When we last left our good friends at 24, Jack Bauer and his new sidekick Paul had infiltrated the nefarious corporate offices of some stodgy company whose name I can’t recall, but I’m pretty sure it sounded like McNeil Lehrer. Sadly, instead of a roundtable discussion of the day’s news and politics, Jack and Paul encountered shady executives and a smarmy security guard hellbent on severing any ties between the company and the terrorists it had harbored. What better way to avoid implication than to set off an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse)? Sure, it may have been excessive, but hey, this is 24 we’re talking about here, not Judging Amy (although coincidentally enough, an EMP went off on that show last week also. It nearly killed Tyne Daly). So with the lights out in Downtown Los Angeles and Paul Raines captured by El Loco Security Guard, we found ourselves heading into tonight’s episode wondering just how our fearless leader Jack would persevere. If you said “shotgun”, you’re on the right track.The latest installment of the series took place between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., Jack told us. As usual, we received our top of the episode debriefing as all the characters suddenly became dumb and asked for a little expository information to jog their memories. There was a terrorist attack today? Oh yes, the nuclear meltdown. Jack’s in peril? Oh yes, that EMP that went off TEN MINUTES AGO.
Heading up the Exposition Olympics were Curtis and Audrey who at the outset of the show made some quiet chit chat to fill us in on some of the finer details of last episode. Curtis explained that Jack and Paul had been investigating McLennan Forster’s records and must have found something incriminating. “So that’s why they set off the EMP,” deduced Audrey. No, they set off the EMP because they thought it was a juke box. Of course they found something incriminating! Somebody call Jessica Fletcher. We’ve got a super sleuth on our hands.
We then cut to poor Paul Raines who after enduring some torture courtesy of Jack and a Pier 1 lamp was now… enduring more torture. Our jolly bloke groaned in pain as the security guards first punched him in the stomach and then crushed his fingers in a door. These guys were seriously mad at the Brit. I’m surprised no one yelled “No taxation without representation!” I guess none of them had mistaken the present year for 1765. Strange. Happens to me all the time. You should see the awkward looks when I accidentally wear my powdered wig out in public. Ah yes, Stamp Act Congress humor. My favorite kind.
Luckily for Paul, Jack is an expert at killing nameless foes, and within minutes, the super-agent had freed our uncoordinated captive. WIth the coast clear, Jack and Paul ran up to an office to find the secret computer files they had managed to print out before the EMP. “Is this it?” Jack asked, raising up a sheet of code. No Jack. That’s just from the time Paul decided to mash the keyboard with his fist and print it out.
Back at CTU, Michelle Dessler greeted the staff and announced her plan of attack. She assigned everyone to their various positions, ending with “That’s all.” She then added “Oh, and by the way, Tony’s a drunken dirtbag. Proceed.” Yes, the former lovebirds have finally reunited, and it hasn’t been friendly. First Michelle threw his sobriety issues in his face and then she reduced his security access to “Level 3.” I used to have Level 6, balked Tony, but his stickler ex-wife had no need for his whining, especially since Level 3 and Level 6 only referred to his parking spot. Luckily, Audrey Raines observed this little spat. We could only imagine what sort of non-essential meddling she’d be up to later.
Random aside: Did anyone else notice how the CTU computer screens look alarmingly like an Atari game? Just wondering.
Anyway, taking a break from the chaos of CTU were Curtis and Edgar who opted to check in with the local news. A reporter resembling Carey Lowell warned that massive looting was taking place in Downtown LA where a severe blackout had hit. Aw man. New York City went down in 2003, and no one looted then. What gives, Los Angeles? Well, actually, I can understand. My internet is down right now, and honestly, I’m just about ready to take a two by four and smash in the window of a laundromat. Anyway, as the news droned on, Edgar pondered the EMP’s importance. Maybe McLennan Forster was hiding something, he surmised as a light bulb turned on over his head. He then added “Curtis, I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t turn on that lamp every time I think out loud. It’s very patronizing.” Curtis then grunted and walked off with his lamp.
Elsewhere in Los Angeles, Habib Marwan called up a man named Anderson who appeared to be the unholy love child of Freddy Krueger and Eric Stoltz. Habib asked if Anderson was ready, to which Anderson said yes. He’ll be there in thirty minutes, he said — whatever that means. Anderson then pulled out a highly decorated Army suit and admired it. Okay, we’ll just assume this means bad news.
Meanwhile, in Downtown, Paul and Jack had escaped from the corporate headquarters and were now in the street. A company helicopter soon touched down nearby and out poured… CTU field units? No, silly. Mercenaries! Yes, apparently McLennan Forster also trains soldiers when it’s not busy detonating EMPs and developing terrorist weapons. Kind of like Disney. Anyway, the mercenaries had arrived to take out Jack and Paul, and just their luck, the squad’s leader was none other than… that big muscly black guy who plays a heavy in every movie out there. You know him. He played the gay ex-con in Friday After Next. I would look him up, but my INTERNET IS DOWN. I need to find a brick. I gots to loot! (Update: the guy’s name is Terry Crews) (Update again: Turns out the guy is actually Christopher B. Duncan, not Terry Crews)(Last update: I love parenthetical updates).
Anyway, Jack and Paul ran for cover at a local gun shop, and after being shot at a few times by the proprietors, they managed to infiltrate the business, wave their badges (well, Paul only had an “I Heart Camilla Parker Bowles” kerchief to wave), and calm down the guys with the shotguns. Turns out they were Arab brothers who’d been dealing with racist looters all night. Yeah, they were just a tad on edge. When one of them asked WTF is going on, Jack curiously gave them almost a full debriefing. You see, there was an EMP that went off and— okay, okay. There was an EMP. WE GET IT.
Jack told the brothers they should leave so as not to get caught in a shootout, and instead of just bolting right then and there, the two siblings stepped aside and whispered to each other while Jack and Paul loaded up some guns. Hmmm… I wonder if the brothers were going to stay? Maybe pull a righteous card and say “If it means fighting the terrorists who have made our lives so miserable, we will stay and fight with you!” Sure enough, the bros announced that they would in fact stand by Jack’s side. Aww. That’s nice. They’ll be dead in twenty minutes. Oddly enough, Jack warned them that he couldn’t force them to leave their own property, but he highly advised that they do so. Since when was Jack beholden to laws? He can chop off a suspect’s head, but when it comes to making someone leave their property, he can only say “Please? Pretty please?” I don’t get it either.
Back at CTU, Heller told someone on the phone that the President should stay in the air at least another hour. “Yeah, the staff here is about a week behind in building that Oval Office set, so just fly around another hour or two while we finish it up,” he added. Audrey entered the room and sat down with her dad, expressing sadness over what had happened with Jack and Paul. I mean, Jack used a lot of force on Paul a few hours earlier. It had really shaken her up. Heller simply wrote it off, saying Jack had to do what he had to do. “I tortured my own son this morning. These things happen,” he added.
Speaking of torture, recent torture victim Sarah Gavin confronted Michelle to inform her that Driscoll had made arrangements to raise her salary two pay grades and expunge that pesky mole accusation from he record. When Michelle’s response was something akin to “Yeah, thanks. Could you be a lamb and file this for me?”, Sarah became hostile and threatened not to work until the assurances were made. Mmm.. yeah. You’re fired. Michelle called in the red storm troopers known as security and had Sarah removed from the building. “You’ll regret this!” threatened Sarah as she was forcibly thrown out into the 24 junkyard. Well, it was fun while it lasted.
With the already under-staffed office losing another warm body, Michelle told Edgar and Curtis to split up Sarah’s workload. The two quietly protested, saying that maybe Tony should take over Sarah’s desk. We then cut to Tony who had been banished to some quiet corner of the building where he tinkered on a computer, most likely playing Snood. MIchelle reinstated him, and almost immediately he was makin’ waves. You see, CTU knew mercenaries had entered the blackout zone in Downtown, but what they didn’t know was where Jack was. Michelle wanted to establish a perimeter (oh yes, a perimeter. Eyes rolling back into head — perimetergasm), but Tony had a feeling that Jack would provoke massive amounts of gunfire in order to get the soldiers to use their radio frequencies and tip off CTU. Let’s see. Jack will either stay put or he’ll make a lot of noise and chaos? Which will it be? Well, apparently Michelle had forgotten Jack’s Demolition Man tendencies and opted for the hard perimeter. She then added “I am a bureaucrat now. I don’t listen to sensible options.”
Tony works in his Level 3 corner of shame.
Afterwards, Audrey approached Michelle and pretty much told her that everyone loves Tony. She even threw in a neat anecdote about how he had saved her life just a few hours ago. The music on the soundtrack momentarily softened as MIchelle’s face seemed to say “Maybe I do love Tony!” Later, Audrey and Tony spoke. He asked her if she had told Michelle about their adventures from the morning. There was more babbling, and Audrey left, feeling satisfied that she had proved to be appropriately meddlesome in her matchmaking goals. “I like to think of myself as a modern day Jane Austen character. Kind of like Emma,” she told Edgar. “Now, how do you feel about Peggy in accounting? She’s got some ankle-biters, but I hear she’s a big fan of Styx also. You should tap that shit.”
Back in the field, Jack, Paul, and the Arabian brothers prepared for all out war. “It’s time,” said Jack gravely. He then turned to one of the brothers and asked “You scared?” The guy simply answered that he just wanted “to be part of the solution.” He then smiled at the camera and gave a thumbs up. Yay positive Muslim images! And to think people criticized this show for making all Muslims look like terrorists. Anyway, back to the Muslim terrorist story…
Actually, the Arabian guy hadn’t finished his spiel. “My father left us this business when he died,” he said, adding “He was a terrorist.” Actually, no. He wasn’t a terrorist, but by the time this boring little story ended, Jack had whipped out his mini telescope and was surveying the darkness for any incoming mercenaries. We like the mini telescope, but we’d prefer a periscope or maybe even a kaleidoscope, just for kicks. Anyway, true to form, Jack found the mercenaries and soon the scene devolved into a loud, exciting gun fight that most likely woke up all my neighbors (assuming they were asleep at 9:45 pm. Pussies). At one point, the screen filled with night vision, and I couldn’t help thinking that this was the best videogame ever. Eventually, Jack, Paul, and the brothers managed to stave off the entire mini army, but as the CTU backups arrived, no one seemed to notice that one asshole security guard lying on the ground near dead but with his fingers twitching. Uh oh. This means that either the Arab brothers will bite it (probably not. They made it this far; they’ll be fine) or Paul is gonna take one for the team. My money’s on Paul. Sorry dude.
Back at CTU, Tony and Michelle shared a tender moment as the two apologized to each other, choked back tears, and then, well, got back to work. Hey, it was character building. Don’t mock it. Okay, it was sort of lame. Let’s go back to Downtown.
Bad news, Michelle. I’m pregnant.
While the CTU field agents secured the gun shop, Jack talked to the two brothers. “You’re trying to shoot terrorists?” they asked. “We thought you said ‘tourists.’ We’re terrorists. I mean, we’re tourists. Tour-orists. We’re tour-orists. Hey, is it getting hot in here? We’re just gonna go set off a bomb. I mean, get some fresh air. Oy tough crowd.” Later, as Jack handed over that printout of code to Agent Castle, that not-quite-dead security guard grabbed a gun. Sure enough, Paul took one right in the gut, and as the medic rushed in to save him, the screen split into four panels. Oooh, the big twist. What would it be?
Well, it was Anderson, a.k.a. Eric Stoltz Krueger. Habib called him up on the phone, and as Miiister Aaanderson (that was my Matrix impersonation) said he was ready to go, our favorite Mummy/terrorist noted that the President has a very tight schedule. Oooh, what pray tell do they have in store for us? We won’t know until next week because those big ass numbers popped up on the screen. Blast! I might as well wring out this sweat rag now anyway. Ewww. Bad final image. Sorry about that. Hmmm… Let’s think of puppies. Awesome!