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TV Review: 24, Episode 21 – The Tale of the Tape

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With just three episodes of 24 left to Season 5, I am wondering just how much the producers and writers think the loyal viewers of this series will accept. What I mean is more about not just this season, but all five of them. The death of Jack’s wife at the end of the first season was the first blow, and there have been many subsequent shocks along the way that have shaken the loyal fan base to its core.

Admittedly, some of us have been annoyed by the subplots involving the Perils of Kim, but most viewers even grudgingly like her in their own way. This year she has been (wisely) used sparingly, though I have a suspicion she may be taken prisoner as “bait” to get Robo Henderson released and maybe even to force Jack to give himself up (that whole mess with the Chinese still looms somewhere in the background).

We’ll have to see if this comes to fruition, but one thing is very clear: the deaths of David Palmer, Michelle, Tony, Edgar, and Lynn this season have been devastating. I don’t think the loss of another major character will be accepted by fans; however, one thing fans of 24 have come to expect is the unacceptable.

Last night Jack had the damaging evidence on the recording in hand but was stuck on an airplane waiting for it to land. President Lowguns has agreed (thanks to prodding from Graham, Gang Leader of the super secretive Gang of Four) to order an F-18 to shoot down the plane because of some silly transponder code Gang Leader has sent. Jack is going to use the plane as a weapon according to this code, so it is in the best interests of all to shoot down the plane and its fifty innocent passengers along with it.

We get to see Curtis again (obviously, slow and sure wins the race back to CTU) and he is talking to an ever more fetching Audrey, who is now wearing some kind of sexy strapless thingy and has her arm bandaged. The infamous white coat is long gone, presumably covering one of the many corpses still left in the bowels of CTU after the gas attack earlier in the day. At least it’s being put to good use. Curtis tells Audrey her daddy, Secretary of Defense Nuts Landing, is alive and almost well. Fetching Audrey thanks Curtis and looks lovely even though bathed in that sickly hue of CTU medical unit’s lighting.

Karen (Cruella Now Making Goo-Goo Eyes at Bill) calls Jack from CTU and warns him of this development, so Jack decides to land someplace right away. Bill (I look great in a T-shirt) Buchanan is now assisting at CTU, and soon Chloe waltzes in with her super duper laptop and is back in business helping out as always. Miles (Touchy Feely Guy) is really not happy with this turn of events. He hasn’t had a chance to use his hands the way he has wanted this day, and now he is being kept out of the loop. Man, somebody is going to pay for this!

Thanks to CTU, Jack directs the co-pilot Otto to land on a stretch of highway. Otto is a little resistant (he is upset Jack broke his nose), so Jack handcuffs him to the stick and warns him nicely (with gun pointed to his head) “If you don’t land this plane, I will.” That should be enough for any inflatable dude to realize he isn’t getting Julie Haggerty lucky and just land the damn plane. As the plane goes into its descent, the so-called disaster is over.

The General on the video link tells Lowguns as much. Mike (The Grimace) Novick tells him too. Lowguns wants that plane shot down, but it’s too late. It’s landing. Mike grimaces as he leers at Lowguns. Mike, you aren’t too quick, but you know this guy is bad news. Right? Come on, Mike!

Once on the ground, Jack makes a slick move slipping off the wing of the jet, dropping onto the highway, and running off into the night with his bag of tricks and the all important tape. Curtis is only a short sprint away, and Jack is soon in the back of the SUV and heading toward CTU. They have to get through a Marine roadblock, but Curtis uses his charm and soon they are off into the night riding merrily along as almost everyone else has this night. Curfew obviously isn’t such a big deal after all, at least not in L.A.

Back at the funny farm, Lowguns is informed by Gang Leader that Jack has escaped the plane, has the tape, and is heading toward CTU. Lowguns is still clinging to the notion that they did the right thing for the country. I’m thinking, “Uh, yeah, right, dude! Get out the .45 and whack yourself.” And what do my wondering eyes see, but good old Lowguns has a gun all ready. He takes a slug of whiskey and prepares to meet his maker, but first he is going to go in and say he’s sorry to First Lady MacDeath.

Cruella is confronted by Touchy Feely. He doesn’t like being out of the loop, and his hands are itching for some really good action. Cruella tells Bill and Chloe that he has been “nothing but loyal,” but that goes for the Pit Bull down the street who just bit his owner’s face-off. Anyway, Cruella meets with Touchy in one of those dark corridors (obviously CTU has lots of those). Touchy is all tingly, though he makes no attempt to grab Cruella as she explains about the tape and Jack and Lowguns and the whole ball of wax. Touchy doesn’t like it (some crap about his career), and we know Touchy is inching toward that dark side.

Lady MacDeath has been teetering on the edge for most of the season and seems to have lost it completely since her personal hero, Secret Service Agent Costner, went missing. She has no one to turn to now (except that bottle of Merlot and those meds). Bathed in an eerie light from the TV set where she is watching the unbelievable day’s events being retold on Fox News Channel, Lady MacDeath looks pretty close to, well, death. She has no use for Lowguns anymore. Even his lying so effectively can’t impress her. Lowguns, tail between legs and synthetic spine ready to pop, goes out the door and back to his office.

Back at CTU, Jack returns and is given the royal treatment by Cruella. He gives her the tape and has ten minutes until Chloe can tell all the world. The Attorney General has been called, and it seems all is set for Lowguns to be charged with conspiracy in the death of beloved President Palmer. Jack takes his ten minutes and goes to see Audrey. They have a moment: a real tender one at that (juxtapose this with Henderson who let Jack shoot his wife). She’s looking mighty fine in that little thingy; even her bandaged arm is sexy. Jack leans over and gives her a soft kiss, tells her to close her eyes, and then sits at her feet and kisses her knee. Man, Jack, you’re one sensitive fellow after killing so many bad guys. There just might be hope for you and Audrey yet!

Back at the presidential retreat, Lowguns has the gun ready; he is seemingly set to meet the big red guy (and I don’t mean Santa). It’s kind of like, “Walt Cummings, here I come!” But wait, there’s a snake in the grass. Oh, no, it’s just Touchy Feely on the phone. Hey, poor fellow is really worried about his career. He knows all about the tape and will help out. Yeah, you know, help out. That’s the, uh, ticket.

Lowguns is relieved and lets it be known he will be very grateful. Touchy Feely wants to be loved and says they’ll be in touch. In touch? Hmmmm. Anyway, Touchy ambles over to the room where Chloe is working on the tape. This important tape, with all its damaging evidence, is under her supervision with no guards or anything. Touchy puts some kind of laser device near the tape and it flashes sinisterly. Chloe gives one of her best annoyed Chloe expressions as she tells Touchy to go away, but the damage is already done.

Judging from the brief previews shown for next week, the tape has been erased. None of this makes any kind of sense. Why didn’t Jack download the tape in the first place? Why didn’t they copy the tape immediately before trying to digitally “clean it up” or whatever the hell they were doing? If the tape is blank, does that insinuate that Lowguns will get away with his dastardly deeds of the day? Now that Jack and Audrey have had some alone time, will Jack ever be happy? Oh, and when Nuts Landing is sufficiently dried out and ready to talk, will he able to give evidence against Lowguns while sanctioning his daughter’s relationship with Bauer Power?

Three episodes left to unravel it all, and I can’t wait. 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 '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 in print online and as e-books. His latest books 'Garden of Ghosts' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written well over 500 articles; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.
  • Mary K. Williams

    Dear Lord Victor – do you like – sleep? Oh don’t mind me, I’m just jealous that you got yours up and ready before me.

    I won’t bore you with the details, but things have NOT been conducive to being productive.

    anyway… good work! (No i didn’t read it yet, but I will soon as mine is done!)

  • Jeff

    It does seem odd to throw in yet another inside man/mole thread at this late date, with Bierko giving a nod to the van driver. Just how did the baddies arrange to have their man driving? Oh well, we’ll see how much gets unraveled.

  • Jeff

    And I do like all your names for Karen. Hee!

  • Victor Lana

    Well, Karen is a strange character, Jeff, but in keeping with 24 tradition. She has made a complete turnaround since coming in and wanting to wipe CTU off the map. This is happening right now with Logan as well. You can never be too sure about characters and their motivation on this show. Next will find out that Bierko is working for CTU. You never know with this show!

  • Joan Hunt

    Congrats! This article has been placed on

  • Victor Lana

    Thanks for letting me know, Joan. It’s appreciated.