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, May 02, 2005

24 Day 4 2:00 AM - 3:00 AM

A Review

If Spock were to mindmeld with this episode, as he did with the Horta in TOS episode "The Devil in the Dark", what would he say? Hmm, probably the same thing he said then, "Pain! Pain!"

What's the Trek tie in? Gregory Itzen, the actor who plays the wet noodle President Logan, was recently seen in the alternate universe episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. There, he was disintegrated by Evil Archer. Hmmm. Let's hope things go a bit better for him in the 24-verse.

We'll see more graphic violence. I think the producers just plain forgot that frame is in there, cuz this was another episode with very little shocking violence.

The previouslies remind us about the terrorist team in the mountains of Iowa. This team, if you recall, was minutes away from the warhead, once Marwan got the exact location from the pages from the football. This mean that team was already in place in Iowa. Did Marwan have teams all over the country all prepared to swipe a warhead if one was in their location? If Marwan knew a warhead was somewhere in the vicinity of Iowa, wouldn't it have been easier to use some of those 8 million terrorists they have in the country and keep a eye on Iowa highways for a military convoy going by, instead of going through all the trouble to shoot down Air Farce One? And I'll remind you again, the whole krazy plan would've gone into the crapper if that football had landed in a lake or a river. But we have this week's episode to get through. Steady on, mates.

Palmer greets ol' buddy Aaron the SS guy. Apparently Aaron's son just reupped in the service. See? SS guys are good, patriotic guys. Their kids serve our country well. We salute them.

Palmer emerges on Level 5. Goodness, what's holding the White House up, if everything underneath it was hollowed out for the Bunker? Logan thanks Palmer for coming so quickly. No kidding. Was Palmer across the street? Is he really a psycho, hanging around the White House thinking he's still President? Logan acknowledges that Palmer has some experience handling this sort of thing. Of course, it helps when you have a crazy wife and crazy brother helping you. Without them around this time, Palmer is going to have to stay on his toes.

Logan is going to be off in Conference Room B, preparing a statement for the press. Hmm, I suppose this is Logan's exit from the show, then? Palmer is taking it from here? Whenever we wonder where Logan is, someone will just say, "Oh, he's still back in Conference Room B." (Maybe they should do a nose count on the interns though, just in case.)

Palmer and Mike discuss old times. Palmer had a good line. "It's not something I believe. It's a fact." Ha. (Old fans will recall that Novick participated in the plot by the Veep and the Cabinet in Season 2 to decide that Palmer was unfit for office. Given that history, you'd think Palmer wouldn't be so quick to kinda sorta replace a President that has been declared "unfit to serve". Two Presidents, in a way.)

Apparently the Army Reserve can help with the search for the warhead in Iowa. Huh? The Reserve??? How about active duty personnel? How about the National Guard? Can we try those options before dragging accountants and teachers out of bed in the middle of the night? Yeek.

Palmer is shown photos of Marwan. Now just where in the bloody blue blazes did they get those photos? It looks like Vosloo's head shot! Just Marwan from chest up, staring straight ahead, against a blank background. What is that?

This being the 24-verse, hoards of cops have gotten to Girlfriend's house, where Plucky Chloe is dutifully banging away on Boyfriend's computer. Now, when Chloe was in trouble, she was told help from CTU was still 10 or 15 minutes away. (Never mind Chloe had got to the house from CTU in 5 minutes or so.) In the future, forget CTU. Just call the police! They're much faster than CTU!

Apparently Boyfriend, currently banging on the warhead with a mallet in the mountains of Iowa, doesn't have any experience with nuclear warheads! Well, there's a good hire, Marwan! Perhaps you should've firmed up that job description just a bit. So, CTU knows immediately that someone must be helping Sabir. And Chloe just as immediately finds emails sent from a false domain, MEM4XP. And just as immediately, Edgar traces it (uh, if it was false domain how did he trace it without getting several ISPs involved?) and they find a Chinaman named Lee Jong was the power behind Sabir's throne.

(Update: As far as I can tell, MEM4XP (dot anything) was a bogus domain. However, also looks like an outfit called Intertruss Internet Services registered on May 2, presumably not long after the episode aired.)

Back at Gestapo HQ, yet another ralph-inducing scene with Audrey and Paul. Paul is going back east for care, and Audrey wants to go with.

Jack pops in, saying he'd been trying to get down to see Paul since he got out of surgery. Of course, Jack is too gentlemanly to mention the reason he couldn't get there sooner was that in the last 4 hours, Jack has been held captive in a warehouse, visited Anderson's apt, dashed out to the desert and shot his way into and out of an abandoned power station, broken Prado's finger, and raided a nightclub filled with grieving Americans. So, Paul, honey, forgive Jack if he didn't get there earlier.

CTU casts a Detect Chinaman spell in conjunction with a Dispel Time spell, and immediately discovers Lee Jong went to the Chinese Consulate an hour ago. Goodness, CTU has some kind of resources. Too bad they weren't any good detecting the army of terrorists that have been working in the US for years.

Jack, Curtis, yet another anonymous agent, and a translator named Rabb are going to head over to the Consulate. Bill from Division is right there, in on the discussion. Remember that for later.

On the videotape, Marwan is seen to be threatening more attacks. rnnnhuh? They've already shot down Air Farce One. Are they going to shoot down Air Farce Two, get the backup football, and locate another warhead?

A dude named Koo Yin is the Chinese Consul. (I am hardly an expert, but most of these names sounded Korean to me.) Consul Guy admits that Jong thought suspicion would fall on him, but it was a misunderstanding. Now hold the phone, he just admitted that Jong is involved. How else would Jong know that he might be under suspicion. Yin, baby, work on your Shield of Diplomacy (+2 to Deflecting Inquiries).

Palmer warns Consul Guy that he'll do a Swoop and Squat if Jong is not turned over.

Someone mentions that a 60-mile perimeter has been set up in Iowa to try and contain the warhead. Excuse me whilst I wet myself laughing. 60-mile perimeter? So there are people manning this entire perimeter so nothing slips through? Say, about, 60 quintillion people? Just how are they going to watch that big an area? At night yet.

Hey, Skanky Barmaid is back! And she can call directly into the very nerve center of CTU in the middle of the worst attacks on the American mainland in history. Not bad, barmaid!

Tony and Michelle trade listen-to-mes and whatevers while the Station 16 Love Theme tinkles on a piano.

Chloe is back in CTU already? I quit being surprised about 16 hours ago. As Chloe comes in, she passes the CTU Rapid Response Unit, on their way out to rescue Chloe.

The Bickersons exchange pleasantries. Edgar says "maybe you'll freak out in a few days" and Chloe says "I hope so". Ha!

Now everyone has their undies all bunched up because they think Marwan might detonate the warhead on the East Coast in a couple hours. Um, guys? The warhead is currently in the mountains of Iowa. How's it gonna get to the East Coast? Apparently all flights have been banned, as Audrey was seeking special permission from the FAA to get Paul back east.

As Mike and Palmer talk, in the background on the TV there is a Fox News Alert about the San Gabriel Island nuclear plant evacuation. It's a daytime shot. Well, it's the middle of the night. Fox must be rerunning old reports.

Now, we see a curious progression. Palmer starts off by saying the warhead might detonate before dawn. Then, he says in 2 hours. Then, he says at any moment. And there's one more to come.

Palmer talks to Jack, says no one connected to the government can know about the swoop and squat to nab Jong from the Consulate. Jack says ok, and then immediately calls Tony. Way to keep that information close to the vest, Jack. Besides, as we've seen, Bill from Division knows where Curtis and Jack are, too. I don't recall exactly, but I think Bill even gave the order to go. Remember that for later.

At the :30 mark, Audrey is *still* with Paul. Goodness, isn't there any liasing that needs to be done? On this, a most critical of days? She has 30 minutes to kill?

Tony has instantly gotten a schematic of the Chinese Consulate to send to Jack. CTU sure knows its buildings. Also, Tony has cast a Procure Infrared Satellite spell, and presto, there will be live imaging of this little attack that never happened. Tony is supposed to diddle some satellite logs to cover up tracks. Um, I bet most of those logs are not in CTU, but in some NSA or other government agency office. But never mind.

Jack hops out of the van. What happened to all those CTU SUVs? Lucky for Jack, there must not be anything monitoring the exterior of an important building like the Chinese Consulate, cuz Jack waltzes right up to the door. Jack scams the alarm and gets inside. The krazy kaptions have Jack saying "I'm in", even though we don't hear Jack say anything. An editor must have decided that immortal phrase should be reserved for breaking into computers, but forgot to remove it from the kaptions.

On Tony's live satellite looky-loo, we see all the Chinese inside in red (get it, "Red" Chinese? Ha!) yet Jack is in green! now how the heck did they do that? Did Jack cast a Lower Body Temperature spell, so he'd look different to the infrared satellite? Never mind. Also, most of the Chinese on the first floor are in the same room, apparently. Aw, we know how those China people are, all crammed into one room. It's probably a room with a dirt floor, a fire pit in the middle, laundary hanging from lines strung across the room. (Don't these people have homes, so they can just come to the Consulate during working hours?)

Jack is firing a dart gun?! What is this, Wild Kingdom?! Curtis once again hollers the immortal "Go! Go! Go!" Jack utters one of his favorites: "Now!" As Jack outruns trained soldiers with Jong slung over his shoulder, Jack escapes with Jong. Alas, Jong is hit, and the Consul is killed by friendly fire. Maybe those soldiers aren't so terribly well trained. Remarkably, the anonymous agent isn't killed! We just see him rubbing his cheek in a completely meaningless shot.

Paul starts cacking. I was watching this with Rhonda, a cardiac rehab nurse. She was watching the heart monitor, and said it looked like a cardiac tamponade. An instant later, Dr. Besson said Paul had a cardiac tamponade. Well. Cardiac rehab nurses come in handy sometimes. (As screwed up as this season as been, who knew that 24 would be so picky about having accurate heart monitor outputs?) A tamponade is where the heart is producing an electrical rythym, but it isn't pumping much. The sac is filled with blood.

Jack goes on for about two pages of dialogue, telling Rabb what to tell Jong. And Rabb speaks for 3 seconds. Um, Jack, maybe take it slower next time and in smaller chunks. She won't forget everything you said.

And just how does this Jong character know where Marwan is? Marwan didn't know where Marwan was going to be last episode. He was busy running through sewers. That can't have been in the plan. So did Marwan call Jong and tell him where he was? That would be an exceedingly stupid thing for Marwan to do.

Jong wants written immunity from the President. Hopefully Logan will be more honest about his written guarantees than Keeler was, who wanted his document to Beiruts to be, shall we say, flexible.

Palmer tells Jack that Bill from Division told him that Jong was in custody, and that Jong was wounded. We didn't see this conversation, but how else could Palmer have known this. Remember this for later.

Here, we see that again Palmer is getting carried away with his feelings of impending doom. Now, the use of the warhead is "imminent". Palmer said the repercussions from the Chinese could be as severe as the threats from the terrorists. Oh great, now we'll have hundreds of Chinese running around the country kimnapping SecDefs and shooting down government planes and blowing holes in the basement walls of dance clubs/grief centers.

Now, a key scene. Bill from Division is hopping up and down mad at Tony that he was left out of this whole Invasion China episode. Now, go back and reread the review up to this point. Have you caught my little clues that Bill from Division was well aware of where Jack and Curtis went? That Bill told Palmer about Jong's capture and wounds? SO WHAT IS BILL MAD ABOUT?? HE ALREADY KNEW!!! Rhonda thought that he was just using it as an excuse to get rid of Tony, that the writers wouldn't have missed something like that. I said um, yeah, it's entirely possible the writers missed something like that.

Let's assume that Bill did know that Jack and Curtis went to the Consulate, and Jong was there, and later knew that Jong was in custody and wounded. But, that Bill from Division didn't know that Jack had raided the Consulate and brought Jong out. Just how would Bill suppose that Jong came to be in custody, anyway? Would he think Jong just walked out of the Consulate, went over to CTU van and surrendered, and maybe got his hand caught in the door? Should I spend any more time thinking about this?

The episode closes with a very tense, gripping scene. Paul is dying, and is in surgery. Jack and Company come bursting in with Jong, who is also fading. In a scene ripped from A Bridge Too Far, where James Caan brought his buddy to a tent and forced a doctor at gunpoint to look at him, (and there was a similar incident in an episode of MASH, as well) Jack pulls a gun on the doc (the other docs that were there earlier in the day must have knocked off for the night, Besson is the night shift) and orders him to ignore Paul and save Jong. Millions of lives depended on it.

Speaking of docs, aside from the incompetence that led to Maya's suicide, Besson is obviously a quack. Paul was cleared to fly back east, yet Old Doc Besson somehow missed that Paul had a serious heart condition, that the sac around the heart was filling with blood. Oops.

A tought choice, to be sure. Curtis and Jack do what they can for Paul, as he slowly slips into the Undiscovered Country. The nurses in the room couldn't be bothered to help. Rhonda pointed out a number of medical things they did quite wrong. Like Curtis not checking for a pulse before giving CPR to Paul. If Paul was having trouble breathing, pushing on his chest was just going to make it worse.

But in the end, Paul is dead. Audrey is distraught. Obviously she'll be rethinking this whole relationship thing with Jack.

Now, the previews for next week. Excuse me?!?!! Excuse me!!! What is this!! The terrorists have a ballistic missile!! In Iowa?!? They're just going to glue the warhead onto it and hope it works?!? AAAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!!!

This show is like Argentina. SecDef Heller and Beiruts are part of the Disappeared. No mention in this episode either. Shouldn't a show at least attempt to explain the whereabouts of major characters who suddenly leave? Don't viewers tend to notice when major characters go away and don't come back?

(once again, here is guest critic Paul Foth. He cast a Divine Threat spell, and knew he would be under suspicion, so he hightailed it to the Bangladesh Cultural Center, where he wrote this review. I broke in, and liberated the review. I left Paul there.)


As of this writing, the episode guide for this episode isn't online yet, so I'm going to assume the techie responsible stumbled on some code that told
him the entire Internet was about to be taken over and he's now lying in a
sewer somewhere. Or maybe he took too much ecstasy at last night's rave
and is now lying in a sewer somewhere.

Here's what I wrote last week: "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." I rest my case.

At some point in the procedings, people went from pronouncing Jong with a J sound to pronouncing it with a Y sound, which can only mean that Norwegians are now involved. Sabir has replaced the nuclear warhead with lutefisk, the piece of cod that passes all understanding. We may as well give up now.

The Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles is at 443 Shatto Place, which looks to be about three miles due west of Dodger Stadium. Of course, that's in the real world. In the 24-verse, it's out in the 'burbs, surrounded by lots of trees and vines and no surveillance equipment, so there are lots of hidey holes for covert operatives to hunker down in.

So Tony is, according to Jack, the ONLY person at CTU--other than those in Team ChinaGrab--who's to know of this operation. (And other than Bill, who is evidently exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's, since he forgot Jack et al. were there by the time the operation was over.) As part of running "tactical," Tony gets realtime infrared data from a satellite. I wonder if it's the same one that took pictures of the terrorrist stealing the yellow truck earlier in the day. Or the same one Saunders used last season when he Code Nined the Baker Boys away from the door to his apartment complex. Anyway, Tony's not supposed to let anyone at Gestapo HQ know what he's doing. So, of course, the natural thing to do is put the schematic of the operation on a 36-inch overhead screen that people walk past and give Jack directions out loud over a clip-on phone. Tony must've dropped a Level 5 Dome of Forgetting around his workstation, so that anyone looking his direction wouldn't remember
anything about it as soon as they looked away. I wonder how the Dome would interact with Edgar's Memory Skill Rating of 20. It's a good thing he didn't look over there; the writers would've had aneurisms.

Jack sneaks in and bags his quarry while Marlon Perkins and Company stay back in the van drinking beer and listening to Zepplin. It was surprising to see the consul get shot, but not at all so to find out Li had also been shot. As they're racing back to CTU, Jack decides that he can't, um, encourage Li to talk. I guess that's why he's the field agent: he can decide when shooting
someone in the knee will work as an interrogation technique and when it won't, based on nothing more than dramatic convenience. And it's amazing that as he's chasing the dragon through an analgesic haze, Li has the presence of mind to say he won't talk until he gets a signed guarantee from the President protecting him from prosecution. But does he even know Mr. Kincaid isn't el Presidente anymore? Will he accept a fax from Shakes? But the real point in all of this is exactly the one Jeff already brought up: Why does Li even know where the Mummwan is in the first place? Mummwan may have been the one to hire him, but Sabir was the guy he worked with directly. What possible reason could Mummwan have for calling Li and telling him he's now at Hideout 17B?

Flash forward to the operating theater, where the night shift is hacking away at Paul. (When Audrey said they'd be on an 8:00 (or maybe it was 6:00; both times were involved in there somewhere) flight east, I thought Paul should've said, "That'll give me plenty of time to die!" Him dying was no surprise at all; what was was how quickly it happened.) Jack threatens Trapper John with his gun, likely spraying his saliva all over the place. But beyond that, what good does pulling the gun do? If he shoots Trapper, Paul ~and~ Li will die, Mummwan will launch his missile from George Hospodarsky's mom's cornfield, and "millions of people will die! (TM)" Surely Jack knows this. He must be relying on Trapper's innate fear of guns turning his higher order thinking processes to jello as soon as he's looking down a loaded barrel. But is a surgeon fearing for his life the kind of guy you want working on a gunshot wound like Li's?

It's all about misdirection. Keep the viewers overstimulated with gunfire, 'splosions, and yelling, and hopefully they won't notice nothing makes sense.

But at least they got that heart monitor reading right...

Approximate Body Count: 138 (plus "many dead" near the nuclear plant, plus the Warhead Nonprotection team, plus whoever else was on Air Farce One)

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