How many times can Jack Bauer yell “Where is Cheng?” before the dying Russian dude just gives in and tells him?
Let’s bitch it out…
Given the ending of last week’s episode, tonight’s 24 picks up quite a bit of momentum. With only one episode remaining, I can’t see it slowing down any. There is tons of action tonight, but it is mostly pretty straight-forward stuff. Thankfully 24 tends to be at its most entertaining when things are just careening forward.
With the sinking of the Chinese aircraft carrier, and the apparent Chinese intention to retaliate, there’s a lot of pressure on President Heller (William Devane) to take a stronger stance. One macho Colonel (Philip Winchester) even pushes Heller to ready the nuclear weapons, because – you know – they’ve exhausted all of their options already. Part of the reason that I’ve always liked Heller is that he can be a badass, but he’s not some hung-ho military badass. He thinks things through and makes reasoned, well-informed decisions. And I applaud his desire to do so in this instance, as well.
Things get a little murkier when it’s (very quickly) revealed that Cheng (Tzi Ma) is responsible for slaughtering Cross’ (Michael Wincott) crew and stealing the override device. He’s gone by the time Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) and Kate (Yvonne Strahovski) arrive, but Goth Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) was able to leave behind a cell phone recording of Cheng’s voice. So less than half an episode after he’s revealed as the big bad, it’s all out in the open. Now everyone knows the stakes.
Understandably, Cheng’s re-emergence is difficult for Audrey (Kim Raver), and there’s an interesting scene where she insists that Jack kill Cheng when the time comes. Given what happened to Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley), I don’t think that Jack needs any extra motivation. The problem with this phone conversation is that Kiefer Sutherland doesn’t do mushy very well; his voice gets all hoarse and whispery whenever he tries to get emotional with his feelings. It’s just weird. Luckily it doesn’t last long, but I’m sure we’ll get more of it when Jack inevitably rescues Audrey next episode!
Cheng’s status also proves a stumbling block with the Chinese, who insist that the defector is dead (apparently nobody told them what show they were on). Didn’t they see the episode a few weeks ago when a missile blew up the President? In any case, the Chinese launch an attack against Okinawa, and then blow up some surveillance satellites, and Heller has no choice but to go to DEFCON 3 (Fun fact: the U.S. military has only ever been at DEFCON 3 three times since NORAD’s inception). Heller looks reluctant, but he doesn’t have many options left – at least he didn’t give in to the guy who wanted the nukes armed.
The entire episode leads to the big showdown inside Stolnavich’s (Stanley Townsend) house. The Russians are the only link to Cheng, which is interesting – initially 24 made it seem like the Russian subplot was totally outside of the main plot. I guess it’s good that the writers found a way to tie it all together, but it does occur pretty suddenly, with barely any explanation. The key to Jack’s plan is the newly-disgraced Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan). Boudreau gets a nice scene in the car with Jack where he talks about wanting to redeem himself. I thought this might have been his big goodbye, but he lives through the super-cool Jack + Kate infiltration of the building. There’s something about the sound that guns make when they have silencers (suppressors? I never know the difference) that is just really sweet. Unfortunately, Stolnavich dies, and despite Jack’s persuasive attempts to get Cheng’s location, we end the episode with Jack at another dead end.
So how will he track down Cheng and save the country/world? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m sure it will be both laughably contrived and highly entertaining – as any good season of 24 is.
- Goth Chloe gets a pretty sweet scene when she grabs a pipe and smacks a bunch of Chinese men before leaping from a moving vehicle. Perhaps she stole another cell phone on the way out and will be able to point Jack in the right direction?
- Once again, I think that William Devane kills it in almost all of his scenes. When he finds out that Mark is a traitor, there’s just something really great about his line delivery even though he’s basically just repeating other people’s lines. “You’re sorry??” The whole scene is great – it’s probably my favourite of the episode.
- Lastly, I didn’t mention it above, but the real conclusion to the episode involves Audrey getting pinned down by Cheng’s sniper. I hope there’s more to this than just some contrived way to create a damsel in distress scenario. It would be nice if Audrey could maneuver her way out of danger instead of needing her white knight to save her. We’ll find out next week, I guess.
Your turn: will Audrey need Jack to save her? Can Chloe be counted on to help save the day? Should Heller give in to the guy from Strike Back? And what is Cheng’s final plan? Sound off below.
24: Live Another Day concludes next Monday at 9pm EST on FOX