'24' recap: Into attack mode
We begin tonight’s recap by bowing our heads in silence for a fallen member of season 7. CIP device (or CIP module as some affectionately called you), you were such an integral part of our lives for the first seven episodes, and we had some crazy times together. I know you weren’t really evil — it was the people who built you and used you so maliciously. I hope you find some peace in the big recycling bin in the sky…. All right, that was cathartic. Let’s dive in and relive this somewhat strange hour of Bauer.
Tip off at FBI HQ, where Sean tells Larry that the Matobo van was spotted near an airfield. Not to be outdone, Janis tells Larry about a code fragment that could be tied to the CIP intrusion, and asks for Sean’s assistance. When Larry departs, Sean brings up Larry’s fixation with Renee, and Janis tells him to go open a fresh socket (is that some sort of techie blow-off?) and pushes away his wheely chair. Will Sean become as obsessed with Boss Moss as Boss Moss is with Renee?
Chief of Staff Ethan calls Secret Service agent Brian on his cell to find out the whereabouts of the First Gentleman, but Brian doesn’t pick up. You know, being dead and all. In the Van of Justice (goodbye blue edition, hello black), Chloe has used her nifty tooth-tracker to locate the building where the Matobos are being stashed (a.k.a. baddie HQ). At said building, Dubaku updates Nichols on the chemical plant attack. The CIP device is screwing with the safety valves. Noticing the Matobos, Dubaku reminds Matobo that the last time they saw each other, they shared a fine wine: ”I offered my hand in friendship and you…slapped it away.” Funny, Matobo remembers it more like Dubaku demanded that Matobo serve as General Juma’s puppet. (Guys! Isn’t it possible that the truth is somewhere in between? Eh, maybe not.) Matobo says he’ll never give up his allies to Juma. ”Believe me,” intones Dubaku, ”you will.”
Not if Operation De-Abduct Matobo works. Renee uses her FBI credentials to enter the building and meets up with Jack, Tony, and Bill, who took the scenic roof route. The plan: Bill and Tony scour the floor where the Matobos are being held, while Jack and Renee travel through the ventilation system, guided by Chloe. Across town, Chloe’s tech rival, Janis, is also earning her keep: That code fragment is connected to Kidron, Ohio, and the main attraction there happens to be a chemical plant. Janis acquires phone numbers for plant manager John Brunner (who else besides me actually dialed and got a busy signal?), identifies herself, and asks to speak with him. Pause. ”Ma’am, as I just stated, I’m with the FBI,” snaps Janis. ”Does that sound VAGUELY important to you?” Yes, comical-Commanding Janis will serve as nice counterpoint to Jittery Janis.
Turns out, that this Brunner fellow is the dad from My So-Called Life, the Lost lawyer after Aaron’s blood, and…kinda blunt. When Janis starts to explain the firewall’s function, he interrupts, ”I know what it does, honey.” He also tells her about the failing valves — a problem, because the tank contains highly toxic concentrated insecticide. Worried that this is a terrorist attack, Janis instructs him to commence emergency procedures. Crap. Not working. Pressure building, literally and metaphorically. ”Sonuvabitch,” mutters Brunner. (That’s Renee’s swear! Why is everyone stealing it?) If this situation isn’t quickly remedied, deadly stuff will seep into the atmosphere. Time to evacuate. And to alert the President.
What’s that powerful lady up to, anyway? She’s debating the merits of the word ”outrage” with her speechwriter. Ethan and Tim — anxious to locate FG — enter and deliver the bad news about the plant attack. Tim conveniently displays a computerized rendering of the toxic cloud. Estimated casualties: 17,500. Bad day getting worse. Too bad that noted gas expert Jack Bauer is otherwise occupied: He’s poking a snake-like camera through the vent at baddie HQ. There’s Nichols. Dubaku. Armed goons. And a cool set-up that could be driving the CIP device. Bloody showdown approaching….
NEXT PAGE: Team Ex-CTU moves in
At the FBI, Sean informs Larry that the NSA is trying to plug the firewall breach; Larry growls that they have less than 10 minutes. Then he Heismans an approaching employee with a gruff ”not now.” (Remember that other staffer he tripped over/yelled at? Let’s keep a tally of how many unimportant employees Larry further marginalizes.) Next to Larry, Janis troubleshoots with Brunner: ”Did you try flashing the memory cards?” ”Three times, honey,” he retorts. ”Normally, I don’t allow people to call me honey,” she replies, ”but we can discuss that later.” ”Yeah, well, it sounds like you need to lighten up,” he volleys back. (This is great. I want them to do a romantic comedy spin-off. He’s a macho chemical plant manager! She’s an uptight FBI analyst with a sassy mouth! Together they’re Honey and the Funny!) Brunner heads to the tank room to manually release the pressure to buy time to evacuate his employees. He asks Janis to access the emergency valve release sequence. But won’t that release the chemical into the room? He’s got a gas mask. But how long will that protect him for? ”Don’t worry about it, honey.” (He went there!) As Brunner works a valve, he’s blasted with insecticide fog. Ooooh, that’s going to leave a mark.
Meanwhile, a hidden surveillance camera captured Jack, Tony, and Bill on the roof of baddie HQ, and Dubaku is pissed at Nichols because (a) Nichols said J & T were dead and (b) ”Dammit, you said this location was kept secret from everyone!” (Put down Jack’s swear and slowly back away!) Dubaku wants to abort the attack, grab the Matobos, split. He instructs his lackey to disengage the CIP module, despite Nichols’ protests to finish the job. Havoc, he figures, can be wreaked from another location.
Team Ex-CTU, active powers! Tony and Bill enter, guns blazing. Jack and Renee C4 their way through the ceiling. Lotta chaos and dying dudes in this coolly lit room. Nichols barges into an adjacent room to grab the Matobos. He waves his gun at them and….Renee drops him cold with a bullet! Good: Tony finds the destroyed CIP device (R.I.P., little troublemaker) by a dead man’s hand. Damn — no Dubaku here.
After watching Janis try to comfort a bleeding, ailing Brunner, we see Dubaku with a nerdy blast from the past, firewall architect Michael Lethem. Look, he’s still quivering. ”Please don’t make me do this,” Lethem pleads. Dubaku warns, ”I will make your wife watch as I kill your daughter. And then I will kill her. Do as I ask.” (Eeek. That’s probably going to involve more than just deciphering a highly distorted CAPTCHA.) Soon enough, here come J & T & B, scanning each room. Jack happens upon Lethem. ”I’m sorry,” Lethem whimpers. Ever-alert Jack notices bomb wires on Lethem, yells ”cover!” and dives out of the room while Dubaku detonates Lethem. (First the CIP device, now Lethem? What a dark day for computer geeks.) Our trio survives, but must bail because sirens are approaching. Dubaku? He’s already exiting the building.
Back at the FBI, Larry mixes it up with Sean over the puzzling breech fix. ”I know you’re upset about Renee,” provokes Sean, ”but getting angry at me is not going to make it go any faster.” Insubordination alert! In Boss Moss’s return smack, he does mention something about having ”history” with Renee. (So they were an item. Or something. The romantic intrigue deepens.) Sean is then told to have Janis work with the NSA on the code fragment. Alas, she’s consumed with some breaking news. Chemical plant: Okay. Brunner: Dead. Janis wants to call his family to say that he died a hero, but Sean tells her to re-prioritize: find the CIP device, then grieve. Another tidbit learned about Janis: She’s more touchy-feely than Sean. And Chloe.
NEXT PAGE: Matobo and Dubaku make some phone calls
At 1600 Penn, Tim briefs the Prez on the plant attack: one dead, 13 injured. Like Larry, she’s concerned with how the firewall got fixed. Admiral Smith on the line. Tim is excused. He bumps into Ethan, who tells him that the Secret Service can’t reach Brian. Tim tells Ethan to table his talk with the Prez; the threat has been neutralized and she’s on the phone. Interesting close-up on Ethan closing his eyes before walking into her office. (Is Tim playing Ethan or is Ethan playing Tim? Today’s hunch: the former.) The Prez finishes her call — no air strikes until post-invasion plans are set — and then Ethan drops the bomb on her: Your husband continues to harbor conspiracy theories about Roger’s death, and he’s been harassing Roger’s girlfriend. The flustered President wants to speak with FG; Ethan explains the situation, and assures that the Secret Service has put out an APB….
….which Brian’s partner-in-crime just heard. Parked outside Samantha’s apartment, he calls Brian’s cell. FG comes to and grabs Brian’s phone (missed call: Vossler). He limps out of the apartment, sees Vossler approaching with gun, and scampers back to grab Brian’s gun. Vossler overpowers him. ”If you kill me, they’ll know it was murder,” points out FG. ”And they’ll trace it back to you.” (Good point. They may have paralyzed your body, FG, but not your brain.) Vossler’s phone rings: It’s Dubaku. Vossler explains that Brian’s dead. Dubaku instructs Vossler to bring FG to him. Is he going to use FG as a hostage? And, by the way, why is a notorious international villain casually riding public transportation?
Over at not-CTU, Bill wants Chloe to scan for satellite footage of Dubaku sneaking out of the building; this results in an amusing carpfest. Jack proposes a game-changer to Bill: Their cover has been blown. They’re not equipped to find Dubaku. They need resources. Like the government. Renee and Tony are understandably skeptical. ”Right now we don’t have a choice,” counters Jack. Matobo suggests going directly to President Taylor. Bill worries about the corruption around her. Jack counters that the info flow can be controlled, and Matobo is the ticket into the Oval Office. It’s a tough decision and Bill makes it: This is a go. (And just like that, the rogue-CTU story line is taking a sharp turn, right into the belly of the beast. Are you ready?)
Matobo calls the Prez and tells her that he’s fine, his rescuers have the destroyed CIP device, he’ll tell her all about it. In person. In private. And he’ll be swinging by, say, early next episode. She summons Ethan, and instructs him to slip Matobo into the Oval Office. ”Keep this to as few people as possible,” she urges. Odds of that going according to plan?
The Non-CTU unit heads out with Matobo. But without Tony. The guy’s not exactly on great terms with the government. Jack doesn’t like this. ”Tony, take it from me,” he says, ”you need to deal with the consequences.” Tony insists he will — after Dubaku goes down. In the meantime, he’s going to work an Emerson contact for intel. Jack makes Tony pinky-swear that he’ll turn himself in at the end of this mess. Tony gives his word and a shake. After Jack & Co. depart, the camera lingers suspiciously on Tony. What are you plotting, Tonester? Are you looking for justice or leverage?
Off we go to an apartment where Dubaku…lives? There’s a knock on door. He draws his gun. False alarm. It’s just his…girlfriend? ”I tried calling you earlier,” she says. ”I’m sorry,” he apologizes, ”I’ve been busy….” (Busy being the world’s baddest baddie!!! Today’s plane crash and chemical plant attack? All me!!!) They discuss dinner plans — lasagna! — and she calls him Samuel before leaving. He then dials Vossler and gives him directions so he can drop off FG. ”What are you going to do to him?” inquires Vossler. Dubaku ignores the question: ”Just make sure you weren’t followed.”
End phone call. End episode. Begin discussion. What did you think of this week’s transitional installment? There were a few explosive moments (namely, Lethem), but the Brunner-don’t-be-a-hero story line at the plant didn’t really have a satisfying payoff. And while I’m curious about Domestic Dubaku, that twist seemed a little…random. How will his double-life factor into the action? Drop your theories right here.