I’ve heard of dysfunctional families, but when it comes to the Bauers on 24, they seem to really take the cake. First mom was killed by dad’s ex-mistress (who turned out to be an international spy/assassin/general evil-doer). Then daughter ran off with dad’s partner, only to dump him for her psychologist. Now comes word that Jack’s dad might be gay or might be a playboy or might be any number of things, and let’s not even get started on the brother. Yes, it’s time we deployed Dr. Phil because quite honestly, if this family doesn’t get it together, the world might end. Literally.This week’s episode began as all 24 episodes begin: with a lengthy recap of what’s happened already in this terrible, terrible day. Basically, some serious shit went down. And I’m not just talking about some silly inconvenience like a few canisters of nerve gas going missing or an unfortunate presidential assassination. I’m talking about hardcore nuclear bombs going off. That’s right, in case you missed it, a dreaded mushroom cloud dethroned Six Flags Magic Mountain as the reigning tourist attraction in Valencia, CA as a nuclear device obliterated the suburban community. Oddly enough, the city probably looks better now than it did before the bombing, but that’s neither here nor there.
Anyway, while I mourned the loss of the Valencia Red Lobster (R.I.P., cheesy rolls), the rest of country stood in shock as they watched the mushroom cloud float on to the heavens. A solemn news reporter noted that this was the worst attack ever on American soil, clearly overlooking the incident two years ago when terrorists caused a nuclear meltdown (R.I.P., Edgar’s mom) and that time when an atomic bomb destroyed some of the rural California/Nevada desert (R.I.P. Mason). Nevertheless, this was all pretty bad, and already, estimates were coming in that 12,000 people had perished in the blast. If this all sounded incredibly bleak to you, fear not. There was one glimmer of hope: if memory serves me correctly, last I heard, our old friend Chase was working at a security firm up in Valencia. So chances are he’s dead now. That’s what I call progress.
Well, atomic bombs can only mean one thing: time to dig out the generic Presidential bunker set. Yes, just when it seemed like our President might be privileged enough to work out of the Oval Office for a season (instead of a rural retreat, a hotel room, or an airplane), some forgettable White House aid informed Lil’ Wayne that it was time to go downstairs to the bunker, or as I like to call it, “The More Serious Looking Set.” However, just because the Prez and his posse were heading underground didn’t mean that he was disappearing from the public eye. Quite the contrary. Wayne told some woman that he wanted to address the public within the hour, which was nice and all, but I had a feeling he’d probably just yap on about the nuclear bomb when clearly, the more pressing issue is how he got into office in the first place. Some explanation would be most welcomed.
Anyway, the producers cued up the pounding “Walking To The Bunker Very Seriouosly” music, and soon we were at the aforementioned bunker, which was a) a carbon copy of the season two bunker in Los Angels, and b) certainly lacked the feminine touch of Laura Bush. C’mon, now. Just because the country was in danger didn’t mean there had to be a moratorium on floral arrangements. Someone liven this place up a little.
Well, the administration may have been firmly locked away underground, but that didn’t mean Karen Hayes couldn’t still pick up a solid cell phone signal. She called up her hubby Bill and asked, “Are you alright?” Of course, in my mind, she then ended that sentence with “Sweetie pie?” The two lovebirds promised that they’d keep each other in the loop, and Bill announced that Asad was coming in to CTU for an interrogation. Meanwhile, over by the computers, Chloe was talking to her own lovebird — the improbable Morris. Chloe was in shock over Curtis and wanted to know, “Why do people I know keep dying?” Poor Chloe. Death just seems to follow her. Maybe she should change professions. I know — she could work at a nursing home! Oh wait…
To make her feel better, Morris leaned in and told Chloe, “You know I’m here for you, right?” Yes. Unfortunately. Memo to producers: next time you decide to kill someone awesome (Curtis, Edgar, Tony), please consider a douchebag instead (Morris, Milo, Kim’s psychiatrist boyfriend).
Meanwhile, out on the streets of Los Angeles, pandemonium reigned supreme. Everyone was running all over the place as if PS3s and Wiis were falling from the sky. Of course, it wouldn’t be a depiction of society gone terribly wrong without the obligatory Plight Of The Children moment, and in this case, we saw some random girl darting across the street for no apparent reason, only to stop in her tracks when an ominous van bore down on her. Bitch, I know you might be scared, but use a damn crosswalk!
It just so happened that inside that van was none other than Fayed, who was curiously outrunning the nuclear fallout by traveling through residential streets, as opposed to the more logical highway option. I mean, I know traffic in LA is bad, but it’s not that bad. Anyway, when Fayed was done giving the dumb girl the evil eye (which really is quite evil when it comes from a terrorist), he got on the phone with a man named McCarthy. And guess what? He was a white dude with a British accent. SHOCKER! Who would have ever thought that the man behind the terrorist was white AND had an accent? A 24 first!
Anyway, McCarthy was the guy who had sold Fayed the bombs in the first place, and even though he was headed off to Vegas for some non-nuclear fallout related activity, Fayed needed his help. You see, the terrorists had three more of these nuclear weapons, but they had no triggers and no engineers. They needed McCarthy to find someone — anyone — who could replicate the trigger with modern equipment. Who could it be? Someone from CTU? Morris? Milo? Choe? BEHROOOZ?? (Speaking of whom, if the producers don’t find a way to work Behrooz into this season, I will be livid).
Elsewhere in Los Angeles, Jack Bauer was standing around in his Periwinkle Shirt of Post-Chinese Torture Disillusionment. Yes, after having slain Curtis, Jack had once again lost his badass mojo, and now he was in an existential funk, wandering around, staring at mushroom clouds, and probably wondering if his Tivo was still recording American Idol since he’d been abducted. Luckily, he was snapped out of his fog when a crazy looking man ran up to him and yelled, “Somebody help!” Turns out this guy was in a helicopter that had been downed in the wake of the nuclear bomb generated EMP. The chopper was now teetering on the roof of some building, and someone inside was still alive but unconscious and stuck. Sounded like a job for Lassie, not Jack, but since he didn’t have anything better to do (you know, like finding terrorists), Jack decided to hop up on the roof and lend a helping, heavily scarred hand. Amusingly, the guy had no idea why his helicopter had been felled, and when Jack said it was because of a nuclear bomb going off, the man’s jaw dropped in disbelief. Did he not see the huge mushroom cloud in the distance? And did he think everyone in the neighborhood was running around like crazy because The Colts won? Idiot.
Anyway, with some elbow grease and a little help from an antenna, Jack managed to pry open the helicopter door and pull out the passenger — and just in time too! Mere seconds after the person was dragged to safety, the helicopter fell off the building and exploded in a massive fireball. First Valencia, now Skyfox 5000 and the KTTV traffic team! Will Los Angeles ever recover??
“Sir, this is an illegal parking spot.”
Amusingly, the guy who was hitherto unconscious suddenly came to life and then expressed a firm, yet ill-advised desire to go to Valencia. That’s where his family is from, he explained. Uh, was from. Nevertheless, Jack then called up CTU (or maybe CTU called Jack, I don’t really remember) and said that he wanted back in. Wait, he was out? How did I not realize this? Nevertheless, nothing like a good ol’ helicopter rescue to get the blood pumpin’ again. Jack was back and ready to kick some terrorist ass (and/or save other imperiled helicopter passengers).
Back in Washington, President Palmer 2.0 was ready to do his own ass-kicking, via an orderly meeting with as many high level officials as possibles. The general consensus was that Fayed had to be state funded to pull this attack off, but that only left the group wondering who could be behind such dastardly deeds? Well, it didn’t really matter for one hawkish army admiral who advocated the systematic nuking of various Islamic countries. This idea caused Wayne’s inner Palmer Morality Meter to bleep out of control, and when he tried to go for a more rational solution, the admiral would not hear it. He continued to push for carpet nuking until weaselly Thomas Lennox barked back, “The President is talking, Admiral! DO NOT INTERRUPT!” Yes, only he can interrupt. No one else. And with that, Thomas promptly returned his nose to Wayne’s ass where it’s been happily residing all season.
As for Wayne, he was still feeling guilty about negotiating with Fayed earlier in the day. Let’s not forget that by assenting to putting the “Freedom Fighters” on that plane, Wayne had essentially allowed that evil engineer to return to civilization and set off the nuclear bomb. Yes, it was gonna be a long day for the President, and it wasn’t about to get much better. Karen Hayes then announced the worst case scenario for the crisis: Fayed was still alive and in possession of the remaining bombs. Why do these officials even bother calling it a “worst case scenario”? They’re implying that there’s ever a “best case scenario,” which there most certainly isn’t. It’s not like we’ve ever had a season of 24 when the terrorist has opened a metal briefcase to reveal not an atomic bomb but several teddy bears and a dancing Coke can. It just doesn’t happen.
Meanwhile, over at CTU, everyone’s favorite terrorist, Hamri Al-Assad, had arrived but was greeted by an icy cold reception from Bill Buchanan. Assad announced that he was not the enemy — he just wanted peace — but when he extended his hand, Bill just let it hang there, refusing to touch the man who had killed so many innocents. Awwwkward. C’mon, bro! Don’t leave him hangin’! It’s Assad! You’re old buddy! Give him some skin!
“C’mon Bill. Don’t act like you didn’t root for me in Syriana…”
Anyway, Bill and Nadia questioned Assad about Fayed and the bombs and whatnot. The best he could offer up was the name of a Russian General who had provided Fayed with his weapons. His name was Dmitri Gredenko (or something like that), and after the commercial break, Morris assembled a list of all the people this guy had been in contact with for the last few months. And wouldn’t you know it? There was a name that popped out on the list. Who was it? President Logan? Walid Al-Rezani? NINA? Worse. It was Jack’s dad. Dunh dunh dunh!!!
Well, CTU called up Jack and informed him that his paterfamilias might be mixed up in this whole mess, thus beckoning eerie (or perhaps lazy) echoes of last year’s Christopher Henderson storyline. A father figure betraying Jack? Now I’ve heard it all!
Meanwhile, at the public school cum Islamic detainee center, the FBI decided they wanted Walid to perform a sting operation on those shady terrorists by the jungle gym. Of course, Sandra Palmer was not happy about this as she justifiably wanted to know why a trained agent wasn’t being used instead. The FBI guy claimed it was because Walid had already established a level of trust with these guys, which was amusing because Walid had been detained for a total of about ninety minutes so far. It’s not like he’d been underground for six months. Just throw another patsy in there, beat him up a little, and let the moths gravitate to his flame.
Nevertheless, in an effort to further convince the playground terrorists that Walid was one of them, the FBI suddenly stormed the yard, grabbed Walid, and hurled him in the bathroom where they simultaneously yelled at him and wired him at the same time, occasionally pausing to deliver a swift punch. Sandra was left with nothing to do but shriek with feisty determination, clearly unable to harness that Palmer Cool that her brothers pull off so well.
Back on the open road, Jack called up his dad’s house where some honey-voiced, effeminate man named Sam answered. Wait, was I inferring correctly? Was Jack’s dad gay? This could explain a lot. Anyway, Jack talked to Sam in guarded tones — the kind you use when you find out your dad is gay and dating a guy named Sam — and soon we learned that Jack also had a brother. Holy moly. It’s family day for the Bauers. Who will we learn of next? Jack’s aunt Celeste in Pomona? Or his second cousin Morris, who just bought a house down in Sarasota but is spending the summer in Israel on a kibbutz?
“Jack, if Jennifer Hudson doesn’t win the Oscar, I’m going to hole myself up in my room and listen to Judy Garland all night.”
Well, Sam told Jack that Dad had left suddenly last night, and after the call, we found an ominous man named Liddy monitoring Sam’s every move. Turns out he was one of these nefarious evil-doers that has eyes and ears everywhere, and he immediately called up his boss, Grey, who many may remember was the bespectacled baddie behind last season’s evil plot. It was nice to see Grey back (btw, no word on if it’s Gray or Grey, but since Grey sounds more evil, I’ll go with it), but the real bombshell was that Grey… WAS JACK’S BROTHER!!! Dunh dunh DUNH!
Oh, and Jack’s brother wanted Jack DEAD! Dunh dunh DUNH!!!! To think, this probably all stems over some fight in the young Bauer sandbox.
Wes from Real World in twenty years?
After the break, Jack called up his loving Cain of a brother and asked where pops was. Gray — or Graham as he’s formally known — claimed he had no idea but surmised he was hanging out with a bunch of hot girlfriends as usual. Poor Gray. Still thinks Sam is just “a special friend.” Little does he realize that when Dad says he’s hanging with his girlfriends, it means he’s catching his fourteenth matinee viewing of Dreamgirls.
When this icy call came to an end, Jack rang up Chloe and asked for his brother’s home address. But why didn’t you just ask him yourself, she asked. Duh! That’s not how you ambush someone, idiot! Poor Chloe. Her brain’s been eroded by the twin morons of Morris and Milo.
Anyway, we suddenly saw a regal Rena Sofer staring at a TV. Turns out her name was Marilyn, and she was none other than Grey’s cold, repressed, and probably evil wife. From what we could gather, she and Jack had once done the nasty, and by the time Marilyn and Grey had exchanged vows, he was convinced that she was still in love with Jack. Oh, if only she had sported a tight-cropped, lesbianish hairstyle. Then she could have won Jack’s heart.
As it stood, Marilyn got stuck with the runt of the litter in Grey, who barked at her about Jack. He alerted her that Jack was back from China, and her response of “That’s impossible” had me wondering if maybe she had some hand in Jack’s two year all-expense paid torture vacation. Nevertheless, Grey harped on Marilyn’s possible romantic feelings for Jack, but she effectively cut him down by seething, “Insecurity in a grown man is not attractive!” But apparently baldness and short stature are quite fetching. Grey, you dawg!
Back at the presidential bunker, Wayne was busy hammering out his speech. As usual, he was at a loss for what to say, but Thomas Lennox had a wonderful idea — how about he use these bombings as an excuse to round up all the Muslims and put them in detainee camps! No one would mind, really. After all, with a nuke going off on American soil, citizens would be more than happy to attack a scapegoat, maybe even do some casual lynchings. Karen Hayes reacted with her typically aghast face (the one that seems to say, “TOM! My heavens! That is unacceptable!!!”), and Wayne insisted that he didn’t want to talk about policy and whatnot. “I would like this message to have a calming effect,” he pleaded. Yes, he wanted to be the Calgon of presidents. Wayne Palmer, take me away!
Hey, remember that guy McCarthy? The British dude who sold the bombs to Fayed? Well, he was now driving frantically through the streets of Los Angeles, but he managed to pull over and pick up a feisty, blond hooker type, who immediately insisted that she wasn’t a hooker. Actually, she was some sort of friend of McCarthy, and she was all boned up to go to Vegas; however, McCarthy had other plans. He was going to make a detour first (ie. get killed) in an effort to provide Fayed with a new engineer within the hour. But who could it be? And how would this new woman screw everything up? And in what delightful way would both of these people die? The answers, sadly, would not come this episode.
Back at CTU, Bill came to realize that Assad might just be a stand up guy after all (ignoring all the innocent deaths he’d caused over the years). He informed the leader that he was being sent off to DC in a plane (ie. dying in a plane crash), and then in a call-back to his earlier snub, Bill extended his hand in gratitude. Awww… Best friends forever! Assad’s so invited to Bill and Karen’s next dinner party in Georgetown.
“Put ‘er here, old friend.”
Over at the detainee camp, the one Muslim dude who loved Walid was trying to convince his buddies that they had a comrade in their ranks, but of course, some stubborn guy named Heydar didn’t trust the situation at all. His heydar was totally going off, if you will. Meanwhile, Sandra continued to fret about the whole situation, finally causing the ranking FBI agent to seethe, “The only reason you’re here is because you’re the President’s sister.”
“And you remember that, and we’ll be fine!” Sandra retorted. MMMMM HHMMMM, SISTA!!!! Let those 227 roots shine, Regina King! I’ll just say it right now: Mary Jenkins would never put up with this FBI agent. She’d be giving him a whole mouthload of sass, which would only be exacerbated by Pearl who would undoubtedly appear on the scene swinging one mean broom.
Go get ‘em, Pearl!
Anyway, going against the better judgment of Heydar, the eager Muslim dude approached Walid and tried to find out why the Feds had been so brutal to him in the bathroom. Truthfully, I couldn’t tell if he was extracting information or merely hitting on Walid. Nevertheless, Walid did as he was told by the Feds and said he was supposed to meet with a man named Fayed. His new friend suddenly clammed up, saying he had no idea who that was, but then invited Walid to join his circle of friends. Perhaps a jovial game of hopscotch would soon follow!
Elsewhere in Los Angeles, Jack had managed to defy the laws of physics yet again by getting from Granada Hills to Malibu in about fifteen minutes time (in reality, that would take forty minutes at least, and that’s without post-nuclear bomb traffic). Anyway, Jack showed up at the door of his brother’s house, which caused an awkward moment for all involved. Grey suddenly remembered that the normal thing to do was to give his bro a hug — mind the torture wounds! — and then engage in meaningless small talk that didn’t involve around fratricidal ambitions.
“When was the last time we saw each other?” Grey asked.
“When Teri died,” Jack replied coldly. This was almost as uncomfortable as a Bill Buchanan handshake denial. I take it Thanksgiving will not be in Malibu this year.
Suddenly, Grey’s teenage son Josh entered the room, and immediately Jack gave him that “You’re my secret love child” look. I mean, c’mon now. Josh was taller than Grey, and he was blond. If that doesn’t qualify him for Kim’s half-brother status, I don’t know what does. Nevertheless, Jack played it cool and shook Josh’s hand, which I’m sure was delightful for Josh, given that he could touch his uncle’s nasty torture-scarred hand.
Just when the temperature in the room couldn’t drop any lower, in walked Marilyn on a staircase balcony, icily gazing down at the two brothers. She gave him a death stare, one that seemed to say, “Why hello, former illicit lover and father of my son.”
“Don’t mind me and my abnormally large nipple erection.”
Jack informed Marilyn that he’d be gone as soon as possible, probably causing her to let out a small “Dammit.” Nevertheless, the two men retired to Grey’s study where Jack asked again where dad was. And again, Grey said he knew nothing and then tried to change the conversation with all sorts of meaningless small talk. At one point, he told Jack to “Just relax a little,” and of course, this elicited the patented Bauer response: a swift punch in the face. YES! Jack then locked the doors to the room and pulled the power cord out of a lamp. YES YES YES!!! Lamp torture returns!!
Alas, Jack merely used the wires to tie Grey up in a chair — you know, for a smoother interrogation and torture experience. We then saw the scene that FOX had been showing for months: Grey saying that Jack was hurting him, and Jack sneering that he hadn’t even begun. Do it, Jack! Torture away!
We then cut back to the Presidential bunker (yawn) where Wayne was getting ready for his big speech. You’d think they’d have a hair or makeup person in there that could pat down his shiny dome, but I guess now wasn’t a time for vanity. President Palmer got in front of the cameras — shiny bald head and all — and said, “My fellow Americans. There is no easy way to say the words, ‘America’s been hit by a nuclear weapon.’” Actually, there is and you just said it. Nevertheless, Wayne drawled on in a totally unconvincing way. I like D.B. Woodside and all, but his presidential reign is entirely unbelievable.
As the show drew to a close, we returned to Malibu where Jack once again pressed Grey for answers, but the squirrelly brother continued to deny any knowledge of anything. He even swore on his family’s life. “NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!” Jack yelled, clearly knowing that Grey’s family was in fact Jack’s family. And with that, Jack busted out a plastic bag and wrapped it around Grey’s face. An oldie but goodie. Who needs fancy scalpels and knives when a simple bag from Stop & Shop will do just fine?
What did you think about this episode? What about the new twists?