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

Monday, April 25, 2005

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

A Review

As usual, the standard warning about graphic violence. It's like a magician trying to distract you with lots of movement and misdirection. "Woohoo, look over here! See the graphic violence! Pay no attention to the dreadful crackplot over there!" Not sure why the warning was needed this time. It was pretty tame, especially for 24 this season. Makes me think all the more it is misdirection. On to this week's nuclear accident of a plot.

The previouslies mentioned something I neglected last week. Jack wanted to work over Prado, and RunLoganRun said he'd give them an answer in 20 minutes. Jack said it could be over in 20 minutes. Oh? The bomb is currently in the middle of Iowa. What are the terrorists going to blow up for their dramatic act? A cornfield? I would think the US would settle for losing a cornfield, or even a small town in Iowa, versus a large metropolitan area. They can only pray it is over in 20 minutes.

As the episode begins, we see the crack CTU medical staff (only lost one patient to suicide in the last 24 hours!) has immediately sprung into action, and Prado is conscious, in the clinic, bandaged up, and receiving care. Not bad for only a few minutes. There were X-rays on the wall in his room. Please tell me those weren't Prado's X-rays. Even in the 24-verse there isn't time to take X-rays and develop them in a few minutes. I don't even want to contemplate that.

Jack is prepping a team to lead the raid on Marwan. Now wait a minute. Last week the grand master plan was for Jack to resign from CTU, and become a private citizen, so he could work over Prado. What happened to that? Here Jack is as agenty as ever.

Why did Jack need to conk Prado out, anyway? I thought it was because Jack was going to immediately move on Marwan, and didn't want Prado squealing. If Jack was going to run back into CTU and prep the team, what did bashing Prado accomplish?

And a "team"? This is a small army! Where were all these people when Jack went to Mr. Annnderrsson's apartment, and out to the desert? At those times Jack took only one other person with him. Where were all these guys?

Audrey does what she does best, which is to say all that she does anymore, and that is walk up and interrupt something else going on to harangue people. And then, stands and just watches Jack leave. Audrey, go liason or something. Given what Jack has done, shouldn't Audrey think about having Jack arrested? She can only weakly mention consequences. Such as...what? No TV after supper?

There's a reference to Agent Castle. Curtis wants to lock down a ten block area around Marwan. I could not stifle a roaring guffaw. They couldn't pin down Marwan when they were within ten feet of him and within one floor of him, within one warehouse of him, and over him with a helicopter. What good is it going to do them to lock down a ten block area? Curtis agrees that a lock down could alert Marwan. (Do they think Marwan has agents posted on dozens of street corners as lookouts?) Curtis says they'll just stay invisible. Curtis, you've done too good a job at that already. Ok sports fans, what do you think will happen on this, the *fourth* attempt to apprehend Marwan? Yeah, you're probably right.

RunLoganRun is getting more and more waffly as time goes by. Ick. Mike confabs with Bill from Division, and Bill thinks they could cheat the timeline about Prado if Logan eventually agrees to rough up Prado. Bill, buddy, how many people know about this already? How long do you think something like that would stay secret? You think the upcoming Congressional Hearings on this pathetic mess won't bring that out?

There's a reference to Logan's behavior as President in the "last few hours". Huh? He was just sworn in as President just before 12 AM!!! Barely an hour ago!!!

We cut to the Iowa contingent of the terrorist team in Iowa. Some are white guys. How'd they hook up with a bunch of murderous Islamic terrorists? The guys know the local dress, though, with farmer clothes, ballcaps, hunting jackets. One of the baddies, Sabir, gets a call from his naggy girlfriend. Turns out the girlfriend was snooping around his computer. Oh, once again, great security on the part of the terrorist team. The girlfriend is suspiscious that Sabir is out looking for 72 virgins. She is jealous.

Now, to one of the nuttier parts of this week's crackplot. Why in the hey is Marwan at a nightclub? In his meticulous planning, he couldn't find some quiet home in the suburbs? Say, the home of Ma and Pa Araz? Why pick such a public place? Another thing, why does Prado know where Marwan is at that exact moment? Why does he need to know? Just bad, bad operational security. This from a terrorist team that plans out absolutely everything, as we shall soon see.

(Let's just skip over the fact, too, that Marwan already had three other locations tagged for use on this day. They had Pa Araz's warehouse. They had that basement location. You can understand though why they didn't want to make that their main hideout, since the wiring was bad. They had to run an extension cord down from upstairs. And, Marwan had that other warehouse, where Jack was held. What was the point having so many different locations? With all of those, why the need to go bashing holes in the basement of a dance club? If they had to resort to the dance club because the warehouse was blown, then when did they find the time to bash this hole in without anyone knowing about it? My brain hurts.)

Finally, given all that has happened today, who the heck would want to go to a nightclub at this time? A 100 reactors nearly melted down, one near LA did, killed a bunch, the President and Air Farce One were just shot down near LA, the nation is under terrorist attack... screw that! we're going dancing! woohoo!!! yeesh.

Logan wigs out when he hears what Jack did. People are so worried about the politics of it, and think the politics are in Logan's favor. Um, not so sure there. What is the nation going to say when it turns out Bauer was right, and Logan prevented CTU from getting knowledge that could prevent a nuclear attack. How are those politics going to play out, hmmm?

Outside the nightclub, Jack is going to send in a remote camera. He gets schematics for the AC configuration from Chloe. Naturally. CTU can't capture the most dangerous terrorist in the world in three tries, but they have plans on every building in LA.

Sabir's girlfriend calls in, and somehow ends up talking to Chloe of all people. She spells her name, but only spells her last name. Yet, the krazy kaptions have her spelling her first name as well. Apparently Sabir was in grad school for engineering. She says she found a document in the recycle bin, that had schematics for a microchip she hadn't seen before. Ok, and this is suspicious why? (And, let's not even bother with the minor gaffe that Girlfriend told Sabir she had found a "bookmark" on his computer. bookmark, document, ah, details schmetails.)

Back to the club. Now, why couldn't they send in some undercover agents? Some youngish looking agents that could blend in, have a presence inside the building?

Marwan mentions an Abat in NY. Apparently part of the New York contingent of terrorists. They're everywhere! Marwan wants to make a videotape and get to the media before dawn on the east coast. They'd better hurry. It's already 4:30 am in the east.

Marwan begins his rant. "People of Earth, I mean, America. Blah blah blah...."

Thankfully, the air ducts are *not*, in fact, big enough for someone to crawl around in, like they are in every other tv show and movie ever made. Nice camera though. Good resolution.

It beams a baddie face back to CTU, where we get Insta Face-Recognition. Naturally. Michelle mostly has the week off, but utters a few words here.

Hey, there's Agent Castle!

Secret Security agents Greg Merfield and Frank Wells show up to take Jack into custody, as per Logan's little hissyfit. They make Castle go in early to get Jack, but a nasty taxi driver shines his headlights on Castle, which alerts the baddies. Marwan is told! no! Tell me Marwan doesn't suspect there is something in the air vent! Ggaahhhh! The man has psychic powers! CTU cannot possibly hope to beat him! He is a 40th level mage! Untouchable!

Curtis utters the immortal "Go! Go! Go!" Ha, I love it. Never gets old.

At this point, I was thinking ok, they don't have the building surrounded, Marwan is just going to stroll out to the parking lot, hop into his Dodge Dart and drive away.

Well, in this, Marwan's fourth escape, I'll give the writers a little credit for being original. Marwan calmly strolls across the dance floor, filled with people grieving the events of the day, and escapes through... a tunnel!!!! Gahhh! These terrorists are amazing! They came up with this plan where instead of having a private location to hide out, they'd go to a public dance club, arrange to knock a gaping hole in the wall in the basement, hope no one noticed this big gaping hole, and set up a video camera in the back room. Man, what guts. What vision!

CTU pursues, and.... wait, the terrorists have prepared all! They put a bomb there to blow the entrance, and block the tunnel so no one could pursue! Amazing! Can you imagine this conversation months before, early in the planning process? "Ok, we gotta put a bomb in this tunnel to blow it in case we're chased. Well, if we're being chased doesn't that mean the plan is pretty much screwed already. That's not the point, the point is to be prepared for any possibility. OK, you're right. Allah akbar."

Edgar has apparently repositioned some satellite. pause. What satellite? Why? Why are we hearing this?

Logan acts more and more like a petulant child. Stern stuff he is made of. Mike should have said he is need of a spine transplant.

A call is placed to...surprise! Former President Palmer. (Why he is in DC?) Palmer, the guy from the other party and Keeler and Logan replaced, is going to be called in to help. Man, the bench in Logan's party must be pretty sparse if there's no one else to help. Palmer is told about the warhead missing, and Palmer says "My god!" He should've added "You incompetent idiots! What have you been doing today?"

Back at the club, Jack is angry now about losing Marwan? How about the other three times???

Jack could've charged into the tunnel after Marwan, but he held up. So he should be mad at himself.

Back at Gestapo HQ, Edgar is upset about Chloe's "pretty rude attitude". Chloe says Edgar is "screwing around" moving agents around that aren't needed. Daddy Tony steps in and sends Edgar to his room. Chloe smiles triumphantly. Sigh. Yes, like Fred and Ginger, Dean and Martin, Hope and Crosby, Itchy and Skratchy, it's Chloe and Edgar, ladies and gentlemen.

In the wilds of the mountains of Iowa, Sabir continues to work on the bomb. It looks way too much like the engine of the Ford pickup they drove up in.

Marwan is wandering around the well-lit sewer tunnels. Funny, but his cell phone still works down there.

White Guy Iowegian Terrorist says there might be a problem with Sabir's girlfriend. Marwan merely asks if it is being taken care of. Iowegian says yes. You'd think Marwan would wonder how this critical security breach is being handled, given that Iowegian is in Iowa, and Girlfriend is in LA.

The girlfriend apparently lives in Los Feliz. This neighborhood is in north central LA, not too terribly far from downtown. So, it's at least a little plausible, according to 24-verse rules anyway, when the CTU gets there in mere minutes.

And who is on this team? Chloe. Bill from Division told her to go. She refused and walked away, exhibiting good employee behavior. But she went anyway. Along with only two agents. Doesn't CTU remember what happened when only two agents were sent with Curtis and Marianne. Or one agent with Jack? Hello?

Chloe gets to girlfriend's house. Who, it turns out, has a PhD in computer science. Aha, a little competition for Chloe. Enough to make Chloe's eyebrows go up. But, Chloe can hold her own. She immediately detects the telltale tabs of the blowfish algorithm. (Look, blowfish scat!)

Alas, the two CTU agents sent along as cannon fodder are just that. A lone gunman. another white guy, bursts in and dispatches them. As the first one goes down, the krazy kaptions say "BERGEN: Chloe!", even though we don't hear him say anything.

Chloe the non-field agent springs into action and she and Girlfriend run. This actually is a very tense, rather well done scene.

Chloe and Girlfriend end up in a CTU car, which is bulletproof, oddly enough. They are safe in there. But, Chloe manages to get a weapon out of the back, and leaves the safety of the vehicle (not a smart move) and dispatches the baddie, a la Rambo. Where did she learn to handle a gun like that?

Alas, a neighbor wasn't so lucky, as he intervened where he shouldn't. The episode ends here, mercifully. Any longer and Amnesty Global lawyers would have to intervene, claiming further watching constitutes torture.

What are these previews for next week all about?!? North Koreans?!?

Continuing question: Where are SecDef Heller and Beiruts? I think Beiruts is taking up space in a shallow grave somewhere.

(and now, here is guest critic Paul Foth, even though he disobeyed my direct orders and went ahead and wrote a review anyway. I want him arrested! I don't care if anyone is in the middle of reading this! Arrest him!)


This must be what the boys at Dunkirk felt like, wondering if they'd ever make it home alive. The writers continue to pound us, our ammunition is running low, and the rescue ships are nowhere in sight. But we fight on, with a pluck and determination that tells the world we will emerge victorious--maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of our lives.

Yet more proof that the 24-verse is one of technomagery--and we should've realized this sooner--is the way the pieces on the board get rearranged between episodes. Jeff pointed out that at the beginning of this episode Prada (and his shoes, I might add) is in the CTU infirmary, his fingers nicely splinted up, and conscious, while at the end of the previous episode, a mere one minute earlier (check the online episode guide!) he was in an SUV, in
the parking lot, and dreaming of sandcastles and unicorns as a result of Jack's gentle
ministrations. The only way this jump could've occured (not to mention Jack having apparently
reconsidered his decision to become a private citizen, reupped with CTU, and set in motion the storming of the nightclub (which, even though Prada mentioned the name (the Hub, if I remember
correctly) goes nameless from here on out)), complete with guys already in body armor) is via en masse teleportation, and perhaps even some time travel.

I'm going to reveal my lack of technogeek knowhow here: I don't know whether the "random sequencer" Edgar has on his "system" is a real piece of software or not. I may have heard of such a beast somewhere, but whether such things exist or not, in the 24-verse they follow the law of many a magic tool: If it's valuable, it's rare. He's the only person at Gestapo HQ who has one, and yet it's necessary both for him to move some pawns around the LA chessboard and for Chloe to check up on Girlfriend's story (more on which in half a mo). Repositioning personnel and checking leads are things CTU does pretty regularly. Are we to believe that every time someone has done one of these things in the past, they've had to use Edgar's (or
predecessor-of-Edgar's) computer, and that a) it hasn't interfered with someone else needing it, and/or b) no one's thought about putting a random sequencer on another computer or two, because it seems to be something CTU could use more than one of? The random sequencer must be a device of such grave power that only a few were ever created, and no two can exist in the same room at the same time, for fear of the eldritch rage that may be released.

Another nit to pick before getting to the (dead) meat of this episode, which Sir Geoffrey has already pointed out: namely, the missing SecDef. I suppose someone on this show might actually be taking a nap for once, but maybe in the last five minutes of the season, Audrey is going to realize that her dad's been missing for several hours and we'll know what next
season will be about: making sure he stays missing. Of course, Beiruts also being gone paints what could be a very ugly picture if it turns out SecDef has a key to Neverland Ranch.

Why did Chloe answer the call from Girlfriend? The best computer analyst at CTU and she's answering the tip line?! Or maybe the CTU web site has an entry for "If you suspect your significant other of terrorist activity that is computer related in a really technical way, call: 1-800-ITS-KLOE."

So Girlfriend found a document in the recycle bin because COMPUTER EXPERT Boyfriend was too absentminded to empty it or to realize that even emptying the recycle bin doesn't wipe a blamed thing off a hard drive. Said document was the blueprint of a computer chip, which
Girlfriend zaps off to Chloe, who prints it out on a piece of paper a bit larger than legal size. An entire chip. Millions of transistors. Tens of millions of connections. On one sheet of paper. CTU must have a laser printer.

Anyway, after some trademark Chloe acerbidity (which now sounds like it's there because that's what the viewers want, not because it's natural to the character), she's off to Girlfriend's house with yet another Dead Meat Team (CTU security teams should leave the country and join the Iraqi Police. They'd be a lot safer.) in a car that has a protective grille between the front and
back seats. Are they that afraid of Chloe?

Once at Girlfriend's, she learns that Girlfriend has a doctorate in Computer Sciences. Plural. Um. Okay, I know there are several sciences--physics, chemistry, biology, etc.--but when did computer science diversify? But still, this pretender can't match Chloe's Detect Algorithm Skill, because Chloe is able to divine the Blowfish from the names of the encrypted files. In the
24-verse, you can have all the techno in the world, but it won't do you a lick of good without the magery to match.

Once the Dead Meat Team fulfills its contractural obligation, the excitement ramps up. It was fun to see Chloe fry someone with something other than her mouth, although if that's the
first time she's ever fired a heavy duty cannon like that, CTU had best work on allaying her fears of being a field agent.

Leave it to President Shakes (who any minute is going to develop a case of Logan's Runs) to start questioning CTU's use of torture, a method that I again point out has not proven to be at all reliable for information gathering (at least in the real world, which of course the 24-verse is not). Never mind that no one had a problem with it when they were turning SecDef's son's brain to jello with the, um, Brain Jello-izer, or when they were tasering Sarah. Now Shakes is in on the deal, and he's not so much concerned with the legality of torture, or the reliability of it, as he is the fact that Jack disobeyed him.

It'll be nice to get Palmer into the game again, so this crisis can snowball into something that could conceivably end with the sun going nova. And it's great that he has a Secret Service guy in the house so someone can pick up his phone without his having to stretch. The absolute best lines of the season (and maybe of all four seasons) came during Mike and David's conversation. Mike tells him Shakes needs help. David: What kind of help?
Mike: Substantial.
Mike's delivery of that single word was beautiful.

But back to Jack. He's in the bowels of the club, getting "visuals" on everyone there (and amen to the criticism about why anyone is there in the first place; maybe they're all terrorists and are celebrating) when Stan and Ollie from the Secret Service drive up, without headlights ('cuz they're secret, I guess). Curtis said he'd run interference for Jack, which I thought meant that he'd try to delay Jack's arrest as long as possible. Silly me. Then again, silly Jack for barging into the conversation and trying to talk his way out of it. Now it's Castle's turn to prove he's true CTU material and take over for Jack (I wonder if the chess terminology was intentional. Or am I
thinking too much?). He begins sneaking toward the club by hiding behind a car, only to--no, wait a minute! He's not hiding behind a car; he's between the car and the club, so the headlights make him stand out like a deer in the, um, you know, headlights. So why has he bothered to
crouch down if he's not actually hiding?

So, of course, Faruk sees Castle and sounds the alarm. Before this, though, the Marmmy has speeched his speech in front of the camera. But hang on. Later on, when he's in the tunnel, he tells Henchman 112 in Iowa that "our timetable remains unchanged." Hmm. Well, leaving aside the fact that this implies he planned on almost getting captured all these times and knew the circumstances under which each of his contingency plans was going to be launched (which doesn't really make them contingency plans now, does it?), one wonders why he didn't make the tape last week, when things were a bit quieter. If the nuke was the plan all along, he certainly shouldn't have waited until after escaping CTU's rusty steel trap umpteen times before making his little PR statement.

Tony had told, I don't know, someone, to set up a two-mile perimeter around the club, which he then shrunk after the Marmmy escaped yet again. And true to form, the Marmmy slipped
through this sieve also--although how much you can collapse a two-mile perimeter in three or four minutes is debateble, as is the number of people you'd need to set up a decent two-mile perimeter in the first place (although I suppose to Edgar and his random sequencer it's like playing Tic Tac Toe against a hibernating tree frog).

The Marmmy's escape is of course "explained" by Jack's arrest. Once he's free, it's no longer necessary for Jack to be under arrest, so Shakes has his little "What have I done?" moment and unarrests Jack. Secret Service Agent Stan (or maybe it was Ollie) pleads the Nuremberg defense and says he was only following orders, at which point Jack yells, "We had him!" He should have continued: "Again! This was nothing more than a way to milk this crackplot for yet another hour! It didn't arise from anything close to reality! Shakes shouldn't be a congressional page, let alone the President! How can any suspense be believable when it comes about as the result of such feeble preparation!? I should shoot both of you right now! I'd be doing you a favor!"

Tune in next week, when we'll be Illin' with Kim Jong, as the 24-hour trainwreck continues.

Approximate Body Count: 136 (plus "many dead" near the nuclear plant, plus the Warhead Nonprotection team, plus whoever else was on Air Farce One)

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