By: Jamie Samuelsen

By the time I actually sat down to write this week’s entry, it was well past noon on Tuesday. By my calculations, Jack’s encryption software should just now be finished downloading the information from Tanner’s flight key, if only Kate hadn’t aborted the mission at the very end of the hour. Seriously in the long history of “24” has any computer process ever taken sooooooooooooo long to finish? Chloe, Edgar, Milo, and even Kim (well, maybe not Kim) hacked into foreign computers and downloaded reams of information by the time the little number next to Jack’s download bar made it’s way to “2%”. It was sad. I wanted the producers to throw in an old hourglass or beach ball to let the viewers at home realize just how agonizing the wait was.

But what the wait accomplished was to keep Jack in one spot for most of the entire episode. He busted into the embassy as the clock rolled to 2:00 PM. And only at 3 PM was he about the leave the stronghold he’d created for himself in the American embassy communication room. And when he did leave, he did so with a rather important new ally in his back pocket – Kate Morgan. But more on that a bit later.

The episode starts with Jack roaming the Embassy with Chloe in his ear and Tanner in his crosshairs. He tells Chloe that Kate spotted him on the way in. “She’s good,” Jack added. Chloe was visibly disappointed. Jack was visibly impressed. Jack found Tanner’s room after taking out a couple of guards and putting on one of their windbreakers for camouflage. I never understood why security at all levels (not to mention all CNN reporters) insists on windbreakers. They’re not all that practical. But it’s like an all-access pass – put on a windbreaker – and you’re good.

Jack confronts Tanner and says, “Son – right now, the most important thing is that I believe you.” I love the fact that Jack calls him “son” – but he is a grandfather after all. And I love the fact that Tanner buys Jack’s story even though he has no I.D., no credentials and really doesn’t even have a job. Jack’s essentially a homeless man and he just convinced the most wanted suspect in the world to give up the only piece of evidence that would possibly clear him. That’s the power of persuasion.

As Jack scampers away from Tanner’s room looking for a way out, the military locks down the facility and renders all key cards useless. Jack’s trapped trying to sneak out the back door. Chloe tells him that he’s been surrounded and even says, “Jack. It’s over. They’re going to put you in prison!”

Uh, Chloe? Have you ever SEEN the show? I can loan you some DVDs if you’d like. Jack is never done. It’s never over. The only prison Jack ever sits in is a CTU holding room or a Chinese torture center. And even then, it’s not for very long.

Jack darts into the communication room, takes a few hostages and proceeds to start downloading Tanner’s flight data. Chloe even tells him to look for a computer with a USB port. Gee thanks Chloe. Never would have thought of that myself. I was looking for a floppy drive but I suppose a USB port will do.

Meanwhile at the Al-Harazi family compound on the outskirts of London, the grand terrorist plot is starting to fall into place – or is it? The bypass system that Yates designed is in place, and Margot is told that Navid will be able to start his drone attacks within the hour. The only problem, Navid is getting some seriously cold feet. Apparently the 30-60 second romp with Simone did nothing to calm his nerves. He tells Simone that he’s arranged for a getaway car and that he’s leaving. And he wants her to come along. “It’s your mother or me,” Navid tells her. Tough call there for Simone. Do you stay with this man who excites you in bed for one to two minutes a week. Or do you stay with your deranged, villainous mother who is looking to take down the western world. She picks Navid and swears that she won’t tell her mother what he’s planning.

Two minutes later, she tells her mother what he’s planning. Navid should know, there are no secrets between mothers and daughters. That’s a battle that husbands and boyfriends have been fighting for well over 2000 years. And it’s a battle you’re not winning.

Simone pleads with Margot, “Please! Don’t hurt him.”

Oddly enough, Margot pays heed to that request, but only the most awful, vicious way possible. More on that in a minute.

While all this is happening, Heller is droning (pun intended) on and on in front of Parliament about why the drone attack was an accident and why the United States and Britain need to stand as one. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address lasted about two minutes. Heller’s Drone Adress is still going at 2:20 in the afternoon. While his father-in-law is putting the finishing touches on winning over the Brits, Mark takes a call from Steve Navarro telling him about what’s going down back at the Embassy.

Mark is none too pleased because A) everything he’s said so far in the season has been wrong and B) he’s going to have to tell Heller and Audrey that Jack is in London and Jack may be a threat to the President’s life. There’s also nagging issue C) which really bugs him – and that’s the fact that Jack might be a hero, might be saving the day and is three times the man he ever will be even though he’s one third the size. Like all bullies, Mark takes his anger out on Steve and tells him that he’ll be reviewing his job. And reviewing it poorly.

Heller wraps up to a nice ovation from the British (they tend to be easily swayed, although not as easy as the French – with apologies to all my European readers.) And then Mark tells he and Audrey that Jack is in London, in the embassy and has hostages. Mark tells Heller that he should give the order to the military men and that Jack should be taken out. Heller pauses and insists that he won’t do anything until he talks to Jack. Finally, a cool head prevails among the men and women who have held this nation’s highest office. I think this is the smartest act of a President since Logan took Novick’s advice and brought in David Palmer as an advisor.

At times of crisis, it takes a strong leader to see a plan through, and we’re seeing exactly what kind of a leader Margot is as her drone attack plans begin to unwind. She and Simone enter the bedroom where Navid is furiously packing. He insists that he won’t carry out the attacks no matter what Margot does to him. She calmly tells him that he has no plans to hurt him, and then orders her henchmen to chop off one of Simone’s fingers.

Wait – WHAT!?!

24 has thrown us for some loops over the years with violence, gore and torture. But I have to say that the finger chop ranks right up there. The good news for Simone is that we know she’s a fast healer based on her knife wound that she suffered, oh…about ninety minutes ago. And sure enough, as the clock winds down to 3 PM, we see her calmly recovering in bed with a bandage over her missing appendage. She’s like the cheerleader from ‘Heroes’. She just rebounds from everything. Navid agrees to help before another finger can be lost, and the drone attack is back in business.

Heller gets a line through to Jack and the two men talk for the first time since Jack drove Heller’s daughter to the border of insanity. There seems to be a somewhat congenial relationship between the two given their past. But when Heller asks Jack why he simply didn’t come to him with the information instead of acting on it alone, Jack, to his credit, loses it a little bit.

“With all due respect sir, it was your State Department that labeled me a terrorist and an enemy of the state,” Jack spits out through his anger. I mean you HAVE to admit that he does have a point there.

He explains the whole plot to Heller – that Tanner was set up and that this is all part of a grand plan by Margot Al-Harazi to attack London and try to bring down Heller. The President agrees to think about it and hangs up the phone.

And then Mark digs his grimy claws back into the whole proceeding and insists to Heller that Jack’s terrorist act is just a cover and that Bauer is trying to come after the President. Well, it doesn’t take much convincing, because Heller orders the strike.

Kate has been listening in to this entire conversation. Why? Well of course because Steve figured out a way to patch her in. I mean who wouldn’t want a CIA agent who compromised national security listening in on a secure phone call between a U.S. President and a suspected terrorist. Makes all the sense in the world.

Kate is now convinced that Jack is in the right, so she sneaks off and breaks into Jack’s communications room through a ceiling vent. Why didn’t the military boys try this strategy? Well, let’s not concern ourselves with those minor details.

Besides, they’re too busy hooking up the slowest…door…explosive…in the history…of…door explosives. They would have been better off just taking a screwdriver from one of their Swiss Army Knives and taking the door off one joint at a time. Good lord.

By the time they bust in, Kate has the flight key stuffed down the back of her jeans and she announces to anybody that will listen that this is now a CIA operation and Jack Bauer is under her jurisdiction.

JACK’S KILL COUNT – Jack is shooting for the body armor. He’s choking people until they pass out rather than breaking their necks. Even Kate said at one point, “I don’t think he wants to kill anybody.” Sniff, sniff – it’s sad when the great ones lose their fastball. Kills for the week – Zero. Kills for the Season – Zero.

ANNOYING TIME ISSUE OF THE WEEK – Margot is an evil woman and she will stop at nothing to get her plan into place. But even she cannot boil a kettle of water in 45 seconds as she did last night – unless she has one of those Kelly Ripa Electrolux stovetops.

STEVE NAVARRO AWARD FOR SPINELESS LEADERSHIP – This guy is really turning into a loser awfully quickly. First, he tells Kate, “We got a flash that the embassy was under attack.” Thanks for paying attention Steve-o. What else were you up to that otherwise occupied your attention. Then, he totally ripped on poor Jordan for seriously crushing on Kate. I think Steve might be misplacing those feelings a little bit. I’m not sure he can crack into the list of all-time awful CTU/CIA directors, but he’s giving it a run for the money.

Let’s take one final look at Jack’s encryption software. Dang – only 59%. Maybe it will be uploaded by next week.

Until then – share your thoughts with me on Hour 4 –


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