Here we are. The penultimate episode of the biggest television revival since the last Billy Graham special cut to credits. Jack Bauer has only two hours left to save the day, and he’s being pursued by just about every country out there. If Qumar and Val Verde existed, they’d have people after Jack, too.
The big question from last week is answered quickly. Why did Cheng – the man who held and tortured Jack Bauer for a year and a half – want to bring death and destruction upon his home country? A convenient bit of dialogue between him and Chloe (and Jack and Morgan, later) explains it; turns out the Chinese government didn’t much care for his hard-liner actions, and Cheng pulled off a ghost act, making everyone who matters think he was actually killed. No such luck, though. He’s all for both countries to go down in a blaze of explosions and fire, and he’s off to a good start – the “Sky News’’ feed shows the Chinese carrier sinking, thanks to his manipulation of the override device. Cheng and a captured Chloe have to book it out of their hideout, though, after he discovers that Jack has bugged the override device.
Jack and Morgan are in the midst of a “Heat’’-like, bullet-flying firefight with the Russians sent to kill him, one that ends with a few well-placed shots to an even more conveniently-placed propane tank and some backup arriving in the nick of time. I was a big “A-Team’’ fan with a kid, and this was straight out of its cheesiness playbook. I love it when a plan comes together! They have enough time to reload (helped out by an agent who looks a lot like Darrelle Revis) before they head back out to pursue the override device. When they get to the hideout, Jack’s able to ID his new pursuer from a cellphone recording again, conveniently, hidden in the background. He also finds out that Boudreau was the guy who sent the Russians after him, tracking his cellphone the whole time. Don’t you just hate when the new guy of someone you loved turns out to be a total #$^head? Happened to me back in college, and all I did was get hammered and throw some empty Bud Light cans at his window. Then again, I didn’t have the entire Russian intelligence community after me. I don’t think, at least.
Meanwhile, the attack on the carrier has – understandably – angered the Chinese, who send their planes and ships to attack Okinawa. Only the live-or-dead body of Cheng and proof of the override device will get them to stop. The discovery that Cheng is the bad guy seems to flip an emotional switch in Audrey – she volunteers to use a contact to buy the Americans some time, and has a tearful conversation with Jack, imploring him to get rid of Cheng. He was the guy that broke up their relationship, after all. That’ll be some revenge.
Another big twist is on tap. Cheng was working with that old Russian strongman intelligence agent with the awesome mustache. God, I just can’t hate him, not with that facial hair. I might go as him for Halloween. Maybe three people might get it, but it’ll so be worth it. Jack has figured out the whole play by now, and he shows up to see Heller and scare the hell out of Boudreau. That’s the way to get revenge on your ex-lover’s new husband! What a little weasel of a guy. Heller is about to have Boudreau chucked into prison for treason, but Jack’s got a better idea. He’s ready to use him as a double to get access to Russian Craig Stadlerhttp://www.craigstadler.com/. Speaking of obscure references. Well, I know my dad will get that one. Hey, Dad! That one’s for you.
The Chinese are on the verge of turning Okinawa into Pearl Harbor (and are already taking out U.S. satellites), so it’s a damn good thing that everything in London is three minutes away from each other. Jack, Boudreau, and Morgan get to the Russian’s dacha in no time at all, which I’m sure cuts down on the whole “Hey, you used to sleep with my wife’’ and “Hey, you tried to have the Russians assassinate me’’ awkwardness that must sit there like stale passed gas. Boudreau’s got to pretend to seek defection and sneak a peek at the house’s security system, just like when Homer Simpson had to expose the Kwik-E-Mart for selling expired meat. Yeah, just like that.
His defection ploy works pretty well for a while, before Jack and Morgan’s silent assault turns loud and Boudreau and Russian mustache guy are in a knock-down, window-crashing brawl. This isn’t exactly Viggo Mortensen taking on those two guys in the “Eastern Promises’’ sauna, but it’s not a bad beatdown – and Boudreau gets the better of the big Russian, who ends up with a shard of broken glass in his jugular. He ends up dying before Jack can get any info out of him, and worst of all, his mustache is just ruined with blood.
There’s a one-two punch of important little twists to end the episode, too. First, Chloe manages to kick and punch and Richard Kimble her way out of her captors, tumbling down a hill and avoiding their eyes – it appears she’ll be back in play. Then, Audrey goes to meet with her contact, in a scene that’s so obviously a setup for a twist I would have bet all the meager possessions I own that it would end in a hail of gunfire. I know this show too well. There’s a hail of silenced gunshots and poor Audrey is the only one left standing, her contact and the entire security detail lying dead next to her and a threatening Cheng on the phone, watching from a nearby window. No wonder he couldn’t go after Chloe.
So, there it is. One hour left. We’ve got Jack in pursuit of Cheng, not knowing that he’s got Audrey under the gun. The Chinese and Americans are cruisin’ for a new Pacific War, and Heller’s got the country at DEFCON III. Chloe’s lost in the woods somewhere. Oh boy, this is going to be fun. We are running out of time!
Final thoughts, as I wonder what sort of awful vice I’ll occupy my Monday nights with after next week:
– “He’s a covert intelligence operative, you idiot!’’ One of Jack’s best lines of the season.
– I’ve never been to London, but judging by the time it takes for all the people on “24’’ to get anywhere, it’s roughly the size of Allston.
– Another serious that guy actor on the American military staff: this guy, who I recognized from “Hellboy.’’