One of the things the writers of 24 get right more often than not are the tertiary characters in subplots that affect the main storyline. Last night we had just such a case in the strange but wonderful Hauser brothers, Mark and Brady. With inevitable yet sweetly subtle references to the film Rain Man starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, Mark is the selfish brother and Brady is the idiot savant whose brilliance is masked by autism. Mark obviously loves Brady, but he has struck a deal with the devil, in this case Gredenko (Mr. Dirty) that involves having Brady hack into Mark’s company computer to get the specs to some power company.
How Jack Bauer comes to meet Brady and subsequently use him as a go-between with Gredenko is handled quickly and sensitively. Jack immediately recognizes the obvious ramifications of using a handicapped person in such a situation, but since Jack has already shot brother Mark there are no other options. Jack is conflicted and yet he deals with Brady in such a compassionate way, showing (as has been the case all season long) the true depth of Jack’s humanity as well as the ever-expanding range of his emotions. In fitting the description of Aristotle’s classic tragic hero, Jack Bauer has the inherent goodness that makes the viewer identify with him and support his actions, even when they are sometimes questionable.
Another new character named Johnson comes onto the scene in a flurry. Having connections to Mike Doyle from their days in Denver (as does Milo), there is something like bad blood between them. That Denver office must be a happening place. Nevertheless, Johnson uncovers some sort of rerouting chip that enabled the terrorists to tap into Nadia’s computer at CTU and monitor the goings on. Johnson brings this to Doyle’s attention, saying that Nadia is obviously not the mole. Doyle takes the chip and pockets it, so now we suspect that he will be a bad guy after all.
Across the country at the White House, VP Noah (Jim Jones) Daniels is chomping at the bit to attack the unnamed Middle Eastern country in a “tactical nuclear strike” as payback for the events earlier in the day. Tom (Twitchy) Lennox is now the only dissenting voice, but he is stammering worse than Ralph Kramden trying to explain himself to Alice when asked if he has problems with the plan.
Meanwhile over at the medical unit, Karen (Hillary) Hayes consoles Prez Wayne’s sister Sandra Palmer, who keeps making these solemn faces that are a little comical. Hillary has a little agenda of her own: getting Sandra to consent to waking Wayne from his medically induced coma. Sandra is not ready to put her brother’s life on the line, and we would say this is understandable considering she has already lost another brother (David). Yet Hillary makes a convincing argument (coming off a little scary like her counterpart in the YouTube ad for Barack Obama), pressing Sandra to do this in order to stop Jones.
Back at CTU, new guy Johnson is introduced (he is on loan from the nebulous “Division”), and he makes an immediate impact by telling Milo about the chip. Milo is ready to confront and fight Doyle, but it seems that Doyle has already given the chip to Morris for authentication. In this effective scene we get to know that Doyle is a good guy, Nadia is innocent, Milo is probably a good guy too, and Johnson is bad news. Doyle even struts up to Johnson and tells him off, but Johnson has a smirk on his face afterwards that lets us know this is not over.
Bill (what’s happening to my hair) Buchanan goes into holding where Nadia is handcuffed. Once she is released Bill says he understands if she is angry about being falsely accused, but he tells her that he needs her and wants her to stay. Nadia agrees and goes out into the main room (looking great in a white shirt with rolled up sleeves). Apparently Milo can no longer suppress his feelings, and he gets Nadia into one of those CTU dark corners where Tony and Michelle used to play tonsil hockey. Now it is Milo’s turn, but Nadia says that CTU is a bad place for romance (uh, yeah, judging from past seasons). Milo still presses the issue and Nadia up against the wall with a lip-lock that takes her breath away. Is this yet another doomed CTU romance?
Jack has his plan in place and Brady crosses the street to meet Mr. Dirty. Jack has fitted him with a small communication device, and Brady sways back and forth waiting for the bad guy like he’s sad he’s not back in the house watching Jeopardy! Mr. Dirty arrives and takes the chip, looking around suspiciously as he downloads the information. The bad guy tells his men to kill Brady as soon as the download is complete, but Jack has plans to shoot him with a tranquilizer dart. The problem is Brady is in the way. As the seconds tick away, Jack tells Brady to get down and he finally does so and Dirty gets hit with the dart and his men get taken out.
Brady is sent off to see his wounded brother in the hospital, and Jack seems to be salivating at the prospect of interrogating Dirty. He goes into the house and asks the Russian if he knows who he is, and Dirty says that he knows all about him (obviously Dirty likes to exchange torture tips with Abu [Mr. Clean] Fayed). Jack threatens him and says that he will then ship him off to Russia, but Dirty doesn’t blink and asks for amnesty before he gives up Mr. Clean.
We shift back to the White House bunker where the Joint Chiefs have told Jones that the missile is ready to launch. Jones hasn’t been this happy since he shot his last jackrabbit, and he is about to give the okay when the phone rings. In an amazing twist, Prez Wayne has called off the attack. The phone rings again and Wayne is on the line to tell Jones off, but even after speaking to the President the wheels are spinning in Jones’s head as to what to do. He quickly announces that Wayne is obviously not mentally stable and thus cannot continue as President and that he must be removed from power immediately.
This week’s episode ends that way, setting up a major confrontation for power. Will Twitchy work with Hillary and Sandra to stop Jones and his nuclear strike? Will Dirty make a deal with Jack and give up Mr. Clean and the remaining nukes (there are two left if anyone is counting)? Will Johnson become a thorn in Doyle’s side? Will Milo and Nadia be able to work together effectively after their passion? Oh, and what the hell happened to ex-President Logan, whom we last saw in the ambulance after being stabbed by his wife Lady MacDeath?
Until next week, Klaatu barada nikto!