On ''24,'' Jack doesn't need no stinkin' Constitution! He quits CTU in order to use some extralegal methods to get a Marwan associate to talk

24, Kiefer Sutherland
Credit: Kiefer Sutherland: Anthony Mandler/FOX

”24”: More unwarranted torture

Where was the human-rights group ”Amnesty Global” when we needed them? Like episodes 1, 2, 3, and pretty much every week after that? Look, I can take the occasional needle in the arm, gunshot in the knee, even bamboo shoots up the nails, but stay away from the fingers! Please . . . don’t . . . break . . . the . . . fingers!

When’s Jack gonna learn to love himself already? What’s this, the 67th time he’s put himself in harm’s way just so he can find the bad guy and make the world safe again? Up until this moment, the story line was pretty damn suspenseful; Marwan had someone (and we’ll deal with who I think that special someone is later) tip off Amnesty Global that CTU was about to question a supposedly innocent man named Prado so that Jack and Co. wouldn’t discover what Prado knew about Marwan’s plans. Faster than you can say, ”Piss on the Patriot Act,” Curtis was told to stand down with the needle and leave the slimeball alone with his attorney. (Evan Handler, no less! Show of hands for all who loved him as Charlotte’s knight on Sex and the City.) This, of course, put our antihero Jack into an instantaneous tailspin: Prado was just seen at the dock with a known accomplice to Marwan. He can’t be innocent!

Finally, it felt like the producers were actually going to break from tradition and have Jack get his information the old-fashioned way — with a little bit of smarts and a whole lot of ingenuity, like that time a few weeks ago when he was outside that desert substation and he put some bullets underneath a can and lit it so it would seem like he was still shooting when in reality he was closing in on the bad guy. No computers or fancy gadgetry or nothing! How cool was that?

Alas, no such trickery here. Jack managed to persuade Buchanan to let him ”resign” from CTU so he could ambush the guy as a regular citizen in the parking lot and perform Torture Act No. 457 of this season. I counted four mangled, don’t-think-we-can-twist-these-digits-any-farther-south fingers. And yet the dude managed to stay conscious and give Jack what he wanted (though I had to replay TiVo a few times to actually hear what he had to say, because he was talking so low).

How does Jack expect to get himself back in the government’s good graces now that he’s tortured the guy? Is he going to pretend he never encountered Prado and claim he picked up that valuable info about Marwan’s nuclear target off the street? And more important, how does he think he’ll win back Audrey now? (Cue crickets.) The only thing marginally realistic about this whole segment was when that sweaty dude warned the Commander-in-Chief that his first presidential act shouldn’t be sanctioning torture of a possibly innocent man.

And how ’bout our new Commander-in-Chief? Obviously, they’re setting this guy up to be totally weak in the knees so next week Mike Novick can call in Palmer to straighten him out — but I’m actually kind of digging his queasy ass. Maybe it’s because this is the way I always imagined I’d be if I were president — indecisive and scared as hell.

Now let’s get back to that special someone. Edgar, you troll! Many of you have long suspected that Edgar was the inevitable CTU mole, but it was hard to look at this lovable lug and think he was guilty of anything more than just a bad lisp. But starting the moment he murmured to Chloe that he’d like get a piece of Prado for himself — not to mention all that crap about avenging his mother’s death — I felt increasingly confident this particular pudge was trying to cover up the fact that he’s Marwan’s inside man. Couldn’t he be the guy who put the call through to Amnesty? That would certainly explain his interest in the whole questioning of Prado and, earlier, why he never followed through on that data about the missing Air Force pilot. And call me crazy, but I don’t remember this actor having a lisp when he played Big Pussy’s contact on The Sopranos. The lisp as a cover? Brilliant! Anyone with me on this?

I’m a little intrigued at this whole notion of playing chess with our country’s nuclear arsenal and how the warheads are constantly moved around to avoid detection or something, but I’m having a hard time getting my arms around the notion that — bang! — someone can just commandeer one of these trucks and steal the freakin’ thing on its way to Iowa (though judging by some of your posts in recent weeks about stealth fighters and their functions in certain situations, I suspect some self-described expert will soon instruct all us knuckleheads about how nukes are transported and concealed in the U.S). But clearly, the producers didn’t want us to worry our pretty little heads about that and would prefer that we focus, instead, on the fact that Marwan finally has the bomb and will use it somewhere east of downtown L.A. I can’t imagine he thinks he’ll hit many folks attending the L.A. Opera, so I’m guessing his ultimate target is Dodger Stadium. Oh, the intrigue!

And now, an answer to one burning question — namely the notion that Michelle was preggers when she was in contact with that bugger virus last year. That would be a big no. But have no fear; it looks like she’ll get her chance with Tony soon enough. And speaking of burning questions — is Curtis not the baddest mo-fo you’ve ever seen? Give this dude some more screen time!

So what do you think? Is Edgar now the enemy? How will Jack finagle his way back into CTU, and into Audrey’s heart? Can you think of an act of torture out there that hasn’t been depicted on 24?

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