Reeling from yet another dead lover, Jack Bauer has been ordered by the show's writers to drop all pretenses of his becoming a peaceful warrior (last season's entire story arc- adios!) and now he's returned to the well-worn trope of unstoppable rage. It seems that Jack Bauer is going to exit our TV world the way he entered it- as a broken, maniacal force of nature. Ah, symmetry...
After ten seconds of mourning her, Jack is only concerned with one question: "Who killed Renee?" That's a complicated question, Chloe tells Jack. And Chloe knows that Jack is absolutely going to interfere with her investigation. So, Jack says "I won't interfere with your investigation" which makes Chloe even more uncomfortable. It's really something to finally see Chloe be the weary "boss" dealing with Mr. Bauer. I'm telling you, Chloe as CTU Director is a stroke of storytelling genius.
Meanwhile, at Scumbag Cafe, Charles Logan pops in on the villainous Ruskie's light breakfast, setting off a conversation that reveals Logan is doing his dirty deeds again- leveraging his knowledge of the Russians' involvement in Hassan's death to manipulate the peace process moving forward. Who misses the Cold War? Come on, you know you do!
Jack is doing his own investigation, visiting Nuclear Rod-father Sergei at his arraignment on LAW & ORDER to set the tone for how things will proceed for the rest of this season. I have to admit, Jack Bauer Killing Machine is a great thing to watch, and Kiefer delivers his trademark quiet fury perfectly. But the cool thing is that in his quest for revenge, Jack actually broke the whole case wide open. Way to go, Columbo!
The next move: Jack wants to interrogate Dana Walsh-- for real, now. Aw yeah. Jack delivers a classic line before entering the room "If I wanted her to be dead, she'd be dead." Chloe finds comfort in this, and Chico, Jr. is impressed by his mentor's complete machine-like demeanor. And once in the room, Jack goes to work on Walsh. Outside the room, Director O'Brian asks Chico to stop the slapfest, and Chico wisely says "Stay on target!" Walsh starts cooperating immediately, but Jack gets his whacks in nonetheless. This is professional courtesy that each person is affording the other in this scene. The slapping, smashing and punching are all part of the process for these two-- nothing personal, right? Walsh wants an immunity agreement- big freakin' surprise there, eh?
Back at the UN parking garage, Logan catches wind that Jack Bauer is on a rampage, and reminds his man-servant that Bauer "torpedoed" his presidency. Ha! Ah, Logan, you sociopath. He meets with Taylor and Kanin and one of the best scenes among professional actors plays out as Logan comes clean with Taylor that the Russians were behind everything, and even so, she's gotta play ball with them. Kanin plays the angel on one shoulder, Logan the devil on the other, and Logan wins the match. Gregory Itzin, where the frig have you been all season? Taylor agrees with Logan that she needs to tell Jack to stand down in order to continue a phony peace process to save face. Taylor calls Director O'Brian and informs her of her pending arrival. Chloe quickly orders Arlo to stash his porno mags. And Taylor makes it to CTU from the UN Building in about 3 minutes. Real-time format... yeah.
As Taylor makes her case for peace, Jack immediately understands this is a political cop-out by his former "First Friend." And in true Bauer fashion, he yells at the President of the United States. Taylor has to go so far as to put Bauer on a leash so he doesn't disobey her orders to uncover the whole Russian plot (good luck with that, Madame President). I liked this scene a lot because it shows how good leaders do bad things, which is a taste of real-life. Taylor has legitimate reasons to choose peace over going after the Russians, but the moral stand Jack (and Kanin) take isn't overly simplistic. How do you negotiate a peace with a counterpart that has done so many things to undermine the whole process? Taylor is making a foolish choice, a deal with the Devil which will likely destroy her by the end of the season. Will she and Logan commiserate over some boxed wine about how Jack "torpedoed" both of their sham presidencies?
Jack makes the decision we all knew was coming since Renee got killed- he's going rogue. Jack & The Jack Sack™ hi-jack (see what I did there?) the helicopter that was meant to take him to some boring military base with stale coffee. Instead, Jack decides he's going to fly back to Manhattan to catch the new exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art one last time. Oh yeah, and to kill every last sonuvabitch that tries to stop him. Awesome.
I take back my skepticism over Renee's death. I was wrong. Jack Bauer has entered the game for real and this is going to get really interesting moving forward.