Lots of things are going haywire as we gallop to the finish line on 24. Not only is the President hovering near death and not only is a nuclear missile about to kill Milwaukee and not only did CTU accidentally start a war — A WAR!! — with China (smacking forehead), but Audrey of all people has a bug so far up her ass, you would have thought her husband had just died. Oh wait. Okay, so maybe her husband did die (minor detail), but must she sully the emotionally frozen hallways of CTU with her incessant crying and needy stares? I don’t know where Secretary of Defense Heller is, but I’d like to officially scold him for making today Take Your Daughter To Work Day.When we last left the hectic workplace of CTU, Jack had just barged into the office trauma center (located next to the office vending machine) and demanded that the doctors save a witness named Lee. Unfortunately, since the CTU medical staff is largely inept and understaffed, this scuffle resulted in Paul Raines dying quietly in the corner (bad track record for the CTU docs today. Maybe next time they should take patients to, I don’t know, a hospital?). Of course, Audrey witnessed the whole thing, causing her to devolve into a frantic whirlwind of tears and slaps.
This week we returned to this mini-ER, and thankfully, Audrey was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Jack had to contend with a pissy surgeon who was more than happy to hit a few passive aggressive fly balls into center field. Basically, all he did was end every sentence with an overemphasized “JACK!” (As in, “Okay, I get it, JACK!” or “Too bad Paul Raines died, JACK!” or “Did you see Paula Abdul on SNL this weekend, JACK?”). Well, badass Curtis couldn’t stand this tense atmosphere; so he encouraged Jack to go stink up another part of CTU.
Of course, as soon as Jack stepped out of the OR he encountered Audrey bawling on a nearby bench. The two hugged, and Audrey sobbed, “How could you?” How could he what? Save your life? Because that’s what he did earlier that day, you ungrateful wench. Alas, those events had clearly shifted to the back of her mind as she seemed solely focused on the sad fate of her husband. Audrey suddenly turned away from Jack and cried, paving the way for an enjoyably melodramatic moment, courtesy of Kiefer Sutherland.
Jack reached out his hand to touch his wayward girlfriend, but alas, he could not! His fingers were nothing but vessels of pain and suffering. Behold young maiden! Your knight seeks your love! Cry not for your fallen mate! But it was not to be. Jack simply kept his distance, letting his emotions hang in the empty void between his fingertips and her ass. Somewhere, Ingmar Bergman had a tear in his eye.
Eventually, Jack simply asked Audrey what she wanted him to do. “I want you to leave,” she replied. Uh, actually, he kind of works there. Maybe you have another request? “Make me some popcorn.” Done and done!
Meanwhile, over at Chloe’s desk, our quirky computer analyst was fretting over some traffic spikes on the internet (I think we can thank TVgasm’s Rosie O’Donnell video for that, thank you very much). “The Cisco System is self-defending!” complained Chloe urgently. Maybe she should use a blowfish algorithm. Or better yet, set up a hard perimeter on the internet. That’ll stop the traffic! Sadly, my ideas were unrealized as Buchanan simply told Chloe “We don’t have time for your personality disorder.” Hey bub, we don’t have time for your blandness disorder, but we’re not complaining. Okay, I guess we are. Honestly though, can we get back Erin Driscoll already?
At the White House, President Palmer was in damage control mode. If only Sherry Palmer were alive, then maybe she could help clean up this whole Chinese Consulate mess. You know she’d put on her little trench coat and suddenly pull up all sorts of illicit photos of the consulate having sex with a boar or something. Then she’d go over there, and with any luck, maybe kill a guy in a wheelchair. Alas, Sherry was dead (I believe we’re coming up on her one year TV death anniversary), and so Palmer had to fix this all on his own. His plan: blame the attack on a radical Chinese terrorist group. I guess that’s a decent coverup. Here’s a better one: blame it on HABIB MARWAN! You know, the guy Lee was running from anyway!
Anyway, over at the Chinese consulate, things were going from bad to worse. Change, the head of security for the consulate, was sure the Americans were behind the attack. All he had to do was find the proof. Luckily for him, he seemed to have the same high tech security systems as CTU, therefore allowing him to sharpen and enhance camera footage from the invasion. Lo and behold, one of Jack’s brilliant cohorts had his mask raised for about one second, which was all the time Chang needed to pinpoint his exact name and identity. Turns out the culprit was none other than… Howard? Who’s Howard? Why not use Agent Castle? (I’ve haven’t liked him ever since he stuck his finger in Dina Araz’s bullet wound. And by the way, where IS Behrooooooz?)
Meanwhile, as an international crisis blossomed in the wee hours of the morning, Habib Marwan arrived at his latest hideout which apparently was a fishing net factory. Yes, nothing says “ominous terrorist compound” like random nets hanging from the ceiling. You never know when an errant school of tuna might come barging through.
Marwan orchestrates his latest attack: a giant fishing net over Chicago!
Back at CTU, Chloe reached out to Jack, but her gestures seemed to go unappreciated. She tried to make him feel better about Audrey, but then of course added, “You probably destroyed your relationship with her.” Smooth Chloe. Very smooth. Still, she did reaffirm that she’d always be there for Jack, no matter what. Could this be the beginning of a Jack-Chloe-Edgar love triangle? DON’T TEASE US, 24!
Anyway, after a little CTU meeting headed up by Buchanan (seriously, are they going to give Michelle anything to do?), our old friend Chang called up and spoke to, uh, Michelle (okay, never mind). He wanted to come by investigate CTU, but Michelle wasn’t about to let him. She coldly rejected him, causing Chang to threaten that he’d call Secretary of State Taylor. Uh oh. You don’t want to get Taylor involved. (Um, who is Taylor again?) Personally, I don’t know why the writers would open up the door for yet another government character when this could be the perfect opportunity to reintroduce Heller into the mix. Then again, 24 has never been known for its economy of characters. Let’s not forget that we’ve seen three presidents in this season alone.
Meanwhile, Jack had to get some info from Audrey which of course led to inevitable awkwardness. You should go back to the hotel room, get some rest, advised Jack, but Audrey would have none of it. This country needed her, dammit, and if pouting in the corner would help capture the terrorists, then so be it! Sadly, Jack refrained from extending his hand and holding it in the air again. I suppose it doesn’t have the same effect when you’re actually facing someone. Might look like he was trying to cast a spell.
Over at the Presidential Bunker, Mike was happy to leak news to the press that a Chinese extremist group had hit the consulate. Unfortunately, this Secretary of State Taylor character had babbled to President Logan that there was a major crisis brewing. This of course led to the Prez blowing smoke out his ears and yelling at Palmer in his typically nervous nelly way. Of course, no one intimidates David P., and Logan was quickly put in his place: “War is a dirty business and sometimes you have to get dirty to clean it up,” Palmer said, adding “Plus, I’m taller than you.”
Well, because of this unseen Taylor fellow, Chang was given the right to visit CTU and ask questions. This would be awkward, especially since Buchanan and Jack would be sending him to the “situation room.” Not really sure what the “situation room” was, but I assumed it was pretty much the same as a torture room but with a couch and a small cheese spread.
While Jack changed into a spiffy designer suit, Tony and Michelle took a moment to people-watch from high up in the director’s office. Upon seeing Audrey, Tony asked, “What is she still doing here?” EXACTLY! He and Michelle then babbled about how Audrey and Jack seemed so happy together earlier in the day and blah blah blah, Tony’s lip quivered and he said “I hate being without you.” Michelle quivered her lip back in return and replied, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way.” And then of course Chloe interrupted the moment by buzzing in on the intercom. Sadly, Chloe’s lip was not quivering also.
Anyway, Chang finally arrived at CTU, and it was time to move this party into the Situation Room. There was lots of tense questioning, capped off by a screencap Chang had of this Howard guy. Jack and Buchanan said that the picture was a fake, but Chang insisted that he speak with Howard. Well, Howard’s not in the office today, said Jack. And that man standing just outside the Situation Room window isn’t Howard. That’s his twin brother, Shmoward. Yes, in another unfortunate case of bad timing, Howard happened to be chatting up Chloe right outside the Situation Room, which meant Jack had to get him out of there before Chang noticed. This was gonna be sticky.
Actually, not really. Jack simply made his phone go off, pretended he was needed elsewhere in CTU, left the Situation Room, had Howard meet him in a corridor, and then sent the dumbass not-so-secret agent off on a helicopter. Okay, I guess problem’s solved. Oh, and hey, remember that guy Lee? You know, the one at the center of this mess? Well, he was awake from surgery and could now answer questions. Turns out he knew Marwan’s location: he was in a factory on Sixth and Alameda. To the CTUmobile!
Back in the Situation Room, Chang wanted to see Jack’s hourlies to see where exactly he was when the consulate attack took place. This meant that Buchanan not only had to forge new ones, but that he had to lie and say Jack was working with Audrey for the past two hours. And of course, this also meant Chang would have to question Audrey. Well guess what? She wasn’t comfortable. Surprise, surprise. She immediately cornered Jack and scolded, “You have broken every protocol!” Honestly, shut up Audrey. She then questioned whether any of Jack’s rogue actions had been working. “You’re alive, your dad’s alive,” replied Jack. NICE. In your FACE, Audrey!
While Chang grilled an uncomfortable Audrey, Jack, Curtis, and the rest of the gang headed out to Marwan’s factory. They arrived very quickly, of course, and soon notified CTU that they were at the perimeter. OH GOOD. Habib will never get by the PERIMETER! By the way, note to terrorists: don’t base all your operations within ten blocks of CTU. Might give you a little more leeway.
Back at the office, Buchanan finally received word from the President that he could escort Chang out. Unfortunately, he was pulled away from the task, and as Chang left the building, he bumped into none other than Edgar Stiles roaming through the hallways. Uh oh. Methinks Audrey’s story is going to come undone! Sure enough, Chang asked if Audrey and Jack were working together, and Edgar replied that Audrey was at the clinic with her dying husband. I would normally tell Edgar to shut up, but luckily Chloe did it for me when she appeared out of nowhere and dragged away. Later, Edgar said “You know, Chloe, I’m very contherned about thothial thecurity. It’s a real cry-thith.” Yeah, it seemed random to me too.
Anyway, over in Habib-ville, Jack and Curtis stormed the factory and quickly shot down all of Marwan’s crew, eventually cornering the terrorist in a room. After some nifty sign language from Jack and a little subterfuge from Cutis, the crack team was actually able to flush out Marwan. Imagine that! The perimeter worked! Unfortunately, Jack wasn’t able to leave well enough alone, and so he shot the bastard right in the chest. Of course, this didn’t kill Marwan (he is The Mummy, after all), but it did knock him on his ass.
Well, it was time to extract info from Marwan which meant a little dash of torture for all us 24 fans. Jack firmly placed his foot on the bullet wound and rubbed the nuzzle of his gun against Habib’s forehead. The terrorist wasn’t about to talk, but he was eager to brag. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it was something like “I have a missile, SUCKA!” This of course sent Curtis scurrying to the nearest laptop where a webcam showed the aforementioned missile just prior to launch. Through some high tech wizardry, Curtis patched the site through to CTU where everyone got to work trying to figure out the location before the missile detonated (which was, by the way, in about fifteen seconds). Chloe weighed in with her expert opinion: “It looks like a forest area!” Way to go, super sleuth! What clued you in? The forest in the background?
And so the hour came to an end as the missile shot off, resulting in some lovely footage of a bottle rocket flying through the air. Will the armed forces be able to stop this nuclear warhead? Will Jack be able to get any info out of Marwan? Is Behrooz strapped to the missile? I guess we’ll have to wait until next week. The good news is that Heller and his son seem to be back next week. 24 tying up loose ends? Well, this is quite exciting indeed!
What do you think? Is it time for Audrey to go? Will there be a war with China?