It would go without saying that Jack Bauer has had a rather difficult life, at least in the six seasons of 24 that we’ve come to know him. He lost his wife in season one and Kim (his daughter) almost died too; in subsequent seasons, he has not been able to maintain relationships, became addicted to heroin, had to kill two colleagues (Chappelle and Curtis), lost close friends to assassination and murder, faked his own death, and was finally kidnapped by the Chinese and tortured for twenty months. He hasn’t just had some bad days or years but has had to endure suffering of almost Biblical Job-like proportions.
In last night’s episode we learn that Jack has more family (a brother and a father), and it does not surprise us in the least that neither one brings any joy to Jack’s life. Apparently Jack’s father Phillip is somehow connected to the terrorists, so Jack sets out on a search to find him, which leads him to his estranged brother, Graham. Holy dramatic irony, Batman! Graham is very recognizable to viewers as the leader of Gang of Four, the shadowy group of power brokers behind President Charles Logan’s nefarious schemes in season five. It seems Jack can’t get a break no matter which way he turns.
As you may recall, at the end of the last episode a nuclear suitcase was detonated in Valenica, California. At the beginning of episode five, we see the aftermath of the bomb, the ghost of its mushroom cloud lingering in the air. Jack rallies from his moment of despair and doubt after shooting Curtis and seeing the bomb explode. He runs toward the mayhem of people rushing to escape their fate, and a shockwave has dumped a helicopter on a rooftop. Jack Be Nimble quickly gets up there and saves the passenger before the helicopter falls to the ground and explodes, and now he is back in Super Jack mode and ready to kick some terrorist butt.
At CTU Bill Buchanan and company are trying to deal with information that they received concerning “five visitors” (translate that as one nuke detonated, four left). Nadia (I’m Not Michelle) continues to look very good for the camera; Milo (Why Am I Here) and Morris (I’m Better Looking Than Mr. Clean) remain combative, and Chloe (I Have a New Hairdo) is ever on the side of right, which means whatever side Jack is on. She stumbles upon Jack’s father’s name on a list, checks with Bill, and gives Jack a call to let him know. This sets Jack off on his quest and eventual confrontation with brother Graham.
Graham is seen in the car talking to a flunky. Here he laments about setting up Jack’s capture by the Chinese (now we know how that happened) and not killing him. Graham goes home to a sprawling mansion where Marilyn (his most obvious Trophy Wife) and good-looking son Josh are waiting for him. Josh is scared about fallout from the nuke, but Graham tells him not to worry. Graham has more pressing things on his mind. He knows Jack is looking for him and reminds Trophy that she and Jack once had a thing (Jack, you sly fox) and that maybe she would be happy to see her old lover again. Talk about fraternal conflict! Now we know why Graham set Jack up.
In the detention camp, the President’s sister continues to fight for the freedom of Tall Muslim Dude. However, the FBI has decided that his information about the “visitors” has been so helpful that they want to enlist him in an undercover sting to get more to work with. Sandra Palmer is against this, but the FBI boys are not taking “No” for an answer, even roughing up Tall to make it look good. He mentions Abu (Mr. Clean) Fayed to one of the guys and he’s in like Flynn (though I doubt old Errol could even get a Tic-Tac from these fellows).
Meanwhile, back at the White House Prez Wayne is trying to hold things together. It is decided to bring Prez and his staff down into “the bunker” for safety reasons. Karen (I Miss Bill) Hayes and Thomas (I Miss Dancing Baby) Lennox are all maneuvering to get what they want and need during this crisis. Lennox does rise to the occasion once, reprimanding someone at the conference table about not listening to “The President” and it makes us take note that not everyone, even in Prez’s Cabinet, really respects him the way he should be (it’s no doubt difficult living in the shadow of a brother like David Palmer).
The most important moments of the hour center around Jack’s arrival at Graham’s palatial estate. As a qualifying moment, this works rather well as Jack walks into the foyer and takes a look around (we know a CTU agent’s salary must be decent, but Jack could never afford anything like this). Graham is too obsequious when talking to Jack (even hugging him falsely), who quickly sees through his brother’s demeanor. We can also see the conflict for Jack when he meets his nephew, shaking hands with Josh and contemplating what things might have been like (to have a family connection with him).
Graham soon gets himself into trouble with Jack as he evades questions, and Jack takes a lamp cord and begins thinking about doing things to his brother that gave others like Walt Cummings and Paul Raines very loose lips. Graham is trying to buy time, but there is no time in Jack’s quest to find his father because millions of lives are at stake. As Prez reads a speech off a teleprompter, we shift back to the scene with Jack and Graham, a microcosm of what is right and wrong with this country to be sure. Jack has had enough and the scene (and episode) ends with Jack putting a plastic bag over Graham’s head. So much for brotherly love.
Understandably, some will see this week’s episode as a let down. The rising action that culminated in a mini-climax last week (Curtis’s death and the nuke exploding) has put us in a swoon for a moment, but there is a swelling of new conflict and another in a series of waves of action ready to rise. More than anything, this episode is promising in that we are getting to know Jack’s character even more, a deeper knowledge of what has formed him and turned him into what he has become. There has always been an inherent goodness in Jack and a sincere desire for love and family. As we get to know more about his brother (and his father in episode six), we’re no doubt going to wonder even more from whence it came.
Until next week, Klaatu barada nikto!