’24’ recap: A set-up to remember
Show of hands: After watching last week’s wham-bam blowout, how many of you considered calling your cousin who’s in law enforcement and asking if you could borrow his taser so you could try tasering a phone? Yeah, me too. But we need to put that night behind us and focus on episode 13 of 24, which was charged with its own kind of electricity. We lost one big bad guy and one big good guy. Juma’s takeover was foiled, Jack was framed, Renee was suspended, and Agent Pierce was shirtless. What do you say we pull the trigger and get started?
Juma means business (and business means killing people) Last week’s final scene packed a jarring jolt of Juma: President Taylor instructed the General to let the hostages go, and he slapped her hard. This week reinforced his I-ain’t-screwing-around-here M.O.: When the President said she’d read his crimes-against-Sangala statement only if he lets the hostages go, Juma responded, ”As a sign of good faith, I will release one of the hostages.” He selected a lucky soul, led him in front of the Prez, and shot him in the head! ”Do you want me to release any more hostages, President Taylor?” he cracked. Her response? ”You sonuvabitch!” (Everyone drink! BTW, does anyone know how to set up a keyboard shortcut so I don’t have to keep typing, ”Everyone drink!”?) When Juma threatened to insert more bullets into more heads if she didn’t read the statement, she took his notes. ”The world is waiting,” he teased. Um, unlikeliest Phil Keoghan impersonation ever?
Bill is the bomb! Literally. Of course Jack had a plan when he surrendered. Before he opened the lockdown room doors, he opened the valves to some CH4 canisters, which were filling the room with gas; a spark would trigger an explosion that could take out most of Juma’s men. (There’s CH4 in the lockdown but not a weapons cache? How awesome would it have been if Jack and the Prez came out guns blazing, like Rambo and Rambette?) Anyway, Jack planned to run toward the room and draw their fire while Bill whisked the Prez away to safety. Bill called it a suicide play; Jack played the ”we don’t have a choice” card.
Last week, Bill totally let Jack down, refusing to forcefully interrogate Burnett. How better to redeem himself than by sacrificing himself in a fatal fireball? Bill told Jack that he overheard Juma coordinating the attack with someone on the outside, and that he was worried the Prez would still be in danger even if Juma is stopped. ”You’re the only one I know who can do this, Jack,” said Bill. ”Find out who Juma’s working with.” He broke for the lockdown, evading Jack’s desperate grab to stop him! He grabbed a gun from a soldier and fired! KABOOM! Bill is a hero/goner!
His death — so early in the episode — caught me by surprise, which is what 24 should be doing. That said, Bill was dispatched rather quickly; I would’ve preferred a bit more emotional build-up for a fan favorite. But the Kief delivered the grief convincingly, slumping to the floor as Bill lay there, bloody and burnt. R.I.P., Bill. Tomorrow I shall make all my clocks silent and wear a black mock turtleneck in your honor.
NEXT: Killer with a heart of gold?
The second-in-charge: Not in charge Once again via satellite, Larry tried to persuade our VP, Mitchell Hayworth, to authorize a rescue mission. Alas, No. 2 seemed awfully concerned with staying back and trying to dialogue with Juma. Larry informed him that Operation Reason wasn’t working and it was time to fight back against Buddy Hinton. Although Renee seconded Larry’s idea (Forget those one-pronged assaults — this one’s got TWO!), the VP didn’t budge. But after the Bill blast, Boss Moss urgently greenlighted the op, informing the VP, ”We’re going in under my authority.” Hayworth futilely objected: ”Agent Moss, you’re under orders!” What’s your angle, Mr. VP? Something’s fishier than Pike Place Market at dawn.
Jack vs. Juma Injured during the FBI invasion, a desperate Juma told one of his soldiers to kill all hostages. ”The President,” he snarled, ”is mine.” After Jack saved Senator Mayer from a bullet (wonder if that’ll buy him some goodwill), he came around the corner to find the vulnerable General. ”Don’t move!” barked Jack. ”Don’t! You! Move!” Underestimating the competition, Juma reached for his gun, and Jack filled him with lots o’ lead. Still, who else was wishing that Juma had gotten closer to offing the Prez before Jack took him out?
Who’s the Moss? Larry got a little more likable when he ignored the VP and authorized the rescue mission. But soon he reverted to his old doubting, wounded self. First, he denied Jack’s plea to let him interrogate Burnett. (”The last thing Bill asked for before he died was for me to follow this through,” said Jack. ”I owe him that!”) Then he nixed Renee’s appeal to reconsider Jack’s request. So she took the cause to a receptive Ethan, who instructed Boss Moss to let Jack question Burnett. When Larry objected (which is his favorite thing to do besides reluctantly agreeing to something), Ethan overruled: ”You’re going to do this under my authority — and my authority alone…. If something does go wrong, I want to make sure the President is protected.” Renee apologized to Larry for the betrayal, but he’d had it with her Jack-backing ways. ”I want you to clean out your office and hand in your badge,” he declared. ”I’m suspending you, indefinitely.” That stuff never stopped Bauer. Guessing it won’t stop Renee.
The First to know One minute the First Daughter is warm and fuzzy (”Well, I hope you won’t be a stranger, Agent Pierce.” ”Thank you…and um…it’s Aaron.”), the next she’s ice-cold and prickly. Check it: Despite his objections based on the fact that Olivia leaked damaging personal info about President Taylor’s election opponent to the press, Ethan was pressured by the Prez to bury the hatchet and ask her to come aboard as a special adviser. FD graciously admitted her campaign transgression…but then turned a hate hose on Ethan, spraying him with blame for the conspiracy: ”Her government was corrupted on every level and it all happened right under your nose. Even you have to admit, it’s an unconscionable failure on your part. Frankly, I’m surprised you haven’t tendered your resignation.” She also warned: ”I’m going to find out exactly who failed my mother and I am going to make sure that that person is never in a position to do it again.” Ethan gulped. A different kind of White House invasion was underway.
Quirky Quinn? Quinn the fix-it man — hired by Jonas’ right-hand-man, Seaton — snuck into a hospital room in scrubs. Identifying himself as ”a friend,” he chatted up one heart-surgery patient, asking his name (Robert), if he had a wife (passed away), children and grandchildren (no), and what’s the story with that other patient in the room (grandkids make a helluva noise when they visit). He then stared at Robert before putting a hand over his mouth, and suffocating him. The nurses raced over when they heard the flatline, leaving the station unattended for Quinn’s downloading delight. So…is Quinn actually an inquisitive killer with a (tiny) conscience who’s trying to create minimal collateral emotional damage? Discuss.
NEXT: Big bad fun
The frame game The episode’s signature scene packed quite the surprise. But let’s first enjoy the moment when Jack headed toward Burnett’s hospital room and Boss Moss put his hand on his chest: ”I’ll be watching. You lay one finger on him, it’s over.” (Love how Jack looked down at Larry’s hand. And how Larry quickly removed it.) While Jack removed his tie and wielded it like a weapon-to-be, Burnett practically wet himself in fear. (”I’ll tell you anything you want to know! Just get him out of here!”)
Larry’s audio feed faltered as Quinn — hiding inside the ventilation labyrinth — fiddled with the wires. When Jack approached the bed, Quinn dropped a gas-leaking canister through the ceiling. He jumped down, short-circuited the door lock, and got Jack’s fingerprints on a shard of glass. Drooling, paralyzed, Jack falls over. (Think, Jack! WWFGD?) Quinn slit Burnett’s throat with the shard and shoved it into his chest. As Burnett’s monitor went beeeeep, the video feed — which Quinn had looped for a time — revealed the grisly scene. Jack gasped back to life, while Larry took off for the room.
Seeing Burnett dead and realizing he’d been set up, Jack exited through the ceiling. Boss Moss issued a super-no-quitsies-triple-stamped APB for him. Jack knocks out a guard, grabs a security-cam DVD, and dialed Larry to explain one crazy situation. Larry urged him to come back, but Jack refused. ”They’re trying to keep you distracted by dealing with me so they can finish what they started,” said Jack. ”Don’t let ’em get away with this. This threat is not over.” We hear you, Jack. Just let us catch our breath for a sec….
Jonas is the good kind of bad We prefer our villains on 24 to have a little flair. (Not literally. Though it’d be kinda cool if one of them wore a button that read: Killing you and your loved ones since 2002.) Last week, Jonas Hodges impressed with his”Stress is the fertilizer of creativity” line and darts playing. The Starkwood boss again rocked the screen this week.
? Learning that the Prez was still alive, he quipped: ”Well…you gotta admire the damn bitch — she doesn’t give up easily.” And when Seaton apologized, (”I’m sorry, sir, we, uh, just didn’t have enough control over the situation”), Jonas responded, ”Greg, you look tense. Do me a favor. Have a drink. Relax.” (I couldn’t. I was sure Seaton was toast. But…nothing. Interesting.)
? We found out that Jonas’ precious shipment contains weapons. And that Starkwood has isolated 12 targets on the eastern seaboard near ”the base,” with 10,000-15,000 people in each zone, and a ”kill ratio” up to 80 percent. ”Let’s hope we never have to find out,” he told a lieutenant, instructing him to give the coordinates ”to the boys in TAC ops.” Hmmmm. Probably not a war game. Is he masterminding some sort of attack threat?
? When Hodges asked Seaton who was sent to the hospital to take care of Burnett and Bauer, Seaton tells him it was Quinn. ”Oh, Quinn’s good,” remarked Jonas, savoring the possibilities. ”Bauer’s good too.”
? When Seaton relayed the news that the hospital op was a success and nobody would know Starkwood was involved, Jonas looked pleased. ”Good,” he said, leaning back in his chair. ”Now we’re having some fun.”
Indeed, we are having fun as the second half of the season kicks into gear. What did you think of this episode? Are you mourning Bill’s death? Or are you just glad that it wasn’t Agent Pierce? (Since Aaron won?t talk about it, any theories on Martha?) Who will die next?