Once again, last night’s episode of 24 was entertaining and somewhat exciting, but it also served as a sad reminder of how amazingly tight last season was. Yes, I’m a die-hard 24 fan, and I will never give up on this series, which even at its worst is still loads of fun. But this sixth awful day is feeling more and more like that dark spot on the 24 franchise: season three — with its wildly divergent storylines, questionable premises, and annoying inability to build on the previous season’s cliffhanger. Nevertheless, I’m not hating. I’m just… readjusting expectations. And it’s not like we didn’t have lots of amusing stuff to keep us occupied last night. There were Karen Hayes and Tom Lennox barking up an Emmy-worthy storm at each other. There was Milo triumphantly climbing upon a soapbox to defend civil liberties. And there was Jack, continuing to wonder which was better — China or his family. Oh, and did I mention Chad Lowe?This week’s episode began with a little spelling lesson for us. Jack’s brother, alternately called Graham or Grey, is actually named “Graem.” Seemed kind of like a strange name, but maybe that’s why he’s so damn angry. I’ve been trying to figure out why the producers would choose such a bizarre spelling for the name, and the best I can come up with is that “Graem” is actually an anagram for “gamer,” which is sort of what Graem is. Oh, never mind. It makes no sense. Moving on…
Anyway, one of the first things we saw were the assembled workerbees of CTU standing around, watching President Palmer 2.0 address the country in his typically unconvincing manner. No matter how many times we see Americans riveted to Wayne’s speech, I’ll never believe him as the President. First of all, he’s entirely too in shape. Second of all, he looks perpetually scared — and not in a “I’m scared because a nuclear bomb just went off” kind of way. No, he looks scared of his own shadow — not a very presidential quality. Truth is that the writers have never gotten a handle on Wayne. In season three, he was kind of shifty and impulsive, getting himself tangled up in that ludicrous subplot with Julie Milliken that resulted in the death of Sherry Palmer (sorely missed). In season four, well, I don’t think he was in season four. But in season five, he suddenly was a badass, shooting off machine guns and picking off bad guys one by one. Now he’s the second coming of David, and I just don’t believe it.
Nevertheless, while Wayne gave his big speech, Tom and Karen got into a whole brouhaha over civil liberties. It was the same old story again. Tom didn’t want the temporary security measures (ie. detention camps, racial profiling, lynch mobs) to be temporary. According to him, they were going to be a new way of life. “Now you’re making policy unilaterally,” Karen charged bitterly. Oooh! Nice unilateral policy zinger!
Well, the two began bickering, and Tom said something about how when the constitution was drafted, people used muskets that took half a minute to load and fire whereas Fayed had just destroyed several thousand people in a second without even aiming. I think he was trying to comment on how the nature of warfare has changed over the years, but it was kind of a labored point. AND HE CALLS HIMSELF A VILLAIN!
Anyway, Karen and Tom became so heated that for a moment, I thought they might actually kiss, but then I remembered that this was 24, not Broadway. Besides, we all know what happens to jerks who sass Karen Hayes: the ol’ bitch slap. I’m sure Miles is still smarting from that one.
Ultimately, this Karen-frontation climaxed with her seething, “If you think you are going to wear me down, you are sadly mistaken!” Consider that a verbal bitch slap, Tom.
Ah, but Tom had a reply. He lifted his fist up Ralph Kramden style and said, “Actually, you are wearing me down.” He then added, “One of these days Karen… POW, right in the kisser!”
To the moon!
Anyway, Tom headed out to the hallway and met up with his evil sidekick, played by none other than an uncomfortable looking Chad Lowe. Tom commanded this NewMiles to get rid of Karen. She was no longer an irritant. She was an obstacle. Technically, she could be both. Tom should really brush up on his irritant/obstacle observations.
Over at CTU, Nadia had suddenly become the victim of racial profiling. Because of the new security measures that Tom had put in place, she could no longer do anything on her computer without going through a background check, a credit check, a driver’s test, a sobriety test, the SATs, the PSATs, and the latest quiz in the back of Cosmo. She complained to fluffy-haired Bill, but he said there was nothing he could do. I mean, it’s not like he’s banging a sexy broad in the President’s administration or anything. Sorry, Nadia. Just play Tetris or something.
Meanwhile, over at Torture Central, a.k.a. Graem’s study, Jack was still pressing his brother about the whereabouts of their father. Graem again played stupid, but when Jack promised more happy fun times with Mr. Plastic Bag, Graem relented. He informed Jack that dad was off to see McCarthy, the British jerk who sold Fayed the bombs in the first place. Apparently, Graem and Dad worked together at the same company, and this company was in charge of decommissioning nukes from the Russia. However, Graem hired McCarthy to oversee the project, and as we all know, McCarthy hasn’t turned out to be the most trustworthy of employees. Jack immediately scolded Graem for hiring the lowest bidder for the job, but Graem defended himself by saying, “My head was into other things at the time!” He then added, “You know, like arranging an international Sentox crisis and sending you to China. Oh, wait, did I say that out loud?”
Anyway, the reason why Graem didn’t report any of these shenanigans with McCarthy was because he thought he and his father could stop the bombs themselves. After all, no one could supposedly detonate them without the trigger (oops!). Well, this meant one thing: time to find Dad and his crack security team. Ladies and gents, we’re going to Simi Valley! And Graem’s coming too!
“GET UP!” Jack barked lovingly at his brother, surely reenacting many childhood picnics and romps around the maypole. The two shuffled out of the study, and in the foyer they came across Marilyn, who stared at the two with angry confusion. Jack, of course, couldn’t even look at Marilyn (guilty conscience! He knocked her up!), but eventually, as the two men left the house, Jack gazed back at her, as if to say “I always loved you more than Teri. I’m so sorry. Nice blouse, by the way.”
Nevertheless, Jack called up CTU to alert them of his plans, causing Graem to complain, “So that’s it, Jack? You’re just going to sell out dad and me?” Unlike Graem who only sold out Jack about fifteen different times last season. All I gotta say is that this storyline better end with some sort of resurrection of the Logan family.
Later on, we found Jack and Graem on the road, and again, Graem was still kvetching about how CT was going to come after his family. Jack told his brother to “trust me,” but he did not go so far as to promise “You have my word.” Nevertheless, it was clear that Graem didn’t trust his brother, and he let out a sniveling, “Good to see your loyalty is with your family.” I guess it would just be redundant for me to continually remind everyone how Graem tried to kill Jack multiple times last season. Still, it’s fun to mention anyway.
Elsewhere on the streets of Los Angeles, McCarthy and his hooker-ish girl drove around, being alternately British and sassy to each other. She was being a real pain in the ass. For whatever reason, she had this “crazy” idea that staying put in a city that had a growing mushroom cloud looming over it wasn’t such a brilliant idea. This really pissed off McCarthy who then threatened to kick her out of the car. Well, girlfriend wasn’t about to leave so easily. She was all talk, and there was no way she was going to walk away from the seven million dollars McCarthy was about to earn — assuming he could provide Fayed with an engineer to work the bomb trigger. Of course, McCarthy will never get that money because he’ll surely be killed, probably thanks to something dumb that the hooker will do. We’re still waiting to figure out what that whole story’s all about.
Hey, remember Walid? You know, the guy who was doing the FBI’s dirty work in a detention center? Well, he was still spying on his new buddies, and by “spying,” I mean standing around nervously and sweating. Meanwhile, the FBI sent pictures of Walid’s posse to CTU for background checks, but there was a problem. CTU also needed a prisoner manifest from Nadia, and as we all know, she couldn’t access her system easily, on account of being racially profiled (and perhaps, not very computer savvy). Milo began hounding her for the manifest, but a shame greater than words overcame Nadia as she refused to admit that her hands were tied. Well, Milo knew something was up (his goatee shimmers when people lie to him). He marched up to Bill’s office and demanded an explanation — simultaneously moving to the top of my list of supporting characters I want to see slain in the dreaded CTU infirmary.
Bill eventually admitted that homeland security had flagged Nadia, and Milo, with his small liberal arts school idealism, became all righteous, cursing the shortsightedness that had impeded Nadia’s workplace efficiency. In the process, we also learned that Nadia was a Republican, making her the first ever character on 24 to have any sort of party affiliation. Ultimately, the conversation ended with Milo angrily returning to the floor while Bill called up Karen and informed her that homeland security was now profiling its own agents. Karen could not believe this, letting out an exasperated “WHAT???” that was not unlike Kristin Wiig’s Aunt Linda character.
“I give these new homeland security measures a WHAAA?”
Anyway, Karen said she was going to talk to the President about all these shenanigans, but of course, we knew she’d never get so far, what with Chad Lowe and Peter MacNicol lurking around. Meanwhile, back at the detention camp, Walid began asking the guys all sorts of questions, one right after another, and when the men, including that angry-lookin’ Heydar, grew suspicious, Walid simply stated, “We need to share everything we know.” Smooth. Very smooth.
Play it cool, Walid.
Well, it turned out that Heydar had actually smuggled in a cell phone to this detainee center, and when Sandra, observing remotely, discovered this, she let out an angry, “CELL PHONE? How did he get a cell phone?” Oooooh, child! Somebody tell Pearl! THERE’S A CELL PHONE LOOSE!
“I’ll get that cell phone, Brenda! I’ll get it!”
Anyway, the new objective was that Walid needed to get that phone off of Heydar so CTU could monitor its contents. This of course begged the question as to why the FBI didn’t just storm the playground and lift the cell phone right off Heydar. I guess that would make too much sense.
While Walid thought of awkward ways he could pickpocket his new friend, Tom and his sidekick had put together a list of people who would testify against Karen if need be. You see, Tom wanted Karen to resign, citing an incident fourteen months in Seattle when Bill let Fayed walk free and Karen covered it up. Or something like that.
“I don’t like this conversation,” Karen announced, adding, “Let’s talk about Idol instead. How about that Jenry? Vavavavoom!”
Okay, she didn’t say that last part, but nevertheless, Karen was not pleased with Tom’s threats. “Do you want to get in the ring with me, TOM?” she asked, conjuring up strange images of Karen Hayes boxing Tom Lennox. Mo Cuishle! Mo Cuishle!
Well, after some back-and-forth, including the assertion that Tom had some major skeletons in his closet, Karen was told that she had an hour to tender her resignation. What ever would she do?
“I’ll settle this with rock, paper, scissors if I have to!”
Back at CTU, Nadia was still twiddling her thumbs at her computer, this time drawing the ire of Morris, who cut her down with his trademark (read: annoying) sarcasm. Doing an about face was Milo who sprung to Nadia’s defense, making up some story about why she was being slow and whatnot. Morris finally cooled off, and then Milo did something quite illegal: he logged Nadia into the system under his user ID. Dunh dunh DUNH! What’s next? WOULD THEY ILLEGALLY DOWNLOAD MP3s??? It seemed kind of like an out-of-character move on Milo’s part, but then a lingering gaze at Nadia alerted us that there might be some romantic entanglements down the road. You know, the sort of romantic entanglements that no one will care about.
Over at the President’s office, Karen Hayes dropped in to have a word. I thought she might talk to him about the constraints on poor Nadia, but instead, she merely handed over her resignation, which she certainly drafted up quickly enough. Well, Wayne did not react pleasantly to this news. He wasn’t so much angry as he was melodramatic. “I need you! I need different points of view!” he insisted, adding, “You’re the Joy Behar to my Elizabeth Hasselbeck!”
Unfortunately for Wayne, Karen simply could not stay on board (booo!), but that was okay because according to her, he didn’t need her. Yes, with tears welling up in Karen’s eyes, she gave Wayne one hell of a pep talk, saying that in his guy, he always made the right decisions. I was kind of expecting “Wind Beneath My Wings” to bust out at any second. Nevertheless, Karen reluctantly stepped down from her position, but just before she left the room, she had one small request: she wanted to be reassigned to Los Angeles. Karen claimed she could be most effective there, but we knew she just wanted to be near schmoopy and his fluffy hair.
Anyway, Palmer 2.0 granted Karen her wish, which I guess means we won’t see her for a few more weeks, but before she left the compound, Karen managed to bump right into Chad Lowe, and since no one bumps into each other on 24 by accident, I’ve now become convinced that a bug or a transponder or a transmitter or a trans-something has been planted on her. Beware, Karen! Beware!
Meanwhile, Jack and Graem arrived at Simi Valley, again defying all laws of space and time. They poked around the parking lot at McCarthy’s building, but his car didn’t seem to be anywhere (that’s because he was out on the streets with his hooker friend trying to find an engineer. Sigh…). Since Jack’s saga this week wasn’t really going anywhere fast, we then went back to Walid’s dumb predicament. Our bumbling operative began stalking Heydar in hopes of snatching that cell phone, and of course, Walid executed this in the most awkward way possible. I don’t know why Heydar didn’t notice Walid lingering two feet away and staring at him as if he were Bigfoot, but I guess he had bigger things on his mind. Well, Walid pretended to faint, and when Heydar helped him back up, Walid totally lifted the phone. Mission accomplished!
Now all he needed to do was call a special number and let CTU download the contents of the phone. Done and done. At this point, Sandra started going nuts, again demanding that Walid be taken out of the operation. Of course, that’s pretty much the only thing she’s been doing for the last three weeks; so this was nothing new.
Well, now that Walid had successfully made the call, he now had to return the phone, which seemed like a mildly challenging obstacle. After all, there’s no easy way to simply place a phone back in someone’s sweatshirt. There were really two different ways to handle this. Walid could either walk up to Heydar with the phone, handing it back as if he had just found it, or Walid could drop the phone on the ground, as if it had fallen out naturally instead. So what did Walid do? He instead moseyed on back to the group where he stood around and acted as if he had just taken a dump in his pants. This could only lead to terrible things.
I naturally assumed that the phone would ring, Heydar would get mad, and Walid would be beaten to a bloody pulp. Close, but not quite. Instead, Chloe discovered that the contents of the cell phone indicated that these guys weren’t terrorists at all. They had merely read about the day’s attacks on the internet. Ooops! Immediately, the FBI wanted Walid out of the camp, but it was too late. Heydar realized his phone was missing (much like me today at Quiznos when I discovered I’d left the celly at home today. Blast!). Our hairy non-terrorist accused Walid of stealing the phone, and before we knew it, they were all beating him up, accusing him of spying.
Luckily, the guard (and Sandra) soon broke everything up, but by then, Walid was already in terrible shape. Sandra was not going to take this sitting down! Tom Lennox, you may have gotten rid of Karen, but methinks Sandra Palmer is ready to go 227 on your ass!
Back at Simi Valley, a tactical team arrived at McCarthy’s building. They asked Chloe what they should do, but she responded that they should just wait there until they were told otherwise. You know, like a tactical team is supposed to do. Meanwhile, with mischievous music plinking away, Jack and Graem walked through the empty office building, looking for the rogue engineer, but of course he was gone. Suddenly, there was a distant noise. Someone else was in the building! Who could it be? A cleaning lady? An errant raccoon? BEHROOZ??
After some suspenseful build up, the perpetrator was… Jack’s dad! And his security detail of goons! I was really hoping Jack would greet him with a dramatic, “Hello…FATHER,” but the mood was kind of ruined when one of the toughs beat jack over the head. Anyway, Dad told his men to lay off, and soon we had a whole family reunion. One question immediately popped into my head: how did such a man spawn such short sons? Jack and Graem looked like they were each about two feet shorter than their dad (played by James Cromwell). Furthermore, who knew that James Cromwell had such a huge head? Did you see that thing? It was like a weather balloon.
“Behold my giant head!”
Anyway, just like the old days, I’m sure, Graem and Jack started bickering to dad, with Jack tattling that Graem should have reported the missing nukes as soon as he had found out. Graem, however, claimed that Jack didn’t care about the nukes. He just wanted to send them to jail. Jack replied that this issue wasn’t about protecting family, causing Graem to callously shoot back that it was about protecting family, “and I think your dead wife would have to agree!” Oh SNAP! He pulled the Teri card! Still, no matter what Graem says, his son is Jack’s secret love child, and that trumps all.
Well, caught between his feuding sons, Dad opted to make the right decision: call up CTU. Graem wasn’t going to have that though. The goons suddenly turned their guns on Jack and his dad, and Graem obnoxiously revealed that they were actually working for him. Uh oh. What did Graem have up his sleeve???
“My name is Henri. Some say that I am very charming.”
We then cut to McCarthy, who announced that he had found someone to program the triggers, but before we found out who it was, the screen divided into the signature Frame Of Doom. What would the final twist be? Well, I’ll tell you this much. We didn’t find out who McCarthy had lined up to work the triggers. Instead, we merely saw Jack and his father get thrown in a van, with gunmen staring them down. That’s right, Graem was going to kill his very own family. AWFUL SON!
What did you think about this episode?