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, March 20, 2006

24 Day 5 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Oh, I needed another hit of graphic violence warning. It had been too long.

For the Previously on LA Laws, we are reminded that the Babe is being paid a lot of money for whatever information she's giving Sgt. Bierko. Just another element of this amazing backup plan, that he arranged to have this babe get this info for him on a few hours notice. We also see once again the demises of Samwise Gamgee and Tony Took.

Carlos Bernard is in the credits again. One last time, for old times sake. He's playing Dead Guy #1. Look for him.

As this episode begins, then, someone is picking up the syringe that did in Tony and bagging it. CTU is meticulous about following protocol.

Now, remember, it's been no more than 3 minutes since Henderson stabbed Tony and disappeared. But, Audrey says Henderson, who is fighting off the buckets of drugs coursing through his system, resisting the pain of the torture, managed to get out of the building unseen before it was locked down (it was re-locked down after being locked down for the nerve gas?), and the car he used to get away was found a block away.

Think about that one, folks. From near death, to off the table, out the door, out the building, find a car, start the car, drive it one block, get out and disappear, and someone finds the car. All within three minutes. Whew. I'm exhausted just trying to imagine that.

But, it would have made about as much sense if faeries had appeared, wrapped Henderson in an Invisibility Cloak woven from gossamer strands made from their own spittle and the magic element pixium, and spirited him out of the building on the back of a unicorn.

In that same three minute interval, Chloe managed to decrypt a file on Buckaroo's computer. I guess Jack's pep talks helped.

The file names a Collette Stenger. She is an international intelligence broker. (Now what the heck is that? Can you find one in the Yellow Pages?)

The sheet we see briefly says she is 5'9", 135 pounds. In 2000, she stole some files from the German Embassy in East Rand, South Africa. In October 2001, she did some computer hacking in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. (Coming at the time of the US attacks in Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, Dushanbe would've been a very interesting and lively place to be.)

Audrey says Interpol claims she and Bierko met twice in the last eight months. Man oh man, CTU gets more down in three minutes than the rest of us do all day. So Chloe got this file decrypted, they call Interpol in what must be the early morning hours in Europe, and get some info on Stenger, all in three minutes. Wow. Way to go, CTU.

And, wait, there's more! Curtis is prepping a tac team to go to the hotel where Stenger might be. Jack calls Curtis, who is in CTU's locker room! After taking his own sweet time to get to CTU with the chemical recovery team, he must have come running into the building only to find 40% of his coworkers dead, but Audrey gets him turned around and prepping a tac team all in three minutes. CTU can be pretty efficient when they're not bumbling around.

Over to White House West, where the Press Secretary, apparently, is yapping at the press corps. (krazy kaptions say her name is Brown.)

Martha has another of those talks with Logan where she dumps shrewery all over him. Thing is, he really does have it coming. Martha thinks there will be fallout from the whole martial law bit, and Logan will get blamed, leaving Vice Prez BOB smelling like a rose. (Considering the countless nuclear attacks in and around LA over the past few years, perhaps Martha could've used another word besides "fallout.")

Logan goes out and does his presser. With great force and conviction, he says there will be a curfew imposed in LA, enforced by the military.

Back at CTU, Bill says the DoD should not get a list of casualties will the next of kin have been notified. Which is going to take awhile considering the numbers. I wonder who will get that happy task.

The Homeland Security comes striding into CTU. Pretty brave of them considering the place was filled with deadly nerve gas only minutes before. And considering how this gas munched away at seals and sublimated polymers, isn't there any residue on all the computers, chairs, network cables, etc...? And finally, how'd they get Edgar out of there so quickly? Did they just roll him on his side, throw an afghan over him and pretend he's a sofa?

Karen Hayes' evil minion is named Miles Papazian. He has got several burrs embedded in his nether regions. Which inevitably leads to Chloe vs. Miles! Cage Match One! The Hullabaloo in CTU!

Miles wants to use Edgar's station, and needs Chloe's key card for something. Boy, this season all the cool kids are talking about key cards.

A cut to a most unexpected scene. Wayne Palmer is out cruising around LA and he calls up Secret Agent Aaron. (Wayne Palmer has that reverse raccoon eyes lighting, like out of a film noir scene.) Wayne says he is coming to see Aaron, has something important to tell him.

Aaron asks about the curfew, and Wayne says he left before it was declared. I'm a little unsure how that would help Wayne if stopped. Would he just tell the military oh, I left before it was declared, and they'd say dang, a loophole, continue on your way then?

At White House West, BOB says he is in charge of the situation. OK, the General Al Haig references were cute 15 years ago, but let's retire them, shall we?

Bill says Sgt. Bierko targeted CTU to cripple their ability to stop him. I think banana peels on the front steps of CTU would be enough to stop them some days.

In the hotel Babe Collette is pulling up her boots. Hunky Guy is still in the bed taking it all in. Collette says she'll meet Hunky at the airport in 45 minutes.

At Terrorist HQ, Sgt. Bierko says they're aiming for some Distribution Center where they can kill 200,000. Not sure what this is. Some trucking company with 200,000 employees?

As we slide into the first commercial break, clocks are at :13 to :13. But, coming back, the clocks are at :17 to :15. And suddenly, I am my own grandfather.

Getting right down to work, Karen Hayes wants some satellite repositioned. Obviously she is just technobabbling trying to sound like she knows what the heck she's talking about, because what could they possibly want to look at with the satellite? They have no solid leads.

Karen says 56 were killed in CTU. She trumps Bill and says CTU is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Homeland Security.

The tac team has arrived at the hotel. (That's about a 15 minute trip for those keeping score at home.) They enter the hotel room, which is about the size of my house. No one there. They immediately zen that the occupant probably went to the roof. Why there, and not down some other stairs or elevator, I don't know.

So up they all go to the roof, where Hunky jumps down on Curtis and gets his gun. Now, what possible reason could Hunky have had to suspect that someone was coming, and that he should go to the roof? Anyone?

Oh, there's a twist. Hunky is an agent with the German Federal Intelligence Service. His rap name is Theo Stoller. Chloe quickly confirms it. He trained with MI-6, which I suppose is meant to explain Stoller's British accent, and lack of a German accent.

Stoller has been undercover (literally, just a few minutes before) tracking Collette's clientele. She's given him leads to cells in 3 countries, with ties to a dozen more.

Clocks are at :28 to :26 after the next commercial break. As we come back, there is a very Hollywood Squares-esque split screen.

Collette drives a red sports car right into Terrorist HQ. A baddies enjoys feeling up, I mean, frisking Collette. It's a wonder she didn't drop him right then and there with two taps to the back of the head for that.

Audrey, with nothing else to do, has been talking to German Intelligence. They will not make Stoller divulge where Collette is. It would jeopardize their investigation.

So, Jack figures he has to make a deal on his own. He asks to be alone with Stoller. Curtis says "Jack, what are you doing?" Curtis probably fears another knee shooting incident. I wonder if those two have made up after the whole Jack knocks out Curtis and leaves him on the curb incident earlier in the day.

Alone at last with Hunky, Jack swoons. I mean, Jack offers Stoller the NOC, I mean, WET list. Jokes abound, but, from FOX's 24 site: "The Western European Terrorist (WET) list is a fictional device created by the show’s writers." It supposedly is a list of bad guys and their contacts.

Stoller thinks this is a plum prize, so agrees to help. But first, Jack has to get the list. So, he calls up Chloe and asks her to commit a serious serious crime. She needs to use her back door to the NSA's secure mainframe and get the list. (ok class, all together, a secure computer with the most sensitive intelligence would not have an Internet connection, to prevent just this sort of nonsense.)

Chloe says Miles has her key card, but Jack just says to figure it out. So, Chloe wanders over and "accidentally" spills coffee on Miles. He huffs and puffs to the little agents room to clean up, as Chloe says "I'll pay for the dry cleaning." Chloe quickly gets her card, breaks into the NSA, and steals the WET list, after deftly handling the extra layer of authentication in place.

She uploads the list to Jack, who shows it to Stoller. Hunky says he is to meet Collette at the Van Nuys airports.

At Terrorist HQ, they go through a dance whereby Collette gets her ten million dollars, and she gives them a thumb drive with the schematics. They are encrypted. Collette doesn't give them the key until she verifies her loot has been deposited. The key is CA39A.

The baddies let Collette live. She leaves. Sgt. Bierko says "Torch the place. We're leaving." Well, nothing like creating a big bonfire to attract the authorities and let them discover your secret hideout.

Coming out of the commercial break, the clocks are at :40 to :37.

BOB is on the phone strong arming the Governor of California. And strong arming Ahnold is no easy feat.

A flunky comes in and tells BOB that Wayne Palmer is stopped at a roadblock and wants to come to the retreat. The roadblock guys have orders to say None Shall Pass.

Cut to Wayne. He says to the military guy there that he still has Grade 2 clearance. Military guy says (essentially) Tough Beans, old chap. But, a call comes in saying Wayne Palmer may pass. Riggs lets Wayne through.

Jack and his Merry Men are now at the Van Nuys airport. I guess with the curfew there is no traffic and they can zip around LA in minutes.

Hunky wants to talk about girls with Jack, and all the spy bimbos they've bagged on their undercover *snicker* missions.

Back at CTU, Chloe is so busted on the NSA thing. She admits to committing a serious serious crime. Karen is none too happy to hear sensitive intel like the WET list just went out the door. Chloe says "Jack needed it, okay?" Ah, that makes committing a serious serious crime all right, then. It's not clear if Chloe will be fired, or shot at dawn.

Karen calls Jack and says he must not give the WET list to Hunky. Jack says they are in the middle of an operation, and that she should be vewy qwiet because they are hunting Collettes.

Jack says she'll be responsible for subsequent attacks if she lets Collette go. Karen says she doesn't like to be threatened. Jack says "that's not a threat, that's a fact." Yes, that's a fact, Jack. Karen says there will be repercussions. Which, in this universe, means Jack will get a promotion. Jack says "Fine", like a huffy teenage girl.

Collette arrives. The team moves in and puts Collette up against her car. The sting of betrayal clouds her already smoky eyes as she realizes Hunky has sold her up the river.

This time, it's Jack's turn to "frisk" Collette. Hey, those aren't pillows. Jack gives the chip with the WET list to Stoller, and he leaves.

As he drives, he tries to upload the list. BUT, the chip bursts into flames. Sorry Theo, no WET list for you.

Jack immediately calls Stoller (he had his cell number how?) and apologizes. Jack says he programmed the chip to self-destruct. Now just how in the bloody blue blazes did he do that? And when? And with what? Is this a standard commercially available chip? If so, manufacturers generally go to great lengths to make sure their products don't burst into flames. Tends to get lawyers all excited. So quite unclear what kind of chip would have this kind of capability.

Jack promises to help rebuild Stoller's investigation. Jack says "I give you my word." Stoller says, quite rightly, "I had your word, now I know what it's worth."

Clocks are now at :54 to :51.

The tac team has Collette chained to some kind of shark cage. Perhaps it's Shark Week at CTU.

She wonders who Theo is, and Jack immediately tells her Stoller is with German Intelligence. Good heavens, Jack, so much for helping with Stoller's investigation. You just told her his real identity, something she had no clue about. Intelligence is her business. Now she can think back and piece together what Stoller knows and how it might be used.

Collette wants to be alone with Jack. She asks what his price is. Jack says "I'm not for sale." Collette says "Everyone has a price."

She wants immunity and a signed document from the President before she'll disclose anything about Bierko and the data she gave him. (Signed documents from Presidents are a staple on this show.)

Karen doesn't see much of a choice, but she says "For the record, I don't like it." Ok, noted. (Whose job is it to write that into the record?)

Meanwhile, Palmer is *still* driving up to the retreat. Was this roadblock set up in Nevada?

A van comes up behind him. A figure wearing a mask and dark clothes shoots Palmer's car with a shotgun, and the car careens off the road. Palmer shakes it off, gets away from the wreckage and runs off just before the bad guys from the van get down to the wreck.

Ok, so now we BOB really is evil. He must have ordered the hit after hearing from the flunky that Palmer was coming. But how did he pull this off? Where did that van come from? Did he have it waiting just in case? Did he order some baddies to wax Palmer after hearing he was coming? If so, where were they? The van came up from behind Palmer, so the van and the baddies weren't at the retreat. Did the van have to get through the military checkpoint?

And we hear the President must have already signed the document. Wow, that was quick. We never saw Logan do this though.

Collette, satisfied she has immunity, mentions a 12451 Saticoy Blvd. She says she got a schematic for Bierko, but doesn't know what it was. It's safer for her if she doesn't know anything about what she carries. She's just a go-between. She says Bierko isn't at his hideout anymore, and doesn't know where he is.

Jack asks where she got the schematic. Collette says from the DoD. From... Audrey Raines. Collette adds "Apparently she had a price."

Huh? Audrey? What? Alas, the episode ends. Tune in next week to find out if Audrey really is part of this whole bad guy operation.

And now, once again, here is guest critic Paul Foth. Paul had this review typed up last night, but I broke into his secure computer and programmed it to self destruct. Paul had to rewrite this by hand, and got it to me just now. I gave him my word I wouldn't do it again. Oh, and Paul works for German Intelligence.


Oh, wait. That's the warning for Prison Break. 24 has violence, not content. Lincoln Burrows and Michael Scofield and the other guys over on Prison Break should've been so lucky to be taken into custody by CTU. Then they wouldn't have had to go through so much trouble plotting their escape; they could waltz on out any time they want.

Beyond the fact that Buckaroo has been pumped so full of joy juice in the last couple of hours that a continental plate could beat him in a race, shouldn't he have been seen by AT LEAST ONE CTU EMPLOYEE IN THE PARKING LOT!? Didn't anybody manage to make it out of the building before the nerve gas hit? If they did, did they all just run away? Or were they all getting beat up in back alleys and having their key cards stolen?

And more key card high jinks. Miles, the simpering dolt from Homeland Insecurity, needs Chloe's card to get into Edgar's machine. But does he actually use it? It looks like he just sticks it in a box. Before long, Chloe needs to use the card so she can sneak through the back door to NSA's one and only server so she can steal the NOC--I mean, WET--list. She dumps coffee in Miles's lap, and rather than keep working through the inconvenience in order to try and stop the next nerve gas attack, he gets all huffy and walks away. I can't tell if this is good writing--i.e., Chloe recognizing Miles's vanity and knowing he'll dash off-camera to sop up the coffee--or more stupidity. But really, why didn't Chloe just ask Miles for her key card? She was still working. It would make perfect sense that she'd need it sooner or later.

Do any of you out there know how to program memory cards to explode?

Add Germany to the list of countries that are mad at Jack. Look for the Germans to hook up with the Chinese for Operation BauerStomp any day now. Is Jack the angry version of Inspector Clouseau, a one-man international incident?

Oh great: Wayne Palmer has returned. Leave it to that family to pour gasoline on a fire. Maybe that van was full of angry bloggers not wanting the season to turn into yet another train wreck (even though it's probably too late).

But back up a bit. Wayne got stopped at a checkpoint on an "access road" to White House West--a four-lane access road that looked pretty much exactly like a state highway. And by the time the heroes in the van attacked, it had gotten even wider and acquired road signs. But...HOW DID THE VAN GET PAST THE CHECKPOINT?! Could this possibly be Aaron's sneaky way of arranging his meeting with Wayne? Not even the writers of this show would be so daft, would they? Wait, don't answer that.

Why does Jack go ballistic when Collette drops Audrey's name? Not only should he be a better agent than to allow that to happen in front of a prisoner, but his first thought should be that someone is pretending to be Audrey. The preview for next week showing him attacking Audrey in the interrogation room rings completely false. Maybe it's the set up for Jack missing, yet again, a chance for a lasting relationship, but if so, it's (also yet again) a nonsensical way to get to some painful emotional ground, which short circuits any genuine impact that emotion might have.

Number of times Jack says "Now!": 17
Number of times Jack says "No!": 8
Number of times a "protocol" is mentioned: 29
Number of times someone says a variation of "Go!": 21
Number of moles: 3
Approximate Body Count: 55 (plus three rats, plus one human nerve gas guinea pig, plus 11 in the mall food court (and no, not from food poisoning), plus one security camera, plus 56 in CTU)

<-7:00 PM - 8:00 PM 9:00 PM - 10:00 PM ->


  • At Tue Mar 21, 07:04:00 PM, Robert said…

    After watching last night's episode, I think it's time to conclude that Russia was the diversion, and that, rather than being a backup plan, what we're seeing with the CTU attack, and now the "distribution center" attack coming up was intended all along. The evil Veep recruited Buckaroo Robocop to put all this together. Rather than being a true separatist, Bierko is a triple agent who will turn out to be working for East German intelligence to divide the country back up again. And the Queen of the Space Unicorns will be appearing two weeks from now.

    And Audrey? Maybe she's being framed by gay Pentagon employees angry at the treatment of her brother last season. Maybe she's being framed by her dad who's angry at the failure of their double suicide attempt. Maybe she's being framed by Mandy who's angry about being replaced by some other dark-haired chick.

    If it's 8 at night in LA, it's at least 10 in DC (or 11 if Daylight Savings Time is running)...but lawmakers are "debating" the legality of Jellyfish's actions???? RIGHT.

    Does anybody actually read these scripts before they film them? Does anybody (but us) care anymore?

  • At Tue Mar 21, 10:00:00 PM, Jeff said…

    Well, as I wrote last year in this rant, I think there is indeed an EZ-Screenwriter software package involved somewhere. They just input some initial parameters, and let it generate scripts automagically.

  • At Wed Mar 22, 03:39:00 PM, Chris said…

    Who had the time to pick up the syringe? Aren't all the superflous and some of the flous people dead?

    Maybe Robocop is really Jason from Friday the 13th in a really good witness protection program.

    I like Robert's idea that this is all a plot to establish a fascist dictatorship of BOB. It makes as much sense as anything the writers can crank out.

    First the Edgar suit, now the Edgar couch. Is Vincent D'Onofrio available as a pitchman? It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!

    Audrey's brother was gay? How did I miss that? Oh, yeah, I stopped watching last year because of the industrial suckage. I'd stop now, but you guys are like crack. You know, you're white and smokable.

  • At Wed Mar 22, 03:48:00 PM, Jeff said…

    Robocop as Jason, works for me!

    Vincent D'Onofrio?! Whoa, you lost me in Turn 3. *google google* Oh, him.

    And yeah, the look on William Devane's face when he found out his son likes boys was perhaps the single greatest moment of last season.

    We're smokable? Thanks! I think.

  • At Wed Mar 22, 04:00:00 PM, Robert said…

    Forget smokable....we're white????

  • At Wed Mar 22, 07:42:00 PM, Jeff said…

    You mean we're gonna stay this color?

  • At Thu Mar 23, 08:09:00 AM, Robert said…

    That's not what the salesman told me!

  • At Thu Mar 23, 10:44:00 AM, Chris said…

    I tried to post this last night, but got stiffed. Hey, first time in four years!

    Your whiteness is implicit in my patriarchal and imperialist bigotry. Undoubtedly you are both transgendered people of color who have undergone oppression by my ilk. I apologize for any harm, either real or imagined, caused by me, my ancestors, and those wholly unrelated to me in any way.

    I'm sticking to my view that you are both, in fact, combustible.


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