Credit: Kelsey McNeal/Fox

Image Credit: Kelsey McNeal/FoxGiven last week’s terrific episode, I half-expected the action to slow down tonight – kind of like a re-setting of the proverbial pins so the producers could begin the final march into the (series? season?) finale. Wrong there, sister! Not only were we treated to an overdue heaping of Chloe, but we got the kind of bitchin’ shoot-out I haven’t seen since that Colombian ambush scene in Clear and Present Danger. Plus, more Renee! And Bill Prady! And another CTU infiltrator! Isn’t this the 57th mole in the show’s eight-year history? Or is it the 58th? Gee, they have the hardest time keeping those buggers out. But more on that later.

A mystery, those electromagnetic pulse bombs. Here I’m thinking the explosion would take out a lot more than central communication and aerial surveillance and yet remarkably, most of the walls and doors remained intact. And yet they did little to keep out a Grade A jerk like Frank Haynam, an NSA fixer who demanded that his team be left alone to repair what the EMP took out. Why the hostility, dude? It’s not like Hastings detonated the bomb himself, and yet Haynam had just the right amount of edge to make me think he wasn’t playing for our team. Another mole, maybe? His animosity toward Chloe only heightened my suspicions — why can’t she stay in the server room, bro? — but at least he helped to tee up a pretty wicked set of one-liners from our lippy girl: “I think he’s a raging egomaniac.” …”And maybe the moon will fall from the sky” ….. “You’re probably an OK guy when you’re not at work” …”I’m not good with praise.” Couple those with a series of awesome close-up shots of the superb Mary Lynn Rajskub and we finally — finally! — got the Chloe we deserve. Haynam didn’t turn out to be the double-crosser that I thought; just another bureaucratic asshat to keep the action moving forward. But I love how it gave Chloe a chance to prove her mettle while continuing to demonstrate how she will always have Jack’s back — they’re not going to make a 24 movie without Chloe, right?

Thanks to Chloe’s crack work with the trunk line, CTU was quickly back online and able to track Jack and Cole, who spent most of the episode in a nasty gunfight with snipers while Samir and Tarin loaded the nuclear rods on a raft and began crossing the river. But even before she repaired central com, Chloe made the snap decision to involve Renee, who seemed to have returned her hair to a far less-militant shade and was now looking pretty fresh and relaxed for a gal who just murdered a man and was in danger of going to the slammer. Go find Jack, you say? I’m out the door! That ridiculous shot of her grimacing while handling her gun made me howl, but at least she redeemed herself by taking out the two snipers and ending the gunfight. So… does this mean the ol’ girl is back from crazy town? Will we now be treated to Renee, the ever-reliable law dog? No complaints from this camp, mind you; I prefer this (fresh and pretty!) version better.

It took a while before we discovered that Bill Prady survived the bomb unscathed — only to have Dana tell him that the the EMP destroyed the video archives so there was no way he could see how Kevin pulled off that police locker robbery. Thanks to some of you doubters, I scoured these scenes for signs that Bill may not be the probation guy he purported to be. But when he came back to ask for Hastings, I knew this dude was on the up-and-up. Dana would have to come clean on her crimes now, but when she stalked that shadowy hallway with her sour face, I knew that Bill wasn’t long for this world. Indeed, the strangulation bit wasn’t nearly as surprising as the presence of a removable wall panel that made it easy to stash Bill’s corpse — or the fact that Dana would turn out to be this season’s requisite mole. I didn’t see that one coming, but I’m not exactly thrilled by the choice. More like confused, actually.

So… we’re meant to believe that somewhere along the line, when Kevin’s Jenny was maybe trying to go legit by taking computer classes at her local JC, this rogue faction of the IRK recruited her to infiltrate CTU so she could someday help them detonate the nuclear rods in New York City? And the background checks that she was no doubt required to undergo managed to miss the fact that she was once a menace to society and a known accomplice to a bunch of Middle Eastern baddos? I’m supposed to believe all of that?

What am I saying? I suppose many of you are pretty damn psyched about this new turn of events. But then again, maybe the moon will fall from the sky. I’ll let you take it from here: Do you have a beef with Dana the mole? What did you think about the flashy gunfight? And how much were you digging on Chloe?

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