Where to begin with last night’s 24? Well, for starters, it was much better than the previous week’s episode; however, it’s still nowhere near the pulse-pounding excitement of anything from last season. I attribute the upgrade in quality this week to the relative absence of The Family Palmer. Regina King, flailing in her role as Sandra, was relegated to only one superfluous scene this week, and Wayne Palmer was only glimpsed about three times in the hour. Of course, those three times were brutal, especially in a late scene where he was forced to proselytize about the virtues of the constitution. I loved Wayne as a second fiddle, but he continues to leave me unconvinced as the President. Luckily, Powers Boothe has arrived on the scene as this season’s hawkish VP (you’d think those Palmer boys would choose someone a bit nicer as their running mate by now), and as long as this show’s been accused of being a right-wing wet dream, might as well go the full distance — depose Palmer 2.0 and put crazy Noah in power. Then we’ll have a season… Monday’s show began on a mildly bizarre note as we saw a news reporter happily announcing that he was at the edge of the Valencia safe zone. Hmmm… why do I feel like he’ll come down with a severe case of radiation poisoning? Oh, that’s right. It’s because he’s standing in Valencia, the town that was just destroyed by a nuclear bomb. Here’s my idea of a safe zone: VERMONT.
Anyway, we then discovered that Wayne was watching this intrepid newcast, his face filled with the obligatory Tumultuous Palmer Concern. His brief moment of “I Am A Complex Being” was destroyed, however, by Tom Lennox, who marched in and relayed how sorry he was to hear that Karen had resigned.
“Are you really sorry, Tom?” Wayne snapped back. Good one! Presidential Zing!
Nevertheless, Tom used this opportunity to push his insane agenda — the one that pretty much removes every citizen’s basic rights and whatnot. Wayne understandably balked at these resolutions, saying they were a brazen abuse of executive power. As goes habeas corpus, so goes America. Poor Wayne. He was trying to be so firm and stern and presidential. Too bad we still don’t believe him.
Of course, since the whole angle with Wayne is that he’s simply a waffling baldy trying to live in his older brother’s more capable footsteps, he then paused to contemplate Tom’s plans, staring at the mushroom cloud on TV, glancing down at his WWDPD bracelet. Hmmm… maybe Tom did have a point. Thousands of people had already died, and who was Wayne to stand in the way of obnoxious, foundation-crumbling justice? Just like that Wayne changed his mind and told Tom to distribute the resolutions to everyone in the lobby. Habeas corpus? More like habeas notpus!
Elsewhere in the bunker, we found Karen still packing up her office, which was strange because it’s not like she’s had a lot of time in the bunker to really establish herself. What’s she been doing for the past fifteen minutes? Maybe she needed to take a quick pitstop in the bathroom to deal with that awful burrito she ate the night before. Anyway, the hubby called up to find out something or another, and Karen sadly informed him, “Bill, I just had to resign.” She then added, “Shmoopy.”
Well, Bill couldn’t believe what had happened, and when he pressed Karen, she yelled that she wouldn’t have done it if she didn’t have to. She then said she was hopping on a plane to Los Angeles, hung up the phone, and refused to answer it again. Dunh dunh DUNH! And that was all for Karen. See you in four or five weeks. Bon voyage! (I really hope she’s flying JetBlue. American, United, and Delta are all showing either Marie Antoinette or A Good Year on their westbound flights this month. Honestly, that could be more painful than any nukes Fayed plans to send off).
Back at CTU, Chloe’s Disaster-dar was going off like crazy. Jack wasn’t answering his phone, and neither was his backup. Something was wrong!
Indeed, something was very wrong. We then found Jack and his dad handcuffed and in the back of a van, about to be taken to their impending death. The man behind all this, Graem, was back at his house, destroying evidence and telling his cronies via cellphone, “Just make sure it goes exactly as according to plan.” Sure! That always works on 24!
Meanwhile, Jack and his dad shared something resembling a tender moment (as tender as any Bauer-on-Bauer moment can be). Philip told his son that he should never have trusted Graem with the company and whatnot. He also kept saying things like “After you left,” which of course was probably an allusion to some awful Bauer family incident, perhaps taking place during a picnic gone awry.
Well, soon Bauer & Bauer were removed from the van and taken to a shallow grave in the middle of some industrial neverland (is there any other type?). Just at the last second, Philip turned around and demanded to be shot face-to-face. The two seconds of confusion this caused was enough for Jack to suddenly whip around and take down his assailant. There was a whole bunch of flailing and gunshots, and next thing we knew, the two thugs were dead. This pissed off Jack, who wanted to question the guys. As a result, all he could do was let out his trademark “DAMMIT!” and call up CTU.
“Bill, I need you to set up a perimeter around [Graem's] house!” he said, thus ensuring Graem’s impending escape (CTU perimeter + bad guy = futility).
Meanwhile, our old friend McCarthy was still in his hotel room, finalizing plans to procure an engineer for Fayed. All seemed to be going smoothly for him — that is, until his strange little sidekick, Rita (or as he calls her, “riTa!”) decided she wanted to go out for a snack. Not so fast, Rita. It’s minibar or nothing for you! McCarthy then spoke with Fayed on the phone, saying he’d found a man, but he’d need to be coerced. Intriguing. And this mystery engineer was… not revealed. To quote Jack, DAMMIT! I should have known better. There was no way 24 would reveal the guy’s identity until the closing minutes of the show. Sigh.
After the commercial break, we returned to CTU where the big news was that the NSA intercepted a stream of chatter. A stream of chatter!?!?! Set a perimeter around that chatter stat! By the way, if there’s anything I love more than sockets and perimeters, it’s the occasional chatter sighting. Anyway, the point of all this was that CTU now knew that Fayed had an engineer en route, but who? Luckily, the crack team was able to intercept some file that featured a photo of this mystery man, but wouldn’t you know it? It was gonna take Morris anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour to decode this annoyingly corrupt file. Thirty minutes, eh? Why… that would coordinate perfectly with the end of the show. How convenient that everything in 24 land occurs at the top of the hour. They should really run a news radio service.
Back at Graem’s house, Jack and his dad arrived and met some non-Curtis field agent who eagerly said, “Mr. Bauer? I’m Al Turner! I’ll be on point!” He then added, “I will be dead shortly. It’s been an honor serving with you.”
Surprisingly, Al Turner lasted longer than the thirty seconds I had expected. He managed to debrief Jack on the in-house situation, saying that not only was Graem inside, but “His wife and son are in there as well.” To which Jack replied, “Don’t you mean his wife and MY son? I mean, er, um, I probably shouldn’t have said that…”
Anyway, inside the house, Marilyn knew something was up with Graem. The two began yelling until wee Josh Bauer stepped in and pleaded, “Will you guys stop fighting? All you guys ever do is fight!” He’s a whiner — just like Kim. This kid is 100% certified Jack spawn.
Nevertheless, Josh then asked, “What’s going on?” (Nosiness — another Jack-child trait). Marilyn tried to diffuse the situation by saying, “Nothing…” but it was kind of hard to believe her when all the windows and doors exploded as CTU barged in. Yeah, just an average day with the Graem Bauers.
Well, with guns raised, Jack quickly apprehended Graem and brought him back to the study for a second round of torture. Poor Josh was totally confused, asking, “What are you doing to my dad?” Don’t you mean, UNCLE!!!!
Before the torture began, Jack pulled Marilyn aside, and after a few forced “I still love you” glances, he informed her that Grae had just tried to kill him and his father. Marilyn reacted with surprise and said she had no info. “I don’t know anything,” she said. “And Josh doesn’t know anything either!” Whatever. Clearly you know something, and clearly Josh knows EVERYTHING! Somebody grab a lamp and a plastic bag. Time to torture the kid!
Actually, Jack believed Marilyn and had her and Josh sent off to CTU for questioning. With them out of the way, it was time to return to the study for our weekly dose of torture. Graem tried to explain his murdering actions, saying, “I panicked, Jack. That’s all there is to it.” WELL! Never mind then! Shall we have some tea?
Sure enough, Jack didn’t believe this explanation, and when the lie detector indicated that Graem was still being deceptive, Jack ordered his minion (the same torture guy who’s been around since season two — Burke is his name, I believe) to fetch the interrogation package. Or as I like to call it, the Briefcase of Torture and Pain.
After the commercial break, we returned to CTU where Morris became the latest technician to have a relative stricken by the plight of the day. Season three had Adam, whose sister came down with the Evil Virus; season four had Edgar, whose mother bravely succumbed to a nuclear meltdown; season five had… well… no relatives died on season five (but since almost all of CTU bit it, we say that still counts). Anyway, the news here was that Morris’s brother had been in the blast radius and now was at a hospital being treated for severe radiation exposure. He was in critical condition! However, Morris didn’t know this. The only one who knew was Milo, who then told Chloe. She wanted to immediately alert Morris, but Milo suddenly warned against it, saying that if Morris knew about his brother, then he’d want to leave, and they need him. Okay, then why even tell Chloe in the first place? Typical dumb CTU drama.
By the way, what are the odds that Morris’s brother was the idiot anchor man at the edge of the “safe zone”?
Anyway, Chloe eventually convinced Milo that informing Morris would be a good thing. Not so much. As soon as he found out, he wanted to leave. He did register some shock as to why his brother was up in Valencia (especially because he probably lived in Britain). Once Morris smelled something fishy, then I smelled something fishy. Not all was right with this scenario… Perhaps this was part of McCarthy’s coercion…
Back at La Casa Del Torture, Jack got to work interrogating Graem while Philip watched helplessly from another room. I had a bad feeling about this. Philp was probably going to barge in, ever the protective father, and screw everything up. Nevertheless, Graem refused to give up any info, causing Jack to boost the doses of whatever drug it was that was causing Graem to feel like he was being raped by a thousand burning plungers at once. And since this is the season of Feelings and Character, Jack continued his torture with a look of dread and pain on his face — showing how difficult this was for him too. Don’t you get it? The torturing was leaving Jack tortured! I respected the scenario, but this little scene was nothing like last season’s amazing Jack-on-Audrey interrogation. Now THAT was powerful.
Anyway, Graem continued to hold out on Jack, and so he ordered Burke to boost the torture levels up 4 ccs, or as Jack said it, “4 CCs!!!!. This meant that Graem now had 8 ccs of evil potion in his system — enough to induce a heart attack. Was he gonna die? Was he gonna tell the truth? Well, Graem finally ‘fessed up that what he was being deceptive about was the whole Palmer conspiracy. He admitted that he was the one who designed the assassination, he was the one who ordered the hits on Michelle and Tony, he was the one who wanted to draw Jack out of hiding. As you can imagine, Jack did not take this news lightly (don’t expect an invite to the July 4th picnic this year, Graem). First Jack slumped down in a chair, his lips quivering. Then he meagerly asked, “Why?”
“Because I love my country!” Graem replied. He then added, “Oh, and I wanted to create an overly elaborate diversion in order to import sentox into the country and frame another country for it so that we could boost the military-industrial complex. Or something like that.”
Eventually, Graem said some nonsense about how he and Jack were the same, and of course, Jack bellowed back, “WE ARE NOT THE SAME!” This was followed by a swift knock-Graem-over-on-his-back move, which in turn was capped off with Jack pointing a gun in his brother’s face, threatening to kill him right then and there. Memories of Nina, anyone? Of course, Jack refrained from committing fratricide at the last second, thanks to Philip walking in and giving one of his James Cromwell “That’ll do, Babe” expressions. Personally, I would have liked it if Philip was more like Cromwell’s character from The Queen — endlessly grumpy, often wearing a kilt, and never afraid to fix any problem by recommending some fresh air.
We then went to commercial, and when we returned, we found ourselves in that most regrettable of storylines: the saga of Sandra and Walid. After his scuffle in the detention facility, he was now laid up in a hospital room with his girlfriend sadly doting upon him.
“I’m ashamed,” he mumbled to her.
“What do you mean, you’re ashamed?” she asked.
“I’m ashamed that I’m dragging this season down,” he replied. Okay, okay. He didn’t say that. Instead he muttered about how awful he felt for spying on his fellow Muslims and whatnot. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Big deal. Just at that moment, Sandra’s cell phone rang (bitch, turn that off! You’re in a hospital!). Turns out Wayne was on the line. He had just found out what had happened to Walid, and he couldn’t have been more sorry. Sandra used this opportunity to talk about how and why constitutional rights were so important, and as Wayne simplistically realized the horror of Tom’s ways, we knew he was going to change his tune about the resolutions yet again. Fascinating.
Oh, and just in case there wasn’t enough dumb melodrama between these two, the conversation ended with Sandra saying, “Wayne, I’m scared!” And the Emmy goes to…
Back at CTU, Morris announced he was using an unlicensed application to decode that image of the engineer. And yes, we still didn’t know who it was. URGH. My guesses: Morris or Philip.
Speaking of Philip, we soon found him back at Graem’s house, sitting with Jack post-interrogation. “You deserved a better family, Jack,” he said. “Not this. Not us.” Yeah, but to be fair, when a family doesn’t try to commit murder on at least two of its members, can you really still call that a family? I THINK NOT!
Well, we then learned that Graem would be ready to go to CTU in ten minutes, and if there’s anything we know, it’s that when important figures aren’t moved right away, bad things will happen. Jack then told his dad he wanted him to go to CTU for a debriefing, which was fine and all, but Philip asked if he could just have a few minutes to gather himself before going. Hmmm… the levels of fishiness were reaching estuary levels.
Back at CTU, Morris’s new application seemed to be doing the trick. The photo was totally decoding, and since that was all well and done, Morris decided his work there was done. He packed up his belongings and headed off to see his suspiciously ailing brother, Timothy. Certainly nothing could go wrong now…
Meanwhile, up in the skies, Vice President Powers Boothe (a.k.a. Noah something or another) happily reviewed Tom’s plan. As I mentioned before, this VP was another one of those hawkish dicks that seem to always come into power (and you always know they’re really hawkish because we first see them in planes. Let’s not forget David Palmer’s evil Veep from season two). Anyway, Noah loved Tom’s plan and was surprised that Wayne was down for it also. “To be honest,” he said, “I didn’t think this president had the stomach for this cure.”
Turns out Wayne didn’t have the stomach for this “cure.” After a long-winded and dubiously written (and acted) speech, Wayne announced that he was sticking to his original plan, not following Tom’s idiotic measures. Basically, this scene was awful. D.B. Woodside made Wayne sound like a kindergarten teacher as he explained his reasoning. If Wayne barely sounded presidential before, he was totally laughable now. I say kill off Wayne and put Powers Boothe in charge. Then we’ll get some real excitement.
Over at CTU, the photo finally came through, and guess who the engineer was? MORRIS! The brother thing was totally a trap! Chloe tried to have the guards stop him, but he had already left the CTU garage. She then called him on his cell, but by the time she got the words “trap” out of her mouth, McCarthy and Rita suddenly appeared, fired some shots, and abducted Morris. Hey, I’ve got an idea: why doesn’t CTU send out some squad cars and apprehend these fools. I know asking to drive three blocks is demanding, but it might just work!
Well, while Morris drove off with his captors, we then headed back to Graem’s house for the final twist of the night. Sure enough, it was a doozy. Philip asked Burke if he could have five minutes alone with his son, and immediately, I had a feeling something was up. We weren’t about to end an episode on a sentimental note between these two. Something was about to go down.
Sure enough, father and son were working together. This had all been a plan. Graem was never going to kill off his dad. Only Jack. Furthermore, the two had been working together all this time — from at least the Palmer assassination days. However, their little partnership was about to end. Despite telling Graem that he’d been a good boy, Philip knew he needed to cut this loose end he called a son. He quietly injected about 20 ccs of that torture fluid into Graem’s system, coldly slaying him once and for all. How very Greek Tragedy!
Of course, as soon as Graem had expired, Philip called in the officers, saying he’d just had a seizure. “If you people killed my son, I swear you’re gonna regret it for the rest of your life!”
What did you think about this episode?