The current season of 24 started at eight in the morning. Jack was giving testimony when we first saw him, so it's safe to assume he was up earlier than that—I'd peg him for an early riser, around 6am, but for the sake of argument, we can say 7. That means that at the start of tonight's hour, "2:00am - 3:00am," our hero's been up for 19 hours straight. No naps that I can see (no food either, but it's possible he could've found some time for a snack), and he's also struggling with the effects of the bioweapon, which can't be helping. It's easy to get up in arms about the implausibility of it all, but given this is basically the premise of the series, well, it adds a certain tension, doesn't it? A certain desperation, anyway. Jack Bauer is a bad-ass because he endures. It doesn't matter that most everyone else around him has been up as long as he has; what matters is that he gets put through more, and he's still going strong.
Okay, maybe not that strong. He seemed more than a little messed up in the debriefing room. But he's more than able to see through Tony's weak-ass story about Moss's death; he doesn't immediately realize they've been betrayed, but he knows the ambush couldn't have gone down the way it did unless the fugitive (Robert Galvez) had a partner.
We'll get back to that in a second, but first… hey, we finally have an answer on why Hodges is acting so crazy. He actually is crazy; or at the very least, his behavior puts him at odds with the even secreter group he works for. (Hey, Will Patton!) After Hodges arrest, he calls for his lawyer, but before she even makes it out the front door, she's gassed and a duplicate takes her place. That duplicate gets past security at the White House to give Hodges an important message: his antics have upset the balance of things (turns out the bioweapon wasn't meant for his personal use), and unless Hodges swallows the red pill the fake lawyer offers, inducing an untraceable cardiac arrest, his family will be in danger.
It's a nice development for the character, especially based on our expectations for the villains on this show. We're used to fairly ridiculous plots, so when a really ridiculous one shows up, it just seems like a sign that the show's writing has just dropped the ball. But it turns out that was the point: Hodges truly believed in what he was doing, but he wasn't clever or sane enough to work out a reasonable plan. There was no plausible end goal in sight because he wasn't looking that far ahead—or if he was, he was too convinced in the righteousness of his cause to see the problem. Hodges gets a swell character moment as he's being transferred to FBI headquarters; one the soldiers transferring him has a connection (legit) to the Starkwood forces, and confirms Hodges opinion of them as good men. It's enough of a boost to get him to swallow the pill. But it looks like they gave him the not-quite fatal kind…
It's a strong episode this week, mostly because we spend most of it with Jack as he slowly works out Tony's double-cross. There are a few detours—we find out that Kim dumped C. Thomas Howell for a guy named Stephen, and they have a daughter named after Kim's dead mom—but in general, this is just Renee getting broken up by Moss's death, and Jack trying to hold himself together just long enough to finish one last job. (But as to Kim's daughter… Her not telling Jack makes no sense whatsoever. Finding out he has a granddaughter isn't going to make him hurt anymore. I can't decide if this is Kim's usual selfishness, or some attempt to keep the good things in her life away from her well-intentioned but sort of cursed father.)
About Renee: yeah, she's pretty upset. We even get the single-tear-down-the-check grief moment. As one might expect, she responds to grief by diving face first into her job, and not even Jack's rough attempt at consolation can convince her otherwise. Once she sees Larry's dead body, she manages to finish pulling herself together, and that's when things start to fall apart for Almeida. (There's a great bit here where Tony sees Jack; "I didn't expect to see you here," translates roughly to "Oh fuck.") Tony's plans are clever, but spur-of-the-moment, and there's enough of a forensic discrepancy to put Jack on the trail.
Too bad he's not fast enough. Tony's escape play—having Galvez trick the FBI teams into a single location and then blowing up the location with C4 to try and break the cordon in the confusion—is a good one, and while it doesn't go off perfectly, it works well enough. Lots of great tension here, as Jack is always just one step behind things; he realizes that the agent Galvez is pretending to be isn't in the right location, forcing Galverez to blow the charges early, and he also makes sure the cordons hold, realizing the intent behind the whole set-up. But it's only when the agent debriefing him points out a discrepency in Tony's story that the truth comes to light. By that point, Galverez has Hannibal Lectered himself (the TV version, so no ripped off faces) into an ambulance and away to freedom, and while Jack gets his gun on Tony, it's too late. Tony already stole his anti-seizure meds, and as Jack collapses to the pavement, Almedia takes his weapon, calls for help, and slinks away.
Bet Jack's wishing he'd snagged some of Kim's blood when he could…
- Jack shooting himself up with meds makes for an eerie callback to his drug addiction in Day 3. He must know his way around a needle pretty good at this point.
- President Taylor is effing useless. Her entire job seems to be commenting on how implausible everything is. (Maybe if she was played by Wallace Shawn?)