By Victor Lana
One durable device used to advantage on 24 has been occasional comic relief, usually provided by our intrepid gal Chloe. Just like the gravediggers scene in Hamlet, it brings a brief respite from the charnel of horror we know is going to occur elsewhere. In this amazingly fast-paced and increasing grim season, comic relief has never been more welcome. In past seasons the interactions between Chloe and others, particularly Edgar, have given us that quick chuckle we need before getting back to business. With Edgar gone, humor has also surfaced with Shari (Twitchy/Nutso Girl) and Miles (Touchy Feely guy). Good thing too because in last night’s episode, things became increasingly dark and disturbing within the first few moments.
A question that has been posed throughout Season 5 has been the sanity, or the lack thereof, of certain characters. Most prominent has been First Lady MacDeath, who has dealt with one tragedy after another going from a semblance of composure to at times what seems to be complete meltdown. President Lowguns has used her mental instability to his advantage, and at other times for sympathy. Those around her are not sure if her spouting of conspiracy theories is coming from her derangement or her medications.
Sweet Chloe has always come off as a bit mentally unbalanced, but she is a computer whiz with a heart of gold, so we’ve all cut her some slack. Edgar seemed at times a little looney tunes as well, but the grand nutcase of the year is now Twitchy/Nutso Girl. But within the words of madness there is the inevitable truth, and by the time Touchy Feely thinks he has his golden moment (bringing his former accuser of sexual harassment before Karen (Cruella Once Mean to Bill), it is apparent that Cruella is changing her stance and even listens as Shari speaks of how “crazy” Chloe is thinking President Lowguns is somehow behind the day’s catastrophic events.
At the airport Audrey sits on the floor as Jack tends to her wounded arm. Her once unblemished white coat (with which we’ve had some good fun) is becoming increasingly soiled, certainly a metaphor for not only her relationship with Jack but the whole season as well. Audrey looks damned fine sitting there, her long and lovely legs positioned just so on the floor of the hangar. A lesser man than Jack (and, hey, most are lesser men than Bauer Power) would be a bit tempted to just hold her and be passionate, but Jack has bigger fish to fry.
With Chloe and Bill helping from the mini-CTU established at Bill’s pad, Jack is back in business and tracking Robo Henderson via satellite. How Chloe can actually take an ordinary laptop, some household bleach, and WD 40 and do the things she does continues to amaze, but I’m starting to think she might be the illegitimate child of old TV vet MacGyver. Anyway, Chloe is doing what she does best, but Cruella has Touchy Feely trying to find her whereabouts, and he is so bent on getting his, uh, hands on Chloe that he is one dedicated but rather sick dude zipping around the inter-whatsitface to get our gal.
Somehow or other Jack finds Robo, drives him off the road, and handcuffs him to a pole (yes, I know Jack was handcuffed to a pole last week). As each episode has progressed, Henderson has been bathed in a deeper red hue, as if all the death and destruction he has caused are simmering right beneath the surface, and yet he glares at Jack with those cyborg eyes and we know he’s got nothing inside that Dorothy’s Tinman would ever wish for in Oz.
As in the past, Jack leaves someone he loves to go off and do his work. This occurs because of one turning point: Secretary of Defense Nuts Landing has apparently died in a car accident. Once Robo is captured he tells Jack he has a contingency plan (how this guy manages all this during martial law and at two o’clock in the morning is beyond understanding), which is that a helicopter has been following Nuts since he left Lowguns ranch.
If Jack doesn’t allow Robo to go free, Nuts gets crushed. Jack offers Robo his freedom for the tape, but Robo has handed it off to some dude and that’s why Jack was able to catch up with him so easily. Jack talks to Nuts on the phone, but Nuts blames himself for not trusting Jack earlier. He knows what’s best for the country now. Jack needs to get that tape and the hell with it all. Nuts basically is saying, “Goodbye, cruel world” as he drives off an embankment and his car crashes into the shimmering lake below.
Now, Jack has lost enough people today and he is even more angry. Audrey is livid. “Kill him, Jack!” she says (imagine when their married and the mail is late?). Jack knows he needs Robo alive, and Chloe is able to determine that whomever Robo gave the tape was in a car that has returned to the airport. Jack gives Audrey agun and a cell phone (man, he knows how to treat his women, right?) and tells her not to even talk to the handcuffed Robo. In another slick move, Jack has somehow managed to get Curtis and a CTU team to come retrieve Audrey and Robo. The problem is Curtis is a “few minutes” out, but we’re even wondering where the hell Curtis has been the last few weeks. He was supposed to be taking Jerko Bierko, Russian super bad guy, to the CTU medical center (the place where it seems good guys die and bad guys live to tell the tale and escape), but we haven’t heard about him and glad the guy is still alive anyway.
Jack gets back in the police car and drives to a rear entrance to the airport where he checks out the plane in question. Security personnel are everywhere, but Jack’s eyes are spinning as he thinks about how he’s going to get on that plane and retrieve the tape. Bill and Chloe are still providing tactical when Bill gets a call from Cruella after Touchy Feels discovers Chloe’s location at Chez Bill. Seems Cruella just got off the phone with Mike (The Grimace Novick), and he is not only in the dark but out of the loop. Cruella makes a quick decision to circumvent protocol and move toward the light. She warns Bill that he and Chloe have about seven minutes until a team comes to get them.
Meanwhile, Lowguns has been dealing with his own demons and Lady MacDeath. His interaction with a shadowy group of men is revealed, and the Gang of Four is a bit worried themselves that things are unraveling. Gang Leader seems to be bossing Lowguns around a bit, and now we wonder who the hell these guys are to be more powerful than the President (hmmm, oil company execs perhaps?). No matter, Gang Leader tells Lowguns, his synthetic spine clearly popping out of his shirt collar, that Lady MacDeath must be dealt with. Lowguns does not tell them that he has revealed everything to the Lady, who is mourning the loss of Super Secret Agent Costner (who is said to be reassigned, which is kind of like the show Joey being on hiatus). Lowguns assures them that all is well, but he is sniveling more than Nixon right before the Checkers Speech.
All this time Robo has been handcuffed with Audrey holding a gun on him (some men might kill for this opportunity, by the way). He sees the cell phone and goads her into feeling a daughterly duty to save her daddy. Nuts has been in the lake for thirty minutes. He might have an air bubble. We can save him. Blah-blah-blah. Audrey is a little jittery and wants so badly to give him the .45 caliber tonsillectomy he so richly deserves, but her hands are shaking and she just can’t pull the trigger.
Robo’s men suddenly come on the same helicopter that sent Daddy Nuts into the drink, and Audrey runs and prepares to use the gun as necessary; however, Curtis appears and his men take out Robo’s dudes and get him too (man, that was just way too easy). Audrey is safe and on her way back to CTU (wait, nobody is safe there, especially with Robo and Jerko Bierko in the house).
Meanwhile, Jack wants to get on that plane real bad but has misplaced the frequent flier miles somewhere in that bag of tricks he’s been carrying. Our hero has been informed by Chloe that it is a diplomatic flight (which explains why it could be flying during a time of curfew and martial law), so Jack knows the tape is in the hands of someone probably very important on that plane. So, how the hell is Jack getting on that jet? No problem: he stows away on top of a truck, gets inside the gate, grabs two pieces of luggage, puts his hood over his head, and walks up the freight ramp like any other baggage handler. Man, Jack is a creative dude.
As Episode 19 ends Jack is secure in the baggage compartment of the jet, so we know we’re in for a bumpy ride. Will the Homeland Security team get to Bill and Chloe before Chloe can tell Jack what he needs to know about that flight? Will Touchy Feely find out that Cruella warned Bill and is turning away from the dark side? Will it take three weeks for Curtis to get Audrey and Robo back to CTU? Will Lady MacDeath keep her promise to be quiet or will she and The Grimace find a way to stop her slithering husband? Finally, does the flight Jack is on serve breakfast? The poor bastard must be starving.
Until next week, Klaatu Barada Nikto!