Last week on 24: the Silver Fox sacrificed himself to end the White House hostage situation (rest in peace, Bill). Jack and I cried. Olivia, as new special adviser to Madame President, indicated she was going to give Sherrie Palmer a run for her money for the position of Biggest Whiner on 24. Moss and Walker are having problems at home. Jack went to interrogate Burnett, but Jon Voight’s hitman, Quinn, framed Jack for Burnett’s murder. Jack’s on the run, but that’s how we like it.
And as we join him this week, Jack’s literally on the run, though a parking garage as sirens wail in the background. He hot-wires a 1964 Ford Falcon that just happens to have a MacBook lying in the front seat and squeals off.
Morris, meanwhile, is berating Janis because he can’t figure out where the hell is wife is. Off eloping with Jack Bauer, clearly! Or not. She’s in a holding room because she’s been (gasp) arrested. Morris is understandably upset, but Janis can’t do anything until Moss gets back. After sending Morris on his merry way, Janis gets a call from Moss (informing her Burnett is dead and Jack is gone) while Walker’s being debriefed for her suspension. Walker approaches Janis to ask about Moss’ phone call, and Janis goes, “Nayah nayah, I can’t tell you because you’re suspended” before spilling the entire thing. Ugh. Can Janis go away yet? Where’s an attack on the command center when you need one?
At the moment, however, Jack is setting a very bad example for teen drivers across the country by using the MacBook while he’s driving the Falcon (Is it a… wait for it, Millennium Falcon?). God, that’s dumb. If he runs runs one red light because he’s looking at the laptop instead of paying attention to traffic, and he’s done for. So, kids? Let this be a lesson for you. Don’t play with your laptops while you’re driving unless you want to be responsible for a national crisis occurring. Jack’s looking a security tapes from the hospital (from the handy dandy CD he snatched at the end of last week’s episode). He finds Quinn’s face and takes a screencap, which he uploads to his SPRINT phone. He then calls Walker for help, insisting that he didn’t kill Burnett, and asks for her help in identifying Quinn. She balks, but then agrees to run Quinn’s photo because she wants to have hot monkey sex with Jack when this is all over with. C’mon, you know she does. The girl’s not blind.
Meanwhile, Quinn’s police radio squawks in his car, alerting him that there’s an APB out on Jack. He calls Jon Voight to tell him that Jack got away from the FBI. Quinn seems sure that Jack will be apprehended, but Jon Voight’s worried that if Jack can connect him to Juma, his “operation” will be seriously impeded (they have an hour until the weapons come into port, and after they’re launched, it doesn’t matter what Jack knows). “I get no pleasure from the knowledge that people will die at our hands,” John Voight preaches and I am seriously loving every minute of his screentime this season. “One single soul — the loss of one soul is tragic to me, let alone the numbers we’re talking about. But do not forget, that every way worth fighting involve collateral damage, and what we’re doing is fundamentally and absolutely necessary.” Yes! He’s getting riled up. I love it. He tells his aide to assemble his “colleagues” for an immediate night meeting. It’s gonna be a long night.
Walker calls Jack back with an ID on Quinn. “Jack, it’s Jerry Jacks, the terrorist guy from General Hospital!” she screams. “Walker, calm down,” Jack reassures, “I think you need to step away from the soap operas and meet me in my ammunition bunker in twenty minutes with some strawberries, two bottles of champagne and some C4.” Not really (unfortunately). He’s actually John Quinn, globe-trotting Black Ops vet, who now works for “Starkwood,” which is a Haliburton-esque military contractor with its own private army. Jack wants to know if Starkwood worked with Juma, but Walker says there’s nothing on the books, but if anyone would know, it’d be Senator Mayer, who’s been investigating Starkwood. Walker sends Mayer’s location to Jack.
FBI Command Center. Moss returns and makes a beeline for Walker’s office as she’s sending Mayer’s location to Jack. She gets it encrypted and sent before he’s the wiser. They argue about Jack before Moss asks Walker to go home and get some sleep, retreating from Douchebag Mode for just a moment. Moss walks back outside and immediately has Janis in his face, informing him that Morris is waiting for him in the conference room. Moss isn’t really listening, though, as it’s just dawned on him that Walker talked to Jack. He orders Janis to check Walker’s phone logs, etc. “If we wanna catch Bauer, she’s our best shot,” he says grimly.
Madame President is prepping for a press conference while Olivia watches CNN. Olivia tells Madame President that she needs to go beyond simply reassuring the American people. She needs to claim victory. Say whaaa? Bill Buchanan DIED. That is not a victory. Remember when Bushie put that “Mission Accomplished” banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln back in 2003? Yeah. That’s basically what Olivia is suggesting here. Madame President agrees to work it in, because she’s not ready to damage her daughter’s ego again. Ethan enters to inform Madame President (and Olivia) about the Burnett fiasco. Olivia gives Ethan stuff for not bringing Madame President in on the Bauer situation in the first place, but Madame President shushes her. Ethan apologizes and walks out the door. If I were a betting girl (and I’m not), I’d say Madame President should expect Ethan’s letter of resignation on her desk within the next two episodes.
Back at the FBI Command Center, Walker gets intercepted by security and a very angry Moss, who demands to know where Bauer is. Blah blah, tracked the calls, accessory after the fact, Walker can’t tell Moss where Jack is, etc. Moss and Walker trade verbal barbs and Moss tells Walker that Janis is decrypting the phone calls, so they’ll know in a few minutes where Bauer is. Walker isn’t budging, though, so she’s going to a holding cell. Aww. I want her out in the field again, backing up Jack! Because I can’t make any innuendo jokes when she’s stuck in a room by herself.
Meanwhile, Senator Mayer arrives at his charming house in Georgetown, only to find Jack waiting for him, armed with a silver letter opener. Mayer rather dauntingly challenges Jack to kill him where he stands, but Jack had many an opportunity to do so over the course of this day. He’s only come to give Mayer information on Quinn and connect the dots between Quinn, Starkwood, and Juma. Mayer insists that there’s no connection between Juma and Starkwood, but Jack wants to see every file he’s got concerning the Starkwood investigation. Warrant? Jack Bauer don’t need no stinkin’ warrant. Starkwood’s a pretty shady corporation — they let their security teams wreck havoc around the globe, they pass out bribes in exchange for government contracts, they influence foreign policies, etc. Mayer’s planning on shutting them down, but there’s nothing to suggest they were attacking their own country. Mayer wants Jack to turn himself in if there’s no connection between Juma and Starkwood, but Jack just repeats his request for the files. What part of “gone rogue” don’t you understand, Mayer?
At the White House press conference, Madame President makes a rousing speech that reeks of “VICTORY!” While she’s speaking, a reporter comes up to Ethan and asks if he can confirm the Bauer/Burnett fiasco. Ethan takes the reporter’s arm and brings him out into the hallway, asking him where he got the information. Olivia, duh! The reporter takes this as confirmation, and then points out that it was Ethan who authorized Jack’s removal from federal custody. What was it I said about that letter of resignation, Ethan? He meanders back to watch Madame President’s speech, telling the reporter, “No comment.” He then strolls over to Olivia. “I see you’re back to your old tactics,” he whispers to her. Olivia denies it, and then walks out of the room, Ethan hot on her tail. Ethan insists she’s the only one who could have leaked the information, but Olivia calls it another “error in judgment” on Ethan’s part. “Do you realize what you’ve done? In trying to hurt me, you’ll have caused tremendous damage to your mother. The President has gone on record that torture is unacceptable under any circumstances. When this gets out, it will look like Bauer was sent exactly for that. It will be a political disaster. You’ve gone too far this time” Ethan says. Olivia turns to walk away and Ethan grabs her by the arm. “Get your hands off me,” Olivia hisses. She leaves and Ethan takes a couple big breaths.
At FBI Command Center, Moss is on the phone, trying to track down Bauer. Janis walks in (ugh) and reports she can’t crack the encryption. Some hacker, she is! Doesn’t even deserve to be in the same room with Chloe. Moss thinks he can convince Morris to help them. In the conference room, Moss turns on the television to show Morris that his wife’s okay. She’s in a holding room and looking very, very bored. Chloe’s being held for obstruction and evidence tampering. Morris can get her out, though, if he helps Moss decrypt Walker’s phone calls to Jack. “You’ll have to understand something,” Morris says, “Jack Bauer and my wife have a very long history. I consider him to be a friend.” But when Moss throws out the possibility of Chloe serving a sentence of fifteen years, Morris caves (for the sake of their son, it would appear). It takes him about five seconds, and he alerts Moss that Jack is headed to Mayer’s residence. Moss orders Janis to assemble the field teams and get Metro P.D. on the way. Damn it, Morris! You blew it!
Janis reports to Moss that no one can get in touch with Mayer because there’s an on-site problem with his phone lines. “Bauer,” Moss mutters. Metro PD has been ordered to move in as soon as they get there, and Moss alerts his troops that “it’s impossible to overestimate Bauer.” Damn straight! You should see what he can do with a screwdriver. But we’ll get there later. Chloe, meanwhile, is brought down from her holding room to face Morris. She rips him for helping Moss. “Jack saved your life,” Chloe bitterly points out. “I don’t deny that I owe him,” Morris fires back, “But my child and my marriage come first, and it should for you too.” Chloe gives him an epic eyeroll and watches as the FBI troops head out, armed to the teeth. Jack’s kinda screwed.
Senator Mayer tries to make small talk with Jack, asking him if he meant it when he said he had no regrets at the Senate hearing that morning because, “what I saw was a man full of regret.” “Of course I have regrets, Senator,” Jack says, “I regret losing my family. My wife was murdered because I was responsible for protecting David Palmer during the assassination attempt. My daughter can’t even look at me. Every day, I regret looking into the eyes of men, women, and children, knowing that any moment, their lives might be deemed ‘expendable’ in an effort to protect the greater good. I regret every decision or mistake I might have made that resulted in the loss of a single innocent life. But you know what I regret the most? Is that this world even needs people like me.” Well, damn, Jack — why didn’t you just say that this morning? “So you think I’m naive to believe we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard of conduct?” Mayer asks. “It doesn’t matter what I think, Senator,” Jack responds, “you just need to understand that where I work, things get a lot messier than where you work on the Hill.” Mayer’s not giving up without a fight, though. “What you’ve lost, Mr. Bauer,” he says, “is tragic. What you’ve been compelled to do in the name of saving innocent life is tragic. But sometimes, we need to incur the most horrible losses in order to uphold the ideals that this country was founded on. How can we presume to lead the world unless we set an example?” Now, I find it interesting that Mayer is more or less absolving Jack of blame, by saying that he was “compelled” to do the things that the Senate hearings are holding him responsible for doing. If he survived this scene, I’m not sure who he’d be left to go after — he’s attacking a political culture in general, and how do you fight an idea? Either way, I like the way the writers are playing this scene. I know that 24 falls on the more conservative side of the political/social spectrum, and that’s okay because a character like Jack Bauer can only exist in that sort of setting. However, I do appreciate the way that particular world-view is being challenged this season, not enough to subvert the actions that Jack takes, because the audience still wants to be able to cheer when he strangles a terrorist with his thighs, but enough to make the world he lives in a little less black and white. This exchange with Mayer is doing a good job of bringing that conflict to the surface.
“You make it sound so simple,” Jack replies. “Well maybe it’s simpler than you think,” Mayer says, “Maybe all the things you’ve seen and all the things you’ve done have clouded your vision.” Ironically, Jack points to the computer and asks if Mayer can explain a photo of a car accident to him. Mayer insists the photo has nothing to do with Juma, that it was one of his sources inside Starkwood who died in a drunk driving crash. Jack, who’s vision is apparently better than Mayer’s, points out Quinn in the background, disguised as a cop. Hee. The source was killed by the same person who killed Burnett. That seems like a link to Juma to me. The informant made many a wild accusation, none of which panned out, alleging that Starkwood was blackmailing Pentagon officials, was involved in assassination plots, and was seeking to acquire their own WMDs. (GASP) Jack deduces that Juma was developing a bio-weapon for Starkwood in Sangala and was testing it on his own people (and then firebombed the villages to cover up the evidence). Mayer very astutely wonders why Starkwood would want a bio-weapon, and Jack thinks it would be so they could fight back against people like Mayer who want to shut them down. C’mon, Jack. That’s just dumb. A bio-weapon’s kinda messy, isn’t it? I would think a dose of cyanide in Senator Mayer’s scotch would be more effective (and less costly).
There’s a knock on the door. “Senator Mayer, Metro P.D.! Open up!” Huh. They must not have hit any of that D.C. traffic. Jack moves to the door, armed with his letter opener, ready to make an escape. Mayer stops him, saying that he’s obviously onto something and offers to protect Jack. Except Jack’s still worried about this whole “conspiracy” thing, so he’s not too open to government help at the moment. “It’s time that you start trusting the institutions you’ve sacrificed so much to protect,” Mayer points out, offering to keep everything on the down-low. “Trust isn’t my greatest asset,” Jack growls. “Son, you have to start somewhere,” Mayer insists. The knocks at the door continue. Okay, if this were really the Metro PD, they’d have broken the door down by now. “Let ’em in,” Jack relents.
Mayer disarms the security system, opens the front door, and gets three shots to the chest courtesy of Quinn. I may or may not have jumped out of my seat at this point during my first viewing and gone, “Holy crap!” It really took me by surprise. “Noooo!” Jack screams as Mayer slides bloodily down the wall (actually, based on the angle he was falling at, there was no way the Mayer could slide down the wall like that unless he got up from the floor, where he initially fell, stumbled backwards at a ninety degree angle, and collapsed near the corner, which he didn’t — it’s a funky editing cut). Quinn storms the house and shoots at Jack, who takes this opportunity to crash through a pair of French doors on his way out. It’s a chase! DUN DUN DUN. There’s shooting and running and climbing until sirens sound — the Metro PD has finally arrived.
Jack continues to sprint through Georgetown, Quinn hot on his tail, Madame President and Ethan meet with Olivia in the Oval Office. Ethan tattled on Olivia, but Olivia covers her butt, saying that she has confirmation that the leak came from someone inside the Federal Marshall’s office. Olivia offered the press outlet that was going to break the story exclusive time with Madame President in exchange for dropping the story and he agreed. As long as they can get Bauer in custody, the fallout should be contained. Ethan’s definitely got some mud on his face here, but I’ll continue to insist that Olivia’s evil. She probably had someone from the Federal Marshall’s office take the fall for her.
Jack scales a chain-link fence with barbed wire on the top in order to get into… a construction site? That seems kinda silly — he’s going to be trapped. I should make note that he’s apparently got an injured hand, as well. This is important because Quinn gets to the fence and looks around, wondering where Jack’s gone. Except he sees blood on the ground, and follows the puddles to the spot where Jack went over. He takes out the padlock on the gate with a shot from his gun (Hey! Mythbusters debunked that like, a year ago.) Seeing the door open on the manager’s trailer, with distinguishing blood smears on the handle, Quinn sneaks inside. He sends a volley of automatic gunfire around the trailer a waist-height. Nothing moves in the trailer, and he starts investigating when the rumble of a very large engine sounds from outside. Quinn looks out the window as the floor starts moving, the trailer upending. You see, Jack found a LOADER and decided he was going to flip the trailer with Quinn in it. Hee! Jack’s such a punk. Quinn, dirty cockroach he is, manages to climb out onto the (now) top of the cabin. He looks around, and Jack launches himself from the top of the loader bucket onto Quinn and they fight. And lo, it is awesome. After some nasty punching, Jack kicks Quinn off the trailer. Quinn bounces off an SUV parked behind the trailer and lands on the ground with a heavy thud. Jack flies off the trailer to tackle Quinn and they fight some more. Quinn eventually succeeds in tossing Jack against the SUV (owwww) and tries to decapitate him with a crowbar, but is unsuccessful. Jack ends up on the ground, and it looks like Quinn’s going to finish him off, until Jack lets fly a screwdriver that impales Quinn in the chest. Just to make sure he’s down, Jack hits Quinn over the head with a two-by-four. YES. He flips a very bloody Quinn over and asks him when the weapons are coming in. “They’re already here,” Quinn gurgles before he expires. Jack pulls out Quinn’s (Sprint!) cell phone and gets a location — Port of Alexandria, Yard C.
Moss leans over Mayer’s corpse as he informs Janis that Jack murdered Senator Mayer (security tapes, anyone?). The FBI is stepping up the search and Moss gives order to shoot on site. Eeep!
Hey, it’s Tony! He’s still on this show! Yay! Jack calls him as he’s sitting at a sidewalk cafe. (Washington D.C. has been under attack for the last couple hours, and people are having casual dinners at sidewalk cafes? This warning-level system sucks.) Jack tells him to meet him at the Port of Alexandria with weapons and surveillance ASAP. Tony has something to tell Jack, but Jack hangs up before he can get it out. Jack yanks the screwdriver out of Quinn’s chest and uses it to turn the ignition in a truck (it’s a flathead, by the way). The Bauer Kill Count refers to it as “Redneck Car Key,” which — heeeee. He punches it through the gate at the construction site and …dun-dee-dun-dee-DUN.
Not a bad episode, by all counts. Of course, Jack’s fight with Quinn was probably the highly from an entertainment perspective, but I enjoyed the quieter moments of the Bauer/Mayer interaction as well. Now, if someone would just take out Janis with a screwdriver, I’d be a happy camper.
Next week on 24: Ethan tries to resign! Jack and Tony go slinking through the night! There’s a bio-weapon in D.C.! Gunfire! Explosions! Helicopters! Tender moments between Madame President and Ethan! Jack jumping onto trucks! WHEEEEE!