, wait, it’s on right after this one… sweet. This really is the “non-stop season” of 24!


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Unofficial 24 Page "Best Of" Clips #1 -- Chappelle's Death

Before I get into clip number 1, I thought I'd share this amusing red carpet interview with Carlos Bernard, who seems like a pretty funny guy. As you know if you read me, I firmly believe Tony is dead and is not coming back... but I do like how Bernard casts a shred of doubt on it. Hey, you never know, right?

As for the clip, yes, number 1 is the death of Ryan Chappelle. As previously stated, these clips are just one man's opinion. However, this clip is the one that got me to thinking about doing this list in the first place. I watch this clip several times a year, especially to get amped for upcoming seasons of 24. The scene never gets old for me, so let's just check it out.

First, Paul Shulze and Kiefer Sutherland act the hell out of this scene. I never made any secret of the fact that I loved the character of Chappelle and loved his recurring nature. He was a hard-ass beaurocrat who had gotten where he was by following the rules, but in the end he could be counted on to make the right decision (most of the time). He might have been a hard-ass and had a grudge at times against the LA field office, but he was a patriot at heart who wanted to do what was best for his country. If that meant following orders, all the better.

Jack and Ryan had developed something of a relationship over the years and they actually were working together well at this point. You'll recall that just before this scene, CTU had been duped into thinking they were about to locate Stephen Saunders and it was a terrific scene that Chappelle and Jack were listening in on via their chopper headsets. When Chase Edmunds radioed that the mission was a failure, you could see Chappelle's eyes close and him realize that he was, indeed, screwed.

This scene has too many outstanding moments to go over one-by-one, but I will make note of several.

It opens with Jack telling Chappelle "We have to go, Ryan." Go to your death, little man. Jack is soft and kind with his words -- as kind as he can possibly be. Chappelle is soaked in sweat and confides in Jack that his legs are shaking. A nice touch to the scene and a touch of true reality. I think all of me might be shaking.

Ryan looks embarrassed to admit that he's scared and Jack tells him he's got him and they make their way to the train yard. We then have the slightly -- darkly -- amusing part where Chappelle, when asked if he wants to call anyone, comments that he hasn't talked to his lone brother for years and how he doesn't have many friends. He sort of says this with a very faint smirk (or what I perceive as a rueful smirk), while (sadly) commenting that his only friends are "just the people at work." Who, really, don't like him at all.

What has always bugged me about this is that Chappelle always wore a wedding ring. So what about his wife? Children? His

Regardless, Jack then has nothing left to do but get down to the business of executing his co-worker. Now, this is some serious shit. Of course, I'm sure many reader have had co-workers they wouldn't hesitate to sacrifice to please a madman. Or their CEO. Or the mailman.

Anyway, Jack gets Ryan on his knees by saying, "I'm sorry Ryan, we gotta do this." After some back and forth about Ryan taking his own life and an impressive speech requesting to do it himself, Ryan chickens out. And so Jack takes the gun back and tells him it's okay. Even then he's trying to be sort of comforting.

The fear in Chappelle's face as he realizes throughout this scene what's coming to him is so palpable it still gives me chills every time I watch it. He's breathing heavy, there's a scared-beyond-scared look in his eyes, the eyes dart about, he seems lost in thought and perhaps trying to process this very organized murder that he's kind of complicit in -- of himself!

The end of Chappelle, as Jack trains his gun on Chappelle's bald spot and apologizes, is also gripping television. Jack apologizes for everyone at CTU, saying, "I'm sorry we let you down, Ryan." Chappelle's response is simply a short shaking of his head, perhaps as if to say, "No, you didn't let me down. This is the job." And then, BLAM, Chappelle is gone. The "mournful" train whistle, as it's been called, and the ever-famous silent clock bring this episode to an end and, man, do I still remember how I felt when watching that. No show makes me say "wow" more often.

So that's it. I can accept all sorts of arguments for other scenes that hsould have been in this countdown, but I definitely feel that this was the best scene in the run of 24 to this point. The acting, the stakes, the results. And in my opinion, this might be where Jack's sould completely switched over to the dark side. He's never been the same since this, nor should he be.

The premiere is in just two days so buckle in and let's get our minds set on Season Six.

Unofficial 24 Page "Best Of" Clips #2 -- Jack's Goodbye to Kim

Well, don't you just feel lucky? Two clips in one day. No? What's that, you say? I left you hanging on Wednesday? Yes, well, as is often the case, life sometimes interferes.

Anyway, we're down to the top two clips in the Unofficial 24 Page "Best Of" Clips countdown. This clip is number two and it's the scene in Season Two where Jack is flying the cessna out to the desert with a nuke on board... and he has to call Kim and tell her he isn't coming back from this mission. Take a watch.

Okay, so why did I choose this one? For a couple reasons. For one thing, this is an example of very good acting by Elisha Cuthbert. Not to bash Elisha because we love her around here, especially in her panties, but her acting has generally been so-so. I've not often said she was terrible but nothing she ever did was amazing to me. And the character of Kim was often doing such stupid things, it was hard to take anything seriously.

However, that said, this scene was simply amazing. From Kim's initial happniess at hearing her dad's voice and perhaps thinking everything was now going to be alright to her realization as Jack spells it out for her that he's not coming back. Her innocent, "How are you getting off the plane?" question and the resulting look from Jack -- like he feels sick to have to tell her the truth -- was priceless.

Then Kim begins what we all would do -- freak out. He gasping for air and crying while protesting and almost being angry at him all at the same time -- very well done. If you listen carefully, there's a "daddy" in there instead of her usual "dad." You really feel the father-daughter dynamic here. Then Kim goes into her "I'm so sorry" routine, which is just heartbreaking. I love how Jack almost laughs as he asks her what she could be sorry about. He then absolves her of her guilt and affirms how much he loves her. Just what you should be doing in this situation.

And then, what gets me every time... after Jack attempts to end the discussion and focus on his task at hand, Kim realizes this is the last time she'll be talking to him and manages to tell him, "I'm proud of you... and I love you." I mean, really, how awesome is that? And how awesome is Cuthbert's delivery of these lines? Just the perfect balance of sadness, pride and love. Very well done and I would dare say the best scene Kim Bauer's ever had on this show.

A few minutes later, George Mason pops out from under a blanket or something and takes over, letting Jack escape to safety and once again beat the odds. Of course, Mason may have actually hesitated after overhearing such a touching conversation and not knowing how to approach a crying Jack.

Anyway, that's my take on clip #2. Tomorrow we'll reveal what I believe to be the top scene in the history of 24. I'm curious as to other's opinions, as always, as well as guesses as to what I would place as #1.

Unofficial 24 Page "Best Of" Clips #3 -- Tony's Death

Well, I'm glad to see people are excited to see the choices. Basically, that's the reason I did this -- we're all so hungry for some 24 action and the jumpy-cam previews and promos don't tell us much... so here we are.

One thing I'd like to say at this point as we move into the top 3 on the Unofficial 24 Page "Best of" countdown... these are simply six scenes that I know I've loved during the run of 24. Will you all agree with them? Unquestionably, no, you will not. And that's totally okay. This is a show with so many great scenes each season that it'd truly be impossible to come up with a top 6 we all agreed upon. If you read me often, you know that almost every episode has a scene that I find to be a defining one and that I just go on and on about. I was just going to name off a bunch that come to mind as I write this but then that'll tip you off to which ones are not included in the top 3. So let's just get on with it. Number 3 on this list is the very sad -- and controversial -- death of Tony Almeida.

Now, let's get a few things out of the way. Number 1, yes, I was pissed off, too, when Tony was killed off. Many of us were irritated that he was brought back for Season Five and given little role and simply used as a plot device. Tony's death appeared to bring us nothing and was simply a cheap way to shock us by a show that, one might claim, is running out of ways to shock us.

But let's look at it a little more closely. What does Tony's death do? Well, nothing to Michelle since she's already dead. What it does to Jack, however, is break the man even more. Jack has few friends he can trust. He has no family left; even though we know Kim loves him, we see her herself say that she cannot be around him. His wife's dead, Walsh is dead, Kim doesn't want to see him, Nina was a lie, Mason is dead, he cut off Chase's hand... the list goes on and on. Who does he truly have as a friend and trustworthy ally anymore? Chloe, probably, and maybe Bill or Curtis? But are either of those two men the friend and ally that Tony was? Jack and Tony went through so much together, from mistrust in Season One to complete trust at the end of One and beginning of Two... to a showdown in the hallway where Jack took Tony down in order to get out of CTU... to Tony saving Jack and Audrey's lives.

Jack had a role in bringing Tony back from the edge in Season Four. And might that not have actually given Jack a good feeling for the first time in many, many years? That he might have actually improved someone's life instead of ruining it? Yes, I think it might have. And I think that he was touched that they helped him stage his own death for his safety and you just know that Jack knew that Tony and Michelle were out of harm's way and doing their own private work.

He also knew that Tony had survived the gas being released in CTU, he'd survived a man coming to kill him in the clinic... he'd survived Mandy last season and he'd survived dealing with Nina many times over the years. And now, at the hands of Christopher Henderson, Tony was dying.

What gets me most about this scene are two things: one, Tony's clear acceptance that it's time to die. He realizes pretty quickly that he's been bested by Henderson and that he's off his game -- and who wouldn't be after what he's been through at this point? And when Jack comes to him and pleads with Tony to hang on, Tony's last, weak words are just so.... sad. "She's gone, Jack."

I mean, if that doesn't cut through you and explain what love really is, then I'm not sure what would. And the second thing about this ending is Jack's panicked reaction. Not since his wife died have we seen Jack so unhinged and upset about a death. He holds Tony close and cradles his head, clearly feeling helpless. And when Tony is really gone, Jack's face contorts into crying I don't think we've seen before. I wax poetic about the acting on this show all the time but, man, this was good stuff.

So there you go... "best of" #3.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Unofficial 24 Page "Best Of" Clips #4 -- Nina's Death

Howdy. Back today, despite Blogger's attempts to foil me, with #4 in our rudimentary and clearly-not-completely-inclusive list of some of the best moments of the first five seasons of 24. Today's clip is that of Nina Myers' last appearance on 24. Watch and enjoy.

I will always find it interesting that the weird dynamic existed between Nina and Kim, where they knew each other well enough to go by first names (rather than "bitch," I suppose) even when they were ready to kill one another. I remember when watching this scene how you just knew it would be Kim who came upon Nina first and had the chance to avenge her mother's death. I know that I was secretly hoping Kim would be the one to finish off Nina and truly satisfying revenge kill. Of course, we all know that Kim screws up absolutely everything so it wasn't to be.

On the subject of Kim, though, this was her best season as far as being a useful character, I think. She was competent at her job, didn't look like a skank (not that I didn't secretly enjoy the Kim wardrobes in Seasons One and Two) and at least tried to remain level-headed. In this scene in particular, Kim manages to track down Nina and carefully give her the cease and desist command. Nina does not immediately comply and Kim gives the "Dammit" line very much like her father would... of course, thankfully, Jack walks in and shows no where near the same level of hesitation insofar as shooting Nina.

Then it turns a little dark. Jack shoos Kim away, and you have to wonder if Kim knew what was about to happen. I think she did. I also found it almost creepy the way that Nina looked at Jack as she lay there on the floor. There's a obvious fear in her face, something we saw her exhibit with nobody other than Jack. Excellent acting.

And, of course, Jack refusing to even consider letting her live. He lost his wife to her and in this scene almost lost his daughter to her. Not to mention his own life nearly a couple of times. And so it is kind of chilling -- and awesome -- when Jack dismisses her plea that she does indeed have more information that can help CTU... and then plugs her three times (and not in the way he'd "plugged" her in the past). It did look like he was conflicted about what was the right thing to do and then when he saw her going for her gun, faintly, he saw his opportunity and took it.

Buh-bye, Nina. She was always one of my favorites.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Unofficial 24 Page "Best Of" Clips #5 -- Logan's Undoing

Today's clip in the countdown of awesome 24 scenes is that of President Logan's undoing at the hands of the oh-so-crafty folks at CTU.

Before we get to that, though, I wanted to alert those of you who aren't out on YouTube that often to the fact that there are four quick scenes from the upcoming Season Six premiere posted there. They're all 30 seconds to a minute but it's cool to see something new. So here they are:

1) Miles is back! And he's a manager!

2) Apparently, CTU is being run by the youngest agents they could find. Where the hell is Bill?

3) Oh, there's Bill, picking up Jack at the airport (interestingly, no "Bauer" sign in his hands) and looking agahst at how poor Jack looks (and, presumably, smells).

4) I never cared for Karen Hayes, as many of you know. However, this clip gives us a look at the oval office set that we finally get to see in Season Six. 'Bout time.

Okay, now, moving on to the business I promised you -- the clip of Logan being brought down. First, the clip; then, my rambles.

Logan has just shook some sense into that crazy wife of his and they're calmly walking over to the stage where he will more or less eulogize David Palmer, the man whose death he inadvertantly allowed. At least, that's the way it happened once the writing staff decided that around the 15th hour of the day.

I kind of wished Logan had documented a little more of the history that we saw of President Palmer but despite that, Logan again showed us that for all his faults, he was a hell of a public speaker. He delivers his lines well, he's polished and he appears intelligent. It's interesting to me that Itzin played it this way because it's a true testament to good acting -- to show with multiple layers how obsessed this character was with his public image. So obsessed, in fact, that he was willing to risk many deaths to look like the hero and, in his twisted mind, make America a better place.

One of our readers, Pheon, pointed out that the music underneath this scene is David Palmer's "theme" from Season One. While I am having trouble recognizing it as such, I will say that it's unique and I'm not familiar with it so it stands to reason that it's from way back in Season One.

Getting back to the scene, this was the episode sent in for the Emmy evaluations and it was a good choice. I do like Logan saying "A poet once said, 'No man is an island.'" I guess his staff didn't have time to Google that phrase to learn it comes from John Donne. Heh.

What I loved about this scene is hard to list but it includes:

  • The interspersed speech by Logan with the damning evidence against him, while just minutes earlier we were thinking that he was about to get away with it. I don't know about you, but I definitely thought it was a possibility.
  • The pure disgusting nature of Logan speaking about David Palmer, his "friend," despite having responsibility for his death.
  • The Federal Marshal getting a call from the Attorney General and springing into action.
  • The way the Secret Service continues to respect the office of the President, even calling him "sir" and "Mr. President" and not cuffing him. Obviously, this also has to do with public perception.
  • The line, "Not anymore."
  • Mike Novick's smug look as he stands behind Martha for rather ample cover.

As was documented on this site, we definitely loved Season Five and this scene towards the very end was a terrific way to send out Logan and served as a nice tribute to the amazing work Greg Itzin did on the show. Reports seem to indicate he'll have a role of sorts this season but it's hard to imagine how he could re-enter the scene. Let's just hope he's not the replacement for Sherry Palmer -- that is, non-trustworthy creep who constantly weasels back into the fray.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Unofficial 24 Page "Best Of" Clips #6 -- Teri's Death

Okay, so it's the start of the new year and most sites are lazily posting things about the "year in review" or "best of '06" or things like that. Here at the Unofficial 24 Page, we strive to do as little writing as possible until the show is back on since, you know, there will be a lot of episodes to dissect between January 14 and May.

However, I know how you/we are all jonesing for some 24 goodness and so over the next two weeks leading up to Season Six, I'll be posting some of what I consider to be the best clips in series history. I don't typically like lists and countdowns because they're just so arbitrary by nature... but I think this'll be fun so we'll start at number 6 and move downward. Why six? Why not?

Wow. I just remember saying "wow" over and over again as those seconds silently clicked away to 12 midnight and Season One came to an end. As you may or may not know, this was actually filmed as the "alternate" ending to Season One, with the intended, as-scripted, ending being Jack finding Teri tied up but alive.

However, the producers decided to do something dramatic and that decision was what really began to make 24 the show that it is. We began to expect drastic results and we came to expect to be surprised by what we were seeing onscreen. This is not easy to do on a television show as so much is predictable and as a writer, you sometimes aren't sure where to cross lines and where not to. Sure, it's easy to kill off fictional characters in theory, but writers become attached to characters just like fans/viewers do and when we lose them, it sometimes feels as upsetting as a "real" death. Sure, in the end, it's just television and your life goes on. But if you've been a die-hard of this show from the beginning, seeing Tony dead had to rattle you. Just like seeing Teri dead -- and knowing she was pregnant. That's something that also added to the tragic nature of the Season One finish. Not only had Jack lost his wife but he'd also lost his future child while nearly losing Kim. In the end, he lost Kim anyway as she has been more or less estranged from him since this time (aside from her time at CTU).

How different a life might Jack Bauer have if his wife hadn't been murdered? It's an enticing topic since we actually sort of got a glimpse of the man trying to put his home life back together at the start of Season One. Could he have continued to have a semi-normal home life? Probably for a while. But as this show has demonstrated over and over, having a job like Jack's does not let one have much of a semblence of a "normal" life.

Also notable in this clip is the use of flashbacks. It's the only time in the entire series that we see anything not in real time -- granted, it's split-screened and we're to assume that these are some of the thoughts running through Jack's head. However, as I said, it's the only time we see a flashback or anything out of sequence.

In addition, this is the first appearance of the famed "silent clock," that which everyone goes berserk over with regard to its use and who "deserves" one. It's a dramatic device and its use has been sparing over the life of the series and I love how it's done. It's rare and because it's rare and isn't "given" to every character who dies, it still holds the impact of that first time back in May 2002.

Back later this week with Number 5 in the Unofficial Countdown.