By: Jamie Samuelsen
For those of you who missed the blog last week, I apologize. The family took a nice trip out west and so I took a week away from Jack, Chloe, Audrey and, apparently, Cheng Zhi.
It made me wonder – when’s the last time Jack Bauer had a vacation? Seriously – if there’s one man who deserves an all-expenses paid trip to the Caribbean, it’s Jack. Maybe Heller can look into that once everyone gets home from London. That’s of course if Heller makes it home from London after seeing the scenes for next week’s finale! I wonder what Jack would do on a vacation? Probably pace, stare at his phone and yell at the staff if they ran out of free hors d’oeuvres at happy hour. (I said a Mai Tai! A MAI TAI DAMMIT!)
While I was away, Cheng returned. Adrian took a bullet in the head and Mark got deeper and deeper into an abyss he just won’t be able to crawl out of. Cheng grabbed Chloe. Mark told the Russians how to track down Jack. And all hell broke loose with only two hours remaining. I’m actually glad that Fox decided to break up the final two hours over two weeks. A) It gives us another week to anticipate the finale and B) It gets me off the hook from having to write a post about a two-hour episode. Thanks Fox!
The hour opened with Heller learning about the attack on the Chinese aircraft carrier Shenyang. Amazing that a ship struck at sea already had video footage that could be broadcast over CNN.
Jack and Kate are fighting for their lives in a firefight with the Russian convoy that was sent by Stolnavich. Kate thinks that this is still the work of Adrian, but Jack knows better, shouting over the bullets that this attack is too sophisticated to be the work of Adrian. Then he tells Kate that the attackers are about to “flank” them. Jack is like a grand chess master. He’s seen every move and knows every strategy. They may be too sophisticated for Adrian, but nothing is too sophisticated for Jack.
Cheng gets wind of the attack happening near by and checks the satellite footage to see what’s going on. He zooms in on a familiar face – “Bauer!” he seethes. Much the same way that Seinfeld said “Newman” whenever his mailman neighbor popped by. Cheng’s henchmen volunteer to kill Chloe (Yes please!) but Cheng stops them and says, “what is in her head is extremely valuable”. (Dammit!)
Jack and Kate finally get some help when the “back-up” arrives. Is there anything slower than the “back-up” on 24? Jimmy John’s has much freakier, faster delivery. This frees them to head over the Adrian’s place to discover that Adrian, and every other member of “Open Cell” (not named Chloe) is dead. So whoever ordered the missile strike on Shenyang probably had the staff at Open Cell murdered as well (unless it was just a company Christmas party gone bad). Jack and Kate look for clues and Kate discovers a cell phone that conveniently enough was recording the entire operation. She plays back the voice of Cheng telling his men to spare Chloe’s life (Really producers? Now you’re just teasing me!) Jack freezes.
Kate – “Recognize the voice?”
Jack – “I’d never forget it.”
And neither would we. Of all the villains over the history of 24, Cheng is right up there. Nina was hot. Logan was, at his core, a pansy. Habib Marwan didn’t have much of a personality. Dennis Hopper was…well…odd. But Cheng has been pure evil from the very beginning.
Jack calls Heller to tell him that Cheng is the man behind the attacks and that Cheng is the man who has the override device. Heller tells Jack that Cheng died three years ago trying to escape from a Chinese prison. It’s unclear whether Heller believes this or whether he’s just saying this to make Audrey feel better. But either way, the cat is out of the bag.
Heller also gets word that the attack on Jack was carried out by Russians. Heller has a look of outrage on his face, “Russians!” he exclaims into his phone. Mark overhears this and sullies his trousers for the first of many times in this particular episode. (And please – you have to be a little impressed that I used “sullied his trousers”. This does take place in London after all.”)
Mark takes this, and every other opportunity to hustle Audrey from the room. “You should rest…relax a bit…grab something to eat…maybe catch-up on Scandal on Netflix.” Anything to get her out of the command center. She snidely tells him that she’s not going anywhere and that he should mind his own business. How dumb is this guy? Does he really think that the president will find out that Mark forged his signature and turned Jack over to the Russians and somehow Audrey will be kept in the dark? “Dad, how come you haven’t talked to Mark in five years?”
Heller gets patched into a Skype session with the President of China. He tries to explain that the attack on the aircraft carrier was a mistake, an accident. He even tries to pin it on Cheng. But the Chinese leader isn’t buying. Heller tells him that he can produce Cheng and the override device to prove the Americans weren’t behind it. Again, his counterpart seems awfully sketchy. They sign off with tensions very high and Heller with the knowledge that the only chance to avoid World War III might very well be to track down Cheng.
Audrey pulls him aside to tell him that she may have a contact (Who just happens to be in London! That’s some good fortune!) She could try to convince her friend of the override device and of Cheng and perhaps that would help. Heller is in full on sulk mode now.
“It’s not as good as Cheng,” he whines.
Okay. Okay. We get it. You want your Cheng. But at least TRY something else in the interim. Heller gives Audrey the approval and she’s off for a late-night meeting with her friend Xiao.
Jack meanwhile is on his way back to the embassy after learning that it was Mark who let the Russians in on his whereabouts. Jack calls Audrey, not to narc on Mark per se, but to let her know that some ugliness is on the horizon and Audrey may not like everything that’s about to happen. Did anyone else notice the look that Kate shot Jack when she realized that he was calling Audrey? Saucer of milk…table two? Kate’s character has been marginalized a bit in the last few hours. A far cry from when we thought she was going to be the female Jack. Now she’s kind of become the female Curtis – just along for the ride. Hopefully Jack doesn’t have to kill her like he did Curtis.
Jack and Audrey share a moment. And then she tells Jack, “Do what has to be done!” It’s not exactly up there with Adrian telling Rocky to “Win!” from her hospital bed in Rocky II, but at least it’s a clear indication that in the debate between Jack and Mark, we know what side Audrey is on – as if there ever was a doubt.
Jack gets back to the embassy and demands a sit down with Heller and Mark. When they enter the office, Jack throws Mark against the wall and puts a gun to his head. (Trouser soilage #2). Heller, “Jack! Take it easy!” Interesting response. Another might be, “Why do you have a gun to the head of my Chief of Staff and son-in-law?” But perhaps Heller is showing his cards on where he comes down on the Jack/Mark debate as well.
Jack explains that Mark sold him out. Heller is outraged and tells Mark that he’s under arrest for treason. But Jack stops the president and says that Mark might be able to help them get to Stolnavich and in turn, get to Cheng. (Not sure Mark has anything left in his intestines after this whole exchange.)
Chloe meanwhile is stuck in the back of a van with a bunch of Chinese terrorists as they try to make their way to the docks for a rescue from Stolnavich’s people. These guys are so badass that they took out all of “Open Cell”, tortured Jack Bauer for over a year and somehow kept Cheng alive when everyone else on the planet thought that he was dead. But apparently, they’re not badass enough to take care of Ms. Chloe O’Brian. She grabs a crow bar (Or a lead pipe. I played ‘Clue’ on vacation.), takes out the entire crew, and then jumps from the moving van. She rolls down an embankment and appears to strike her head on a rock, perhaps killing her (wishful thinking.) The Chinese guys look for her for about three seconds and then freak out and climb back in the van to proceed to the ‘docks’. These guys tracked down Jack after he exposed Logan at the end of season five, but they can’t find an unconscious Chloe about ten yards from where she was last seen?
Tensions are running high back at the embassy where the Chinese have already sent out planes towards the aircraft carrier and missiles could be on their way to the US Military base in Okinawa. The military brass is pushing Heller to raise the Def Con (Hello? Wargames anyone?) and get the nuclear weapons ready. (I didn’t re-watch this scene, but I think Heller and the Admiral engaged in one of the great word debates in the history of the English language – nuclear vs. nuqueler. It’s new-CLEE-ur you dopes!)
Heller is reticent to bring the word nuclear into the conversation just yet (seeing as he can’t pronounce it), but as he’s anguishing over the decision, he goes for a pill only to have all the pills spill on the very stylish carpet. The two military men seem awfully suspicious, but Heller’s secret service man quickly scoops the pills up and gets them back into the jar. There’s only an hour left of this show this season, but if a soldier believes that the commander-in-chief is incapable of giving orders, would they do something? Perhaps we’ll find out next week. After the Chinese then fire off 2 missiles, Heller realizes that the pressure us really on, and he orders the country to Def Con 3.
Meanwhile, Jack, Kate and Mark are on their way to Stolnavich’s lair, heavily protected by some guards and a security system that Jack (with the help of Gavin and Erik back at the CIA) is going to crack. Mark gets a comm device and wears an American flag lapel pin replete with a camera to take a look at the security keypad. His first job is to convince Solnavich to open up the gate. This Russian is a pretty mysterious dude, but the biggest mystery is what exactly is going on with the facial hair. I’ve seen goatees. I’ve seen soul patches. I’ve seen the fu manchus. What exactly do we call that? The Stolnavich?
At first, the Russian tells Mark to take a hike (and again, an odorous smell emits from his backside). But finally relents and opens up the gate. Once inside, Erik and Gavin get a good look at the security system and realize that it’s none other than a Panbeck 3200 (Yep! I wrote it down!) Gavin starts hunting down the system on the web and commences jamming! Memo to the security systems out there – best not to have a jamming technique for your products. Better not to have a window that can appear on a computer with a “JAM SYSTEM” button on it like Gavin found last night.
Once the jamming starts, Stolnavich loses all of his security screens and knows that Mark must be behind it. They start wrasslin’. Jack and Kate enter the house and start shooting. Down go the security men. Down go Mark and Stolnavich grappling for the gun. In the process, they roll through a set of French doors and a piece of sharp glass finds its way into the Russian’s neck. Uh oh. Jack tries to stop the bleeding going back and forth from calling Stolnavich a “son of a bitch” and then saying, “C’mon you son of a bitch.” Which one is it???
Too much blood escapes out of the carotid artery. Stolnavich is dead. And with him goes two things – 1) the whereabouts of Cheng and 2) the inevitable popularity of his facial hair.
But we quickly find out where Cheng is. Audrey is meeting her friend Xiao in a quiet park in London. She convinces her friend to show the evidence of the override to her father and try to encourage him to take it to the President. She agrees (although how she can do this in the next hour seems sketchy at best.) Turns out, she doesn’t have an hour. She doesn’t have a minute. A bullet takes her out and takes out all of Audrey’s security as well. Her phone rings. And it’s Cheng. (I was kind of hoping for Tony, but that’s just me.)
He has Audrey in his sights and orders her not to move.
The episode closes with the clock counting up to 10 PM. And as it does, we see Chloe open her eyes (DAMMIT!)
ANNOYING TIME ISSUE OF THE WEEK – The aircraft carrier went down at 9 PM. Russian planes were in the air at 9:22. Russian missiles by 9:45. Didn’t FDR wait a day after Pearl Harbor to declare war on Japan? Man. The military moves fast in China.
JACK KILL COUNT – Again, sketchy given the fact that he was involved in not one, but two shootouts. I’m going with 4 last night.
KATE KILL COUNT – Same deal. But I think she took out one of the guys in Stolnavich’s house.
STEVE NAVARRO LEADERSHIP AWARD – The President held firm that he would not use any nuclear threats against China. That lasted approximately 90 seconds.
Finale next week. The scenes for that episode really looked good. Kudos to the producers for bringing us back in and making us stay. It’s been WELL worth it!