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Day Two of ''24''

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

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DAY TWO
START 9:00 AM

THE BIG PROBLEM Eighteen months after Day One, a still-grieving Jack is out of CTU and sporting a beard; Kim is a nanny working for a creep who beats his wife and daughter; now-president David Palmer is grappling with dissent in his administration; and Islamic terrorist organization Second Wave is plotting to detonate a nuclear bomb in L.A. At Palmer’s request, Jack reports back for duty. His first order of business? Decapitating a criminal. (”I’m gonna need a hacksaw” is still the best line he’s ever growled.)

MEANWHILE… Kim hits the road with her employer’s daughter after Daddy kills Mommy. While trying to flee L.A., CTU chief George Mason (Xander Berkeley) is ordered to investigate the terrorists’ bomb-assembling HQ and gets doused with radioactive materials. Back at CTU, Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) and office crush Michelle Dessler (Reiko Aylesworth) must pick up the pieces when thugs aligned with Second Wave detonate a bomb inside their building. Nina, serving hard time for past treachery, negotiates a pardon when it’s discovered she can take Jack to Second Wave’s leader. And Kate Warner (Sarah Wynter), the daughter of a CIA-connected businessman — and Day Two’s designated love interest for Jack — becomes convinced that her sister’s Arab fiancé Reza (Phillip Rhys), is a terrorist. (Actually, it’s sweet sis who’s the radical.)

HOW JACK SAVES THE DAY Turns out the plot to flambé L.A. was hatched by greedy oil interests, hawkish military ops, and Palmer’s ex-wife, Sherry, in hopes of igniting war in the Middle East. When Palmer refuses to punish Second Wave’s alleged sponsor countries, citing lack of proof, his duped cabinet votes him out of office. Jack uses Sherry to trick a confession out of the real mastermind, oil-industry stooge Kingsley (Tobin Bell), who is later taken out by snipers. War is averted and Palmer is reinstalled. But at a press conference, he collapses after a poison-laced handshake from season 1’s dastardly assassin-for-hire, Mandy (Mia Kirshner).

COLLATERAL DAMAGE When it becomes clear that the terrorists’ nuke can’t be defused, a dying Mason volunteers to fly it over the desert and is vaporized. Reza is shot by his traitorous true love Marie (Laura Harris), and computer whiz Paula (Sara Gilbert) is killed in the CTU bomb blast.

MOST SHOCKING MOMENT Suspected of killing her boss’ wife, ever-hapless Kim flees into the woods, bumbles right into a cougar trap, and is held hostage by a wacky survivalist (Kevin Dillon). The increasingly unpopular character soon becomes synonymous with the phrase irrelevant time-killing subplot.


BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE

XANDER BERKELEY
as George Mason
Mason was a study in cynical cowardice before a fatal brush with plutonium turned him into Day Two’s unlikeliest hero. Berkeley plays him with a hangdog jadedness, finding surprising poignancy in Mason’s attempts to reconcile with his estranged son while grappling with his wasted life.

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