EW's guide to the real-time show's four season

By Josh Wolk
Updated January 05, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST


THE BIG PROBLEM Ambitious Islamic terrorist Habib Marwan (Arnold Vosloo) has a packed day ahead: He plans to execute Secretary of Defense James Heller (William Devane) live on the Internet, melt down the nation’s nuclear power plants, shoot Air Force One out of the sky, and fire a nuclear missile into L.A. Jack, now working for Heller, is back at CTU for a budget meeting when he hears of the threat. Soon, he and his CTU pals are drugging and Tasering suspects galore in 24‘s most torture-happy season yet.

MEANWHILE… Jack has a girlfriend, Heller’s daughter and aide, Audrey Raines (Kim Raver), and the relationship gets complicated when she sees Jack violently interrogate her estranged husband, Paul (James Frain). We also meet Edgar Stiles (Louis Lombardi) — loyal co-geek to cranky computer tech Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) — and weak-willed Vice President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin). Unable to handle the responsibility when the president’s plane is shot down, Logan calls in David Palmer for guidance. CTU gets some important leads when a sleeper-cell family splinters because of waffling son Behrooz (Jonathan Ahdout), and an alcoholic, demoralized Tony — who’s been dumped by Michelle — is drafted back into duty by Jack. The requisite ludicrous subplot: Maya (Angela Goethals), the schizophrenic daughter of CTU chief Erin Driscoll (Alberta Watson), is brought to the building’s medical bay.

HOW JACK SAVES THE DAY After Jack tracks down Marwan with the aid of mercenary Mandy, Marwan commits suicide. But the digital device he leaves behind allows CTU to track and intercept the airborne missile heading for L.A. The happy ending is short-lived when the Chinese government orders Jack’s arrest; earlier in the day, he had infiltrated their consulate to kidnap a Marwan contact and an ambassador was killed in the mel? Nervous that he’ll give out state secrets, Logan’s security chief Walt Cummings (John Allen Nelson) orders Jack’s assassination. With Palmer’s help, Tony, Michelle, and Chloe stage Jack’s death and smuggle him out with a new identity.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE Behrooz’s mother, Dina (Shohreh Aghdashloo), is shot when she crosses Marwan; Edgar’s mother perishes in a nuclear meltdown; Maya slits her own wrists when the CTU doctors aren’t looking. So much for national security.

MOST SHOCKING MOMENT Paul’s reward for taking a bullet on Jack’s behalf? Mr. Grateful pulls a gun and orders the doctor to stop operating on a dying Paul and instead save the life of a crucial informant — as Audrey watches in horror.


as Dina Araz

With her smoky voice and creepy gaze, Aghdashloo makes Dina the most unnerving kind of terrorist: Her politics are vile, yet her love for her son is utterly relatable. From killing Behrooz’s girlfriend to betraying her cause to protect her son, Aghdashloo never suggests a simplistic transformation, just a maternal love that runs as deep as her fanaticism.