In the past I have mentioned that there are sometimes echoes of Bruce Willis’s John McClane from the Die Hard films to be found in Jack Bauer, and last night was a good example of that. The writers even borrowed a very familiar scene and one memorable line from those movies in Jack’s final confrontation with bad guy Abu (Mr. Clean) Fayed. There is nothing wrong with this homage to good old Bruce, and it did in fact fit in contextually and felt new in an odd way.
How Jack got to that moment with Clean is a little murky, and it goes back to the incredulous events in Episode 16 when Fayed cuts off Gredenko’s arm (here, borrowing from Season 3 when Jack cut off Chase’s arm) and they flee into a bar. Why people are sitting around drinking in a bar after a nuclear attack earlier in the day seems as strange as the idea that someone would let someone else cut off his arm to escape from anyone. Gredenko ends up bleeding to death under the Santa Monica pier, and Fayed is caught by those bar patrons, and this allows Jack the chance to get him. Got all that?
Meanwhile, back at the White House everyone is nervous about the nuclear missile launched by the USA under orders from President Wayne Palmer. This missile is directed at Fayed’s “home country” which is still unnamed. The ambassador of this country knows the nuke is on its way and will flatten the minarets of his capital city, so suddenly he remembers that they have some guy named Habib in custody who is a rogue general. Prez Wayne has correctly assumed that the ambassador was lying to him, and Tom (Twitchy) Lennox is impressed with Wayne’s machinations.
Prez orders the ambassador back to the White House for the duration of the crisis. He also calls off the missile strike (the Joint Chiefs arrange for it to crash into the gulf, which we assume is the Persian one). Wayne tells Twitchy that the nuke was never armed because, unlike Vice President Noah (Jim Jones) Daniels, he was not going to risk innocent lives but had to do something dramatic enough to get the ambassador to cooperate. Nice going, Prez Wayne!
Twitchy and Karen (Hillary) Hayes have formed some sort of alliance that allows the former foes to work together. They realize that Wayne is still weak from his brush with death earlier that day. Prez wants another shot of adrenaline, but Doc Welton is not going to risk Wayne’s life. Obviously, this guy should crawl back into bed and get hooked up to an IV, but with Jones waiting in the wings that scenario is unlikely.
As Jack and Doyle take turns interrogating Clean, Jack realizes that the terrorist is not going to talk. Clean makes references to his brother (Jack tortured and killed Clean’s brother), so Jack reminds Clean what he can do to him. Eventually, Jack decides to bring Clean back to CTU to get the Burke treatment (Agent Burke is the one with the little black box who medically “induces” people to talk).
Once they are in the van and on the way back to CTU they are intercepted by terrorists in another van. There is a shootout and it seems like Jack and Doyle are dead as Clean is rushed off by his compatriots. However, this is all a ruse and the terrorists are really CTU agents who speak Arabic. Clean is unsure of this “cell” and asks for a gun as proof of their loyalty. One of them gives over a weapon and Clean checks to make certain it is loaded.
Back at the bunker the ambassador has arrived and arranged for this General Habib (a weird looking guy with an eye patch who looks like the sea captain from Sponge Bob) to talk to Clean and call off the attacks. It seems like Habib is cooperating, but Nadia (still having problems with Milo) Yassir listens to the exchange in Arabic and believes Habib has sent Clean a coded message. By the time Jack can warn the agents in the van, Clean has killed them all and set off in a truck. Jack manages to climb on board and hide under the truck that Clean drives to the “safe house” where the remaining nukes are waiting.
This sets up a scene that is very reminiscent of the one in Season 1 when Jack takes out Victor Drazen and all his men. When Jack gets that look in his eyes he is like on autopilot, and he mows down Clean’s buddies quickly but runs out of ammunition (as does Clean). This sets up the final showdown between the two, and at first Clean seems to be getting the best of Jack. Jack does end up pummeling him and twisting him up in a mechanical chain (just like a terrorist in the first Die Hard). As he turns on the machine to hang Clean he tells him, “Say hello to your brother.” Bruce Willis fans will remember this line from Die Hard 3 when McClane kills Simon, the brother of Hans from the first movie.
As we see Clean hanging there dead, everything seems right with the world. The nukes have been rescued and the bad guys are finished. But we know in Jack Bauer’s twenty-four hour day that there are seven hours left, and just as Jack winces in pain (yes, his ribs are still broken) Doyle gets a phone call that is going to rock Jack’s world. Whenever a call is “patched in from CTU” we know there will be a problem.
Is it Kim? No, it is Audrey. Looking nothing like her usually stylish self, Audrey reveals that she is alive. Jack speaks to her only briefly and then we get a glimpse of his old nemesis Cheng Zhi, the one who carted him off to China for his twenty months of incarceration. Cheng tells Jack to call him on a secure line if he wants Audrey to live. So, Audrey is not dead as Jack was lead to believe. We can imagine that the next seven episodes will be about Jack trying to save her life.
Earlier this season I mentioned that Jack had unfinished business with Cheng. I felt that the way Jack looked at him when he got off the plane suggested that Jack was going to get some kind of revenge. Now, with Audrey in the picture, it is clear that Jack is going to have a bullet with Cheng’s name on it. It should make for an exciting ride the rest of the way.
Oh, and I am sorry for not reviewing last week’s episode, but I was off running around Walt Disney World with my five year old. I have yet to recover. Until next week, Klaatu barada nikto!