Day Seven begins strong at 8:00 AM – an alarming auto collision and subsequent kidnapping of a Mr. Latham, a Homeland Security tech guru. This contrasts nicely with the quiet but frustrating Senate Hearings led by Senator Blain Meyer (Kurtwood Smith, who we know and love as Red Foreman from That Seventies Show). Senator Red was quite gracious but still doggedly accused Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) of human rights violations while the other dastardly deeds were being played out elsewhere in the Greater D.C. area.
So before Senator Red can threaten Jack with a boot up the ass, the lovely Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) comes marching in with a subpoena for Jack Bauer to immediately be remanded into FBI custody. Because of the events of the last hour, Latham’s kidnapping, and other intel, the FBI needs Jack to help them.
It’ll be interesting to see how the FBI office dynamics play out now. When CTU was in existence, there was always some sort of vibe of turf protection, suspicion, impatience, or annoyance simmering and bristling along phone or Ethernet lines. Already we’ve got the duo of Janis Gold and Sean Hillinger – played marvelously against type by Janeane Garofalo and Rhys Coiro. These two, especially Gold, seem a bit jumpy, and she’s already been lassoed back on task once or twice. And yes, she’s definitely got a Chloe thing going on, but with seemingly more tact.
And Jack is briefed with the shocking news that his old partner and friend Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) is not only still alive, but apparently working for a terrorist group. This group is referred to as “homegrown”, and has been implicated in a string of technology thefts, and also Latham’s kidnapping. Not easy news to take, but Jack is able to get over the surprise enough to work with Hillinger to find a common element, a man named Gabriel Schecter (Tommy Flanagan) who could be a possible player in the recent technology thefts.
Of course, those in the Oval Office and Capitol Building rarely get much sleep when Jack Bauer is in the thick of things, and so it is here. Newly inaugurated president Allison Taylor is staring down the barrel of another “Operation Enduring Freedom” scenario, this time to stop the genocide in Sangala (24: Redemption was set in this fictional African country) led by the evil General Juma (Tony Todd).
Shadowing the President Taylor and First Gentleman Henry (Colm Feore) is the apparent and recent suicide of their son Roger. On the QT, Henry has hired a private detective to gather information surrounding Roger’s death. He’s quite convinced that there was no suicide. Of course, we saw in Redemption that Roger’s friend Chris was involved in some shady money deals and had come to Roger for advice, and possibly help from the President-elect. We also saw that Secret Service Agent Vossler was a mole, which led to the murder of poor Chris. Seems obvious that Henry has the right hunches.
Funniest moment of the hour. Yes, I know 24 is a thriller, not a comedy, but c’mon, I live for this sort of thing – which you all know if you’ve read my other posts on the show. FBI head Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling) is unsure about the whole Jack Bauer involvement. He sees Jack as a loose cannon, and is hesitant to involve him too much.
“Is this how it starts? You get in my face, tighten your jaw – and if I say something you don’t like – you slam me against the wall?” Okay, he forgot the “dammit” part, but Moss is spot on. Oh, and Agent Walker actually utters a “dammit” later, instead of Jack. I believe she also exclaims (paraphrasing), “There’s no time to explain that right now!”
Most gratifying guest star (after Kurtwood Smith) is the Homeland Security liaison Tim Woods played by Frank John Hughes. Hughes played SSgt. William “Wild Bill” Guarnere in HBO’s Band of Brothers. We’d been watching the mini-series off and on since Christmas (Santa was good), so we all got a chuckle from seeing “Gonorrhea” appear at the White House.
In our second hour, tensions build nicely as Tony and Co. have control of a working CIP module courtesy of hostage Latham. This device evidently can get inside government firewalls, and the FAA is the first to be penetrated. Local ATC folk begin to notice blips on their systems, and soon enough Tony has taken over the communications with one flight in particular, guiding the plane to land on the wrong runway. The pilots believe they are still speaking with ATC, but soon the ATC access a recording of Tony speaking to the pilots. They alert the FBI immediately who in turn contacts the White House.
President Taylor is suspicious of the timing of this new impending disaster, but still continues with plans to send troops to Africa. Henry, meanwhile, contacts Samantha, his son’s former fiancée, and asks her about the source of a great amount of money that was wired to her shortly after Roger’s death. Sam denies knowledge of anything shady, and a frustrated Henry has to leave it at that for the moment.
Jack and Renee Walker have gone to search out Schecter. The game plan is to let Jack be himself, but on a short leash. Of course, Schecter acknowledges Jack and the good old days, but he’s short on current intel. Before he can blink though, Jack has a gun he abruptly “borrowed” from the bodyguard pointed at Schecter. Renee tells Jack he can “do whatever it takes.” Jack scrambles for a ball point pen and holds it to Schecter’s throat. Now the dude wants to start singing. But his opening notes are torn from him as bullets suddenly riddle his body.
Jack and Renee duck and cover, and send word to Moss to seal off the building across the street. And a second later, Tony calls and tells Jack to not get involved any longer. Now Jack all kinds of suspicious – wondering how Tony knew so soon that Jack was there on the scene. His main concern is that there’s a mole inside the FBI, which as we find out shortly, yes indeedy, there is. An agent approaches the sniper and provides him with a disguise and a way out. It almost works until Jack and Renee see a pseudo-agent wearing construction boots instead of the FBI issue shiny black shoes. They tail the pseudo-agent-sniper, but don’t tell Moss where they are headed.
In other purposeful miscommunications, Tony and Friends are now in contact with two planes, and giving them direction to land on intersecting runways at JFK. A horrible crash is imminent. At the last moment, Tony commands one of the planes to pull up, and the collision is averted. He contacts the FAA and informs them that this was a warning, a demonstration of the full capabilities of The Bad Guys. Although the tension was good, it’s a bit too familiar as the plot of 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard. But typically, 24 has more than one layer, especially in the beginning.
A secondary layer is the fact that Tony is answering to a man named Emerson, who takes the working module with him, and refusing to give Tony more information about the big picture, the master plan. But then we see Emerson meeting with a Colonel Dubaku and giving him the module. Since Dubaku reports to the Evil Juma in Sangala, this is quite a significant layer.
Renee and Jack are able to apprehend Tony at his boat headquarters without too much fuss, and Boss Moss (who had Janis Gold (more shades of Chloe) triangulate Renee’s location from her Walkie-Talkie) shows up in a chopper a moment later. Jack asks Tony “What the hell happened to you?”
We’ll find out more tonight and in the subsequent weeks as more layers are peeled away, and the clock ticks down.