If you have been faithfully watching 24 since the very beginning, in those crazy and scary days of uncertainty after 9/11, you probably have been caught up in the increasingly arduous and uncertain life of Jack Bauer (played by Keifer Sutherland). As we have been given windows into eight days in that life, we have seen Jack unravel, spiral to the depths of despair, and yet always rebound in sheer perseverance and determination to save the day (and the people he is sworn to protect) against all obstacles.
Watching episode 18 of season 8, I (like many of the rest of you I am sure) was temporarily lulled into a false sense of happiness for Jack. He tells CTU and the world that “It is over,” and he takes former FBI Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) by the hand and makes his way back to the life he hopes to construct with her. They go to his apartment and make love, and after all this time we are happy to see Jack attain some human connection, one that he so desperately needs.
Alas, this is not to be for more than a few fleeting moments. While we suspect Jack and Renee are thinking of a life together, a sniper named Pavel is sitting in a window across the street with other plans. He spotted Renee at the crime scene where President Hassan had been murdered, and the one surviving henchman Samir would have too much information, so Pavel gives him a lethal dose of something. In keeping with the infuriating 24 tradition, no one sees him and he gets away, but Renee notices him, causing his antennae pop-up.
We learn in this episode that the Russians are behind the whole plot, or at least Russian delegate Novakovich at the U.N., when Pavel calls him just as he happens to be going into a conference with US President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones). Obviously, the plot thickens as Pavel waits to take out Renee and Jack Bauer as well.
Meanwhile, back at the U.N. President Taylor meets with assassinated President Hassan’s widow Dalia, and she presents a plan to keep the IRK in the peace process by getting the IRK government to install her as its provisionary leader. While at first taken back by the offer, Dalia recognizes the importance of her husband’s work (and his legacy). Dalia has the inner fortitude to try this (against her daughter’s wishes), and she accepts Taylor’s offer. Needless to say when Novakovich finds out about this, he is not pleased and says the Russians are pulling out of the conference.
This sets the stage for the return of one of 24’s most slitheringly delicious villains, former President Charles Logan (played with icky delight by Gregory Itzen). This most Shakespearean moment is a dramatic delight as the disgraced, but pardoned, ex-President meets face-to-face with the current one. President Taylor knows she has to deal with Chucky, but she doubts he will be her friend to the end.
Back at CTU, Brian (No Neck) Hastings has been given a pink slip. He, of course, recruited Dana Walsh (now a known terrorist) and mishandled other events of the day, so Hastings is relieved of his duties and our girl Chloe O’Brian gets elevated to temporary head of the agency. No, this is not like a mistake or any typo; Chloe has finally received the recognition she richly deserves. Chalk one up for the good guys (and gals).
Hastings says “Bye-bye” to the troops and then slinks off, presumably to return to Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and perhaps to eventually have an operation to restore his neck. Chloe, flustered by being given authority, has to deal with the immediate crisis of Samir dying in CTU Medical (the list is endless of people who died there, including Tony Almeida who then came back to life, but that’s another story).
Once Samir kicks the bucket and Chloe understands that someone injected him with something a lot worse than steroids, who is she going to call? Since The Ghostbusters are not available, she calls her best bud Jack Bauer. This is exactly what Chloe would always do, but she picks the worst possible time.