Well, it’s the final stretch for 24. With about six episodes left in this spectacular season, it’s time for the show to raise the stakes and pull all sorts of crazy, crazy stunts. Unfortunately, after a day that’s seen a train explosion, a political abduction, a nuclear meltdown, an EMP detonation, and oh yeah, AIR FORCE ONE GOING DOWN, there’s little left for the terrorists to do except revert to season two’s failed baddies and set off a nuclear warhead in the bustling metropolis of… Des Moines? Yes, the terrorists have targeted Iowa, a state known for its caucuses, giant universities, and flatlands. What better way to screw the piggish Americans than nuking some prairie dogs. Do what you will to our elected officials, but LAY OFF THE CUTE ANIMALS!!! Jack Bauer never met a dead rodent he didn’t want to avenge.You know, considering that 24 has returned to the ole nuclear warhead gambit, it would be pretty cool to get Marie Warner back into the picture. After all, wasn’t she the one who warned that greater things were in store for Jack two seasons ago? I always liked her nutty, brainwashed style (even after she killed poor Reza), plus what better reason to establish yet another CTU love triangle by bringing big sis Kate Warner back into the mix. Between Audrey’s whining and Kate’s incessant “Wait Jack. I don’t understand!”, you just know there’d be some craziness at the home base. Sadly, if there’s anything the writers have trouble with, it’s trying up loose ends. Some of us are still eagerly awaiting the return of Mandy, the deadly assassin who blew up an airplane one season, launched a biological attack on President Palmer the next season, and then disappeared into thin air, becoming just a mere footnote in 24 lore.
The good news is that at least some characters receive the back-from-the-dead treatment, as evidenced by the unexplained return of Mike Novick. I’m fairly sure we’ll hear the backstory on him, especially as Palmer returns to the action, but I’m already getting way too far ahead of myself.
This week’s episode began with the usual recap of essential events: a warhead is missing! Joe Prado knows some important information! President Charles Logan is a pussy! Jack likes breaking Prado’s fingers! Yada yada yada. Anyway, we returned to the action as Joe Prado sat miserably in the CTU clinic, home of such medical disasters as Maya Driscoll’s suicide and Paul Raines’ paralysis. Luckily for him, his finger problem appeared to be somewhat manageable for the CTU clinicians; although, I’m not ruling out the potential for some sort of fatal digit accident. Until then, the biggest threat to Prado’s health would be the suicide-inducing presence of Audrey Raines who popped into the infirmary to check on, you know, something. Prado may have been able to zone out into space with his morphine drip, but the rest of us sat in pain as we watched the increasingly needy woman complain that his torture was unjust. Does she even remember being abducted that morning? Shouldn’t there be some kind of bloodlust in her heart by now? “You can’t keep working outside the line and not expect consequences,” Audrey snipped, apparently including her moronic temperament as one of those “consequences.”
With his woman getting all testy and the terrorist sneaking away, Jack had become understandably annoyed. “You okay?” asked Curtis.
“Yeah, I’m fine, why?” replied Jack.
“Just asking,” Curtis answered, adding “I realize that these days I am pretty much as cool or cooler than you. Just wanted to see how you were dealing with that.” Actually, Curtis didn’t say that, but he did successfully oust Tony from favorite sidekick role by reaffirming that Jack did the right thing with Prado. That’s right Tony. Jack is A and Curtis is B; so you should just C your way out of this. Meanwhile, mere moments after Curtis showered Jack with sweet nothings, Audrey popped up again to give a suspicious / disapproving glance. I don’t know if it could be possible, but I would really love for a random subway to burst through CTU and run her over.
Over at the White House, President Logan continued to weigh his options for torturing Prado. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been the most decisive man, and he wound up asking seemingly everyone for advice, even Lupé, the night cleaning lady. Her vote was for Bo Bice though. Didn’t really make sense in the context of the show. Mike Novick tried to get an answer out of the Prez, but the boss man simply snapped, yelling “Stop pressing me!” You know, after years of virtuous, steadfast TV Presidents, it’s quite refreshing to have a nervous nelly leading the charge for once. You know you’ll be in for fun times — kind of like when a substitute teacher shows up one day in class.
Anyway, Mike Novick took a phone call from Buchanan and learned that Prado had already been tortured, compliments of the house. Unfortunately, this was sort of against the President’s wishes. Well, just make something up, suggested Buchanan, but the New Mike Novick of 2005 was not about to head down the immoral road of lies and deception. “I won’t deceive the President again!” he asserted, clearly still smarting from his unceremonious departure in season two. Buchanan then requested a word about the President off the record. “I’m concerned about his ability to lead us through this crisis,” he said.
“I understand,” replied Mike, hanging up the phone. Wait, what if he had more to say? You can’t just hang up like that. Cut to Buchanan yelling into his phone: “Mike! Mike! What happened on Desperate Housewives? I forgot to set the Tivo. Miiiike!!!!”
Suddenly, the action dramatically shifted as a title appeared on the screen saying “CENTRAL IOWA”. Uh oh. I smell some cow tippin’ terrorism. Here’s how it works. Somewhere in Iowa, there’s a cow with a nuclear warhead in one of its stomachs. As soon as it gets tipped, the entire midwest gets blown to smithereens. Jack Bauer has twenty-four hours to find the cow and save it from bored teenagers and drunk farmers. Will America survive?
Actually, what was really going on was that the regional terrorist cell (Iowa Local #56) had stolen a warhead and was now activating it. The only problem: WOMEN. Yes, as always, some nosy broad has snooped where she shouldn’t have. Meet Navila and Savir. She’s a computer science doctoral grad. He’s a terrorist. A match made in heaven! You see, Savir made a mistake. In the middle of his whole “terrorist” thing, he had spent one too many nights hangin’ out with the ole cell instead of at home with Navila. So now she was suspicious, and when he disappeared earlier in the evening to go on a “business trip” to “Arizona”, she naturally called his hotel and discovered that he had never checked in. That’s because he went off to Iowa to intercept a nuclear warhead. Navila accused Savir of being a terrorist, and while he eventually got her to shut up, his buddies were not very pleased. This was all well and good, but until someone can figure out a way to get Behrooz into this mess, I won’t be happy.
Back at CTU, Audrey was still angry over the Jack torture. This time she confronted Buchanan, asking how he could let Jack do such a horrible thing. Exactly what will it take for CTU to throw Audrey in a chamber and zap her with a Taser? And why must we spend so much time with her constant complaining? Why can’t we see other characters like Michelle or Tony or Heller — none of whom had even surfaced yet in the episode. Luckily for Audrey, she wasn’t the only peeved person in America. Over in the White House bunker, Mike alerted the President that Prado had been tortured, despite not receiving clearance. With his ego wounded, Logan demanded Jack be arrested, despite the fact that at that very moment, Bauer was closing in on Marwan at a local club. Man, this new prez sure is pissy. He and Audrey should have a tea party together. And then maybe die.
When hearing news that the Secret Service had already headed out to apprehend Jack, Buchanan was furious, noting that CTU was just about to snag Marwan, or “Marwaaaaan” as he pronounces it. Meanwhile, a mile or two east of Downtown (which was remarkably well lit, considering it was supposed to be completely dark due to that, you know, EMP), Jack and his crack team of Curtis, Castle, and anonymous agents #465 – #472 surrounded a club that Marwan was allegedly inside of. Would they find him before Secret Service would arrive? That question would have to wait because now it was time to visit Uriplanet – aka the frozen world of Smirnoff Ice’s new mascot, Uri. He was amusing, but I’m still waiting for the inevitable Yakov Smirnoff tie-in. The puns will be out of control. Anyway, three well-placed Uri commercials later (MUST… DRINK… SMIRNOFF… ICE…) and a quick reminder about the “swoop and squat” by Dennis Haysbert and All-State, we were finally ready to get back to the action.
Sure enough, good old Habib was in the dance club, but instead of grinding up next to some sweet infidel ass, he was in the basement recording basically a “Mwahahahaha” message to America. However, since Jack didn’t know where the terrorist mastermind was, he had to infiltrate the ventilation system with the help of a robot camera. After a few minutes of improbable exploration, Jack’s little gadget found Habib recording his message. Unfortunately, in true 24 style, the Secret Service popped up and demanded to take Jack into custody. Great. I guess it will only take a few seconds for this operation to go down the shitter. Sure enough, Agent Castle ran over to Jack’s location, but Habib’s eagle-eyed henchmen spotted him, and soon the fix was in.
Upon hearing news that the police were outside, Marwan suddenly turned around and looked into the air vent, possibly seeing the robo-camera. That was an odd thing to do. Maybe he had spidey-sense. Or at least robot-sense. Or maybe he’s the craftiest villain EVER! Anyway, he and his posse fled from the room and into the club which was jam-packed with dancers. Um, do people normally go clubbing on days of mass terrorism? I guess they do in the world of 24. What’s that you say? A nuclear meltdown? And the President might be dead? Wow. I just gotta dance, dance, dance!
Anyway, the CTU agents immediately swarmed the club, following Marwan and his crew down to a secret tunnel in the basement. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it? The terrorists set off a bomb! Man, don’t you just hate when they do that? Couldn’t they switch it up once in a while? Maybe cast a net or hurl some tomatoes? Well, this bomb caused the tunnel to cave in. You know what that means, right? Cut to Tony Almeida: “Set up a two mile perimeter!” Ladies and gentlemen: we give you The Perimeter. CTU’s fail-safe method to contain any and all terrorist threats! Oh, one thing though. Turns out the tunnel was connected to the sewer system. “Marwan’s probably gotten past our perimeters already,” said Curtis. NO!!! Someone got by the PERIMETER??? But it was a HARD perimeter! Wait, did somebody let a city bus in again? Because if that terrorist snuck out again by mass transportation, I will be very angry.
Amidst all this Chloe received a call from Navila, who in her paranoia, hacked into Savir’s computer. To her dismay, everything was too encrypted to access, but she did manage to find the details of a suspicious looking microchip. After hearing this, Chloe soon deduced that it was a special kind of microchip only used on nuclear warheads. Just go with me on this. It made sense on the show.
Meanwhile, back in the field, Jack guilted the Secret Service agents as they tossed him in the back of the car. It was your fault Habib Marwan got away, said Jack, the same man who could have slashed Marwan’s tires two hours ago in the desert. That’s okay though. I understood his rage, unlike Audrey who most likely was writing an angry letter to Dr. Phil that very moment.
In D.C., the President learned that the sting operation had been bungled because the Secret Service had shown up in the middle of it. Oops. Logan uttered a few words and phrases like “I didn’t mean” before turning surly and insisting that this wasn’t his fault. Ah, but it was, and Mike Novick wasn’t afraid to tell him so. Soon the President was a complete mess, and I half expected the scene to turn into Chinatown, with Novick slapping a bawling Logan, who’d merely reply with “She’s my sister! She’s my daughter! She’s my sister AND my daughter!” Instead, the weak-at-the-knees president realized his incompetency and suggested that he resign. Unfortunately, that would be a PR disaster. What he really needed was someone to call the shots behind the scenes. Someone with experience in crisis. Someone with a sure hand and a firm resolve. Someone who’s not afraid to stand in the middle of a busy street and talk about car insurance. That’s right. President Palmer!
Mike Novick happily called up Palmer and alerted him to the latest disaster scenario — the terrorists have a nuke. “My God! How??” asked Palmer, adding “Can All-State cover this?” Nevertheless, the virtuous ex-President happily jumped into his motorcade and announced he’d be at the White House as soon as possible. Man, he’s probably gonna get all dressed up too. I was just getting used to CasualPalmer™.
After a commercial for “The Inside” (was I the only one who thought that looked fairly scary?), we returned to CTU where at the 43 minute mark for the episode, we finally had our first Chloe/Edgar badinage of the hour. Basically Chloe needed to use Edgar’s computer, but he was busy using it to control the fabled perimeter. The two went at it like hissing cats with Chloe unloading lots of sass, causing Edgar to respond “That’s a pretty rude attitude!” He then added, “I don’t apprethiate tharcathm. I’m very thutheptible to inthendiary thlights. Now I’m thad.”
Eventually Tony had to mediate between the two warring parties, ultimately allowing Chloe to use Edgar’s system, or “thythtem” as he calls it. Unfortunately for her, she was unable to access Savir’s computer through the network. Someone would have to go directly to Navila’s house, conveniently located in Los Feliz, CA. Oh, and guess what? That person heading in to the field? One Chloe O’Brien. Yes, the hallowed rite of passage. Going into the field is kind of like the Bar MItzvah of 24. With the exception of Chase and Kim, characters that head out tend to return wiser, more mature, and at the very least, more kick-ass. Would it be time for Chloe to shine?
Probably not, considering what a basket case she was. On the ride over to Los Feliz (a commute that took about five minutes. Where exactly is CTU? How can people get to so many places so quickly?), Chloe seemed on the verge of losing it as she chatted with Edgar. The two shared a tender moment with Edgar peppering her with words of encouragement. Was this the blooming of another CTU romance? I’d like to think so. But then again, this is Chloe we’re dealing with here. When Edgar told her that she was the best computer technician in CTU, she merely said, “I know.” Personally, I was still wondering why she needed to head out to the field. After all, Savir’s computer was a laptop. Couldn’t a team simply retrieve it? Oh yeah. That’s right. CTU tactical teams are incapable of doing ANYTHING right.
Luckily for Chloe, everything seemed to be okay as she and Navila browsed through the laptop. Chloe mentioned some more techno-jargon, noting that Savir had used a “blowfish algorithm.” Okay, now they’re just talking gibberish. I half expected Chloe to prattle on about the “Smoked Salmon recursive loop” and the “Baby Orca encryption tool.”
Hey, remember what I said about the crack CTU security teams? Well, once again, Chloe’s entourage went down like a sack of potatoes as one guy took out the entire crowd with his gun. Navila and Chloe ran for cover, and while they hid out in the laundry room, they called CTU, only to learn that a tactical team couldn’t get to the house for another fifteen minutes. Why does it take Chloe five minutes to drive to Los Feliz, but everyone else fifteen? I guess you just never know with Los Angeles traffic.
Anyway, the nutso assassin went after the ladies who quickly ran for cover in the CTU vehicle. Luckily, it had bulletproof glass, which came in quite handy when the killer tried to, you know, shoot them. Apparently there were some weapons in the back seat, but a metal grate and a combination code prevented Chloe from reaching them. While Curtis worked to get the combo for her, the assassin finally stopped shooting at the bulletproof glass (he was a little slow on the uptake) and hopped into his own car to ram the two. Chloe and Navila took a few hits from the guy’s SUV, but the action momentarily paused as some fat slob walked onto his lawn in a bathrobe and yelled “What the hell is going on here?” So he sleeps right through twelve gunshots, but the car he hears? And even if he did hear the gun shots, why would he just saunter out like that? Didn’t matter really because he was dead in about two seconds, making him one of the most useless characters in 24 history.
After a great delay, Curtis finally relayed the code to Chloe, and as the killer revved up his engine once again, our grouchy computer technician suddenly busted out a machine gun and riddled her foe with bullets. The hour ended with Chloe standing proud and triumphant with her giant firearm, ready to kick some terrorist ass. RAHHH!!!!
What did you think? Were you happy to see Palmer back? Will Chloe suddenly bust out a windmill karate kick?