The good news: the President seems to be alive, barely. The bad news: 24 was preempted by football. Or at least a football. But come to think of it, all this football business on last night’s episode wasn’t half bad. Actually, it was quite exciting. In fact, my knuckles were white and my breathing short and rapid. I guess this wasn’t bad news at all. So the lesson: 24 + a football = fun! Of course, I’m talking about the scary, nuclear brand of football — you know, the kind that can imperil an entire country. Now that I think of it though, I wouldn’t be adverse to watching the cast of 24 playing a little flag football for a few episodes. Might liven things up a bit. Sure, Edgar might get winded and Chloe might fumble occasionally, but if there’s any workplace that needs to bolster its employee morale (especially after that rash of tortures), it’s CTU.For those of you confused about all this “football” nonsense, rest assured. I will explain. The episode began with Air Force One plummeting from the skies after Eric Stoltz, I mean, Mitch Anderson shot it down from his stolen stealth fighter (or bomber or whatever). As can be expected, total chaos erupted at CTU, causing Michelle to bark orders out to nearly everyone in sight. Get me those stats, CHLOE! I need more schematics, EDGAR! Where’s my double-tall skinny latté with skim, TONY? Luckily, Captain Obvious was piloting Air Force One as the plane quickly declared an emergency. OH REALLY? We never would have guessed! I thought all the commotion was because the video projector showing “CBS Eye On Air Force One” was jammed. You can never underestimate the importance of inflight entertainment, especially when it involves an old rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond.
Anyway, Chloe quickly informed Michelle that Air Force One was hurtling towards Indio, CA. Great. Just our luck that the President’s plane is gonna crash right in the middle of Coachella. Over $100 for a ticket, and now no one gets to see Coldplay. The hipsters will never survive. It’s like going to see The Killers and getting stuck with Tina Turner. Soooo not cool.
Luckily, Michelle had a brilliant disaster strategy: she was going to send EMS to the crash site. I’ll assume she meant Emergency Medical Services, but I was sort of crossing my fingers for a care package from Eastern Mountain Sports. After all, you never know if the Prez is gonna need some thermal underwear or maybe even a kayak. Sadly, we never learned the extent of Michelle’s plan because moments later, the signal from Air Force One went dead. Uh oh. This is not good. Not good, I tell you.
And then, out of nowhere, Jack bounded into CTU like a spry antelope on the African savannah. Who knew he had such grace? As usual, he had all the answers and managed to reconnect with Air Force One, but eventually, the plane went dark as it inevitably crashed into… well, something. It was very La Bamba. All that was missing was a slow-motion montage of Lou Diamond Phillips (although, since he technically died in season one, that might be confusing).
Back in Washington, the Vice President was greeted by our old friend Mike Novick who apparently wasn’t kicked out of Washington by his old boss, David Palmer. I personally was hoping the return of Mike would also signal the return of Lynn, the presidential aid who fell and went boom down a flight of stairs, but alas, she was nowhere to be found. True to form, Mike was eager to have the VP invoke the 25th Amendment, but unlike two seasons ago when Alan Dale had chomped at the bit to become Commander In Chief, our new Vice President seemed frantic, emotional, and downright scared to assume the office. Luckily, Mike had already put the gears in motion; so Scaredy McFlusteredFace didn’t really have an option to hesitate over the matter.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Michelle briefed the CTU office and said that locating Marwan was still of utmost importance. Jack turned to get back to work — maybe bound around the office like a joyful gazelle — but Audrey intercepted him. She had a message from her dad (hey, why not have William Devane deliver it himself? We haven’t seen him for a few episodes). Apparently Jack had been put in charge of recovering the nuclear football. Nuclear football? FUN! How do we play? Can Daunte Culpepper be my quarterback? Actually, nuclear football was not related to the NFL (nor to David Beckham). What Audrey was referring to was a secured case containing all the activation codes for the U.S.’s entire nuclear arsenal. Or something like that. Basically, the nuclear football had very, very important and dangerous info about bombs, their locations, and how to activate them. It was Jack’s mission to recover it from the plane wreck. Simple enough. Maybe.
The nuclear football transforms one fan into a furry manimal. That is a disgusting act by the nuclear football.
Before our hero could run off into the field though, he had to have a heart to heart with Audrey about, you know, emotions and Paul and torture and blah blah blah. Eventually Jack busted free from his needy girlfriend by stating “I’ve gotta change and get ready.” Why does he have to change? Did he soil himself? Did it get a little too chilly for his long sleeve T? I guess we’ll never know.
We then moved to the Mojave Desert, home of previous 24 plane wrecks such as the season one opener and George Mason’s atomic bomb kamikaze flight in season two. Basically, any aircraft heading over this desert on 24 is pretty much doomed. This evening, we returned to the desert where we met a romantic couple camping out under the stars. A bearded and whiny man named Jason crawled out of a tent to investigate a strange sound that had woken him up. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he’d heard an explosion (um, the burning wreckage fifty feet from you might support your theory, bro). Unfortunately, Jason’s investigation was interrupted by his horny wife, Kelly, who mildly resemblanced Lauren Ambrose from Six Feet Under. “Remember what we came out here for? To relax and make a baby,” she said. Wow, this woman’s intense desire to mate coupled with the remote Southwestern desert locale makes me think that we might have stumbled into Species IV: Time to Relax and Make a Baby. And judging by Kelly’s weird eyes, it would be safe to say that she was an alien.
Anyway, even though there was a clear mandate for relaxing and making a baby, Jason could not suppress his need to investigate the strange explosive noise. His curiosity was soon rewarded as he stumbled upon plane wreckage right there in the desert. Kelly tagged along, but her peeved expression seemed to say “This is NOT conducive to baby making.” Eventually, after some shaky flashlight action, Jason discovered something so horrific that we, the audience weren’t allowed to see it initially. Moments later, Kelly’s fertility-driven agenda was silenced as she too gazed upon this mind-blowing sight. What was it? The camera finally let us in on the secret as we saw… the Presidential seal! Oh. Well, we knew that. Why the suspense? Did they want us think there was another plane that had happened to have gone down? Maybe a UFO? You know, I do have to give the producers some credit though. This was the first time in about a gazillion episodes that a couple discovered something important and when the man turned to the woman, she did NOT already have a gun drawn. It’s for the best. I was starting to think that finding important documents with a woman was a deadly act.
We then paused for a random moment as Tony and Buchanan butted heads. As you may remember from last week, turns out that Buchanan had been tapping that Michelle Dessler ass. Wow, mamma like dipping the pen in the company ink! Annoyed by this development, Tony made sure Buchanan felt his pissy wrath by getting all snippy and rolling his eyes and such. The big news though was Buchanan’s confession that he and Michelle “never got off the ground.” Yes, nothing like an old fashioned plane metaphor in the wake of Air Force One’s demise. The moment became increasingly awkward and silly when Buchanan asserted that Michelle still had feelings for Tony. There’s a national crisis going down, and yet these people still feel the need to gossip about this shit? Gotta love CTU.
A rescue team soon arrived at the wreckage of Air Force One (no, not where Jason and Kelly were. They were at the OTHER wreckage). We quickly learned that Keeler’s son was dead (a real loss for the show), but the Prez was in fact alive. Wow, that was highly implausible, but I guess we’ll go with it. Upon hearing this news, the VP reacted happily, but he was soon shaking like a little girl again when he realized that he’d still have to assume the Presidency. Man, this guy is a pussy.
Back in the desert, the newlyweds stumbled upon the football lying in the bushes. Amazingly, Jason seemed to know exactly what it was. Yes, even though it looked like any other locked briefcase you’d find on a Presidential airline, Jason had read an article a few weeks ago explaining the ins and outs of the football. So let’s see… there just so happens to be a couple camping out next to the crash site, and that couple just so happens to be completely knowledgeable about the nuclear football? Okay, okay, we’ll stop asking questions. Anyway, Jason explained the football’s significance to wifey, who asked “Who you gonna call?” Ghostbusters! Sorry, knee-jerk reaction.
Well, Jason called the cops, but in the meantime, Jack flew in a helicopter to the football which had been outfitted with a transponder. Since the commute was long and boring, he dialed up Audrey to say sorry for leaving their conversation on such an unresolved note. She said she understood, and the two babbled some more, but wouldn’t you know it? Call waiting beeped on Jack’s phone.
“Audrey, I’ve got to take this call,” said Jack.
“Wait, Jack,” replied Audrey. “Take the call!” Uh, that’s what he just SAID he’d do. Bitch never listens. Always complains, never listens.
Anyway, Jack was connected to Jason who informed him that he had found the football. Stay put and wait for me to arrive, insisted Jack. Great. If there’s one thing we know about dayplayers on 24, it’s that they never stay put and almost always die before Jack arrives. In this case, the threat was almost immediate as Jason spotted some headlights coming his way. Uh oh. Those weren’t CTU headlights! Well, Jason must have been an agent in a past life because in mere seconds, he deduced the entire situation from some comments made from Jack. As the cars approached, Jason had to find the football transponder and destroy it. Easier said than done. We then endured a minute or two of some antics with a flashlight, a compass, and a rock. Eventually, Jason managed to destroy the transmitter, and I could finally bring my heart rate down to a normal pace. Seriously, that was way more exciting than it should have been.
As the couple ran off into the night, Marwan and his cronies arrived at the campsite. How did he get there so quickly? I mean, he was in the Los Angeles area about half an hour ago. I know the show takes liberties with travel time, but the Mojave Desert is more than a thirty minute drive! Anyway, Marwan knew something was up when the football transponder suddenly died. While he investigated, Jack called Jason and told him to flee to a nearby power station. He gave very specific instructions and directions, and I half expected him to add at the end “Oh, and if you’re a terrorist listening in, just disregard this message.” Amazingly, the terrorists weren’t listening in, but no matter. Habib had a map of the area, and it didn’t take long for him to figure out where the football was headed.
Jason and Kelly eventually reached the old power station which even had a creepy old porch light swaying in the breeze. If there was ever a time for 24 to turn into a zombie movie, this was it. Terrorists on the outside, zombies on the inside — how will Jason and Kelly escape???
Sadly, my zombie prediction never came true, but the power station did serve as an enjoyably suspenseful backdrop for some terrorist stalking. We even had a small startle as Kelly hesitated before going down a hallway, asking “What if it’s a dead end?” The answer to her question came in the form of a loud BANG as a henchman shot at her head (he missed). While the lovebirds ran from the scary men (so much for spending the night making a baby), Jack’s helicopter deposited him outside the building with a nameless man serving as his backup. Hmmm? How long till this chump dies? If you said “two seconds”, you’d be right. Yes, instead of disabling the terrorists vehicles (come on, it was even my first reaction when he got off the helicopter, and I’m no superagent), Jack decided to simply infiltrate the power station. Unfortunately, a gunman opened fire on him and yup, Jack’s buddy went down in a heartbeat.
Seeing that the situation was much more dangerous than previously expected, Jack called Jason and told him to open up the football. Inside was a control board and a playbook. Neither would work without the other. Jack instructed Jason to take the playbook and separate from his wife. Of course, this led to valuable time being wasted as the couple resisted, then relented, then kissed, and then cried. Hurry up, YOU IDIOTS! Honestly, at this point, the terrorists could have killed this Jason jerk. I really didn’t care. He was really annoying me.
Outside, we were privy to a very special MacGyver moment as Jack thought of a way to escape the gunman’s line of fire. Jack found an old paint can, emptied some bullets from his dead partner’s gun into it, added some dry grass, and then lit the whole thing on fire. While this can of goodies slowly burned, Jack opened fire on the gunman, and as the bad guy battled back with his own firepower, the MacGyver can suddenly went ablaze, setting off the bullets inside. It provided the perfect gunfire decoy for Jack as he quietly slipped around to the side and killed the henchman from below. Very clever. Very clever. But until Jack rocks a mullet or can stop a sulfuric acid leak with a Hershey’s bar, he’ll never be able to top one Angus MacGyver.
Back in the power station, Jason was soon apprehended by Marwan who quickly found the playbook as well. The cue-ball terrorist demanded to know where the control board was, but Jason remained tightlipped, ultimately taking a bullet on the shoulder for his defiance. Excellent! Watching from nearby though was Kelly who seemed pained by her husband’s torture. Not knowing what to do, she called up Jack’s cell which rang loudly. What part of covert operation don’t you understand, JACK? Put your damn phone on VIBRATE! If he were in a movie theater, I’d turn around and glare passive aggressively at him.
Kelly wasn’t being so quiet either. She seemed to be practically yelling over the phone, even though she was supposed hiding from the terrorists. Sadly, she turned out to be as dumb as she was horny as she shunned Jack’s advice and revealed herself to the bad guys. She said she’d offer up the control board if the terrorists would let them live. Yes, because negotiating with terrorists always works out so well. You’d think she’d know better, especially after Marwan fired his gun a second time at Jason, this time striking his leg. But no. Kelly freely relinquished the control board, and unsurprisingly, after having what he needed, Marwan ordered the happy couple to be terminated. Luckily for them (but not for humankind), Jack managed to save the day by offing the terrorist executioner. However, because he had been too shortsighted to disable the jeeps, the other terrorists zipped away.
Hey, remember that helicopter that Jack arrived in? Well, apparently it was just hanging out in the underbrush. As the terrorists drove away, Jack ordered the helicopter to take out the lead jeep, which he had seen the football in. Amazingly, CTU proved to be competent in this task, and as Jack ran over to the car wreck, I became convinced that the football wouldn’t be there. Well, it was. So then I became convinced that it was just a decoy. But it was the real thing. Hmmm… That’s not right. It’s never this easy.
Well, as Jack inspected the football’s contents, he discovered that chapter three of the playbook was missing. Dammit! I just finished chapter two! It was a really good book too! Oh well. I guess I might as well read the Da Vinci Code now.
Amidst this chaos, we briefly cut away to Mike Novick (back from his trendy stint in Sin City) who was carefully orchestrating a press conference for the Vice President’s swearing into office. Even though the VP felt there was no need to assume the presidency until the next morning, our man Mike and his new sidekick were fairly adamant about doing it now. Hmmm…. This smells scheme-tastic. What does MIke have up his sleeve now?
Meanwhile, back in the field, Jack was on the phone with Audrey, the resident nuclear football expert at CTU. What was in chapter three, Audrey? Tell us! Tell us! For this momentous occasion, Audrey donned her glasses to show that she was in fact SmartAudrey instead of NeedyAudrey. Well, chapter three, she informed us, was pretty important. It gave the activation codes of every warhead in the country (how Marwan knew this is a mystery). In a moment of alarm worthy of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s famous “They’re heading right into the jaws of the monster!” line from The Perfect Storm, Audrey squawked that if the terrorists find a warhead, NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO STOP THEM! Yeah, that’s what they always say.
Our cliffhanger was relatively mild as Mike Novick pulled aside the new Prez and informed him that the terrorists had seized the football. Just our luck. A terrorist interception. Who was in control of this football anyway? Jay Fiedler?
Considering this episode revolved around non-essential characters, it was extremely exciting. What did you think?