Bill Buchanan’s death last night was unexpected. That makes good TV. But yet last week (which I am still writing about!), when he was running through the White House, brandishing President Taylor’s tracking band, I thought perhaps that was going to be the end for him. And then when Aaron Pierce was shot, I thought the same thing about our favorite Secret Service Agent. And yet this week he was doing pretty well, despite the GSW.
Oh, but Bill. Hard to take, this one. Here’s the set up.
The hour opened with the Veep watching the news, interrupted from a phone call from Moss, with the plea for invading the White House, but Veep says no, using the “P” word again. “It wouldn’t be prudent.” Hmm, where have we heard that before?
So, Larry and Renee stew and fume out in the Rose Garden (or wherever the FBI van is parked), while Allison and Olivia cry together as captives. Among the other hostages, Jack and Bill form a quick plan. Before Jack and President Taylor left the lockdown, they had opened cans of CH4 (methane gas) which will be highly combustible – and should cause an explosion if there’s gunfire close enough. Jack plans to make a move towards the still-open lockdown room, to draw gunfire to the waiting gas.
While he and Bill are hashing out the details in whispers, Senator “Red” Mayer affects a prairie dog look while trying to get information from Jack and Bill. He pops his head up, “psst, what are you guys talking about? Is there a plan?” The other two just glare at him, he pops back down again. Seconds later he’s popping up, “tell me – tell me!” More glaring and popping, “I’m so gonna tell Juma on you!”
Meanwhile Juma wants Taylor to read a statement that will damn the U.S.’s “invasion” of Sangala. She tries to bargain – asking that hostages be released first. Juma seems to agree, and in what he calls a “sign of good faith,” takes a random male hostage away from the group as if he will set him free. Oh, he sets him free all right; one gunshot releases the man from his earthly bounds as he sinks to the floor, blood spilling.
And now a quietly horrified President Taylor reads the prepared propaganda against the backdrop of a Sangalan National flag – a flag soiled with the invisible stain of tyranny and inequity. The Vice President, the FBI, and the rest of the nation hear her words in disbelief. No one can stop the live feed, not even the FBI. But this is the chance Jack has been waiting for. Allison is also ready to react, even as she is still reading her statement. But Bill tells Jack that he had earlier overheard a conversation between Juma and someone on the outside who appears to be helping Juma. Bill says that Jack that is the best man for the job of finding the mystery co-conspirator – and he instantly gets up and charges to the lockdown room.
Bill quickly knocks down one of Juma’s soldiers, and grabs his weapon. He shoots the gun towards the ceiling, and just as quickly the combination of bullet spark and methane gas cause a terrible explosion and several of Juma’s men go down. Jack is up and fighting, Pierce is already shepherding the President and First Daughter to a safer area, and the FBI and standby Secret Service move in as soon as they saw the explosion, over the feeble protests of the Vice President. In the darkened rooms of the West Wing, Moss’s team dispatches all of the soldiers. Jack has a bead on Juma – warns him not to move, but the arrogant dictator advances – and Jack shoots him dead.
And then it’s one of those moments were you suddenly already know the outcome, just as Jack knows that Bill will be dead when he reaches him. Jack sinks to the floor, as the weight of one more friend’s death squeezes the spirit out of him. Renee sees him in his distress from a distance; while she is busy with the attack clean up. When she gets a chance to see Jack, he tells her what he knows about Juma, that he was not working alone.
Jack implores Renee to follow up the information. And shortly Moss declares that Jack is under arrest. Jack asks Larry Moss to be given the chance to have one more go at Ryan Burnett. Jack states that he does not need to touch the man; he should be able to put enough of a scare into him by just being in the same room as Burnett.
Larry refuses. He promises that he’ll follow up on the co-conspirator theory and takes him away. Renee does not agree, and takes it on herself to approach Ethan Kanin to ask if he’ll intercede and guarantee that interrogation. Ethan sides with Renee, calls Larry, and the interrogation parade begins. But what Jack, Larry, and the FBI TAC team does not know, the parade marshal is way too many steps ahead of them.
Enter Hodges, the man behind the man behind the man. Jon Voight is bringing his own style to the villain role, a resigned sense of practical cold-bloodedness, a man who expects what he expects but will adapt quickly. He’ll be interesting to watch, along with his aid, he-who-must-not-be-named-who-does-not-seem-to-mind-getting-his-hands-dirty.
So the aid-to-Hodges reports that Jack and Co. are on their way to the hospital to see Ryan Burnett. The good news is that a bloke named Quinn is already at the hospital – ready to kill Burnett and “take care of Bauer” at the same time. Hodges is pleased, tenting his hands like Montgomery Burns.
This Quinn, he’s quite the operator. No pun intended. In his chameleon blue scrubs, complete with stethoscope, Quinn pops into see an older man who is recovering from heart surgery, quizzing the gent on his family, or lack of. He then asks if he’s a member of the NRA, The Communist Party, the IRA, a Democrat, a Republican, a Straight, a Gay, a Tastes Great or Less Filing. And when he’s heard enough, he quietly suffocates old Lonely Heart. While the staff is busy with the old man’s coding and carrying on and such, Quinn manages to grab some information from a nearby computer – a hospital map and location of Burnett.
Using the stealth mode of choice, a wide overhead air duct, Quinn makes his way towards Burnett’s room, where Jack, with his FBI entourage are ready to begin. Jack promises that he won’t touch Burnett, and Larry and TAC-ers will be able to observe him via a security camera and microphone. The minute Burnett realizes that it’s Jack at his side – he needs a bedpan. Jack is his usual relentless self, taking off his tie for effect. But the Mighty Quinn above drops a small canister of nerve gas into the room and both Ryan and Jack are unconscious and immobilized. Then Quinn drops down, smashes a glass canister and takes a jagged slice of glass – smears Jack’s prints on it, and then carefully uses the same glass to cut open Ryan Burnett’s throat. Quinn then stabs the glass into Burnett’s abdomen and flees back through the air duct, after smashing the door keypad.
When Larry and crew finally break through the door, Jack has gone too. They immediately call out for an APB on Jack. Of course, he’s the Fall Guy. No, that was Lee Majors. But now Jack has to be on the run again. He calls Larry, and explains that he was set up. Larry asks him to come in, but Jack wants everyone to focus on finding who was helping Juma.
But who is going to focus on Olivia? That little spitfire is going to be a problem!