24: 1:00am -- 2:00am
(S06E20) *Warning, spoilers from the latest episode ahead.*
There were a number of unhinged people populating 24 in the 20th hour. There were tears. There was betrayal. Sex. Intrigue. An evil doctor. And, oh yeah, a potential U.S.-Russian military skirmish after CTU accidentally botched a plan to recover a Russian defense component from the Chinese that Jack Bauer had handed over.
Just your average day in 24-land.
Thankfully, there was a heck of a lot more of Jack in this episode as well as some action, albeit low-keyed action that was confined to darkened CTU corridors, though there was enough story during this hour to keep me entertained.
So, let's start with the sex, shall we?
I know that after all my complaining about the nasty Oval Office scene last week between Acting President Noah Daniels and his aide Lisa Miller this is going to sound odd, but I actually found myself feeling sorry for the horny guy in this episode. He was but a poor, lonely widower last year when, while working late one evening, one thing led to another and he found himself seduced by Miller's wily ways. Unfortunately for Daniels, Miller has also been throwing it around with a Washington lobbyist who is, as Daniels' bad luck would have it, leaking info to the Russians. During this hour, lobbyist Mark Bishop used his tryst with Miller as cover so he could download Miller's e-mails from her PDA and fish for intel. Bishop (yes Stargate fans, I know the lobbyist is Michael Shanks!) waited until Miller went to freshen up before calling his Russian contact, whom he'd apparently already informed about the Chinese getting their hands on the Russian defense technology, prompting Russian President Yuri Suvarov to threaten Daniels with military retribution if CTU didn't get the circuit board back.
The look on Daniels' face was absolutely priceless when Chief of Staff Tom Lennox told him he'd traced the intel leak to Miller, and from Miller to Bishop, with whom Lennox said he was convinced Miller was sleeping. Daniels' shock was matched by the horror all over Lennox's face when Daniels replied, "Then we have a bigger problem than you think Tom, because I'm sleeping with her too."
Daniels then staged an interesting reprise of last week's lascivious scene when he circled Miller in the Oval Office and whispered in her ear. Only this time, Daniels was a jealous, angry man ("You didn't just betray me, you betrayed your country!"), who threatened her with being declared an enemy combatant and thrown into solitary confinement if she didn't follow orders exactly by telling Bishop that the Americans had recovered the Russian component. If Daniels were a cartoon character, the illustrator would've drawn pitch black steam pouring from his ears.
Speaking of cartoons . . . over at CTU, Chloe O'Brian wept in a hallway as her ex-husband Morris continued sulking because she insulted him during the last episode by snidely telling him he should avoid assisting terrorists by arming nuclear weapons for them. After their spat, Morris requested a transfer, but new CTU chief Nadia Yassir wisely told Morris to grow the hell up. "You're asking me to indulge your personal melodrama," she said to Morris as she denied the transfer and told him to go back to work. Later, when Chloe confronted Morris, he told her he could no longer work with her. "There's a line, darling, and you crossed it," Morris said. ". . . It's over. There's no going back. We're done." Morris touched her face as she cried. HEL-LO weren't they "done" when they signed their divorce papers years ago? What's left to be "over?" This part of the episode seemed completely useless.
I did, however, like the scenes featuring Jack, Mike "The Brawler" Doyle and the non-responsive Audrey Raines, fresh from being tortured by the Chinese. The White House -- under pressure to get the Russian component before the Russian president takes military action -- dispatched an evil doctor (Dr. Bradley) to shock Audrey's system with drugs in order to extract any usable intel on Cheng Zhi and the Russian circuit board's location. There was a ton of pressure on Nadia to deliver info ASAP, regardless of whether the drugs killed Audrey. This outraged Doyle who thought that Jack should've been given the chance to talk with Audrey first, seeing as though they were both tortured by the same dudes. Evil Dr. Bradley nixed this, saying that Jack would just agitate Audrey, and Nadia went along with the doc. As roguish Doyle flouted Nadia' directives and removed Jack's handcuffs, he told his idol to make it look as though he overpowered Doyle in order to escape and save Audrey from the treatment. (Yes, I cheered when Jack slammed the smug hack Bradley into the wall, though I wished he'd used a tad bit more force.)
While alone for a few minutes in a locked room with Audrey before CTU forces apprehended them, Jack was able to connect with her, even though her only response was to grasp his hand and to utter the word, "Bloomfield." Unlike last week's exchange between Jack and Audrey, this one seemed more genuine and heartfelt. I think much of that had to do with the fact that Jack seemed like an emotional wreck during many of his scenes. "I love you with all my heart," he said as they embraced and she silently reached for his hand. 'Twas believable.
The killer moment of this episode -- and the one that left a giant question mark hovering over my head -- was the sudden appearance of former Secretary of Defense James Heller, Audrey's father, who apparently did NOT die last year when his car plunged off the side of a cliff. After checking on Audrey, Heller went to see Jack and told him to never go near Audrey again. (Random questions: Heller was just hangin' in LA? How did he get to CTU so fast? Audrey's only been in CTU hands for less than an hour. Who called him?) "What's happened to her is your fault," Heller fumed at his former staffer. ". . . I'm warning you, stay away. You're cursed Jack. Everything you touch, one way or another, ends up dead."
As Heller left the room, Jack looked as though he was going to cry.
And the clock ticked to the end of the hour.
On the fantabulously original TV Squad 7-point scale, I'm giving this episode a 5.