Awww, look, the graphic violence warning fell asleep. Poor thing. It’s had a long, hard day.
The recaps give us the Cliff Notes version of the chase for the tape. Practice Essay Question: How is Audrey’s love for Jack echoed in the porcelain pig Sir James gave to his niece just before the ball in Belching Hall?
As this episode begins it’s sleepwalk into madness, Jack is tying up Audrey. No, wait, he’s applying a tourniquet. It appears to have done the trick. Jack says Henderson didn’t sever the artery. Oh? Well, Henderson is not so handy with the knife, then. But, even if Henderson just cut the artery, isn’t that pretty much game, set, and match? You don’t actually have to sever an artery to cause reason for great concern.
Audrey is a trooper. Not a State Trooper, just a brave little soldier. Not a real US soldier, just a plucky soul. Not a disembodied spiritual… oh, never mind. She says to Jack “Do what you have to do.”
Jack hears a phone ringing. A dead guy is not answering it, so Jack picks it up. Hey, that’s Wexler! Why is he dead? Jack just clobbered him, he didn’t kill him. So, did Henderson run into the building, see this unconscious guy, and just shoot him for no reason? I’m beginning to think Henderson is a real psychopath.
It’s the SecDef on the phone. He’s surprised that Wexler sounds so much like Jack. The SecDef explains that things didn’t go so well with Logan. Apparently Logan said “I’m rubber, you’re glue, everything you say bounces off of me and sticks to you,” and Heller ended up being tossed out on his ear.
Jack angrily says “You betrayed me.” Heller says “yeah, well, sorry about all that, but I did what I thought was best for THIS COUNTRY.” Jack lies and says Audrey is fine. You’d think Jack could’ve rubbed Heller’s nose in the mess a bit more and really made him feel bad by saying “Well, your betrayal led to Audrey getting all cut up. She nearly died. I saved her life. Thanks, Dad. Just for that, we’re going to spend the holidays with my side of the family.”
Instead, Jack calls Bill. He’s looking for Chloe. Bill happens to have one in stock, and pretty much tells her entire life story up to that point, leaving out only her fourth grade romance with Stinky Worthington.
Jack says “Henderson left here ten minutes ago.” Jack must be a little rattled, as Henderson only left about 5 minutes ago. He needs Chloe to fry up a CTU satellite stream. Chloe says no prob. She’ll get in through a subnet and VPN something-something so calls can’t be traced. Chloe apparently is forgetting she tried ye olde VPN trick a short time ago, and Miles was able to break through that with little trouble.
Chloe sets to work, telling Bill what to do. She says “Hope you don’t mind me bossing you around.” Heh. Without Chloe, the plot would be the only comic relief in this show.
Chloe, being a 32nd level Technomage, digs through satellite data and immediately finds Henderson leaving the airport. (In a stolen car, I might add. Surely the military roadblocks will pick him up, right?)
Logan calls up Henderson. Again. After ignoring him for the entire show up until a couple hours ago, he’s suddenly pretty chatty. Logan asks for what must be the 50th time by now, “Is Bauer dead?” And Henderson, who has failed yet again, merely says “No.”
And Henderson is driving around *again*. This is starting to rival MST3K’s rock climbing for levels of Deep Hurting. Perhaps they’re going for a new Emmy in the technical categories, Achievement in Driving Around.
Henderson explains to Logan that he’ll hang on to the tape for insurance, lest Logan get thoughts of making Henderson disappear. He’ll keep the tape in a safe place, and it will surface only if Henderson happens to meet with an accident. (So, if some drunk runs a red light and T-bones Henderson, Logan is screwed by accident?)
Whoa!! Henderson just told Logan that perhaps someone will decide that Henderson needs to disappear, just as Cummings’s “suicide” was necessary! Wow, so Logan arranged to have Cummings killed. That’s quite a revelation.
Chloe has already found Henderson and has him on a live feed. I ask again, how does Chloe know Henderson is in that car? It’s just a rectangular blip on the screen.
Jack is in pursuit of Henderson. They don’t pass a single checkpoint. Then, Jack does a little combat driving and knocks Henderson off the road. Henderson plows into a….barn? A barn? Where is there a barn ten minutes from the Van Nuys airport? Did some farmer refuse to sell his land years ago, and now has a farm right smack in the middle of the vast LA megalopolis?
Somehow Jack is far enough behind now that Henderson has time to get out of his stolen car and take cover. (Perhaps the extra weight of the dead bank manager in the back seat slowed the car down.)
Henderson tries to make a limp for it, but Jack nabs him, uttering one of his favorite lines, “Put the gun down!”
And now, Henderson lets fly with yet another moment of insanity. He says a chopper has been trailing Heller since he left Logan, and if Henderson doesn’t check in regularly with them, Heller will be killed.
Oh my. I’ve said before Henderson rivals Marwan in terms of amazing preparedness. Remember, Henderson just rustled up this new team of bad guys in the last hour or so. Never mind where they got *two* helicopters, or why. (I presume the other one is still back at the airport.) Just when did they go over this plan? They didn’t even know Heller was in LA till an hour ago. So on the fly they put together this backup plan? This show has become a cartoon.
Jack says “Slowly walk towards me.” Audrey takes a step. “No, not you, you ninny. Henderson.” Ok, I made that up. Jack throws a pair of handcuffs to Buckaroo and says “Cuff yourself.” Is that considered an expletive?
Jack gets Chloe on the horn and wants her to find Heller.
She technobabbles that she wants to scan in slices of three miles increments, and she patches Jack into a DoD database. Why? I don’t understand any of this. They have no idea what car Heller is in. The SecDef wasn’t planning to stop in LA, so there can’t have been an official government car at Van Nuys airport. Come to think of it, we have no idea what car Heller is in.
Jack calls Heller and asks him if a helo has been tracking him. Now, how would Heller know that? Oh, I guess by looking out the window and seeing the helo flying right above him. Way to hang back and remain invisible, bad guys. And all of a sudden, a red dot starts dancing around Heller’s chest. Heller says the baddies have a laser sight trained on him.
(The baddies don’t know Heller is talking to Jack. Why would they give themselves away and turn their laser sight on Heller just at this moment?)
Heller does not want Jack to give up the tape just for him. He says “Don’t let him go!” and then… what the bloody heck? Heller drives himself off a cliff. He, he, just sailed out there, he sailed right out there.
By now Chloe has technomagically found Heller’s car and the helo with the satellite. Jack asks Chloe, out loud and right in front of Audrey, “Can you confirm Heller drove his car into a lake?” Chloe can confirm. Oh my. In his rant, Paul takes about things in the show as metaphor. Has this show just driven off a cliff?
Jack is a little peeved at Henderson. Audrey says “Kill him, Jack!” But, Jack merely clobbers Henderson and renders him out cold. And all this before the first commercial break.
Going into it, the clocks are at :13 to :13. Coming back, the clocks are at :18 to :17. Suddenly, a nude body builder drops out of the sky and starts looking up all the Sarah Connors in the LA phone book.
At this point, Logan calls someone named Graham. Just who in the snot is this guy? Logan tells Graham to cancel the action against Henderson. Ah, so Henderson was right to suspect Logan of treachery. Way to go, Buckaroo.
Graham is not happy to hear about the misadventures with the tape, Bauer, Henderson, and the whole kooky plot. Logan whines for the millionth time today “Don’t take that tone with me.” It’s always about Logan, isn’t it.
Graham says they have bigger problems, namely Mrs. Logan. Logan says he’s taken steps to deal with Agent Pierce (huh??) and that he can handle Martha. Graham says ominously “You must silence her.” Yeah, good luck silencing Martha.
Now, Martha is looking around for Pierce, and she’s talking to some other agent. The agent says Pierce was transferred. Martha correctly wonders out loud “At 1 am?” The agent can’t really check on things now because there is a glitch in the scheduling software.
Huh? For real? The bad guys have arranged every detail down to horsing up the Secret Service scheduling software? How can bad guys this prepared have screwed up so badly today? And was Pierce really transferred? To where, a radar station in Alaska, and they’ll mail him his clothes?
Another agent comes by and escorts Martha to an office, and promptly locks her in. Martha hurriedly tries two phones in the officer, but they are apparently dead. (Again, good preparation, bad guys!) But, doesn’t Martha have two cell phones at this point? Hers and Pierce’s? Can’t she try them?
Jack calls Chloe. Apparently Henderson must have handed off the tape to someone after he left the airport. (Should I even bother asking how Henderson arranged that so quickly? Whoever he gave this to must have been hanging around outside the airport already.)
And in seconds, with the help of Technomagic, Chloe immediately finds satellite evidence that Henderson did meet someone, and this someone went back to the Van Nuys airport and is boarding a plane there. This show isn’t even trying to be plausible anymore.
Chloe’s scheduling software is apparently working, and she divines that Curtis is out with a tac team, about 25 miles away. Huh? Last time we heard from Curtis, he was supposed to bring Bierko to CTU Medical. All this time we could only assume he was standing vigil with Bierko, gently stroking his hand, mopping his brow, whispering encouragement.
Jack and Chloe wonder what flight this is, as commercial flights are grounded. So, um, why are Henderson’s two helicopters so free to fly around, including near the presidential retreat? Do the helos have those yellow Unrestricted Access stickers in the dash?
Jack wants Curtis to bring Audrey and Henderson to CTU. He says “They’ll be able to get Audrey the medical attention she needs.” Since this is the first time Jack has mentioned to anyone that Audrey needs medical attention, I’m not sure why Chloe and Bill don’t ask what’s wrong with her.
Jack needs to leave Audrey and chase after the tape. Audrey says “Make sure you get that recording.” Jack says in his best High Noon voice, “I will.”
Clocks are at :28 to :26.
Back at CTU, Miles says Bierko has regained consciousness. Finally. What a wimp. Tony got blowed up and had surgery, and he was up and around quickly. Henderson was tortured and pumped full of toxic chemicals, and he was up and around quickly. Jack got blowed up in the same explosion and was able to carry Bierko out. So why can’t girly man Bierko handle a little explosion in a gas distribution plant?
Valerie has apparently returned to CTU after tailing Audrey. She calls up Karen and says Chloe is gone, and surveillance tapes show Shari let her go. Shari is now in custody.
Miles will go look at binaries. Hmm, alt.girlypics.binaries?
Karen interrogates Shari. She asks why Shari let Chloe go. Shari says “She intimidated me.” She starts to babble about a psych eval, and then spills the beans about what Chloe said about Logan. She says “And people think I’m crazy!” Yes, this is the kind of stable individual CTU allows to work in its most sensitive locations. Good vetting process, CTU. Karen gets a suspicious look.
Back at the presidential retreat, Martha is wigging out inside the locked room. Logan comes in, and they have a little chat about what is going on. Logan is doing that annoying head-leany thing again. Logan says about David Palmer “I never authorized his death.” He admits he knew about it. At this point, Martha utterly comes unglued. My wife chuckled at this scene.
Martha says “What you’ve done makes me sick!” She can’t forgive this. She says “I hate you.” Hmm, I’m guessing she is no longer eager to have Logan come to bed. She does say she’ll remain quiet, for the good of the country. I think what would be good for the country is if she buried her high heels in Logan’s cranium.
Clocks are at :40 to :37.
Graham is having a meeting with Ron and two others. They are discussing loose ends. Since we have no idea who these people are, the scene loses a little bit of the impact. Graham says they started this thing 18 months ago, which in the show’s time frame is the end of last season, when Logan first became President.
Logan talks to Graham again. Logan whines “It’s about time I heard some words of appreciation.” As I said, it’s always about Logan.
Back at the barn, Henderson comes around, and immediately tries to rattle Audrey by bringing up Heller, saying she’s a bad naughty daughter for not trying to save him. He could still be alive in that lake. But nope, Audrey doesn’t make a call that would give away their location. Because these well-prepared bad guys could somehow monitor it.
Audrey says “Not. Another. Word.”
Chloe looks into her palantir again and sees a helo heading for Audrey’s location. Apparently they managed to find her after all. How? We have no idea. I’m guessing the writers don’t either. I think they just writes pages of the script, put them on a Lazy Susan, spin it around and pull the pages off at random and assemble them.
Jack calls Audrey and tells her to go. Curtis will track down Henderson. The krazy kaptions have Audrey saying “He’s responsible for the death of my father’s death.” That statement is pretty much in keeping with the logic of this episode.
Audrey finally leaves, after resisting the urge to put a bullet in Henderson’s head. But, it’s not the most efficient escape ever. She runs into a locked door. The baddies release Henderson, and he orders them to kill Audrey.
Audrey hides behind some hay bales, determined to make a last stand, when Curtis emerges from the shadows. Where did he come from? And how did he get in, if the doors Audrey was trying were locked? And when did he get there? If before the helo, why didn’t he come straight in? If after, how did the baddies not see him?
Curtis says “Stay behind me”, but the krazy kaptions have him saying “Stay down.”
There is a brief gunfight as the occupants of the helicopter are gunned down. Another agent brings Henderson to Curtis.
Back in the Chloe/Jack thread, it’s been determined the plane at Van Nuys airport is a diplomatic flight. Jack is outside the fence watching. There is a bunch of security. This crack security apparently did not hear the gun fight, or the exploding fuel tank, on the other side of the airport a short time ago.
Chloe said it will be hard to get past the State Department’s firewall to find more information. What? Chloe hacked into the NSA in seconds. Is she saying a bunch of diploweenies have better computer security than the most secretive intelligence agency in the government?
Jack hitches a ride on a fuel truck going by, to get close to the plane.
Clocks are at :53 to :50.
Security is checking over the truck, doing the mirror underneath thing. They clear it to pass, but isn’t letting a truck filled with jet fuel, explosive and highly flammable jet fuel, a security risk in itself? What were they looking for with the little mirrors that would be more dangerous than a big fuel truck bomb?
Miles has detected Chloe’s presence in the network. He says he machine-coded a matrix and yadda yadda. Yeah, right. Machine-coded something. I’ve written assembly code before, and it’s not something you just throw together in seconds.
He is able to figure out that Chloe is at Bill’s house. He’ll dispatch a tac team. Apparently one is in the neighborhood. Why? No idea.
Karen calls Mike, and asks about the evidence that Jack is involved in Palmer’s death, the reason Logan gave for CTU to apprehend him. Mike says he hasn’t seen it. Karen is surprised he’s out of the loop. Mike says there is no loop. He says “It’s been a strange night.”
Getting more and more suspicious, Karen calls up Bill and warns him to get Chloe out of there. (Apparently she doesn’t care if Bill stays behind and gets arrested.)
Chloe refused to leave. She’s still trying to break that infernal State Dept security.
Jack is near the plane. Workers finish loading luggage into the plane. Jack puts up his hood, grabs a couple of suitcases off a cart and heads for the plane.
I swear, that jacket was made by elves. First the hood protects him from deadly nerve gas, and now it fools people into thinking he’s a baggage handler. (And not sure why the cart was pulling away from the plane with luggage. Did they unload luggage?)
Jack gets up into the belly of the plane, and the episode ends.
Apparently next week Jack hi-Jacks a plane? Goodness.
And now, once again, here is guest critic Paul Foth. He’s almost crawl-on-the-floor to the toilet sick, but like Tony and Henderson, he shook it off and got this review done.
Okay, so you’ve got me one more time. I ended up getting sick, so rather than being out of the house, I was plunked down in front of the TV, staring at Jack & Co. for another week. So help me, when you’re looking out from under a haze of fever and coughing, it all begins to make sense.
No, not really. But I had you going there for a second, didn’t I?
My favorite line of the night was when Martha told Charles, “This whole day has been one big lie!” I love it when a character says something that fits within the story and also comments on the story. It’s as if for a brief moment, Martha had been yanked out of the 24-verse and given a viewer’s-eye perspective on it. Her only recourse was to tell Chuckie how insane it all is. But, like the square in Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, who was pulled out of his flat, two-dimensional world and given a glimpse of a universe in all its volumetric glory, only to be labeled an insane freak upon returning home and trying to explain what he’d seen, Martha’s metaphysical comment will only ever be interpreted as more lunatic raving.
Speaking of Chuckles, there was a moment during his confrontation with Martha when the combination of camera placement, lighting, and the way he held his head reminded me very much of Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. I was half expecting Logan to start daubing his head with a washcloth and talking about gardenias. This is the end. Beautiful friend, the end.
But not quite the end. It seems the leader of the free world ain’t so free himself, that he’s dancing to the tune of yet another cabal we’ve never seen before. It’s rather late in the game to be bringing in a brand new set of players, which leads me to suspect this season may end in a cliffhanger of some kind–not that next season would pick up right where this one leaves off (unless the show changes its name to 48 and has characters starting to hallucinate because they’ve been awake for so long), but rather the immediate crisis would be resolved only to hint at a new one that will require months of boring investigation and infiltration that culminate in another sleepless day.
So who are these bozos with the clip-on phones? Poor planners, for one thing. Their leader made the comment that he, “never made a deal that didn’t look like it was going to fall apart in the eleventh hour.” Really? Is this the mark of success, that until it actually happens it looks like failure? That would make for a rather jittery life, I think. No wonder these guys are evil. I mean, PATRIOTS. I mean, evil patriots.
One interesting bit was that they apparently started this thing rolling eighteen months ago, which is when the events of last season took place. Is the implication that these yahoos were Marwan’s bosses and that they’re the ones ultimately responsible for President Keelover’s demise? If so, did the writers have this in mind last season? It’s okay: I’ll give you a moment to regain your composure before continuing.
Ready? Okay. Read on.
Was SecDef Heller’s departure a surprise? Not really. Did you see William Devane’s name under the “Special Guest Star” credit at the beginning of the episode? It was a lead pipe cinch he was going to die. The only question was over the circumstances. (And if he couldn’t see a helicopter tracking him from only a couple thousand feet away, in full view of his driver’s-side window, until Jack told him to look for it, then it may be a good thing the country has to find a new SecDef.)
Then again, maybe he didn’t die. We never saw the body. It’s at least conceivable that Heller had been a Navy SEAL and is even now swimming to safety. Henderson’s manipulation of Audrey in that regard was brutal, perhaps more so because he may very well have been telling the truth.
Which brings up the point that this episode featured some really fine performances. Greg Itzin and Jean Smart were their normal excellent selves and really made some sparks fly during Charles and Martha’s confrontation (although if Charles thinks Martha is really going to keep quiet, I think he’s got another think coming), and Kim Raver did an awesome job portraying someone who was barely holding it together.
Which brings up the point, yet again, that this could be such an AWESOME show if the writing talent matched the acting talent. Instead, we get some great character moments stitched together with continuity breaks, hand-waving, technobabble, and nonsense. It’s like driving a car that runs beautifully for three miles and then blows a gasket – again and again and again.
Witness Curtis and his magically appearing tac team. Just what were they doing before they stormed anonymous structure #238 and rescued Audrey? Driving around casting chiseled silhouettes in the moonlight?
Witness Jack and that sweatshirt hood. First it protects him from Ultra Deathkill Sentox Six VX-1 7/a.b Mark III nerve gas, and now it disguises him as a baggage handler! That is one brilliant piece of antiterrorist paraphernalia. In the future, we’ll probably see it stop bullets, cure cancer, and fold out into an Astin Martin.
Witness Miles finding Chloe. He did this how? Our first clue was him muttering to himself, “I can track the binary.” Umm. The binary WHAT? Binary is an adjective. Our second clue was something about a matrix. He must’ve swallowed the blue pill. Now we have to start calling him Neo.
Witness Bilbo’s house, where Chloe is able to find Henderson using a cobbled-together network while hacking into ultra-secure government surveillance computers, when she couldn’t find him hours earlier with CTU’s uber-servers and permission to look at the data.
Any Lewis Black fans out there? Have you ever seen him when he can’t find the words to express just how stupid whatever he’s ranting about is? He shakes his head back and forth, loosens his jaw, and lets incoherent noises escape for a second or two. (Go over to his website; I’m sure there’s a recording or two of what I’m talking about there.) I think it’d be great if 24 used this technique instead of trying to come up with plausible-sounding techno-bleats. So instead of Miles saying, “I can track the binary,” we’d get, “I can track the ‘blubblbubbubllblbblbee’,” complete with him shaking his head back back and forth and perhaps flinging saliva all over CTU HQ. Then again, CTU would get mighty wet mighty quickly if they make this switch, and not a small number of personnel would probably get whiplash.
Okay, so what do we have to look forward to? Bierko has apparently regained consciousness, and will soon be joined at Gestapo Headquarters by Henderson. If Henderson can waltz out of there by himself after being shot full of battery acid, he and Bierko together should be able to kill everyone left and order out for pizza without breaking a sweat. Audrey’s on her way to CTU Medical, so she’s a goner. And high in the air, Jack becomes a hijacker.
I leave you with a question, one I’m sure you’ll be able to answer: This show often reminds me of which line from This is Spinal Tap?
Me again. My guesses are:
“This show goes to eleven.”
“CTUids. No one knows who they were, or what they were doing.”
“Bierko choked on someone else’s vomit.”
Number of times Jack says “Now!”: 21
Number of times Jack says “No!”: 8
Number of times a “protocol” is mentioned: 38
Number of times someone says a variation of “Go!”: 29
Number of moles: 4
Approximate Body Count: 94 (plus three rats, plus one human nerve gas guinea pig, plus 11 in the mall food court (and no, not from food poisoning), plus one security camera, plus 56 in CTU)