Last week on 24: Ethan got in some serious trouble for allowing Jack to go free. Mr. Bauer has supposedly racked up a body count of two thus far: Ryan Burnett and Senator Mayer, both of whom were actually killed by Quinn. Jack’s only responsible for one death, as Mr. Quinn (of the para-military organization, Starkwood) was made a point of (hee, geddit?) by Jack’s Redneck Car Key. Olivia’s still mean, and Walker’s in custody for working with Jack. Jon Voight is still delightfully evil and, by the looks of it, is about to deploy some nasty stuff that’s being delivered to the Port of Alexandria.
At former Senator Mayer’s posh Georgetown residence, the place is crawling with police and sirens. Mayer’s body is on the floor and the forensics team is having a field day. Moss walks around house, looking at the broken French door and stray bullets in the walls. No sign of Bauer. Moss orders the team to check security cameras around the perimeter, and find witnesses. Moss calls Ethan to inform him that he doesn’t have Jack, but… ummm… yeah. Senator Mayer? He’s dead too. Bauer’s the prime suspect. “How could you have let this happen, Agent Moss?” Ethan asks. “He had us all fooled, sir,” Moss replies before ragging on Ethan that its not the FBI’s fault, as Moss had advised Ethan against letting Bauer go. “Just find him, Agent Moss,” Ethan pleads, before sitting down at his desk and looking like he’s about to pass out.Â Has hit the fan.
Jack’s still driving his Purloined Pickup, and he’s got Tony on the phone, relating the details of Starkwood’s Sangalese WMD. According to the text message on Quinn’s phone, it doesn’t appear as though Starkwood has the weapon yet. Tony, in his infinite wisdom, suggests they alert the FBI. “We’re fugitives, Tony,” Jack points out, “No one’s gonna believe us. We need to know exactly where that weapon is before we call anyone else in… Tony I need to know if you with me on this.” Tony is indeed with Jack on this, and they’re going to meeting outside the port to launch a two-man assault. Because that’s a GREAT plan.
In the Oval Office, Madame President is on the phone with First Dude, getting him up to speed: blah blah, my little girl came home, crisis brought us together again… it’s so sugary, I think I have a toothache. First Dude is thrilled, if a little breathless. Because, y’know, the whole “almost DIED” thing. He looks like crap, and I have a feeling that the odds of him making it through this day alive are very slim. Madame President hangs up, letting Ethan know that First Dude’s supposed to make a full recovery. “Maybe this day will end on a positive note,” she says hopefully. See? HE’S DOOMED. Ethan gives Madame President That Look, she immediately knows that something’s wrong. Ethan informs her that Senator Mayer’s dead and all evidence points to Jack Bauer as the murderer. Madame President is incredulous, especially in light of everything that happened today. Ethan says he’s going to resign as Chief of Staff because it will eventually come to light that he sanctioned Bauer’s release, and if he doesn’t step down now, the damage to Madame President’s reputation will be huge. So huge, in fact, that not Olivia can it. (GASP… or not.) “The truth is,” Ethan admits, “I didn’t do enough to protect you. The truth is, I failed you, and I should shoulder the blame for what happened… As your daughter has made abundantly clear, I have a lot to answer for.” Ouch. “You have done nothing but be an invaluable adviser to me, and an even better friend,” Madame President insists, making me wonder if this relationship is purely platonic. Ethan thinks Olivia’s right, and there will be calls for a special prosecutor. “You’re a great woman, Allison. You have great work left to do. I’m a liability to you now. Don’t let me compromise your next three years in office. Don’t let me sink your agenda,” he says. “Our agenda, Ethan,” Madame President corrects. “Yes. Our agenda,” Ethan agrees. “Trust me, Madame President, it’s the right thing to do. Accept my resignation.” Madame President gets wibbly as she reaches out and touches Ethan’s hand. Oh, there’s DEFINITELY something there. “I’ll have a letter on your desk in the morning,” Ethan reiterates as he leaves.
Tony and Jack play “Spot the WMD Container” at the docks from behind a chain-link fence. Tony only sees one security guy, which has Jack concerned (because there should be more). And then the show tells us we should give a damn about Carl the Security Guard, because we’re treated to a scene where he talks to his pregnant wife via cell phone about the incoming bundles of joy. I think the writers may be trying to hard on this one. Carl hangs up to investigate a suspicious-looking cargo container. The door’s ajar. Jack sneaks up behind Carl and tells him not to go for his weapon. Jack wants the port manifest, but when he doesn’t get an answer right away, he sticks the pistol against Carl’s head. Carl wisely agrees to show Jack and Tony where the information is.
Jon Voight checks in with his troops at the port, headed by particularly surly character named Stokes. Quinn isn’t answering his phone, and Jon Voight correctly deduces that if Bauer took out Quinn, he might have knowledge of the Starkwood operation. But they won’t scrap the mission to recover the WMD — Stokes is instructed to wait five minutes, then enter the port with “extreme caution.” When the call is over, Jon Voight’s aide, Seaton, alerts him that Starkwood Board of Directors is waiting for him in the conference room and warns him that it’s tense in there. Jon Voight could care less, though, because he waltzes into the Board meeting and observes, “Rough day. Rough day for the United States of America. White House under siege, President taken hostage. It’s especially painful because we know this didn’t have to be.” Blah blah, problems with the American military and reinstating the draft isn’t an option, and oh, the Board controls the largest army in the Western Hemisphere. “They” [Starkwood] could have helped, but they weren’t invited to play. Starkwood has been vilified by Mayer, and their military contracts revoked. Jon Voight picks on Doug Knowles, who was responsible for brokering the deal that stripped the contracts. Doug points out that they were risking federal indictment; he got a good deal, and they were lucky to get it. Jon Voight says today was a “game changer.” Doug counters that they have to stay engaged with the Taylor administration. Jon Voight volunteers to talk this out with Doug privately, and leaves Seaton to duke it out with the Board. Jon Voight tells Doug that he’s making a mistake. Doug says they both know that Starkwood can’t survive a full out war with the subcommittee. Doug thinks Jon Voight should be a bit more concerned about Mayer, but Jon Voight informs him Mayer was killed by a “rogue federal agent.” Doug stares at Jon Voight incredulously. “Jonas… tell me you had nothing to do with this.” Jon Voight puts on his Wickedly Crafty face, and says, “You’re accusing me of complicity in the murder of Senator Mayer.” “I want a personal assurance,” Doug demands. “Starkwood is not in the business of political assassination, Doug. But maybe we should look into it. I hear it’s a growth market,” Jon Voight ponders, an Epic Smirk cracking his face. Oh my. I just want to hug whoever cast Jon Voight this season.
Jack and Tony are putzing around in the security office with Carl the Security Guard, who’s duct-taped to a chair. Jack’s trying to get into the port manifests, but he needs a password. Jack, in his infinite wisdom, manages to get Carl on his side — turns out Carl made a deal with “smugglers” from South Korea to open the front gate, look the other way, and turn off the security cameras. Jack decides to call the FBI (finally), but he can’t get cell service and the land line is down. Carl’s walkie talkie sounds — it’s Stokes, waiting at the front gate. Jack instructs him to act like nothing’s wrong. Carl balks, and Jack promises him that he’s got his back. Carl reminds us that he’s got a pregnant wife at home, blah, blah, and Jack eventually sends him out into the night. Tony looks at Jack like, “Really, dude?” I’m with Tony on this one. Carl’s so screwed.
Carl approaches the front gate, lets Stokes and Co. in, and gives him directions. Carl’s acting skitsy, so Stokes asks him how his wife is (it’s really more of a threat than an honest inquiry) and asks Carl if he told anyone else about their deal. Carl says he’s acting nervous because he was thrown off guard by the small army that showed up — he doesn’t want to get caught. Stokes brings Carl with them to get the container, and as Jack gets that “Oh no! An imperiled innocent!” look on his face, Tony warns, “Forget about him, Jack. He was dead as soon as he stepped out that door. You and I both know that.” And me! I called it!
Ethan cleans out his desk and finds a picture of he and Madame President at a casual BBQ, looking rather cozy. Olivia comes to apologize (I know! I was shocked as well, but it’s clearly another ploy.) and Ethan’s not convinced she’s sincere. Ethan apologizes for accusing her of leaking the Bauer info to the press, but he also wants to offer her some advice. “Ambition can be a valuable quality. Here in Washington, as well as in life. But unchecked, it can be unhealthy, if not dangerous. What I’m trying to say is that you’ve got yourself a seat at the President’s table. She listens to you. Running a country isn’t like running a campaign. It’s not about doing whatever it takes to win. It’s about doing what’s right for the American people,” Ethan warns. Olivia smirks and confidently says, “Sometimes those things aren’t mutually exclusive.” Ethan packs up his briefcase and says goodbye. Olivia calls up her reporter buddy and tells him to run the Burnett and Mayer stories, as long as Ethan’s the fall guy GASP! She’s the leak! I knew it. Reporter Dude has to stay quiet about Olivia’s Stool Pigeon status if he wants dinner with her next week. Ewww.
Meanwhile, Moss found the Starkwood files open on Mayer’s computer, and there are still unexplained bullets to account for. He starts putting pieces together and calls Walker, who’s still stuck in the holding cell. Someone get that woman back out in the field! I’m bored when she’s locked up. Moss tells her that Mayer’s dead and Jack’s on the run (or at least it “looks” that way). Except Mayer was killed with a submachine gun, and Moss doesn’t know how Jack would snagged one, considering his situation. Moss suspects a third party in the house, but he needs to know what Bauer was doing there in the first place. Moss drops the word “Starkwood,” and Walker’s eyes light up, but she still can’t say anything. Moss then tries a more effective tactic: apologizing for not trusting Walker. There you go, buddy! Wasn’t that painful, was it? Walker finally relays Quinn’s relationship to Starkwood and Jack’s theory to Moss. Moss won’t let Walker help with the investigation, but he’s thankful for her intel. So much for Walker’s goodwill.
At the port, Stokes’ lackeys are unloading the cargo crate with a forklift, prepping it for transport on a flatbed as they run a diagnostic on the WMD. Jack and Tony stalk the yard with automatic weapons. Tony is prepared to get back in the car and follow Stokes, but Jack’s locked in on what’s going on with Carl. Stokes is “settling up” with him, which means one of the lackeys is going to take him out back and shoot him. Damn it, Jack! You know this never ends well. Carl starts walking off with Executioner Lackey and Tony tells Jack they need to get going, but Jack heads the other way, towards the impending danger. For that is what Jack Bauer does. Executioner Lackey spins Carl around and pulls out his pistol. Jack has Executioner Lackey in his sights. Tony warns him that, “You’re going to turn a surveillance job into a firefight. It’s going to be two against ten.” “Two against nine,” Jack corrects. Tony goes off. “Don’t break your own rules. You may save one man, but what about the thousands of people who could die in a biological attack? Is this about you, Jack, or about them? You wanna prevent another disaster or ensure it’s gonna happen?” Oh, Tony. They’re not rules. They’re more like guidelines. Jack lowers his gun. Executioner Lackey tells Carl to turn around, but Carl shows some balls. “You’re gonna kill me? You’re gonna have to look me in the eye,” he challenges. Executioner Lackey could care less, though. PFFT. Jack takes Executioner Lackey out with one shot. “Damn it,” Tony swears softly. Carl thanks the two of them and runs off. Jack and Tony have thirty seconds before Stokes figures out what happened. Plan B? Steal the truck carrying the WMD. They need to create a big enough firefight to get one of them behind the wheel. Oh, but that is Jack Bauer’s specialty. Move out, boys!
Diagnostics on the WMD are done and package is stable, so Stokes starts the container on its way to the flatbed. Stokes tries to get Executioner Lackey on the radio, but he’s not answering, so he sends one of his other men go to check it out. Jack and Tony are in position. Stokes’ man finds Executioner Lackey’s body, prompting a Code Red from Stokes. “Engage. ENGAGE,” Jack yells, and gunfire erupts. Jack takes out two guys and hits the dude driving the forklift as well. It starts going wildly askew, crashing into containers before he can right it. More shooting. Jack and Tony take cover as the container’s lowered onto the flatbed. Stokes orders the truck to leave and Jack goes after it, calling “Cover me now!” to Tony. Oh, Jack. I just love it when you get all shouty like that. Jack hops up on a stack containers as Tony disappears into the rows again. Stokes orders the shooters found. Jack jumps down on the truck’s trailer as it’s going by, running up towards the cab. He opens the door, punches the driver, throws him out, and takes control of the truck. WHEE. Jack tries to get a status report from Tony over comms, but Tony’s busy taking out goons. It looks like he’s got the situation under control until he’s cornered by gunfire and told to drop his weapon. He obliges. When he doesn’t get a response, Jack realizes something’s up. Stokes recognizes Tony as one of Emerson’s crew and greets him with a pistol butt to the head. Stokes wants to know where Jack is aaaand cut to a clip of Jack busting through the chain link fence with the truck, on his way out. I’d say “BADASS!” if they hadn’t used the exact same device at the end of last week’s episode.
Jack finally calls Moss, who’s on his way back to the FBI command center. He tells Moss and Co. to meet him at a weigh station about ten miles out with a recovery team and a CDC unit. He’s in possession of a bio-weapon (!) he “interdicted” (his words, not mine) at the Port of Alexandria “I don’t care if you arrest me, I don’t care if you shoot me, just get your teams out here. I fully expect to be pursued by hostiles,” Jack warns. Moss asks if they’re Starkwood and Jack goes, “Bzwha? Oh. Moss must be smarter than I thought.” Jack advises that Tony’s been taken hostage, and Moss promises to secure both locations. Jack hangs up and something red starts beeping on the container. Jack pulls over and gets out to inspect. There’s a big gash in the side of the trailer, and some kind of gas is escaping. Jack pokes his flashlight inside (because that’s a really good idea — jeebus, Jack) and sees a broken canister before pulling back. He looks to the crowded street ahead before heading around the back of the truck. Taking a deep breath, Jack holds it and goes inside. He runs over to the burst canister, turns off the valve, and goes back out. GASP. COUGH. Oh, god. Jack. You don’t always have to be the big damn hero. Jack heads back to the cab, only to be greeted by gunfire from above. A helicopter is hovering above the truck and a black SUV coming is down the road. Jack makes a sprint for the other side of the road, awesomely vaults over a chain-link fence and rolls to his feet in the dirt before taking cover behind some rocks. The men in the SUV pull the weapon out and attach it to a helicopter. All the while, Jack’s trying to get a few shots off, but there’s too much cover fire. The helicopter hauls the weapon off — begging the question of why Starkwood didn’t use the chopper in the first place — and Jack yells, “Damn it!”
In the car, Stokes calls Jon Voight, who’s prepping for the WMD’s arrival in one of his slick labs. Tony’s tied up in the back seat. Stokes tells John Voight that the package is on its way. Bauer wasn’t eliminated, so Jon Voight says they have to assume he contacted the authorities. Cue accelerated timetable! The weapon will be at Starkwood in ten minutes.
Jack calls Moss back to relate what happened. The chopper was heading west, towards the rather large Starkwood base in the area. Moss can’t assault the compound until he has proof the WMD exists. Jack asks where the CDC is. Uh-oh. He wants them sent to his location right away, and they’ll get all the proof they need. One of the canisters was breached, the bioagent was released, and Jack was exposed. DUN DUN DUN. Moss tells him to sit tight. Jack dejectedly sits down on the pavement next to the truck, leaning over, staring at the ground until… dun-dee-dun-dee-DUN.
Well, on one hand, there was a crapload of action in this episode, which means I wasn’t bored. Because, on 24, crapload of action = Jack Bauer being a badass = happy recapper. BUT, that also means there’s not a whole lot to say as far as analysis. As much as I’d like to fear for Jack’s life, this story reeks of Michelle’s “exposure” during Season 3, and there’s not very much tension to play against in this scenario, is there? I mean, in Season 3, there was the Michelle/Tony aspect that lent itself towards ratcheting up the pressure. But this season we’ve got Jack and… well, everybody else. We’ll see where the writers take it, though. I really don’t want to see Jack pulled out of the field due to possible infection, because when he’s not running around strangling terrorists with his thighs, I get bored.
Next week: Or is it this week? Sorry I’m behind, guys. Jack’s (possibly) exposed! Tony’s (possibly) tortured! Madame President’s (possibly) busting Starkwood! Keifer Sutherland’s definitely naked! I know why I’ll be tuning in.