On the whole, I am really enjoying this season of 24, but there are certain things that I miss. Who else remembers when the graphic violence warning at the beginning of an episode actually meant something? Nowadays, the put it up before every episode. Maybe I am just desensitized to the violence, but too often it has simply been a let down. Still, to be complaining about such a small component of the show, especially when they are just trying to cover their ass, might be complaining just a little too much. The show is moving at a fever pitch, and they removed what I thought was the least interesting story line last week with the suicide of Maya Driscoll. You know they had to have something better to fill up the remaining time.This week’s episode was not as heart stopping as last week, but did a very good job at the transition as to what is going to be the next catastrophe everybody has to deal with. Yes, that’s right. You honestly didn’t think they were going to spend 12 episodes or whatever hunting down a terrorist, did you? This is not the Fugitive. Everything the terrorists have done so far has been another step on the way to one dramatic event.
Obviously the train wasn’t going to be that big, and we soon found out that Heller’s kidnapping was also a diversion, but who thought there could be anything after the nuclear meltdown? The team has been quickly trying to piece together information on Barnes and quickly learned that he wasn’t simply some mid-level manager at a call center, he was also an engineer at McClennan-Forster, one of the top defense contractors in the country. They would have to keep a close watch on this guy.
Marwan had been able to steal a CTU guard’s uniform and sneak out of the building (how very Hitman of him). Jack anticipates this and sets up a tight perimeter. Don’t we just love Jack and his perimeters? Hard perimeter, soft perimeter, tight perimeter, loose perimeter. They are all wonderful perimeters, even if they don’t work. Why does he even bother with these perimeters? They don’t really seem to work all that well for him. Since they don’t know where Marwan is, or if he is even alive, Jack decides to head to the offices of the defense contractor to find more information. If Marwan did have more plans, maybe they would be able to find some sort of clue in the office where he worked.
Paul Raines tells Jack that he knows the systems of McClellan-Forster, since he conveniently installed their network and created the software. Paul is even eager to help Jack find all he can, offering to go with him to McClellan-Forster’s headquarters and search for the information himself. I am sure that his sudden change of heart had nothing to do with the fact that he was worried jack would electrocute him with a lamp cord again. Jack agrees and sends Audrey and Curtis back to CTU, apparently without a security detail, which means that they will get back without anybody from the security detail dying.
What they find at CTU is a place of two contrasts. You have everybody who is relieved that no more nuclear plants blew up on one side, and then you have Erin Driscoll weeping about her daughter on the other side. On one hand, you have the entire team working on finding Marwan, and on the other hand, you have Driscoll, still crying about her daughter. I think you get the picture. She was completely unfocused and couldn’t make a decision. You could understand why some people would be questioning if she should still be working.
One of those people with questions was Edgar. He can’t help it, he is just curious by nature. Wouldn’t you wonder if your manager was competent if she was trying to work after seeing her daughter die in a pool of her own blood? So did Edgar, but Sarah jumps all over him about even asking. Now, at this point Edgar could have said a couple of things. For instance, it would have been pretty fair for him to say “Well, my mom died, and it didn’t prevent me from stopping a nuclear holocaust”. Or maybe “Well, I just saved like 100,00 lives, could you not yell at me so much?”
Tony, who has gone from drunken slob to ambitious bureaucrat with just a few shots from his glock, takes these same concerns to Secretary Heller. If you are going to mention that somebody should get fired, you better have somebody as a replacement, and Tony suggests himself. It takes a little bit of convincing, and Tony slams Heller up against he wall and shouts “You see this scar! I was shot for this job! I bled for this job! I bled for this country! Don’t tell me that I can’t make decisions under pressure!!!” Of course it didn’t go like that, but if Heller hadn’t been so easily convinced the first time, that is what I like to imagine Tony would do.
Heller tells Driscoll his decision. You know that she has to pretend she wants to be there, but you can tell by the look in her eyes that she wants out. Just as Heller is comforting her with the story about how he dealt with his own wife’s passing, Audrey comes in. How awkward must that have been? “Oh, Ms. Driscoll, this is my daughter, Audrey. She is not dead. Audrey loves me so much and is not crazy. She works with me every day. Did I mention that she is still alive? She got married once, but divorced, but I think she still wants kids. Won’t that be great watching her grow up in my old age? Oh, I’m sorry, did you say that your daughter was a disgrace, and crazy, and killed herself? My son is also crazy, but still alive. Oh shit, there’s that word again. Well, I just think you should leave. Pack your things and have a nice day. Before you leave, can you give the name of that Sushi place to my daughter. She and I are hungry and need to eat something. She’s alive, by the way.”
And so goes yet another director of CTU. These people just don’t stick around very long these days, do they? Mason dies in a nuclear explosion, Tony commits treason. It’s not a job a lot of people are going to love, but there is one person who would have liked to have had a shot, and that is Curtis. Curtis was second in command, and he didn’t really like Tony coming in and getting that quick promotion, especially since he wasn’t even technically working there yet. I can see why Curtis would feel snubbed, but this guy has plenty of badass in him left. As nice as it is to see Curtis in his black slacks and purple shirt eyeing a monitor, wouldn’t it be even better if he was driving around in one of those Expeditions all the time, shooting up all the shit that got into his way? A guy as good as the twist-and-snap neck maneuver as he is, needs to be out there busting some heads.
If Curtis had been around to supervise the perimeter, Marwan wouldn’t have escaped so easily. And I do mean easy. Whoever Jack put in charge of securing the area around the building where they had run into Marwan, might have to go back and look into his CTU Perimeter Standard Operating Procedures Handbook. I am sure there is a nice little chart in there with check marks next to things you shouldn’t let in through a tight perimeter. For instance, letting a city bus pass through does not usually qualify as a tight perimeter, at least in the TVgasm Perimeter Handbook. Whoever let the bus in also gave Marwan the opportunity he needed to get out of the area unnoticed.
Marwan knows that he is burned, and it is going to be close to impossible for him to leave the country. He tells as much to another random terrorist who drives up in a black Lexus. But that doesn’t mean the end of the mission, but only Marwan’s part. His new task is to cause confusion. As long as CTU think he is still alive, they are going to allocate a lot of resources to finding him. This makes it perfect to execute the next part of the plan. We have no idea what it is going to be, but they did mention “Air Force Base”.
We know that Audrey and Jack have a decent relationship. Anytime your boyfriend saves you from a live execution always means there will be a special bond. Still, you could tell that Audrey was a little unnerved when she saw Jack electrocuting her ex-husband, and I think Paul saw an opening. He helped a terrorist, but not explicitly, perhaps if he saves some lives, she’ll forget about it, and everything will be back to normal. Paul tells this to Jack, who must have been thinking “I brought you along to help, not tell me about these problems with your wife.” He probably would have threw Paul out right there if it wasn’t for Audrey asking him to protect Paul. What is she so worried about? Alimony payments?
And can somebody tell me why they are so worried about what’s going to happen at the defense contractor? Everybody knows that these huge international conglomerates that are part of the military-industrial complex are always honest and forthcoming whenever somebody from the government wants to ask questions. They don’t care about profits, they just want to keep people safe. Well, not quite.
As soon as Jack and Paul get to McClelland, things are a little strange. Before they got there, the CEO and CTO had been talking about trying to cover up the fact that Marwan had even worked for them. When Jack came and asked them questions about him, they started to flip out. OK, that is not completely true. The CEO at first thought it was more important to give CTU all the information they needed, but faced with the prospect of losing his company and jail time, they decided they must get rid of as much information connected to Marwan as possible.
They couldn’t be completely obstructionist, so they let Paul and Jack into Marwan’s office to let them look around his computer. While Paul is poking around and looking for documents, the corporate guys not only put the two under surveillance, but the CTO is actively attempting to delete files before Paul can see what is inside. Luckily, Paul created the system, and he knows everything there is to know about it, including how to build files from empty directories and the sort. I guess it was a good thing that he came along.
Paul gets closer and closer to finding what he needs and the CEO and CTO are now terrified. If they are going to save the company’s reputation, they are going to have to do something drastic. They can’t just go in there and kill them, but they have to prevent them from accessing any data. The solution? An experimental weapon known as an EMP. If you have seen Ocean’s 11, you know what I mean. Don Cheadle uses one to knock out all of the power in Las Vegas. In 24, the people of McClelland-Forster are going to use the EMP to knock out the power, and it just so happens that it is going to destroy all of the data as well.
While the head of security starts the EMP, and evacuates the building, things start becoming strange. CTU notices they are having trouble monitoring Jack, and they can’t reach him on his cell phone. Apparently, the phone lines and cell towers are the first to be affected by the EMP, but the internet lines aren’t, and so Tony has Sarah send an IM to Jack just as Paul has come up with an important file. They realize that it is likely an EMP causing all of the trouble, and Jack realizes that the only way that file will be saved if it is on paper. He tells Paul to start printing the document and runs off to try and stop the EMP.
Unfortunately, Jack is too late to stop the EMP. He arrives just as it is about to go off, and if you thought Curtis was kicking ass last week, Jack showed us once again that he is the original. The lights are out, and Jack takes out three guards, including a wonderful clothesline on one of them that puts the guard flat on his back. The explosion happens, (or pulse I guess) but an EMP is non-lethal for humans, so he is hardly affected. Now, even though this was a non-lethal weapon, and it took a long time to warm up and what not, why is this weapon being tested in your headquarters? Strange things happen. Perhaps somebody accidentally sits on the keyboard and sets off the detonation sequence, perhaps the magnetic shield doesn’t work as advertised. Do you take that chance? Probably not. You probably test it out in the desert.
Details aside, the EMP works, and the lights are out. Before that happened, the head of security had noticed that Paul was printing something, and made his way down to Marwan’s office to stop him. I have to admit, when he gets down there, Paul is quite smooth. “Oh, I printed something on the computer, it’s still in the printer.” He lies, of course, and when the security guy goes to look, Paul runs out of the room. They do a little hide and go seek in the building, and it looks like Paul is going to escape from the building, if only he had the key to get out of the front door. So close, but yet so very, very fucked.
I thought Paul sucked, but he kind of made up for it this episode. Now we know that Jack is going to save him from the security guy, but from the looks of the next episode, McClellan-Forster has their own SWAT team, and they are going to be working overtime to make sure Paul and Jack don’t make it out alive. Man, that is going to take some creative thinking over at CTU. There are no lights or electricity within eight blocks, no communications work. It’s going to take some great management of the team, and Division knows exactly the right girl for the job. Hmm, what high-ranking individual at Division also has experience at CTU?
Yes, that’s right. Tony’s ex-wife is back, she’s bad, and she’s got the sensible but sexy business suit to prove it. Shit is about to get really crazy, and I am going to love it.