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'24' recap: With the return of an old (crazy?) colleague, Jack's all in

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And… we’re back! But oh, do those 24 producers try our patience. As so many of you pointed out on our message boards yesterday, it’s pretty whacked to see a dude like Hastings initially dismiss the recommendations of old CTU heroes like Jack and Chloe, especially considering how quickly he trusts – and then dispatches! –  a cuckoo bird like Renee Walker to do undercover work, stat.  Fortunately, Hastings fessed up to his ineptitude by the second hour tonight, telling Chloe how he underestimated her prowess. But that was only after she pointed out how Hassan owes a debt of gratitude to “Jack, Cole and maybe her” for successfully blocking the assassination attempt that would have taken out the Middle Eastern politico with the fabulous hair and super cool pair of eyeglasses (Prada, I presume?). But I’m getting ahead of myself; before we talk about Renee’s (surprising) return, let’s get back to that house where Davros was securing a spot in the night’s security detail.

Thanks to Chloe’s resourcefulness (she tracked down the taxi that transported Davros), Jack approached the house to find the motorcade cop and his wife dead from being in the wrong place at the wrong  time. Davros killed them both so he could assume a spot in the security detail to trigger a bomb that would presumably kill Hassan. Jack arrived too late to apprehend Davros, but just in time to get into the crosshairs of a couple of NYPD officers who believed he was responsible for the couple’s death. So of course, the baldy from The Wire tied him up and proceeded to beat him silly. I always see these obligatory-delays-that-keep-Jack-from-completing-another life-or-death-mission coming, and they never fail to get my goat. What kind of home invasion robber would spout a story about trying to block an attack against a visiting president?  How could this buffoon be so clueless as to not recognize that Jack was actually telling the truth? The only way the producers can pay off such a transparent distraction is by giving the Bauer beater his just reward later (though I certainly won’t hold my breath).

Jack was released just in time to get through to Cole, who was now assisting with a massive UN evacuation because those schematics found on Meredith’s computer supposedly contained the location of a hidden bomb. That’s no bomb, Jack realizes! It’s a way to get Hassan out of the UN and into harm’s way! To prevent any attack, Cole must  break out of formation and block the motorcade before Davros triggers the explosives. Naturally, Cole succeeded, and Fantastic Sam – er, Hassan – survived.  This, of course, is NOT good news to Farhad, Hassan’s weasely brother who was behind the attack all along. He managed to draw even more attention to himself by killing a CTU agent before escaping into night, thus tipping off everybody that he’s the baddie to beat. And he’s not keeping very good company; Farhad’s been in cahoots with a Russian mobster named Bazhaev (Jurgen Prochnow, always spectacular at playing a villian) who possesses de-commissioned Soviet weapons. Though he didn’t succeed in killing his peace-loving brother, Farhad is still hellbent on obtaining nukes to build up his country’s arsenal and Bazhaev is eager to make some cash – even if he has to lose a son to radiation poisoning in the process (oh, the burn!).

How do Jack and CTU figure out Farhad’s ties to the Russian mob? Well, thank God Jack showed up to the scene in time, or he wouldn’t have known to (A) enter a nearby building where Davros cornered Cole at gunpoint and (B) save Cole by fatally shooting Davros. So long, Horace Goodspeed! Your fans on this message board will miss you. Davros’ corpse was dragged back to CTU, where his ties to the mob were realized – thanks to a bunch of telltale tats that look like something you’d find on Viggo Mortensen’s hot body in Eastern Promises. This is where that looney bin of an ex-FBI agent Renee Walker comes in; seems she did lots of undercover work with the Russian mob, so naturally she’s the only one who can dive back in to root out Farhad. Actress Annie Werschling worked hard to depict Renee as an empty shell of a woman who had no other reason for jumping back in other than jumping back in – but I’m not entirely sold on the idea of having her back (and really? She’s already demonstrating her desperate need for anti-depressants by cutting off a dude’s hand?) What about you?

Final thoughts before we open up the floodgates: I liked how Hassan fessed up to his affair with Meredith – thus springing the poor girl from CTU captivity and prompting Hastings to realize he’s been barking up the wrong tree. I’m sorry to see Jennifer Westfeldt go but I do hope we see lots more from Hassan; I can’t get enough of those silky locks! I would, however, like to see a quick resolution to this C story about Dana (or is it Jenny?) and this loser Kevin Wade who’s now managed to move into her apartment. Clearly, Dana has a major secret that she doesn’t want this guy to expose, but I channel Kevin when I ask, how did she manage to secure an government job while obviously lying about her past?  How can she be wily enough to hide her identity and learn super important computer stuff and not know how to eliminate a pest like Kevin? Whatever crime she supposedly committed with Kevin, it better be good because I’m losing patience… fast.

So what did you think? Are you happy to see Renee? What do you think about Dana and Kevin? And isn’t it nice to read about something other than Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno?