Jack captures Tony and helps onetime stooge Jibraan become a hero, but gets caught in the latest Kim cougar trap

By Dan Snierson
May 12, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT
Kelsey McNeal/FOX

He wielded frightening fists of fury. Ground his point into a bad guy’s neck. Played bumper cars with real cars. Hustled a ticking bioweapon into a hazmat van. Last night, it felt like Jack was back — you know, the one who wasn’t knocking on death’s door — just for a little while. There were a good number of charged moments jammed into episode 22, which proved at least 22 percent more exciting than the previous week’s installment, and even featured up-and-coming action hero Jibraan ”Bomb Runner” Al-Zarian. Want specifics? Put your earpiece back in and listen up.

Mourning commute? Fake Tricia and Alan reviewed the attack plan: The bioweapon would be unleashed at Washington Center Station, killing 8,000 to 10,000 people. (At 5:30 a.m.? Guess they rise early in D.C.) Tony gave Jibraan an earpiece and few instructions. ”I’m not stupid,” said Jibraan. ”I know you are going to blame me for something.” But scared for his brother’s life, he entered the subway as ordered by Tony, who also tracked him via mini-computer.

At Jibraan’s apartment, 24‘s busiest EMT tried to administer morphine to the goon that Hamid stabbed, but Jack stopped him cold (do Jack and this medic have a beef we don’t know about?), and advised Renee to step out. ”Do what you need to do,” she said. So Jack pressed the hostile for information on the attack. Literally. He dug into his neck wound until the guy coughed up Tony’s digits, then forced him to dial Tony, with Chloe tracing the call. Alas, she could only narrow his whereabouts to the Adams Morgan district, needing more time to complete the decryption. Jack reminded her of the situation’s urgency by using her formal name, Dammit Chloe.

Next came a fantastically creepy moment. Inside the Metro station, Jibraan removed his earpiece and discreetly told a booth attendant to call the cops about a terrorist situation. Dubious, she passed him to a nearby officer (does Jibraan have poor peripheral vision?). As Jibraan tried to explain, the cop instructed, ”Put the earpiece back in.” ”What?” said a stunned Jibraan. Cop: ”I said, Put the earpiece back in. Now.” (Did someone open the freezer? Because I just got the chills.) Loved Tony’s warning to Jibraan: ”We’ll be watching. We’re always watching.”

Jack’s fist vs. Tony’s face After Chloe tracked down Tony’s location, Jack used the smash-and-grab technique. As in, he smashed into Tony’s van and grabbed him as Tony frantically tried to destroy his mini-computer. Time for a superawesome sleeper hold, minus the ”Don’t fight it” whisper. (But plus a ”piece of crap” insult.) In round 2, Jack instructed the men guarding the handcuffed Tony to ”walk away,” and then coldcocked the hell out of him. ”I am not going to stop until you tell me where [the canister] is,” declared Jack, delivering a bloody reign of pain. (I haven’t witnessed a Jack beating this vicious since Jack Shephard speed-bagged Ben’s face in Lost‘s season 3 finale).

”Why did you betray me?” asked Jack sadly. ”Why?” Off Tony’s nihilistic no-response, Jack whipped out his gun and pointed it at Tony’s head: ”I have nothing left to lose. You either tell me where that canister is, or so help me God I will lay you down right here right now!” ”You think I’ve got anything left to lose, Jack?” Tony finally answered, with a twisted chuckle. ”Do it.” In the moment of truth/justice, Jack…lowered his gun. (Didn’t even give him a matching hole in his other hip.) Renee — who, with the help of Janis, Chloe, and Tony’s applets, deduced that Jibraan was red-lining his way to Washington Center — hurried over to Jack. Gotta go. Devastated, Jack walked away from his dead-eyed ex-friend. The face-rearranging was lightly cathartic, but their business remain decidedly unfinished.

NEXT: Chloe and Janis (verbally) duke it out

Byte me Battling for tech supremacy while assisting Jack and Renee, Chloe and Janis elevated their entertaining catty-and-mouse game. First, when Janis became defensive about her knowledge of DMA nodes, Chloe mocked: ”Really? Because they’ve been up and running for about two years.” Retorted Janis: ”It’s obvious I’ll never be able to do things as well as you did at CTU. All I ask is that you not make me feel like an idiot while you’re pointing that out.” Janis soon exacted revenge; she swiped a job from Chloe and issued a smug ”Really?” as Chloe wrongly doubted that Janis could salvage Tony’s damaged device.

Not that Chloe would concede defeat. Janis: ”Do you have something you’d like to say to me?” Chloe: ”Like what?” Janis: ”Oh, I think you know.” Chloe: ”I don’t think I do.” Janis: ”How about, ‘Good job, Janis, on reconstructing the UMPC? Or ‘Just maybe I should’ve considered the possibility that you actually know what you’re doing.”’ Chloe: ”Oh, you don’t know me, but if you did you would understand that this is the last place you should look for any type of validation.” (Such hilarious self-awareness, Chloe!) Janis: ”How about just acknowledging you were wrong?” Nope. Chloe just stared ahead at her screen with a dopey smile. Here’s hoping 24 will let these overgrown children play not-so-nicely in their electronic sandboxes next season too.

Aaron on the side of caution A rattled First Daughter waited anxiously in Pershing Park to find out from Martin why her cancelled hit on Jonas still happened. But first Agent Pierce called with news that the Justice Department was investigating the car bombing; only 11 people knew that Jonas was alive. (Also, Aaron was peeved that she’d snuck out of the White House without protection; she claimed it was for a personal errand, and persuaded Aaron to cover for her.) When Martin finally arrived, he explained why the hitman hit: ”Because I told him to…it’s what you wanted, right? Despite all my warnings for you to reconsider, you looked me straight in the eye and you said you wanted Hodges dead. To make it happen. And I did. And he’s dead.” (More of this guy, please.) Martin did try to calm her down, offering her a File-B-Gone program to erase incriminating evidence. He also dropped some health advice (which she’d heed): Pay the hitman. ”You do not want this man unhappy with you.”

When FD returned to 1600 Penn to face a stern Aaron, she blamed her hooky on the day’s trauma: She’d needed alone time, and didn’t want Mother-in-Chief to know that the pressure was overwhelming her. ”I hope you can understand that,” cooed Olivia. ”Yes, ma’am,” said Aaron, ”I think I can.” But don’t doubt Agent Awesome: He was only acting! As soon as FD left, Aaron dialed Ethan (!), cryptically asking him about accessing the recording system in the Chief of Staff’s office. Ethan explained that the biometric lock required his thumbprint, which perhaps he’d provide if Aaron started spilling. They arranged a White House meeting within the half-hour to discuss the matter, which involved someone whose name rhymes with Bolivia. Ethan and Aaron, it’s time to marshal those resources — recruit Tim, Admiral Smith, or even Agent Hovis for all we care — and take down Miss Manipulator. We’ve already hung the party decorations and spiked the punch.

How to go from victim to hero in under 90 seconds After discovering Tony’s communication frequency, Janis patched Jack through to Jibraan on the subway. Good news: Your brother is safe. Bad news: You — and thousands of others — aren’t. Jack instructed him to search the train for a bag or suitcase containing the bioweapon. (Fake Tricia, whom Jibraan spotted earlier getting off the train, slipped it under a seat earlier). When the train emptied (go get ’em, early birds!), Jibraan located a dufflebag, which Jack persuaded him to open. Contents: One ticking device, set to blow in less than 90 seconds.

New plan. Get that thing outside in a hurry. Jibraan transformed into a baby Bauer, racing up the escalator and knocking people over. A businessman who’d noticed Jibraan’s odd behavior on the train pointed him out to a cop; the officer grabbed Jibraan and started questioning him. Thinking fast, Jibraan pulled out the device and shouted, ”I have a bomb!” As panic engulfed the station, he ran outside, and just before he was riddled with police bullets, Jack hurried over. Don’t shoot! That nut job is on our side! Jack grabbed the device and quickly quarantined it in the hazmat van, beating the explosion by seconds. The pathogen inside him, though, was not defeated; he collapsed against a car. Renee suggested another anti-seizure shot; he explained that he had one 20 minutes ago, and it wasn’t working. ”It’s okay, we stopped it,” Renee said softly. ”You can finally rest.” She took him in her arms, and he closed his eyes. It was an intimate, loaded moment.

NEXT: Kim Impossible

Care to con a Kim? At the airport, Kim’s flight was delayed, paving the way for an unsettling, twisty subplot. Noticing a man watching her, Kim moved seats and befriended a woman whom she’d bumped into earlier, asking her if he was still staring at her. (When he took a call, we discovered that Jack had tasked this man — Agent Franks, a.k.a. Pezuela from The Shield — with making sure that Kim safely left D.C.). While the woman’s goofy, long-haired husband went on a coffee run, Franks whizzed in record time before he was strangled in the empty bathroom by… Long-Haired Husband! Returning to the gate, LHH told his wife that the coffee place didn’t have decaf so he had to go to another part of the terminal ”but I want you to know, I got it.” Code received, loud and clear. Then he positioned his laptop so it could record Kim. Although this story could easily veer into another Kim-as-victim sideshow, the producers vowed that wouldn’t happen. So, fingers crossed for an unexpected tale of Kimpowerment.

Jack’s against the wall Figuring that Fake Tricia’s crew had killed Jonas and would target Tony next, Jack ordered a full-guard transport treatment for Tony: ”We’re not losing him again.” Indeed, Alan Wilson — upset over the failure of Plan Jibraan (”Without that pathogen everything that we’ve worked for is finished”) — told Fake Tricia to take out Almeida so he couldn’t squeal. (Also, Alan called her Cara, but I say we still call her Fake Tricia.) Fake Tricia assured him that eliminating Almeida wasn’t necessary because ”we’ve got another play.”

And it was a doozy. She called Jack out of the blue with a proposition, and video proof: ”Your daughter is the company of our operatives and Agent Franks has already been neutralized. You will help Tony Almeida escape or my people will murder your daughter. Any effort to contact her or warn anybody about this will have the same result. Do you understand?” ”What you’re asking me to do is impossible,” said Jack, noting the heavy guard detail. ”Well, that’s your problem,” said Fake Tricia. ”Put this call on your earpiece and keep the line open. I’m going to be listening to everything you say. Now, Bauer.” They’re watching, Jack. They’re always watching….

Just before the van departed with Tony, Renee, and another agent, Jack hopped in, catching Renee off-guard. ”I thought you were going with Moran,” said Renee. (Helicopters, cars — Jack just loves to play last-minute surprise guest with Renee.) ”Changed my mind,” explained Jack. ”I want to see this through.” Via earpiece, Fake Tricia told him to prepare to break out Tony soon, and ”if any of those agents in that van get in the way, you will have to eliminate them, or your daughter will die.” As Jack weighed his dark options, we ascended to the top of Mt. Cliffhanger.

I’m liking the view up here, but I admit that I’ve got a fannypack full of questions: What are Tony’s motivations? Will we lift the veil on Alan Wilson & Co.? Seriously, how is Jack NOT a goner?

More questions: What did you think about episode 22? What was your favorite Jack moment? Are you itching for Aaron and Ethan to expose FD? What is your craziest prediction for the finale? The discussion starts NOW.