24 7.11-12: Hey Madame President, you want some Candy?

As one of last week’s commenters observed, if you didn’t know any better, you’d think that I hate “24.” And to be honest, there have been times – and even seasons – when I did. But last week was an aberration in what has overall been the strongest season the show has assembled in ages, maybe ever. The show is always going to have its You Must Suspend Disbelief moments, and I understand that. I find that those YMSD moments are more forgivable when they revolve around timing, rather than when someone behaves completely out of character in order to manufacture a little more conflict. Just wanted to set the record straight for any newcomers to the blog. (*End of editorial*)

And while we’re talking about suspending disbelief, let’s address the most obvious one in tonight’s two-hour episode, and it’s not that a team of soldiers armed to the teeth found a way to infiltrate White House security. The show lives for that kind of conspiracy thriller stuff, and I would hate to see them stop. No, it’s the fact that no one involved in US intelligence had any idea that General Candyman was on US property. Public Enemy #1 is on your back porch, and you didn’t know? Really? Seth Meyers could riff on this for weeks in one of those Weekend Update skits. Like I said in last week’s comment section, how did he avoid detection? Did he float in on a raft? And if Candyman and Ike Turner are both in the States, who on earth is running Sangala? No one, apparently, because the soldiers are all running for the hills, but you’d think that the American soldiers in Sangala would have suspected that something was amiss before they bombed them back to the Stone Age. But hey, I have no military experience, so I don’t know how these things work. All I know is what a college friend and lifelong Army soldier once told me, which is that anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice, something Jack Bauer would wholeheartedly agree with.

Tonight’s episode finally gave us the smackdown we’ve been thirsting for: Chloe O’Brian vs. Janis Gold. And impressively enough, it ended with Janis getting the drop on Chloe, enough to convince Dudley Do-Right to lock up Chloe in holding. Of course, Janis had to work some magic of her own in order to obtain a recording of the phone call that incriminated Chloe, which opens the door to the possibility that Janis might have some secrets of her own. Perhaps Billy Walsh was just a smoke screen, and that he and Janis were both involved in the day’s events, with each unaware of the other’s involvement. That would certainly make for a nice last-minute twist, the type upon which this show thrives.

“So Chloe, are you thinking what I’m thinking” “I was thinking it before you even walked into the room.” “So it’s on?” “Oh, it’s on, bitch.”

The first hour of tonight’s show was just the buildup to the raid, but I thought they did a good job of ratcheting up the tension. I will, though, call two specific things into question: the fact that no one saw the “orderly” kill Ike Turner thanks to the phantom phone call (Ike’s death was not quite the head on a stake that I predicted in Hour 8, but it makes sense given the circumstances), and the fact that Jacqueline Bauer not only jumped onto a boat filled with soldiers, but chose to stay on the boat once she lost both her gun and her cell phone. All together now: Ahhhhhhh hahahahahahaha! Whew, all better. Seriously, that was just silly. Even better was that she walked right by all of their weapons as they sat outside, unguarded, on the boat’s stern. Had she grabbed one of those assault rifles, she could have at worst crippled Candyman’s efforts and at best stopped them entirely. This part of the show brought to you by Steve Winwood’s “Roll with It.”

So Jack knows that Senator Forman’s weasel assistant is the point man to the day’s events, and gets thisclose to getting him to talk (thanks to the threat of paralysis via torture, of course) when security blows the door down, at which point Weasel Boy predictably asks for his attorney and clams up. And sure enough, minutes later the lunatics have taken over the asylum. Interesting that they kill everyone in sight and then, upon capturing Big Balls Bill, decide that they need hostages. Not that I was rooting for Bill’s death, but it would have made more sense, since he was actively trying to mislead them by running off with Madame Prez’s tracker. Even more interesting was Tony’s story about his “contact,” who’s now “dead.” Are we all in agreement that Tony is the source, and is feeding Jack intel out of atonement for the bad things he’s done/is about to do? Even more curious was the conversation between the Vice President and one of his lackeys about not looking too eager to see the President get offed. This is surely to distract us from the real problem, which is none other than the retun of Jonas Brother (that’s Jon Voigt’s character, for those who missed my “24: Redemption” blog all those months ago), who sold out President Taylor’s daughter in a nanosecond in order to secure the safety of his mysterious shipment. Jonas Brother is like this season’s First Lady of Crazy: the gift that keeps on giving.

Our episode ends with President Taylor giving herself up so that Candyman doesn’t gouge her daughter’s eyes (though Old Yeller takes another bullet protecting said daughter, the poor bastard), and Jack utters the words that will make at least one loyal follower of this blog giddy: “I have a daughter.” Of course, what he didn’t tell Madame President was that his daughter is likely caught in a bear trap, or a hostage in a Kwik-E-Mart robbery, or something else equally crazy, but I suppose this was neither the time nor the place for details.

  

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24 7.10: Death becomes her, and her

The only way tonight’s episode of “24” could have been more ludicrous is if it featured a special appearance by Ludacris. Scene after scene contained moments of jaw-dropping ridonculousness (yes, Will, I said it again), be it the dialogue – when Tina’s sister shrieked “You killed her!” at Jackie Bauer, I actually said, “Oh, fuck you” back at the screen – or the laughable attempt by Billy Walsh to frame Erika for everything. I’m actually sad that Erika is dead, because after she had the meltdown in the bathroom, I came up with the perfect nickname for her: Beaker.

Billy Walsh is a dumb, mother, fucker. He kills Beaker, and then shoots himself in an attempt to frame her for everything, without a thought about fingerprints, powder burns, etc. Nope, just toss the gun in her general direction, that should be enough to fool the freaking FBI. Can you picture Gil Grissom investigating that scene? He’d look at the Feds and say, “You’re joking, right?” And if I’m Dudley Do-Right, I don’t care what kind of yarn Billy spins for me; dude is the only living witness to a crime scene. Get his arm patched up, and send him straight to Interrogation Room A to make his “statement.” Don’t forget the pliers and a blowtorch.

Ah, but Beaker wasn’t the only one to bite it this week. Tina does something completely reckless and downright heroic by causing Ike Turner’s driver to crash. (I love how Jack was already pulling the trigger as he was yelling “Put your hands on your head!” at the driver.) Did anyone else find it strange, though, that Tina went from conscious to dead faster than it would take to actually shoot someone to death? Jackie gave up on trying to revive her almost as soon as she started CPR. She made this big scene – several scenes, in fact – about how she said she would protect Tina, yet you wouldn’t have known it from her half-assed attempt to resuscitate her. They should have had her go all Ed Harris in “The Abyss” on Tina. “Fight! Fight!” (*slaps Tina*) That would have been both awesome and fitting, since her character is experiencing all sorts of rage and conflict.

“Listen, baby, I love you for helping me betray our country, but there’s no way I’m leaving my wife for you. Have you seen her? She’s hot. And you talk like a muppet.”

So they kill Beaker and Tina, but First Daughter Olivia Taylor continues to live and breathe. If anyone is looking for proof on why life isn’t fair, there it is. The scene between her and Mommy Dearest was hilarious, with Olivia acting like a sullen teenager. For a minute, I could have sworn that Olivia was even holding her breath, and man, was I hoping that Madame Prez would call her on it. “You realize that I have the power to bring a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘You’re grounded,’ right?”

So the slap fight between Jack and Jackie didn’t end in rough sex, as one commenter predicted, but it actually ended better than that. Is there anyone who is on Jackie’s side of this debate? I know I’m not, and I loved Jack telling her in not so many words, “We have a shitty job to do, so suck it up or quit.” Are we supposed to take her declaration that she was prepared to shoot him as foreshadowing? Ah, who am I kidding. This show never follows up on any of the seeds it plants. Remember Jack’s “nephew” from last season?

This week’s Big Reveal is that the young punk running point on this whole campaign is none other than the assistant to Senator Blaine “my name is a major appliance” Mayer (henceforth known as Senator Red Forman). A brilliant move on the writers’ part, actually, since his boss already wants Jack Bauer behind bars. Still, you had to love the look on his face right before the final clock, when he realized that he was about to be in the line of fire. Hey, if you’re going to commit high treason against your country, be prepared to make some sacrifices.

My wife did not like the conversation between Tony and Jack on the steps. Tony seemed a little off to her, and I see what she means. Could they be opening the door for Tony to still be a bad guy? I hope not, for a couple of reasons, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. And as Inigo Montoya once said, I hate waiting.

Lastly, the selfish writing staff of “24” are getting stingy with the ‘Damn its.’ Only one this week (Beaker). Don’t they realize that people are playing a drinking game to their show? Come on, guys, do your job.

  

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24 7.9: We’d call the FBI snitch a weasel, but weasels mate for life

There are times when I think that casting agents don’t realize how much they handicap their shows. We all knew Billy Walsh was dirty, if for no other reason than the fact that he was played by the guy that played Billy Walsh on “Entourage.” Using this logic, we can also safely conclude that Ethan Kanin is dirty because he’s played by the same actor that played Warden Norton in “The Shawshank Redemption.” He also played a baddie in “Demolition Man” and, perhaps most damning, was the boat captain in “Boat Trip.” Yikes. I bet he scrubs his hands for an hour each night before he goes to bed, murmuring, “So…dirty…can’t…get…clean…”

Janice’s method of blackmailing Billy was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe he actually gave in to it. If he’s willing to cheat on his wife, then he’s willing to lie to her, so why not turn the tables on Janice by ratting her out to Dudley Do-Right for blackmail and getting her fired? The worst Janice can do at that point is tell his wife about the affair, but he can always deny it and write her off as a sore, jealous lunatic. Seems like a foolproof plan from here. As it stands, he’s exposed as a potential candidate for the server breach, but Janice’s paranoia will serve as a good smoke screen while he continues issuing APBs for the arrests of Jack and Jackie. Remember that scene where Billy used someone else’s clearance to get his wife’s plane moved to the front of the queue? Our first clue.

Famous last words for any potential Federal witness: “We’ll be able to track you from up to a mile away.” If you hear those words, you can guarantee that your saviors will wind up more than a mile away. Col. Ike earned his Ike Turner nickname this week, showing his volatile nature the moment poor Tina resisted his brilliant plan to run away together. Then he won her over with the lamest trick in the Weasel Boyfriend playbook: “Do you love me?” Ladies, if your guy ever hits you with a sucker question like that in order to get his way, run. Whatever he’s planning is not in your best interests. And who would have thought that, as we were all debating why he would choose to start a relationship with a waitress in a diner while plotting a terrorist attack, it would be because he liked her? We all thought that there had to be a reason for it, and it turned out to be the simplest reason of all. I’m guessing Tina probably reminds him of some old flame in Sangala, whom he fed to crocodiles after she told him she was pregnant or something.

“I’m sorry Ms. Taylor, I can’t hear you over the roar of the crowd cheering my return.”

We had two great old-school “24” callbacks this week. The first is when Morris O’Brian, fresh off of his brief appearance in “Saw V,” dropped Chloe off at the FBI offices. We also got to see Morris and Chloe’s son Prescott. (Prescott? Really?) And while I love Morris, I was practically pumping my fists in the air the second I heard Old Yeller’s voice as he approached the First Daughter. Welcome back, Agent Pierce. I hope nobody shoots you this time around.

The whole end-justify-the-means aspect to Jack’s methods is clearly wearing on Jacqueline, who – gasp! – wept at the thought of what she did to Vossler’s wife and child once DDR laid some righteous guilt on her. What’s it gonna take to change DDR’s tune about Jack, especially after Chloe hilariously reminded him that he’d be wise to clean up his own backyard before pointing any fingers? You’d think the fact that Jack SAVED HER LIFE would be enough, but no, I guess Jack didn’t follow the proper channels. I can’t wait to see how the scene in next week’s episode plays out, where she’s slapping him over and over. “Can you feel that? How about that?” That scene has to end with him kissing her, right?

  

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24 7.8: Would you kill for love?

If last week closed to the sound of the studio blinking – we can’t show a chemical factory meltdown, there would be panic! – tonight’s episode featured the jarring sound of metal on metal as the show hit its first real snag. Dudley Do-Right uttered one of the most painful Straw Man lines in the show’s history (“The rules are what make us better,” ugh), and Jack winds up killing yet another person that could have blown the case wide open. For as much as we love Jack’s tendency to torture first and follow protocol later, would it kill them to have him bring the authorities a living bad guy once in a while?

Actually, that whole conversation by the pool was laughable. DDR is all upset about Jacqueline’s willingness to do things Jack’s way, but not once did either Jack or Jackie say to DDR, “We’re not going to hurt the wife or the child! We just have to make Vossler think we’re going to hurt them.” Jesus, that’s Negotiation 101, isn’t it? I thought that Jackie was being hard on the woman at first, but then I realized that if she’s too nice and explains everything, it won’t put the proper fear of God in Vossler. When his wife/widow says to her afterward, “You’re a monster,” I was hoping Jackie would return with something along the lines of, “Your husband is a traitor to his country, takes his orders from a brutal African dictator, and just participated in the kidnapping of the First Man, so you can suck it. Oh, and he’s dead now. Smooches.”

“Can you do me a favor and give me that smoldering stare just long enough for everyone in the office to know that we’re sleeping together? There, that’s perfect, thanks.”

I was amused at the sister of Col. Ike Turner’s girlfriend – her real name is Marika, but you just know that we have to call her Tina – blackmailing Ike. I’m surprised he didn’t laugh out loud when she did it, since he knows she’s in a wheelchair and was probably thinking about feeding her to dogs the entire time.

Once again, President Taylor shows tremendous stones for realizing that what Ike Turner is asking of her is no different than what she asked of the people who lost loved ones on the colliding planes. I was also glad that they had one of Ike’s henchmen remind him that if they kill the First Man, they will have played all their bargaining chips. Ike’s willingness to do it anyway leads me to believe that the show is about to abandon this entire plot – and two things in the scenes for next week’s episode confirm that – and I gotta say, I’m not sure how I feel about that. This isn’t going to turn into Jack Bauer Week on Court TV, is it? God, how boring would that be? But you just know that the rabid Attorney General is looming off camera with the pitchfork and the torch. If they don’t pick that thread back up, it will be a tremendous oversight. When they do pick it up, it’ll be sanctimonious and dull.


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24 7.7: If they dare touch a hair on your head, I’ll fight to the last breath

We are an hour away from the unofficial end of Act I, and while I’m shocked that they have suddenly discarded the most formidable weapon that any President in the show’s history has had to face – fare thee well, CIP device – I applaud and understand the decision to move the show to the next arena. The FBI weren’t going to remain in the dark forever, so it was only a matter of time before they were able to figure out the next target. Likewise, the Scoobies weren’t going to be able to do this on their own forever, so as risky as the move is to reveal their identities to the President, to have them continue to operate so efficiently, without tipping off the authorities to either their identities or location, would have been silly. So good for them for acknowledging that and moving on.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind about any of this if they take the show somewhere I don’t like. It’s my right as its blogger. So mleah.

So Colonel Ike Turner, aware that the FBI had figured out his next target but unaware that they didn’t know where he was or how to stop him (why not make a call to your well-placed source and find out the dilleo?), pulled the plug on his chemical plant attack with only minutes to go. Hmmm. Why not just let it play out, even if you think your location has been compromised? May as well hit them hard one last time, right? My inner paranoid – which is a flattering way of just saying ‘I’ – wonders if the Fox censors stepped in and said, “Uh, no, you’re not wiping out a small town in Ohio. They vote Republican, Murdoch won’t have it.” Just a thought.

“Hot damn, Tony, I finally get to shoot me some bad guys.” “I’m happy for you, Bill.”

Luckily for Turner, he now has the First Man as a hostage, so if he was able to freak out Madame President with the threat of massive casualties, he can now freak her out with the threat of one extremely important casualty. At the same time, Turner has lost an incredible amount of leverage in the process. I picture their next exchange to go something like this:

Dubaku: You will meet my demands.
Taylor: No, I won’t.
Dubaku: (*BANG*) Your husband is dead.
Taylor: Way to go, genius. I’m now going to bomb your army back to the Stone Age, steal your diamonds, and rename the country Taylorville.
Dubaku: *Shit.*

Yes, he can take away the love of her life, but as cynical as this may sound, that’s all he can do. Dubaku is no longer in a position to threaten the nation’s security, so how badly can he really hurt her? His only recourse after playing the First Husband card is to coerce his US government recruits to step up their complicity. But they’ll get caught, because they were all stupid enough to get into bed with General Candyman in the first place. Hopefully, they have something planned that we can’t predict at the moment. Hopefully.

God, how much does Jack love Jacqeline right now? She holds her own in a huge gunfight and takes out a bunch of Dubaku’s men. Next week’s scenes show a shot of Jack speaking with the President in the Oval Office, and I’m waiting to hear Jack say, “You can trust us, Madame President, but first thing’s first.” (drops to one knee, looks at Freckles) “You are going to marry me. The only question is how much you want it to hurt.” That’s truth. That’s love.

  

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