Before I delve into this week’s observations, I wanted to take a few moments to take stock of all the nicknames I have attached to this season’s players – sort of a little primer to the way my head works when watching this show.
24 is the “Jack Bauer Power Hour”. This season features an abundance of baddies – with Robocop (Henderson) and Warlock (Bierko) running the front line – while Cheney (Vice-President Hal Gardner) pulls the strings on his puppet President, George Dubya Nixon. Kim showed up at CTU with Pony Boy in tow. The Hobbit (Lynn McGill) sacrificed himself in the fires of Mt. Doom for his beloved Frodo… no, no, no – that’s not right… Rudy sacrificed himself for his CTU team by choking down some Sen-Tox gas. And, of course, Lost’s Desmond has joined the fray.
There are some characters who remain completely impervious to this. Jack is Jack. Chloe is Chloe. And Edgar is dead. Although, the knowledge that Kiefer once ditched Julia Roberts at the altar does provide a bit of temptation to dub him “Runaway Brood”. That guy’s so serious, sometimes.
1. After the trifecta shock killings of Edgar, McGill and Tony – this week slowed things down a bit – letting the focus fall on the aftermath of the attacks on CTU. Those Homeland Security weasels arrived at the offices – learned they had suffered 56 (!) fatalities – and threatened to ‘absorb’ CTU operations as soon as possible. This led to some trademark 24 bureaucratic end-arounds, as Chloe worked to sneak in the backdoor of the NSA secure-mainframe to extract a top secret ‘wet-list’ of known terrorist agents across the globe – which Jack needed as a bargaining chip.
2. We learned that Desmond is actually the German Bauer – working for his government to tail Collette Stenger (the freelance contractor who provided target blueprints to Warlock and his posse). An interesting twist here is it appears both the hunter and prey had fallen for each other and the episode nicely focuses on Desmond’s conflict with turning in the woman he loves (and trails) in order to get Bauer closer to Bierko. The writers do a nice job of not falling into obvious plot-holes; Stenger is taken without incident (she neither caps herself nor is sniped from afar) – which affords Stenger the opportunity to provide some shocking info at the close of the hour.
3. When grilled by Bauer as to the identity of the man who provided her with the next target’s intel, Collete corrects Jack.
“Who is she , Mr. Bauer?” (Pause) Audrey Raines.”
Audrey Raines. Jack’s longtime companion. Just when I was starting to warm up to Audrey! Last year she was a cold fish, but this year, through her deft maneuvering of CTU office politics – Audrey has risen to the level of ‘bearable.’ And now we get this bombshell, that Audrey may be another in this long line of self-professed “patriots” – enabling these terrorist attacks on U.S. soil for the loftier goal of re-establishing U.S. world supremacy. I don’t buy it. I think Audrey is being framed by someone a little higher up on her corporate and familial food chain – her Dad, Secretary of Defense Heller. IMDB lists Heller as rejoining the cast in a few weeks – so either his shadowy role is revealed or he’s visiting Audrey in the hospital (Jack was spied getting a bit rough in next week’s teaser.)
4. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Desmond. That phone call Jack made to him – as he was speeding off with his shiny, new “wet list” (which subsequently self-destructed all Mission Impossible-like) – was obviously designed to set up a future reappearance. At first, I thought we’d see Desmond before this day is out, but Andi has a good theory. She thinks they may be sowing seeds for next season. Jack tells Desmond, “I promise you, when this is done, I will help you rebuild your investigation.” Could Jack be crossing the pond, next season? Here’s one bit of info that may corroborate that theory. Executive Producer Howard Gordon stated in Entertainment Weekly that he “would like to take the show on the road in the future. Afterall, how many bad days can L.A. suffer?” JPo, my roving reporter in the field, get back to us on that one, would ya’?
5. And out of nowhere streaks President Palmer’s former Chief-of-Staff and brother Wayne (Buffy’s D.B. Woodside). At first, his reappearance had me stymied, but Joe reminded me that when Jack infiltrated President Palmer’s hotel suite to investigate Palmer’s death – he spoke to Wayne and encouraged him to search Palmer’s records for clues to the dire message Palmer was trying to pass along to the First Lady. Since then, we have learned that Palmer was trying to pass a warning to Mrs. Logan that the White House had been compromised several times and that the conspiracy reaches all levels. As Wayne is first granted entrance to the winding road that leads to Logan’s compound – and is subsequently forced off the road by a team of commandos – the evidence suggests what I have been pontificating upon for weeks – that VP is evil. That’s no surprise. The big news is in the revelation that this team of commandos were driving a non-descript black van. A crack commando unit sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit?
Next week, Jack declares his love for plans that come together.