Usually by this point in a season of 24, we have three or four different plots running. There’s the stuff focused on Jack, there’s some kind of intrigue back at CTU, we get the President and his (or her) struggles, and there’s generally some kind of “day in the life” segment, in which we meet an apparently ordinary civilian and watch their life rapidly unravel due to the conspiracies that Jack is trying to untangle. That last kind of plot is my least favorite in the show, as it almost always revolves around misunderstandings and characters behaving like roadblocks instead of actual people. I understand the necessity of that kind of writing for the series—it gives the writers someplace to dump time, and it adds a somewhat “human” element to the drama—but more often than not, I spend those segments waiting for the real stuff to start up again.
What’s weird about Day 7 is that, by and large, we haven’t had the Normal Joe plotline. Sure, First Gentleman Henry’s attempts to solve his son’s murder didn’t immediately figure into the Dubaku plan, but the “Give up on this craziness!” talk was kept to a minimum; Henry may be in the unfortunate position of falling right into Dubaku’s hands (and seeing as how Dubaku was forced to give up a CIP attack, I doubt he’s in a giving mood), but at least he has confirmation that his suspicions were right all along. We’re not going to have to wade through the First Lady craziness of Day Five. I appreciate that; the main plot of the his season is threatening to become egregiously silly, but so far, I can’t think of a time when I’ve wanted to change the channel.
Looks like Day 7 is shifting gears into its secondary threat; that threat isn’t directly introduced in “2:00 pm – 3:00 pm,” (I expect it will have something to do with Henry getting kidnapped) but we do get resolution on the CIP device, as well as the fate of the poor son of a bitch who built it. Chloe tracks the Matobos to the Ritter Building in mid-town, and with her running intel back in the van, G.I. Jack, Renee, Tony, and Bill bust in, scaring Dubaku into shutting down his attack on a chemical plant outside of Kidron. Ohio. Team Good Guy manages to free the Matobos and destroy the CIP, but Dubaku escapes unscathed, riding a bus (?!?) back to his apartment just in time to meet up with his diner waitress girlfriend. (The hell?)
While all this is going down, back at the FBI, Janis has managed to track a stray bit of code that leads them to the target at Kidron. She contacts the manager of the plant, a guy named John who keeps calling her “honey” for some reason, and gets the evacuation started. John then sacrifices himself to buy everyone a few extra minutes of time; it’s a standard 24 trope of a middle-management dude giving his life for others, but I appreciated that his gesture was rendered essentially moot by Dubaku’s withdrawal. It makes the moment a bit more poignant, somehow. (There’s also some mutterings at the office about Agent Larry’s ability to lead in the wake of Renee’s supposed death, but it doesn’t amount to much.)
The White House continues its role this season of plot-reminding-service, with scenes popping up periodically to reinforce what’s at stake and make sure we’re all keeping up with everything. Only development worth mentioning here is Ethan’s decision to tell the President about Henry’s investigation; in what has to be a textbook example of “Not now, Bob,” he spills the beans that Henry confronted Roger’s (now corpsified) girlfriend. Given that Pres. Taylor is trying to deal with an international crisis, I don’t think her husband’s seemingly quixotic nature is particularly relevant. Still, it’s troubling that he’s gone missing, no? (After declaring Ethan innocent last week, I have to admit, there is something suspicious about him telling the Prez about Samantha just now…)
By hour’s end, Henry has gone from frying pan to fire; after managing to save himself from a hanging, it looks like he’ll be turned into a bargaining chip for a CIP-less Dubaku. (Who has dinner plans tonight—wow, it’s like that Three’s Company episode where Jack worked as a mercenary for the Russians and had to hide the bleeding corpse of an American agent under the table when Mr. Roper came by to talk about his libido.) Given what we’ve seen of President Taylor so far, I’m not sure how pressuring her with threats on her husband is going to be that much more affective than killing thousands of Americans, but I expect we’ll have a lot of yelling and steely resolve to answer the question next week.
And it looks like Jack and the Argonauts will be contacting the Prez directly, as well. Jack makes the case for getting government support to hunt down Dubaku, and the Matobos and Renee back him; Bill eventually agrees, and a meet is set up at the White House. Prediction: Taylor will be shocked to see Bauer, but Jack will do his whole “SLEEEEP!” mind-control routine and out noble her into submission. Should be fun.
There was some ridiculousness going down last night—Dubaku’s girlfriend amuses the hell out of me, and even with my utter lack to tech knowledge, it seems a stretch that the CIP device could bust up the safety valves on a chemical plant with such unstoppable efficiency. There’s something airy about this season as well; it’s not tedious, but it lacks the edge of even the weakest years of the show. Still, I thought this was fun enough; we didn’t have to wade through any more “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” speeches, and the firefight at the Ritter Building was sufficiently exciting. Plus, a nerdy guy exploded, and we simply can’t have enough of that.
—What the hell was up with all that “honey” stuff?
—It’s amusing how fast Mrs. Matobo trusts Jack. She uses his whole name, too; is Jack Bauer like Candyman?
—Janis, feeling snappish: “Ma’am, as I just stated, I’m with the FBI. Does that sound vaguely important to you?”