On ''24,'' Audrey causes an internal crisis at CTU; meanwhile, Lisa cheats on the vice president and jeopardizes world peace

By Ken Tucker
May 01, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

”24”: Trying to make Audrey talk

What was the best moment of 24 last night? It was when William Devane’s James Heller hissed, ”You’re cursed, Jack….Everything you touch…ends up dead.” The fine fatherly wrath that Devane brought to Heller’s warning that Jack should stay away from Audrey — his accusation that her capture and torture by the Chinese villains was all Jack’s fault — reminded us once again of 24‘s glory days, when truly mighty TV actors bestrode the 24 set. Glory days as recently as…last season.

Okay, I’ll also give Powers Boothe and Peter MacNicol some credit for the well-played scenes in which it was revealed that assistant Lisa is apparently one of the most irresistible women in the free world. One doesn’t like to use a degrading word for a woman who, just minutes before in 24 time, was promising her acting-president boyfriend that she was going home for a change of clothes, only to fall into the arms of a chiseled lobbyist, but — well, what would you call someone who was planning to bed two guys in a row just for the heck of it?

Oh, wait: What am I getting so judgmental, so verging-on-Imus-like about? Lisa is simply a woman who likes to have sex for thrills. Too bad it’s with guys who can get her into a scenario where she can be arrested for treason.

I actually liked the way the whole Lisa thing has played out, including Noah Daniels’ quick, honest admission to Tom Lennox that he was sleeping with Lisa, and Tom’s even quicker thinking that they could use this situation to their advantage. (Are you betting that, once all this Component That Rules the Earth stuff gets straightened out, Daniels will feel so guilty about his role in the mess that he’ll apologize to Karen Hayes and reinstate Bill Buchanan?) Oh, and yes, I know that lobbyist Mark Bishop is played by a guy from Stargate SG-1, but sorry, I don’t watch that show, so you’ll just have to make all the (in)appropriate sci-fi jokes about him amongst yourselves.

Now, what was the worst moment of 24 last night? Hoo boy, pull up a chair without manacles — there are at least three worthy candidates to choose from:

1. Did you think that Audrey, in her ”type-3 catatonic” state, having ”100 injection sites” on her ”arms, feet, and groin” (that’s gotta hurt), was really in better hands with Jack than with Dr. Bradley-the-guy-who-played-”Normal”-in-Dark Angel and his calming drugs? I mean, if you wanted to calm someone down, wouldn’t it be better if it wasn’t in a room whose locked door was being blowtorched open, with sparks and noise and guns everywhere?

2. Did we really have to go through that tired Nadia-has-to-prove-she-has-guts subplot, peaking (or valleying) with Doyle’s condescending ”When it counted, you stood up to him” affirmation?

3. Did we have to have another Chloe-and-Morris-aren’t-made-for-each-other scene? ”It’s over….We’re done.” ”Forgive me!” ”We’re done.” Sob, sob.

Well, at least William Devane stepped in to hiss at Kiefer so nice and dramatically at the end. Looks like next week they’re going to haul Marilyn Bauer back into the picture and maybe even have her tug at Jack’s last remaining heartstring. Gee, that oughta put Audrey at ease.

What do you think is the endgame here, with three episodes left? How many loose ends can the writers tie up? Two presidents, Jack’s dad, and now Chloe, beating a hasty, teary retreat — where’d they all go?