On ''24,'' the nuke is launched, and Jack nearly kills Marwan after finally taking him prisoner; meanwhile, the Chinese may soon declare war

Kiefer Sutherland
Credit: 24: Isabella Vosmikova/FOX

”24”: The nuke is launched

”This is a dirty business and we’re going to have to get our hands dirty to clean it up.” — Ex-President Palmer

Damn straight! But before you get to that, sir, please explain why you, President Logan, and Novick are squirreled away in this underground bunker and have effectively locked out the Joint Chiefs, Congress, the Pentagon — pretty much anyone inside or outside the Beltway who could assist you in this crisis situation. To have the former commander-in-chief and Novick attempt to gut this out alone is just plain crazy, and though I can never get enough of Palmer (or any of the original cast members, for that matter), I’m starting to feel a tad impatient about the second half of this season. I have watched every episode of this show since it launched in 2001, and there’s nothing I dislike more than cringing — or flat out chuckling — at certain plot points.

But first things first: awesome episode! Far more exciting than when Opie shot down Air Force One. Despite his having surrounding himself with a constant stream of dimwits all season, Marwan has launched the nuclear bomb atop a missile that will strike somewhere in the U.S., and it finally feels like the 24 clock is truly ticking.

Let’s go back to that silly subterranean war room where Palmer and Novick are hunkered down, deliberating over a potential diplomatic brouhaha with the Chinese because CTU just broke into their consulate and kidnapped Mr. Lee. Palmer attempted to divert blame for the break-in on a radical group called the People’s Freedom Coalition. (Sherry would be so proud!) And that might have worked, too, had the Chinese not recognized one of the kidnappers as a CTU agent. To make nice and avoid warring with China, Palmer gives the okay for a Chinese security guy to come over and interview everyone at CTU to make sure the U.S. had nothing to do with the raid. Immediately, the rep suspects that Jack may have actually led the invasion. (Why? Because he is a legend among international spy circles, that’s why!) But Jack has a ready alibi — he was whiling away the hours on the computer with Audrey. Ultimately, it looked as if the Chinese dude would walk away with nothing, until Edgar inadvertently helped him figure out that Jack was not where he claimed to be during the raid — all but assuring the Chinese that CTU was responsible. (To think I thought Edgar was smart enough to operate as a Marwan mole.) This week’s best awkward-computer-geek moment, however, was when Chloe said something typically insensitive to Jack about how he must have destroyed his relationship with Audrey by causing her husband’s death, and then told him that if he ever needed to talk, she’d be there. Jack’s look was priceless.

Anyway, the consulate-raid plotline has to be leading to something, I’m just not sure what. One of you posters suggested that Jack will take the blame for the raid and be thrown into a Chinese prison. Seems rather preposterous, but so does the notion of Palmer and Novick handling everything by their lonesome, so anything’s possible.

Meanwhile, it looks as if CTU’s only doctor managed to overcome the stress of treating patients at gunpoint and revived Mr. Lee, who told Jack of another Marwan hideout somewhere in L.A. Finally, Jack and Curtis manage to close in on their man — but it’s too late! Marwan has released the bomb, and there’s no way for CTU to track its intended target, though I’m going to go out on a huge limb here and guess California. We have three hours left until the show ends, and 24 needs a long-range target to fill the time.

Thankfully, one pending issue appears to have been resolved. We now know where Defense Secretary Heller has been over the last two months — in some district office. Whatever. We all deserved a better explanation for his extended absence, but at least I’m no longer thinking he’s mysteriously linked to Marwan. And the shot of him yelling at his wayward son, Richard, in the preview for next week’s show suggests we may learn something about why the boy was being so secretive during his interrogation way back when.

So, a Muslim character has released a nuclear bomb on American soil during a major story arc on a prime-time TV show, all while we’re still at war in Iraq. Hmm, pretty heady stuff. And yet, doesn’t it strike anybody but me as odd that 24 hasn’t managed to stir up any controversy, other than the brief attention it generated earlier this season over the terrorist Araz family? No, the nation’s press seems far more interested in whether Paula slept with that contestant (seems possible) and whether John is the father of Gabby’s kid (seems likely). I’m worried this lack of buzz about 24 will mean another snub come Emmy time. I would love to see a shout-out for Shohreh, not to mention a statue for the criminally ignored Kiefer.

Okay, I’m done. The floor’s yours, so be nice. What do you think? Which couple has a better chance of reconciliation: Jack and Audrey or Michelle and Tony? What will the Chinese government do next? And will Jack get any more information out of Marwan — or at least have a good time trying?

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Kiefer Sutherland


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