As the excitement and conflict continue to escalate on 24 this week, we can see a brilliant use of drama and action to facilitate the move up the ladder toward an inevitably bloody Shakespearean kind of climax and resolution. This season more than ever has revolved around the head of state and, just as Old Will focused his tragedies on kings and queens whose flaws were their undoing, we see President Lowguns and Lady McDeath moving along a similar path. Now, since their underlings either know the truth or are starting to surmise that there is indeed something rotten in the state of things, we can look for a stage no doubt littered with corpses before the final act is over.
Last night’s episode revolved around “the tape” that would incriminate old Lowguns, who has suddenly grown a temporary spine this week. Evelyn has the tape hidden in a safety deposit box, thus Jack and Wayne Palmer decide to kidnap the bank president (how Evelyn knows his home address is a mystery) in order to infiltrate the bank, enter the vault, and recover the tape. As soon as Jack and Wayne kidnap the Bank Dick, we know for sure he is toast (this is a consistent formula in the world of 24: any minor character who helps Jack is almost certain to end up dead).
Back at the funny farm, Lowguns talks to Robo Henderson on the phone, and by now it is obvious that the President has known about everything that has happened this day and is behind most of it. Robo Henderson has been driving for the last two episodes without ever being stopped despite a curfew; damn, either his car has the Klingon’s Cloak of Invisibility contraption or he is just a very fast driver. Despite his being behind the wheel, Robo has managed to assemble a team to hunt for Jack and gets his opportunity when Evelyn’s daughter calls 911 because her mother has collapsed in a hotel room.
Over at CTU things are not going so well. Miles, the Touchy Feely guy, and his boss Karen Cruella Mean-to Bill are not happy with the Homeland Security takeover of the agency. Cruella starts doubting whether they are right to be doing this so quickly and inefficiently, but Touchy Feely is certain they are on the right track because he has lots of women he can harass in the office, most especially Chloe and, hey, the Twitchy Girl is somehow back (didn’t all of CTU get fired and sent home like Bill?). Cruella also indicates that Jerko Bierko is in the house and soon to be interrogated (probably by Burke who has the shakes because he needs his fix of hurting someone real bad). Of course, this also means that Jerko will somehow escape a la Robo and lots of other bad guys in the past who always manage to punch their way through CTU’s paper bag security.
Audrey tells Cruella that she is going home to sleep, but Cruella knows she must be meeting Jack. Touchy Feely arranges for a tracking device to be placed on Audrey’s car, but with Chloe’s help, Audrey stops at a gas station, removes the device, and places it on a truck. Chloe is almost caught by Touchy Feely as she makes believe she is leaving the bathroom, and there is that tension from knowing that Touchy wants to Feely her in some way and that gets Chloe out of a jam yet again (the ghost of Edgar is no doubt roaming the halls of CTU and watching over her). Meanwhile, Audrey talks to her father on the phone and asks for help. Secretary of Defense Nuts Landing, who is on his way back home on his private jet, agrees to meet her at the airport. It’s good to see Nuts back, but we must wonder how far he will go to help Jack against Lowguns.
Robo Henderson goes to the hotel room and kills the paramedics who have been helping Evelyn. The daughter screams when she sees Robo do this, and the camera pans to his face and he is looking more like an evil version of that robotic Detroit cop than ever before. They’re doing something with the lighting, making his face at once bathed in red and yet also glowing as if he is indeed mechanical inside. It’s a nice touch with this character who is as much of a killing machine as our man Jack, but since he is not in touch with his softer side (Jack after all loves Audrey, Kim, a good knife, etc.), we know Robo is irredeemably bad (hey, he even was willing to let his wife take a bullet previously this season). We soon see him back in the car talking on the phone with Evelyn and her daughter nowhere to be found, so we know they have probably gone into that great big Behrooz Room in the sky (where characters whose endings are not definite but it seems likely they are dead go for all eternity).
Back at the castle (I mean western White House), Vice President Potato Chip Garner and our main man Super Secret Service Agent Costner are both becoming wise to Lowguns in some way. A scene between Potato Chip and Lowguns right before a press conference seals the deal, for now Lowguns has revealed that he has put out an order to arrest Jack Bauer (which Costner overhears). As Potato Chip questions Lowguns, we can see the snivel coming back to his jowls, the temporary spine trying to wriggle out of place. Lowguns ends up holding his ground, but Potato Chip gives his best Twin Peaks glare to let us know that all is not right between them.
Costner, who has become a more important character this season and deservedly so, does the honorable thing among heroes and calls Jack. As I mentioned last week, Jack has the best cell phone batteries in the world. Also, wasn’t this guy supposed to be dead for 18 months? How does everyone have his cell number? Kind of a little thing, but strange nonetheless. Anyway, Jack appreciates Costner’s call and knows that there is a search under way and a warrant for his arrest. Still he, Wayne, and Bank Dick make their way inside the bank only to soon be surrounded by Robo’s men.
A little hocus and lots of pocus later, Jack is in the vault and listening to the tape with Wayne and Bank Dick standing by. Indeed, the tape is incriminating, showing that Lowguns was talking to Robo about the assassination of David Palmer and giving Jack just the proof he needs to capture the conscience of the king (or maybe he’ll just rip his heart out). Now Jack figures that if they trip the silent alarm, LAPD will show up and engage Robo’s men, giving them time to escape. Jack is always right of course, and soon the black and whites pull up and the party begins. The three try to escape, but not before Bank Dick is wounded. By the time Jack asks Wayne how the guy is doing, Wayne tells him Bank Dick is dead. Jack gets on the phone and Audrey tells him that she’s meeting her father at the airport, so Jack agrees to bring the evidence there forthwith to present to Nuts Landing.
With seven episodes of 24 left this season, we can only wonder what will bring down Lowguns. It’s a clever twist to have a tape recording possibly be his undoing, since Lowguns looks so much like Nixon and this happened to him. Also, Lady McDeath is clearly on a downward spiral herself, and it seems only a matter of time before she is trying to wash imaginary blood off her hands. When she finds out the depth of her husband’s guilt, will she try to kill herself and will Costner be there to stop her?
As I mentioned earlier, there is a possibility for a truly Shakespearian ending here with corpses everywhere. With Homeland Security up against CTU, with at least one Secret Service agent aware of the treachery of the President, with Potato Chip in charge of the procedures for martial law and questioning Lowguns’s authority, with Robo Henderson running around with an apparently ever ready militia at his bidding, and our man Jack poised to kill or be killed, there is plenty of opportunity for death and destruction. Can we hope when the dust settles that Jack is the one left standing? Uh, yeah, you can bank on it.
Until next week, Klaatu Barada Nikto!