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As I say every year, 24 is one of the “flagship” TVgasm shows. In other words, one of the reasons B-side and I were motivated enough to start a blog about television was because we thought the show was so awesome, and we were worried that it would die if it didn’t get the appreciation it deserved. That seems so long ago, and now 24 has carved out it’s own niche among television shows. Is every scenario super believable? Probably not. Does that take away from the action and suspense the show delivers each week? Definitely not. Season six provides many new challenges. Jack has been locked in some Chinese prison for two years. We have no clue what has happened to him, but the country now needs him back.First of all, we should congratulate madeyoulaugh for making it through all 24 hours of his 24 marathon with only a few technical glitches (which were probably my fault anyway) and with nothing but some energy drinks and aspiring actress to get him through the night. Although he didn’t manage to get Keifer Sutherland, he did get a cast member from the show, and you should all wait for highlights later in the week. Personally, I enjoyed being able to sleep and shower in the day leading up to the premier, but that’s mainly because I would probably pee myself from the excitement as the show got started.
For this season, the day starts at 6AM and the United States is under siege from a terrorist threat, but unlike past seasons of 24, we don’t know what kind of global conspiracy is driving this current threat. In fact, it’s something that a lot of the world deals with all the time – suicide bombers. The news is reporting that buses are being blown and officials are calling for people to report suspicious activity. And although nobody wants a witch hunt and by “nobody”, we mean “everybody”, you know this is pretty much going to lead to a strategy of “If he’s brown, take him down”.
As we open, we see that there is a guy, dark and disheveled, carrying a backpack and looking very nervous as dozens of people are looking at him like he wants to martyr himself. He says that he just needs to get to work, but as he rushes to catch a bus that is about to drive away, the driver looks at him, thinks about what has been happening, and then drives away.
So, what do you do if you are an enterprising suicide bomber just missed your bus, but still want a chance to tap some of those virgins you were promised, even if all of those wives you were also promised would be nagging you about it, before the sun came out. Well, it is bus line, so you would probably wait for another bus to come buy in 10 minutes or so. As luck would have it, the person who couldn’t catch his bus was actually saved by the prejudice that kept him off of it. There was a suicide bomber already on the bus, and since he presumably didn’t have enough of an accent to make anybody worry, and he was able to explode his bomb and kill everybody aboard anyway.
Already, you know that this season is going to be different. Although 24 has often touched on terrorist themes that can make somebody nervous, it usually centers around a plot that is far-fetched enough that we can all feel safe about what we do in our normal lives. But car bombs? That is a whole new ball game.
It’s obvious that the current President has a lot of work on his hands. For those of you who have not read any of the season previews or have been staying away from spoilers, the new president is a very familiar face. After the country was betrayed by the administration of President Pussy, it was time to elect a man who stands for principles and trust. That man? Wayne Palmer! Hey, I like the guy and everything, but if we were to remember from season three, he was doing a lot of shady things. Now, it turns out that most of the people who could testify to those shady dealings are dead, but why should I complain? The world of 24 has given us two African-American commander in chiefs, which is awesome, especially if one of them had “Funky President” as his ring tone.
There is one other thing I forgot to mention about this season of 24. We get to see the White House! Yeah, we saw some of it during season 4 right before Vice President Pussy was sent to an undisclosed location, but this is different. I guess now that the West Wing is gone and Geena Davis is no long president, I guess that means we now look to 24 to bring us shots of long walks to and from the Oval Office.
Helping the president through this tough time is our good friend Karen Hayes, who is now head of the NSA, and a new guy, Thomas Lennox, played by Peter MicNicol, who, by the way, was written off Numb3rs, when his character joined the space program. They don’t say his position, or I wasn’t paying attention, but I guess I am going to say he is director of Homeland Security.
Thomas is suggesting that this new threat requires some serious action. Now I know that most of the bureaucrats that work in the NSA, CIA, FBI, etc., are lifers who keep their jobs no matter who the president is, but when it comes to a cabinet position, the President gets to make his choice, and so I wondered why Wayne Palmer hired a douchebag like Thom, who was advocating putting Muslims in detention centers, citing our proud history with the Japanese during World War II as evidence that it is an effective policy, conveniently forgetting we formally apologized and paid reparations because of this policy.
However, I guess that every administration needs an asshole like Thomas, or else we couldn’t have scenes with dramatic meetings in the Oval Office where people say things like “Security has a price” and then somebody replies with “So does freedom” and everybody looks towards the floor scratching their chins and wondering how Aaron Sorkin would have treated this moment.
Before things can get too out of hand, there is another option before shipping the Muslims to Montana. You know, the government could stop the guy responsible for these attacks in the first place. The name of that guy is Hamri Al-Assad, and he came into the country three days before the bombings started, which sort of begs the question. If we are supposed to put anybody we think is behind these attacks in some sort of camp, what good does it do us if we can’t actually find the person behind the attacks? There I go being all sensible again. It’s been almost seven months since the last episode, so I guess I have to retrain my brain not to do that again.
If there is a terrorist to be found and the terrorist is in Los Angeles, than there is no better organization than CTU – Los Angeles to get the job done. CTU is busy with the work getting a fix on Assad. You might recognize a few faces from last season, like Morris, who we met last year. He was selling shoes in Beverly Hills until CTU needed him, and I guess they still need him. We also have a familiar face from Season 1. It’s Milo! He is still played by Eric Balfour, who has recycled himself through so many generic roles that he is now back at the one which made him famous (unless you are a Buffy fan of course) and inspired him to stick with the same ultra-cheesy moustache/soul patch combo we all know and love. Nothing says “I glued my pubes to my face” like Eric Balfour in High Definition.
The biggest thing that bothers me about Milo is that he is now the boss, but he still can’t find the time to iron his shirt. Seriously, how does a slob that has been gone for like six or seven years (in the 24 time line) come back as the boss? I’d rather see Kim take another stab at a job in CTU. At least then I would be distracted by Elisha Cuthbert’s rack and not Eric Balfour’s ineptness with a razor.
I can’t stay mad at CTU that long because CTU still has Chloe. Ahh, Chloe. Each year she grows up a little bit. The producers really seem to know what to do with her character, putting her in uncomfortable positions that are sure to inspire some great outbursts. The uncomfortable situation this year is Morris, who she has been dating, and who likes to play grab ass with her in the workplace. Sort of unprofessional, but Chloe is starting to turn into a little bit of a piece and is sporting a shirt that could almost show cleavage to go along with a skirt. Is this the first time we’ve seen Chloe not wearing pants? You know, other than the time we saw her in her underwear?
Whatever the case is, Chloe got a special message from Homeland Security, asking her to set up a channel. Something is a little fishy about the request and Chloe decides to ask Nadia what the hell is going on. She is kind of young, which makes me wonder why she is also above Chloe, but she is also smoking hot, so why should I care?
Well, it’s obvious why this Homeland Security request is special. Jack Bauer is coming back! At the end of last season, I wondered how they would go about explaining how they got Jack back from the Chinese. Over a little time, we learn that the President made a deal with the Chinese because Jack was needed in order to stop the current terrorist threat. Curtis and Bill Buchanan are there to meet Jack at the airport.
Jack’s return to his home soil is not exactly triumphant. We are happy to see that he is back, but what we are getting is nothing like the man that we left. It’s obvious that he has been tortured in countless ways, although it is reassuring that the Jack’s spirit was never broken. Through all that torture, he never said a single word.
As Jack left, he shot a look at the Chinese consulate, which gives me a great feeling that he will die in some spectacular fashion later in the season. My enthusiasm was short-lived as we started to learn why Jack came back. President Palmer gave up a lot in order to get Jack back, but Jack didn’t return because of any knowledge he may have. One of Assad’s top subordinates, Fayed, asked for $25 million for information on Assad’s whereabouts. $25 million and Jack Bauer’s life. Jack was part of an operation that resulted in the death of this guy’s brother, and now he wants Jack back.
Bill tells all of this to Jack, who doesn’t even flinch. Imagine. You have your first freedom in two years, but it will last less than a day. You will then be sent off to die. Jack’s first words were for Audrey, and then for Kim. He wants to make sure they never knew he was returned alive. He then asks to clean up a little bit. As he takes off his shirt, we see his body is covered in scars. Luckily, it just so happens that Burke Williams has set up a post-torture rejuvenating spa in this random military hangar for jack to get cleaned up. It’s all kind of sad, but at the same time, it’s a reason to celebrate, after all, Jack finally got a chance to shit, shower, and shave, and he only had to wait until the sixth season!
Bill calls Karen and fills her in on Jack’s status. At the end of last season, Bill asked Karen to go to breakfast, and she said yes. Somewhere along the way, pancakes turned into a wedding ring, and Karen made an honest man out of Bill, which is nice because he really did need a woman’s touch around his house, don’t you think? It’s like Michelle and Tony, all over again, but this time it’s so much more funny. I don’t know why. They talk about missing each other, and now it’s a real problem.
See, since the writers have now decided it is OK to go without having the President and his entire cabinet in Los Angeles whenever something bad is about to happen, they really do have a long distance relationship. Still, it is kind of funny, and I just imagine them throwing random terms of endearment at each other whenever they are talking. Try it for yourself during an episode. Whenever Bill and Karen talk to each other, add a “Dear”, “Honey” or, “Snookem” to then end of their sentences. Like “Do you have the status on Assad, schmoopy?”, “How’s the interrogation going, sugar plum”, or “Can we get a satellite on that location babe?”.
It appears that everybody has resigned to Jack’s fate except for Chloe, who learns that Jack is being sacrificed and is about to go over Nadia’s head until Nadia informs her that the President knows about it and authorized it. Uh oh. It looks like Chloe is going to have to break protocol to save Jack!
After Jack has cleaned up, Bill and Curtis take him to the drop off point. Even though he is about to die, he has come to a sort of Zen moment about all of it. Ahh, the magic of the Far East. On the one hand, who have debilitating torture, but on the other hand, you have the calming inner peace. I guess Chinese metaphysics really is all encompassing. Anyway, Jack is almost happy that he will be able to die for something. The thing that kept him alive is that he didn’t want to die for nothing, and being able to die with such honor is almost a relief.
Just before they reach the location, Wayne Palmer calls Jack, who needs no explanation. Wayne gets off the phone and we get a little bit of the West Wing 24. After explaining to Jack how this desperate measure is a measure of the desperation of the situation, Wayne is left to think about the situation with only Thomas in the room. Thus begins the pensive monologue where the President questions whether he is the right man, yada, yada, and then yells at CJ to go handle the press.
Jack is now at the drop off point, where it appears that after the post-torture wardrobe is sponsored by Banana Republic, and Bill and Curtis tie him to a grate and then are forced to leave.
After they have gone away, a van pulls up to pick up Jack. It was explained earlier that they would not be able to get an extraction team to get Jack because the terrorists asked to motor the CTU satellite feeds and other communications. This wasn’t good enough for Chloe, and with Morris’ help, she was able to get a hold of a third-party satellite to be able to track Jack’s location. Seemed like a great idea, but the terrorists were prepared.
One of Fayed’s guys sees that there is a satellite tracking the drop off location, and although the people in CTU figured out it was coming from Chloe’s station and was able to stop it, Fayed got upset and said he would have to think about the deal. Bill gets there just in time to lecture Chloe about what she has just done, and it would seem like this would be an obvious reason to fire both Morris and Chloe, but it would be impossible to let them go since they need all the manpower they can get. It’s an excuse that is getting about as popular as hearing “hard perimeter”.
Fayed has Jack and he is ready to get started with the torture. Jack tortured Fayed’s brother, and Fayed has it all set up so he can torture Jack in the same way as long as possible. At this point, Jack just wants to die, but he seems to be holding on just long enough so he knows that Fayed has given up Assad. And then we get our first real twist of the season.
This whole time, the intelligence has told us that Assad is behind the bombings, and killing him would stop them. Well, intelligence is only as good as its sources, and Fayed had been lying about Assad. Assad wants to stop the killings and enter the political process. To Fayed, that makes his former boss a traitor. The person who has instituted the bombings was Fayed, and he wants Assad dead because he considers him a traitor to the cause.
At this point, Jack becomes desperate, and that is saying a lot considering he has just been tortured for two years and he has already resigned to being tortured and killed. The last thing he wanted to do was die in vain, and it looks like that is exactly what was going got happen. Fayed was about to take off one of Jack’s fingers with a garden tool when Fayed gets a call. It’s time for him to go to White Castle!
OK, I am just kidding. Fayed got a call from this boy Ahmed, who is played by Kal Penn, i.e. Kumar from Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. At first, I thought this was kind of ridiculous casting, but after seeing him in Superman Returns trying to be an evil villain, I guess I shouldn’t be any more surprised when he is trying now.
Kal Penn going evil was another surprise turn of the show. Just a bit earlier, we saw the FBI taking his father away. He was good friends with the family across the street, and the father even intervened when some neighbors were looking to blame the bus bombings on the only family on the block who wouldn’t eat bacon. The father, Ray, was saying things like “Ahmed’s not a terrorist anymore than you or me”, which was obviously wrong because now Ahmed is talking to Fayed about keeping some sort of package safe.
As it turns out, Ahmed may have been a terrorist, but his timely call might have saved the country because it gave Jack a chance to escape. After hearing that Fayed is the mastermind, Jack no longer wants to die. He uses his teeth to rip off a cuff that is monitoring his heart rate. As the monitor flat lines, and Jack pretends he is dead, un-named terrorist Henchman investigates only to have Jack bite deep in to his jugular, and he was not taking any chances. He bit so hard; he had to spit out a chunk of neck. Talk about taking a bite out crime! Jack took a bite and then stayed around for the buffet.
When Fayed returns, Jack is gone. There really is nowhere for Jack to go, but he is able to escape because the terrorists don’t want to waste time finding Jack. Fayed wants to kill Jack, but it is not worth risking the entire cause, so they decide to leave.
Jack is free! Hooray!
Since Fayed really did want Assad dead, he gave up the coordinates to CTU, who were now planning an air strike, but the little pow-wow was interrupted when Bill got a call from Jack Bauer! I found it absolutely hilarious that the person who answered the phone had no idea who Jack Bauer was, mainly because in past seasons they would always have somebody from communications answer. I guess they learned that they can’t have people like Chloe answering the phone because she’s always breaking protocol, so they got a receptionist. I wonder if that was Nadia’s idea? Let’s hope she hired a fairly competent medical staff as well.
Anyway, Jack tries to get Bill to call off the air strike, but of course Bill doesn’t have that authority since the President called for the air strike. Jack is on with the president, and they are all so happy to hear that Jack is alive. Ha! Obviously they haven’t been paying attention to Jack’s career as much as we have. Jack tells the President everything he told Bill, namely that all of the intelligence is wrong and Assad is trying to help, but everybody is still worried that Jack’s brain is fried from his captivity and the air strike proceeds.
That means that there is only one thing for Jack to do. Reach Assad’s location before the air strike does, get Assad out of their and proceed from there. But where is Assad? Luckily, Jack wasn’t so delirious from the torture that he missed on the coordinates Fayed gave CTU. 33’58″ N, 118’14″ W, btw. And even luckier for Jack, the cell phone he found in the car he broke into had GPS (and a little bit of a too-obvious Nextel product placement). Jack was on his way, but could he get to the location before the attack helicopters? Probably, but let us thank the government budget cuts, because in past seasons, CTU would have sent in fighter jets, and although Jack is fast, he is a little rusty. Let’s give him at least another couple of hours before he can get a stolen 1980 Cutlass Supreme up to Mach 2.
Jack makes his way to Assad’s location before the helicopters show up, but getting Assad out of there is a little more trouble than he figured. Assad, upon learning that the government wants to kill him is wondering why he should take the word of this disheveled government agent to come outside. How could the feds be on to him? They swept the house for bugs already!
Oh silly Assad. Doesn’t he know that he could have a mole within his organization? And Jack should know, he slept with a mole that ended up killing his own wife. To show he is serious, he lays down his gun and tells Assad to check his men. Sure enough, one of them said Assad was a traitor, and as Jack, Assad, and the traitor leave the rest of the guys stick around to recover the data, which means they stick around just long enough to be obliterated by the explosion from the air strike one minute later.
Now, Assad’s death was supposed to make it possible for the government to refrain from trampling over the constitution and setting up the internment camps, but Thomas didn’t want to take that chance. He went ahead with plans to set up camps in several cities across the US, and sent the FBI to start gathering names. The first place they check is the Islamic American Alliance, which is sort of like CAIR meets the Nation of Islam and that guy from the Matrix leading the whole thing.
The FBI wanted access to all of the personnel records of the organization, but luckily for them, they had a plucky lawyer on their side that wasn’t going to take know for an answer. Her name was Sandra, and she is played by Regina King. I don’t know why but, when she came out to talk to the FBI, I half expected Jackee to walk out and say “Oooooh Maaaaaarrrrrrryyyy. What do they want?” Imagine, Sandra Clark is the assistant for Sandra the Lawyer. It’s too perfect!
Well, Sandra (the lawyer) showed up, sans any of her friends from 227, and was able to stave off the FBI by saying that they need a warrant. Surprisingly, the head of the organization, who I will call Commander Lock until I pay enough attention to get his actual name, was thinking about giving up because they had nothing to hide and the country was under attack. Sandra calls this bullshit, and decides to call her brother – Wayne Palmer.
Wayne is having a bad day, but he can always take a call from his sister. She knows that Thom Lennox is behind this power grab, but Wayne said he had to give the FBI greater authority with the new threat. It seems like they were going to get into it a little more, but Wayne had to take a call from Bill Buchanan. Wayne’s bad day is just about to get worse. There were four bodies at the blast site, but none of them were Assad. Somebody must have tipped him off, but whom?
Well, we know that the person who tipped him off was Jack Bauer, and we knew that he would be able to escape, especially when you heard that the authorities were going to set up a ten-block perimeter to catch anybody who might have escaped. Yes! Eighty minutes of television and we have our first perimeter! Of course, it will take only another five minutes for that perimeter to be broken, but you still have to love their effort.
The real intrigue comes over at CTU where Chloe has looked at satellite imagery from just before the explosion which shows Jack, alive and well. She shows Bill, and they decide to sit on the information. Obviously, Jack has a reason, so maybe they won’t say anything just yet.
Meanwhile, Jack and Assad have made their way to an abandoned house. They are trying to get information from the third guy, and Jack is not shy about torture. Stabbing the guy and telling him that they need information. This traitor says he knows nothing and Jack says he can tell by the look in his eyes that he won’t tell us anything. That might have been good for Jack, but Assad knows better. He takes a knife, stabs it into the traitor’s knee, and asks again. This time, the guy gives up the information. There is going to be an attack on Figueroa and Sixth, but he knows nothing more.
Satisfied, Assad kills the guy, and Jack, stunned that he was so soft says he doesn’t think he can do it anymore. He wants to bring in CTU, but Assad still doesn’t trust the government who wants to kill him, and since he knows Assad so well, he knows he can find him.
This sets up the dramatic climax of the first two hours, but why don’t we tie up some of the other loose ends first? Back at the Islamic Alliance offices, Sandra is still doing her thing. We learn that she is in a relationship with the head guy, and everything seems OK until the FBI comes back. They have a warrant, and there is nothing they can do about it. Or is there? While the FBI goes to one part of the office, Sandra is busy deleting all of the files on the mainframe (as if they don’t have a backup somewhere). She’s very happy with herself until the FBI decides to arrest her AND her boyfriend for obstruction. I personally think the sister of the President would get special treatment, but I guess I was wrong.
Back in Culver City, Ahmed managed to get back in his house where he can find this package he is supposed to deliver. We still don’t know what it is, but I figure it is most likely Fayed’s secret stash of weed and/or Doogie Hauser DVDs he wants Ahmed to get autographed by Neal Patrick Harris before he destroys Los Angeles with a nuclear bomb.
Ahmed is just going about his business, planning the destruction of innocent lives, when the guy who threatened him from earlier gets back. After kicking Ahmed’s ass around the house, Ahmed brings out the equalizer, AKA a handgun and shoots his attacker in the knee before shooting him twice in the chest. It was at this moment that his friend, Colin from across the street, walks in and sees the scene. Colin wants to call an ambulance because Ahmed is hurt, but Ahmed won’t let him.
You can tell that Ahmed has a lot of anger, but I thought he was softening up a little bit. In actuality, his neighbor’s response has hardened his resolve to do what is needed of him, even if that means taking his friend hostage. Colin tries to say “I thought we were friends Ahmed” and Ahmed says “Friends?! YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW MY NAME! IT’S BEH-ROOOOOOOZ!!!!”.
OK, his name wasn’t really Behrooz, but imagine how awesome it would have been if they had brought Behrooz back as one of the terrorists. He doesn’t really hate Americans, but wants to get back at the government after they killed his mother. Actually Ahmed’s name is pronounce Ach-med, which seems kind of silly to get worked up into a jihad over. Come on Ach-med, you say to-may-to, he says to-mah-to (and Ah-med). Let’s call the whole thing off!
While Ahmed is in tears about the phonetics of his name, Jack and Assad are at Figueroa and Sixth. They figure that the target is the subway station, and Assad is able to pick out the bomber and his handler because they still employ the same types of tactics he used to. On the platform, he knows that the bomber will go on the train, and the handler will lead them back to Fayed. Jack takes the bomb, Assad takes the handler.
Now, in real life, nobody would die on this subway, because nobody takes public transportation in Los Angeles, except for maybe the bus drivers, but they are being paid to be on the bus. If you want to get rid of a bunch of jackasses, why not wait in line at a club? If you time it right, you will not only take out a celebutard or two, but perhaps a few dozen paparazzi at the same time! Talk about a great PR move! Then again, maybe Fayed was worried that the public would get angry if they are derprived of any more candid shots of the shorn beavers of those same starlets. Terror is such agonizing work these days!
Jack gets on the subway, and you can tell he is scared. He was just being tortured about an hour ago; does he still have it in him to get the job done? No Aviator Glassed of Badness, no Messenger Bag of Death, no Slightly Faded But Nevertheless Useful Extreme Hoodie of Infiltration! Luckily Jack got himself out of his uptight Banana Republic and is now clothed in the Post-Traumatic Stress Henley of Comfort and Reassurance, so I think he has a chance.
While on the train, Jack tries to play it smooth, but after he tells the ticket guy that there is a terrorist with a bomb, the terrorist starts to notice things are a little off. Jack reaches him and they struggle, but the guy is able to reach his detonator anyway. He pushes the button, but the dumbass got onto the last train. Jack kicks him out of the back door just as the bomb is about to explode. The train stops and Jack runs out the back.
The explosion was supposed to happen at Union Station, where the handler would confirm the blast and make sure the bomber didn’t get cold feet. The explosion was early, but Fayed didn’t seem to care, saying that it served its purpose, and two other bombs hit their marks. Assad has managed to tail the handler the whole time, and he called Jack to set up a rendezvous so the two of them could meet up and go after Fayed together.
At CTU, they were waiting to hear the worst about the train bomb, but it appears that there were no casualties. Nadia walks in and says calmly that “somebody identifying themselves as Jack Bauer” reportedly kicked the guy off the train. Again, why is this not a big deal? I can understand why the receptionist may have been so nonchalant about a phone call from Jack, but why is Nadia so calm? Did she think it was some other Jack Bauer who was running around, stopping terrorists?
I think Nadia should have been more concerned, but she had just received an intercepted cell phone call. It was the handler and he was speaking to Fayed. From the conversation, it was obvious Fayed was behind the bombings and she relayed all of this information to Karen, who relayed it to the president. For some reason, they are all shocked. A terrorist lied to them? Imagine that? Maybe that’s why so many countries don’t negotiate with them? What’s worse is that Fayed was paid before Assad was confirmed dead, so in fact, our government just gave $25 million worth of funding to the people who want to kill us. Maybe Wayne Palmer was right and he’s just not cut out for this job.
Overall, I thought this was a great episode. Last season was so frenetic, and although I still favor the non-stop action all the time, I do like how they have thought through a lot of scenarios and are taking time to introduce us to the thoughts of feelings of characters through more than a dossier brief or throw away expository conversation. There was a plausible reason for Jack’s return, and Jack took out an enemy in one of the craziest ways yet. I think it’s safe to say that we are going to have another great season on our hands.
What did you think of the episode?