Can you imagine Jack Bauer at his high school’s Career Day? Wandering around the gym, going up to all of the various booths and learning about futures in heath care, communications, engineering, etc. His guidance counselor encouraging him to study real hard, because junior year is what makes or breaks you. And making him sign up for some SAT courses, so he can score real high and get into a good college. And then he stabs her to death with a No. 2 pencil, because she was probably a terrorist.
This week’s episode of 24 begins with Mike “Girls Have Cooties” Doyle dancing in the streets. He’s trying to flag down a car, but the intelligent drivers of Los Angeles wisely steer clear of the crazy man flailing about in the middle of the road. Eventually he runs right in front of a car, Grand Theft Autos the poor guy, and drives away, killing a few prostitutes for fun as he does.
Jazz hands always stop cars!
Mike calls CTU and gets Milo, who snidely passes it on to Bill, as if to say “Doyle fucked up again.” Mike describes the situation to Bill, admitting “I screwed up!” Sounds like SOMEone needs a Time Out. Morris picks up on the tracking device in the chip and informs Mike of Jack’s location. Bill makes an announcement to the room: “Jack Bauer has gone rogue.” Are there any words in the English language more terrifying than these five put together? No. Except maybe “Paris Hilton was inaugurated today.”
Jack, the sneaky bastard that he is, has driven his car underneath some power lines. This gets my hopes up for a sort of electrocution-by-floor-lamp on some colossal level, but as it turns out he’s just using them to scramble the signal on the chip. He pries it off and throws it into the bushes, as Morris and Chloe (who has been put back on assignment because she’s just that good) try and figure it out on their end. I don’t know why CTU even tries. Whenever Jack Bauer goes rogue, there is nothing left to do but throw up your hands in futility and go take a nap, and just know in your heart that everything will work out for the best.
Morris and Chloe are snapping at each other, as they are wont to do. Morris finally wises up to Jack’s trickery and skips up the stairs like the spirited little lawn gnome that he is to tell Bill. Milo comes over and Dr. Phils all over the place, saying that Jack will give up his own life but not Audrey’s. Whatever, Milo. Go heat up a Hot Pocket or something.
The White House Crew are congregated inside the Oval Office, watching the Press Secretary’s press conference. And Tom Lennox is there, which is odd considering the fact that at the end of last week’s episode, he said he was going to the hospital. Now, I know this show likes to break all laws of time and space, but I refuse to believe that Tom got to the hospital and back in the span of ten minutes, and all before Palmer even arrived there. Maybe he was setting up a bear trap in the MRI machine or something.
Anyway, Daniels shoos out everyone but Tom. He asks what he’s going to do with the Pier 1 Bowl of Espionage tape that has him conspiring to commit perjury. Tom says he hasn’t really thought about it. Daniels tells him to think about it right now. Hehe. Careful Tom, thinking causes brain attacks around these parts. Tom voices his concerns, but says that the main reason he’s keeping the tape is for his own protection, and that it was Palmer’s idea to use it to force a resignation. Daniels asks the presidential equivalent of “So…are we okay?” and Tom says that they’re totally cool, BFF even, since he’s always supported Daniels’ politics more than Palmer’s anyway. And he promises never to use the tape against him. Right. Countdown to hearing that tape again: T – two episodes.
Jack calls up Cheng, who has a cheery little cell phone ring. It’s no “The Entertainer”, but it does brighten up that whole international warmongering thing a little. Actually, it goes quite nicely with Cheng’s cheerful disposition. No matter how mad or threatening he’s trying to be, to me the lilting tones of his voice always suggest a bubbly personality. I half expect him to answer the phone, then cover up the mouthpiece and cry to Audrey in a happy little voice: “It’s Jack Bauah!!” Anyway, Jack tells him that CTU is on to him so from now on they’re doing things his way, and his way involves meeting at an abandoned hotel. Sexy.
Daniels barks some more at his minions and sends them off to find Jack and the chip. He’s left alone with Lisa the Fembot, so he says, “I have the fate of the western world and the lives of millions of Americans hanging in the balance and…I can’t stop thinking about you.” And he proceeds to rub his bulldog face all over hers. EWW. Lisa says she’s not sure this is appropriate behavior. Not sure? Do you need some sort of instructional video? Or do robots not understand these kinds of things? He tells her to call the media and tell them that the acting president is a dirty old man. I’m on the phone immediately. He asks her to spend the rest of the night, and she says she’ll run home to pick up a change of clothes. I hope they involve some sort of chastity belt.
Aaaand millions of Americans vomit in perfect unison.
Mike finds the power lines where Jack ditched the tracking device, and asks Nadia what’s up ahead. She tells him about two possible highways, and Mike determines that since one of them has cameras, Jack would know about those and would therefore take the other route. Looks like SOMEONE’S been watching his Blue’s Clues! He tells Nadia to check phone logs, since he saw Jack take one of the dead terrorist’s phones and thinks he could be using it to communicate with Cheng. Nadia tells Milo that Mike figured out where Jack was going, and Milo again acts all exasperated and sneaks off to further plan Mike’s death.
Nadia hands off the phone log thing to Chloe, who sends it over to Morris. Morris starts complaining about this for no discernible reason, which triggers yet another Chlorris squabble. How were these two ever married? I’m guessing a lot of pot roasts went cold and uneaten between them. Milo tries out his very best Maury Povich and jumps in to intervene, so Chloe just sends the files for him to process instead of Morris. Morris jumps on this, saying she’s getting close to Milo, then tells her to put down her complaints in a folder and then shove it. Wow, Morris just kind of won my heart. That lousy drunk is alllll right after all. Not that it’s okay to mouth off to Chloe, but I don’t think anyone on this show has ever told anyone else to shove it (though if anyone did, I’m guessing it was Tony Almeida). Morris snarks some more, then asks if there’s anything else she’d like to put out there. “Stop arming bombs for terrorists,” I joke to myself. “How about ‘Don’t arm nuclear bombs for terrorists?’” Chloe snaps. Wow. I just mind-melded with The Chloe. Cosmic.
Chloe realizes that she’s gone too far, and tries to damage control by saying that’s not how she really feels. Wise old Morris says he doesn’t buy it, and stalks away, probably off to find a bottle of rubbing alcohol to pound.
“You’re a terrorist!”
“Hah hah! Wait, what?”
Karen gets a call from the awesomely-named Peter Hawk. He’s with the Department of Justice, and he wants to meet with her. She takes the three steps to find him in her office, which makes me wonder why he went through the trouble of calling her in the first place, but whatever. The White House can break all laws of physics. Why, in the past five minutes Tom has already gone back in time to save Wayne Palmer, cure cancer, and stop Sanjaya from ever auditioning. Hawk informs Karen that he’s been interrogating Reed, who is apparently facing the death sentence for his actions, and as a result is singing like a whiny little canary in hope of leniency.
He shows Karen the tape of Reed, who says that Bill had had Fayed in custody at one time and let him go, and that Karen covered it up. All that nonsense that Tom had threatened her with and forced her to resign. Karen explains to Hawk that the facts are all true, but there was no cover-up. Fayed was acquired as part of a border sweep, and since there wasn’t enough evidence to hold him, they had to let him go. It’s standard procedure, she explains. Hawk asks why, if this is no big deal, she resigned over it twelve hours ago. She recites the same old for-the-good-of-the-president thing, but Hawk says that someone is going to have to take the fall for this, and the farther they are from the president, the better. Which means that Karen is going to have to fire her dear hubby. Looks like it’s cold pot roast for them, too!
Jack arrives at the abandoned hotel, which looks to me like some sort of garage. He gets out of the car, and…is that that Messenger Bag of Death? It IS! Aww. Tear. He walks in and scopes the place out. Meanwhile, Mike is still attempting to track Jack, and Nadia is helping on the other line. Milo is throwing darts at a picture of Mike, and Morris is throwing up a bottle of Jager in the bathroom. So all is right with the world.
Karen calls Bill and asks him if he has a minute. He says no. The trouble begins! She asks him to finish what he’s doing and call her back when he has a minute. Yeah, okay. He’s the director of CTU. A free minute? He’ll get back to you WHEN HE’S DEAD.
Karen barges in to Tom’s office and complains about the whole thing to him. She says that if Bill goes, then she’s going to resign. Tom points out that she already resigned once today (have I mentioned lately how much I love Tom? I love Tom.) and that Bill is just going to have to suck it up and take the fall. Her loyalties have to lean one way or the other, and if she’s not on the President’s side, there’s going to be hell to pay for her. Damn. No wonder so many marriages end in divorce these days. With problems like this, how can love survive?
Jack, meanwhile, is setting up the joint with some C4 explosives and, to brighten the place up a little, some of those nifty chili pepper string lights. They’re so cute. Jack calls Bill and leaves a goodbye message on his machine, apologizing for what he’s done and saying that it was the only way to get Audrey back. Oh, Jack. How many suicide notes/phone calls have you left by now? You could make a scrapbook out of them. He tells Bill to take care of Audrey, and thanks him for being a good friend. You know that weird feeling when you say goodbye to someone and it’s all emotional and whatnot, and then through a glitch in your plans you end up seeing them minutes later and it’s all awkward? Jack must have to deal with that a lot. Jack’s life is really hard.
Morris gleefully skips up the stairs to Bill’s office again, this time to request a transfer. He’s sick of the old ball and chain, and it’s time for a change of scenery. Bill resists, but it’s hard to say no to Morris and his puppy-dog-I’m-sorry-I-armed-several-nuclear-bombs eyes, so eventually he caves. Sweet, now Chloe’s going to have to gear up for some long-distance glowering.
Aw. Someone give Morris a pony.
Bill shoos Morris out and gets on the horn with his wife. Karen tells him all about the DOJ investigation, then dances around the subject for a while until Bill finally asks what the hell she’s trying to say. She says she needs to distance herself from him, to protect the White House. He asks if she’s asking him to resign. She takes a deep breath, and for a moment I think she’s going to tell him that no, she’s actually asking for a divorce. But apparently love conquers all, as Karen simply says that she has to fire him. Bill is understandably furious and realizes that this would mean the end of his career, but Karen sticks to her guns and says it’s the only way she can keep her own job, which is more important because she’s closer to the President. Or something. In my opinion, five Bills equal one Karen. And I love the Karen, but come on, Bill is awesome. Karen says she loves him and that’s all that matters. Bill correctly hangs up on her. Haha. See? Bill rocks.
Mike is still driving all over Hell’s creation looking for Jack, when he finally spots his car near the hotel. Good for you, Mikey. Back at CTU, Bill pulls Nadia into the Situation Room for what may be the mother of all Situations. For her, at least. He tells her he’s stepping down, and that she is now in charge. Nadia protests and asks all sorts of questions, but Bill just says that he was fired. The security guards show up to escort him off the property, and when he asks for one more minute they get all sassy. I HATE when security pulls attitude with our beloved agents. Don’t they know who they ARE?
Nadia is still whining, saying that Bill is the “most ethical, dedicated person” she’s ever known, and begs to know who’s doing this to him. Bill fails to say “my future ex-wife” and keeps his trap shut, then gives Nadia all the logistical details of her takeover. She says she’s not the right choice, but she can’t really mean that. Who else is there? Morris? Chloe? MILO? Milo’s not even qualified to operate a toaster oven. So yes, Nadia is the only choice, until a replacement director arrives from Division. Ooh. Past replacement directors have included Michelle Dessler. Perhaps a Zombie Tony Almeida will arrive to run the show? I am hopeful. Bill tells her to inform the rest of CTU before they can read it on the internal forum, which I imagine is full of Youtube links and funny cat pictures.
America’s biggest threat to national security
Bill is escorted out, as Morris tries to whine to him yet again about something or other. Bill finally ignores him and leaves. Nadia makes the announcement the the room, and everyone is appropriately Shocked. Milo immediately begins to plot Bill’s death, because he must have talked to Nadia at some point about this and that makes him another lover Milo must eliminate.
Mike, meanwhile, is putting together all of his toys and getting ready to storm in on Jack. Sigh. This is going to end badly, and it’s all because no one listened to Jack. AS USUAL. He stalks around outside the hotel for a bit, then tells CTU that a limo has arrived, which prompts Nadia to send some teams over. Cheng gets out of the limo and heads into the lobby. Upon seeing Jack, he squeals, “Mistah Bauah!” with delight. Hehe, gotta love that crazy Chinaman. I bet he’s a children’s television show performer back in his country.
“Mistah Bauah! Care to dance?”
Jack says he’s not handing over anything until he sees Audrey and verifies that she’s okay. Cheng calls his goons and they bring Audrey into the building. And, yeah, it’s pretty heartbreaking. Jack asks Cheng to take the gag out of her mouth, then changes his mind and says he’ll do it. He gently pulls it off and caresses her face, and damn, it’s painful. I should know. If I had a nickel for every relationship of mine that has been ruined by Chinese torture, I’d have several nickels! Jack whispers that he’s sorry, but Cheng pipes up gleefully to chirp, “You can continue this reunion later!” Seriously, I’m really starting to like Cheng. I’m going to hire him for my next birthday party.
Jack tells him that Audrey is to walk away from here, down the street until she’s no longer in the range of Cheng’s spies, and then he will hand over the component. Jack hugs Audrey and whispers some more instructions into her ear, that a car will be waiting at a gas station and it will take her back to CTU. Audrey, who has barely shown any emotion through all of this, sullenly walks out of the building. Mike is still hiding in the bushes, yelling into his phone at Nadia, while – are those didgeridoos? – play in the background. Intense. Once he sees Audrey, he knows that the exchange is about to take place, and decides that it’s Doyle’s Time To Shine.
Once he can see that Audrey is a safe distance away, Jack tosses the circuit board over to Cheng. And at that exact moment, Mike starts shooting at all of Cheng’s goons. The CTU teams and a helicopter pop up out of nowhere and join in the shooting fun. Cheng, meanwhile, escapes quite easily, which means that CTU must have put up a perimeter around this place. One of the goons shoots a damn bazooka at the helicopter and it goes down, which means that following Cheng in the unmarked black vehicles up the mountain is going to be that much more difficult.
CTU storms into the hotel and Jack angrily tells Mike that he was planning on blowing up the circuit board until Mike decided to play cowboy. Mike shouts that Cheng got away, causing Jack to become totally exasperated and shocked that these morons have endangered world security by not listening to him YET AGAIN. Nadia radios Cheng’s last known location to Mike and tells him to place Jack under arrest. Mike handcuffs him as Jack sneers, “I had this handled! Why didn’t you listen to me?!” A sentiment that will surely be engraved on Jack’s tombstone one day, if in fact he can be killed.
“AND I’m missing Idol Gives Back! Could this day get any WORSE?”
The teams lead Audrey back into the building and she’s babbling like a maniac. She stares at Jack like she doesn’t even recognize him. Mike hauls Jack away as he screams that they’ve done something to her, and Audrey sits on a chair in the fetal position, twitching and jerking around like she’s being attacked by an invisible army of screech monkeys. Jack watches in horror at this little freak show and whispers, “My God.” Aaaaand scene.
And there we have it. Another infuriating episode in which Jack is tortured by the stupidity of others and their refusal to listen to him. Let’s review, shall we? Rule Number One: ALWAYS LISTEN TO JACK. How many times must the man save humanity from extinction before you pay attention? Anyway, pretty standard episode, Cheng got away, so I imagine the hunt for him and the subsequent threats that he will impose will take us through the rest of the season. Bill getting fired is a load of baloney, and I’m sure it’s not the last we’ll see of him. Audrey’s psychosis is quite interesting, though. I’m eager to find out what the deal is with that. Thoughts? Comments? Ever bazookaed a helicopter?