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So the semifinals on American Idol returned this week, which meant I had an additional three hours worth of TV to recap. Why do you care? Well, it’s my feeble excuse as to why this post about 24 — the first truly good episode since the second half of the season premiere — is late. What can I say? I spent just a tad too long basking in the post-24 high. Finally, for the first time in what felt like forever, we had an episode where we seemed to care about everything going on. It was tense, exciting, and unpredictable. Plus, you gotta love that final twist. I’m crossing my fingers that this might signal a return to proper form…Before I even jump into the recap, I gotta say. I went to another site (which shall remain nameless) just to compare notes about this episode, and I was shocked, shocked to see that the writer had panned it. What the? Was I the only one who felt so enthusiastic? No. Surely not. Everyone I’ve spoken to this week has enjoyed the episode. I just can’t understand how anyone couldn’t like this hour. That being said, if you were more anti than pro, please voice your opinions so we can all argue and get mad at each other.
Anyway, this week’s episode began with both Morris and Abu Fayed receiving prime real estate in the opening credits. Both their names appeared on screen, which had me believing that one or both of them would die by the end of the hour. If I were a gambling man (which I’m not — if I leave Vegas down three dollars, I’m bound to crawl into a hole and cry for three days), I would have said that Morris was going to blow his brains out, what with his cowardly inability to hold off the terrorists.
Nevertheless, as fun as it is to speculate, the real joy in 24 is watching the action unfold, and where we last left the gang, our heroes had just endured an ambush in West Los Angeles. Marilyn Bauer had directed Jack and Milo and a bunch of now-dead field agents to a house to find Gridenko, a Russian bad guy who wanted to exact revenge on America for the Cold War and then blame it on the Arabs. Anyway, Marilyn had taken everyone to the wrong spot because evil father-in-law Philip had abducted her son, Josh. If she did one thing wrong, Josh was dead.
Well, once CTU had arrived at the innocuous-looking ranch-style house, a bomb exploded, Jack went through a window, and Milo and Marilyn went running off with some bad guys hot on their tails. Now we returned to the sight of the crime where we saw Milo’s CTU-vehicle-cum-UPS-truck engulfed in flames. Yes, those were thirty-five packages that would never be delivered. What can Brown do for you? Apparently NOTHING.
Anyway, since Jack was enough to escape the blast, he then went on a search for some M&Ms. That’s Milo & Marilyn (not to be confused with Morris & Mandy). The good news was that the duo had to be nearby. We knew this because we then cut to the two of them running through an industrial park (not what you typically find in the middle of a residential neighborhood), with Marilyn suffering from inexplicable leg pain. She… just… couldn’t… run… No wonder why Jack left her. She was WEAK. Teri Bauer would have been running laps around this place.
Since Marilyn was no longer capable of moving at even a light trot, Milo decided to change strategies and hide instead. The two of them ducked behind a dumpster, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but had they turned around, they might have noticed that the chain-link fence behind them was not what I would normally call “opaque.”
Still, the hiding spot did the trick as the three bad guys galloped into the area, looked around, and then decided to call Philip. The lead henchman told him that Jack was dead but Marilyn was still on the loose. However, the goon noted, “the man she’s with doesn’t look like a field agent.” He then added, “He has this really dumb goatee and a douchebag shirt. Plus, I think it might be Eric Balfour. I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
For whatever reason, the bad guys suddenly realized that Milo and Marilyn were behind the dumpsters. Never mind that there were dozens of viable hiding spaces in that junkyard — the bad guys just knew their targets were right there. Sure enough, their MiloSense was accurate. The guys opened fire on the lowly computer technician and his ward, and for a moment, my Milo death fantasies looked like they may come to fruition. Sadly, the closest I got was a bullet in the arm. Oh well.
As Milo crumpled back down behind the dumpster, he turned to Marilyn and yelled, “I TOLD YOU TO GO!!!” Yeah, why didn’t Marilyn run? All she had to do was navigate through very close, intense, and lethal gunfire. Just like any other day in Los Angeles, really. Well, the bad guys finally had Milo cornered, and just when it looked like it was going to be curtains for him, guess who saved the day? Jack! He appeared out of nowhere, shot two of the lesser bad guys, and beat up the main henchman. After he slapped cuffs on the guy, Jack then turned into an EMT, casually looked at Milo’s arm, and after two seconds diagnosed that the bullet hit no main arteries or veins. He’d be okay. Now that’s a diagnosis you can take to the bank!
Once Jack was done pretending to be a medic, he then turned his attention towards Marilyn. This wasn’t the happy reunion we were all looking forward to. Instead, Jack threw her against the wall and asked her why she tipped of Gridenko. General squealing and sobbing ensued until Marilyn finally revealed that it was Jack’s father who had sent the men, not some Russian general.
“What are you talking about?” Jack asked, more confused than the time the CTU perimeter actually caught someone. Marilyn explained the whole situation, which then resulted in some KieferACTING! as he stepped away and tried to digest the enormous new twist in his life. After a few seconds, Jack insisted that Marilyn give him the proper address for Gridenko, but she refused. She would do nothing to imperil Josh. This was not an acceptable answer for Jack. “You saw what happened in Valence earlier today?” he asked, again referencing the destruction of Six Flags Magic Mountain, “This will be worse!” Who knows — the next target might be Knotts Berry Farm! Or Disneyland! Or, God forbid, LEGO LAND!!!! Heck, there are like five different Boomers locations in the greater Los Angeles area. Any one of them could be targets. Think of all the miniature golf we’ll never get to play!!
Faced with this situation, Marilyn had no other choice but to give up the street address. Jack immediately called Bill, asked for a small CTU team to meet him and get him a tactical kit. When Bill then asked what all this was for, Jack committed the cardinal sin: “I’ll explain everything later… Bill, please. Trust me. It’s personal.” Honestly, if I were Bill, I wouldn’t trust him at all. What information couldn’t be shared on the drive over? UGH. I hate when Jack is secretive because he always winds up getting captured, and then CTU has to go into a tizzy trying to find him.
For now though, Jack had only one thing on his mind: melodrama. Once he got off the phone, he stared off into the distance and dramatically asked, “How could I have been so stupid?” Sadly, this was not followed by an organ swelling on the soundtrack.
After the commercial break, we found Chloe nagging Morris about vectors. You know how that goes. Vector this. Vector that. Always with the vectors, that woman! Not wanting to talk about vectors, Morris snapped back some bitch response that ultimately wound up with us learning that he had a sponsor. Apparently he was a charter member of British Smarm Anonymous.
Okay, maybe it was Alcoholics Anonymous. Whatever. Point was that Morris was feeling spectacularly crabby, which I guess might be a common post-torture response. I probably wouldn’t be too sunny either had a terrorist used a power drill on my arm. Nevertheless, Morris’s self-worth and shame took another hit as Nadia stopped by to inform everyone that Milo was shot heroically in the field as he held off three armed hostiles. Translation: you are the biggest pussy CTU has ever seen, MORRIS. Oh, and it got worse. Milo was now gonna be up for commendation — something that Morris probably would have received had he not, you know, totally buckled and essentially armed three nukes.
Well, the Mo-Man got all prissy about Milo’s commendation, which could only mean one thing: forthcoming suicide. (Crossing my fingers) We haven’t had a good CTU suicide since crazy Maya Driscoll sliced her wrists up in the infirmary (a.k.a. The Steely Hall of Death). Good times. (By the way, I am very much for the return of Erin Driscoll. Somebody’s gotta save poor Alberta Watson. Her latest project is called A Lobster Tale. It’s like a cry for help).
Back in the field, Jack informed Marilyn that she was gonna have to play tough with Philip — an amusing prospect considering that Marilyn looked unable to resist the demands of a dying leaf, let alone her father-in-law. Nevertheless, Mar-Mar was instructed to stand firm and not tell Philip the location of Gridenko’s house, at least not until Philip spilled the beans as to where he was keeping Josh. Of course, part of this operation also relied on that one henchman calling up his boss and pretending like he had Marilyn in captivity. “How do you know he won’t betray us?” Marilyn asked Jack of the bad guy.
“He wants to live,” Jack replied. C’mon. Don’t even act like this guy was going to survive this episode anyway.
Over at the Doubletree of Doom, Philip exercised some FCC-like censorship and shut off Josh’s TV, something that truly irked the mop-topped ragamuffin — so much so that he had no other entertainment option but to go snooping around and listen in on his grandfather, who had since stepped into the next room to deal with Marilyn on the phone. Keep in mind that Philip left the door to his bedroom completely open; so Josh could hear everything, including when Grandpa seethed into the phone that unless Marilyn gave up Gridenko’s address, “I will walk into the next room and KILL HIM!!” Here’s a good rule of thumb: next time you want to kill someone in the next room, it’s best to not squawk about it loudly on the phone ten feet away. Oh, and you probably shouldn’t turn the TV off during said conversation either.
Anyway, Marilyn held firm and didn’t give up Gridenko’s address, forcing Philip to bark to his henchman, “Bring her here to me at the Grandmont Hotel, room 2132.” Ha — you’re so busted, PHIL! Meanwhile, just as Philip got off the phone, he looked up and saw Josh inching towards the front door. Stupid kid. Why not just haul ass and get out of there? Anyway, Josh, who seemed to share the same IDIOT gene as Kim, made up some feeble excuse about wanting to get a soda, but of course, Philip was all “What about the minibar?” and then “What about room service?” Seriously, Josh. A soda? That’s the best you could come up with?
Well, soon this charade became tiresome; so Philip finally took out his gun and announced, “No one’s life is worth the destruction of everything I’ve built.” Sadly, this is what he’s built:
After the break, we then headed back to the Presidential bunker where Tom was once again meeting with Reed in the utility closet-cum-nefarious nook of treason. Tom handed over the much-coveted Presidential itinerary, but now Reed wanted more. An assassin was en route to take down Palmer 2.0, and he was going to need clearance to the bunker. Oh, and on top of that, they were going to pin the entire thing on Assad. Suddenly, a look of doubt flashed on Tom’s face, and we knew he was going to chicken out by the end of the hour.
Anyway, Tom left the closet and headed into the President’s office where Wayne sat at a computer and joyously said, “Oh, Tom! COME IN!” He then added, “I was just playing this delightful game called Minesweeper. Have you heard of it? It’s really quite challenging.” Okay, Wayne didn’t say that. Instead, he expressed a desire for Tom to look over Assad’s speech, and when Tom acted all “I thought you didn’t love me anymore,” Wayne reassured him that he still valued his opinions greatly, and just because they had a tiff didn’t mean they couldn’t be besties anymore. That’s right, Tom. FEEL THE GUILT!
We then checked in on Gridenko, whose crony was busy “recalculating the profile” of the terrorist targets (whatever that meant), and when we were done marveling at the pure evilness of that situation, we headed off to a random bodega in which Morris was puttering around, possibly suiting up for some afternoon suicide to come. As we all know, whenever characters enter convenient stores, pandemonium ensues. Must I reference Kim’s ill-fated encounter with a petty criminal at the 7-Eleven? Season two. Look it up.
Anyway, Morris purchased some cigarettes and Red Bull, which didn’t seem very suicidal, but when the clerk asked if he could get him anything else, Morris switched up his order and asked for some whiskey. Better to dull the pain of a bullet through the head! So long, Morris! Oh, and just in case we weren’t sure he was gonna kill himself, he didn’t even bother to take his change when he left the store (nor did he take his recently purchased Red Bull). Morris, just because you’re going to commit suicide doesn’t mean you should be wasteful. For shame.
Well, Morris walked around the corner of this fine establishment and promptly chugged his whiskey. My heartbeat quickened, just because this would surely lead to some frustrating twist in the action, but alas, Morris then threw up the booze (or rather, spat it out as we later learned). What gives? Worst pre-suicide libation EVER!
Conveniently, Chloe’s SuicideSense kicked in, and she decided to call Morris to find out what was going on. I really don’t remember if he answered the call or not because once it became apparent that he was not committing suicide, I completely lost interest in the storyline.
Meanwhile, over at the hotel, Jack was downstairs in the garage, wiring up Mariliyn. He totally snuck a peak of her undressing, and moments later, when he fastened the wire to her waist, he conveniently felt her up and brushed her hair out of her face. Hey, wasn’t he just calling out for Audrey like eight hours ago? You spend two years in a Chinese prison, and the only thing that gets you by is the hope that you’ll be reunited with your lady lover, and then less than twelve hours after arriving in the U.S., you’ve moved onto your sister-in-law? Jack, you DAWG!!!
Back at CTU, the producers decided to throw a bone to the ladies by bandying about a shirtless Milo in the infirmary. Morris, who had since returned from his fake bender, popped in to say hi, and as they talked, Milo sensed that something was off about his British counterpart. What could it be??? And do we care?
Meanwhile, over at the Presidential bunker, Wayne was now reading Tom’s suggestions to Assad’s speech, and dammit if he didn’t just love them all. Palmer 2.0 bestowed his advisor with compliments and requested that he be present during the speech. He then added, “I love you more than Julia Milliken.”
Well, realizing that it was kind of cool to be the President’s best bud, Tom returned to the utility closet looking pale and confused. Reed, meanwhile, was positively jittery. He needed the authorization for the assassin now! Tom said okay, okay. He’d be on top of it. Reed then left the room, and Tom called up the ranking secret service agent and told him he had something very, very important to discuss with him. Clearly, he was going to rat out Reed. However, when the agent said he couldn’t leave his post, Tom offered to come to him instead. Oh Tom. Sweet vindication for you! Of course, we knew Tom would never make it to the agent. It’s a well-worn tradition that when anyone has something vital to pass along in person, they usually die or are captured first. What I didn’t expect, however, was how quickly Tom was taken down. As soon as he opened the door to the closet, Reed barged in and knocked him over with a swift chop. I think that’s my nightmare: opening a door and having a raging Chad Lowe strike me for no reason.
Anyway, Reed began beating up Tom, accusing him of not having the balls to do what he said he’d do. Tom muttered something about how killing a President is never justified, but soon he was beaten down into an unconscious pulp, helpless to stop Reed from taking his badge and calling off that Secret Service agent. To think, this is what it was like every day for Hilary Swank.
Back at CTU, some operation was going to start in two minutes, but before that could happen, backup modules needed to be reset. This meant that Chloe and Morris could step out of the Situation Room and talk — specifically, about the booze on his breath. Fearing that her ex had fallen off the wagon, Chloe threatened to tell Buchanan, but Morris convinced her that he had spat, not swallowed. Reluctantly, Chloe backed off, but not without promising to keep an eye on him. I still don’t know why the producers saved Morris from going the way of so many other suicidal characters. The sooner he leaves CTU, the sooner we get our old, nutty Chloe back.
The two former lovebirds then returned to the Situation Room just in time for the operation to go into effect. The CTU field team swarmed the location they believed Gridenko was at, but as luck would have it, the sneaky Russian was gone (assuming he was there in the first place). Urgh! Well, Chloe texted Jack the news, but he seemed unfazed. He pressed onward to save his nephew/son, bursting into his father’s hotel room, which was now eerily silent. After about ten seconds’s worth of searching, Jack asked, “Where the hell is my father?” Hmmm… maybe he was in the bathroom you didn’t check. Or the closet you didn’t check. Or pretty much anywhere in the palatial suite.
As luck would have it, however, Philip was now across the street, holding Josh at gunpoint. The awful grandfather then called up Jack on the hotel’s phone and threatened to kill the kid, but Jack offered to surrender himself in return for Josh’s life. Sounded reasonable enough. Jack then left the suite, but not before telling the bad guy, “Hang up the phone.” Jack’s dad may have been evil, but he certainly did not deserve excessive room charges. (Especially after he had to pay the minibar fee for Josh’s soda).
Back at CTU, Milo pulled Chloe aside and asked her if Morris had been drinking. She told him that he had taken a swig and then immediately spit it out, but Milo remained doubtful. He wanted to turn the guy into Bill. Somehow, though, Chloe convinced him to do otherwise. Yes, another twist in the saga that no one cares about.
Meanwhile, Jack and Marilyn had climbed to the top of the building across the street from the hotel, and now they were ready to retrieve Josh. Jack handed Marilyn his gun, and for a moment, I thought they might share a kiss — for old time’s sake — but instead he just delivered his patented Bauer lie: “Everything’s going to be alright.” Doubtful. But hey, at least her son would probably come back in one piece.
Anyway, Jack headed up to the roof alone, found a door, and entered a dark and dangerous room. Inside, he found Philip standing with Josh, who was surely ready for about fifteen years of therapy at this point. Once Jack proved that he was unarmed, he and Josh entered a ballet of transferral. For every step Josh would take forward, Jack would do the same. This ritual, which was not unlike the dance scenes in Sense and Sensibility, last several tense moments until finally Josh and Jack crossed paths, and the young ragamuffin then ran off to sweet freedom.
Now that he was firmly Philip’s hostage, Jack confronted his dad about the whole situation. Philip revealed that Gridenko had blackmailed Philip over the Palmer assassination, but what the former general wanted was not money, but the nukes. Somehow or another, Philip construed this all as some sort of valiant act, declaring, “I’m a patriot, Jack!” Yes, a patriot who just happened to have murdered a former president and paved the way for several terrorist attacks on the U.S.. Now that’s what I call love for your country!
Well, Philip then revealed a certain disdain for Jack’s career path, saying how he wanted Jack to take over the reins of the company, not become a “civil servant.” There was more back and forth talk, and somewhere in the mix, Jack mentioned that they never found Gridenko — he wasn’t in the location where they had expected. Philip didn’t seem to mind, though. He stood behind Jack, pointed a gun at the back of his head, and… and… wait! Jack had some last minute stuff he had to get off his chest. He insisted that he hadn’t turned his back on the family, but he, like the Fleetwood Mac song, had to go his own way. And just in case Philip didn’t believe him, Jack heaped on the melodrama yet again by saying, “I was never good enough for you.” Cue the weepy violin.
Funny, with Philip declaring that his son was too good for the business, and Jack feeling like he was never good enough for his dad, something tells me a whole lot of global destruction could have been fixed with an afternoon of open communication, Chamomile tea, and perhaps a game of Scrabble. It would probably go something like this: “Wait, you thought I was too good for you? I thought you were too good for me!” “No, no, no! I thought it was the other way around!” “Oh, this is hilarious. Let’s let bygones be bygones and go to the Olive Garden!”
Anyway, when Jack realized the room was just a tad too silent, he turned around and saw he was alone. Philip was gone! But where to??? Jack ran out of the room and onto the roof where he found a cell phone mysteriously perched on the railing. On it was a number. What else to do but call it, right?
Jack punched in the numbers, and a man in a salt-and-pepper beard answered. Of course, the face may have changed, but the voice was still the same. It was none other than… PRESIDENT PUSSY! Charles Logan was back! And he was expecting Jack’s call! Awesome! But wait, HUH??? I’m confused! But in a good way!!!
So what do you think this all means? What did you think about the episode?