Jack briefly finds an ally, but then is reminded that it's his lot in life to go it alone
Credit: Greg Gayne/Fox
Kiefer Sutherland
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’24’ recap: It’s a matter of trust

There I was, all broken up over Bill, riding around aimlessly in my Blue Van of Justice, tears streaming down my silver-bearded face, wondering how I was going to kick this funereal funk. Then Monday night rolled around, and a welcome distraction arrived in the form of episode 14 of 24: A square-off in the White House inner circle? A game-changing alliance lasting no longer than a Tic Tac??? A clash involving A BULLDOZER!?!?! Let’s back this baby up and kick it into high gear.

CarJacked Kief the Thief has boosted a few rides this season, and he picked a sweet one to open this episode; it came complete with a laptop, so he could transmit DVD data on the go. Let us also pay props to Jack’s multitasking abilities: He drove, computed, and executed a passive-aggressive play with Renee, who balked at helping him ID a photo of Quinn: You know what? Forget it. I made a mistake. Sorry to bother you with an annoying plea to help your country. Don’t worry, I’ll just risk life and limb doing the right thing all alone, and good luck with being a bad person. Of course, Renee wouldn’t leave Jack hanging, so she quickly dug up the deets on John Quinn: Black ops combat vet. Works for Starkwood. (No mention of his penchant for asking old men about their families before making them eat pillow.) After Renee explained that the Pentagon outsourced billions in contracts to Starkwood — and that none other than Senator Mayer was investigating the company — Jack decided to make a house call. No big deal if you’re not there, Sen. Mayer, Jack can just let himself in….

Chuck Morris, kickass tech star Morris O’Brian popped up at the FBI, looking for wife Chloe, only to learn that she was in holding. Larry was looking for someone to decode the encrypted address that Renee sent to Jack, only to learn that the task required level 6, Blowfish 148 skillz. Guess what? Morris is qualified! But not interested. Boss Moss pressed him harder, warning that Chloe was facing 15 years or more in the slammer. Morris caved, but only after securing Chloe’s immunity deal. Time to log onto SmugMorris.com. Morris told Larry that decryption was a piece of cake if you knew the override codes. Larry: ”And you do?” Morris: ”Yeah.” Larry: ”Will this take long?” Morris: ”Course not.” Larry: ”Mr. O’Brian, can you tell me specifically when you’ll have the file decrypted?” Morris: ”Yes…………… Now.”

His reunion with Chloe started off Bangor-in-January chilly; she gave him pouty mouth for selling out Jack. C’mon, Chloe! Like Peter Cetera, Morris did it all for the glory of love! Or at least so your son Prescott could be spared ”the inconvenience of having a convict for a mother.” After all, his baby-therapy bills are already out of control.

Bonus Jonas We’ve been treated to the calm, cool, and collected version of Jonas Hodges, who utters quirky one-liners. Now it’s time for the Starkwood head to show you that he’s not just some one-dimensional, Satan-is-my-copilot villain: He has feelings. And his own unique brand of patriotism. As he ranted to Seaton, ”I get no pleasure from the knowledge that people will die at our hands. One single soul — the loss of one soul is tragic to me! Let alone the numbers we’re talking about! But do not forget that every war worth fighting involves collateral damage — and what we’re doing is fundamentally and absolutely necessary! And I know you understand that!” Jonas then instructed Seaton to gather their colleagues, and ”tell them to pack their pajamas and their toothbrushes. It’s going to be a long night.” Oy. Doesn’t even sound like they’ll have time to sneak in a game of darts.

NEXT: Ethan and FD go at it

Don’t cross Boss Moss Were you a bit surprised to see Larry — who can be a bit of a tool, and not always the sharpest one — detect that his crush was playing him? Renee twice asked him if he believed that Jack killed Burnett. (His response: Don’t know, don’t care). Larry told her softly to get some sleep and they’d talk in the morning. Afterward, he dropped his intuition on Janis: Renee talked to Bauer. (Guess he didn’t want to confront Renee until he could trap her red-handed.) Larry ordered Janis to access Renee’s phone log and computer. ”If we want to catch Bauer,” he reasoned, ”she’s our best shot.” But first you’d better catch Renee….

Walker, don’t run to the exit! In episode 10, Sean slipped out of the FBI bullpen and attempted to bolt before Larry and some guards caught him in the hallway. This week, Renee assumed the role of Sean. (But hotter. And frecklier.) Busted in the hall by Boss Moss & co., Renee denied knowing Jack’s whereabouts. But when Larry mentioned that she made two phone calls to a stolen cell and accessed a classified government database, she came clean. Sort of. She refused to give him up. (”You’re actually willing to sacrifice everything to protect him,” half-asked Larry, knowing the answer.) Her noncompliance earned her a time-out in holding, which she’ll probably break out of by the end of the next episode.

This (White) House isn’t big enough for the two of us The President wanted Ethan and the First Daughter to turn over a new leaf. Instead, they’re turning on each other. Ethan accused FD of tipping off a CNB reporter that Jack was a suspect in Burnett’s death, and that Ethan authorized the access to Burnett. ”So another one of your errors in judgment bites you on the ass and you think you can lay the blame on me,” Olivia tossed back. Relations further chilled when he grabbed her, whisper-warning, ”I’m not going to let you get away with this!” and she fired back, ”Get your hands off me!”

FD was soon called to the teacher’s office — better known as the Oval Office — where her mother, flanked by Ethan, asked her if she leaked the info. She denied it, but volunteered that a CNB producer revealed to her that the leak actually came from the Federal Marshall’s office. Luckily, she persuaded him to kill the story in exchange for an exclusive chat with the Prez. Ethan was left with egg on his face and no choice but to apologize to FD. (This hour wasn’t kind to him; he’d already received the disappointed-teacher look from the Prez over the botched Burnett interrogation.) So, who’s the more trustworthy of these two? FD seems pretty shady, and her call-the-producer-if-you-don’t-believe-me gambit felt like either a bluff or a deception play coordinated with the producer. Then again, Ethan also emits an air of dubiousness, in that he just happened to be absent from the White House during the attack, and he’s had an awful lot of screen time. Plus — and I really can’t ever stress this enough — he was the warden in The Shawshank Redemption.

NEXT: Jack goes to work on Quinn

Mayhem and murder at Mayer’s? Oh, my! Boy, did the vitriolic, adversarial relationship that’s been brewing between Bauer and Mayer come to an unexpected head this week. I liked how Mayer came home to find Jack waiting for him behind a door like a horror-movie villain; Mayer’s tough-guy pose went over as well as Larry’s hand on Jack’s chest in the previous episode. (”If I wanted to kill you, Senator, you’d be dead already,” snapped Jack. ”Now take a seat.”) Also liked how when Jack insisted on seeing Mayer’s Starkwood files, Mayer pointedly asked: ”If the connection between Starkwood and Juma isn’t there, will you turn yourself in then?” Jack had no response in their staredown, other than to say: ”Just open the files, sir.”

The pair engaged in an earnest ideal-versus-reality discussion, moving past beyond their previous near-hysterical exchanges. Here were two ”patriots” who shared ends but certainly not means. (Of course, Jonas would like to consider himself in this group as well.) Notable exchanges? When Mayer asked Jack about his regrets, Jack ticked off a list: ”I regret every decision or mistake I might have made that resulted in the loss of a single innocent life. But do you know what I regret the most? Is that this world even needs people like me.” When Jack pointed out, ”Where I work, things get a lot messier than where you work on the Hill,” Mayer countered: ”…sometimes we need to incur the most horrible losses in order to uphold the ideals that this country was founded on…” Jack: ”You make it sound so simple.” Mayer: ”Well, maybe it’s simpler than you think.”

After Jack tied Quinn to the Starkwood whistle blower’s death, and Starkwood to bioweapons-testing in Sangala with Juma’s help, the Senator turned downright paternal with Jack. ”It’s time you start trusting the institutions that you’ve sacrificed so much to protect,” Mayer said. ”Trust isn’t my greatest asset,” acknowledged Jack. (Indeed, not: That’s the sleeper hold.) ”Son,” Mayer responded, ”you have to start somewhere.”

But maybe not here. While I warmed to the new Bauer-Mayer alliance, it happened so fast that when Mayer opened the door, I had this sinking feeling that he’d point to Bauer and say to the cops, ”Arrest this man!” Instead, in a shocker, he opened the door and took a chestful of bullets from Quinn. Jack yelled ”Noooo!” as Mayer hit the ground dead, and he barely crash-escaped through a glass door.

Showcase showdown And now, we must revel in that totally over-the-top fight sequence. Using Jack’s blood as a trail of crumbs, Quinn followed Jack into a construction site. Noticing a door ajar, he crept into an office trailer, and opened fire on a door inside the trailer. When Quinn walked over to investigate, a light flicked on. He pushed open the door to find…no one. Then, a startling noise: IGNITION. Ummm, that would be Jack FIRING UP A TRACTOR, which he uses to FLIP THE TRAILER! (From taser to bulldozer, the hits just keep on coming!) Quinn crawled out of the upended trailer; Jack pounced and pummeled. A choke here, a crowbar swing there. Finally, Jack whipped a tool into Quinn’s chest (!) and finished him off with a 2X4. As Jack hovered over the mortally wounded Quinn, he said, ”You’re dying. Just tell me where the weapons are coming in. When are they getting here?” ”They’re already here,” muttered Quinn before expiring. (I thought Quinn would last more than two episodes, and, by the way, 24 just killed off 50 percent of its General Hospital alumni. It’s all you, Annie!)

After gleaning critical info from Quinn’s cell — Port of Alexandria, Yard C, 2230 — Jack called Tony (who was…chilling at a café?) and told him to hightail it to the port with a weapons and surveillance package. In a final act of awesome, Jack yanked the bloody screwdriver out of Quinn’s chest and used it to…steal yet another car!

And we’re out. The episode started modestly, then things got intense, then insane. What did you think? Were you surprised to see Senator Mayer align with Jack, only to die? Who’s more suspicious, FD or Ethan? What did Tony try to tell Jack before Jack cut him off? Does anyone have an FG update from the hospital? The conversation begins now….

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Kiefer Sutherland
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