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, March 01, 2005

24 Day 4 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

A Review

Jack is either a psycho, or a sadist. It's sad to see a once great man fall so far. He didn't even bother trying to question Paul first, and give him a chance to explain himself. Nope, he went straight for the torture. Jack would've looked kinda silly had Paul immediately started talking. Jack would've gone to all that trouble to rip open Paul's shirt and douse him with water for nothing. (By the way, was that a sponge? Where did that come from? That's not exactly standard hotel room amenities. Along with the teensy Munchkin bottles of shampoo and mouth wash, I've never seen a sponge sitting on a hotel bathroom counter.)

But what is Paul thinking? If he is truly innocent, why didn't he immediately disclose the information that might be on the laptop as soon as he saw Jack trying to hotwire a lamp? Why did he wait till he had been jolted twice?!

(At one point during the proceedings, Audrey had a look on her face as she watched Jack like she was imagining a future day, with Jack asking their teenage son why he had been out too late. "Where were you last night? Tell me!" zzzztttttttt)

It might be plausible that Paul was unaware of what the Empty House of Terrorists was being used for, and he said the lawyers usually handled such things. But CTU said it was Paul's signature on the lease. (again, rather quick analysis, eh what) Is Paul usually in the habit of just signing anything his lawyers put before him without knowing what it was, a la Radar trying to sneak something past Col. Blake?

Jack lets Paul use the laptop, and then conveniently disappears into the bathroom so we can have a touching scene where wifey Audrey nags poor henpecked hubby Paul. Jack is awfully trusting to leave someone he just tortured alone. How did he know Paul didn't have a gun?

Paul discovers the lease was related to someone named Harris Barnes. CTU quickly determines it was an alias, and that someone names Marwan also used the alias. Now, how on God's Green Earth did they figure that out so quickly? Did Marwan fill out paperwork where he indicated "My real name is Marwan, but I'm going to use an alias of Harris Barnes." Isn't the whole point of using an alias is so you're real name isn't discovered? And, almost immediately thereafter, Sarah is telling Driscoll that Marwan probably has the Flux Capacitor! Wait just a cotton-pickin minute! At that point they only knew someone named Barnes was linked to someone named Marwan. How could they be sure about the Flux Capacitor? Marwan could've been just some flunky terrorist. Boy, not only do they use Magic at CTU, they have special Psionic abilities.

This brings us to our main theme for this review: Incompetence. This is something Rhonda helped me figure out. Everyone is incompetent. Always check your receipt at the grocery store because the clerk rings up the wrong things. Always check your order at a fast food joint because the surly teenager might have forget to put half your order in the bag. Your life insurance company keeps losing your paperwork. The cable company can't fix your cable problem and has to keep coming back. Everyone is incompetent. In this episode, we see some egregious examples of incompetence.

In the building where Curtis was conked on the head (and Marianne was blessedly returned to the Great Temp Agency In The Sky) Marwan talks with someone named Ali. (Ali looked way too much like Yakov Smirnov. I kept thinking, "Why are the Commies involved with this plot"?)

Ali works at a company called IDS Systems. (Ross Perot's company was called EDS. Is this another hint that the bad guys are evil rich white guys?) He tells Marwan that CTU is using a "Drinfeld Module" to resist their efforts. A Drinfeld Module is something from the world of complex math. I suspect someone was just trolling through the Net for cool-sounding terms.

Marwan goes upstairs to a cubicle farm to do his work. Why? Why would he sit in an open cube where anyone could walk by and peek over his shoulder and see what he's doing? Why not stay down on the deserted floor with Ali?

Also, folks at IDS seemed awfully chipper. I wasn't at work on 9/11, I was in Astrakhan, Russia. But, when I got back people said not very much work got done that day. People were mostly monitoring media reports. Here, six reactors are on the verge of melting down, one nearby already has, yet here people don't seem the least bit concerned that something very serious is in progress. You'd think people would be very aware of the reactor problem, which would make it even more dangerous for Marwan to be doing stuff related to reactors on a screen in plain public view.

We see that you just can't get good help these days, and the flunky bad guys tasked with getting rid of Curtis are incompetent. They were (essentially) told to kill Curtis, then get rid of the body. They didn't follow instructions. They were going to get rid of the body first. A mistake that cost them. Curtis regains consciousness, and does his Gymkata routine on them. (Curtis would've had a rather nasty bump on the back of his head/neck. Yet he comes to quickly enough and never seems to have any lingering effects of being knocked out stone cold.)

At Gestapo HQ, Tony tries to fit in with the team and show he can be a tough interrogator. He's a little rusty though, as he doesn't immediately jump to torturing Dina. In an odd moment though, Tony asks that recording devices be turned off, but then he takes Dina into the control room to rough her up. Why? You wouldn't think the control room is normally monitored, so why bother to turn off the devices if you aren't going to stay in the interrogation room?

CTU is starting to figure out Curtis is not in contact. He's only been out of contact for 20 minutes or so, on a key mission. Nice sense of urgency of CTU's part. Ya think we should worry? Marianne nearly got blowed up in our parking lot, Curtis took her to some building who knows where, with only two crack security guys, should we worry they haven't called in for 20 minutes?

Marwan, who is pressed for time, still feels he has time enough to walk down a floor and talk to Ali. Apparently Marwan couldn't just call. He tells Ali to start ripping phone wires out of the wall. Some poor technician is going to have fun putting that back together.

At Gestapo HQ, Maya is giving Dr. Mengele and crew some trouble. It's obvious Mengele doesn't have much experience dealing with patients with such tough mental problems, because he was there trying to reason with Maya. And getting about as far as you'd expect. You do have to feel sorry for Driscoll, as a parent, seeing her child suffer from such problems.

But, isn't sedation an option here, or even restraints? Mengele said Maya was fighting sedation. Huh? Either tie her down and inject her, or, if the dosage wasn't having much of an effect on Maya, give her enough to put down an elephant. This medical staff strikes me as incompetent. More on that in a moment.

As an option, I was kinda urging the medical staff to use torture to subdue Maya, especially as Maya got more abusive with Driscoll, but that was before the tragic ending. More on that in a moment. (Driscoll seemed especially bothered by the abuse, and you can certainly understand that, but you'd think that in dealing with Maya for so long, Driscoll would've seen it all, and experienced it before and so would not take it so personally, knowing it was a very disturbed person talking.)

Dina coughs up some names, after Tony threatened to put dear Beiruts in a prison with lonely psycho biker gang members. CTU immediately links all these names to Marwan. Goodness, they have some good intelligence for such an incompetent organization. Where did this information come from? Obviously Marwan and the gang haven't been very circumspect, if they've left behind so much evidence that CTU has them all linked in minutes. But then, we've already seen gross incompetence in this terrorist organization.

(What is Tony doing though, handing Dina a pen? Was I the only one worried about Tony getting stabbed in the neck with the pen?)

At this point, there's about 20 minutes till the next meltdown, (reactor, not Maya) conveniently about the time left in the episode.

Because CTU is so shorthanded, Jack is the first one that can respond to the missing Curtis problem. Jack heads for the building.

Curtis konks Forbes on the head, gets an access card and cell phone, and calls into the office.

Driscoll briefs the President, who is still flying around in Air Force One. On a bulletin board, someone said that the 24 producers had said the President is flying around as a safety measure. They sure didn't make that clear in the show, though.

On the drive over, there is a touching touch between Audrey and Paul. Does she still have warm fuzzies for her wet fish Brit hubby?

Jack arrives at the building. Curtis has dispatched a guard in front of the elevator. But, instead of greeting the folks arriving, Curtis waits till he and Jack nearly shoot each other to say hello. Jack doesn't want a big strike team storming the floor. Why? More incompetence? What is he worried Marwan might do? Type faster on the keyboard? If time is of the essence, why not go in with guns blazing and find the guy as soon as possible.

(by the way, it was nice to see the return of another of 24's Greatest Hits. That is, SWAT agents piling out of a vehicle while someone was shouting Go! Go!)

Instead, Jack and Curtis take a gentle stroll through the busy office. Marwan notices them after Ali calls to warn him, and fires shots in the ceiling, sending the civilians screaming for the exits. Of course, even though they were mere feet away, Jack and Curtis can't get to Marwan, and Marwan escapes. Too bad Jack's team didn't think to guard all exits leading down from the floor above. And it sure would've been handy to have more personnel up on the office floor. Oh well. Live and learn, Jack.

(By the way, how did the baddies not notice all these CTU agents coming to the building? They found Curtis and Marianne within minutes after they arrived there.)

Curtis quickly takes over the Flux Capacitor, and gets Edgar into the magic Channel 11. Say, how did Edgar know to try F5-Shft-Esc? CTU didn't know of the existence of the Flux Capacitor till a few hours ago. Has Edgar been boning up on tech manuals?

(I can imagine all the good folks over at KARE-11 wondering what all this reactor stuff was coming over their computer screens.)

Hooray hooray, the reactors are saved just in time. That's it, show's over, season is over, nothing left to do.

Ooops, I guess there are still 13 hours to go. OK, onward we go.

Jack discovers a dead CTU agent, and warns the others Marwan is one of them. There was a nice creepy scene as an agent looks behind him and sees Marwan. Though, ya wonder how that agent let Marwan get so close to him. Does this team not know each other, that the agent didn't wonder who this guy was when he didn't recognize him. Is it incompetence? Truly, because Marwan does escape. I hope we don't spend the next 13 hours chasing him through drug stores and shopping malls.

As all this is unfolding, a flunky tells Driscoll she is really needed in the clinic. She brushes him aside, then heads for the clinic. Poor troubled Maya has ended her own life.

It was a heartbreaking scene, and every parent's worst nightmare to find their child like that. The actress did a good job of handling that difficult scene.

But, let's cut to the chase here. This is stupefying, staggering incompetence on the part of Mengele and his staff. First, they allow Driscoll to discover Maya like that unprepared, while they are just standing around. And why are they standing around? They're medical personnel. Shouldn't they be doing something? Covering Maya up? Something?

But worse, who was watching Maya?!? This clinic is not that big. How did Maya have time to go off in this room, get ahold of some sharp instrument, and kill herself. Argh. The medical staff is going to be taken to the back room and tortured, I bet. Utterly incompetent.

In the previews for next week, looks like maybe Driscoll is out, which may be the whole point of this Maya thread. Argh. (And Tony is going to be the interim director? Hooboy! But I'll save my fire for next week.)

There are more bodies in this episode. Ya think at some point the local police are going to call CTU and say hey, there are dozens of bodies piled up in the county morgue here, any sign of this carnage letting up any time soon?

Approximate Body Count: 86

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