Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

24 Day 4 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

A Review

I'm starting to have that same feeling I had about 30 minutes into The Matrix Reloaded, when they were spending so much time in Zion, and seemingly forgetting all about what made the Matrix films so bewitching, the Matrix itself. I was thinking, they're not really doing this, are they? Surely they'll come to their senses any minute now?

Alas, here in Day 4, I'm beginning to suspect the writers have at last slipped the surly bonds of sanity, and all pretensions of logic and reason have been shot and buried in someone's crawl space. I continue.

As the episode opens, Jack is preparing to go to Felsted Security, which has the camera footage from the Heritage Foundation dinner Audrey attended, where she remembers seeing the guy she recognized in the compound. It is decided Audrey should go with Jack, to save time. A fair enough set-up. Heller is understandably resistant to seeing Audrey leave.

As they're on the way out the door though, Paul stops Audrey to rehash one more time their status. Would someone please tell me why, during this national crisis, a mopey Brit is allowed to wander freely around the very nerve center of CTU, pining for Audrey or the fjords or whatever? Security? Security?

Later, Heller has a little talk with the mopey Brit. Devane's face has some character to it, it looks like a satellite relief map of the Andes.

Driscoll and her troupe bandy about possible responses to the threat to the nuclear power plants. I must say, if you as an audience member were confused as to what the threat is exactly, fear not. You are not alone. If you did understand it, you probably live in a basement and fill entire walls with scribblings of complex math equations. None of this was explained last episode. We only knew there is some kind of Magical Device, some kind of remote control that could be used to control the reactors, once their firewalls are attacked. Or something. We knew nothing about whether in fact this firewall attack took place, or what the result was.

In a side note, they appeared to have reused some stuff from Day 2, when there was a threat of a nuclear bomb going off. They had talked about casualty rates, etc... and they seemed to use those same graphics here. They might also have used similar graphics in Day 3, talking about casualty rates from the bio weapon.

So, in this scene, we eventually piece together that yes, the reactors have been compromised, the Internet attack did install some code in the reactors software kernels, and presto chango caninis transmuto, somehow this will lead to a meltdown in the reactors. Again, how this happens is not explained. I would hope a nuclear reactor has better safeguards than going straight to a meltdown in the event of a computer problem.

The nature of this Magical Device is not explained either. Is it some kind of radio that can communicate with all the reactors all over the country? In the end, it's not important, as the only goal here is to set up some kind of threat that will keep Jack running like mad for the remaining episodes. In this case, it's a few reactors approaching meltdown.

Marianne sees Jack and Audrey leave, and asks Sarah where they're going. Sarah immediately tells the temp, and Marianne proceeds to call her contact, some guy named Powell, and divulge her information. Powell is one of 24's Greatest Hits, that we've seen in past seasons. This mysterious contact on the other end of a phone, a bad guy, but very well dressed, suave, an air of some sophistication. Powell tells Marianne to divert suspicion, because Jack and Audrey are going to be killed, and it will be obvious their location was known only in CTU, and there will be a mole hunt. (Another of 24's Greatest Hits.)

Sarah sees Marianne in a back area, Marianne lies about what she's doing. She says Edgar asked her to manually reboot a hub. (Later Edgar tells Sarah something that proves Marianne was lying, Sarah confronts Marianne, who lies her way out of it, and Sarah seems to accept the word of a temp who's been there five minutes, and has been doing strange things in the middle of this national crisis. Security? Security?)

We finally return to the Araz household. Pa is watching a report on Fox News (!), where the reporter is apparently standing outside the compound where Heller was held. Which made me think, I believe in earlier episodes, the compound was referred to as Pa's warehouse. It was never clear what business Pa is in. But, if that warehouse is in his name, or in his business's name, I would think the authorities would very quickly find out who owns that compound, and commandos would be crashing through the Araz estate windows any second now. But no. Let's move on.

Beiruts calls Lady Macbeth's cell phone, and wants her to come get him. He wonders why Pa wanted him killed. They arrange to meet at a train station. Lady Macbeth tells Beiruts to hide his vehicle. We know this is one of Beiruts' special skills, as he made L'il Debbie's car disappear in a residential neighborhood in minutes. However, Beiruts is distressed, so we can forgive the boy for not carrying out the task. He merely parks the car in a public parking lot. Ma prepares to leave.

Pa heard the phone ring, wonders who Ma was talking to and where she is going, and figures out it was Beiruts. Pa forces Ma to take him to where Beiruts is, as he'll try again to finish the job.

A quick cut to Jack and Audrey in the CTU vehicle. They are in the back seat, two CTU agents are in front, driving, and along for protection. *snort* Here again, obedience to the plot trumps all. When the plot requires people to be somewhere quickly, they can get anywhere in LA in 10 minutes. In this case, it takes Jack over 30 minutes to reach the security office.

In some technobabble that would make any Star Trek writer proud, Edgar comes up with a way to possibly regain control of the reactors. It involves precompiled headers, and some other things. I've been a computer professional for over a decade, and I had no idea what he was talking about. For whatever that's worth. He did appear to be talking about some kind of Assembly code though, which was a nice touch.

On the drive to Beiruts' location, Lady Macbeth had some amazing facial expressions. She is a tremendous actress, and in this scene, portraying a woman who is realizing her husband wants to kill her son, she is riveting.

From here, the Beiruts story takes a turn. Ma is supposed to drive Beiruts to another location, where Pa and a couple of goons will be waiting. Ma will drive up to Beiruts, and Pa is following in another car. Ma wants to save her son though, and tells him to run, to go get on the train and flee. Pa shoots at them, hitting Ma in the arm. Beiruts steps on the gas and drives from the passenger side. Apparently. Pa loses them in the oldest trick in the TV book. A bus pulls in front of Pa's car, and by the time they get clear, Beiruts and Ma are gone. It's not clear yet where they will go. Ma is going to need some medical attention.

After a commercial break, Navi goes immediately to Marwan's location. (Marwan is apparently the director of this operation. In a neato! moment, Marwan is played by the actor who portrayed the Mummy in, well, the Mummy movies with Brendan Fraser.) This is a coincidence of the first degree. What are the odds that the train station Beiruts happened to find himself at was only a few minutes away from Marwan's headquarters? I'm telling ya, the writers are getting very lazy about following their own constraints in doing a show in real time over a 24 hour period.

Marwan is understandably unhappy that the Beiruts problem is not taken care of, and Pa will eventually have to answer for it. Pa did show some courage in even going to Marwan and fessing up to his mistakes, knowing the likely consequences. It is agreed that they will watch hospitals and the like, and search for Ma and Beiruts.

Although, it's not real clear what the precise worry is. It seems the attack on the reactors was successful. Unless there is something else planned on this day, what does it matter if Beiruts talks to the authorities. What could they do about it at this point?

Back in CTU, there are a couple of scenes that contributed to my Matrix comments. First, Stoner is apparently freed. He didn't say anything while under the Mind Defragmentizer, so they're apparently letting him go. That's it? That whole thread went nowhere? Nothing came of it? Then why? Whhhyy? Heller did say to Curtis, "You tortured my son for 2.5 hours for nothing?" Curtis replied "You did authorize it, sir." Heller should've replied though, "I authorized a half hour, you tortured him for two hours before I ever knew about it."

Then, Driscoll's daughter is giving some medicine by mistake, she's allergic to it, and has a severe reaction. There is some nice acting here, as Driscoll is deeply concerned for her daughter. But again, what's the point? Why is this here? Just to give Driscoll a problem, how can she do her job while dealing with her daughter? There has to be more than that for this to mean anything. Sarah comes by to talk to Driscoll, she sees her distress and is about to leave, but Driscoll says ok, ask me your questions. Sarah does, and Driscoll eventually snaps at her, saying "Is there ANYTHING ELSE?" Uh, Erin, honey? You were the one who invited Sarah to speak!

There is a meeting at CTU as they discuss options with the President. Would someone PLEASE PLEASE tell me why Marianne was in that meeting? She's a temp! I've said it a million times! She's a temp! A temp! Why is she in this very important meeting?

Incidentally, El Presidente is *still* flying around somewhere in Air Force One! Where is he? Is he flying back from Outer Mongolia?

The episode concluded with Jack and Audrey at the security office. Audrey recognizes the man on a video clip, but just as she does, the security office is under attack. Whoever Marianne is working for has sent a hit team, they wipe out the CTU agents that drove Jack there, they wipe out whoever else is in the building. Jack and Audrey shoot their way out. But, Jack makes a phone call. To whom? "The only one I can trust right now", says Jack, realizing CTU has a serious leak.

They got the camera footage copied to flash memory sticks. Jack gives Audrey a gun, which she doesn't end up using.

Jack and Audrey wind up in a garage, Jack runs out of ammo, (I wasn't clear on why he didn't get the gun back from Audrey, that must have had ammo still) and just as the bad guys are closing in, who comes to the rescue? Tony! That was quite a surprise. (And oh so convenient that Tony happened to be only five minutes away when Jack called.) I forget what happened at the end of Day 3 though, I thought maybe Tony was in prison. Did Palmer pardon him?

So ends the episode. Ma and Beiruts are on the run. Pa is after them. Marianne is trying to cover her tracks. Edgar regained control of most of the reactors, except for six or so. (One of the six appeared to be in Minnesota, perhaps the Monticello one.) Jack and Audrey and Tony are on the run, not knowing who to trust.

Approximate Body Count: 72

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