By B-Side|Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | 1:11 pm | 30 Comments
Ahhhh… Another day in the life of Jack Bauer has come to an end, and thus, season four of 24 has wrapped up as well. It’s been a fun ride, and with the exception of some increasingly unbelievable plotting in the past few weeks, a nearly perfect season as well. Unfortunately, the death of Dina Araz took a lot of wind out of the show’s sails, and hey, now that I think of it, we still don’t know where poor Behrooz went. Something tells me he’ll be back as a crazy bad guy, eager to get revenge on the government that swore to protect his mother. Don’t let the puffy hair deceive you: Behrooz will be back, and this time, he’ll want BLOOD.Until then, we have some other faces from the past to deal with. Specifically: Mandy. Yes, when we last left our homies at CTU, Jack and the funky bunch had surrounded the the assassin’s apartment complex. And what did she do? She killed Agent Castle (yes!) and abducted Tony (doh!). Now Jack was trying to hunt her down.
“Is there any way she slipped the perimeter?” asked Michelle. Surely she could not get past the perimeter! No one gets past the perimeter! Except public buses… and waves of terrorists… and pretty much anything that can run faster than a kindergartner. Still, Jack was pretty sure that this time, the perimeter would work. Hey, remember last hour when the perimeter forgot to make sure not to let in twenty terrorists so they could abduct Marwan? Yeah, that was awesome. Good perimeter-ing, perimeter!
As Curtis headed out to join Jack on the location, Audrey put on an efficient-looking headset and began hunting for the missile with satellite printouts. Good to see she’s suddenly stopped pouting around. I guess that goes with her whole “I’m different every hour!” character thing she’s got going on.
Michelle, meanwhile, was flipping out now that her man had disappeared. When she learned that only nine people would be heading to the apartment complex as backup, Michelle nearly lost it, but luckily the bland resolve of Buchanan calmed her down. Wow, tough day for women in CTU. All their lovers keep getting hurt. Something tells me Audrey will be starting up a support circle in the “situation room.”
While Michelle fretted, we found Tony shirtless and kneeling in a vacant apartment. Amazingly, Mr. Almeida’s well-documented increase of girth seemed to have reversed, which leads me to believe he has either a) been doing sit-ups in the situation room, b) had liposuction in the CTU plastic surgery facility (located next to the CTU trauma center), or c) simply been wearing a pregnancy suit around the office for no real reason. Either way, two cheers for physical fitness. You never know when you’ll be bound, gagged, and shirtless.
Anyway, Mandy had apparently found the one unit with drying paint because utility lamps were lit all over the place, making the hideout exceptionally bright. Honestly, if I were an assassin in a complex surrounded by government agents, I might, you know, shut the lights off, but hey, it’s nice to know that if there’s one thing Mandy respects, it’s a landlord’s humble attempts to dry paint. By the way, kudos to CTU for not investigating the one apartment with light streaming from its windows.
Over in Washington, Palmer and Logan needed to get some death toll estimates from Audrey. But wait, we don’t know where the missile will strike, complained Audrey. How can I put together the information? JUST DO IT BITCH.
Back in the apartment complex, all sorts of bad things were happening. After some tense phone conversations and some portrait work with the camera phone, Mandy basically told Michelle that if she didn’t move the CTU forces, Tony would die. Ah, a clever reversal of last year’s situation with Saunders! Except that time, Tony committed treason to save Michelle. Would she return the favor for her estranged husband? The dilemma was so pressing, Michelle had to UNBUTTON HER BLAZER! Whoa, simmer down Ms. Dessler! Don’t go crazy and show us too much of that blouse! Maybe you’d like a warm towel? A glass of water?
Well, Michelle’s inner-conflict lasted for about five seconds as she quickly spilled the beans to Buchanan who then alerted Jack. “I promise you that we will do everything we can for Tony,” Bauer reassured Michelle. Great. That’s what he said about Paul Raines too. Here’s the thing about CTU promises: they inevitably backfire — and in huge ways. The only thing less reliable are CTU security escorts, CTU staff doctors, and, of course, perimeters. On the plus side, the CTU fro-yo machine is quite good.
Anyway, Mandy brokered a deal with Michelle, and as the vehicles drove away from the North exit of the building, our lady assassin got to work. She busted out our old friend, Mr. Taser, and zapped Tony right in the chest. Yay! More electrocution! It wasn’t as novel as Jack’s lamp wire technique, but it was just as effective, and at the end of the day, isn’t that all we really want? Hey, and let’s not forget how much fun we had when poor Sarah took a few Taser kisses to the neck earlier this season. Those were good times. Anyway, as Tony lay on the floor unconscious, Mandy waltzed over to a counter, and in a totally showy, unnatural move, swung her leg up and cocked her gun. I half expected Mia Kirshner to turn to the camera and say, “Why yes, I am in The L Word.” And then after an awkward pause, she’d add, “That’s a show about lesbians.”
Before becoming an assassin, Mandy was a Rockette.
Well, suddenly raging guitars filled the soundtrack as Mandy approached her front door. Oh no! What would happen? Would she kill Tony? Would she escape into the night? Turns out neither. All she did was… put on lipstick? Oh, I get it! The show’s telling us that sexy women are dangerous! Phew! For a moment there, I was afraid I’d have to stray from my gender stereotypes.
Anyway, once she was all purdy and such, Mandy headed over to the neighboring apartment where a guy and a girl greeted her happily. Apparently, she actually knew these people. They asked if she was okay, and she said yeah, but then asked if “Joss” was around. Huh? Joss? Moments later, a fat dude poked his head out of the bedroom, and before we could even contemplate if this was Joss, Mandy had already shot him down, sending the other girl cowering in the corner. Uh, what exactly is going on here? Who are these people? Why is Mandy killing random jerks named Joss?
The mysterious, short-lived, and utterly unexplained Joss.
Of course we didn’t get an answer because we cut to commercial, and when we returned, we were back with the Prez who had nothing but bad news. “I just got off a very disturbing phone call from the Chinese foreign secretary,” he said, elaborating: “He plans to vote for Carrie Underwood. I just don’t understand.” Actually, turns out the Chinese were still mad about that whole consulate mess and now were waving around those photos of stupid Howard Burn. This of course led President Logan to go nuts and yell at Palmer, eventually spouting out a Chicken Little-ish “We’re gonna die! We’re all gonna die!” type rant. “Don’t say that!” reprimanded Palmer in one of his rarely seen growls. Eventually he calmed Logan down and told him, “Remain presidential,” adding, “Maybe now would be a good time to discuss insurance alternatives with Allstate. Here, let me stand in the middle of this road and talk about it.”
Meanwhile, Howard Burn — last seen exiting CTU via helicopter two episodes ago — made his triumphant return as he landed on a rooftop in San Diego. He checked in with Buchanan, and with everything seeming fine and dandy, he hopped in an SUV where (SURPRISE!) Chang, the Chinese security official, was waiting. Turns out this crafty guy had taken out Burn’s CTU escort (there’s a shocker). And how did Chang know to do that? Well, before he made his little visit to Buchanan two hours ago, the Chinese government started pulling satellite imagery on CTU and noticed a helicopter leaving with Burn. So of course they followed it all the way down to San Diego. Still doesn’t explain how Chang got there so quickly. In fact, all the logistics about this particular twist made absolutely no sense (how did the Chinese intercept CTU before the helicopter landed? How did Chang have enough time to get off his helicopter and get into the CTU vehicle? How did Burn not notice ALL THE ASIAN MEN IN THE SUV???). Oh well, it’s one of the many time-bending mysteries of 24.
Back at CTU, Michelle was freaking out again as the sting operation on Mandy neared. With little else to do, she took out her rage on poor Edgar Stiles as she impatiently asked “Can’t we multiplex?” I don’t get it. Does she want to go to the movies? Oh wait, never mind. It was just typical CTU techno-babble. Apparently Michelle wanted to multiplex the triangulation of the blowfish algorithm in order to generate enough gigawatts for the flux capacitor. Makes perfect sense.
Anyway, as a random rain storm (or as it’s known outside of Los Angeles: rain) descended on the scene, Mandy called Michelle to say that she was leaving the buildiing. Uh, before you do that, could you explain your little scuffle with Joss? No? Okay, fine. Anyway, as Mandy continued to talk on the phone, a man and a woman fled the apartment complex. Surely this was Mandy and Tony, but wait! We couldn’t get a good look at the couple. Uh oh. I smell a decoy! Suddenly, the duo hopped into a car, and as the field agents swarmed, the vehicle exploded in the now customary weekly fireball. This has fakeout written all over it.
Alas, everyone at CTU fell for it (except Jack, but we’ll get to that later). Michelle let out a heart-wrenching “NO!!!”, and with Mandy believed to be dead, Palmer said CTU should focus its efforts on post-nuclear-disaster management. Of course, Logan went nuts — again — and chewed out Palmer… again. “You failed me, David. And you failed your country,” he complained. Hey, quick call of hands. Who screwed up CTU’s chances of apprehending Marwan about four or five hours ago? Oh that’s right, you did, LOGAN. Ah, but there I go again, yelling at fictional characters. But seriously, this guy has more mood swings than Courtney Love in menopause (it hasn’t happened yet, but man, do I fear it).
Later, as MIchelle stared vacantly in an empty room, Buchanan comforted her with a few reassuring words. Oh I see the way this goes. Wait till her man’s died and then you swoop in to get a piece. Real clever, Buchanan. Real clever. Meanwhile, out in the field, Jack’s super intuition was telling him that Tony wasn’t dead. He reviewed the video footage of the explosion over and over again, trying to match it with the audio of Mandy’s phone call. Funny. There didn’t seem to be any trace of an explosion on Mandy’s call. You’d think there would be, considering she, you know, claimed to be in the car. Huh. Maaaaaaybe she wasn’t in the car! Still, you’d think she’d try to make an explosion noise for congruity. At the very least, say “Ka-boom! I’m dead now.”
Nevertheless, Jack was onto something. “Give me more damn volume on the phone call!” he yelled at Curtis, who responded with “Jack, Tony’s gone.” There was a quiet, reflective pause, and then Jack replied calmly, “I’m sorry, Curtis. Just play it again. Please.” Well, since he asked so nicely, how could Curtis resist? Jack watched the footage again, and this time, he noticed not the explosion but that none of all that hard rain even showed up in the recording. Mandy must have been calling from another location! DUH.
Yes, Mandy was alive and well, and she had even been so kind as to finally throw some clothes on the entirely too shiny Tony Almeida (she got the garments from the recently deceased Joss, and we can assume the decoys were the two other unlucky residents from that apartment. Still waiting for the backstory on that…). Anyway, as Mandy prepared to head outside with her hostage, Tony pressed his toe against what looked to be egg shells. Oh wait, never mind. It was broken glass, and he had cut himself in order to leave a bloody trail of his whereabouts. How very Hansel and Gretel. Well, in a rare moment of proficiency, the CTU field team actually spotted the blood, and as Jack came over to investigate, he noticed there was actually a trail.
Tony and Mandy, meanwhile, had ventured down to the garage, and in an attempt to wrangle himself free, Tony engaged in a headbutting extravaganza as he tried his best to whoop his captor with nothing but his torso, forehead, and knees. Unfortunately, Mandy was able to easily fight back, thus securing Tony’s badass ranking as firmly #3 behind Curtis and Jack. After all, let’s not forget when Jack was able to kill two guys with his hands cuffed behind him last season. And must we overlook Curtis’s insane escape from Marwan earlier that afternoon?
Speaking of badasses, Jack suddenly showed up in the garage and told Mandy to drop her gun. There was a neat little showdown, and as Mandy tempted Jack to shoot Tony, Curtis snuck up from behind (he and Jack LOVE sneaky maneuvers) and OH YES, he just punched her right in the FACE! Man, it was like he heard Tony threatening to be badass #2 and just HAD to one-up him. Wow, a punch to the face. That was awesome. Let it be known that this moment was replayed on the Tivo many, many times. Producers, if you ever kill our man Curtis, I will never forgive you.
Click on Mandy to see the punch…
With Mandy knocked out and handcuffed and Tony safe and sound, it was time to alert Michelle that her husband was still alive. I kind of was hoping Jack would call her up and be all coy and everything. “Guess who I found. I’ll give you a hint, you used to be married to him and you thought he just died!” Then of course Audrey would come galloping in, yelling “Paul? Paul? Is he alive!!!!” Ah, it would be worth it just to see her crumble all over again. But anyway, Jack alerted CTU in a normal way, but alas, Michelle wasn’t there. She was in the parking lot, sitting in her car. A knot slowly formed in my stomach as a tragic Romeo & Juliet scenario played out in my head: Michelle thinks Tony’s dead, Michelle commits suicide, Tony finds Michelle dead, Tony commits suicide, and so on and so forth. As Buchanan tried to reach her on her cell, my fears became more and more intense. Answer the phone! Your man is alive! Don’t shoot your brains out!
Luckily, Michelle picked up and tearfully learned the wonderful news that her man would be coming back to her. “I’m coming to CTU right now,” Tony said. Oh no. The other kiss of death: telling people to wait. Would this be curtains for Tony?
Anyway, while Jack arranged a deal with Mandy in exchange for information, we returned to San Diego where Howard was now tied up and ready for some good old fashioned torture. But Chang didn’t need to do any of that. Instead, he was simply going to ship Howard off to China, never to be heard from again — unless he talked. Who authorized the raid on the consulate, he asked. Dumbass, say it was Habib Marwan. You know, the guy that actually was chasing the witness staying there. But no, Howard wasn’t very quick, and as the first hour concluded, he reluctantly admitted that Jack was behind the mission. Hand slapping forehead.
The second hour of the broadcast began with another nifty “Previously on 24″ recap where we got to see Curtis punching Mandy in the face yet again. Ha, that never gets old. I mean, it’s not like he punched her face with an uppercut or a jab. He full on rocketed his fist right between her eyes. Seriously, it was one of the very best punches in the series’ history, let alone network television in general. Okay, I’m gushing. Let’s just move on.
After the recap, we returned to the surprisingly unblemished Mandy who wanted a deal from the president’s office before giving any information. Ah, but we had a little conflict. You see, Mandy was the person who tried to kill Palmer two seasons ago. Of course, we knew that, but did the Oval Office? Apparently they did. The main Secret Service guy (I forget his name, even though he’s been featured every season), revealed Mandy’s past as a wanted assassin in connection with Palmer’s poisoning. Could Palmer grant Mandy freedom when she had in fact tried to kill him? It was an interesting predicament, but sadly, it was resolved almost immediately as Palmer agreed to the deal. Now call me crazy, but didn’t this all feel a bit rushed? Shouldn’t there have been an episode or more devoted to discovering the link between Mandy and her assassination attempt on Palmer? And then after that, shouldn’t there have been more discussion about who she was working for? And couldn’t we have had more than three nanoseconds of deliberation from Palmer before consenting to the deal? Point is, all this juicy stuff should have surfaced three or four episodes ago. Cramming it into the finale meant that we had to gloss over it way too quickly in order to pave the way for later nonsense with China. Urgent plea to writers: please follow up with Mandy next season.
Anyway, back in Los Angeles, Mandy informed Jack that she’d tell all once her representatives had confirmed her immunity. Great. Is that stupid Amnesty International guy going to come back? Thankfully no, and after a brief call with her lawyers, Mandy received the go-ahead to babble at will. She quickly gave Marwan’s location, saying that he was about to take off on a helicopter. We then cut to Marwan as he climbed into a chopper. In the background, the lights of downtown Los Angeles twinkled in the night, which was pretty impressive considering all the electrical circuits had been completely fried a few hours ago when that EMP went off. Anyway, Jack sped towards Marwan in a CTU helicopter, thus paving the way for Edgar to yell, “I see a chopper!” Or as it was pronounced in EdgarSpeak: “I thee a choppa!” As for Marwan, he seemed to be… playing a PSP? Wow, as a terrorist he should be really more focused on being evil. Oh wait, it wasn’t a PSP. No, it was merely a little mapping device, and oh who cares. Point is that Jack showed up and disabled Marwan’s helicopter — with a pistol, of course. Honestly, if Jack had a potato, he would have stopped that helicopter (although, if it were up to just the CTU field units, they probably would have found a way to have not only let the chopper get away, but somehow blow themselves up in the process).
Well, Marwan dashed away from the helicopter and ran downstairs to — you guessed it — a parking garage. Hot on his trail was Jack, Curtis, and a random third guy who we’ll name Deady McDeaderson. Amazingly, this unnamed sidekick lasted a whole five seconds before Marwan killed him (that’s about two or three seconds longer than Jack’s typical anonymous sidekick). Sadly, Curtis took a bullet in the shoulder, causing him to go down as well. So this was it. Jack versus Marwan. The final showdown. Would Jack be able to capture this wily terrorist? Not so much. You see, Marwan still had that whole martyr option, which meant that he was more than happy to fling himself over the side of the building. Luckily Jack was able to grab his arm at the last second, but when Marwan pulled out his knife and sliced Jack’s hand, well, the rest was history. In one of 24‘s less impressive visual effects, Marwan fell to the ground below with a jerky swiftness usually reserved for goldfish going down the toilet bowl. Either way, he was dead, and of course, in Washington, Logan went nuts, screaming that Jack promised to bring back the terrorist alive. Who else is crossing their fingers that this guy comes to a bloody demise next season? Not saying I don’t enjoy his character — he is way more entertaining than bland Keeler — but still, I’m looking forward to his death.
Before Marwan dies, he sings a tune from Man of La Mancha.
Meanwhile, with Marwan dead as a doornail, we could return to that other subplot — the impending Chinese crisis. With Howard Burn having implicated Jack, China was now ready to rumble. Either the U.S. government hands over Bauer to stand trial in China or we’re going to have another war. Well, surely we don’t want war, but can we really hand over Jack? Then again, if there’s anyone capable of escaping a Chinese jail, it’s Jack (and I bet he could do it in exactly twenty-four hours). Of course, there was another option. Jack could have an “accident,” suggested Logan’s advisor, Cummings. “This administration does not condone murder!” Logan responded with sudden authority. Whoa, when did he get balls? Now, why didn’t anyone at this moment say “How about we fake his death? Put him in the witness protection program.” Surely that would be the logical thought. But no. Everyone simply stood around tensely, perhaps snacking occasionally on some cookies Mike had baked.
Over at CTU, Edgar and Chloe frantically tried to decode information found on Marwan’s helicopter. The two began bickering immediately, with Edgar finally rebuffing Chloe’s suggestions by saying they didn’t work. “That’s because you didn’t expand the parameter!” she yelled. DUH! I can’t believe he didn’t expand the parameter, stupid jerk. Everyone expands the parameter. Sigh.
Well, these two managed to figure out the trajectory of the missile and HOLY SHIT — it was headed for Los Angeles! I never would have guessed! Personally, you’d think the terrorists would attack Washington, but I guess movie stars can really be more annoying than politicians (case in point, watch Tom Cruise on Oprah yesterday. If that doesn’t make you want to nuke Hollywood, I don’t know what will).
With a missile heading towards CTU, would the military be able to find it in time? Well, the answer was yes. In fact, the national guard took out the nuke rather efficiently, thus keeping the suspense tightly confined to a thirty second duration. Again, another plot element that could have used a little more build up.
Well, Marwan was dead, the missile was destroyed, and yet we still had thirty more minutes left in the show. What gives? A second missile? A second Marwan? As I pondered these things, Tony and Michelle finally had their teary reunion while down the hall, Audrey watched Paul Raines’s body get hauled out of the building. By the way, where did Heller go? He popped up last week and was gone again this week. It’s the season finale. Can we get a little closure with his character? Anyway, Audrey found Jack and promptly broke up with him, saying that his home is really CTU. Wait, was she dumping him AND firing him at the same time? Wow, she really has a chip on her shoulder.
Just when it couldn’t get any worse for Jack, Palmer called up to say that he was being arrested for the whole Chinese mess and apologized sincerely for his role in it. Of course, RationalJack understood completely and accepted his fate happily. But wait, was Jack going to be simply arrested? Me thinks not! Turns out that this Cummings fellow wanted Jack dead, regardless of what Logan had ordered. He called up Jack’s Secret Service escort and told him to make sure there was an “accident.” Uh oh, Jack better keep his wits about him! But hold on again! Good old Mike had overheard the entire conversation, and in his ongoing attempts to regain the man-love of Palmer, he reported that Jack was going to be murdered.
Well, this was unacceptable to Palmer; so he marched right in to Logan’s office to fix this. Of course, at this point, Logan was happily accepting congratulations from various politicians and world leaders for guiding the country so well during this crisis. When he saw David, he let out a big smile, and I half expected him to go all DeNiro and glow “This guy! This guy! Eh? This guy! What a champ!” The mood quickly soured though as Palmer alerted him of Cummings’ plan. Logan refused to step on Cummings toes and told Palmer to git. Back at CTU, we found Jack and Tony changing in the locker room (Jack had a locker? Then again, it wouldn’t have been too hard to find a spare one, considering that about 95% of the field team had died that day). Palmer called Jack to say that he was entering a trap and that Logan was having him killed. Jack simply thanked the President and stared malevolently at Tony’s backside. Uh oh. A little butt-rape to end out the day? No, probably something a little more clever…
Well, if Buchanan and an ogre had a love child, it would be the big neanderthal of a man that came to fetch Jack. His name was Dale Spaulding, and no sooner had he arrived that the alarms in CTU suddenly went off. Tony came running in to say that Jack cold cocked him and had escaped. Since when did escaping people ever warrant an alarm at CTU? How many times has Jack fled CTU without WWIII breaking out on the PA system? Anyway, Tony and Dale headed into a random industrial room (the CTU power plant, located next to the CTU trauma center) where Jack shot a few bullets into the air. Two things were about to happen. Either Tony was going to be in on Jack’s whole plan, or Tony was about to die. Well, turns out it was the former. After some yelling and more gunfire, Tony discovered Jack lying “dead” in the corner. Both guys felt his pulse – or lack of it – and as the whole gang ran in (Buchanan, Michelle, Chloe), Jack was pronounced officially dead. “Take him into the situation room,” said Buchanan as Dale left, adding “Also, make sure to clean up the Incident Room and the Occurrence Chamber.”
Hey Jack, wake up. Bo Bice is about to sing!
Sure enough, as the door closed and Dale was officially out of the room, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Turns out the whole gang had worked together to fool Dale. Stupid Dale. Now they just needed to revive Jack. Tony shot him up with some epinephrine, but wait, he didn’t seem to be responding! That’s okay, Jack’s died before. Just keep doing CPR. Sure enough, in a very Flatliners Kiefer Sutherland move, Jack came back from the other side and was ready to start his new life.
Meanwhile, with Dale gone, Buchanan broke the news to Audrey that Jack had died. Ouch. 0 for 2 with the lovers today. That’s got to make you feel reeeeal good, Audrey. In response to the news, the heartbroken widow leaned against a wall and DROPPED HER FILES! Uh, you’re going to pick those up right? Just wondering.
You know, maybe if you didn’t drop your files, you would have seen the memo that said “Jack’s alive!”
MInutes later, we found Tony and Michelle driving out to a train yard looking quite suspicious. Turns out Jack was in their backseat. They all said their goodbyes in a effectively emotional moment, and then Jack hopped out of the vehicle where he, well, went and hid amongst a few stacks of pallets. From there he called Palmer (Tony and Michelle had given him a special, scrambled phone) and thanked him for saving his life. Again, oddly emotional moment, especially when Palmer said this was the last time he’d be speaking to Jack for the rest of his life (or at least until next season). Then Jack put away his phone, slapped on some trendy aviator glasses and walked off into the sunrise. Where would he go? Would he hop on a train and ride the rails? Become a hobo? Open up a chai shop in Santa Fe? And how about Kim? Was anyone going to bother to tell her about dad?
And now, for your enjoyment, a photo recap of Jack’s dramatic exit. Feel free to whistle “Winds of Change” by the Scorpions to help the moment.
I guess we’ll find out next season when surely Jack will have to return from anonymity to save the country once again. Maybe this time though, the writers can scale back the impending threats. We don’t need a massive terrorist attack to make the show work. If anything, the unbelievable resourcefulness of these bad guys does nothing but undermine the show. Maybe next season can focus on something a little more down to earth: a hostage crisis, a hijacking, shoplifting. Okay, maybe not the last one. Either way, even when this “day” forced us to suspend disbelief one too many times, it was an incredibly fun ride. Can’t wait for next year!
What did you think of the finale? Were you happy with the cliffhanger? Will Jack ever have his name cleared? Will Audrey commit suicide?