24, Kiefer Sutherland | FINAL HOUR Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) and his field team are heading toward their final mission on 24 .
Credit: Greg Gayne/Fox

Image Credit: Greg Gayne/FoxFirst off, many thanks to those of you who participated in my exciting, translate-the-Arabic-exchange-between-Samir-and-Tarin contest that I launched last week. While I wanted to believe our winner studied Arabic at the International University and spent many years abroad, it turns out that all Margaret Winchell of Houston, TX had to do was log onto and get the answer from its 24 recap. But hey, that’s showing some smarts, too! Margaret received a free, one-year subscription to EW for correctly submitting the answer: “The next world is the true life.” I almost gave it to a dude named Christopher Buck, whose email came from the Army so I naturally assumed he was stationed in Baghdad where he probably leaned out a window and asked some Iraqi kid who was kicking around a soccer ball. But the translation he gave was “May you have the blessings of the prophet upon you,” and as Margaret can attest, that ain’t on the Fox website. Still, Christopher’s working conditions probably suck whether he’s here or over there, where I’m sure the latest news about Glee and Twilight would brighten his day. So a subscription is on its way to you, too, soldier!

I love these special two-hour installments of 24; feels like Christmas in April. And there was lots to accomplish tonight, especially given how obvious it appeared last week that Fantastic Sam would surrender to the IRK in exchange for saving 58,000 New Yorkers from three agonizing, radiation-filled days. And sunlight finally arrived on the set of 24! Too bad it looked a helluva lot like the backlot of 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles. But hey — it’s not that easy to corral a bunch of innocent bystanders in the real Big Apple and have them stroll by at the exact time when Tarin was poised to blow them to smithereens.

Some posters took issue with how I failed to celebrate Anil Kapoor’s mad skillz in the gunfight last week, but that didn’t mean I’ve lost appreciation for his work. Kapoor was in fine form again tonight, starting with the heated argument he had with Dalia over her wanting to join him on his fateful mission. Crazy good stuff, even if I started to suspect that that it wouldn’t end well for her and Kayla. Something big was going to happen in this two-hour spectacular, and if didn’t involve an explosion in Manhattan then it would clearly include the impending neck-slashing of Hassan (and maybe I’ve watched too many installments of Saw so forgive me when I say that when Jack busted into that apartment and went to grab Hassan’s head, I half-expected it to fall to the ground). I won’t miss Samir — I always thought he looked like Jafar from Disney’s Aladdin — but it’s tough to bid farewell to Fantastic Sam. As I write this, I’m pretending to run my fingers through Kapoor’s hair in tribute to his great service to 24.

His wasn’t the only departure in tonight’s supersized episode. Rob and General Brucker got their just reward when Jack gave Taylor the 4-1-1 on their act of betrayal. That, in return, gave us another helping of Cherry (Jones) Jubilee, who got to read Rob the riot act for handing Hassan over to the terrorists. “The charge is treason,” she asserted after slapping him silly. “It carries the death penalty and so help me God I’ll throw the switch (ED NOTE: sorry for the typo, everyone!) myself… Damn you, Rob.” “Really, Madame President?”” He replied. “New York is safe.” Hey, the guy’s got a point!

Sadly, I’m not too sure we’ve said our last goodbye to Dana, who pretty much sealed her fate by tipping off Tarin to the ambush that awaited him and Hassan. Jack smelled a rat and dispatched Renee to CTU, where Dana was busy trying to plot a quick getaway by feigning a migraine (she needed some meds in her car!). It was probably a gas for Katee Sackhoff to shoot this episode; she got to take out several agents in the lobby before Freddie Prinze Jr. cut her off at the pass in yet another adrenaline-fueled fight scene. Though she’s now in CTU’s clutches, it can’t be over for Dana, who’s undoubtedly a link to those risk-filled final episodes that exec producer Howard Gordon promised. With Samir and his team dead and gone, it’s time to reveal a new crop of bad guys — and Dana’s complaint about losing money when “the deal” went south means that we’ve yet to meet the real puppeteers behind the IRK. Hassan’s replacement back home, maybe?

A few other thoughts about tonight: nice product-placement by Honda, though it seemed a little ironic that a terrorist who was in on a plan to wipe out the environment with a dirty bomb was trying to save it at the same time by driving an Insight hybrid. I continue to be fascinated by the rehabilitation of Renee Walker, who got an attaboy from the President for protecting the Hassan family. I don’t know what to make of that occasional vacant look in her eyes — that is, when she’s not getting all moony whenever Jack tells her what to do. And I felt poor Arlo got gypped out of the privilege of exposing Dana as the mole; he was clearly on to her duplicity when she was tinkering with that pesky trunk line but he got called away to do more grunt work in the CTU pit. Let somebody else be the hero for a change, Chloe!

So who do you think is the villain now?

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