And we're back!
Last time on 24, Ira Gaines won the booby-prize on the new hit FOX series "So You Think You Can Assassinate?" Aaron Pierce does not allow this sort of nonsense- not in his house!
Meanwhile, Jack Bauer is hauled before the heretofore legendary Frank Simes, liaison between the Secret Service and CTU. We heard his name only once so far this season, when Jack called him, asking to be placed on the guest list for the Palmer breakfast, but all signs point to Simes being a cool dude. When he first sees Jack, he sasses Bauer with some truly cynical retorts. I half expect Simes to pinch Bauer's cheek and say "What do you think this like the Army where you can shoot 'em from a mile away? No you gotta get up like this and, badda-bing, you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit. C'mere."
Bauer explains to Simes that he's working double-triple deep cover and that nobody knows what he does, so please take off these damn cuffs and let me return to my loose-cannon ways. Simes is almost persuaded, which is amazing unto itself. But then he makes Bauer sit as he puts a call into Agent Pierce. Pierce never answers his cell... (sigh) why does he even bother owning the damn thing?!?
Back at CTU, Almeida is back to interrogating Jamey through her 3 feet deep bangs. When did Cousin It get security clearance to work at CTU? Sheesh! Well, under Tony's direction, Jamey calls a very upset Gaines to tell him that "all your base are belong to us" or some other nonsense- I honestly wasn't paying attention-- Nina Meyers was stripping down and putting on fresh clothes... yeah.
Speaking of fresh, we return to Jack, still cuffed to a standpipe, now yelling at a disinterested Simes that he can help the Secret Service find the REAL assassin! In a moment of spastic hilarity, no-named Secret Service Henchman 21 (I believe) throws himself on Bauer from behind and tells him to shut his yapper. Bauer flips out and tries to hit the guy back, and this finally causes Simes to say "You're not helping yourself here, Jack"-- as to imply that if Jack used a different tact, he might convince this Vic Damone look-alike to take the cuffs off of Bauer. Oh, Simes- you're breaking my heart! I love it.
Jack tells Simes the truth, about his wife and daughter being hostage, etc. Simes feels for Jack, but he doesn't want to stick out his neck for Bauer- and if he ever met Teri at a previous social event, you can bet he's absolutely going to let Gaines kill her, to benefit the entire 213 area-code. So, Henchman 21 and two other agents take Bauer through an elaborate maze of steam pipes and construction workers, in order to escort him back to CTU Division. Yeah, this was a good idea. Jack learns what steam valves can do when let open, and he proceeds to set off a Secret Service Clam Bake on his captors. Ah, no one needs to send in their dry cleaning this week!
As Jack evades pursuit, he jumps over a fence and rolls down a hill to a very conveniently placed road. Jack unfortunately carjacks the only vehicle being driven by a Margot Kidder look-alike. Oy, this is gonna get annoying. Just shoot her, man! Well, Jack doesn't shoot this waitress with a heart of gold, but instead they drive into a construction site and break into the office to make a phone call. Yeah, this is practical thinking.
Meanwhile, Tony Almeida is reading from the "Interrogating For Dummies" handbook, asking Jamey how could she betray her country, etc. Dude, she did it for money, what else is there to ask her? She's got a sick mommy, all you got is a really expensive hair product addiction. Lay off of it, bud. Jack calls Nina's cell, just on a lark in case she's alive, and sure enough she picks up the phone! A pretty funny conversation ensues where Jack says "Holy shit, I'm so happy I didn't kill you when I shot you." And the waitress sits in the room looking at Jack like he's the world's worst boyfriend. Lady, you don't know the half of it. Jack then talks to Jamey and states the obvious "You know I don't always follow protocol but I'm a man of my word." That's Jack in a nutshell- it's reassuring to be able to summarize a hero in 15 words or less. That's what we call an archetype. No need to complicate things, writers-- much appreciated!
If you're interested, let's add bi-polar disorder to Jack's psychiatric profile. At first, he tries to sweet-talk Jamey into cooperating with him to save his wife and daughter. This doesn't work. So, Jack says to Nina "Bring me her boy!" Then, as he gets off the phone, the waitress and Jack share a moment where Jack tells her about his problems (all waitresses are amateur head-shrinks) and he even says "I'm not gonna shoot you." In a moment of defiant awesomeness, the waitress stands up, walks to the door of the office and says "You're not the only one who's got problems, I gotta get to court to be convicted of DUI!" You figure they've bonded, right? Wrong. Jack pulls out his gun (which he said he wouldn't use) and tells the waitress "I've killed two people today!" Woah, woah, woah!!!
And we also witness the first time Senator Palmer hears the name "Jack Bauer"- as Mike Novick (fresh off his ridiculous overacting from a couple of episodes) briefs Palmer on what exactly went down at the breakfast. Speaking of breakfast, Palmer throws down a scotch. That's the breakfast of champions. And then Palmer mumbles something about Bauer, saying maybe this isn't the first time he's heard the name. Like a mix of equal parts corn starch and water, this plot just got a little thicker.
It's at this point that the episode that the show goes off the rails. One of Gaines' guys wants to rape Kim, but Teri jumps in and says "Rape me instead." I don't have much to say about this plot point except that it's pretty horrendous. I'll just move on...
What else is happening? Oh yeah, the Palmer marriage is disintegrating before my eyes! Every time these two formerly happy people talk, you see the anger, distrust and resentment boil to a higher level. And then Keith shows up and tells his dad to take a screw for not obstructing justice like the rest of the family. Damn, I really want someone to shoot that fat moron in the face. Sorry. It was a long day at the office.
And then the most incredible thing happens. We see Jack Bauer sleep! Talking to the waitress, Jack just nods off, recounting his days doing fieldwork for the CIA, about how he's scared out of his mind. This all makes Jack kinda sleepy! I got a confession to make right now- I cannot go to sleep without watching the Military History Channel. I've been watching it almost daily now for the last year. It's the same stuff every night- World War II documentaries. R. Lee Ermey screaming about mail. I don't know why, but I find great comfort in this stuff. War. What is it good for? A good night's sleep, that's what. And Jack, reminiscing about his days knocking over third-world dictators makes him nod off peacefully too. Strange, I know!
Anyway-- we arrive at the moment of truth- the culmination of all the trust-building exercises Jack and the waitress have gone through (remember "I'm not going to shoot you" and "I'm going to shoot you!"). Jack needs the waitress to walk outside and bring the car to him so he can escape, even as the Secret Service arrive (Henchman 21 in the lead!). The waitress agrees to help and no less than a minute later she's outside, pointing to Jack and telling the Secret Service "That guy you're looking for is in there!" DAMMIT! Jack has to do another one of his jumping/running things and he gets to the car himself (no help needed!). Yet again, the Secret Service are left in the dust!
At CTU, Nina and Tony talk to Jamey about her lack of options moving forward. They also tell her "we're bringing your son in to see you in handcuffs." Nice move, guys. Jamey asks for a few minutes alone to slash her wrists and Tony and Nina leave her unattended. A few minutes later they come back to see how she's doing and sure enough. she slashed her wrists! Ooops, that's how you close off your best lead in an investigation. And just then, Ira Gaines calls. Jamey can't answer your call at this time, please try back again when she has blood in her veins.
Wow. The Teri Bauer rape thing aside, this was a really strong episode. I liked a lot of the plot development and I think Jack's own deep-seeded problems as a human being begin to show up. It's one thing to be a man on the run, but Jack is a downright crazy person. I also got a kick out of Simes- all business, Old Spice and pressed shirts. This is the kind of guy you hire to take care of things. Tony got rehabilitated as a character too-- it's funny how you adopt the attitude of your hero when it comes to surrounding characters. When Jack hates Tony, I hate Tony. When Jack doesn't hate Tony, I don't mind the guy either. But nothing will top the nuttiness of the waitress. That may not count as a Bauer romance, but it had all the peaks and valleys of a relationship with Jack-- and it ended pretty much like one too. Jack, always jumping and running... I love it.