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

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

24 Day 4 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM

A Review

I will not let this show beat me. I will not. Though this behemoth could crush me beneath its treads, with my briefcase and shopping bag I will stand in front of it and face it. If it turns, I will move to keep myself in front of it. For clearly, something malevolent is at work here, something designed to take away our humanity and turn us into weeping drooling blithering heaps. Sigh.

As this episode begins, Jack is on the phone with Audrey, giving her the happy news that there's a good chance Paul will be out of the way soon, and they won't need to bother with a messy divorce. Er, scratch that. Jack is clearly fishing for a response from Audrey. He tells her Paul saved her life, etc... and is hoping Audrey will say something like "gee honey, what a close break, so glad you're fine". Instead, she is all a-weepy over Paul.

Jack didn't exactly break it to her with tact. He said "Paul has been shot", and then says... nothing. Um, Jack? Hello? Audrey is silent because she's just received shocking news. Say something. Help her through this.

Monumentally confusing point. Why are they flying Paul back to CTU? Why not to some first-class trauma unit? There must be good units in LA accustomed to dealing with gunshot wounds. Why go to the clinic at CTU? (This would be the same medical unit that took such good care of Young Maya Driscoll.)

SecDef Heller has a conversation with El Presidente, who is still on Air Farce One somewhere. El Presidente is obviously a Wascly Wepublican, because he's thinking they should go straight to martial law, to deal with the unrest the already jittery public will exhibit the Mummy's as yet unknown plan will cause. (The President did not say which he was more worried about, being covered in flies, or the killer sand storms.)

As Paul is being wheeled in, and Audrey has her weepy bedside moments with Paul, we receive some astonishing news. CTU has recovered a name from the encrypted document Paul had saved. Gonk. What? We're still only about 5 minutes into the show. Paul gave Agent Castle the document at the end of the previous episode. There had to be a little time to get the document over to CTU. Which means CTU took this printed piece of paper and somehow magically decoded it within (almost literally) seconds. Wow, good going CTU. You have some slick technology there. (Or the encryption scheme was spectacularly pathetic.) Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go weep for a moment.

The name is Jospeh Fayed, a chemical engineering professor at "Green University". The man is tied to Marwan, or so says the magically decoded document.

(This is an obvious ripoff of the story involving Sami Al-Arian. He was a computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida. He was involved with raising money for terrorist groups.)

Jack immediately has the genius idea to use Dina Araz to get to Fayed. Dina will pretend to have Jack as a hostage. Jack says this is the only way, because Marwan would've vetted his inner circle carefully, and Fayed would kill himself rather than help CTU. Um, yeah. Marwan sure did a fine job picking Navi and his goonball teenage son with a thing for infidel white girls. And, there was that terrorist at the warehouse that gave Jack information when Jack just threatened to rough him up a bit. Never mind all the help Dina has been providing.

Marwan has a little scene with Mr. Anderson, and tells him to proceed to a certain hotel.

We then cut to a scene in a hotel, where some Air Force guy is getting jiggy with some dame not his wife. Said wife calls said dame's cell phone, thus surprising Air Force guy. But, wife is not calling to scold Air Force guy for taking liberties with his marital vows. No, she and the children are being held at gunpoint, and will be harmed unless he cooperates. He is flustered, and turns out only to find said dame pointing a gun at him. She is the classic honey pot.

Mr. Anderson shows up (showing he and Marwan were only minutes away from this hotel. Naturally.) The dame is paid and she leaves, and Mr. Anderson needs Air Force guy for something.

Back at Gestapo HQ, Jack uses Beiruts to force Dina to go along with this insane plan. We hadn't seen Beiruts for a few episodes. Luckily he is still alive, even though he is still being held at CTU. He's apparently just been sitting in his cell with his usual cross-eyed Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer expressions.

Jack says if Dina helps them, they can go into the witness protection together. Otherwise Dina will never see Beiruts again. Dina agrees to help.

The crackplot story is that while Jack and Dina were going back to CTU, Navi's men attacked them. All were killed except Dina and Jack. Dina managed to get a gun and take Jack hostage. The cover story didn't explain why it took her hours to get to Fayed's house, even though it takes mere minutes to get to any other location in LA. To add truth to the story, Jack stabs himself in the gut with a knife. (Not kidding here.)

(Oh, in another example of hysterically weird cosmic serendipity, after I was done with 24, I was flipping around the channels, and came across an early episode of MASH. Those were the best years, with Col Blake and Trapper. This episode had one of MASH's funniest characters of all time, Col. Flagg. In this episode, Flagg let some prisoner escape, and to cover it up, Flagg messed up the tent to make it look like a struggle had taken place. Then, Flagg, conked himself in the bean with a telephone, and then ran headfirst into a wooden locker, to make it look like he had been injured and overpowered, using the same ruse Jack would use decades later. Ha.)

In a meeting to discuss this crackpot plan, Edgar is obviously distracted. Apparently he is still thinking about his mom. (Tony says that the mother did take her own life. The fate of the mother has been somewhat unclear. I'll now add her to the body count.) Michelle determines that Chloe is needed to help oversee all the satellite technology that will be involved in monitoring Jack and Dina.

Michelle calls Chloe. Luckily Chloe is home, and as irascible as ever. Michelle asks her to do this for Jack, and presto chango, Chloe arrives at CTU within minutes. As she arrives, she immediately corrects Edgar on his procedures. She mutters technobabble, but it's great to see Chloe in action again.

Jack declines to tell Audrey that he is going on this crackpot mission. He obviously is a little miffed over Audrey's newfound concern for Paul.

Speaking of crackpot, I hereby coin a new word to describe this season of 24. Crackplot. Describes this season perfectly.

There is a nice scene as Dina quickly says goodbye to Beiruts. The actress does amazing things with just her eyes, conveying all the emotions involved.

Minutes later, Jack and Diane, I mean, Dina, arrive at Fayed's house. I've said it before, CTU is smack in the middle of this nest of terrorists. They are all mere moments away from CTU.

Surveillance teams are there, looking very unobtrusive with their parabolic mikes stuck out the window of the vehicle.

At Fayed's door, he claims to know nothing of any Marwan or Navi. Dina says Navi knows him. Dina says she has a hostage Marwan wants. Fayed eventually lets them in, and then conks poor Jack on the head.

A quick cut over to some air base. Air Force guy enters at the gate. Gate security checks the car over, finds nothing. The car proceeds into the base. Mr. Anderson emerges from a spot behind the back seat. (Was that Air Force guy's car? If so, mighty convenient he had such a space.) Mr. Anderson tells the guy his family is already dead, then shoots him and puts him in the trunk. Harsh. Oh, and then proceeds to cut off one of the now dead Air Force guy's thumbs.

Fayed calls Marwan to tell him the happy news. Dina is there with an infidel CTU agent as hostage. Marwan tells Fayed he wants to meet them, and says to follow his instructions. Jack is on the floor in the back of the car.

A mere 10 minutes after Fayed and Marwan speak on the phone, they drive through a tunnel. CTU surveillance is behind them, a ways back to avoid detection. Chloe and the rest of CTU are looking at overhead shots tracking Fayed's car via satellite.

There is some kind of construction going on in the tunnel. As the car slows, construction workers quickly move to Fayed's car and remove Dina and Jack, placing them in a van. Fayed is given some kind of briefcase. Fayed then drives out of the tunnel. CTU can't see what is happening in the tunnel.

When Fayed's car emerges, CTU casts a 9th Level Detect Infrared spell, and sees that there is now only one person in Fayed's car. They know they've been snookered. (The surveillance team sees Fayed's car now, which means they have passed through the tunnel, and would've gone right by where the switch was made, but never mind all that.)

(Another monumentally confusing point. How did Marwan pull this off? Did he set up a fake construction site in the tunnel in mere minutes? Or, did he happen to know of the tunnel construction site, and was just keeping it mind for use in just such a situation, as a contingency plan? Either way, the Mummy is truly an immortal.)

Chloe quickly looks back through LA traffic camera shots, and they see the van, and get the license plates. (I forget what made CTU look at that van. Please don't make me remember.) CTU stops Fayed's car. Fayed, being a good loyal terrorist, blows himself up with the bomb that was in the briefcase. He takes at least one CTU agent with him.

Marwan and company then go to some location. Dina is ordered to shoot Jack as a test of loyalty, to prove that she really did take Jack hostage, and isn't doing this in cooperation with CTU. Dina points the gun at Jack's head, then points it at Marwan and pulls the trigger. The gun clicks. It was empty. Marwan says something like "I thought so". Jack is taken away. Dina is taken to an adjoining room, shoved out of camera range, and the thug shoots Dina. Harsh. I'll miss Dina, she was one of the more interesting characters this season. Certainly a fine fine actress.

The episode ends with Mr. Anderson using the severed thumb on a security device, then walking into a hanger, where a jet plane is sitting.

(Not clear why Curtis couldn't use Ex-Powell's thumb in the same way in the 4-5pm episode)

We knew this before, but all logic and reason has been put on ice. The writers no longer even pretend to care about how long it takes to get around LA, or giving even a shred of possibility to plot points. 24 is dead. Long live 24.

Approximate Body Count: 105

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