This is some kind of scheduling, Jack Bauer making the second (well, technically, third) act of his return right in the middle of game six of this Canadiens-Bruins blood feud. It’s okay. Hockey can wait for a little while. We’ve got terrorists to kill and computer jargon to bark out.
So, let’s go, as my nervous finger hovers over the button that will take me to NESN. Jack and Chloe are hot on the trail of the drone-control device from last week, bringing them right back to that pub where Yates met his maker (the first “Damn it!’’ of the episode is only four minutes in, so this might be a long one for the drinking-game players). Yates’ murderer has a name now – she’s Simone Al-Harazi, the daughter of the evil Margot Al-Harazi, who’s now on the run with the device, headed back to mama. They track her to the Waterloo subway station (that’s a cooler name than “Alewife’’ or “Ruggles’’) before Chloe spaces out at the sight of a happy young family and loses Simone in the crowd.
There’s something deeper there, of course, and a tearful Chloe admits to Jack that her husband and son are dead, killed in a car accident (or maybe, not an accident at all). A quick Jack pep talk sets her back on the path of righteousness. Not really the most sterling bit of writing in the history of this show, that’s for sure. They head back to the hacker headquarters, where Jack and Adrian Cross have a true frown-off before they all start to work together, delivering Jack a new undercover identity so he can bust his way into the American embassy.
In the American political collective over in London, the Boudreau power couple – Audrey and Mark – are still trying to decide what to do over the increasingly doddering President Heller. Mark, like all of the bad chiefs of staff in this show, is starting to assert his power, even forging Heller’s signature like a teenager trying to get out of playing hooky, and trying to manipulate Audrey into stopping the old man’s plan. Try as she might, there’s no talking Heller out of talking to Parliament to apologize for the attack and drum up support for his drone base (Couldn’t help but think of the old SNL parliament sketches when this plotline unfurled. Predictably, it’s a disaster, as the pissed English politicians take out their anger on Heller. Why can’t the American Congress be like this?
Elsewhere, it turns out the entire terrorist operation is being run out of a bucolic little spot somewhere near London, where it’s revealed that the Al-Harazi family is all kinds of bad. Margot is revealed to be seriously angry at the Americans for the drone-bomb death of her terrorist husband, and it turns out that the daughter and her son are both in terroristic cahoots. That’s the worst kind of cahoots. The daughter also has a husband, apparently also in on the plot, and not a fan of Simone’s undercover actions – and increasingly shaky when it comes to the monster-in-law’s drone hijacking plans. Simone uses her charms to put those objections to rest as mother Margot watches. Voyeuristic and terroristic, what a combination.
Kate Morgan appears to be the spiritual successor to Jack, working with a reluctant Agent Ritter to force one of the terrorist henchmen into spilling some information. They unravel a connection to Tanner, the apparent patsy for the deadly terrorist-driven drone strike that have the British in an uproar, and head back to the U.S. Embassy to interrogate the poor guy. Of course, they arrive just as Bauer is standing in line to sneak in. What’s Jack to do when it’s discovered that Cross has – well, double-crossed him and sent him a bogus identification? Oh, you know. Improvise and start a %*@ing riot. One busted-up police officer, one stolen gun and two strategically-placed bullets into the legs of protesters and there’s enough chaos for Jack to sneak into the Embassy.
Not really the greatest episode of the show we’ve ever seen. Jack’s riot-inciting resourcefulness is always welcome, but there were some real groaners here. There’s some true clunkiness to the writing – not that the show ever was ever the quality of David Mamet or, hell, even Shane Black, but, boy, there were some painful parts tonight (the British protester yelling out “You’re either with us or against us!’’ was almost cringeworthy). Well, there’s always next week.
As it turns out, that last line works just fine for the Bruins game, too. Yikes.
Speaking of clunkers. . Other tidbits, as I wish the Bruins had wrapped this up in five:
– The impressive young actress who plays Selena Meyer’s daughter on “Veep’’? That’s Keifer Sutherland’s daughter, Sarah. There’s no shortage of acting talent in that family.
– Oh yeah, Chloe had a son in the series. Almost forgot all about that.
– Fun fact: William Devane (the actor who plays President Heller) was quite a cinematic ass-kicker in his day. Check him out from the bloody, underrated 1977 flick “Rolling Thunder.’’
– Next week, the hour goes from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Unlike “Game of Thrones,’’ there aren’t any interruptions this season – we’ve got almost three straight months of Bauer power.
– Something for those with strong livers and a strong hangover cure: the “24’’ drinking game, in case you’d like to feel like you’re back in college.