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Commentary on May 10's "24" (Day 8, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.)

Michael Madsen in "24."
Michael Madsen in "24."

Oooh, an episode so nasty that it required a second dose of “The following scenes contain really unpleasant, icky stuff” before the final 10 minutes! Nerves get frayed all around as “The Bauer Roguentity” continues its high-powered assault on conspiracy. Bonus Points: Jack gets into a shootout in a department store. A first! Double Bonus Points: Despite a terrorist scare and a total lockdown of Manhattan just hours before, the department store is packed with people! Nothing deters New York shoppers! Terrorists messin’ with my shoppin’?! Fuhgeddaboudit! As always, spoilers abound:

  • In retrospect, it was nice of Jack to kill Starbuck in a room filled with plastic sheets. That’s one less body bag that the cash-strapped NYPD needs to use.
  • Jack watches the video of Starbuck with Russian Sniper Guy, Pavel, who says, “In my ridiculously accented English, I am going to provide face-saving excuses for all of your character’s ludicrous actions today.” Starbuck scoffs, “No viewer will believe you!”
  • Over at CTU, Pillar of Salt wants to redirect all available resources to the Hunt for Red Jacktober. “I’m leaving Inspector Clouseau and Frank Drebin in charge of U.N. security, along with that dog from Turner & Hooch. They can handle it!” Chloe, still annoyed that her newly gained Authority Over All Data has been neutered, tells Arlo that something smells fishy. Arlo, upset that his 0.5% chance of ever having sex has died with Starbuck, doesn’t want to hear it.
  • Michael Madsen reappears as the poorly named Jim Ricker and says he wants to help Jack but will do so only if Jack tells him the truth. Jack sits down and says, “I’ve lost all rationality and am out to kill everyone involved with murdering my well-armed snuggle bunny, Renee. I’ll take out anyone who gets in my way as I run from every branch of law enforcement and try against all odds to expose this White House cover-up. Anyone with me will probably die.” Jim says, “Okay! Count me in!”
  • Jack calls reporter Meredith Reed, whose profile of President Hassan, “My Dead Little Brillo-Head Boyfriend,” is just appearing in the newspapers. He tells her that he has the dirt on the people behind Hassan’s murder and she should meet him in a nearby department store’s coffee shop in a few minutes.
  • Pillar of Salt questions Freddie Prinze Jr. in the Space:1999 Interrogation Chamber. Freddie has nothing to say. Not coincidentally, this is the best job of acting that Freddie’s done to date. Pillar is notified that CTU’s Big Brother surveillance has tagged a phone conversation matching the search parameters, “Jack Bauer – Hassan – Russian government – convenient.” It was traced to a cell phone belonging to Meredith Reed. Pillar of Salt covertly notifies Pavel and the Russian Assassination Team (R.A.T.) about the meeting at the department store … and my wife Judy calls B.S.! “A cell phone? When Meredith got the call, they told her it was on ‘Line 3.’ Jack didn’t call her cell phone!” Ding!
  • Pillar sends the record of the phone conversation to President Logan and Russian Foreign Minister Novascotia. Logan says, “I’m incredibly anal retentive and need to stay on top of the situation. Give me Pavel’s phone number. Perhaps we can even be Facebook friends.”
  • Hey, cool! The CTU director’s glass walls can turn opaque! I’m glad they spent money on that instead of silly things like front-door security and EMP protection.
  • Arlo finally agrees with Chloe that Pillar of Salt is hiding data from them. “However,” he says, “I can’t monitor what they’re doing because of the new security that they managed to impose on our systems in just 20 minutes.” Chloe says, “Not a problem, thanks to this new mobile hotspot from Sprint! Welcome to the 4G Network, Arlo, and thank YOU, Sprint!”
  • Wow, Russian President Suvarov is flying into town to sign the peace deal. We haven’t seen him in a while. Countries always like it when heads of state fly in on a moment’s notice. And does anyone know yet what this peace deal is supposed to do?
  • Fun scene with Presidents Taylor and Logan. Taylor’s brain is starting to fry, yet Logan – now confident of Jack’s impending death – wants confirmation that there will be a public announcement of his big role in the upcoming peace deal! Taylor wearily says that she’ll have her press secretary arrange it, and Logan looks miffed that Taylor won’t announce it herself. Two good actors having a blast.
  • In the department store, an unsuspecting Meredith Reed ascends the escalator. “Third floor: Women’s clothing, shoes, coffee shop, vulnerable bystanders.” On the phone, Logan tells Pavel to kill her, too. Jack sneaks in by hiding behind taller customers. In Kiefer Sutherland’s case, this means anyone taller than 5’5”.
  • Pillar of Salt cries out, “Swarm! Swarm!” But Michael Madsen somehow gets the drop on Pavel – Sniper No Sniping! – and Jack quickly takes out the R.A.T. as shoppers flee from bullets and an exploding Freddie Prinze – wait, what’s HE doing there? Oh, it was just a mannequin. Sorry!
  • Meredith isn’t happy with Jack, saying “You used me as bait!” Jack retorts, “And I just saved you from spending four bucks on a damn cup of coffee! But do you thank me? Noooooo!”
  • Pillar of Salt gives the bad news to Logan and suggests that Logan back away from Taylor and the peace deal. Logan says it’s too late for that, and besides, everyone knows that Pavel won’t talk! Huh, didn’t Logan just meet Pavel an hour ago? He definitely has a man-crush on him. (Okay, time for that second “TV violence” warning I mentioned…)
  • Jack realizes that Pavel is the one who killed Renee, but he needs to know who’s been giving Pavel his orders. He pulls out the Home Depot Torture Kit, complete with pliers, gasoline, blowtorch, and the collected DVDs of Ben Affleck. “No, not Gigli!” cries Pavel. Brutal! Yet somehow Pavel withstands the punishment and refuses to spill. But spill he does when Jack, searching for the missing SIM card of Pavel’s phone, realizes that Pavel swallowed it and cuts him open to retrieve it! Ick.
  • Jack cleans it off, sticks it in the phone, and dials the last number to come in. “You have reached the office of President Charles Logan.” Ohhhhh, Jack is not happy! But I am! Good ending!


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