Somebody get CTU some alka-seltzer. This place has the worst case of gas I’ve seen in years. Yes, it was another hour of the Sentox Circus that we commonly know as 24, and if you thought the death count ended with the thud of Edgar’s doughy body, then you were wrong. As long as that pesky nerve gas is floating around, there are casualties to be had, and this week we had two, maybe three. But probably two. And before you even ask, the answer is no, Barry was not slain. So much injustice in the universe of 24.The big show opened up with an extended “Previously on…” recap, and deservedly so. Last week’s double-dose was truly amazing — the sort of rollercoaster ride that has you clutching a pillow one minute and reaching for some tissues the next. I haven’t yet quite forgiven the producers for offing sweet (or “thweet”) Edgar — heck, I’m still smarting from Sherry Palmer’s bullet-ridden demise in season three — but in the world of 24, an untimely death is almost like the greatest tribute a character can have. And so Edgar joins the legends of Bauer Land. May he rest in peace, preferably with a box of Krispy Kremes by his side.
Anyway, we knew there’d be some shenanigans this week when Vice President Hal (a.k.a. the same bastard who killed Laura Palmer) received his own title card in the opening recap. With Walt Cummings also dead and gone, the Prez needed some new, evil influence on his decisions, and when all else fails, why not cart in the hawkish Veep? It worked in season two, right?
Nevertheless, this episode was not about Hal and his sudden rise to relevance. It was about CTU. Basically, nerve gas had been released in the building, and the only safe zones were the Situation Room, the medical clinic (which, by the way, has NEVER been a safe place for anyone), Bill Buchanan’s office, and, randomly enough, holding room 4 — conveniently the location of our favorite hobbit, Lynn McGill. In case you forgot all this, don’t worry. A random guy on a loudspeaker boomed through building and informed everyone about the situation. I half expected to hear him cough up a lung and die right there over the PA system, but apparently, his little broadcasting booth was the fifth, unmentioned safe zone. By the way, let’s give a little round of applause to the first ever use of the CTU PA system. The building’s seen a lot of chaos and tough times, and never has it been put to use — not even during last week’s Code 6 Evacuation. But tonight, they finally decided to break it in. Too bad that little safe zone announcement came after everyone had died.
Anyway, as Chloe all but curled up in a fetal position in the corner, Bill Buchanan (who was trapped up in his office) announced that he could still coordinate with Division. Cool! But what about gas masks? Do we have any of those? Well, the good news was that there were gas masks for everyone. The bad news: they were in the contaminated areas. Doh! Hey, I know this sounds crazy, but maybe next time, they should put the masks inside the safe zones.
After more frantic “What are we gonna do?” patter, we then cut to a shot of Edgar’s body. Poor Edgar. He had foam coming out of the mouth, a glassy look in his eyes. He was either dead or dreaming about tuna melts. Let’s just say, the man can salivate. Back in the Situation Room, Jack had — you guessed it — a situation. He needed Chloe to help, but oops, she was in total shock, unable to even utter one sarcastic sneer. Around this time, I started to feel knots in my stomach that Kim might reinstate herself on the CTU staff, but luckily no such silliness occurred. Yet.
Meanwhile, Kim’s new boyfriend/psychologist/bearded menace thought that maybe he could help Chloe. After all, he was a professional. I was sort of hoping the scene would then turn into a modified take on that famous bit from Airplane where the stewardess slaps the hysterical woman, but instead, Barry’s brand of therapy was the touchy-feely kind. You know, the type that has no business making its way onto 24. I wonder if Barry’s gonna try to sleep with Chloe now.
Anyway, Chloe let down her guard for about two seconds, long enough to eulogize, “He was such a good guy. I just treated him like crap all day.” Lesson to America: that pudgy guy at the office that you always scoff at but secretly have a crush on — give him a hug. Because you never know when he might foam at the mouth and keel over.
Over in holding cell four, Lynn and a random guard named Harry paced around nervously. “This is my fault,” Lynn said. Damn straight it is, douchebag! You have Edgar’s cholesterol saturated blood on your hands! Neverthless, Lynn had tones of remorse and regret in his voice. He sounded like a man who wanted to right the wrongs in his life. A man that would make the ultimate sacrifice!!! The same sort of ultimate sacrifice that Fox had been talking up all week. Hmmm… But until then, he had to deal with a testy Harry who just could not believe that Lynn had lost his keycard.
“How could you not report it?” Harry asked bitterly. “We’re all going to die because you were embarrassed.” Wow, lots of sass coming from one of the CTU “red” guards. Normally, those guys are only around to nod at Curtis and be punched/kicked/shot by various bad guys and Jack.
If Bill Pullman and Alec Baldwin had a love child…
Up in the medical clinic, we had another problem brewing. You see, Tony was still reeling from the news that Christopher Henderson (a.k.a Jack’s old mentor, a.k.a. Robocop) was behind Michelle’s murder. And when it comes to Tony, it’s eye for an eye, soul patch for a soul patch. As luck would have it, this little nerve gas snafu meant that Henderson had to be moved from his torture chamber to the clinic, right next to Tony’s very own cot. This could only end badly. Sure enough, Tony quickly knocked out his doctor (CTU medics are never long for this world. And neither are their patients, I’d like to add), and with a bed head full of rage, he then pounced on Henderson’s torturer, stealing his gun and nearly killing the prized witness. Luckily, Jack managed to intervene by telling Tony (via the intercom) that he understood his rage. “I know how you feel right now,” Jack said, as we quickly flashed to Kim perking up. That’s right, Kim. He was talking about Mom! Good ol’ Terri Bauer. One of the few women on TV to rock the Caesar haircut.
“I know you don’t want to make the situation any worse than it is,” Jack then told Tony. C’mon, Tony. Listen to Jack. He knows the situation. He’s in the Situation Room for crying out loud. He drove the Situation Car to work today. Well, Tony reluctantly caved and took a seat, allowing the young interrogator to get back to his torturin’ ways.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, a brand new character. Meet Karen Hayes, a tough dame from Homeland Security. If she reminded you of the tough dame from the CIA in Syriana, then you’re in luck. It’s the same actress. This time around though, her job wasn’t to browbeat George Clooney but to clean up the mess in CTU. We first found her chatting away with Vice President Hal, saying that there needed to be an emergency reshuffling of the Counter Terrorism Unit. And as part of that restructuring, she’d be the new boss. This could not be good for business. Of course, it wasn’t unexpected. It seems like every season there has to be a changing of the guard at CTU, and with Lynn McGill rapidly falling out of the story, it was inevitable that some other jerk would come in to vex everyone’s plans.
Meanwhile, over at the White House West, the VP was still babbling about his agenda. You see, he wanted to put soldiers on the streets and invoke martial law, just as a preemptive measure to against any riots or panicking. But might the mere presence of soldiers cause the riots? What comes first? The riots or the soldiers? A question as old as time eternal. Anyway, Hal was all “Martial Law this” and “Martial Law that.” Hey, Hal, if you love Martial Law so much, why don’t you just marry it?
Elsewhere in California, Julian Sands, a.k.a. the really, really bad guy, was plotting his next move. He was going to hit another public space, and this time, he planned to release ALL the gas. Dunh dunh DUNH!!
This development, of course, brought up The Clock, and when we returned from the break, we found Jack still pressuring Chloe to work. “What do you need?” she asked with total grumpiness. That was her way of saying “I’m back.” Well, sort of. She was still dealing with residual Edgar trauma; so Jack began to pressure her again, drawing the ire of Barry.
“Believe it or not, Jack, you don’t have to be qualified to help people. You just have to be there for them,” he said.
“Like you were there for my daughter?” Jack responded. Oh SNAP! He went there! Still, at the end of the day, can you really blame Barry? I’m sure there are many men that would like to “be there” for Kim, am I right fellas? (Insert Randy Jackson dawg pound noise here.)
Anyway, this whole conflict climaxed with Jack getting all up in Barry’s face, grabbing him by the neck and pinning him against the wall. Like so many of Kim’s prom dates, I’m sure. With all this drama unfolding, Chloe snapped out of her trauma and said “Fine, I’ll get back to work!” Thattagirl!
With gas contaminating all of CTU, our group had nothing really left to do except wait for Curtis and his squad to come back and neutralize the place. One problem. The nerve gas had some sort of corrosive acid in it, one that was quickly breaking down the safe zone seals. According to some quick computer calculations, everyone only had about fifteen or twenty minutes left before the seals completely disintegrated, leading to the deaths of all our favorite characters. These terrorists really think of everything, don’t they? Pretty impressive considering all these U.S. attacks were supposedly improvised.
Back at the White House West, Martha was taking a quiet stroll around the estate when she ran into Mike, looking as beleaguered as ever. And honestly, if there’s anyone who can pull of the beleaguered thing, it’s Mike. Anyway, he informed Martha that President Pussy was going to institute Martial Law, thanks to Vice President Hal. But wait! Martha thought her husband wasn’t going to do that! Yes, for the umpteenth time that day, Martha learned that her husband had changed his mind, all for the worse. Now Mike wanted her to intervene and keep Logan on the straight and narrow. Just how many times does Martha have to butt into something before Charles gets it right?
Meanwhile, things at CTU were getting worse by the minute (as is often the case), but at least Audrey carried the torch for good old fashioned naive optimism. “Maybe it’s not as bad as we think,” she said. “Maybe the numbers are off!” Shut up, Audrey. Why don’t you step into the contaminated area and test it out for yourself?
Luckily, Bill came up with a fantastic plan to flush the air out of the building. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. Turns out that in order to flush the system, someone needed to quit a program running on a computer near holding room four. Yes, the same holding room in which Lynn McGill was trapped. C’mon Lynn. Time to be a hero!
Actually, hold on a second there, Lynn. This was a job for a real man. The sort of guy that’s not afraid to torture his girlfriend’s ex-husband with a pair of lamp wires. Yes, Jack was gonna brave the nerve gas and shut down that good-fer-nuthin application. Luckily, the Situation Room came with its very own airlock, and so with the seals 80% destroyed, Jack stuck a flashlight in his mouth, opened a panel in the wall, and scampered off for some bad-ass holding-his-breath action.
We then watched as Jack maneuvered through some underground conduit system, eventually surfacing through the floor of the airlock room. At this point, Chloe piped up to say that by the way, if the airlock leaks, they’ll all die. But don’t worry, fair Chloe. The airlock won’t leak. Jack applied a few strips of duct tape to the floor panel he’d just emerged from; so clearly they were protected. Granted, this evil gas could gnaw through fortified CTU seals, but duct tape? NEVER!
Well, eventually, the time came for Jack to head into the gas. Taking a big gulp of air, he stepped into the Dead Zone and cut away at a panel that would lead to the nefarious computer. One problem: there was a set of bars in the way. Hey, those weren’t supposed to be there! Thwarted, Jack had to scamper back to the airlock where he could catch his breath and then make his way to the Situation Room. And speaking of the Situation Room, while Jack toiled in the gaseous realms of CTU, Chloe and Kim exchanged some tense barbs. “Don’t talk down to me, Chloe,” Kim said. Of course, if there’s anyone who always deserves to be talked down to, it’s Kim, but that’s besides the point.
“Listen, we’re in a crisis situation. Tempers are bound to flare. Let’s just everybody breathe,” Dr. Barry said.
“What’s with you and the breathing? Is that your solution to everything?” Chloe snipped back. You know, these crazy kids ought to get holed up in the Situation Room more often.
Well, Jack returned safely to the SitRoom (my new abbrev for it) where he announced that he’d be unable to access the computer. But wait! Didn’t Chloe say it was near Holding Room 4? Couldn’t Lynn McGill do this? Yup. That’s exactly right. One catch though: Lynn’s safe zone didn’t have a nifty airlock attached. That meant that once he broke the seal to access the computer, Holding Room 4 would be contaminated. Yes, Lynn (and sidekick Harry) would have to sacrifice themselves. Granted, they’d die no matter what, but this way, it could be THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE! Man, whoever thought Control-Alt-Delete could ever be so dangerous?
Back at the Situation Room, Kim suddenly felt compassionate and apologized to Chloe about being short before. This then led to a dreary scene of Chloe saying how she always sent Jack news about Kim. You know, like how Chase left Kim, Kim’s ensuing depression, yada yada yada. “How did you get that information?” Kim asked. Uh, this is CTU. Somehow I think they were capable of culling some basic gossip.
Meanwhile, with death impending, Harry the guard called up his daughter to say goodbye (on his cell, no less. CTU really doesn’t like those non-work-related charges racking up the phone bill). Anyway, this led to the obligatory, sappy farewell, including the daughter asking, “When are you coming home?” and Harry answering/crying “I don’t know.” Eventually he told her that he loved her, and then it was go time. “Okay, good luck. And thanks for doing this,” Chloe said to Lynn over the intercom. Now, that’s what I call a warm sendoff! Personally, I would have gone for the “So, um, could you just do this and die already? Thanks. We appreciate it.”
And so our poor hobbit covered his mouth with his tie and broke the room’s protective seal, officially dooming his and his sidekick’s lives. But no heroic moment ever goes unrecognized on 24, and as Lynn ran to the computer, the soundtrack soared with a triumphant fanfare never heard before. You could practically hear America chanting “Ru-dy! Ru-dy!” Go, young Lynn. Save the Counter Terrorist Unit! Redeem your name! Join your fellow compatriots in anti-terrorism heaven!
Well, Lynn got the job done, and even had time to hop back into Holding Room 4, which hopefully wasn’t too too contaminated. He and Harry then sat in silence, holding their breaths as long as possible. Eventually though, Harry had to give in. He released his hand and gasped for air a few times before happily saying, “I’m okay! I’m okay!!!” And as a faint smile appeared on his lips, we, of course, knew that he was not okay at all. Sure enough, Harry’s optimism was short-lived as his body convulsed, and he dropped to the floor, his face rubbing into the rapidly growing pool of saliva. That was just cruel. Way to give the guy some hope, producers.
“Oh my god! I get to see my child grow up!!!”
Aaaaand… he’s dead.
You know what they say. As goes Harry, so goes Lynn. Yes, even hobbits need to breathe, and with great sadness, Lynn opened his mouth and took in a few last gasps before he too went the way of Harry, Edgar, and everyone else in the building. Intriguingly, Lynn’s death was more of the shaking, dying cockroach variety, as opposed to Edgar’s soft topple or Harry’s pained face plant. It was quite the sight to watch, and ultimately, Lynn wound up in a vaguely fetal position with his feet squirming a bit before coming to blissful rest. And so ended this week’s gut-wrenching carnage.
“My dearest Frodo…”
So is Gandolf going to resurrect him or what?
Over in the Situation Room, things were grimmer than ever. Audrey had just given her most horrified “I can’t even watch anymore!” look of the season, and Jack was stewing over by the glass. The two shared a special moment as she clasped his hand, but when Aud asked if he was okay, he curtly answered, “NO!” Come on, Jack is never okay. You should know not to ask that question, Audrey.
You know what all these people need to lift their spirits? Some more torture! Yes, with all these gas shenanigans going on, we almost forgot that Robocop was enduring a painful interrogation up in the infirmary. And funny that I should mention the infirmary. That’s exactly where Jack wanted to send Kim once the gas cleared out of the building. You know, just to get checked out and stuff. Way to go, Jack. Put your daughter in the same room as the guy who tried to blow you up. It’s bad enough that even a one-legged mop boy at 7 Eleven is capable of abducting Kim, but placing her in arm’s length of CTU’s prodigal son? That’s just not smart.
Kim, meanwhile, just wanted to go home. No infirmary visit, no coffee, no catchin’ up on old times. She just wanted to get the hell out of Dodge. Wow, for the first time ever, Kim had a smart idea. This was hard for Jack though. He just wanted to spend one day with Kim, like a real father and daughter. They could do fun things: play mini putt-putt, get some ice cream, maybe catch a matinee of The Shaggy Dog. But alas, it was not meant to be. Kim only wanted one daddy figure in her life, and his name was Baaaarrry.
Over at the Presidential compound, Martha was having a heart to heart with her hubby, saying that Vice President Hal was merely pushing his own agenda with this Martial Law plan. He wanted to make the president look bad and then take over, she explained, and as always, Logan just didn’t know what to do. This led to him crying like a baby and fearing that he’d lost the love of his wife. But don’t worry, Charles. Martha reassured him that she still loved him (even though he almost let her get taken out by a rocket, bastard).
Back in the evil headquarters of evil genius Julian Sands, there were more evil plans to be evilly executed. Bierko placed a call to some scantily clad woman who was presently mounting some equally scantily clad man. We didn’t know much about this girl except a) she looked like a thicker version of Mischa Barton, b) she was some sort of assassin/dangerous vixen, and c) she was about to infiltrate some highly guarded structure. Part of me wondered if maybe this was the same woman who had killed the military pilot last season, but I couldn’t remember the face (or whether or not that woman had been whacked off as well). Anyway, the good news was that this girl’s horny boyfriend managed to survive the scene without taking a bullet to the chest (a huge rarity. He’ll probably be dead next week though).
As if anything else couldn’t go wrong, our new friend Karen Hayes was now en route to CTU, and with her was a squad of bureaucratic cronies, including Miles, an effeminate sidekick who you just know loves to get lattés with Karen and dish about office gossip. Anyway, Karen called up Bill Buchanan and told him that she would be taking over, causing Bill to do his patented look of quiet disappointment. Gosh, doesn’t anyone trust him to run this ship alone? Poor Bill. But he should know the way this goes. After all, he was the one taking over for Michelle Dessler just one year ago.
Sadly for Bill, things were going to get a lot worse. He just didn’t know it yet. You see, Miles wanted to replace the CTU personnel with his staff, and that meant bad things for Bill, Chloe, and whoever that random woman was manning the computer in the Situation Room.
“CTU is no longer an operational entity. It’s a building with workers that will report to us,” Karen said dryly. Yay! New CTU bitch! So just to recap, the first 95% of CTU dies in one fell swoop, and the remaining survivors are now going to be laid off. That’s what I call corporate restructuring.
As the hour of Bauer came to a close, Jack said goodbye to his daughter who wisely was avoiding the CTU medical clinic. The two shared a tender moment, and then Dad told Barry to take Kim far, far away from the city. Of course, if you’re like me, you already are thinking that Barry is just a henchman for Christopher Henderson, which can only mean one thing for Kim: pure, unadulterated abduction. Get those bear traps ready…
Up in the infirmary, the plucky interrogator pushed Christopher too far and accidentally sent the guy into a coma. Oops. Well, nothing left to do but kill him, at least according to Tony. “You’ve had your chance. He’s mine now!” our mourning hero said, taking down the interrogator in one swift judo chop. Yeah, man! Tony’s gonna do his own torture now! Actually, it looked more like Tony was gonna fast forward to the whole killing thing as he readied a giant syringe of ominous fluid. Of course, Tony had to be stopped. This guy was CTU’s only lead. Surely Jack would burst in and intercept him.
Well, Tony raised the needle up, ready to inject its lethal contents into Henderson when suddenly… ROBOCOP WOKE UP!! DAMN!! In a flurry of activity, Christopher stole Tony’s gun (which he had stolen from the interrogator) and then used the syringe against him, stabbing him in the gut. No sooner had this started than Christopher had scurried off into the shadows, surely to wreak havoc next week. I personally didn’t know how he could be so agile after all that torture, but I guess he had the same Jack Bauer rapid healing powers.
As Tony lay on the floor in pain, Jack suddenly entered the room and figured out what as going on. He grabbed his friend — his soulmate, really — and cradled his head in arms, urging him to hang on. But Michelle was already dead — Tony had nothing left to live for. And with that, his eyes closed. Jack’s face got all sad and such as he first called out for help and then begged Tony to come back. Was Tony dead? Suddenly, the big clock came on the screen, loudly clicking away as always. Surely Tony wasn’t dead. The clock was loud. A character like his would surely get the silent clock treatment. Besides, the producers couldn’t simply knock off three significant characters in the span of basically one episode. Could they? You never know with 24.
“I love you, Jack.”
What do you think? Is this the last of Tony? Or will he be back for more action?