Previously on 24: Someone wants to kill Senator David Palmer on the day of the California Primary!
The Mojave Desert- home to many of Meyer Lansky's departed associates.
The aerial assassin Mandy descends from her latest naked escapade to the desolate environs of the midnight desert. She is clothed as she lands.
Back at CTU, Tony and Jack whisper about the downed flight. Tony smells all sorts of rats, so he confronts Jack with a "What the blazes is going on here?" routine. Jack, with a head full of hair (look at this guy- he's downright youthful and handsome!) cannot spit back an answer fast enough. So, Nina tells her administrative assistant/casual lover Tony that George Mason is dirty, like the bums Jack sent up the river months earlier for being dirty bums as well. Dirty bums... sounds like something Mike Meyers would say in his painfully overused Scottish accent for a cheap laugh. Yeah, we've come to that, people.
Meanwhile, Mandy is naked (whoa boy) and she's burned her flight suit and other incriminating negligee in the empty desert. She also buries what appears to be an iPhone in the sand. I suppose Steve Jobs is coming after her for stealing the iPhone 4 prototype too (and let's be honest, who do you fear more- the CIA or Apple Security?). A Jeep pulls up and a very uncharming dude asks Mandy to put on her clothes and bring the magical ID card that she stole from the photographer. As they drive away, a lone person on a dirt bike arrives at the scene and retrieves the buried iPhone. This person no doubt works for Gizmodo, and within the hour they will publish their "exclusive" preview of the newest Apple product, distracting the world from the larger plot to off David Palmer. Think Different, indeed, my media-savvy assassins!
Tony chats up Nina and tells the audience through his conversation with her that Nina is a terrific liar. Is this supposed to be some sort of foreshadowing? I don't know... (to quote a recently-thawed litigator) I'm just a cave man, this world of 24 frightens and confuses me!
Jack makes his 243rd cell phone call to Teri which results in nothing. The scene shows Teri and concerned father Alan York arriving at the furniture store, which has the stench of Pabst Blue Ribbon and latex condoms floating in the air. Both parents lament at the idea of their daughters being sexually active. But Kim is anything but sexually active as she is tending to her stoned friend and threatening their gentlemen suitors with word that her father is a government agent. This does not persuade the men to abandon their quest to cruise the empty streets of L.A. whilst cranking alternative rock. Kim, you should have said your father was David Navarro and he's having a bitchin' kegger back at the homestead. That would have turned that van around right quick!
Meanwhile, government badass Walsh meets with a shadowy figure in an empty office building to discuss matters of national security. The shadowy figure has a keycard that happens to be loaded with intel on a mole within the government who is working to help kill David Palmer. Slow down a sec, Charlie- another key card? Mandy got one off of the photographer and now Walsh is getting his own keycard Macguffin here? Eh, I'm tempted to have the boys in IT run my keycard through some tests to see if they can find tomorrow's winning Lotto numbers on it. Keycards are the... (shoot me) key to everything! Anyway, as Walsh tries to get some explanation from the shadowy guy, gunshots go off and shadowy guy is dead. Walsh does the smart thing and calls Jack Bauer immediately.
Jack answers the phone saying "Hi Teri." Walsh doesn't laugh. Jack is on his way!
David Palmer is still awake, giving thought to the plane explosion. Sherry wants to know what David is hiding from the phone call he received an hour ago. David doesn't give up the goods. Sherry hugs and kisses her husband goodnight. This is the most stable relationship in the history of love. I'm going to bet one of my vital organs that this marriage will last forever. Well, how about a kidney, I got two of those (just in case the Palmers go tits-up, which is doubtful).
Mandy counts her money as the uncharming Jeep guy chats with her at his safehouse. Mandy is clothed in this scene.
Jack arrives at the office building. He calls Nina for an entry code. She replies "A bottle of Chateau Margaux Margaux, 1990 is a good start." Jack doesn't have time for this- he's trying to get into the building where Walsh is pinned down. Nina turns into a semi-useful person and gets Jack inside (the building). Tony eavesdrops the phone call and holds his Chicago Mugs cup to his mouth in the most sinister of ways. Is Tony the mole? He has dark features and a soulpatch, so it's possible.
Jack makes his way to the roof of the building and finds Walsh shaken but not stirred. Walsh is part of a dying breed- this guy is all cowboy. He knows things are bad and Jack is definitely a student of the wise, old Walsh. They start to make their way out of the building.
As this happens, we return to Mandy, who is (surprise) topless again. This girl hates clothes almost as much as she hates a stable democratic society. A man, who looks just like the dead photographer talks with her about killing David Palmer. Even naked Mandy is impressed by the plastic surgery.
Jack and Walsh descend a stairwell and stop to redress Walsh's wounded wrist with his necktie. In these few moments we learn that Jack has a huge amount of respect for Walsh, which means Walsh is going to die really soon. They get into a pretty good shoot-out with two bad guys. Jack gets one of the guys and removes the dude's thumb for identification purposes. Ah, Jack, where are you gonna put that detached thumb? In your Jack Sack? Nope, that'll come in a few seasons...
Mandy's cohort, a clothed lady, arrives at the Jeep dude's safehouse. She and Mandy play out some fight which really angers the Jeep dude. He snaps his fingers in the coolest way possible (I cannot describe it, but apparently he let off five snaps in the span of two seconds, which made me expect a Mariachi band to pop up and play "Besa me mucho"). Instead, the finger-snaps leads another man to put a gun to the girl's head. Mandy looks on with large, concerned eyes... she is wearing a shirt with no bra in this scene.
The Palmer kids show up and act all happy and shit, and it's actually kind of aggravating. How happy can two college-age kids be? Are they drunk? David Palmer doesn't seem to mind, and his lovely wife is almost amused at her vivacious offspring. As this happy dance bullshit carries on, the single greatest moment of 24 takes place- a commanding presence emerges (more like a force of nature!) and he identifies himself as Secret Service Agent Aaron Pierce. (I almost weep at this- look, I can play-act like I don't know what's going to happen next on this show, but Agent Pierce breaks my bravado like nobody's business. All hail Aaron Pierce!). Pierce tells Sherry he needs to see her husband. It is at this moment that her husband has ditched the hotel suite to go meet some associate about this mysterious phone call. Dammit!
Jack and Walsh are about to make it out of the building when Walsh gets a slug through his chest. Dying, Walsh tells Jack to take the keycard and give it to Jamie (a CTU geek)-- the mole will be revealed, he tells Jack. And then Walsh gets shot 42 more times (and the Sean Callery music swells). Jack takes the card and makes a fast getaway. This is Jack's first major bloody encounter in the history of 24. Jack's face shows it all- this is the Jack we've grown to know, the one who is no longer cracking a half-smile like in the last hour. No, people, this is serious Jack. This is the real Bauer.
Jack calls Jamie at CTU and they figure out some nonsensical way to read the keycard over the magical airwaves of the inter-phone-web. Look, I'm no engineer, but this part of the episode is pure "Star Trek." In any event, the card is read and Jamie sends Jack the damning evidence- it appears that the keycard points to Nina Meyers being the mole. Oh boy, are they really telling us who the mole is this early in the season? 24 playing it straight? I don't know about you, but I'm confused!
My thoughts: The plot twists tonight were excellent- the relatively simple nature of the overall plot is actually the perfect setting to make things turn suddenly complex. The writing is strong, the pace is perfectly done and the characters are all interesting. This is a show that's on a mission. There's absolutely no filler here- I had forgotten how strongly this series started.
I think the differences between Season One and the series' end are striking. This feels like a completely different series in so many ways. The production values are smaller in Season One, but they're also a lot leaner and more focused. The action doesn't bounce around too much either. This is pure thriller at its best.