24 7.18: Well, that just happened

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m writing this post on Wednesday, April 8, because I do not want to leave you good people hanging while I disappear for a couple weeks to spend some time with my new kiddo, hence the generic title for this week’s blog. The downside to taking next week off is that just yesterday I interviewed Jacqueline Bauer herself, the lovely Annie Wersching, and she said she was going to check out my blog this week. D’oh! Please come back in two weeks, Annie. I swear I’ll make it worth your while.

Update: Holy fucking shit, I picked a bad week to go on baby leave. Tony killed Dudley! Nooooooooo!

In the meantime, faithful “24” blog readers, let’s have some fun. I’ve attached some “episodic photos” from various episodes of this season’s “24.” Your assignment is to come up with a killer caption for each.

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This one’s for you, GiantGary…

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I will announce the winners for each picture when I return on April 27. In the meantime, we will post another blog entry – and more photos, yay! – the following Monday night to give you guys the chance to vent about that week’s episode. Have fun!

  

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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24 7.17: And it starts sometime around midnight…

In the interest of full disclosure, this blog entry is not receiving the thorough once-over that I try to give the others. It’s Opening Day (go Cubs), and I am expecting my second child to arrive no later than Thursday. “24” is not really first and foremost in my thoughts at the moment. Hopefully I haven’t left you guys with a complete dud of a blog entry before I take a couple weeks off to spend some time with Lil Med #2. (Don’t worry, we’ll post a blog entry each Monday night if you good people still wish to come here and talk/vent about it.) I certainly don’t want to leave you with a dud after an episode as craptacular as the one they aired tonight.

In the opening scene, I was expecting my TV screen to implode, because Jon Voight started chewing up the scenery like he hadn’t eaten in weeks. Jonas Pacino, hoo-ahhh! Fortunately, he toned it down for the rest of the episode…except when he confronted Starkwood’s CEO, at which point he morphed into Jonas DeNiro and used a decanter to beat the CEO to death, “Untouchables”-style. How that man thought he would live to tell the tale of anything he did after answering Jack’s call, I’ll never know. A call from Jack is like a call from Daveigh Chase in “The Ring.” Forty minutes…

I found the entire exchange between Hillary Clinton and her weasel news contact Ken to be one of the most unintentionally funny things in “24” history. For starters, Ken tries to blackmail Hillary into sleeping with him in order to kill a story he had already approved, and Hillary trumps him by using her camera phone to record the two of them having sex. To quote George Clooney in “Out of Sight,” this is the dumbest shakedown in the history of shakedowns. If he runs the news story, she has no choice but to leak the video, which will ruin both of them. Her idea for leverage wasn’t well thought out, if you axe me.

“Tell me, Doctor, when do I get to do some real acting?” “Trust me, Mr. Bauer, as soon as this wears off, your eyes will bulge like Arnold Schwarzenegger on Mars in ‘Total Recall.'” “Sweet.”

We have yet another Kim Bauer reference, which means she will absolutely be appearing before season’s end. I hope they show her looking like any of us would look if we received a call in the middle of the night saying our father was sick and needed our immediate help: hair pulled up under a baseball cap and wearing sweats. Of course, this is Kim Bauer we’re talking about, which means she’ll be decked out in Donna Karan. The doctor said that Jack would need an immediate family member to serve as a donor, and my clever wife beat me to the punch line: “What about his son?”

Oh, and how about the bug-eyed scene by Jack when the virus first took effect? “Look, ma, I’m acting!”

I’m not sure what to make of the standoff between Jonas and Madame Prez. Would she really back down? Was Jonas telling her that she can’t tell anyone what’s going on, or just that she can’t leak to the press what’s going on? I suppose, given that she has no idea that her own daughter is her biggest liability, she is right to be suspicious of her cabinet, but if she doesn’t give the Joint Chiefs a little something to nibble on, she’s going to lose their trust.

Lastly, there was Tony’s ability to float through a locked-down facility containing a bioweapon, shooting video of it on his phone, without drawing a single person’s attention. I can’t wait to see how he gets out of that. Or maybe he doesn’t, and this is the moment where he goes down brandishing an AK-47 and a flamethrower. Quick, where’s the hooker and the blow?

Our man Will Harris is interviewing Jacqueline Bauer herself on Tuesday April 7 at 1PM EST. If you have any questions for the lovely Annie Wersching, please post them here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to bed, since sleep is about to be a very scarce commodity in my life.

  

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24 7.16: It’s a rat trap, Judy, and we’ve been caught

Tonight’s episode of “24” is the first one I can remember that didn’t have a ‘B’ story. I guess the ‘B’ story was Madame Prez’s boneheaded decision to appoint First Succubus Hillary Clinton as her temporary Chief of Staff until they find a replacement, but since that move won’t yield any (rotten) fruit until next week, it hardly counts as a subplot. Nope, tonight was all about the Feds getting their ducks in a row so they can keep Starkwood Country Club from committing the country’s most heinous act of treason since “24” parent company Fox released “From Justin to Kelly” in 2003. And it was all going so smoothly, too. Hey, the good guys are gonna win this time!

Uh, not quite. You have to admit, though, the amateur one-act play between Jonas Brother and Jonas Jr. was good for a laugh, right? Come on, there is no way Jonas Jr. — who looks like he could be the son of President Charles “Buck Buck Brawwwwwwk!” Logan — is going to speak of destroying the weapons in front of Tony, nuh-uh. And in any other episode in the history of “24,” Tony doesn’t fall for that ruse. Instead, he waits until the President is about to sign the immunity agreement and says, “Stop,” then beats the shit out of Jonas Jr. for an hour and a half. You know that Carlos Bernard read the script for this week’s episode and said, “Noooooooooooooooooooooo!” And to make matters worse, he’s probably going to die before the season’s over (just a hunch, that’s not based on any gossip), and for this to be one of his last acts would just be wrong. Tony should go out like Bill Buchanan, only bigger. AK-47 in one hand, flamethrower in the other, while snorting coke off a stripper’s ass. Make it happen, guys.

“Everything’s in place, boss.” “Thanks, lackey. You know I crap bigger than you, right?”

On the plus side, my wish to see Kiefer Sutherland do some Serious Acting is about to come true. It turns out that, shocker, Jack’s tested positive for the Starkwood bioweapon, which sounds like an accelerated strain of Mad Cow Disease. And there’s no cure, dunt dunt duuuuunh. Why was I tempted to laugh at Jacqueline’s single solitary tear when she heard the news? I believe that she is truly broken up about this, but she needs to remember that this is Jack freaking Bauer we’re talking about here. He’s not going to let some stinking virus take him down. Instead, he’ll go undercover as a smaller virus, infiltrate the Mad Cow virus, and roundhouse kick it until it leaves his body. And anyway, Sutherland begins shooting the next season of “24” in April, and I don’t think they’re pulling a Patrick Duffy to make that work. Man, does anyone under 30 even get that reference? God, I’m old.

I have to admit, even though I knew full well that the warehouse Dudley Do-Right and his merry men raided at episode’s end would be empty, I liked the Americans vs. Americans standoff, a la “The Rock.” I saw the guys on the roof, and immediately heard Ed Harris’ voice in my head. “Your unit is covered from an elevated position, Commander.” Still, the fact that Starkwood set up the Feds like this — is Jonas Jr.’s immunity agreement still binding if he lied through his teeth in order to get it? — has to be a dead giveaway that the real bioweapon is on the complete opposite end of the compound, right? Hell, I did that move in Stratego 30 years ago. Build a wall of bombs, take out a bunch of my opponent’s highest ranking men, and then when he came in with the miner (he was the 8 then; he’s the 3 now) to capture my flag, he’d realize that I was protecting…a 7, pow. Meanwhile, my flag would be in the opposite corner, guarded by one bomb and my 1. It was dangerous, but it was incredibly effective. Just sayin’, guys. If the Feds don’t know where the mad cows are with Starkwood’s bait-and-switch, then God help us all.

Next week (Mr. Paulsen, you may turn your eyes away now if you do not wish to see my “spoilers”): Hillary Clinton sleeps with her TV contact in order to get him to bury a story? In what universe is that the right play? Even if she gets her comeuppance at season’s end and goes to jail, it won’t be enough. She needs to die a slow death. I’m thinking flesh-eating beetles.

  

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24 7.15: Infected

We had a surprisingly straight-forward hour of “24” tonight. Starkwood will stop at nothing to acquire their bioweapon, Hillary Clinton is in fact a vengeful succubus (as we knew she was), and Jack Bauer is impervious to bullets. Now, I’ve never shot at someone from a helicopter, but I’d like to think that if I had someone trapped behind a rock, with a search light on them, I’d eventually hit them. Huh, maybe it’s harder than it looks. (Psst: probably not.)

I was amused at how quickly Hillary called her buddy at the TV station after seeing Warden Norton leave. She’s the neighborhood tattletale, the one that couldn’t wait to get the other kids in trouble. I would have loved to see Norton walk back in after she got off the phone, say, “Whoops, I forgot something,” and then reach under some papers on his desk and pull out a recorder. “You’re toast, rookie!” Seriously, what does she hope to accomplish by having the TV station run the story anyway? Won’t that just expose her as the leak? I understand ‘Hell hath no fury,’ but you’d think she would have enough common sense to exercise a little self-preservation. I knew Sherry Palmer, and you, missy, are no Sherry Palmer. I’m bored with her already.

“Madame President, by my best estimate, you will find out within the hour what a complete power-hungry psycho your daughter is.”

Jack had this convincing argument for why he and Tony couldn’t call the FBI to have them help contain the weapon, but I’m sorry, he still should have called the FBI. Dudley Do-Right might be hunting him, but he’s also kept an open mind when Jack has contacted him to explain what is Really Going On. But Jack’s bit to Tony was nothing compared to the lengthy speech Tony hit Jack with, the one about putting himself before the public in order to save the guard, blah blah blah. That speech just hung in the air, didn’t it? Didn’t feel at all natural. I also loved how communications were jammed at the port, so when they were finally ready to call the Feds, they couldn’t. The bad guys’ walkies worked, though. Uh, huh.

The big takeaway from the shipyard scene was that Jacqueline Bauer’s humanity was starting to get under Jack’s skin, which is why he put himself and Tony in harm’s way in order to save the guard. There is no way that Jack is not hitting that before the final clock ticks.

Assuming Jack lives to the final clock tick, that is. He just willingly exposed himself to Starkwood’s bioweapon in order to prevent it from going off in a populated area. Clearly, the weapon is a slow-acting one, as it didn’t seem to affect Jack at all while he was taking it into his lungs. Kiefer Sutherland has said that not even Jack should be untouchable on the show, but it’s well known that he has one year left on his “24” contract, so don’t start thinking that they’ll kill him off here. Still, what did Jack say the symptoms were of the stuff that Candyman was testing? Something about the victims being delusional, delirious, something like that. Is Sutherland going to get to do some Serious Acting? That should be fun.

I speculated a couple weeks ago that Tony might be working for Starkwood, and upon being recognized by Jonas Brother’s lead goon, it indeed appears that he’s done some work for them, whether he was aware of it or not. The only question at this point is whether it matters in the grand scheme of things. We have seven hours left. I’m sure they’ll find a way to make it matter for an hour.

Damn, I miss Chloe. Please bring her back soon.

  

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24 7.13: Ask not for whom the silent clock ticks…

…it ticks for Bill Buchanan.

Even stranger, I had a thought earlier today that Bill might die in tonight’s episode. It just seemed to be floating out there, as if Death itself was taunting me with the knowledge that life goes on within you and without you. Thankfully, 4B’s death was far more honorable than the one that I feared, which is that he would die on his knees at the hands of Candyman as retaliation for misleading them with Madame Prez’s tracker. Instead, they saved the meaningless death for a red shirt character. As it should be.

Jack Bauer must have read what I wrote last week about how anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice, because he offered an on-screen retort that anything worth shooting is in fact worth shooting five times. And seriously, how dumb is Candyman? Jack has his gun up and ready, and Candyman still thinks he can reach for his gun, aim, and fire in less time than it will take Jack to pull the trigger? Also, Jack emptied all of those shots in Candyman’s torso. Was he not wearing a bullet-proof vest? To a siege on the White House? ‘Cause I know that whenever I raid the White House, I wear Kevlar. Maybe it all goes in line with the reasoning that Candyman never intended to walk out of the White House alive since, if the Feds didn’t take him down, Jonas Brother certainly would.

Go with God, Big Balls Bill.

And speaking of Jonas Brother, he is already my favorite villain in the history of “24.” I love how calm and absolutely fearless he is, and most importantly, how much he seems to be enjoying what he’s doing. When they send the spook to kill Senator Dumbass’ weasel assistant, Jonas asks his assistant which spook they sent. “Quinn,” his aide replies. Jonas raises his brow and very casually observes, “Quinn’s good. Bauer’s good.” He was savoring the match-up! Even better was after Quinn killed Lil Dumbass and the next phase of their plan was back on track. “Now we’re having fun,” he said. Couldn’t agree more. Genius casting on the part of the producers to get Jon Voight to play Jonas. I hope he gets an Emmy for his troubles.

The one character who developed overnight – man, I sound like I’m talking about a teenage girl, which will make sense in a second – is Olivia Taylor. Holy cow, what a back story. Fired from her mother’s staff after trying to sabotage her run for office? That’s a therapist’s wet dream, right there. For the moment, it looks as though this near-death experience has realigned her priorities, and the new target of her unbridled rage is Warden Norton for being too stupid to see that the entire government has been corrupted on his watch. Help me out, readers. Olivia needs a nickname, something that expresses both her rage (or lust for vengeance) and her tendency to act like a sullen teen.

Our sullen teen also worked a little “24” history into the conversation during her chat with Old Yeller. She not so subtly asked him about the former First Lady of Crazy, and the phrasing of it suggested that she’s dead. Old Yeller responded with a terse “I’d rather not talk about it,” but I hope they resolve this long-dangling thread. The last we saw FLOC and her ex-husband, President Buck Buck Brawwwwwwk, he was flatlining in an ambulance after she stabbed him. I need closure, damn it. (*takes drink*)

Lastly, I must give props to Dudley Do-Right for playing the role of in-house foil so gamely. He is an endless source of what our fellow blogger John Paulsen likes to call manufactured conflict, but amazingly, the way that things played out this week, his actions created all kinds of conflict, but did not feel forced. He began by telling the Vice President to grow a pair and authorized the attack on Candyman’s men himself – God, I hope that Madame Prez rips Vice President Billy Bob Thornton’s nuts off the next time she speaks with him – and then he suspended Jacqueline Bauer for insubordination after she refused to abandon the idea that Jack could get Lil Dumbass to talk, and went over Dudley’s head to get it done. One act may contradict the other, since he’s suspending Jackie for disobeying a direct order while he saved the day by disobeying another, but neither seemed out of character. He just wants to protect the President, and I think this will ultimately prove to be what puts Jack and Dudley on the same page, where DDR finally “gets it” and understands that they’re fighting the same battle in different ways. Hopefully, it won’t end in a debate over which one can be the other’s wingman, followed by a Kenny Loggins song.

  

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