Gulp. That was the sound I made as the ominous 24 clock ticked loudly into the 1:00 pm hour. Sure, I tend to make that sound every week, but I like to think that this ending was exceptionally menacing. No, not because of the double cliffhanger at the end of the show. But because at press time, CTU is now the home of a shifty Brit lurking in the shadows, a schitzo blonde formerly known as “Phenom“, and an obnoxious environmentalist undergoing some casual torture. Rumor has it a fire juggler on stilts will be detained next. Tick tock tick tock…The truth is that crazy Maya Driscoll was safely off camera this past episode. Funny story though: a quick glance at the imdb made me realize that a few years ago, I had actually hung out with the actress who plays Maya: Angela Goethals. Oddly enough, it was me, Angela, and Sarah Rue. Turns out they both starred on the ABC show “Phenom”… with William Devane – aka Secretary of Defense James Heller. Coincidence? I THINK NOT!
Inconsequential name dropping aside, 24 was off and running yet again this week. We began the show as always with a little recap of episodes past. You know the drill. Previously on 24: dead bodies, dumb suburban mothers, evil terrorist mothers, gunfire, yelling, yada yada yada… I took this brief interlude to reflect on how much William Devane’s face looks like a Halloween mask. His skin must be some sort of polymer.
Anyway, with the recap over, it was time to get down to business. We first gazed upon a quiet, dusty industrial compound. Cue some guards ambling around, whistling innocently. La dee dah. Just another day at the terrorist headquarters. Down in the nether regions of the compound, Heller sat bound and gagged while his captors put him on “trial” for crimes against humanity and all that good stuff. You know, the production values on this webcast were really subpar. Couldn’t they have stolen a little backdrop? Maybe built a People’s Court set? Heck, if it were me, I would have kidnapped the whole cast of “Night Court” and put them to work. We all know Richard Moll needs the gig.
While the shabbiest webcast EVER transmitted around the world, Jack honed his stealth instincts and quietly took out all the guards around the compound. At this point I put down my PS2 controller as I realized I was not actually playing a video game, simply watching one on TV (and an awesome one at that). Jack eventually infiltrated the shadowy fortress, telling Driscoll to call off that pesky Marine attack that would, you know, kill everyone. She couldn’t quite do that yet (that’s what we like to call, the “President’s decision”); so Jack moved forward — but not before boldly stating, “No turning back, Erin.” He then added, “It’s now or never… I’m taking the plunge… Siyonara… People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
After some more sleuthing, Jack finally found the love of his life: Audrey. “You’ve got to stop them!” she implored. Oh really? Thanks for pointing that out Audrey. I thought he was just supposed to give ‘em a good scare. Maybe razz them a little, then hand out lemonade and oatmeal cookies. Nevertheless, Jack slipped Audrey a neat little switchblade and then prowled on towards Heller. Luckily, Jack’s timing was impeccable as he managed to shoot down the terrorists just before they executed the Secretary of Defense. We then cut to Driscoll who announced, “He’s doin’ it,” adding “Mama likey!”
Jack and Heller soon joined forces to bust out of the compound, but unfortunately Audrey was nowhere to be found. Oh well. You win some, you lose some. Outside, Jack and his boss staved off a veritable bullet storm, but not before Jimmy Heller showed off some fancy sharpshooting skills. Damn, William Devane is badass. Knots Landing? More like Knots Pounding. Sorry, that made no sense. Thought I had something. Lesson learned: Knots Landing can never sound awesome.
Well, the Marines finally descended on the madness and put those terrorists out to pasture. But whither goest fair Audrey? On cue, Omar the Terrorist emerged with a gun to Audrey’s head. Jack and Heller dropped their weapons, and just before Omar was about to kill the girl and then himself, Audrey shoved that switchblade right into his… well, I think it was his balls, but it could have been his abdomen. Either way, it looked painful.
Fast forward after the commercial break, and Heller was suddenly back in his formal wear. Hey, the man’s got a speaking engagement. Meanwhile, Audrey’s husband, Paul, called up to say hello to his honey. Turns out he had flown across the country when he’d heard about her kidnapping. And now he was in CTU waiting for her. And he doesn’t know about Jack. And he’s British. Awkward…
With the craziness at the compound dying down, we could finally return to the usual CTU hijinx. Poor Curtis was having some difficulties with his network (Driscoll suggested he “multiplex” his bandwidth. So does that mean he should open up a movie theater?), but luckily crafty Marianne popped up to say she had snagged some extra bandwidth. Oooh. Finding bandwidth. Grrrrr! Sexay! “I slept with you because I was attracted to you. Still am. Deal with it,” Marianne told Curtis boldly. She’s a troublemaker, that one. With Sarah, Curtis, Edgar, and Driscoll on the case, one might say Marianne’s something of a Fifth Wheel. You see, because Aisha Tyler used to host The Fifth Wheel and… oh never mind.
Hey, I wonder how that friendly terrorist family’s doing? Well, not so well. Dad was glued to the TV, watching local LA newsman John Beard interrupt his “Fingers of Flame” exposé to announce that Secretary of Defense Heller had been rescued. Seeing that the webcast had gone to shit, Behrooz suddenly became quite finicky as he complained about the plan falling apart. You know, standard teenage whining: I killed my girlfriend this, death to the infidels that. Before Behrooz could really get too annoying though, the doorbell rang. My God. These people get way too many visitors. Who is it now? Debbie’s sister? Her great aunt?
Actually, it was only Tariq, a menacing new fellow whose arrival was greeted with hugs and friendliness – at least from Navi. Behrooz eyed him with the guarded fear of a small dog barking at a veterinarian. Nevertheless, dad sent the two off to dispose of Debbie’s body and hopefully her cell phone too. You know, I don’t really feel too badly for Debbie. Anyone with such a god awful ringtone deserves to die anyway.
At CTU, Driscoll and the funky bunch looked at the items intercepted from the raid. Let’s see… internet cables, extension chords… dammit, they were at Circuit City all along! Meanwhile, across the office, Audrey arrived with little fanfare. A handler greeted her at the door, and I half expected him to say “Welcome to CTU Audrey. Your brother’s in our torture chamber. Coffee?”
Back at the Araz household, Navi braced himself solemnly on a kitchen chair. Some pre-terrorism isometrics? No, just general contemplation. Dina casually entered the kitchen and removed her coat in a humdrum way that seemed to say “Hey. Just killed Debbie’s mom. A real screamer. But I got some bagels though. The 405 is backed up like two miles, by the way.”
Actually, Dina spared Debbie’s mom, which was good because then Tariq would have had a third body to dispose of. Three bodies, you say? Yes. Turns out that the big guys upstairs had sent Tariq to not only get rid of Debbie but to whack Behrooz as well. When Dina found out her son was off with the hitman, she immediately devolved into a quivering mess that seemed to say “I may have lost the Oscar, but I WILL HAVE THAT EMMY!” And by the way, she deserves every last inch of it. As the scene ended, I imagined Shohreh Aghdashloo shooting a finger gun at the Desperate Housewives cast, adding “I’d like to thank all the other nominees… for making it so damn easy.”
At CTU, Heller arrived to thunderous, or at least extended, applause. He thanked the entire staff, and then pulled Erin and her circle into the conference room to further underscore just how grateful he was. Oh, and by the way, where’s my son? Curtis and Driscoll exchanged nervous glances that seemed to say “Should we tell him about the orture-tay?” but Heller knew something was up. He quickly learned that Richard had been subjected to SDT (sensory deprivation treatment), which is somewhat better than an STD (sexually transmitted disease) but not nearly as lovely as FTD (Florist Transworld Delivery).
Father and son had a warm reunion filled with hugs and “I love you’s”, but the honeymoon was short lived as Heller asked his son to give the nice people behind the glass whatever information he could. Amazingly, Richard balked at the request, saying he didn’t want them to know about his personal life. Hey douchebag. Your father almost got killed because of you. ‘Fess up. Unfortunately, Richard pulled a little reality star logic with his “It’s my life! That’s just me!” attitude, causing Poppa to okay some more SDT. As Daunté Culpepper would say, “Lace ‘em up! Lace ‘em up!”
Up in the sandy wastelands of suburban Los Angeles, Behrooz and Tariq broke ground on Debbie’s shallow grave. Eagle-eyed Behrooz, however, was no fool to this scheme as he quietly spied Tariq’s gun. Kill him, Behrooz! Kill him! May your balls be as big as your terrorist ‘fro!
Down in CTU, creepy Paul and his cyborg voice greeted Audrey in the infirmary. He declared his love for her and promised to put the marriage ahead of career. From now on, he’d lavish her with scones, tea, and Sporty Spice! His heart is a lorry that just wants to deliver love! Alas, Audrey was a major killjoy when she revealed she’d been seeing another man: a man who she loved, a man who was brave, a man who… was at the door. Yes, in marched Jack as he politely shook Paul’s hand, somehow ignoring the impulse to say “Hi, I’m Jack. I’m schtooping your wife.” Nevertheless, Paul figured it out quickly enough and exited quietly sans “Cheerio!” He then spent the rest of the episode glaring angrily from behind some venetian blinds. It was his passive aggressive way of saying “I’m British and a bit peeved! And where is Nigel?”
Let’s go back to Behrooz though, shall we? With the grave nearly finished, our ragamuffin terrorist decided it was time to act. Behrooz summoned all his strength and slammed his shovel into Tariq’s noggin so hard you could see little birds chirping around his head. Not to be outdone, Tariq reached for his gun, but Behrooz, a student in the ancient art of shovelry, quickly batted away the weapon. Soon, the teenager had the hitman singing like a bird as Tariq revealed that Behrooz’s dad was the one who ordered the hit. So mom poisons son’s girlfriend and makes son pretend to kill her while dad makes son dispose of body AND puts a hit on son AND tells wife the order came from someone else? Helllllooo. Time for family counseling.
Back at CTU, it was time for another debriefing. The Marines found an empty suitcase back at the compound raid. Its manufacturer traced back to a defense contractor. Okay. Starting to sound bad. A bunch of slides later, and the CTU people found out what we’ve known all along: the briefcase was stolen at the train crash by the bad guys. What’s worse though was that the case contained a device that controls EVERY SINGLE NUCLEAR REACTOR IN THE COUNTRY! Why oh why did they not give this courier a bodyguard?
Well, luckily, anyone who had this device would have to hack through tons and tons of code in order to access the reactors, and luckily all the watchdog groups would spot such suspicious activity way ahead of time… unless, of course, there were major internet activity that would distract attention away from the hackers. Major internet activity… like a live execution on a webcast. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. We’re all gonna die!
And just when I expected to see that nefarious ticking clock on the screen, the action continued. Marianne rose from her desk, walked calmly across the room, ascended some stairs, and found a shadowy location to make a phone call. “They found out,” she said in her best “I’m the funny lady from Talk Soup, but I can be serious too” way. So it’s official: the world’s gonna end and Aisha Tyler’s a mole. Could it get any worse?
Well, Kim could always come back.