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''24'': The conspiracy widens

On ”24,” the conspiracy widens as Jack’s investigation of the Islamic terrorists leads to some homegrown suspects

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24, Kiefer Sutherland
Kiefer Sutherland: Isabella Vosmikova/FOX


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”24”: The conspiracy widens

In case you were wondering where we’ve been with our 24 TV Watch, you should know that we’ve spent days and nights pondering the intricacies of the fourth season and whether the folks at the Council on American-Islamic Relations have a point when they argue this season creates new negative stereotypes with that whole Muslim-American family sleeper-cell thing. Actually, we have been spending days and nights thinking about how the fictitious Araz family could very well prompt some moron out there to suspect the Muslim-American family living down the road. We just haven’t had time to post it online. But we’re here now — and not a minute too soon.

As you know, our Überhero Jack and his crackerjack crew at CTU have managed to prevent a cataclysmic meltdown of our nation’s nuclear power plants at the hands of a sleeper terrorist group led by Habib Marwan (played by that hot dude who was in The Mummy). On 24, there’s always more than meets the eye to the central villain: This time, the search for Habib led to McLennan Forrester, a defense contractor that makes big, bad weapons and has a really swell computer system that can accept CTU e-mails with the click of a switch. (Quick! Somebody! Give me your Ethernet address ASAP so I can accept an IM from my buddy Nicholas in New York).

Turns out Marwan worked under the alias Harris Barnes at McLennan Forrester, where he managed to obtain the technology that allowed him to control the nuclear power plants. CTU almost got to Marwan a.k.a. Barnes a.k.a. hot guy from The Mummy last week, but he escaped and is now out on the streets of L.A. getting ready to plot his next terror attack. (Apparently, it involves an air force base.) Meanwhile, Jack and Audrey’s soon-to-be ex-husband Paul went to McLennan Forrester to learn more about Habib’s clandestine terrorist work. Who knew they’d encounter more bad guys? Well, we did.

A few weeks ago, the producers of 24 hinted that there will be a huge corporate aspect to the story line, and maybe, just maybe, the real bad guys aren’t Muslim-Americans but simply greedy white dudes — one of whom played the dad in that old ABC series Life Goes On (and wouldn’t you just kill to see Corky in a guest-starring role here?). We’re not sure the CEO of McLennan Forrester should be No. 1 on the Most Wanted List, but we learned last night that he sells arms to terrorists, so he can’t be all that great. Fearful that Jack and Paul will learn his little secret, McLennan’s thugs trip some electronic bomb that erases the company files and kills power to the whole neighborhood. Whether that happened before or after Paul printed out some vital records, we’ll know next week.

Let’s go back to CTU. We always knew that somehow our beloved Tony would not only get back into the fray but manage to return to his old job of director. Poo on 24 for doing this at the expense of poor Erin Driscoll. Yeah, she kinda annoyed me with her combative nature, and no, I never liked how her emotionally disturbed daughter suddenly moved in downstairs to some magical clinic with round-the-clock care. But did they have to kill the poor girl? Of course they did, because the producers didn’t make time to develop a better reason to send Driscoll packing. Sleazy, guys. Anyway, Tony had only a few minutes to yell, ”I am in charge,” because his ex-wife, Michelle, is back at CTU in a nice suit with a pretty rockin’ blowout. She’s the director now!

So where’s the Araz family? The last we saw, Behrooz and his injured mom had narrowly escaped their dad. Behrooz’s mom led Jack to the override device, which stopped the nuclear meltdown. But they were absent this episode. I’d sure like to know more about their motives and whether that Islamic council has any more reason to worry. Maybe the Arazes aren’t the evil sleeper cell they seemed to be and really just came to our great country to raise furry white bunnies?

But if ever there’s a need for an advocacy group called The Anti-Torture Alliance of America, it’s now. Blimey, an episode of 24 just doesn’t feel like an episode of 24 unless someone’s been shot in the leg or their skin’s been fried by an electric cord from an Ikea lamp. I’m all for the due process-be-damned mentality that is central to 24, but in real life, let’s stop the pain and talk it out first, already.

My guess is that Tony — supported by Jack in the field — won’t leave CTU without a fight, despite the presence of Michelle. Sparks will fly, that ol’ sexual tension will arise — you know the score. What I can’t get my head around is the new McLennan angle. Is this guy the real villain because he supplies weapons to terrorists? Or is there an even greater, more menacing corporate element we have yet to see? And honestly, how hot was Habib in The Mummy?

What do you think?