Correction: Jack Bauer broke into the American Embassy, not the Houses of Parliament, where President Heller was addressing the politicians.
THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS BETWEEN 1PM AND 2PM.
01:00:01, 01:00:02, 01:00:03, 01:00:04 …
The third hour of ’24: Live Another Day’ finds Jack Bauer and Chloe O’Brian hot on the heels of the murderous vixen, Simone Al-Harazi. Al-Harazi is making off with the drone hacking module that was just used to make a piloted American drone attack an allied convoy, killing Americans and Brits. President James Heller, hopeful for a treaty extension of an American Naval Base in the UK, is suddenly faced with a diplomatic nightmare of trying to keep the negotiations going, while fervent protests of drone warfare rage in the streets. Meanwhile, CIA agents Ritter and Morgan are racing to apprehend Jack Bauer and to determine how he is connected to the drone hijacking and President Heller.
Jack and Chloe track Simone into the tube and Jack manages to get aboard her train. Simone spots Jack, slips out her switch blade and cuts into her own thigh so that she can smear blood across her face and screech in fear to make it look like Jack is attacking her. Two bystanders easily fall for her trick and stand in Jack’s way just long enough for Simone to make an improvised escape.
Chloe is monitoring the streets where Simone is fleeing, but she suddenly catches sight of a happy family of a couple with a child and is stunned by it. Simone escapes. Jack isn’t satisfied that Chloe “just missed her” and Chloe confesses that seeing that family reminded her of her own husband Morris and their son Prescott. Chloe reveals that they died in an accident and that Chloe was supposed to have been there in Morris’s place. Jack cradles Chloe’s head against his shoulder and tells her what amounts to the Jack Bauer credo. “You can’t bring back the ones you love, trust me, But you can honor their lives by helping others. It’s the only way forward.” It seemed like a genuine moment for Jack, who so far has not had much of a track record for faking sympathy. When Jack feels some one really deserves comfort, he doesn’t usually undercut it with ulterior motives, but he did get Chloe focused on helping him and preventing more deaths in a hurry.
With Simone gone, Jack decides his best bet is to take what’s found so far directly to Heller. He knows he’ll never be able to get close to Heller today without a cover, so with some help from Chloe he convinces Adrian Cross and his Open Cell hacker group to provide him a cover.
Meanwhile, CIA agents Ritter and Morgan are still cleaning up the firefight mess where Jack first tried to apprehend Simone and the hacking module, with Morgan questioning the heroin ring leader who was hiding it. She senses he’s withholding something, so she dismisses the rest of the team and the witnesses then knocks out the leader, against her supervisor Navarro’s orders to return to base, and takes him into custody. Ritter isn’t pleased with her brash methods, but he goes along with it.
Instead of torturing him, Morgan has the leader in the back seat while she parks the car in front of a gang hideout. The gang is one that Morgan’s suspect has cheated and attacked in the past and soon they start sniffing around the car like hounds for blood. He finally confesses that Yates, the drone hacker kept mentioning the name Tanner. Realizing that that is the name of the pilot whose drone was supposedly hacked, Morgan finally flees the gang’s front porch and heads to Heller’s embassy to present her findings.
This hour introduces us to the Al-Harazi family, who we learn from Chloe’s digging, married into a Middle Eastern family who perpetrated several UK terrorist attacks and has been the victim of several of drone attacks by the Heller administration. Simone returns to their house in the burbs along with the hacking module, making her mother proud. Margot’s in house hacker gets his hand on the module and begins preparations to launch drone strikes on several bustling locations in the London area, revealed by satellite images.
There’s a healthy helping of crazy in the Al-Harazi family. Margot pretty much deliberately causes stabs of pain when she’s dressing her daughter’s self-inflicted cut, while giving her lectures about carelessness, never taking safety for granted and complete commitment to their cause. Margot is so focused on keeping her family in line that we see her watching a hidden camera of her daughter’s bedroom while she has some private time with her husband.
Back at President Heller’s delegation, Heller is continuing to prepare to appear before the house of Parliament to urge the continuation of negotiations. Chief of Staff Boudreau is still keeping the Bauer situation under wraps and is voicing his concerns that Heller appearing before Parliament at this point would be political suicide. With Heller apparently unreceptive to his concerns, he gets Audrey to discuss it with her father. Audrey admits she’s worried about her father, but Heller is convinced that he’s making the right choices, that taking on the tough, honest fight now, will win the extension on his base.
Stephen Fry’s Prime Minister Davies seems cooperative enough, but as soon as Heller steps before Parliament, angry accusations and insults come flying. We don’t see Heller get to try and continue with his plea in this hour. We’ll have to pick it up next time, but Boudreau’s fears may very well have just been confirmed.
Outside, Jack arrives at the security checkpoint, cover ID ready. But at the last minute, Adrian Cross uploads a flagged confirmation code that will make Jack stand out to security, without Chloe seeing it. The tension mounts as Jack is halted at the gate. Chloe sees the hesitation, notices the meaningful looks Cross is giving his other hackers and immediately tells Jack to get out of there. Knowing that his planned route is no go and having seconds before security tries to bring him in, Jack wraps his jacket around a security guard, disarms him, knocks him out, hides his gun under his jacket, makes his way to the middle of the crowd and carefully places two shots into the legs of the crowd of protesters.
It’s chaos. Jack screams, “They’re firing at us!” Protesters rush the barricade, security is scrambling, and agent Morgan arrives just in time to see Jack sneaking in to deliver his intel to Heller.
24 does have a flair for tying its many complex threads neatly yet explosively together with the conclusion of every episode. This one was among the best examples of that multi-layered yet coherent format.
One thing that struck me about this episode of 24 is that we rarely get to see characters in what you might call a normal day in their lives. One-episode-wonder characters usually going about their daily lives have certainly had their moments of plucky heroism or indiscriminate demise. But we’ve never really gotten to see Chloe or Jack enjoy an average day. It would sure make for some boring TV, but sometimes I wish I could glean a better sense of aspects of the characters that don’t get to show through because the plot and world of 24 is always so hyperbolic and tense.
Simone, Margot Al-Harazi’s daughter and political protégé, is married to this guy Naveed, who’s apparently getting cold feet now that the day of Margot’s spectacular terrorist plot is at hand. First impression of him is that he has nowhere near the conviction or guts that Simone demonstrated earlier in the episode when she faked an assault to give Jack the slip. Also, the reassuring comment to Naveed about how she finds killing difficult? Bald faced lie. She slipped that knife right into Yates ear. Jack was right in his assessment, she’s a professional.
You have to wonder what these two saw in each other that they would marry, unless there is some political reason Margot wants her daughter married to this man. I mean, what do they enjoy about each other and talk about when they’re not carrying out hijacked drone strikes on major western cities for revenge? Even sociopathic revenge crazies and their brainwashed daughters have human sides. This may be another more mature expectation I have for the return of 24 that just doesn’t fit into the thematic format of the show or allotted time of the season. Hopefully, we’ll have more insightful scenes about the history and motivations of the Al-Harazi family. It’s still wicked fun to see Michelle Fairley as the manipulative Big Bad.
Also, minor observation. It doesn’t look as though Naveed can last very long. Towards the end of the episode, it seems like Simone is about to go down on him, and then next we see them in a signature 24 split scene shot, they’re both lying in bed as if they’re finished, 4 minutes later, if that. Are we supposed to infer something here? Is Naveed full of doubts and not very virile? Maybe it’s just the show sticking to their TV-14 rating and anything other than a modesty bed sheet would be pushing it.
Adrian Cross was again, apparently more accommodating for Jack than I would have expected, even though he got off two anti-drone and pro-transparency quips in front of Jack, without Jack bothering to retort. Perhaps Jack realized that it wasn’t in his interest to argue at this moment, because he lets out a rare please to Cross and his crew. Adrian is evidently concerned with his own goals though, since he made it so Jack would be caught at Heller’s security. Chloe will probably have an earful for him in the next hour and hopefully, Adrian will tell her why he did that to Jack, because I’m not exactly sure myself. It’s was probably more than just a get back, Cross doesn’t strike me as aimlessly sentimental.
It seems a little farfetched to me that nobody working the perimeter security of Parliament would recognize Jack Bauer when he tried to get in as an intelligence courier. I mean, Jack is the most important figure in 24’s world of intelligence and he’s mysteriously reappeared. Wouldn’t every security agency be alerted to his presence and be on the lookout for him? It seems a pretty risky move for Jack to also expect that he’ll manage to get close to Heller and deliver the evidence without someone stopping him.
Also, shooting two innocent protesters in the leg and inciting a riot outside Parliament? I don’t know about this. The riot may end up causing more suffering and death than those two poor bystanders Jack capped and politically, it was like throwing a lighted match on kerosene drenched wood. Heller’s under enough fire and pressure without this and he’s going to be even harder to get to when he has to deal with the riot and the supposedly rogue drone pilot Chris Tanner. Unless Jack can use this to direct the Presidents attention in some calculated way, I’m having a hard time foreseeing Jack’s play here.
It’s impressive how much the show is working to really make us dislike Mark Boudreau. Let’s tally. He’s pushy and insensitive with James Heller and Audrey, two characters old time fans are especially sympathetic to. He doubts the President’s ability to play the political role that he needs to, all the more bitter when it looks like he’s turning out to be right. He’s vehemently mischaracterizing Jack and ruthlessly trying to get him killed and he’s willing to keep Heller in the dark and forge his signature on an executive order to have Jack handed over to the Russians. Yeah, we hate him. But of course by the rules of the show, he’s too obvious to turn out to be an actual bad guy.
Also, the show officially introduced us to Audrey in the recap as “Audrey Boudreau” so we know she’s married to the SOB. She has a defiant moment right before Heller appears before Parliament telling him that he shouldn’t make every one’s decisions for them, and that maybe it’s a hold over when he was taking care of her, but that she doesn’t need to be kept in a box any more. Ouch. This tension is only going to get worse.
With a perfect political storm of taught relations, sabotage and conflicting interests brewing around the President, Jack’s goal of delivering the intel on the drone strike seems almost hopeless, but with Agent Morgan’s shrewd sense of right and wrong, Chloe’s loyalty and techs-pertise, and Jack’s incredible determination…things are sure to get even more dire, twisted and nail-bitingly tense!
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