***Screampillar is taking the season off to GET MARRIED! Congrats lady! In the meantime, we’ve got a fantastic new recapper to fill your terrorist fighting needs. Please welcome Dogsnaxx!
Greetings from the Island Manhattan, Gasmii! I’ve been given strict orders by my supervising Officer Flipit to guide you through all the twists and turns of the 7th season of ’24′. I’m a little worried about my ability to avoid eyeball vertigo while keeping up with the split screen action and trying to read my closed-captions…but if Jack Bauer can save the world for a 7th time, I can deal with a little queasiness.
These initial episodes are always exposition-heavy, and we’ve got 4 hours to cover this week, so let’s get to it. Follow me…after the jump!
Season 7 opens at 8AM with a middle-aged frumpy looking dude named Michael Latham and his daughter driving down a street in our Nation’s capital. The little girl, Emily, is busy texting away in the back seat and Daddy tells her to put the cell phone away, because it’s only to be used in emergencies.
Brad and Angelina just snubbed Seacrest. If you don’t consider that an emergency you’re unAmerican DAD!
The pair are blindsided at an intersection and then rear-ended by a second van. As the little girl looks on in horror, her Dad is abducted by ski-mask and automatic weapon-sporting baddies. One of them, whose voice should be familiar to regular viewers, tells the badly shaken man that he is needed to “fix something” for Team Baddie. After calming down, the girl starts typing furiously on her phone. Crest HAWT Angie HO omglolroflomfg
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Jack Bauer is testifying in front of a Senate sub-committee headed by Senator Red Forman Blaine Mayer, which is a pansy-pants Blue State name if ever there was one. Senator Red Mayer has years of experience interrogating his dumb-ass son about illegal activities in the family rec room, and is thus uniquely qualified to get to the bottom of illegal interrogation tactics used by CTU in the fight against terror.
Listen here, Kelso. I smell a skunk and I didn’t just fall of the turnip truck.
Unfortunately for ol’ Pansy-Pants, Jack Bauer is a bad-ass, and not a dumb-ass. Jack doesn’t need no stinkin’ constitution, nor does he require legal counsel. Bauer admits to “torturing” Ibrahim Hadad, at least by the definitions of those pesky Geneva Convention guidelines. He further dresses down the Senator with some Cheney Jr. speechifying about how his job is to protect innocent American lives from evildoers that operate outside of the rule of law. In short: Jack has no regrets and even if Pansy-Pants can’t handle the truth, he believes the American people can.
Before the Senator can respond to Jack’s jingoism, the hearing is interrupted by a gorgeous ginger federal agent named Renee Walker. FBI Spice tells Senator Pansy-Pants that she has a subpoena for Bauer that supersedes US Senate business and Jack is whisked off to FBI headquarters “down the block”. Agent Walker calls in to the office and we are treated to our first view of what will most likely be the “base of operations” set for the season. Surprisingly, the FBI office looks like an actual office with fluorescent lighting and cubicles. It’s the polar opposite of the CTU Bat Cave from seasons past. You kinda actually wanna see this place get blown up.
Red meets Red
At FBI headquarters, we meet Agents Janis(eane) Gold(ofalo) and Billy Walsh Sean Hillinger. Agents Gold and Hillinger have a short exchange establishing them both as quirky misanthropic types. In the ensuing match of D-Bag one-upmanship, we learn that Janis is the happier/nicer of the two and Sean is basically exactly like Billy Walsh except a G-man instead of the auteur of ‘Medellin’. We also meet Agent Larry Moss who seems to be the leader of this rag-tag bunch. During a briefing, we learn that the recently abducted Michael Latham was the chief designer and architect of the Classified Infrastructure Portal (or CIP) Firewall that protects our nation’s classified infrastructure! Ruh-roh!
We are not left guessing for long, as we soon see the baddies tapping into the Air Traffic Control (ATC) system. We also are introduced to Global Skies flight 117. The camera makes a point of showing the “everyday people” (which includes one adorable little boy) on the flight. None of these passengers have speaking roles, which means they are most likely cannon fodder.
Sorry buddy…no SAG card for you!
Back at the FBI’s Washington Bureau, Jack and Agent Moss meet and waste no time getting into a manhood measuring contest. It’s evident that Larry Moss is a by-the-book kind of guy and is relying on Bauer only out of necessity. Either these two are going to end up becoming best-ies, or wind up dead at each others’ hands. I say just have a thumb war and let’s be done with it. If everyone would just respect the thumb war, it would be a much more peaceful world.
In Renee’s office, Jack finally learns why he has been enlisted to help out the FBI. His old colleague and frenemy, Tony Almeida, is the leader of Team Baddie! Jack, like any loyal viewer of the show, clearly remembers that Tony died at the end of Season 5 and is therefore skeptical of the FBI evidence pointing to him as Big Baddie #1. Agent Walker, acting as a stand-in for the show’s producers, tells Jack (and us) that Tony isn’t dead because he was whisked away by the EMT, a different body was buried in his grave, there was no silent clock ticking to mark his death, and ratings were down in Season 6. I wonder if they’re gonna find a way to bring Marlena in for this season. The ratings would top American Idol’s.
Spoiler alert: The terrorists are working for Marlena’s evil twin who is also no longer dead. Fingers crossed.
We cut back to Baddietown where any lingering skepticism over Almeida’s health is shut down when he emerges from the shadows to find out if his team has successfully cracked the CIP Firewall. And, just in case any viewers out there might have trouble with the notion of Tony as Big Baddie, he has been made up with scars, two-day stubble, sweaty oily skin, and a perma-scowl that just screams “Tony 2.0 is Baaad!” Further cementing his villainy, he threatens poor Latham with death should he fail to get Team Baddie into the CIP systems.
Oil of Almei-da(TM)
We go to commercial break, and I find myself pondering what happens during these 5 minute chunks of time in ’24′ World. I like to think everyone puts their head down for a quick power nap.
In the Oval Office, President Allison Taylor is consulting with Ethan Kanin who is now White House Chief of Staff, a promotion from Secretary of Defense last season. They are mulling military intervention in the fictional African country of Sangala, which we got to know so well in ’24: Redemption’. They are interrupted by First Lady Gentleman Henry Taylor who is concerned about a columnist that is going forward with a piece critical of showing force in Sangala. President Taylor expresses confidence in her husband’s ability to talk the reporter down, which Kanin does not share. It is evident that First Hubby has been cast in the Jean Smart role as emotionally damaged spouse of the sitting president. We learn his compromised emotional state is due to the death of their strapping buck of a son who was seen in the prequel movie sexing up the hot brunette chick from ‘Popular’.
In Baddietown, Almeida and his cronies have successfully tapped into the CIP Firewall, and we cut to ATC headquarters, which seems to have taken over CTU’s old Bat Cave set. The ATC gang are starting to get suspicious that something is up with their systems.
Krazee-Eyez Killa makes a career change
Back at FBI headquarters, Jack is coming to terms with Almeida being alive, but refuses to believe he is working with the bad guys. Jack obviously hasn’t seen Almeida’s new greaser look. Agent Walker reminds Jack that the US government and ex-President Logan were directly responsible for destroying Tony’s life and it would stand to reason he has an axe to grind with Good Old Uncle Sam. Walker is pulled out of the office and told about the breach of ATC security. Jack just keeps staring at the picture of his old bromance on the computer monitor and remains sadly silent.
Aboard GS 117, we are treated to a quick exchange between two flight attendants (Yay, Speaking Roles!) about weekend plans. It’s a blatant attempt to humanize these nameless folks and manipulate the audience. I’m surprised they didn’t cut to a passenger reading the “Innocent Victims: They’re Just Like Us!” feature in Terrorism Weekly. Upon hearing of the ATC breach, Jack snaps out of his denial and gets to work trying to locate Almeida’s crew with the help of grumpy Sean.
“Do you ever get that ‘not so fresh’ feeling?”
In the underground Presidential war room, plans for the intervention in Sangala are taking shape. Everyone at the table seems to be on-board with the President’s plans except for Secretary of State Joe Stevens, who is still agonizing over the show of force. President Taylor gives him a verbal smackdown proving she has balls bigger than some of her predecessors. I’m guessing Stevens is either one of the government supporters of General Juma in Sangala that were hinted at in ‘Redemption’, or he’s going to end up being the straight-talking voice of reason President Taylor comes to rely on later in the season. As fun as it is watching Stevens squirm, the President is needed elsewhere. It’s juice and cookie time. It might be inconvenient, but it started in the Bush Administration and the current prez feels it would be disrespectful to get rid of it right after dismantling No Child Left Behind.
After a Fig Newton and Blueberry Koolaid, Tim Woods from Homeland Security meets her in the hall to inform her of the domestic breach caused by Almeida’s crew. The president, in addition to having huge balls, seems to possess a gigantic brain and sense of intuition. She wonders aloud if the timing of the domestic attacks has anything to do with the Sangala situation and calls Woods out for not being able to answer her directly. I’m loving this woman!
Five minutes and a quick power nap later, we find the First Hubby in his office with Kevin Aldrich, the critical columnist. It becomes clear that Mr. Taylor is no shrinking violet as he stands his ground with the writer while remaining charming and confident. OK, so he sort of bribes the guy with the offer of an exclusive, but it’s done in a way that doesn’t seem sleazy at all.
Fine. I’ll just find dead rich people to write about until I hear from you.
The two men are interrupted by a secret service agent that is young and blonde, just like the Taylor’s departed son Roger. The secret service agent and First Hubby seem to share a strong bond and good rapport, which has me wondering if this kid is going to stir up emotions or become some kind of stand-in for the lost son. The writer is shooed out of the room and First Hubby is put on the line with a private investigator he has retained to look into the death of his boy. It turns out Roger’s death was deemed a suicide and Mr. Taylor, for one, is having NONE of that. He is convinced something more sinister is afoot. The PI stirs the pot by informing First Hubby that his son’s fiancÃ©e had $400,000 deposited in an off-shore account three days after the suicide. Mr. Taylor enlists the help of his young secret serviceman to go speak to the be-yotch personally.
Back at FBI headquarters, Agents Gold(ofalo) and Walker are mulling the implications of the CIP breach. I was totally distracted by the size of Janeane Garofalo in this scene. Homegirl is TINY! Meanwhile, Jack is zeroing in on a lead with the help of Sean, who continues to be his utterly unlikeable self. It turns out a supplier named Gabriel Schector is a common link between Jack and Almeida and possibly assisted in the technology thefts. Also, Schector has scars on both sides of his face, so he simply HAS to be a bad guy. The agents track Schector to an office “downtown” on Naylor Road. As a former resident of the DC area for 6 _ years, I can tell you that Naylor Road is nowhere NEAR downtown DC or the Capitol building. It is actually located in the furthest SouthEast reaches of the District. Step up your game fact-checkers! Google Maps. It’s free.
Special Agent Janis Smurf
Agent Moss and Jack get into their second pissing contest of the hour. By-the-books Moss wants a warrant while Jack thinks it’s a waste of time. The guys actually get right in each others faces, which results in one of the funniest lines of the night. Agent Moss says to Jack: “So this is how it starts? You get in my face, tighten your jaw, then if you don’t like what I have to say you slam me into a wall?” Zing! Jack’s response is lame and not worth repeating, so we’ll just give this one to Moss. Agent Walker, not sensing the awesomeness of her boss, sort of sides with Jack and convinces Moss to let him accompany her to interrogate Schector.
“I know you are…but what am I?”
Five minutes later, Bauer and Walker are en-route to Schector’s office. Renee presses Jack for a little more back-story on Schector and Almeida, which he gladly gives up. Renee senses Jack still doesn’t believe in Tony’s complicity, and he confirms that he now believes Tony is alive, but is still not convinced he’s working for the bad guys. Miraculously, they pull up to the office on “Naylor Road” just as Jack finishes delivering his line.
At the White House, President Taylor and Secretary Stevens are discussing their post-invasion plans. It seems Stevens objections are along the lines of “Better the devil that you know” cynicism. He is worried that Prime Minister Matobo’s men will just slaughter General Juma and his regime before justice can be administered in a court of law. I guess that makes him a cynical idealist? President Taylor apologizes for “dressing him down” earlier and assures him she’ll work with Matobo to make sure the rule of law prevails. They are interrupted by Ethan Kanin, who informs them of Aldrich the writer’s plan to delay his criticism. Score one for the First Hubby!
In the office building on “Naylor Road” (can you tell I’m not letting this one go?), Jack and Renee question smug, scarry-face Schector. (What is UP with this show and it’s stock villains in early episodes?!) Scarry Face is an insufferable prick and refuses to talk. Eventually, Agent Walker starts to see the benefits of living in Jack-land and authorizes him to do “whatever it takes” to get Schector talking about Almeida. Jack springs to action with the nearest ball-point pen. Schector must have been one of those guys that blacked out at a frat party in college and woke up with penises scribbled all over his face with a permanent maker, because the second jack gets the pen one inch from his skin, he starts singing like a canary. Unfortunately, Almeida’s men are watching and both Schector and his anonymous bodyguard are shot from a rooftop across the street! Instantly, the phone rings and Tony warns Jack to “stay away from this,” before asking him if he’s lost any weight because he looks really handsome. Click.
“No thank you, Big Brother…I DON’T want another!”
We close out the hour with the ATC realizing they have lost all control of GS Flight 117, and Almeida telling the Captain to lower his altitude to 7,000 feet. One of Almeida’s henchmen expresses concern that they are “going through with it”, and Tony bad-asses that the henchman needs to do whatever he is told to do.
9AM finds the ATC still trying to get ahold of GS 117 and then discovering the communication with Almeida re-directing the flight. The plane is now flying at only 1,500 feet and being redirected to land at JFK. The Feds are informed of the situation and there is much hand-wringing and freaking out over telephones which is interspersed with more shots of the cannon fodder passengers.
Meanwhile, Jack and Renee are busy sealing off the Columbia Building across the street from Schector’s office. Renee calls in to Moss to update him on the assassination attempt. After a dramatic pause, Moss expresses concern for her safety which leads us to believe they have either done the dirty in the past, or will in the future. Jack goes into Mole-sniffing mode, and notes that someone from the Bureau must have tipped Almeida off. How else could the shooter have gotten to the furthest reaches of SouthEast “downtown” DC before them? Agent Walker isn’t quite ready to hear the truth, so she has Bauer’s weapon taken away and gives him a timeout in the back of a Federal SUV while she goes to handle the search for the sniper.
ATC personnel are still all “Omigod, WTF is going on!?” when Almeida calls in to let them in on the dastardly plot. He and his crew have redirected a second flight and the two jumbo jets are making like drunk starlets from the 60′s and headed for a collision on JFK’s landing strip. At the last possible second, Almeida orders GS 117 to pull out, avoiding catastrophe. He calls in to ATC and lets them know the whole fiasco was just a display of capability…and that next time, they won’t be so lucky.
After a power nap break, we get our first glimpse of Team Baddie’s digs, which appear to be a commercial fishing vessel on the “docks” in DC. Once again, the former DC resident in me is calling shenanigans. Anyway…a Mercedes with District plates pulls up, and out pops Emerson, who appears to be Almeida’s boss. He’s decked out in Team Baddie Black, except his attire is business casual which means he must be the money man. Emerson has come to pick up the CIP module and lightly rip Tony a new asshole for the Feds getting to Schector. He also has one last job for Tony, but won’t let him in on the details yet. We all know how those “one last job” deals usually work out in ’24′ world.
Back at the White House, President Taylor is meeting with Prime Minister Matobo of Sangala while a press conference is being held to sell the American public on the use of military force. Taylor and her Sec. of State Stevens are trying to get assurance from Matobo that General Juma will be dealt with in a court of law and not punished by angry mobs. The Prime Minister reluctantly gives her his word. After the meeting, Taylor is informed by Kanin of the JFK fiasco and orders all air traffic grounded. The only plane allowed to stay in the air is the Soul Plane, because Mo’nique only lands when she’s good and ready.
Terrorist?!? I’ll whoop his ass! Bring him here!
At the Columbia building, the sniper calls in to Team Baddie to let them know he is trapped and asks for some help getting out. Meanwhile, Jack is still serving his timeout in the SUV under the watch of a young G-man who tells Jack that he thinks the whole Pansy-Pants senate hearings are a crock and that he supports Bauer and sees him for the hero he is.
Remember that time you grabbed that helicopter rope and like flew right when the building blew up? That was cool.
In the basement of the building, another G-man finds our sniper. But wait! The G-man was sent by Tony to get the shooter out of the building. As luck would have it, Jack steps out of the SUV just in time to catch a glimpse of our shooter exiting the building. Jack must be in the market for some sensible new shoes, because he immediately takes note of everyone’s footwear. All the feds are wearing “we mean business” black shoes. But one (the shooter) is wearing work boots. Jack puts two and toe together, and manages to convince Agent Walker that they should follow the shooter to Almeida without telling anyone where they are going, lest the FBI leak get wind of their plan. Don’t wear Payless, people. It will only lead to trouble and incrimination down the line.
Shoes haven’t said this much about a person since Crocs were invented.
In yet another underground bunker, Colonel Dubaku is watching Thomas Roberts (taking a break from his work for Entertainment Tonight and online dating) report on the JFK incident. Emerson delivers the CIP module to Dubaku and we discover the Colonel is done abducting and drugging little boys and now focused on revenge. He holds the American government responsible for the death of his brother. Aw! Terrorists have feelings too!
Back to straight news?
In a powwow at the Oval Office, we learn that Air Traffic Control should be the least of the government’s worries. With the CIP module, the terrorists will be able to access our national power grids and our water distribution systems. An attack on either would be catastrophic. Kanin, who is acting a little shady if you ask me, steps out to take a call from Secret Service Agent Gedge who is with the First Hubby. He informs Kanin of the PI business and First Hubby’s plans to interrogate his late son’s fiancÃ©e. He assures him that her inhuman and very badly waxed eyebrows will also be addressed.
Agent Walker and Bauer are in hot pursuit of the shooter. Moss, who has been informed that they left the scene, calls in to find out what they are up to. Renee lies to him about following a lead, and he calls her out on it. She is clearly torn about this coloring outside the lines business.
At Samantha Ross’s office, First Hubby and his secret service buddy arrive to interrogate her. Agent Gedge admits to the First Hubby that he thinks they are on a wild goose chase and that the PI is manipulating the old man. They pull Samantha outside and Mr. Taylor confronts her with the $400,000 in the offshore account. She gives him the old “I’m laundering money for my Auntie” excuse, but he doesn’t believe her. He gets a little agro with her and grabs her arm, prompting Agent Gedge to tell him it’s time to leave. The eyebrows are never even mentioned.
Back at the Baddie boat, Jack and Renee intercept the shooter just as he’s about to pass through a security gate. They take out a surveillance camera and attempt to board the boat using the shooter as a human shield. Another baddie appears on deck and shoots the shooter! If there was any doubt that Team Baddie means business, it’s effectively wiped out. Jack and Renee shoot their way on board and start to search for Almeida. Renee finds a laptop conveniently flashing “delete all system files” incessantly. Meanwhile, Jack finds Tony behind door #2 and gives chase.
What in the world is this laptop trying to tell us?!
Jack catches up to Almeida on the deck of the boat and screams “Tony!” The two exchange a meaningful glance and then Tony takes off. Jack performs a flying leap, somersault, leap combo that would probably get him into the Flying Graysons and lands squarely on top of his old buddy. Before Jack can beat the bejeesus out of him, Agent Moss flies by in a helicopter and gives Renee a “daddy is disappointed” look. All Jack can do is look his old colleague in the eye and wonder “What the hell happened” to him. Could it really just be a scar and some moisturizer? He looks fabulous!
The Bauer 747
And there you have it Gasmii…we’re halfway through this week’s 4 hour journey. It’s been a very auspicious start to the new season and I, for one, am already sucked in. I’ll be back later this week to recap part 2 and we’ll play a fun predictions game!