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Commentary on April 19's "24" (Day 8, 9 a.m. - 10 a.m.)

Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is escorted away in a tense scene from "24."
Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is escorted away in a tense scene from "24."

Another good episode with – gasp! – actual moral dilemmas that do not involve torture! It’s like American Idol having incoherent judge decisions without Paula Abdul! The choice facing President Taylor this hour was pretty cool. And the episode’s conclusion, although predictable, sets the stage for what could be a great final six hours. But can I ask: Where was this quality show back in February, when we suffered through some terrible episodes? Oh well, happy now. As always, spoilers abound:

  • Jack barely has time to grieve over Renee’s body before a nurse comes in and says, “I’m sorry, sir, we need this set for Grey’s Anatomy. ABC is cutting the budget. By the way, here are leftover scrubs from Dr. McDreamy.”

  • Hey, did you catch Renee’s fluttering eyelids on the table? Bah! Come on, 24, I want reality! Couldn’t you have knocked Annie Wersching unconscious for the scene?

  • Kudos to whoever handled cinematography, though. The lighting during those early scenes made everything look as sickly green and depressing as in a real-life hospital, which you don’t often see on TV.

  • Sagging with grief, Jack holds his head in his hands. Unlike previous instances of Jack holding heads, this one is NOT decapitated.

  • But then Jack gets that steely look in his eyes. No, not Zoolander’s Blue Steel – I mean the look that says, “Jack Bauer Killing Spree!” Yay!

  • Chloe has to explain the new reality: “I’m in charge of CTU, Jack. That means I can’t break the rules and cover for you anymore, even if that means we’ll never have nookie, lambie kins.” “WHAT did you say, Chloe?” “I said, I can’t break the rules and cover for you anymore, and would you like me to look up Renee’s family or next of kin?” “Oh, um, sure, Chloe. Thanks.”

  • Ethan Kanin, in defiance of his doctor’s order and all medical reality, is back on his feet and dressed for work just an hour after an intravenous probe through his groin. New York Mets, here’s your next shortstop!

  • Ex-President Logan meets with the Russian foreign minister, Novascotia, and bluntly tells him that he knows that the Russian government had its hands on every bad thing that’s happened today. If the Russians don’t rejoin the peace accords, he’ll spill the beans to Taylor. I’ve missed Charles Logan. He’s a good, slimy character, and Gregory Itzin is terrific in the role.

  • Jack heads way downtown to the arraignment of … Duke Leto! Hey, Duke Leto, I didn’t think we’d see you again! Jack growls, “If you don’t tell me everything you know about the terrorist group Red Square, I’ll force your family to watch every episode of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Don’t press me!” Duke Leto caves! He tells Jack that not only is the Russian government behind everything, but that Starbuck was planted in CTU by the Russians.

  • Really? Hmmm, retroactive continuity? Probably, but hey, I’ll buy it. It makes the whole Starbuck fake-identity nonsense a bit easier to swallow, although the White Trash Ex-Boyfriend thing is still nuts. You’re telling me that Starbuck – supposedly a Russian agent – couldn’t have gotten last week’s sniper to pop that hick like a zit 15 hours ago?

  • Jack uses his personal teleportation device to get from midtown to a Lower Manhattan courthouse to CTU HQ in less than 20 minutes. He’s fast. If Jack were to run from New York to Los Angeles, he’d spin the earth backwards, go back in time, and save Lois Lane.

  • Jack wants to talk to Starbuck again. Chloe says, “Jack, I need to keep the cameras on. And Freddie Prinze Jr., I need you to stand quietly by and show no emotion.” Freddie: “I can handle that.”

  • Starbuck looks oddly hotter here than she has at any other point in the series. It must be the Space: 1999 interrogation chamber.

  • Logan’s aide tells Logan, “I’ve spoken to my contact at the Psychic Friends Network. We’ve got a problem: Jack Bauer has talked to both Duke Leto and Starbuck in the span of 20 minutes. We don’t know how he did it, but he could screw the pooch.” Logan says, “Arrrrrgh, that Jack Bauer! I’d still be President if it weren’t for that meddling kid!” The aide says that Logan may have to tell Taylor the truth in order to get her to stop Bauer from babbling. Otherwise, Logan’s quest for redemption/power/New York egg salad recipe may be jeopardized.

  • Reluctantly, Logan does just that. Taylor and Ethan are aghast and outraged that Logan didn’t mention the Russian involvement earlier, but he says that doesn’t matter now. He’s brought the Russians back to the table. If Taylor outs the Russians, then the hard-fought Peace Treaty With Undefined Objectives will be kaput. If she goes along with it, then she’ll have a peace agreement that has eluded the world for decades. Is outing the Russians worth losing that opportunity? It’s an interesting decision – which would be more interesting if we knew exactly what this treaty was supposed to do. But Itzin, Cherry Jones, and veteran character actor Bob Gunton (as Ethan) make the dialogue zing.

  • President Taylor heads to CTU to speak with Jack in private. And… poof! She’s there! She tells Jack a big fib: “I won’t give an immunity deal to Starbuck – she’s a sociopath and not to be trusted. She could be a Cylon, for all we know! I’m not going to allow her crazy ideas to wreck the peace process, just because you’re looking for revenge.” Jack says, “This isn’t about revenge. It’s about justice! Revenge is just a great side effect!” He challenges her decision, but she tells him that he’ll be “escorted” to Mark McGwire Air Force Base for debriefing and human growth hormone. Jack is saddened by her decision to not seek the truth. She’s certainly no David Palmer, Best Fake President Ever!

  • Frankly, this does seem out of character for Taylor. Wasn’t she the one who last season was determined to let the truth out, no matter the consequences for her personally?

  • After the Secret Service leads Jack out of CTU, the Prez tells Chloe that Starbuck is not allowed to talk to anyone. Chloe isn’t thrilled by this turn of events. OK, how long until Jack makes the annual escape from custody and goes rogue?

  • Not long at all! Jack pulls a gun on a Secret Service fanboy and commandeers a helicopter! Chloe immediately orders the Coast Guard and Air Force into action: “Force that helicopter down! But don’t harm a hair on Jack’s head or I’ll cry!” “WHAT did you say, Ms. O’Brien?” “I said, I want Jack harmed but not dead, now FLY!”


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