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Oh what a sad day for fans of 24. Actually, what a sad season. After the heartbreaking but inevitable death of Nina midway through this terrible day, we were left with only one femme fatale: the venerable Sherry Palmer. But alas, her tangental storyline wound up being just as deadly as her terrorist-for-hire counterpart’s. And to think, after Sherry took a sucker punch to the jaw, we thought for sure that would be the worst whupin’ she’d receive this episode.I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself though. Tonight’s episode of 24 was yet another solid installment in the show’s late season rejuvenation. After a sometimes tedious and often incredulous detour down to Mexico where, among other bizarre distractions, we learned of Chase’s spawn cluttering up CTU, the show wisely got back on track with the central conflict: there’s a virus loose in L.A., possibly at the Los Feliz Mall or the California Center or even the heavily trafficked intersection of Taylor and Vine! For all you out-of-towners, those places don’t exist, and we Angelenos like to show off our knowledge of local geography through snide comments.
Nevertheless, Jane Saunders – filling the void of perplexed pretty face in the absence of Kate Warner – was once again trotted out to coax info from her dad. The first time didn’t work, so Jack Bauer pulled the dick move of having her sent into the infected hotel where Gael bit it. Fox promos had promised two people getting killed by the end of the hour, and for sure, we thought plain Jane Saunders might be the first to go. The episode hit its first truly exciting moment as the guards hussled the poor girl towards the hotel doors. Of course Saunders spilled the beans, and Jane lived to see another day – which is good because I think she’ll need some time to get therapy and stuff.
While CTU worked to find the eleven virus couriers (and of course the one they can’t find is in LA), our favorite non-essential storyline took center stage. The ongoing Palmer Family Crisis hit new seasonal lows, but not all time lows though – must we forget last season when Sherry almost started a nuclear war? Anyway, David invited Sherry to have a little chat in the park while Wayne and his PI friend rummaged through her house, trying to find evidence that could derail the reelection campaign. The Prez offered Sherry a diminutive role as administrative consultant, but the former Mrs. Palmer knew she’d be spending more time decorating the White House Christmas Tree than doing what she does best – scheming in a generally destructive way. Sherry, in an impassioned plea, asked to be taken back as wife and First Lady, and David accepted the offer in a blatantly disingenuous demeanor. He might as well have crossed his fingers and then shown them to Sherry and then said “In case you can’t tell, I’m lying.” Point is she’s too smart for these shennanigans, and with a swift turn of the bun, Sherry scurried away. During this time, we glimpsed a shot of President Palmer’s scarred hand – a pleasant reminder of last season’s surprise cliffhanger, which, you know, never resulted in anything.
Back in CTU, we were introduced to the next bureaucratic jerk. After the untimely demises of Chappelle (bullet to the head, point blank) and Mason (nuclear bomb to the head, point blank), we were introduced to Brad Hammond. Like his predecessors – including shortlived Andrea from season one – Hammond is a no nonsense in-the-box thinker who lives by the rules. This is all well and good, but we’ve seen it before. Can’t we get a different sort of CTU bureaucrat? Maybe a really cheery woman with a perm named Flo who always says things like “Hey Tony, thanks so much for helping us today, but yeah, I’m gonna have to lock you up in this room. It may be a little uncomfortable, but I guess that’s what happens when you betray your country. No biggie. Thanks!” That would be awesome. I would totally love a whole episode of people bitching about Flo. For now though, we’ve got Hammond who worked quickly to earn his asshole stripes by dangling the death penalty in front of Tony and then refusing to let him see his wife. I can only hope this marital strife might preface the return of Michelle’s ex-sister-in-law, Carrie. We’re overdue for a little catfight/darting eyes in CTU.
Out in the field, Jack and his hothead sidekick, Chase, tracked down the last courier to a subway near the aforementioned “California Center.” In an incredibly exciting sting operation, Jack – with the the switchboard help of our favorite CTU oddball, Chloe – slowly closed in on the suspect, only to discover that the bystander was carrying just a satellite transmitter, not an actual virus vial. Silly Jack. Doesn’t he realize that it’s only been twenty three hours? Actually, silly me for thinking that Jack had finally nabbed the guy.
Things in Palmer land, meanwhile, were about to go from bad to awesome to bad again. And then really really bad. Wayne and his new sidekick spent a good twenty minutes trying to open a safe, but when that activity sadly echoed Geraldo’s ill-fated Al Capone fiasco, the two realized they had to git. Too late. Sherry busted in on Wayne awkwardly standing in the living room. The testy Chief of Staff was not so good with the excuses, but that’s okay because sidekick PI came out of nowhere and landed a right hook on the unsuspecting Sherry. I don’t advocate violence towards women, but man, it was awesome. The two finally found the evidence they needed and were off to report to Papa Bear when nutty Julia Milliken surfaced.
Feeling betrayed and possibly hormonal too, Julia raised a gun towards the already battered Sherry. Wayne entered the room and did his best to diffuse the situation by sweating, nodding imperceptibly and being quiet. Meanwhile, remember that Fox promo about two people dying? Well, we’re fast approaching the end of the episode, and nary a bullet has been fired. Clearly Julia’s going to shoot one of these two, and then probably shoot herself. In one of the more suspenseful moments in the Palmer storyline this season, Julia ultimately riddled Sherry with bullets before saving one for herself. Wayne, now a fluttery mess, cradled Julia’s dead body in his arms, leaving his precious DNA everywhere.
It was sad to see Sherry go, but as we head into the final episode, I can’t help wondering how this will all wrap up. Will we find out what the deal was with that assasination attempt last season? Where is Mandy? Who does she work for? What was Marie Warner talking about when she said “This is just the beginning” last year? Who did Nina work for in the first season? How about this season? I just want the producers to send us a signal that they haven’t forgotten about all this stuff. Until then, I’ll mourn the loss of the my favorite femme fatale on television. Here’s to hoping it’s Kim next year.