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, February 07, 2006

24 Day 5 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

The graphic violence warning and I stand facing each other in a dusty street at high noon in a forgotten frontier town. One of us is going down.

As the credits play, we see Spenser's last name is "Wolff", with two F's. Years ago in an episode of F Troop, Paul Lynde played the "Burglar of Banff", and he added two extra F sounds at the end, so it was pronounced the "Burglar of Banff-ff-ff". So, in honor of F Troop, Spenser shall henceforth be known as Spenser Wolff-ff-ff.

Walt is a plaintive little boy, trying to convince Daddy Logan that they thought they controlled the detonators.

Yellow Tie snarls about being betrayed. Well, Ivan, if you get into bed with snakes, don't be surprised if your feet get bit.

We find out Nathanson (Matrix Guy) is former CIA. Well of course he is. In cheesy spy novels and shows they're always ex-CIA, aren't they? Just once, why can't they be ex-Department of Education?

Walt wraps himself in the flag again, pointing out he is a PATRIOT.

The technowizards at CTU try to trace the call between Walt and Nathanson, but the line has been "disconnected". Goodness, Nathanson has some good resources if he knows what's happened already, and took the time to call the phone company and have the line disconnected. (And good customer service! Way to go, phone company!)

Walt says Nathanson has "gone dark". Argh, I wish I was keeping track of that phrase. It's the sleeper hit catch phrase of this season.

Jack quickly sizes up Walt's blood pressure, the lack of twitching around the nostrils, the lack of subtle furtive glances, and zens that Walt must be telling the truth, and that the actor's contract is up. I mean, that Walt is no longer of any use to them.

Jack says Team CTU can take it from here, and that he needs to go back and be debriefed. Logan says aw, keep your pants on, Jack. You're needed here. I've said it before, this country has a pretty thin bench if only Jack Bauer can save us.

Jack says he needs to disappear again, mentions Kim. Logan says he and Jack have a "complicated history", and that he can reinstate Jack. The quid pro quo wasn't made specific. Is Logan saying if and only if Jack helps out, Jack will get his past and good name back? What are the Chinese going to say about that?

Yellow Tie and his gang have a frank, honest, open discussion about what to do with the leaky canisters of nerve gas. Which Yellow Tie resolves by punching a baddie in the gut. Hmm, could really stand to work on those conflict resolution skills.

Nooooo! No! No! No! They've given Lynn a difficult relationship side story! Argggghhh! That whole Erin Driscoll/needy daughter who caused distractions thread last season was like hearing cats dragged across a blackboard. Obviously, nobody wants to see daughters end up on a hospital floor with opened veins, but who was sorry to see that story line end? Not me. But now they're doing it to us again?

So, Lynn has a sister. Apparently she's a junkie, and needs some money. In the middle of this national crisis, Samwise, the highest ranking official in the building, is going to just step across the street and meet her in a parking lot. Uh-huh. Let's just cut to the chase and hope the sister will be lying there with opened veins, and Lynn can just come back to work and not bother us with some pointless soap opera.

Chloe says they've been listening to the satcom chatter. *zzt* "Abdul, we are a go. Tora! Tora! Tora!" *zzt* "I said sell at 30!" "I thought you meant 30 yen!" *zzt* "Yeah, mom! We're standing on the Great Wall! Cool!" *zzt* "Is Dave there?" "Dave's not here." and so on...

Yellow Tie has a conversation with someone named Rossler. They talk about rejiggering the detonators on the leaky canisters. Yellow Tie will have to cut them open.

And now, as we'll see, in this the seventh hour, the person writing the closed captions has finally succumbed to trying to make sense of the show, and has started smoking crack.

Rossler says "I'll give you the specifications", but the krazy kaptions say "Listen carefully to my instructions."

CTU was trying to trace the phone call between Rossler and Yellow Tie. Edgar says he was unable to trace the call.

Buuuuuuuut, they have an address downtown, 22 North Figueroa, and they know it's a penthouse. Man, what kind of information would they have if they were able to trace the call??

Chloe will hunt up the building manifest. We've seen in every season that CTU is an absolute wizard at pulling up detailed information on any building in the greater LA area.

They find Rossler in their database. A screen briefly scrolls by with personal data about Rossler. He has an "MD in engineering." What the heck is that? He knows how to replace amputated limbs with bionic/cyborg attachments? Also, one of his skills is "software mining". I think a flunky intern somewhere didn't realize the buzz phrase this season is "data mining", and wrote up the graphic as software mining.

Jack wants vectors on every entrance to the building. How about 30 Newtons up an incline of 10 degrees? Or a radial speed of 20 km/hr at a radian angle of pi/2?

Jack wants Curtis there and a small team, they'll have to enter covertly.

Chloe needs Spenser Wolff-ff-ff to help them hack the building's security system. She says he's a far better hacker than Edgar. Ouch, if we cut Edgar, does he not bleed? Last season, Edgar almost single-handedly saved the universe by hacking the nuclear power stations and counteracting Marwan's Flux Capacitor. He's a pretty darn good hacker in his own right. (And a few hours ago he hacked in the ship manifest at the harbor, but that was probably just Hacking 101.)

Nonetheless, Spenser Wolff-ff-ff is temporarily reinstated and Edgar looks a little peeved.

Jack and Audrey have a little chit-chat. Jack says "Audrey, the President thinks I can help." But the krazy kaptions say "Audrey, I have to do this."

Jack wants Audrey to bring Kim to CTU, so she doesn't find out about Jack the wrong way. I can appreciate the sentiment, but yeah, Kim will never find out about Jack in the heart of CTU in the middle of a national crisis. People running around hollering "I've got Jack Bauer on line two!", or Bill shouting "Where's Jack?" etc...

Coming back from commercial, the clocks are at :17 to :17.

RunLoganRun is bellowing, asking if Jack is any closer to recovering the nerve gas. Logan, honey! Chill! Jack's been gone for about ten minutes. What the heck do you think he's been able to accomplish in that time span? Perhaps a trip to the little agents room, and not much else.

Martha and Logan have a talk about sending her off to "Vermont", and... she slaps him! Ouch. Mike is outside, desperately not wanting to get in the middle of this, but Logan gasps with relief and says "Mike, come on in!" Unstated is "And please save me from this harpy!"

Logan says he wants Martha's input on how to handle this crisis with Walt going all rogue, and Mike all but rolls his eyes.

Martha asks if Mike is suggesting a cover-up, and Mike says no, he means exercising discretion to spare this country unnecessary humiliation. And we have a winner for Best Euphemism 2006!

A question occurs to me. Why didn't they press Walt on why exactly Palmer had to be killed? There was no other way to deal with the fact Palmer might reveal the op? Also, has no one stopped to wonder why Tony and Michelle were also hit? Surely they didn't have knowledge of the op, so why not ask Walt about them?

Chloe verbally flays Spenser till he is left bleeding and raw.

Curtis is on a rooftop waiting for Jack. We've seen before, nobody gets to locations in the field faster than Curtis.

More talk about cutting the cylinders. Nobody asks how, specifically, the canisters should be cut. A little one inch gap? Cut from top to bottom? A little square? What?

Spenser Wolff-ff-ff has done the job. He's hacked into the building's security system, and turns the cameras off so Jack and Curtis can go in unseen.

(argh, someone says the camera "went dark")

They grab some poor helpless front desk security guy. The guys upstairs call, wondering what happened to the camera. Jack makes him open the elevator and pulls him in. When the camera comes back on and the front desk guy isn't seen, the guards upstairs wonder where he is. At Jack's order, the guy says "I went to the men's room." And then he quickly adds "And I'm in a flank two position!" For that Jack clonks the guy over the head.

When they get off the elevator there is a brief gunfight. Curtis takes one in the chestal regionaria. Curtis says "It hit my vest!", but the krazy kaptions say "Get my vest!" Um, person writing the closed captions, if Curtis didn't have a vest, and he was shot in the chest, wouldn't getting the vest at that point be rather pointless?

Jack and Curtis burst in, and like last year in shooting Marwan, Jack shoots Rossler and is lucky he doesn't hit an artery. Technomagic tells them someone is in the bedroom. Someone is behind the bed, they come up. It's BOB! No, wait, it's a waif named Inessa.

The clocks are at :32 to :31.

At some metal shop, the baddies unobtrusively drive up in their semi and order some poor guy at gunpoint to do some metalwork for them. Cal asks why they are doing this, after Yellow Tie's speech, I'm sure Cal is sorry he asked. Cal says he has a wife, and Yellow Tie gives his word that Cal will live.

Cal fires up the saw, and when it starts cutting a cylinder, it makes an eerie cry that sounds like music from Forbidden Planet.

Jack orders that nothing be given to Rossler for the pain. Jack is an old hand at this sort of thing. In season 2, Jack shot Marie in the arm, and refused to give her anything for the pain until she talked.

The gas is referred to as Sentox VX. What happened to Sentox Six? Perhaps earlier the poor closed captions person thought VX was the Roman numeral for 6.

Jack snarls at Rossler that since he was aiding a terrorist, Jack gets to hold him as long as he wants, in another cheap attempt to mimic current events.

Jacks urges Rossler to talk, because Jack says "you don't want to go down this road with me." Rossler sneers and says "Go to hell." Like last year, when Stoner was unclear on this same point and said the same thing, you don't tell someone with the power to torture you to go to hell.

Rossler says he'll talk only if he gets immunity and gets to keep Inessa. And he says "Oh, and I also want democracy, whiskey, sexy!"

Jack tells Rossler they're not making a deal (I'll take the waif behind door number two!) and Curtis works Rossler's bullet wound over.

Samwise is listening in, he breaks in, tells Jack to accept the deal, and then leaves. Wow, what leadership. Sell a 15-yr old sex slave out, and then bolt.

Rossler wants a signed agreement, but he obviously doesn't know there is a bad history of honoring such signed agreements on 24.

The clocks are at :43 to :41.

Rossler's contact in Russia is named Sergei Voronov. Jack tells Curtis to be ready to fit Rossler's magic chip with a transponder. Is that part of CTU's standard equipment they carry around? Transponders that can be fit to chips?

The Attorney General is about ready with the documents. Does Lynn really have the power to make the Attorney General of the United States agree to sell a 15-yr old sex slave down the river? Did Logan agree to this? How did this conversation go? Someone bursts in the AG's office, says you have to sign this paper now, it agrees to let a terrorist go and keep the girl he is abusing, and the AG just says OK, and signs the paper?

Having done his task, Chloe consigns Spenser Wolff-ff-ff to the ash heap of history. He does that walk others have taken before him, escorted out of CTU by Redshirts.

Chloe is a little verklempt to see her lover walk out of her life. Oh Chloe, don't turn around your gypsy heart. Come on now love, don't you look back! But, she's drowning in a blue sea of Edgar and won't accept his salt water kisses.

Edgar tries to console her, but he should know better by now that he shouldn't give Chloe an excuse to open her mouth. She just says "Shut up, Edgar."

Back at the presidential, Crazy Martha is helping Logan with a speech. Martha says "And so, you can say 'I like red ducks. They're soft and fuzzy. They make me laugh. All of you in the country should like them too.'" Logan just stares in wide-eyed fear.

Back at the metal shop, which apparently doesn't have any customers or any other employees or any phone calls, Cal is finished cutting open a cylinder. There is a red LED readout, says 1431263.

Back at the presidential retreat, Walk is just hanging around. Literally. He's a suicider. Great security there, Secret Service. The Chief of Staff can hang himself in the hallway, and no one notices?

The krazy kaptions have Martha saying "Oh my God! Oh my God!", but we don't hear her say anything.

The clocks are at :52 to :51.

In the middle of the crisis, while Jack is still interrogating a baddie that might be their only lead to the nerve gas, Lynn is out in the parking lot with Sister. Lynn wants to send her to treatment.

Yikes! Out of nowhere an Uruk-hai Orc jumps out and decks Lynn. He takes some money and a credit card or something, and the Orc and Sister split.

Great security there, CTU. The highest ranking official there leaves the building in the middle of a crisis and nearly gets killed in a parking lot across the street.

Jack asks Audrey to try and contact Kim again. Audrey says "Of course", but the krazy kaptions have her saying "Sure."

Jack gently tries to tell Inessa they need her to go with Rossler. She thinks she's being freed and wonders about her parents. She says "They must be so worried about me", but the krazy kaptions have her saying "Where can I go?"

In case you missed the sledgehammer blow of parallelism, Jack has that little scene about Kim, and then we immediately cut to the scene with Inessa so we know Jack thinks of Kim, his daughter, when he looks at Inessa, someone else's daughter in a tough situation.

Oh! Back at the metalshop, Yellow Tie breaks his word, and shoots Cal. Man, you just can't trust terrorists these days.

The clocks are at :57 to :55.

As part of the deal, Rossler must talk to Yellow Tie and try to arrange a meeting. Yellow Tie calls, and they arrange a meet. Rossler says "And I'll be in a flank two position. Understand, Ivan? A flank two position!"

Inessa gets dressed, comes out of the room, and... shoots Rossler! Yikes, great security there, Jack and Curtis. (Why was a gun in that room? Is Rossler dumb enough to leave a weapon around someone he's abusing?)

Rossler, their only lead to Yellow Tie, is dead. He's passed on. He is no more. He has ceased to be. He's expired and gone to meet his maker. He's a stiff. Bereft of life, he rests in peace! He's pushing up the daisies! His metabolic processes are now history. He's off the twig. He's kicked the bucket, he's shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile. He is now an ex-Rossler.

And the hour comes to a close.

And now, once again, here is guest critic Paul Foth. He had been held captive in a dacha north of Moscow as the plaything of a Russian terrorist, but he was able to escape and phone in this review.


I was beginning to like Lynn Cheney--I mean, Gamgee--I mean, McGill. Despite the furtive glances and whispered rumors being exchanged by the CTU rank and file upon his arrival, he wasn't coming off to me as a bureaucratic blowhard so much as a methodical, if somewhat inexperienced, leader. Yes, he and Bill had their moments, but despite the melodrama, those moments seemed more realistic than a lot of the internecine nonsense that we usually get.


Last night we were introduced to Maya--I mean, Jenny--McGill, Samwise's drugged out sister. Should we start a pool on when and how she dies? Will she get hauled in to CTU Medical, where an unlocked drawer labeled "Rusty Razor Blades" will draw her suicidal attention? Will her cretin of a boyfriend shoot her? Will she meet Jack, get him hooked on smack again, and ask him to play Sid to her Nancy? The answer to all of these questions, at least in my mind, is a resounding, "Who cares?" Unless the writers learned a lesson with the Erin/Maya mess last season and do something significant to the overall story with Jenny, this thread will be nothing but a distraction. (Maybe the writers did learn something. The cretin boyfriend grabbed what looked like a security card while he was robbing Lynn. Was he just an average idiot, taking whatever he saw, or was the card what he was really looking for all along?)

It was nice to see Shakes and Cassandra working together as a team. I don't know if it'll last (I'm wondering if Martha will have a genuine psychotic episode at some point), but Gregory Itzen and Jean Smart did a great job showing the two of them trying to get back to what their relationship had been. The episode highlights a flaw in Shakes that goes beyond his getting hysterical in the face of crisis and worrying about his image more than the country: namely, his willingness to cede authority to those closest to him. It was Walt the first few episodes of the season, then it was Jack for a bit, and now it's Martha. So on the one hand, he's acting honorably by allowing his wife to be his partner again, but on the other he's doing what he's done all along by letting someone else make the decisions. That's an interesting combination, and could make for some good non-nonsensical drama.

I wasn't surprised to see Walt the Mole kill himself. Of course the Secret Service in the 24-verse is going to leave him unattended long enough for him to do that, particularly when he's just admitted to betraying the President.

Okay, so it wasn't Kim and it wasn't Mandy hiding behind the bed. (As of this writing, by the way, Elisha Cuthbert is still listed in the IMDB's credits for last night's episode.) Yeah, yeah, it wouldn't have made any sense for it to have been Kim, but what does that matter on this show? And, also yeah, I guess Mandy was hauled off in chains toward the end of last season, but that was a year and a half ago in the 24-verse, so she easily could have escaped by now. Or gotten time off for good behavior.

Why did no one at CTU see the person in the bedroom before Team Jack burst into the apartment? I guess the bad guy was a Level 7 Technomage and had a Spell of Nondetectability thrown up around her. When he got shot, the spell was broken and CTU's SpookyVision satellites found her. Anyway, a quick synopsis of Jack's thoughts re the girl behind the bed:

Wow, she's hot. I think I'm in love. I'd better call Audrey and let her know we're not getting back together when this is through. What? She's only fifteen? How could she betray me like that? I'm tossing her back to the wolves.

Actually, I think the writers made a good choice in having the girl be Jack's motivation in calling Audrey about Kim. It seemed he was thinking back to when she was kimnapped in the first season, when she wasn't much older than the Russian girl.


In yet another example of a television show having a good character moment at the expense of a completely ludicrous plot development, why drag out that tired "I want immunity, and I want it signed by the Attorney General," cliché AGAIN? (Okay, the Attorney General part is new; usually it's the President.) Does the Attorney General's office have an Instant Immunity form that a clerk can just pull up on a monitor and fill in the blanks? And only in the 24-verse, where torture works every time (just once I'd like to see some baddy tell Jack what he wants to hear, even though the information is incorrect, just to make the pain stop), is it possible to get one of these forms filled out, signed by the Attorney General (who, apparently, wasn't otherwise busy at the time), and faxed off quicker than it would take Jack to beat the information out of his prisoner. And would such a document be legally binding? I have no idea, but it seems to me something thrown together so quickly strains the bonds of credulity a wee bit. But, again, we're not supposed to ask such questions.

Meanwhile, the nerve gas (which is now Centox VX rather than Centox Six, as it was last week) is still missing. It looks like Jack catches up with it next week--or, rather, it catches up with him--and he's forced to be part of the team that releases the first batch. Uhh, why are the bad guys making Jack do some of their dirty work? Never mind. I'm also wondering if the mall where they're going to set the gas off is the same one where Tony got shot in the neck a few seasons back. It's a wonder anyone shops there anymore. Will the gas be recovered? If so, what's going to drive the rest of the season? If not, will it become this season's Marwan, destined to disappear again and again and again? "Well, we originally hired the gas for just eight episodes, but the producers liked it so much, we shoehorned it in to a couple more, and then a couple more, and now we can't stop." Is this a cry for help? Should we stage an intervention? Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Number of times Jack says "Now!": 6
Number of times Jack says "No!": 7
Number of times a "protocol" is mentioned: 16
Number of times someone says a variation of "Go!": 9
Number of moles: 2
Approximate Body Count: 30 (plus three rats, plus one human nerve gas guinea pig)

<-12:00 PM - 1:00 PM 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM ->


  • At Tue Feb 07, 12:18:00 PM, Chris said…

    It's Dave, man, open up, man, Jack Bauer's after me!

    Double bonus points for the dead parrot link.

  • At Tue Feb 07, 12:48:00 PM, Jeff said…

    Oh ho! Someone after my own heart.

  • At Tue Feb 07, 01:48:00 PM, Robert said…

    Due to Gamgee Violence, hobbit discretion is advised.

    Dumbest (and most recycled and self-referential) episode in five years. Ouch. I may need a partial lobotomy to keep watching a show I once loved. How do you bore me, let me count the ways.

    The head hobbit works at Division, not CTU, yet his druggie sister knows where to meet him near his new digs without being told. (You may be right about the security card though. Surely this has some point besides being a bad rehash of one of last year's worst ideas. Please?)

    How many times are we going to watch a key suspect who is our only lead be killed just before he's to be followed to meet the bad guys? This is at least the third such incident I can recall off the top of my head.

    The whole scene with Sydney (sorry, he'll always be the shrink from Pretender to me) was bizarre. Head Hobbit lets Jack torture him for a few minutes and then just gives in to his demands??? Was the whole point of Jack being reinstated to put him back in the chain of command so he has to do really dumb things? And Jack really let me down. Just hand the girl a knife and tell the bad guy he's going to leave her alone with him if he doesn't talk. Duh.

    And here's a thought--let's trust some twenty-something-year old slacker who's so low on the corporate totem pole that he gets stuck working through lunch hour to cut into our nerve gas canister using some old machine tools! Sure, but I'm going to stand a few counties over while you do.

    ARGH. To much to explain, let me sum up. Any chance Mike hung Walt (or had it donw)? Any chance Kim dies at the mall from the nerve gas (preferrably offscreen)? Any chance Jack and Diane get their little ditty going again?

    Any chance this show doesn't lose it's most loyal fans by the time this season is does?

  • At Tue Feb 07, 03:04:00 PM, Jeff said…

    Yeah, good way to put it. That was a rather self-referential episode, wasn't it. About the only new element was Chloe wasn't the victim of love gone awry in a previous season.

    Good Pretender tip. I was wondering who that guy was.

  • At Tue Feb 07, 04:02:00 PM, Chris said…

    Look, Robert's right, of course, the show is not what it once was. However, I will be forced to keep watching if only to fully experience these synopses.

    And I don't need your heart. I've already got one. It's very nice.

  • At Wed Feb 08, 10:13:00 AM, Night Writer said…

    Heh. F-Troop, "Dave's Not Here" (makes me wonder when we're going to have a terrorist pawn named Imgwanna Kikbouti) and Monty Python in one review (lovely plumage, the Rossler), AND we get Princess Bride and John Mellencamp references in a comment! Best entertainment on the 'net!

  • At Wed Feb 08, 10:40:00 AM, Jeff said…

    Plus subtle referencs to Twin Peaks and Pearl Harbor!

  • At Wed Feb 08, 11:51:00 AM, Night Writer said…

    I thought of Twin Peaks when I read the BOB reference, but firgured that was too obscure even for me. "Tora, Tora, Tora" is of course from the 70s Pearl Harbor classic and not the Bore-a, Bore-a, Bore-a Affleck/Hartnett/Beckinsdale (nurse!) version. Or it could also serve as the battle cry for radical Jewish protestors aggrieved by the depiction of Moses on the Supreme Court frieze. (Ok, bad pun, but the trick here is not to think about these things too much).

  • At Wed Feb 08, 12:56:00 PM, Jeff said…

    Heh, but excellent puns they are!

    (Tora Tora Tora, I believe, was the code phrase used by the Japanese to indicate the attack was a success.)

    And don't the miss the U2 lyrics, or this...

  • At Wed Feb 08, 01:00:00 PM, Jeff said…

    Oh yeah, BOB. One of the scariest moments in Twin Peaks was when BOB came up from behind a bed.

  • At Thu Feb 09, 04:11:00 PM, Anonymous said…

    My DVR died and I missed the episode. Thankfully, you summed it up perfectly.


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