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, January 31, 2006

24 Day 5 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

We are warned about graphic violence. It cannot be avoided. I feel like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, propped up in a chair with my eyelids clamped open and forced to watch soul-numbing violence.

The hour starts with something CTU does best, making use of the conference room set.

They've been a little slow on the uptake here. A clue that there was a leak somewhere should've come in the airport. Jack was up in the rafters, no one knew he was there except for some in CTU, and within minutes, Anton was referring to Jack Bauer by name. A fairly strong indication information from CTU went directly to the baddies.

So, Team CTU kicks around Walt's plot, and Palmer's too-clever-by-half plan to expose Walt. Jack says he should go meet secretly with Mike Novick.

Samwise Gamgee is standing over in a corner. What's he doing there? Perhaps Bill sent him to the corner for daring to suspect Gollum of ill motives.

Samwise keeps a firm hand on the tiller and informs Jack he doesn't really work there anymore. Hmm, then I'd ask Samwise again why he gave Jack that Level 2 lembas bread.

Ha, then in one perhaps my favorite moment of the episode, Jack says the genius of the plan is if it backfires, there'd be no fallout on CTU.

I'll point out again, this was precisely the inspired motivation for letting Jack raid the Chinese Consulate last season. That ended up with a dead Chinese Consul guy, various Chinese employees at the Consulate tranked up like some rhino on Wild Kingdom, the Chinese kimnapping CTU agents on American soil, and the US and China staring down the barrel of nuclear war. I'd say there was just a wee bit of fallout. Bill was there in the middle of all that, why didn't he speak up and point out the risks in letting a rogue Jack gallivant through one international crisis after another?

Samwise, apparently knowing none of this, is pressured into authorizing Jack to go after the President's Chief of Staff. But, he feels he was to do something to act like the Big Chief, so he tells Jack this is all about the nerve gas, not about getting revenge for Palmer. Jack agrees like a teenager who just got the keys to Dad's Camaro. He's not hearing anything Samwise is saying.

Audrey and Jack have a little conversation about Walt trying to kill Jack again once he learns Jack is still alive. Jack just says "Yeah." The two of them must be assuming that Hank the assassin's plan was to get into CTU and kill Jack all within 30 minutes.

Down by the docks of the bay, the baddies are rolling up in their rig. We get a little product placement for Peterbilt trucks.

The baddies helpfully discuss their plan so we the audience will know what's going on. Sounds like the plan is to transport the canisters to Moscow, to teach those homeland occupying Russkies a lesson they won't soon forget.

I guess we'll get to see how well Homeland Security has beefed up security at our sea ports.

Back at the presidential retreat (say, where is the Russian president? Did Logan just forget all about him once Logan got the signature he needed?), they watch a grisly snuff film. Some poor schleeb is exposed to nerve gas so we can see the deadly results. The nerve gas is called Sentox Six. That's the first time we're hearing that. They must have figured out what it was. So, they should have some idea on who made it, and maybe what it was doing in that airport bunker, but no one thinks to ask those questions.

Logan wigs out as Wifey has flown the coop.

How did Jack get Mike Novick's Blackberry number? Jack talks to Mike, says he just 15 minutes away from the presidential property. That doesn't help us figure out where the property is, because given the distances CTU is capable of covering in 15 minutes, the presidential retreat could be in Alaska.

Jack bumps into Diane and Derek in the hallway. Jack says to a Redshirt about Derek "Take him downstairs. And kill him." Ok, I made up that last part. He just told the Redshirt to take Derek to a Tastee Freeze and get him a chili dog.

Jack and Diane have another awkward moment. Diane asks about Audrey. "Are you still in love with her? Does she still love you?" Well, they've been a tad busy since meeting for the first time in 18 months only an hour or two before. I hope Diane can forgive Jack for not being real clear on the answers to these questions just yet. So, Jack just scratches his head and does his best James Dean.

Oh dear, Nathanson (Matrix Guy) captured the call between Novick and Jack. Who is this guy? Is he some NSA mole? We'll have to know more about him before I count him as a mole. Maybe he really is in the Matrix and is an old program. Perhaps he's the Merovingian in disguise.

The Merovingian gives Walt a good dressing down. Hmm, so Nathanson is some kind of authority figure to Walt, who's starting to sweat a little bit. Nathanson says he won't warn Walt again, and that there's only one thing Walt can do. I hope he doesn't mean committing seppaku out on the lawn.

As we go to commercial, the 24 clock is at :10, and the clock clock is at :10. All is right with the universe. But, aha! When we come back, the 24 clock is at :12 and the clock clock is at :13. So, now we know commercial breaks have something to do with creating ripples in the space-time continuum.

Aaron is creeping around. And he discovers the First Lady hiding in a horse stable. Ewww, I hope she isn't trying some Catherine the Great thing.

It's not clear why Martha just didn't tell Aaron straight out she was attacked and forcibly rendered unconscious. That was an important detail that might've helped Aaron realize something was amiss in House Logan.

Back at CTU, Bill and Audrey discuss having airports and highways watched for signs of the nerve gas. Hmm, they're CTU, wouldn't they also think to watch the ports and train stations?

They're concerned about a panic, so Audrey points out they haven't mentioned the nerve gas, they've just described the canisters to the various authorities. I wonder if Audrey mentioned the prominent biohazard symbols on the canisters. I'm sure the authorities would wonder about that.

Hmm, Truck Driving Bad Guy fiddles with the canisters and some red display says "Unlock Code Verified." The heck? Yellow Tie is also curious.

Diane flags down Audrey at CTU and meddles in personal matters again. Diane asks "I care about him", and "Do you know he still loves you?" and the real knife in the gut, "If you don't love him let him go." Yikes. Diane is playing for keeps. Audrey really looks like the thrill of livin' is gone.

She's too flustered to say "Baby you ain't miss no-thing" and warn Diane that women in Jack's life don't have a good history. In Season 1 his wife was shot by his traitorous mistress. In Season 2 his girlfriend's family was a bunch of terrorists. In Season 3 the Mexican girlfriend he hooked up with in his heroin addiction was shot by drug dealers. And in Season 4, he caused the death of Audrey's husband and helped torture her brother. Oh, and Jack also once chopped the arm off of his daughter's beau.

I think on the whole that might have made Diane think twice about fighting so hard for Jack. Especially since Jack concealed his real name and all this history from her.

Jack pulls up in a monstrous Ford SUV, license plate 9GDY271. But, in the middle of all this universe saving, the lives of zillions hanging in the balance, Audrey picks this moment to call up Jack and have a heart to heart talk about their relationship., Um, Audrey, sweetie? Could we save the world first, and then you can ask Jack is he still loves you and if he's coming back?

Someone mentions roadblocks going up. Really? That won't raise any suspicions. Aaron gives Walt the evil eye.

Holy Cow! Walt confesses all to Logan! Never would've seen that coming. Logan does that distracting leany head thing. Kate Warner in Season 2 had that same kind of quizzical Mr. Mole head tilt.

Walt says the plan was to have the canisters delivered to the terrorist base where they would be detonated by satellite.

But, good grief, apparently in an attempt to mimic "real events" and make the show relevant to the kids, the writers have been reading some of the far-Left blogs, and Walt repeats some of the conspiracy theories from those fevered swamps. Walt says the plant was to provide proof of the existence of WMDs in Central Asia so the US would have a "pretext" to increase the military presence in the region to guarantee the flow of oil for the next generation. Yeah, that's exactly what happened in Iraq. If Nathanson turns out to be an employee of Halliburton, I'm going to have a conniption.

Whoa, Walt manhandles the President of the United States! (Admittedly, not hard to do.) Logan calls Walt a traitor, Walt says "I'M A PATRIOT!"

Walt says he doesn't know where the canisters are, his contact on the inside has "gone dark." There's that phrase again. I wish I was tracking that one, that might be the early season leader.

Walt plays the "your presidency will be destroyed" card on Logan, and Logan caves in, thinking that letting this crackplot continue is preferable to stopping it now and letting the country know his lunatic rogue Chief of Staff was putting the nation's security in jeopardy.

Coming back from commercial the clocks are now at :29 to :28.

Jack has a tender reunion with Mike, but Jack's Spidey Sense kicks in, and he knows danger is nearby. In this case, danger being a helicopter and an army of secret service agents roaring up. Mike asks what is going on, and an agent says it is on orders from the President. Did they rustle up this helo and all these agents and vehicles just in the last five minutes? Not bad.

Jack asks Mike "Who did you tell?", and Mike says nobody, but as mentioned above, the airport should have been a big clue bat for Jack that Mike probably isn't the leak.

Yikes, Mike is in custody too? Walt really has slipped the surly bonds of sanity and tries to rationalize it all away. He says Jack isn't officially affiliated with CTU. Walt doesn't know about the Level 2 lembas bread.

Aaron takes all this in, and the wheels are turning.

At CTU, upon hearing the President ordered CTU to stand down, his immediate reaction is to disobey orders. Now there's a good, well-trained CTU agent. Worse, Bill browbeats Samwise into disregarding the order. Samwise isn't exactly made of granite. I would think you gotta have some backbone to make it up to that kind of position in CTU. The krazy kaptions say Lynn is "panting" as he orders to CTU to disregard a direct order from the President.

We find out from Martha that Logan was once in Congress.

Jack meets up with Aaron and asks for his help. Do you think this agent with the heart of gold will help? Yeah, me too.

When we come back from commercial, the clocks are :42 to :40.

Aaron tricks another flunky agent by saying Jack escaped. Then, Aaron ushers Jack into the presence of His Excellency, RunLoganRun.

Jack and Walt get into fisticuffs, and Logan can only shriek "Stop this! I'm the President of the United States", sounding oddly like Chip Diller in Animal House. "Remain calm! All is well!"

Jack pulls a knife on Walt, and reminds Walt he is perfectly capable of violence. Walt agrees, and divulges the location of the canisters. The port of Long Beach leaving at 2:30 on a freighter.

Jack calls CTU to give them the news. A woman's voice says "Jack Bauer is on line three", but the krazy kaptions say a "MAN" is talking.

Jack says the canisters are on a freighter bound for Central Asia, but Walt never said anything about Central Asia.

(Bound for Central Asia? Are there wheels on that freighter? How is a ship going to get to the landlocked countries in the middle of the Asian continent?)

Logan does a 180 and now wants Walt arrested. Logan and Jack have a little talk, and Logan says Jack's being alive creates problems for them both. (Doesn't Jack know from Palmer that Logan was the one who wanted to hand Jack over to the Chinese? Who else could've ordered such a thing?)

Jack gives his word he'll disappear again after recovering the canisters. Logan seems to accept that, but is betting a lot that the Chinese won't find out about Jack's role in the day's events. For one thing, as mentioned above, there were a lot of people in the airport who heard Anton say Jack Bauer's name. How long before the media talks to the hostages and puts that story of what went on at the airport on the front page of the LA Times? When the people at the Chinese Consulate read that, they're going to spit their dentures into their Cheerios.

Coming back from commercial, the clocks are at :53 to :50.

We see Chloe. Made me realize she's been absent from this episode.

Logan rescues Martha from her trip to "Vermont." But, Martha is rather cold, hurt that Logan didn't say a word to her before shipping her off. She's got a point.

CTU doesn't have a team at the docks, so the Customs and Border Protection team will handle it.

We find out Yellow Tie's name is Ivan Erwich. He is a chemical engineer trained at the University of St. Petersburg.

Chloe snippily says "yeah yeah" to Lynn. Yikes, her insubordination needs to be dealt with at some point.

Edgar says he hacked into the ship's manifest, and the canisters are in container 539146 box seven.

The guy heading up the CBP team is Agent Finn. (Agent Fank Finn?)

They don't have hazmat suits, just masks. They better hope the nerve gas can't be absorbed through the skin.

But alas, Truck Driving Bad Guy is in there, dead, and the canisters are gone.

Someone is yelling "What do we got?" like Al Pacino in Heat.

Erwich calls up Walt and snarls like the stirred up hornet's nest he is. The baddies have the canisters, and the US is in danger.

The episode ends with the clocks at :60 to :57.

And now, once again here is guest critic Paul Foth. He was used as a guinea pig in some chemical experiments, and the skin grafts are finally healed and he was able to crank out this review.


Kiefer Sutherland, speaking about 24 and quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on January 29th: "It is intense. And we have found a lot of ways to try and break that up. We sometimes take scenes and try to make a musical out of them."

He is the very model of a modern counterterrorist,
Needs information chemical, timetables, and, boy, he's pissed

Again, I was surprised to be impressed. That bit with the terrorists in the warehouse singing, "When you blow up a jet, blow it up all the way/Use a hot cigarette, light the fuse, get away," fell flat, but only because the whole back row was off by half a step. What surprised me most, though, was what wasn't there.

When Bill said, "The last thing we need is for the public to find out about the stolen nerve gas," I thought it would be just ten minutes until a reporter from the Los Angeles Mudslinger waltzed through the door, camera and tape recorder in hand. But it didn't happen. I still suspect a greasy newshound will get hold of the story somehow, especially since President Shakes repeated the desire not to leak anything to the press (although why the President would be expected to go on the air and say anything about roadblocks going up in the first place is beyond me), but the fact that it didn't happen as soon as the possibility was raised shows remarkable restraint on the part of the writers.

Another thing that was missing was the sniping at CTU. The scene between Bill and Samwise was well done, I thought. They were obviously upset with each other, but their professionalism saw them through it and Samwise was wise enough to accept Bill's greater experience and learn from it. That's two weeks in a row when a character has actually grown a little bit. Not bad. (Or does this mean it's only a matter of time before Samwise has Bill hauled into an interrogation room for a session with Dr. Feelgood, under the pretense that Bill "knows things, dangerous things"?)

That's not to say the episode didn't have its moments, of course. Why did Mike have to make such a big production out of it when he left to call Jack? Hmm, maybe the quote from Kiefer I opened with has something to do with it. "I have to go call the, uh, STATE DEPARTMENT now. Matter of NATIONAL SECURITY." Why not just walk out of the room? The conversation with Shakes and the Mole was done; he didn't need to call attention to himself.

And why, why, did Wormtongue Walt's motivation have to be taken straight out of a paranoid Democrat's playbook? Say what you like about the situation in Iraq, but using it in such an obvious way to make some kind of statement is simply tiresome, not to mention poor creativity. And Wormtongue's "I AM A PATRIOT!" speech to Shakes was, oh, just a wee bit overacted, don't you think? Again I ask: How did this guy get to be so close to the President in the first place?

Then again, considering how Shakes caved in to Wormtongue's ranting, the show may have answered that question already--which, of course, brings up the question (again) of how Shakes had managed to become VP at the beginning of last season. This character is too unbalanced to have made it so far in national politics (although, as with Wormtongue's motivation, maybe this is some sort of snarky attempt to make a statement about the political situation).

I did like it when Cassandra refused to get all mushy when Shakes tried to apologize to her. It may have taken a while, but she's gotten wise to his wishy-washy ways.

I also like that Aaron was finally given a bit more to do. Glenn Morshower did a couple of episodes of Millennium, and ever since then I've noticed him more and more. I've been disappointed in seasons past that he hasn't had more to do in this show, but obviously the production team likes him enough that they've kept him on. He exudes the same kind of quiet confidence that James Morrison does as Bill Buchanan, and so their characters are quite believable. Secret Service agents and counterterrorist chiefs have to run on a pretty even keel, even when they're frantically trying to save the country. These two guys do an excellent job of keeping it subtle, by showing the tension in their eyes and tight lips, and not much else.

From the double-take department: When Curtis came in and announced that the video feed from the shipyard was up, I didn't hear him say, "Feed's up!" I heard him say, "Pizza!"

Who is the mysterious person in next week's previews, the one crouched behind the bed as Jack yells, "PUT YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM!"? Well, imdb shows Elisha Cuthbert returning for that episode, so guess number one is that it's Kim (and, yes, I did see that the person behind the bed has dark hair). I also see that producer Joel Surnow (who, according to the Slate piece I mentioned last week, has a penchant for ignoring reality when it comes to the show) supposedly turns up as a character named Cal. I don't particularly trust the imdb cast lists, though. Last season, they said Kim and Chase were going to show up in a number of episodes, but it never happened. I don't know if these were red herrings put out by the show, or if scenes with Kim and Chase were shot but wound up on the cutting room floor, or if the information was just plain wrong, but whatever the case, what was there didn't match what eventually was broadcast. So, guess number two is that the person behind the bed is Mandy.

Also next week: an explosive (GET IT?) rendition of the title song from Oklahoma!

Number of times Jack says "Now!": 6
Number of times Jack says "No!": 5
Number of times a "protocol" is mentioned: 14
Number of times someone says a variation of "Go!": 7
Number of moles: 2
Approximate Body Count: 25 (plus three rats, plus one human nerve gas guinea pig)

<-11:00 AM - 12:00 PM 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM ->


  • At Tue Jan 31, 02:22:00 PM, Robert said…

    Due to graphite violence, pencil discretion is advised. I think this episode had perhaps the least actual graphic violence (as opposed to say the threat of popping out someone's eyeballs with a knife) of any in five years. Did anybody else flashback to Westley threating Humperdink with "to the pain" when Jack was describing the process to Walt Wormtongue?

    And thank you thank you for pointing out the utterly avoidable absurdity of sending a freighter to Central Asia. What were they thinking?

    Given 24's history, I don't think Nick Night Nathanson is anywhere even close to the top of the bad guy food chain, nor that the primary focus of said bad guys has yet been revealed. And I'd bet on Walt being around to be threatened more in upcoming weeks...don't think we've seen the last of that one yet.

    A week without Kim is like a...well, a really good week. Can she stay gone longer?

  • At Tue Jan 31, 03:56:00 PM, Jeff said…

    Yeah, I think you're right. Nathanson can't be the only guy driving this. Although, given his cool video Bad Guy Lair, he must be fairly important.

    Yeah, I wonder if Kim will be absent this season as well. I kinda like the gal, though not the silly situations they got her into sometimes. I did have some trouble buying her as CTU agent that one season.


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