As Kim returns to comfort/help Jack, and the president gets to arrest Jonas, Tony makes a move that throws us all for a loop but gives no clue to his motives
Credit: Michael Muller/FOX
Kiefer Sutherland
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’24’ recap: Say it ain’t so…

After watching and rewatching this week’s episode of 24, I think it’s time we embrace a new expression in this TV Watch: NWDTJH.

As in: No. Way. Did. That. Just. Happen.

When Tony’s hand covered Larry’s mouth, 24 viewers covered their own in shock, gasping at the implications. Was everything we knew about this season wrong? (Cancel all work meetings today — you’ll be tied up on the phone/message boards, analyzing away with fellow fanatics.) There’s much to absorb here, including: the loss of Agent Larry Moss (the man whom we semi-affectionately referred to as Boss Moss); the takedown of our favorite unhinged villain, Jonas Hodges; and the surprisingly poignant return of Kim, who triggered Jack’s tear ducts. Without further wind-up, let’s pretend like it’s the end of Daylight Saving Time and turn our clocks back one hour, because episode 18 is in serious need of recapping?.

Presidential challenge Clearly defensive about what we can all agree has been some dubious decision-making (”Tim, stop asking me questions!”), President Taylor received an earful from Jack about the air strike cancellation. ”Madame President, with all due respect, I don’t believe you’re being truthful with us,” said Jack, theorizing that Jonas was threatening her with missile madness. She admitted that he was holding 13 Pythons over her head, but fear not, ”once he places his cards on the table, I am sure that I can — I can make him realize the futility of what he is trying to do.” Um, Reality to Allison? ”Jonas Hodges is a traitor and a terrorist!” Jack declared. ”And after everything that’s happened today, are you really naive enough to believe that you can simply talk to him and change his mind?” ”I’m not new at this, Jack,” she returned, ”and right now I don’t have another option.”

He gave her one: Tony noticed a truck pumping RP-7 — the propellant for surface-to-surface missiles — into an underground Starkwood depot, so let him trigger an explosion to destroy the arsenal. The President worried that the risk was too great. ”I would not be asking you to do this if I didn’t think it would work,” pleaded Jack. ”Please, I am begging you. Trust me.” After asking him how much time the doctors gave him to live, she quipped: ”There’s not much I can threaten you with, is there? I expect you’ll do what you think is right.” End of call. Now it was Renee’s turn to play naive, asking Jack, ”What the hell does that mean?” His translation: She unofficially okayed the operation. (Did you like Larry’s response when Renee asked him if he had a problem with carrying out the Prez’s indirect order? ”As a matter of fact, no. None whatsoever. Those Starkwood bastards drew on my men. I’m looking forward to getting back in there.”)

NEXT: Big-bad takedown

A Taylor-made showdown in the Oval Office ”I told you I’d get you to the White House,” cracked Hodges to Seaton, ”I just didn’t think it’d be under these conditions.” Seaton looked typically unamused, while Jonas seemed typically pleased with himself. (Suggested buddy sitcom title: Jonas & Joyless. ) Hodges thanked his associate for the ”brilliant” Almeida trickery, then sang Seaton’s praises when introducing him to the Prez: ”He’s a remarkable man?doesn’t look remarkable, but believe me, he’s a genius.” (Her retort was Arizona-dry: ”Yes, I know Mr. Seaton.”) After more pleasantries from Hodges, the Prez charged: ”You and General Juma have killed hundreds of innocent people, including my son.” After feigning shock at her accusations, he proceeded with a Starkwood-as-fifth-branch-of-the-military pitch: ”I want a seat at the table…Starkwood needs to be involved in the shaping of military policy. Domestic and global.” (What, no approval on the White House china?) ”It sounds more like you want a seat at the head of the table,” retorted our Commander-in-Chief. On Hodges’ cue, Seaton handed her a thick document with all the outlandish specifics, which Jonas suggested they review together. The Prez dropped it on the desk, saying, ”Jonas, I agreed to this meeting because I wanted to hear what you had to say, but what you’re proposing is blackmail.” And then came a line of genius: ”Well, that’s putting it in the worst possible light,” he deadpanned.

Their review session of the materials (in which Jonas demanded access to classified material that even the VP wasn’t privy to) was interrupted by Tim, who pulled the Prez out to deliver the news that a massive explosion at Starkwood HQ destroyed the bioweapon facility and that the FBI was moving in. Hodges’ leverage? Buh-freakin’-bye. Agents poured into the Oval Office (where Jonas was just telling Seaton, ”You know, I’m not sure I’m reaching her”), and took him into custody. The Prez triumphantly informed him that his missiles had been taken out, and that he’d pay ”dearly” for his crimes. He lunged at her, but was restrained. ”My only crime is that I’m trying to protect my country!” he shouted. ”You think this ends with me? I’m just a small cog in a very big machine!… You can’t even begin to imagine what you’re up against.” ”What are you talking about?” she asked. He responded smugly: ”You’ll find out.” While I’m intrigued to discover how high up (far out?) this thing stretches, I expected a more creative tirade from Hodges in that climactic moment. Sorry, Jonas, but you set the baddie bar high.

Call it a Kim-back Jack continued to be terrorized by the prion variant, experiencing body pain and…brain freeze. (It hurt to see him lose his train of thought while asking the Prez for leniency on Tony’s behalf.) ”It’s not just memory loss,” Jack told Dr. Macer. ”It feels like…I don’t know exactly how to explain it. I feel like…like I’m losing some part of myself.” (What an unsettling, if esoteric, comment from Jack.) The doc informed him that personality changes — even hallucinations — were possible, and no shot could mask these symptoms. But Renee’s news really rattled him: His daughter, Kim, was here! Renee had told Kim that Jack was sick and that she might be able to help with an experimental stem-cell treatment. This earned her a ”Who the hell do you think you are?” lashing from Jack: ”I am dying! And I was okay with it. I could handle it. And now you put in front of me the one thing — the one thing that’s going to make this unbearable?…I specifically told you: Do not drag my daughter into this!” When Renee explained that Kim had actually been trying to see him all day, that knocked him on his rear. He softly agreed to see Kim.

NEXT: Family reunion

Like you, I approached the return of Kim with trepidation; she’d often been played as victim (nanny on the run, cougar bait). But I found myself re-investing in her relationship with Jack, which had been derailed by worst-day-ever-after-worst-day-ever peril. The reunion began a bit tentatively, without a hug. (She told him that she’d tried to find him via the State Department and private investigators, but ”every time I got a phone number or an address, you were already gone.” ”I’m sorry,” Jack said, ”I thought I was doing the best thing for you by staying away.”) Yet soon enough, the emotion faucet started flowing; no terrorist or disease could break Jack, but Kim could. ”You need to know how sorry I am for everything that you’ve had to live through because of me,” he said with a breaking heart, and she apologized right back.

She shifted the conversation: Why did he refuse to explore the treatment? Because he was afraid to ask her? ”No,” he said, ”there’s a risk to you.” ”A small risk worth taking,” she countered. ”Not to me. Kim, I’m dying. And whatever small chance there is to stop that from happening, it is not worth the pain for me to let you sit there and watch me die.” ”Daddy, I don’t want to lose you,” she whimpered with wet eyes, as he finally took her in his arms. Overwhelmed, he assured her gently — but really, falsely — that everything was going to be all right. Was he about to cry? Suddenly, he was overcome with physical pain. ”Sweetheart, I’m sorry,” he said, choked up, ”but you need to go…Please, baby, please, I’m begging you.” They swapped I-love-you’s before she kissed him and exited, tears in tow. When she was out of sight, he gave into the moment, sobbing earnestly, face buried in hands. I imagine Kim will be back next week to persuade him to reconsider the treatment, but in the meantime, I’m calling this reunion successful.

Tony’s turn Sure, we all had our suspicions that Tony may not be playing for Team Justice. His rise from the dead. His I’ve-been-a-bad-bad-boy disclaimers. His I’ve-got-to-go-follow-up-with-a-source sidetrip. His inscrutable reaction shots. His hesitations during missions that concern Jack. But still. This was a capital-T Twist, one that sickly washed over you as you slowly realized what was happening (before quickly realizing that you had no idea why it was happening).

The writers teed us up for surprise in subtle ways: Did you pay attention when the Starkwood operative — who smuggled a bioweapon out of the compound — told Stokes earlier that he was going to do another perimeter check even though he just completed one, enabling Tony to ambush the fuel depot? Were you at all suspicious when Tony told Larry, ”I’m ready to pay for what I’ve done”? Were you wondering about those curious shots of Tony in the helicopter with Larry?

Meanwhile, Boss Moss was apparently being groomed for the grave. No blatant tip-offs, but…well, the annoying guy was suddenly becoming more likable. First, he trusted Jack; now he was all about Almeida as he gave him that you-did-a-brave-thing-and-I-don’t-think-this-is-how-you-should-be-repaid speech before ordering his handcuffs removed for the ride back to the FBI. And don’t forget that tender, loaded moment with Renee. (”Listen, Renee, we’ve known each other a long time, you know, and so much stuff has happened today.” ”Yeah, we have a lot to talk about. I know.”)

NEXT: Tony takes matters into his own hands

And we certainly have a lot to talk about after that final queasy scene: Tracking the Starkwood operative by helicopter, Larry ordered the pilot to land, and upon touchdown, the pilot was shot through the (non-bulletproof?) glass. In the ensuing shoot-out with the operative, Larry was seriously wounded. As Tony crouched over him, telling him to relax, Larry noticed the op creeping toward them and desperately tried to alert Tony. AND THEN IT WAS TIME FOR CRAZY: Tony looked back at the op, calmly held up his hand, signaling a stand-down, and the op lowered his rifle! Off Larry’s shocked ”Wha?” Tony said grimly, ”I’m sorry, Larry,” and Larry squeezed out an ”Oh, God…” as Tony started to suffocate him. Larry struggled for life, grabbing Tony’s face, before expiring with wild eyes. (All together: NWDTJH.) ”Let me see it,” Tony told the op, who brought over the bag with the bioweapon. Next, he instructed him to hide with the bag and wait for his call. ”What about you?” the op asked. ”I’m going to wait on the FBI, figure out a way to get you out of here. Go!”

As Tony looked down at Larry’s body, he exhaled…with resignation? A twinge of regret? Why did he have to kill Moss (who was already severely injured)? Why suffocate him instead of ending him quickly with another bullet? Whom does Tony work for? Is this about his hatred of the government and/or cold cash? Is he a different kind of cog in the same machine as Jonas? Why did he destroy the cache of Starkwood bioweapons (after a nice last-second detonator retrieval) but save that canister? How long has his plan been in motion?

Yeah, I’ve got oodles of questions. And I assume you do, too, 24 Nation. What did you think about this electric episode? Did Tony just surprise the hell out of you? Will you miss Mr. Moss? Did he deserve a silent clock? Were you at all misty-eyed during the Bauer family reunion? Are we headed straight toward a cool face-off between Jack and Tony? Start typing.

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Kiefer Sutherland
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