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, April 19, 2005

24 Day 4 12:00 AM - 1:00 AM

A Review

I've figured it out. This show isn't in the action-adventure genre, it's horror! It's designed to make us run screaming for the bathroom, to cringe and recoil at what we see on the screen, to quiver in terror, knowing what is coming next.

The Veep, now SortOfActing President, is named Logan. Will he use this lucky break to further his career, to try and get elected President himself at the next election? Let's get all the "Run, Logan, Run" jokes out of our system now, shall we.

Michelle just can't help herself, and says CTU has several protocols related to the crash. Well of course they do. Michelle and Tony are to run point on working up information to give to RunLoganRun. When they hear this news, they all but roll their eyes at each other. To get information fast, Michelle orders everyone to skip the usual request procedures. That's news to us, the audience, that CTU actually has planned, thought out ahead of time procedures for things?

Jack works with some guy named Fred Lawton to reconstruct the chapter Marwan took. And, this being the 24-verse, Lawton has accomplished this task in about five minutes.

We're told moving nuclear weapons around is a standard shift policy. Really?

Jack is ordered back to CTU to assist Audrey as liasion with DoD. Just where is SecDef anyway? I wonder if Devane got tired of being associated with such an inane crackplot, worried that his reputation as an actor might be sullied, and just left the show.

We cut to Marwan in the desert, who has met up with at least one van full of baddies. Gracious, these terrorists have a small army working on this operation. And you'll remember, Marwan escaped because the lone helicopter with Jack was unable to find a single jeep with its headlights on driving around in the middle of the dark desert, only seconds after it stopped the first jeep.

Marwan apparently is tracking a nuclear warhead being shifted around. Let's just pause here for a moment. Apparently this has been Marwan's plan. Not content to undertake the massive operation to melt down all the nuclear power plants in the country, Marwan hatches this crazy scheme to steal a Stealth fighter, time Air Farce One's arrival in LA to the second even though it has been flying around for 15, 16 hours, shoot down AF1, somehow divine that the nuclear football would be sucked out of the plane, fall to the desert (and not to the bottom of some lake), survive the fall, there would be no government agents there to retrieve it so would only need four guys to get it, and then, would know the exact location of a nuclear warhead in transit. How? We don't know. I sure hope the stolen chapter didn't have that information, that would record where a warhead would be at an exact time on an exact date. Sigh.

Marwan says the warhead is at 36 deg 14 min latitude, 115 degrees 21 min longitude. I wasn't real clear if that supposed to be the warhead's location at the time, as Marwan said the destination was Jefferson City, IA. That latitude and longitude is a spot in the Nevada desert, in the Nellis Air Force Bombing and Gunnery Range. So what does that have to do with Iowa?!?

And why is a nuclear warhead going to Jefferson City, IA? There is no such place for one thing. There is a Jefferson, Iowa. Is there supposed to be a large military nuclear facility there in Iowa? There is no such thing. Sigh.

Anyway, Marwan, in command of this army of terrorists, says he'll get his people in place to get this warhead. So now we have terrorists roaming around Iowa and Illinois. You think the US government failed in detecting the 19 terrorists from 9/11, what are the Congressional Hearings going to say about a government that couldn't detect a gajillion terrorists in the US to carry out these spectacular operations?

Chloe rushes in with the next plot point. A terrorist used a credit card on a watch list, belonging to Eric Murphy. Chloe, the terrorist expert, deduces this was a mistake. Curtis is finally given something to do. The card was used at a gas station in Torrance, which is towards the southern part of LA, near the coast. Curtis was supposedly at Division, but he will be told to head to Torrance. Why? Who knows. Maybe they think the terrorist will just hang around the gas pumps for awhile.

Jack has yet another drivelly conversation with Audrey. Audrey says the crack CTU medical staff is having trouble keeping Paul stable. Paul is unstable? We knew that already, honey. How's Paul doing?

Murphy, aka Yosik Khatami, calls Marwan and proves Marwan made yet another stellar call in picking his team. Khatami is all scared and trembly about his mistake. Marwan tells him to go to Prado, who will get him out of the country. Prado has been busy today already getting people out of the country. (In the 6 pm hour, Prado was going to help the Bob Dylan lookalike get out of the country.) Khatami was trying to arrange delivery for the warhead. Why he was trying to arrange that now, while the operation is going on, is not clear. Nor is it clear what he is doing to arrange delivery in California when the warhead is currently in Iowa. Or at least en route from Illinois.

Murphy said he was in Inglewood, which is several miles north of Torrance. Marwan says he should head to the marina. Marina Del Rey is just west of Inglewood, so that's where Khatami is to go. Prado will meet him there. (And never mind how Khatami got that far north in a short time.)

Back at the White House, RunLoganRun is down in some bunker, 200 feet underneath the White House. Goodness, how did they dig all that out. We see the Seal. The Eagle is looking at the branch, as it does in times of peace, and not at the arrows, as it does in times of war. Well, the attacks have just happened, probably hasn't been time to switch the Seals. Logan proves himself to be a jiggling jello mass of insecurities and hesitancies.

And now, lo and behold, as if by Magic, a traffic cam has picked up Khatami's car. How? Don't ask.Tony wants to move in, as we move to a commercial break. As we come back, at about 16:00, Khatami is in a frame driving. At the 16:30 mark we see Curtis getting to the marina. Hold on! He was supposed to go to Torrance. How did he get to the marina at the same time as Khatami? Arrrgggh. They just determined Khatami's general location minutes before. Curtis was supposed to go well south of the marina. Did Curtis disobey orders and head for the marina on a whim? Maybe he wanted to do some nighttime fishing and by sheer luck that happened to be where Khatami was heading?

At about 17:15, we see Khatami just standing around at the water's edge waiting. So, it only took him 90 seconds to stop driving, park the car, and get to this spot. Not bad.

Prado takes Khatami on the boat. Khatami is freaking out, he calls Marwan, who says they shouldn't be taken alive. Prado is having none of that, and shoots Khatami, and pretends to CTU that he was an innocent civilian who shot an intruder in self-defense.

Marwan is worried Prado will talk. But, how the hey does Marwan know CTU has Prado? All he heard was shots on Khatami's phone. Maybe he is just being prudent and assuming the worst. Maybe. Marwan quick arranges for a lawyer from Amnesty Global (harharhar) to head over to CTU to protect Prado from certain torture, so he won't spill too many beans to CTU.

Back at Gestapo HQ, Michelle says everyone should "clear all directories". Hmm, I hope people know what that means, and they don't start erasing their hard drives.

We see baddies capturing the warhead, somewhere in the wilds if Iowa. In the usual way, a terrorist is heard shouting "Move! Move! Move!" The terrorists slide a big crate into a beatup Ford pickup and head off. In an odd detail, the crate had "US Army" stamped on it. Since when does the US Army move nuclear warheads around? Do they even control nuclear warheads? I thought that was the Air Force and Navy.

Then, in one of the most hilarious howlers 24 has ever produced, we see Mike telling Logan that contact with one of the warheads in transit was lost. Mike said that could just be because of the "mountainous terrain." Mountainous terrain? In western Illinois, eastern Iowa? BBbwwwhhoooohhaaaaaaa! Hhaahhhhaaaaa! Land does not get much flatter and more featureless than this area. Do this crickin' writers ever look at a map? Logan is obviously a dunce, not remembering all those trips through Iowa on the campaign trail, and what the countryside looked like.

Back at Gestapo HQ, Michelle says to prep the interrogation room. Prep it how exactly? Set out flowers? Stock the mini-bar?

Curtis will use Richards to interrogate Prado. Of course. Richards no longer has his tie on. I wonder what happened to it. It is getting late. We see the classic scene of Richards opening his case.

But the Amnesty International, I mean, Global, lawyer gets there. Boy that was fast. And he already has a signed court order, preventing CTU from touching Prado. Things sure do move fast in the 24-verse. Didn't this judge even bother to call CTU, to see if they in fact did have this guy in custody?

Edgar is all upset by Prado, a guy working with the guys who killed his dear mother. Edgar is supposed to be working on the hourlies. I suppose to see if any other Air Force pilots suddenly go missing.

They get information from other government agencies, because they are "sharing databases". Friends, the government is not nearly this organized, where different agencies have such easily integrated databases. The FBI has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars trying to upgrade their systems in a failed typical government project.

At some point Tony talks about trying to determine what vehicle would be needed to transport a nuclear warhead. Hmm, apparently no particular vehicle is needed. I wonder how long before Tony comes up with the answer: "beat up old Ford pickup".

Jack arrives at CTU, and is obviously ticked that lawyer tricks are preventing a key interrogation when a nuke warhead is on the loose. He'll get to the bottom of things. He goes bursting into the interrogation room.

An odd moment. Jack goes into the room by using the keypad. We don't hear him say anything. Yet, on the closed captions, there is a question "What's the code?" and an answer "4-1-6", like Jack was asking the red shirt for the code. But again, we didn't hear this. Don't know why Jack would need the code anyway, as he's been in before. Maybe they changed it though as Jack as a way of bursting in and shooting people in the knee. And, though we saw 4-1-6, Jack punches 4 keys.

Jack tries to reason with the AG lawyer. And gets about as far as you'd expect. Jack figures out that Marwan must have arranged for the lawyer. So, Jack hatches a crackplot scheme. He'll resign, become a private citizen, and get Prado himself. He leaves as Audrey tries to get him to talk, to express his feelings. Lately, all Audrey does is come walking up to people while they're busy with something else. Doesn't she have work to do?

And all this after CTU consulted with Logan, who has no stomach for this sort of thing, and declines to put a rush order on the Can We Torture Prado request.

Prado is released. He and the lawyer go out to the parking lot. A parking lot which, by the way, has been remarkably cleaned up, given that Marianne's car blew up there only hours before, just before 3 PM.

When Prado and the accompanying US Marshall are alone, Jack tasers the marshall (another innocent bystander hurt) and handcuffs Prado to the dash. Then proceeds to break Prado's thumb.

Little Jack Bauer/(and not Rutger Hauer)/wanted to get his way
So he ripped off a thumb/cuz Prado was acting dumb/and said "now do you have something to say?"

Marwan is now at a place near downtown called The Hub. Huh? Is this a dance club or something? Marwan has time to goof off in the middle of this grand operation?

Quincy down at the county coroner's office gets a bit of a break, as there was only one new body this episode. There'd be no place to put much more, anyway, as Sam is busy tagging bodies stacked up in hallways, closets, on top of filing cabinets....

And, guest critic Paul reminds me the schlup guards "guarding" the warhead were dispatched. But they are in Iowa, so won't really be around to bother poor Quincy.

Approximate Body Count: 131 (plus "many dead" near the nuclear plant)

(and now, finally returned to Terra Firma after flying around in Air Farce One for 16 hours, here is guest critic Paul Foth)


This actually wasn't a terrible episode with which to rejoin the season, in that it made a modicum of sense. One thing that was neat was coming back to it after a few weeks and discovering that the recap they shoehorned into the dialogue did a good job of bringing me up to speed. Those things are frustrating when you watch from week to week, but probably work pretty well for occasional viewers. Then again, given the show's premise, there probably aren't too many occasional viewers, so the writers are taking a risk by including in-story recaps in every episode. I would've been just fine without one, but having it was okay too.

The country is in crisis, so the first thing we see at Gestapo HQ is a meeting, one highlighted by Michelle voicing CTU Standard Line #27, "Okay, people, we don't have a lot of time." I'm sorry; Michelle with stright hair just doesn't work. It's obviously because she's graduated to DIVISION and all, but the new look doesn't give me the impression that she's somehow more responsible now, as that she's older and a little haggard. Maybe the politcal infighting at DIVISION is even worse than it is at CTU.

And is she dating her dad? Leaving aside the Electra Complex issue, I like this Bill Buchanan. He's calm, collected, and professional, traits that must be confusing everyone at Gestapo HQ to no end.

Whenever I hear about the "nuclear football," I think of the Peter Sellers classic "The Mouse that Roared," in which the nuclear football really was shaped like a football. So I was quite disappointed to see that in the 24 world, it's just a briefcase.

So one of the pages from the Red Chapter of the football (A football with chapters!? Maybe one of the government's problems is that it can't control its own metaphors.) puts the final resting place of a nuke at Jefferson City, Iowa. I didn't check to see if the latitude and longitude the Mummy spouted off to Henchman 67 actually point to where Henchman 67's laptop said they did, but it doesn't really matter because there is no Jefferson City in Iowa. There is a town called Jefferson in Iowa, but it's a ways south of the position indicated by the laptop.

Which begs the question: Did the writers mean the real Jefferson, or did they make Jefferson City up? If they meant Jefferson, why change the name and location? So people don't end up makin' all them farm folk afeard by callin' city hall and askin' where the nuke is? If they made Jefferson City up, why? There's a whole host of real towns in that part of Iowa to choose from. (There are a few fake towns in Iowa, but they're mostly in the southeast quadrant.)

So the nuke is en route to Jefferson from some unnamed point of origin in Illinois. The trajectory on Henchman 67's laptop had the nuke traveling through Iowa City (well, close to it, since Iowa City is a nuclear free zone...), but no indication of its current location or travel schedule was given. Before reading the coordinates, the Mummy had no way of knowing about it. And yet within fifteen or twenty minutes, one of his sleeper cells has successfully ambushed the convoy and loaded the nuke into a pickup that should've raised many local eyebrows because it was way to clean and shiny for farm country. Good grief, does the Mummy have a cell in every county in the country?!

Speaking of counties, they have sheriffs. States don't. And yet Jack asks a question about the Iowa Sheriff's Department. Yep, people are so few and far between out there, they only need one sheriff for the whole state.

The new (acting) president, Shakes, looks more than a little like Nixon. I don't know if it's intentional on the part of the casting director, but it is a little eerie. He's quite a piece of work. If he's that scared under pressure, one wonders how he managed to weasel his way into El Presidente's confidence enough to be the VP. But, anything to get Palmer back on the show. The highlight of next week's episode will be seeing how Mike manages to say, "There's someone who can advise you better than I can," without breaking down in an uncontrollable fit of something between laughter and tears. Palmer's first bit of advice: "Hire your brother and have him shoot your ex-wife."

At least it'll be a break from insurance commericals for Palmer. There was another one on during this episode, and, for the life of me, it sounded like he ended it with, "That's All State, Stan." I know, I know, it was really, "That's All State's stand," but either my hearing is slipping or Palmer took to drinking after giving up on running for a second term.

Okay, now for the moment of jawdropping stupidity. Forget that Prada can't possibly think his story of shooting Henchman 68 in self defense will stick; forget that Gestapo HQ goes to the Richards Solution right away (Has Richards ever said anything? It's certainly one way of getting away with paying the actor less. I don't think we even saw his face in this episode--just his case of magic items.), once again violating who knows how many laws and demonstrating that the only difference between CTU and the terrorists is that CTU has more expensive toys; forget that the lawyer from Amnesty Global (I can't imagine what organization the writers cribbed that name from) is walked right through the nerve center of an installation that has classified information flying around like tobacco juice in the Yankee dugout--doesn't the building have a lobby and maybe a side corridor for visitors?--forget all that. No, Handsome Curtis walks out of the interrogation room and right in front of the lawyer says, "There's a nuclear warhead missing." Okay, granted: the lawyer may know that Prada was brought in for torture--I mean, questioning--in connection with the theft of a warhead, but at no point did Curtis find out he knew so. Bill should've slapped Curtis silly for that. Then again, the way personnel have been rotating at CTU, maybe Curtis thought the lawyer was just the new mole--er, temp.

Protocols: 1
Bodies: 1, plus "everyone" in the convoy in Iowa

Next hour: Showdown at the Disco

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