24: 11:00pm -- 12:00am
(S06E18) *Warning, spoilers from the latest episode ahead.*
Who among us did not see this turn of events coming?
I mean, come on, when has life ever been easy for a Palmer politician? And who didn't expect another Jack-Bauer's-gone-rogue story line to surface, particularly when the love of his life's safety hangs in the balance?
Not that seeing these predictable plot twists play out lessened my enjoyment of this 24 episode, but I found the White House and CTU politics a bit too abrupt for a single episode.
First, let's tackle the Jack story: Cheng Zhi -- the head of security from the Chinese consulate who kidnapped Jack 18 months ago and tortured him for nearly two years -- told Jack if he didn't remove a circuit board from one of the suitcase nukes he just secured, Audrey Raines, whom Cheng was holding hostage, would be a goner. (Cheng said the board would afford the Chinese access to Russian defense technology.) Of course our hero was going to agree to comply with whatever Cheng requested. Jack would do everything in his power to get that board to Cheng and save Audrey. He's Jack Bauer after all. That's what he does. Because he's Jack Bauer, you expect that things are not going to be easy, however all the White House/CTU politics Jack had to wade through during this episode seemed like too much.
First he turned to loyal CTU computer whiz Chloe O'Brian, who hacked into Morris "Drill-Bit" O'Brian's computer terminal in order to gain access to the schematics of the nuclear device for Jack. To my utter shock and dismay, Chloe then folded like a flimsy house of cards when Morris demanded to know why she needed access to the plans. She not only told Morris about Jack's plan, but then, under pressure from Morris, spilled the beans to CTU chief Bill Buchanan.
With the circuit board in hand, Jack was then surprised when Mike "The Brawler" Doyle, who reminded me of an obnoxious kid brother throughout this episode, took him into custody.
While wearing handcuffs, Jack detailed his plan to President Wayne Palmer, before Palmer collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage during a press conference announcing that terrorist Abu Fayed was dead and that federal agents secured the two suitcase nukes. (A nuclear bomb recently went off in Valencia! Hello?! Has everyone forgotten that? Why and how would the press corps be so calm? This so bugs me, this amnesia about the impact of a nuclear detonation.) Jack promised Palmer that he'd temporarily give the circuit board to the Chinese in exchange for Audrey and then destroy it, even if he had to blow himself up in the process. Jack even pulled out the big emotional guns when, while mentioning that the president had authorized Jack to be handed over to terrorists for near certain murder some 18 hours earlier, Jack desperately grunted, "Mr. President, you owe me."
After securing a Palmer green light, Jack got the rug pulled out from under him again when power-mad Vice President Noah Daniels assumed the presidency and put the kibosh on the operation. (If this were an episode of Alias, they'd just have had Marshall whip up a fake circuit board. Unfortunately there's no Marshall in 24-land.)
Which brought us back to square one: With Jack and Doyle. Having been dissed by the powers that be yet again (when will these people learn that Jack is almost always right?) Jack drew his gun on Doyle, kicked the Bauer-wanna-be out of the CTU truck, and drove off into the night with the circuit board in order to save his lover.
Yes it was suspense-building, but the Jack-is-rogue, no-he's-not, yes-he-is roller coaster grew tiresome. I literally laughed (*warning promo-phobes, I'm going to mention a promo for next week*) when the promo for hour 19 showed Buchanan announcing, "Jack Bauer's gone rogue." If I had a dime for every time I've heard that line . . .
Transfer of power: The other major story involved White House politics. Feelin' a bit punchy from all the shots of adrenaline he got to keep him going after the attempt on his life, President Palmer demanded that Vice President Daniels submit his resignation because Palmer had evidence that Daniels had conspired to commit perjury. (Remember that Daniels tried to have Palmer booted from office by saying he was in no condition to serve after sustaining severe injuries. Turns out creepy Daniels was right.)
Despite his initial protestations, Daniels was prepared to submit his resignation -- after a little hand and cheek caressing comfort with the Invasion mom, er, his aide Lisa -- when Palmer collapsed at the press conference. Daniels could barely contain his sinister glee when he later walked into the Oval Office and made it his by ordering everyone to commence with the transfer of power. His first decision as acting president was to cancel the deal Palmer made with Jack. This sent Karen Hayes into a fury as she stormed down a west wing corridor bitterly complaining to chief of staff Tom Lennox, as Lennox wimpily said he was headed to the hospital with Palmer.
What was up with turncoat Chloe? Why was Buchanan such a by-the-books authoritarian? Why did Doyle seem like an emotionless simpleton? Anyone who yells, "You can't go against the White House," to Jack Bauer just has to be an idiot.
I'm giving this episode a rating of 5 on the TV Squad's 7-point scale. (Go here for the background on the site's ratings.) What would you give this episode?