On ''24,'' Marwan has escaped, Mandy has returned, and the nuclear missile is about to land, but Tony and Jack have time for some tender moments with their ladies
Kim Raver, 24
Credit: Kim Raver: Mitch Haasaeth/FOX
Kiefer Sutherland
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”24”: Time out for romance

Oh, Mandy, you came and you gave without taking. . . . Actually, you did take. You took Tony! Why? You certainly don’t need him to strong-arm your way out of CTU’s reach; you’ve got a fast gun and an appetite to kill. You just took out two men; what’s the point of holding Tony?

Nice little PG topless scene, by the way. Betcha the kids at home enjoyed that.

In all, a satisfying episode, not because it was chock-full of thrills and chills (though I completely dug the look and sound of that missile that hit Jack’s car when they were about to transport Marwan to CTU), but because it finally answered a burning question that has lingered for, like, ever: What have those damn Heller boys been up to?

But first, what’s up with the return of Mandy? I’m sure the 24 producers don’t want us to question why a character from season 1 (she was the terrorist who jumped out of the plane and blew it up) and season 2 (she was the assassin who poisoned Palmer by handshake in the finale) is back again, working for a whole new set of bad guys. I’m also sure they don’t want us to notice that we’re getting treated to yet another bad girl, because they don’t seem to make them any other way on 24 (except for mostly helpless and inept). (That’s excluding Chloe, of course.) They just want us to sit back and enjoy! And I did! Mia Kirschner plays evil marvelously well, and I enjoy the mystery of her comings and goings, even though they don’t make a damn bit of sense. But what we will learn about her ties to Marwan? That she’s his, gulp, moll?

Up until this point, we’ve learned absolutely zilch about Marwan’s private life, though I had the opportunity to interview Arnold Vosloo for Fox’s 24Inside.com recently and he recalled how he had shot an early scene featuring Marwan kissing his wife and kid goodbye before he went off to terrorize America. (To see the full interview, go to 24Inside.com and click on Vosloo’s picture.) But the producers ultimately decided to nix the scene and leave any notion of a Marwan private life out of the picture. So I can’t wait for 24‘s explanation as to why this hired-gun hottie is now involved in Marwan’s mission.

But who among you didn’t think Tony was a dead man when he kissed Michelle goodbye? We finally got the scene we were waiting for, the ”I can’t live without you, but we can’t have a life when we’re catching bad guys, so we gotta blow this place for good” (which, translated into real life, means there’s a very good chance they won’t be back for next season, folks). Additional evidence that Tony’s return isn’t likely was the look of longing he gave Michelle before he left CTU.

Let’s back up for viewers who may have missed the episode. Better judgment seems to have prevailed in that White House bunker, because Logan finally decided to call in the Joint Chiefs and cabinet to explain that a nuclear warhead had been launched and was on its way to blow up a major city, possibly Washington, D.C. (Tony said it could hit either coast. Great minds think alike! I’m still voting for Los Angeles.) And the last thing Logan and Palmer wanted to do is tell the American public. Okay, I’m already bored writing about this scene; I so did not care about that whole exchange with Novick and the Speaker of the House over who was actually in charge. Just go find the bomb!

Meanwhile, a resourceful Edgar scrolls through Marwan’s phone records and discovers that a call was made from Richard Heller’s cell the previous week — which seems to explain how the terrorists ended up at Richard’s home in the first episode and blew Defense Secretary Heller’s team to smithereens. Except that Richard wasn’t really in cahoots with Marwan; he was framed by Mandy and a male Marwan associate, who had sex with Richard in one room while Mandy placed the call from another on Richard’s cell. That little moment allowed Marwan to trace Richard’s calls and track the whereabouts of his dad. ”You made a profound mistake,” Secretary Heller said to Richard. ”A mistake that could cost millions of lives!” Gee, how do you really feel about your newly outed son, Mr. Secretary?

Meanwhile, Jack and Curtis think they’ve finally captured Marwan, but they get sucker-punched by a pretty awesome missile that comes out of nowhere. Marwan is whisked away yet again. Seems like another colossal misstep by CTU, thinking all of Marwan’s men are good and dead by now. But finding Marwan has become the least of their concerns because the nuclear warhead is about to detonate somewhere in the U.S.

I had only a teeny problem with this episode: Specifically, that little conversation between Jack and Audrey, when he told her he still loved her, and she said, ”I would have been happy to skip today.” [Readers: Thanks for the correction!] Dude, go to a phone booth or something. Like we’re supposed to believe a guy like Jack would have such an extraordinarily personal discussion in the presence of other he-men?

So now Tony’s been kidnapped by Mandy for reasons unknown (a mean bee-otch like that could have easily gotten away without a hostage), and we still have no idea where this freakin’ nuke is gonna touch down. If only Marwan had family somewhere whom Jack could leverage for info.

What do you think? Where is the nuke headed? Were you satisfied with the way Richard Heller’s storyline was resolved? And, as teased in the previews, is Jack going to let Mandy escape next week or risk killing Tony?

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Kiefer Sutherland
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