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'24' recap: Ethan's heart just wasn't in it!

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Image Credit: Kelsey McNeal/Fox Before I address tonight’s exhilarating episode, attention must be paid to Friday’s news about the show’s series finale on May 24. The announcement wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but it was bittersweet nonetheless; it’s always sad when an old friend leaves our living room for good, and it could be a long time before we see another terrific anti-hero like Jack (or The Shield’s Vic Mackey!) on our small screen.

I had the opportunity to chat with Kiefer Sutherland about the news, and while he seemed bummed about saying goodbye to the cast and crew that he’s spent the last eight years with, he also tacitly acknowledged that the show was starting to show its age. “The writers are writing the equivalent of 12 films a year, which is unheard of, and we agreed very strongly that doing a ninth would be potentially damaging,” he said. “To use the metaphor of a building, (head writer) Howard Gordon is our basement, our foundation. So you have to kind of go with that” (for more of the interview, click here). Anyway, this will give Sutherland and Gordon a chance to focus on the feature film, so at least we have that to anticipate (and to cast!). Until then, let’s go to the tape…  

After recovering from the initial shock that it seemed way too easy for Samir and Tarin to transport those heavy nuclear rods in an inflatable boat, I found myself doubting whether we were actually looking at the same indispensable and indestructible Chloe that we were treated to last week. So our little computer whiz can save a whole computer system by intercepting the trunk line, but she can’t figure out (nor does she stop to pontificate) why a satellite feed suddenly goes black for 30 seconds while CTU is tracking the whereabouts of terrorists? This, of course, was the work of Dana the mole, all whispery now because she’s having to communicate with Samir while keeping her cover at CTU. I would think that Arlo, of all people, would be the one to notice how Dana was talking into her hair, but then he and the team were too preoccupied, I guess, with the missing rods and how Hastings was about to admit to President Taylor that he can “no longer guarantee the safety of Manhattan.” Yikes!

Jack and Cole were the ones who found the outage a tad suspicious; unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to investigate, especially since the President wanted Jack to personally escort Hassan and his family out of harm’s way. Seemed like a bit of lightweight duty for Jack when the city was about to go to hell in a handbasket, but his proximity to Fantastic Sam turned out to be a fortuitous move (but more on that later). Besides, Samir wasn’t ready to detonate the bomb just yet; he rang up President Taylor to report that he’d gladly set aside the nukes if she would just hand over Hassan, instead. I’ve complained before about the lack of meaty dialogue and screen time for the Emmy-winning Cherry Jones, so it’s about time that she got a “We will rise up!” monologue like the one she delivered tonight. When Rob Weiss and General Brucker (the superb Michael Gaston, last seen getting up in Olivia’s grill on Fringe) suggested that maybe she submit to Samir’s demands, Taylor got downright apoplectic. “We have 60 minutes to find these bastards,” she snapped. “And the worst will happen, and we’ll deal with it. Because that’s what we do. Americans don’t stay down, we rise up together in times of crisis, we carry on, is that clear???”

Not to Brucker it wasn’t. Uttering something about the Fourth Nuremberg Principle (which I didn’t believe until I looked it up on Wikipedia, because nothing is real if it isn’t on Wikipedia), Brucker persuaded a wussy Weiss that it was their moral obligation to ignore Taylor, save Manhattan from a nuclear holocaust, and turn over Hassan themselves. But in order to pull off such a dastardly act of sedition, they would need to sneak into Ethan’s office and upload Hassan’s evacuation route onto a flash drive. Naturally, Ethan was in the office in minutes and certainly wasn’t buying Rob’s excuses for being there when there was a flash drive sticking out of his laptop. But alas, when it comes to confrontations, Ethan’s heart wasn’t in it; that’s because it was about to give out! That bought Brucker enough time to dispatch a team of commandos to kidnap Hassan, now winding his way through a maze of underground tunnels with Jack and his fresher/prettier Renee.  It was all pretty exciting stuff, culminating with another superior shoot-out that gave bit actor Christina Cox, as Secret Service agent Molly O’Connor, a chance to shine (maybe the writers read Ken Tucker’s exasperated post about 24’s treatment of women, and they’re trying to create more heroic moments for the sisterhood?)

Brucker’s henchmen didn’t succeed, though; Jack and Renee picked them off one by one until the last one standing admitted that his mission was to hand over Hassan. My guess is that Fantastic Sam — in an altruistic gesture to Taylor and New York — will voluntarily surrender to Samir next week while Jack attempts to follow him. What do you think? Do you think Hassan will submit to Samir? How long do you think it will take before someone starts to smell Bill Prady’s rotting corpse? And a free, year-long subscription to the first reader who emails me the correct translation of Tarin and Samir’s departing words to one another on the phone! You can reach me at Lynette_Rice@ew.com. Come on, you can’t win if you don’t play!

For more on 24: 24 timeless moments from 24