Fans of the series 24 have always been aware of the dramatic irony that has been threaded throughout the seasons of the series. We seem to be the only ones who know how much Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has selflessly done for his country, giving up all semblances of a normal life in order to do what has to be done when most everyone else will not or cannot get the job done. This is par for the course in the life of Jack, but this new season’s 9th episode has taken that irony to an entirely different level.
We ended episode 8 believing that President of the United States James Heller (William Devane) had literally bitten the dust in a drone strike in the center of Wembley Stadium. It was a horrific ending, and this episode opens with the detritus of that attack in full view on TV screens worldwide, the smoke still rising from the devastated pitch into the dark London night.
We are all waiting for Audrey’s mental state to shatter, for Jack to come back and maybe be stopped from doing his job, and for the terrorist Margot Al-Harazi ((Michelle Fairley) to renege on her deal with Heller and use the remaining drone missiles against London. But this is not a case of Polonius being behind the curtains, when an unsuspecting Hamlet mistakenly believes it is his murderous Uncle Claudius. Instead, we are treated to situational irony, with the characters actually doing and knowing something of which we the audience are not yet aware.
Not like this is the first time that this has happened in 24 history, but a character we thought was dead is not. Heller plotted with Jack and intrepid Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) to loop the video and trick Margot into believing that she killed Heller. By the time Margot and her totally tied to the apron strings son Ian (Liam Garrigan) recognize that fact, all but one drone has been sent into the deep ocean. Margot now determines to use the remaining drone to teach Heller a lesson and targets a packed Waterloo Station as the place she will incinerate.
Good old Jack has other plans. Working with Chloe who is fending off increasingly buzzed Brits in a pub, Jack is narrowing down Margot’s hiding place. Chloe calls on her boss Adrian Cross (Michael Wincott) to help her zero in on the location. Cross does assist her, but as we know he is the shadowy figure with whom CIA Station Chief Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) has been conversing, so we get the idea that Cross has a deeper interest in these matters than just helping out Chloe.
Jack does get to the building, lands the helicopter on the roof, and makes his way downward as CIA uber-agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) and her team make their way up against stiff resistance (in a great shoot-out worthy of an old A-Team episode with so many shots fired that miss). Still, Jack channels his inner John McClane (not the first time either in the series) and wraps wires around his waste and jumps off the roof (with a helicopter behind him). Jack doesn’t get to shoot out the windows because Ian spots him and does it for him.
What happens next is one of the best sequences of its kind in any 24 season. Jack grabs Ian and drops him five flights for a final kiss with the pavement. He then shoots and wounds Margot (yes, we’re all thinking not another mistake of allowing a supreme villain to survive), but then Jack cuffs her and makes her be a witness as he thwarts her plans for Waterloo Station. No, we are not going to get to see Margot waltzing into headquarters like Nina Meyers after being captured. In fact, if Jack has learned anything from all his troubles is that the only good bad guy/gal is a dead one. Soon Margot is sailing out the window to join her son on the pavement, and thus ends the Harazi family, dysfunctional as it was.
I’m thinking perhaps the only more satisfying instance of Jack dispatching a villain is a toss-up between Victor Drazen (Dennis Hopper) or Nina Meyers (Sarah Clarke), but even those moments weren’t as unexpected or cathartic as this one. Credit Fairley’s supremely credible turn as Margot, a mother who would kill her children as easily as the commuters in a tube station. She goes down as one of the best villains of the series (and that’s quite a compliment considering 24 has had its share of great antagonists.
Now that Margot is dead, we know that there are three episodes left, thus as is part of the 24 canon, new threats always emerge (and sometimes new villains revealed) that may be even worse than what has preceded them.
In possession of the override device (that caused all the trouble with the drones in the first place), Jack returns to CIA headquarters to have it analyzed by a red shirt (meaning an expendable character as on the original Star Trek series). Meanwhile, Kate has learned that Jordan (Giles Matthey) has been found dead in a warehouse with the most inept assassin in 24 history. Kate calls Navarro to let him know Jordan is dead, and Bratt plays him as unraveling before our eyes. He calls Cross and demands papers and money to get out of the country; in return, Cross requires the override device.
Jack gets a call from Audrey (Kim Raver), and he is as distracted as a schoolboy waiting to talk to the girl he wants to invite to the prom. In a totally unlike Jack moment, he takes his eyes off the prize in order to talk with Audrey, who wants to thank him personally for saving her father. Okay, Jack, steady, boy. While on the phone just long enough, Navarro strangles the red shirt and takes off with the override device. Jack is soon hot on his trail, however, and yet misses a chance to shoot Navarro.
Now we reach the place in the series where all things start to come together. In the old 24-episode show, this was around the 19th or 20th episode, but here we just have three hours left; therefore, there are many intriguing possibilities for the way the season will finish. With the climax apparently achieved (Margot’s death and the plot seemingly diffused), the resolution and denouement need to address many unresolved matters, including those from the previous seasons.
Thinking the threat is over, Chloe wishes Jack well and leaves the pub and gets in a car with Adrian. As they kiss romantically (yes, you were not the only one who cringed at the sight of our gal kissing Doctor Evil), we immediately realize that Chloe is in for the worst three hours of her life. Knowing that she has already lost her husband and son, Chloe is in a vulnerable place. If she discovers Adrian’s duplicity and understands his part in the day’s events (which is still not clear to any of us yet), there’s the possibility that she will have to witness him commit even more heinous crimes; furthermore, it is likely that Jack will soon become involved and may have to kill Adrian (and is it possible that Chloe could be hurt or killed in the process?).
I believe the following things need to happen in the last three episodes. They are:
1. Chloe has to be able to get away from Adrian and get back to living her life.
2. Jack has to stop Navarro and Adrian as well before they hurt more people.
3. Audrey’s husband Mark (Tate Donovan) must be held accountable for forging Heller’s signature.
4. Heller must tell the Russians that Jack is off limits. (not that they will stop trying to get him, which could lead into next season’s series if there is one).
5. Jack must be able to have more time with Audrey.
6. Audrey has to kick Mark to the curb (I’m sure Jack will enjoy assisting her).
7. Agent Kate Morgan must be reinstated to the CIA or, even better yet, return to America with Jack to help man a new CTU unit.
8. Heller should be allowed to resign in dignity and return to America with Audrey to live out his life.
9. Prime Minister Davies (Stephen Fry) must acknowledge Jack publicly and then sign that agreement with Heller. Afterwards, Fry must make haste to get back to things that really matter like narrating the children’s animated series Pocoyo.
10. Finally, the door has to be left open for the series to return next season in some capacity. Perhaps not as 12 hours or even 24, but in no matter what configuration we know that now that Jack is back we don’t want to say goodbye, at least not yet.
Until next time, Klaatu Barada Nikto.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B0044E9JU0]