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Day Three of ''24''

EW’s guide to the real-time show’s third season

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THE BIG PROBLEM If Mexican drug lord Ramon Salazar (Joaquim de Almeida) isn’t released from prison, a weaponized virus will be unleashed on L.A. Earlier, Jack had infiltrated Salazar’s gang in an effort to locate the source of the virus. He’s so deeply undercover, in fact, that he’s become a heroin addict — and most of his CTU co-workers don’t know the extent of the operation. The virus is tracked to ex-MI-6 agent-turned-mock-turtleneck-clad terrorist Stephen Saunders (Paul Blackthorne).

MEANWHILE… President Palmer battles scandals, including this doozy: Campaign contributor Alan Milliken (Albert Hall) demands that Palmer fire his brother, Chief of Staff Wayne Palmer (DB Woodside), for having had an affair with Milliken’s wife, Julia (Gina Torres); soon after, Milliken, Julia, and ex-First Lady Sherry Palmer turn up dead. Jack’s new partner, Chase (James Badgedale), is dating Kim, who’s now (inexplicably) a CTU employee. Megamole Nina reemerges as a virus buyer; the powder is released in a hotel, causing people to ooze blood before dying.

HOW JACK SAVES THE DAY Jack kidnaps Saunders’ daughter and threatens to send her into the contaminated hotel unless Saunders cooperates; this leads to the recovery of 10 vials containing the virus. Inside a school, Jack and Chase hunt down courier Arthur Rabens (Salvator Xuereb), who’s holding a dispersal device attached to the 11th vial. Chase is wounded during a struggle with Rabens, but manages to fasten the device to his arm. Rabens activates the timer…but is shot by Jack before he can escape. Jack chops off Chase’s hand with an ax and tosses it — and the attached device — into the teachers’ lounge refrigerator in the nick of time. (How many sack lunches were contaminated is still unknown.)

COLLATERAL DAMAGE Hector Salazar (Vincent Laresca) is shot by brother Ramon, who is later killed by an exploding canister; Milliken dies after being deprived of medication by Sherry and Julia; Sherry is shot by Julia, who then commits suicide; Nina is (finally!) gunned down by Jack; CTU agent Gael (Jesse Borrego) croaks courtesy of a virus powder facial; and Saunders is shot by Gael’s wife.

MOST SHOCKING MOMENT Saunders threatens to uncork more of the virus unless he’s given the corpse of CTU director Ryan Chappelle (Paul Schulze). Surprisingly, Palmer signs off on the execution. A teary-eyed Chappelle pleads with Jack to give him the gun so he can end his life with ”dignity.” Jack grants his wish, but Chappelle can’t seal the deal. Jack then takes back the gun and shoots him in the head.


as Ramon Salazar
As Ramon, de Almeida reigns as kingpin supreme: Not only did the drug lord kill his lawyer by stabbing him with a pen, he offed his own brother for trying to bow out of the virus purchase. Put it this way: Ramon’s blood ran so cold, penguins wouldn’t swim in it.