24: 12:00am -- 1:00am
(S06E19) *Warning, spoilers from the latest episode ahead.*
A dirty old man. A trigger-happy agent. A politically cut-throat spouse. Wildly inappropriate personal bickering in the workplace. Special guest star Jack Bauer.
What do those five things have in common? The 19th hour of 24.
Maybe I'm just growing more cynical, but this episode bummed me out on many fronts. Overall, it felt like filler to just inch the story forward to the final episodes. All I know is that throughout the hour, I wanted to see more Jack, much less of Chloe and Morris "Drill-Bit" O'Brian and felt nauseated by that scene with Acting President Noah Daniels. You know the one.
But, let's focus on the positives first, shall we? Hmm. . . positives . . . well, Audrey Raines is safe. Our hero Jack disobeyed the president and his CTU bosses by successfully securing Audrey's release from the Chinese by bargaining with a piece of Russian technology the Chinese wanted. Oh, and 24 fans who were hoping to see more of Nadia Yassir, the resident CTU hottie, will likely be pleased that she got a job promotion to acting CTU chief, particularly given the fact that, just a few hours ago, she was suspected of treason and was choked by Mike "The Brawler" Doyle.
One moment of pseudo-realism that I liked from this episode was seeing that Audrey was not quite right after her time in Chinese custody. She actually displayed effects of being in captivity, unlike Jack who bounced back from his many months of "brutal" torture super-fast. However I fear that Audrey's current lack of lucidity might be milked in all the wrong ways in the remaining hours of the season. This has the potential to get ugly. Fast. Let's hope it doesn't.
Another plus from the 19th hour: I could appreciate the notion that Washington pols would seek to blame the release of the now-dead terrorist Abu Fayed on a bureaucratic scapegoat. Two years ago, Fayed was detained during a border sweep, but he was later released by CTU chief Bill Buchanan because there wasn't enough evidence to keep him in custody. But because Fayed was behind the weeks of terror attacks on the United States that preceded this particular day, not to mention the nuclear bomb detonation in California that killed thousands of Americans, a Department of Justice interrogator told National Security Advisor Karen Hayes that someone's going to have to pay for setting Fayed free. It would either be Karen or her hubby. I could feasibly buy that pressure would be applied to find someone on which to pin the blame, but Karen turning on Bill so quickly -- given that she resigned just a few hours ago during a crisis in order to avoid embarrassing him -- felt forced, as did Karen firing him. Based on her character this season, I would've thought that Karen would've gone to the mat to defend him.
Now for the negatives. Jack, who had gone rogue in order to rescue Audrey, resumed his role as a guest star in this episode, lurking in the shadows. And, one irritation with Jack, other than his on-screen absence, I know that Jack planned to blow himself, Cheng and the Russian component up as soon as Audrey was safely out of the range of the sniper, so that's why he took a moment to gingerly remove her gag, caress her cheek and stroke her hair. But the display of tenderness was a bit much, particularly in light of that creepy moment in the Oval Office with Daniels and his aide Lisa Miller. I'm going to be having nightmares after that scene when Daniels said, "I have the fate of the western world and the lives of millions of Americans hanging in the balance and I just can't stop thinking about you." He kissed Miller's neck as she coyly told him his behavior was inappropriate. "Well, there's the phone," Daniels said in a throaty voice, "call the media and tell them the president's a dirty old man." After a long kiss, Daniels told her he wanted a booty call that night, so she promised to get a change of clothes.
Was this still 24? For a moment, I thought I'd accidentally changed channels to Lifetime. It reminded me of the similarly distasteful scenes with Jack and his sister-in-law Marilyn Bauer earlier this season. But, in all fairness, if I hadn't had to witness the Daniels-Miller scene, I don't think the Jack-Audrey moment would've bothered me.
Speaking of inappropriate behavior, the sniping between Chloe and Morris was over-the-top. She accused him of being jealous. Again. He retaliated with juvenile responses, telling her to "shove it." She told him not to activate nukes for terrorists. . . oops. . . apparently that was one step too far for Morris who, in the midst of a crisis, asked for an immediate job transfer. Morris can deal with literally being drilled in the shoulder and returning to work hours later, but he can't handle a sharp remark from Chloe?
And, we cannot forget Doyle, the trigger-happy agent who doggedly tracked down rogue Jack and sabotaged his plans. Because Doyle shot the Chinese sniper who had his gun aimed at Audrey while she fled to safety, he inadvertently kicked off a chain reaction. Jack had just handed Cheng the Russian component when Doyle fired his gun and chaos ensued. Three Hummers filled with Cheng's people arrived on scene, just as a CTU chopper got there, only to be shot down as Cheng escaped with the component. "I had this handled," Jack yelled to Doyle, the Bauer-wanna-be. "Why the hell didn't you listen to me?"
On the TV Squad 7-point system, I'm giving this episode a 4. (If 3.5 were available, I think that's closer to my real assessment.)