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A Real Pain in the Gas: Hour 15 On 24

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There was a rather interesting, almost pastiche quality to last night’s episode, featuring sexual harassment, torture, dumb cops, a poorly guarded public utility, and one tender moment for Jack and Audrey. Most importantly, Jack was allowed to show his sensitive side in a brief scene, which is always good for the segment of the audience that thinks Jack is just a cold hearted machine. See, the writers are telling us that Jack really has an Alan Alda inside that Bruce Willis façade.

After bringing Pistol Girl back to CTU, Jack already knows in his heart that Audrey can’t be guilty, but he is forced to go through the motions by that Homeland Security woman, Cruella Mean-To-Bill. Meanwhile, her lackey has some back story with Edgar’s replacement, Twitchy Girl, who is more nervous than Barney Fife trying to get the bullet out of the shirt pocket. Chloe doesn’t like Twitchy Girl because she’s taking Edgar’s place, but she tells her story of woe to Chloe who eases up a bit. Hey, those girls have to stick together, right?

Burke is ready to jab needles into Audrey faster than an aging Hollywood actress getting Botox, but Jack is not having it. He has already interrogated Audrey in his own way, and he found out she slept with Walt Cummings (but only once because, hey, he wasn’t my stud Jack) and that Audrey couldn’t possibly have compromised security because he has thrown a table, choked her hard, and ascertained, despite her sexual indiscretion, she is not guilty. Of course, she’s the daughter of macho Secretary of Defense Nuts Landing who would allow no such thing anyway. Unfortunately, Jack is tasered (I was waiting for this because he gets tasered at least once a season), and Audrey is dragged off to experience Burke’s method of Q&A.

Once Jack recovers, he talks Cruella into letting him have another shot at Pistol Girl if he and Chloe can find something to show she violated her immunity agreement. It’s amazing how Jack can spring back from these moments of physical pain, but lets not forget he was trained by Robo Henderson who was able to withstand Burke’s best stuff and is now driving around the city despite a curfew.

Meanwhile, Jerko Bierko and his men have commandeered a police car (in what perhaps is one of the stupidest moments ever on 24). The cops in this car must have known there was a curfew, right? Yet they go down a dark alley and put themselves into a precarious (and ultimately deadly) position to break up a fist fight? They never call it in? No suspicions? Well, that’s just handy dandy as Jerko now has a “police escort” to the gas utility where he intends to send the Sentox into the homes of thousands of unsuspecting people.

Jerko gets into the gas utility as easy as I walk into Sears, and the next thing we know he has Helmet Dude working for him (after knocking off a few other engineers). Helmet Dude has to lower the PSI (I know, that show is on another network with that red haired guy who quit NYPD Blue), in order for the Sentox not to be neutralized by the gas in the system. Jerko and his men are now watching the clock tick and think they’ve got the world by the tennis balls.

Our loyal friend Costner (the super Secret Service guy) has left the comfort of the funny farm ranch (where we see no signs of President Lowguns and Lady MacDeath, who might be locked in each other’s arms hoping to make it to Hour 24) to look for Palmer’s brother Wayne. Costner gets in a little gunplay with the bad guys and finally rescues Palmer in a swift move. We know the President’s brother has some deep dark secret, no doubt about yet another bad guy who is a mole.

Jack finds that Pistol Girl and Robo Henderson had an extensive relationship, so this somehow invalidates her immunity deal. He knocks out her guard and then gets the gun in her face. Jack really is looking bad (that taser didn’t help), and it seems he will pop a blood vessel at any moment. Pistol Girl gets away pretty easy after telling about the gas utility (I was hoping Jack would at least shoot her in the leg like Henderson’s wife), and Chloe is able to find the facility rather quickly because Twitchy Girl was a chem major and knows about lowering the PSI and all that “blah, blah, blah.” Chloe is impressed and yet Twitchy Girl reveals that Bill touched her inappropriately while thanking her for a job well done ( but we all know Bill is just a good guy who doesn’t have a hand problem), so now Chloe knows Twitchy Girl is just plain nutso.

Jack and Curtis take a helicopter to the gas utility and start shooting it up with Jerko’s men. Jerko still manages to launch the Sentox, but Jack and Helmet Guy figure out that it can be stopped if the tanks are blown before the gas goes out into the pipes and brings less than good things to life. Jack just happens to have some trusty C-4 plastic explosives in his bag of tricks, and he sets the timer and starts running like a Jack Rabbit (I couldn’t resist). The bomb goes off, everything explodes, and Curtis is ready to fly away but Jack sees Jerko and goes after him.

Jerko and Jack mix it up (this is one thing I’ve missed in recent seasons, with Jack actually getting to bop around the big bad guys or kill them directly like Victor Drazen in Season One) as Jerko tries to flee in the cop car. As the world seems to explode, Jack tries to drag Jerko into the car and drive away, but all we see is flames and falling debris. How many lives does Jack have left? We’ll find out next week.

Once again we have an exciting, really edge -of-the-seat kind of hour on 24 that is not found anywhere else on weekly television. The Shield on F/X comes close to this kind of almost mini-movie feel, but there is really nothing else like 24 to be found (I apologize to fans of Lost, but I stopped watching that last year because it “lost” my attention with too many reruns).

There are eight episodes left, and I am expecting much of this will involve the bad insider at the White House (could it actually be that weird Vice President Potato Chip?), and we know that Robo Henderson has some tricks left up his sleeve.

Until next week, Klaatu Barada Nikto!

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • S.Rod

    This is the second time Jack was tasered this season. He sure has great recovery time this time around, what was it 30 seconds? Season 1 he was knocked out for at least 5 minutes and got sick.
    And I think it rubbed off on Audrey…because just before Jack “saved her” she was shaking and going nuts…but after he kissed her she seemed to be fine. Maybe I need a little Jack Bauer loving to get over what ails me?

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    S. Rod, I don’t recall that first taser incident. I have all the episodes recorded, so would you be so kind as to direct me to the hour when this happened. I watch very carefully, but last week I missed Stoller kiss Pistol Girl (ala Judas). Things like this happen, no doubt, when I turn to grab my popcorn or sip the Dr. Pepper.

  • S.Rod

    Hour 10 (4:00PM – 5:00 PM)
    4:21 P.M.
    After the secretary steps out, Jack enters Henderson’s office. Henderson is waiting there with a stun gun and knocks him out.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Yes, S. Rod, you are right! I even recall it now. I think I either blocked that out or thought Henderson hit him with something. So now we are at tasered X2.

    Jack does take his lumps and then some, though nothing beats his “death” in Season 2. Jack is one resilient fellow.

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    Victor – love the title! (again – i wont read it till mine is done) but I’m pretty sure this was hour 15?

    anyway… I’m sure it’ll be a fine read, and congrats for getting it done before noon!

  • http://patfish.blogspot.com/ Pat Fish

    Once again you had me laffing from start to finish.

    Couple of questions from a newbie to the series.

    Who, exactly, is Curtis?

    Why does Chloe always look like a two-year old in a pout?

    Beyond that, well hey, this is really a great series.

    Love your pseudonames for the characters, especially “Lady MacDeath”. Who I think is the white house mole by the way.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Possible Spoiler Alert:

    Thanks, Mary K! I went over my recordings and you’re right: this was Hour 15. Therefore, there are nine hours left (all the better).

    By the way, I just got an e-mail from someone who is adamant about three things:

    1. Potato Chip is NOT the mole (he claims it’s First Lady MacDeath)

    2. Tony is not dead (he claims Jack and Tony once again are playing the fake your death game)

    3. Jack is not dead (in the explosion) but may fake his death too

    Is this getting confusing? Well, this guy says he gets this from some “spoiler” whom he won’t reveal. I guess we shall see.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Pat,

    Chloe’s pout is part of her character. Though trying to grow-up, Chloe still says and does childish things (like when she says to Audrey it must have been hard on her thinking Jack was dead and all). Yet she is also brilliant and can affect positive outcomes, which is why she is the one Jack always trusts.

    Curtis is second in line at CTU and took over briefly when he had to (he sort of assumed the old Tony A. role). Jack also relies on Curtis time and time again.

  • http://patfish.blogspot.com/ Pat Fish

    Another thing I find amusing is that the CTU has been taken over by the DEpt. of Homeland Security.

    What a hoot.

    Just so long as they don’t have any hurricanes.

    Thanks for the insight Vic.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Yeah, Pat, I think that’s an inside joke (maybe we’ll see “Good Job, Brownie” before it’s over). One thing I’ve been thinking about is the BIG picture, and it has dawned on me that this too may be part of the bigger plot here.

    Since the Sentox is now gone, what threat remains? Perhaps the White House mole is gearing up for a coup d’etat. With martial law in place, the ex-president dead, the Potato Chip guy looking scarier than Laura Palmer’s father ever did, and the choice to dissolve CTU on the plate, it is moving that way.

    Can you say…President Potato Chip?

  • http://www.jeffkouba.com/myblog/blogger.html Jeff

    Good stuff. Interesting coup theory. I think the Veep must be a baddie, as he surely is the one who sicced the van full of bad guys on Palmer, minutes after he was told that Palmer was on the way.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Or it could be, and this is a stretch, that Mike (The Grimace) Novick is the mole. It would be a shock but not impossible.

    ***Spoiler ALERT***

    My “friend” added more news about Tony. He should return in Episode 17 “to save Jack in the field.”

    I am parting the branches and saying, “Verrrry interesting.”

  • http://dracutweblog.blogspot.com Mary K. Williams

    Verrry Interesting indeed! I’d hate to think it’s Mike, even tho he aggrevates me, with those strange sidelong glances and murmurings – but still I kinda like the dude.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Mike Novick is probably too obvious. My “spoiler friend” mentioned two possibilities:

    1. It is Potato Chip (Laura Palmer’s weird Dad)

    2. It is actually Lowguns, who is so nuts he doesn’t even know it

    I do think Lady MacDeath must be considered a possibility. We shall see soon enough.