Jack and Aaron try to hold off Juma, who takes his fight straight to the White House, but it's the president's own family ties that trip her up
Credit: Michael Muller/FOX
Kiefer Sutherland
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Welcome to the White House of Horrors. Or the White House of Pain. Or the White House of Whacks. But definitely not the White House of Pancakes. However you flip it, the Next Big Attack — which Tony teased last week — was launched during this two-hour ”event,” and it delivered on its promise: We watched helplessly as General Juma and his soldiers stormed 1600 Penn, the body count rose, and VIPs became hostages (President Taylor? Agent Pierce?). We also came face-to-face with a pair of Washington insiders whose arrivals we’d been waiting for. Instead of dissecting these back-to-back episodes in blow-by-blow format, let’s sift through the intel in a new way as we celebrate the halfway point of season 7. It’s all right — don’t fight it.

Bad night to be named Dubaku In a two-hour period, the Dubaku family tree was all but cut down and inserted into a wood chipper: First, the badass Colonel Ike goes out with a whimper, or rather, convulsion. Unconscious in a hospital, he was administered a lethal injection by a Juma underling who was posing as an orderly. Later, Dubaku’s son Laurent (also part of the Juma militia) tracked down Renee, who informed him that Juma had Daddy Dubaku killed. A disbelieving Baby Dubaku was in the process of choking Renee to death when Team Boss Moss arrived just in time to drop him with a bullet.

This week’s most powerful button… is the delete key. At Jack’s behest, Chloe removed Ryan Burnett — Senator Mayer’s chief of staff — from Dubaku’s list of government conspirators. The thinking: Burnett, who’s providing support to Juma and Dubaku, will lawyer up if he’s arrested, but if Jack can get some one-on-one time with him at the White House, Burnett will sing. ”Jack, you don’t expect to interrogate a suspect in the White House!” exclaimed Chloe. ”Let me handle that,” answered Jack. (Translation: I brought my favorite taser.)

The guy most likely to shout, ”Damn kids! Get off my lawn!” Sen. Mayer is in no mood for small talk at the White House, where he’s been summoned by the President to chat about Jack. When Ethan tried to bond with him (”If it ain’t from Kentucky, you can’t call it bourbon”), Mayer crankily retorts: ”Spare me the Southern Gentleman routine, Ethan. The President didn’t call me up here at the ass end of the day to drink her booze and flip through a briefing book.” (Ass end of the day? Mr. Kurtwood Smith Goes to Washington as Red Forman!) The Senator then referred to Jack as a ”thug” and a ”sonuvabitch.” (And we drink!) Ethan told him that the Prez would support his War Crimes Act amendment if he’d postpone the hearings and let Jack’s subpoena expire. When Mayer hesitated, Ethan hinted that she could just pardon Jack. ”Well, if that’s how the President wants to play it,” returned Mayer, jacking up his cranky pants, ”you can tell her she just walked into a street fight.

Don’t fight the catchphrase The pantheon of classic 24 lines — Dammit, Chloe! We’re running out of time! Copy That! — needs to open its doors to that three-word wonder: ”Don’t fight it.” Jack tends to utter this advice gently when administering his super awesome sleeper hold on a friend, as if he were serving it with a side of chamomile tea. Curtis was on the receiving end of those words a couple of seasons ago. Renee was treated to a DFI at the FBI earlier this year when Jack needed to bust Tony out. And now Bill joins the Bedtime Bunch when he wouldn’t reveal Burnett’s location to Jack. In Jack’s defense, he didn’t want to play sandman: He was trying to keep Bill’s hands clean of a nasty interrogation. Plus, he even apologized to him before applying Nap Grip.

NEXT: Janis goes after Chloe

This week in geek The territory war between our analysts, Chloe and Janis, escalated when Janis discovered evidence that a name was deleted from Dubaku’s list. Chloe tried to cover her tracks by offering to run a recovery program. When Janis said passive-aggressively, ”Well, you’re very busy with the reformatting and all, so why don’t I just upload it to my station and take care of it there?” Chloe answered, ”Well, that’s okay. I can do it faster. No offense.” (In the tech world, I believe that’s like hawking a greenie in someone’s face.) Janis ultimately reported the file tampering to Boss Moss, playing a recording of Chloe’s nervous phone call to Jack about the Burnett deletion. The result? Chloe: In custody. Janis: Pretty proud of herself.

Best badass Bauer bang for your buck Jack’s interrogation of Burnett was tense, intense, and a little funny — from the moment he slipped into the room with a briefcase and closed the door. ”You and I,” said Jack, tasering Burnett, ”we’re gonna have a talk.” With sweaty Burnett at his mercy, Jack warned: ”I can pull the trigger 128 more times before this battery dies.” (The only thing that’d make that comment scarier? If it were followed by, ”But don’t worry, I always carry a spare.”) While Burnett played dumb and whimpered like a tiny boy, Jack bottom-lined him: ”Mr. Burnett, I’ve been doing this a long time and I can tell the difference especially when a man is under duress if he’s got information that I need or if I’m just wasting my time — and I promise you, I am not wasting my time!” But just when Burnett started to spill, Jack was interrupted by the President over the speakerphone. ”Mr. Bauer, I am ordering you to answer this page,” she declared. Jack agonized — obey the Prez or keep pressing Burnett? — before marching over to the phone and explaining the extreme circumstances. She’s not persuaded: ”I am your Commander-in-Chief, and I am ordering you to stand down.” What does Jack do? He tasered the phone. (I’m going to repeat that now slowly in all caps: JACK. TASERED. THE. PHONE. Best expression of Bauer frustration ever?) As Jack returned to his Q&A, the door was blown open, and Jack was taken into custody. But he’s not out of firepower: When Senator Mayer disgustedly said, ”You’re reprehensible, Bauer!” Jack barked back: ”And you, sir, are weak!!! Unwilling and unable to look evil in the eye and deal with it!!!” Maybe someone did need a time-out in a holding cell.

Spoilsport Near the end of the first hour, Renee secretly hitched a ride on Juma’s boat, where she spied Juma and his men reviewing their mission. ”You all have your assignments,” he concluded, ”May God be with us!” After they dropped into the water in their scuba gear, Renee snuck in to peek at the schematics they were studying. Cue wide eyes: It’s a sketch of the White House exterior! (Why Juma couldn’t spring for a photo, I’m not sure.) What an exciting, stakes-raising reveal…that Fox totally spoiled in the promo after last week’s episode.

Pierce-ing our hearts Forget the fact that Agent Pierce shot a Juma soldier dead after taking a bullet and falling to the floor. Or that he devised a neat way to get out a bat-signal (albeit one that’s foiled). Check out the magic he worked on the impatient First Daughter, who told him that she’s ”done waiting” for her mother and was going to the hospital to visit her father. ”I think it’d be a good idea to talk to your mother before you do that,” he suggested. ”The President’s orders are that you remain in the House.” FD challenges him: ”So if I try to leave, you will actually physically restrain me?” ”Now that would never happen, Miss Taylor,” answered Aaron calmly, firmly, and with the slight hint of a smile, ”because I know you have too much respect for your mother and her office to ever let things get that far.” She stands down. Yes, this dude’s rocking Jedi mind tricks. And, no, I don’t need to see his identification.

NEXT: Hey, it’s the second in command

The Secret (Service) is out: Fire Hovis! It was bad enough that under the watch of Agent Hovis — who oversees the Secret Service — multiple agents were corrupted. (Remember when Brian tried to kill the First Gentleman?) Now Hovis takes a vicious foreign rebel at his word that he has captured the Prez and cedes control of the White House to him? Agent Pierce would never let that happen.

Mini-mystery When Ethan approached FD to update her on the crisis, she snapped, ”Well, with all due respect, Ethan, you’re the last person she should be sending.” What did Ethan do? Is he somehow responsible for her estrangement from the family?

Meredith, meet Meredeath Realizing that the media will soon pick up the heightened security measures, the Prez wanted to issue a statement to head off panic. A press secretary, Meredith, suggested that the Prez play down the likelihood of an attack and claim that the measures were merely due diligence. The Prez, however, wanted to be more truthful. Later, when Juma and his men were carnaging their way through the White House, he found Meredith on the phone and shot her dead. The lesson: You lie, you die?

Best line uttered right before a murder ”Oh, Chinese? But I was looking forward to Sheila’s cooking!” (Said by an undercover Juma soldier to his fellow White House maintenance worker, as he prepared to stab him in the back.)

Strap on your suspenders of disbelief We all know that logic and reality sometimes have to take a back seat to drive the story and action on 24, but it’s worth tossing around: After some scuba diving, drilling, blowtorching, and laser-deactivating, Juma’s crew worm their way into the White House and assume control by taking out some Secret Service agents? Where’s our emergency military muscle? (By the way, how could Sangala’s top military leaders, General Juma and Colonel Dubaku, be hanging in the U.S. instead of fighting a war back home? Then again, it is amazing what you can accomplish by Blackberry.)

Oh, look who decided to join us! The Vice President finally graced us with his presence when Larry and Renee briefed him, via satellite, about Juma’s White House invasion. Larry asked him to authorize a rescue mission but the Veep feared that if Juma isn’t bluffing and caught wind of such an operation, he’d kill the Prez. ”Prudence dictates that I hold off on authorizing the rescue operation until we can be more certain of her status,” he said. Renee spoke up: ”Mr. Vice President, terrorists are in control of the White House. I would ask you to consider if prudence is the appropriate response in this situation.” The Veep warned: No rescue missions until more intel is acquired. Afterward, he was assured by his wingman that he made the right call: ”You can’t order an operation that results in the President’s death and your own elevation to the job. It would be politically untenable.” The Veep then laid into him: ”Never let anyone hear you talking like that, Derek! Understood?” Notice how he didn’t say, ”Never talk like that,” but rather ”Never let anyone hear you talk like that.” Mr. Vice Tardy to the Party, you are on my watch list.

NEXT: The mystery man returns

Oh, look who decided to join us! (Part 2) The head of a private military company who was last seen supporting Juma’s coup in the Redemption prequel, Jon Voight’s Jonas Hodges resurfaced over a meal of Chinese take-out. (Guess he’s not looking forward to Sheila’s cooking.) What do we learn? That Jonas gave Juma the locking mechanism specs for the White House safe room. That he has a ”shipment” that will arrive soon unless Juma destroys it. That he expects honor among thieves. (”We held up our end of the bargain, we got you in the White House. I expect you to hold up yours.”) That he has sweet access to White House info, like the manifest (”Now you find Olivia Taylor,” he told Juma, ”and you’ll get the President to open that door.”) And that he’s going to be a very entertaining baddie. After he placated Juma with the FD tip and Juma promised to deliver the shipment as scheduled, Jonas said to his right-hand man, Seaton, a.k.a. Slater from Dazed and Confused: ”There. You see…stress is the fertilizer of creativity. Let’s play some darts.”

Most chilling pickle Thanks to the bonus Jonas help, Juma acquired that precious bargaining chip and set up a gripping scene: As the President watched helplessly on a surveillance camera, Juma ran a knife over FD’s face and creepily threatened, ”If you don’t open the door, I’m going to cut out your daughter’s eyes, one by one, and then I’m going to cut out her tongue, and then her head… How do you know if you open the door that I won’t kill her? All you need to know is that I most certainly will kill her if you don’t.” (The conspiracy has already cost the Prez her son, and possibly her husband. How much more personal is this thing going to get? That answer, in a moment.) Horrified, President Taylor commanded Jack to open the door. He objected: ”I cannot let them take you.” Learning that Jack has a daughter, the Prez goes at him: ”Could you do what you’re asking me to do? Just stand by and watch her butchered?” ”No, ma’am,” answers Jack, ”but I am not the President of the United States.” (With great power comes great responsibility, indeed.) ”Well, I am the President,” she says, ”and I am ordering you to open that door.” Just as Juma started to press his blade into a frightened FD, the doors began to move; Jack and the President surrendered.(What’s the backup plan, Jack? Is there a backup plan?)

Slap of the season Renee landed a few good ones on Jack last week, but Juma packed more shock and awe in this week’s hand-to-face encounter. ”All right, General, you’ve got me now,” the Prez tells Juma. ”There’s no reason to hold anyone else. Let them go.” He does not let them go. Instead, he palms across her face. She flung back her hair to reveal a bloody lip and an intense stare. ”You,” warned Juma, ”don’t give orders to me.” He told one of his soldiers, ”Get the camera ready for her statement.” The Prez interjects: ”What statement?” Juma stared at her coldly and said, ”The last one you’ll ever give.”

Cliffhanger, Resolution — can’t wait for you two to meet next week! So, TV Watchers, what did you think of these back-to-back installments? Which of our White House hostages will bite the dust? And what did you make of the VP and the darts-loving Jonas?

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Kiefer Sutherland
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