It took us awhile, but we finally have discovered the purpose for this season of 24. It was more than the kidnapping of a cabinet member, the destruction of a nuclear power plant, or the downing of Air Force One. No, it’s the threat of a missile with a nuclear payload. CTU wasn’t able to stop the missile before it was launched, so now all of the efforts must concentrate around preventing the loss of life. Luckily, it will take the missile an hour or two to get to its location. Yes, something can be done, but time is running out.Although CTU was able to capture Marwan, they didn’t receive as much information as they had hoped. His laptop was intact, but there was no way to track just where the location was because the transmission was encrypted. Now, even though an encrypted packet might prevent you from seeing the contents of a transmission, it does not necessarily mean that you can’t track the location. So Curtis can’t decode the files, but CTU does manage to get some new insight into the threat. Not only did the terrorists manage to put the nuclear warhead on a missile, they were able to smuggle in parts of a stealth missile, so it was going to be even harder to track.
As you may have imagined, the news that an American city is destined to go up like a mushroom cloud is not sitting well with President Pussy. In the last hour some government agents were already caught committing what is in effect an act of war against the Chinese. When you are on the verge of war with a nation of over one billion people, the last thing you want to hear is that there is a city out there about to be annihilated.
We still have President Palmer around, and he suggests to President Pussy that they might want to put a Category 1 emergency plan into effect. This plan is put in place to ensure continuity of the government should some disaster happen in the country. The cabinet is placed in the bunker with the president, and Congress is shipped off to some facility in the mountains. But what about all of the minions? What are they supposed to do? President Pussy wants to evacuate the cities, but President Palmer thinks that wouldn’t be wise. You might set off a mass panic, and besides, we still have Jack Buer on the case; shouldn’t we give him a chance? After all, it looks like he was finally able too make a perimeter stick, and that’s really saying something this season.
I think that a lot of us were contemplating a very brutal torture for Marwan, but Jack knows that Marwan has already succeeded in his main mission. He is probably prepared to die, and there isn’t much Jack can threaten with in order to get him to talk. Instead, Jack decides that he is going to take the kinder, gentler approach and offer him a deal. Yes, a deal. All Habib would have to do is give up his entire ideology in the next minute or two and help the Americans avoid a disaster. But before he could say anything, Behrooz appeared in the room and shot Marwan!!! (Before I corrected this, I wrote “Behrooz shat Marwan” which may have been funnier when you think about it)
Oh, sorry, that happened like 12 hours ago and Behrooz was shooting his dad. We have no clue what happened to Behrooz, but it looks like the crack squad of CTU field agents (read: Curtis) was able to retrieve something that was of use: Marwan’s cell phone. Edgar was responsible for decoding the SIM card, and he discovered that there was a very interesting incoming call placed a few weeks back. The incoming call was made from Richard Heller.
Wow, I thought that the CTU interrogation/torture would have been enough to make him talk, but it looks like he had a little something more to hide than he had previously let on. Buchanan dispatches a field team to find him in the Valley. Considering Richard has already been in CTU custody, tortured, and then exonerated, I think he is going to be slightly shocked when a few of CTU’s finest come barging through his door. You could say that it’s really going to be a Van Nuys surprise.
Considering there is a nuclear missile about to hit an unknown city at some unknown time, you would have to say that things are going pretty well, no? Marwan is finally captured, so even if millions of people die, at least we’ll have somebody to strap down on the lethal injection table. Jack asks a couple of lackeys to walk Marwan out to their vehicles and commence the transport to CTU. Oh shit, Marwan is being transferred, and neither Jack or Curtis is traveling with him, which means the likelihood of an ambush is VERY high. And wouldn’t you know, just as Marwan is placed in the back of the CTU paddy wagon, somebody uses some sort of anti-tank weapon to blow up one of the cars nearby.
Originally, I had thought that maybe Marwan had been killed. You know, whoever Nina worked for didn’t want him in custody, or something, but I was wrong. The answer is much simpler than that. Once again, the CTU field teams royally messed up. I guess they believed that the only terrorists in the whole abandoned warehouse were the ones that were helping Marwan with his encrypted uplink. No sweeping the building, no nothing. He had explosives ready to keep CTU from following him into the sewer last time, wouldn’t it stand to reason that he might have a backup plan? And silly me for wondering, but where was all of that fancy CTU tracking that they used at the consulate? You know, the one that will light up the communists in red? Surely Chloe has developed some filter to light up the terrorists some unique color as well. What is going on here.
CTU did have a perimeter around the complex, but I am not going to insult anybody’s intelligence and say that it actually worked. Even though Marwan escaped using a CTU truck, he was able to ditch it and get in another vehicle, and of course there was too much noise on the satellite for them to to be able to track the new car that he is using. I guess CTU perimeters are as good at keeping people from getting into the perimeter as they are at keeping people from getting out.
So, it’s about twenty minutes into the show: now is about the time where Tony and Michelle have their little office gab session, and like clockwork, it happens. The topic of discussion is Audrey and how she’ll feel about Jack having to interrogate her brother after he already basically killed her husband. The receptionist in my office doesn’t have this much time to gossip. In the middle of this, Tony sort of switches directions. At one moment, it is “Did you get those hourlies from Chloe and Edgar” and the next moment it’s “Hey, do wanna get away for awhile?” Tony says they “have to be together, but we have to get away from this,” to which Michelle replies “what, you want me to leave my job?” No Michelle, he wanted you to try on a suit that is not from the Hillary Rodham Clinton summer collection. Of course it means that he wants to leave, it was the job that drove you two apart before, he’s not going to let it happen again, you moron. The idea that Jack lost the woman he loved likely also has something to do with it.
While those two lovebirds discussed how they would spend their lives if the missile wasn’t headed for Los Angeles and the country was able to avoid war with China, Richard Heller was brought in kicking and screaming, literally. He was screaming that they can’t do this, that there must be a mistake. He was begging for his sister to save him. Now maybe Richard is innocent and has nothing to do with it, but I hope that while he is in custody, somebody forces him to shower. He doesn’t quite have that Ian-from-Survivor look to him, but he is getting pretty damn close to it.
Jack and Curtis return from being ambushed, and you can tell that Jack is really licking his chops to get a hold of some information from Richard Heller. Screw that sensory deprivation bullshit, he’s going to get some results, and if it means a car battery and some fried testicles, so be it. Another thing I noticed is that I really would like to give Curtis a call and ask him who his tailor is. I mean, take a look at that shirt, still crisp like it came from the cleaners. My shirts aren’t that nice after brushing my teeth. Granted, I don’t usually bother to iron my shirts, but wouldn’t Curtis’ shirt be showing some of the effects of the various gun battles and whatnot? Sure, we have seen the guys change in the CTU locker room, but Curtis was held up at Marwan’s telemarketing company for a while, and was getting all commando in it then. Maybe he has like five of the same type of shirts in his locker. I don’t know, but it’s all still very strange.
Audrey sees Jack enter as well, and right away she has a look of dread on her face. He basically just ordered the de facto killing of her husband. Even in the interest of national security, that takes a while to get over. She desperately begs Jack to let her do the interrogation. If she can’t get him to talk, then Jack can go ahead and work his magic. What a great idea. It’s not like every second counts. If takes another ten or fifteen minutes to get the information out of Richard, it’s not like anybody is going to die or anything. Why the rush?
In the interrogation room, Audrey begins questioning her brother. Curtis, who is always trying to get some interviewing/interrogation/torture pointers, works the observation console from the outside while Jack peeks in on things using the one-way mirror. Audrey means well, but you know that a younger sibling is never going to listen to their older sibling’s advice; it just never happens. Even when she says they have proof he made this phone call to a terrorist, he is still in denial. Even when she goes on to say that she experienced these people torture somebody firsthand, he won’t say anything. Even when she says that they are going to hurt him until he talks, he continues to deny the existence of any knowledge of the day’s events.
Richard won’t listen to his sister, but there is somebody else that he might listen to – his father, Secretary Heller. You remember the Secretary of Defense, don’t you? Remember he was kidnapped, almost beheaded on camera, and then sort of took control of CTU while Driscoll was still around? Then he inexplicably left for some unknown reason, and we haven’t heard from him since. I guess he’s old and needs his rest or he gets uppity, but you would think he had at least one more all-nighter in him. Secretary Heller is not about to endure the run-around this time. After a few more questions with a little more urgency in his voice, Heller tells them to bring out all of the good stuff.
Even though he has already endured some torture, Richard begins to weep and finally starts telling him a story. A couple of weeks ago, he met this couple at a bar. Everybody hit it off, and they all went back to Richard’s house for a little bit of a nightcap. He started fooling around, then had sex, and they must have made the phone call while he was in bed. “So,” Heller says, “let me get this straight. You were in bed with the girl, and then this guy was in the next room making the phone calls.” Well, Richard was in bed, but we learned that it wasn’t the girl he was interested in. He was making out with the guy, and the girl must have made the phone call. Talk about your awkward times to come out of the closet in front of your father. “Uh, I couldn’t have made the phone call because I was tea-bagging this guy in the other room.” His father does have a really disappointed look on his face, not because he can’t stand that he raised a son that was gay, but because he raised son that was stupid and was seduced by terrorists.
Los Angeles wasn’t the location of all the drama in this episode, however. Back in DC, President Pussy has assembled his cabinet, and they are accompanied by the Speaker of the House, who just happens to be the next person along the line of presidential succession. Now that he has had a chance to see the new president in action, Don (well we think his name is Don, they kept saying it as if his name was Tom) isn’t too impressed. He notices that President Palmer is around, and he wants to know who is calling the shots. If the Vice President can’t perform his duties, you don’t call an ex-president to come in, you call the Speaker of the House.
President Pussy and President Palmer (I think I will call them P-Machine) at first clashed, and they do still argue whenever Palmer has to make a tough decision in the interest of American lives, but they now have a strange sort of rapport. They are sort of like a 21st century inside-the-beltway version of Laverne and Shirley. In order to placate Don/Tom, they set up a little meeting of the cabinet to discuss possibilities. Basically, it was a little bit of misdirection that inflated the Speaker’s ego, let Pussy pretend he is making the decisions, and let Palmer continue to give his advice without getting in the way. The outcome of it all was that they were going to have interceptor planes flying over New York and DC, because those two cities were the most likely targets. Civilian evacuations, which had been a sore point, were not enacted, for fear of the mass panic it would cause on the East Coast.
With the little political battles now a thing of the past, everybody was free to focus on apprehending the couple that had tricked Richard into letting him use his cell phone, and you know, the man-on-man action. When the girl made the phone call, Marwan as able to hack the line (I’m just telling it like they tell us) and listen in on all of his conversations. Little did Marwan know that Richard had T-Mobile and he could have hacked his way in a lot easier. Although Richard couldn’t remember their names, he did remember that they took a cab back to their own place, and from there, Chloe was able to find the cab company, and the driver who had picked them up remembered where they live. Assemble the CTU field team, Jack has to crack some skulls!
By now, Jack has realized that the only way for him to ensure that any operation is even a mild success, is that he can’t have idiots around him. He needs Curtis, because Curtis ain’t no sucka, and he has those shirts that look great under a kevlar vest, yet don’t need to be ironed afterwards. But not so fast! Buchanan wants Curtis back at CTU, so without a second thought, Jack requests Tony. And after all that time he spent talking about how he wanted to make things different and get away with Michelle, you hope that nothing bad will happen to him while he’s out in the field, like getting shot or something. But that’s such an easy twist, the producers wouldn’t go for that.
While in the helicopter on their way to the mystery couple’s apartment, Jack gets on the phone with Audrey. Blah, blah, I didn’t mean for you to see this. Yada, yada, I never meant to push you away. Who cares? Not me.
Getting closer to the apartment building, we get our first look at the couple. They looked sweaty and appeared to have just finished their own little love-making session. As the guy gets up to go to the bathroom, the girl turns over. Whoa! Is that Mandy? Season 1 Mandy? The one who is so good at blowing up airplanes and poisoning presidents with a handshake? I think it is! Mandy is obviously a veteran at this terrorism thing, so when she hears helicopters, she knows something is up. She puts her shirt on, kills her boyfriend, and gets ready for the impending raid on the apartment.
Jack enters the apartment complex. He made sure to tell the LAPD unit to stay back. I guess he doesn’t want anybody upsetting the delicate perimeter balance that they have tried so hard to maintain for the past twenty-four hours. Jack enters the building with the Asian guy, and everybody else maintains positions around the outside. During the sweep of the apartment, they come across somebody sitting in a chair. They tell the person not to move, which is a fairly easy request to comply with because the person is dead. It’s the boyfriend, and there is no sign of Mandy to be found.
Where is Mandy? She’s making her escape. You would think that everybody would be at their best, but Agent Castle, who I have always thought was a prick, messes up and gets shot and taken hostage. Agent Castle was paired up with Tony, and so when Mandy comes back and says that she is going to kill Castle if Tony doesn’t drop his weapon and his communications device, Tony stupidly does as he is told. Well Mandy can’t take two hostages with her, and it’s no use trying to run with a wounded hostage, so she kills Castle (who won’t be missed) and takes Tony hostage. Good thing he got one last kiss in with Michelle, and got to hear her say “I love you.” Still, I hope he didn’t have time to put a down payment on that time share!
Jack tries to reach Tony, but of course his com is down. He frantically searches the building, comes across Castle’s body, and knows that something terribly wrong has happened. Tony had saved his life, came back to work to serve his country, and now Jack had put him in the hands of an experienced killer. Actually, I think it is his fault he didn’t just shoot her and/or Castle, but since everybody is piling it on Jack for the death of people who helped him, why can’t we?
Well, there are two episodes left. I am kind of disappointed that I don’t get to bring you the two-hour season finale, but you will be in the capable hands of B-side next week, and he LOVES two hour season finales. I love that Mandy is back (and I am excited to hear Mia Kirshner is going to star in a movie based on one of my favorite books, The Black Dahlia). We have two hours to (hopefully) stop a nuclear missile, avoid war with the Chinese, and get Tony back. I think there is still some time to introduce Kim and have her kidnapped somehow, but that’s just speculation at that point. What do you think? Does the bomb go off? Does Tony die? Does Mandy somehow make it out alive (and do we get any more background on her whole situation)? Sounds to me like it’s going to be great.