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, May 16, 2006

24 Day 5 4:00 AM - 5:00 AM

Hey, the graphic violence warning looks like President Bush! What's going on?

In the recaps, a VCI is in great distress, an F-18 flies through the air with the greatest of ease, it's Moving Day for Bierko, Logan hums to himself "Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes, and I can take or leave it if I please", and Miles ruins a perfectly good tape.

As this week's episode falls into a Rancor pit, and we're left to scavenge for a logical plot among the bones of previous victims, Karen says the Attorney General will be on in 5 minutes. She hasn't told the AG about the contents of the tape yet. Boy is his day going to be off to a rough start. I bet he's wondering what happened to that immunity deal he got for Collette last night.

Chloe has a T1 line to the AG (what, no T3?), and Congressional reps will be involved, so they could quickly start impeachment proceedings.

Team Bauer sits down with their popcorn and bunny slippers to listen to the tape, but all they hear is *HISSSSSSSSSS*. That can't be a good thing.

Jack is vexed. He vexes at Chloe "You were responsible for the tape! What happened?" Chloe is flummoxed and bamboozled and hornswoggled.

Bill, always the manager, says they'll just tell the AG there are "technical difficulties." How many sins has that one covered in human history?

Chloe finally realizes that the only human being (and I use that term loosely) who got near her in the last few minutes was Miles. Karen and Jack go storming after Miles, looking like they're about to commit several felonies. Jack commits a minor infraction by knocking over a White Shirt. (So who wears white shirts and who wears red shirts now? It's gotten confusing with both around.)

Jack grabs Miles and attempts to turn him into a pretzel. Miles says he's just been transferred to the White House. (So, he's gonna hop on a plane to DC now?)

Karen gives Miles the disappointed parent routine, and then says "There will be an investigation." Miles sneers and says "Do what you have to do. I work for the President now." Good one Miles, you've just hitched your wagon to the biggest criminal in US political history. And you're doing nothing but setting fire to all the bridges behind you.

(I'd love to hear this conversation. Miles: "Uh, Karen? Old buddy Miles here. Can I have my old job back?" *click* Miles: "Hello?")

And then, to the cheers of millions around the globe, Karen slaps Miles. What, no knee to the groinal regionaria?

At this point, Logan calls up to gloat, in a roundabout way of course. He says he'll leave the decision to release Jack to Karen's discretion. Apparently RunLoganRun is not worried about the Chinese?

With all that taken care, it's time to move on to the next plot point. Word comes in that Bierko has escaped. There is remarkably little curiosity in CTU about how the bad guys could have pulled this off. I've said before though, moles in CTU are so common, everyone just assumes the baddies know everything, and that every mission is already compromised.

It is here that the plot, which to this point has been so tight and internally consistent, hits a bit of a rough patch. (I don't know, does my sarcasm come through in this medium?)

First, we are told the attack on Bierko's caravan happened 10 minutes ago, AND, that the caravan was attacked by an IED. Let's take that one by one. First, Bierko left only about 10 minutes ago! Did this attack happen in CTU's driveway? Second, an IED?! What is this, CTU Baghdad? For the IED to work, since it just sits in place and waits for something to drive by, the baddies would have had to have known the route the caravan was going to take. How?

Next, what was with the PORTENTOUS NOD Bierko gave the driver at the end of last episode? Obviously an indication that the driver was part of this attack, but what was his role? If the plan was to attack with an IED and then a team, why did the baddies need an inside man? Surely that driver didn't decide the route to take. And did anyone tell him there would be an IED attack?

Next, we're told there were 6 attackers. Where did these guys come from? Master Recruiter Henderson didn't round them up. The rest of Bierko's team was taken down at the gas distribution plant. So who arranged all of this? And in just a few hours?

The survivor on the scene said Bierko mentioned nerve gas. We see Bierko arriving at another bad guy hideout, and apparently his team had saved one of the gas cylinders. Why? Did Bierko know this? I was busy banging my head on the wall at this point, so couldn't hear everything, but it seemed like Bierko wasn't aware they had one remaining cylinder. Why would his team save one without telling him about it?

There's more to this lunatic plot development, but we'll come back to it.

We go the first break a little early, with the clocks at :9 to :9. When we come back, the clocks are at :13 to :11. Somewhere beneath the Citadel, a Netherworlder strikes the Gong of Time.

At the presidential retreat, Martha is turning into a druggie. She's popping pills like candy. Hmm, Jack kicked his drug habit in a matter of hours, now Martha is developing a drug habit in a matter of hours. But, driven by her inner demons, she flings the pills across the room. Weird violin music is playing during all this. Perhaps the musicians dove on the pills and scarfed them up.

Martha sees Agent Pierce's phone, and flags down Agent Cole and asks that the phone be returned to Pierce, at whatever radar station in Alaska he happens to be manning.

And then, we meet up again with Dear Agent Pierce. He is tied up in a room in the retreat. His face has stopped a few oncoming fists, and is bloodied. Logan comes in and says "Oh my God." Uh, Charles, this is all your doing. Logan is kind enough to say "Sorry about this, Aaron." Followed by some tough love. "You think you know what's going on. You don't."

Aaron reaches down into his inner moxie and says "Explain it to me." Logan explains. "The recording doesn't exist. You have a choice." And it's not much of a choice. Remain quiet and he can have any post he wants, except the White House. Otherwise, dot dot dot.

Agent Pierce has truly grown into a rich character. Always noble and loyal, he's displayed some real strength this season. Here, he says to Logan "You're a traitor to this country and a disgrace to this office. It's my duty to see you're brought to justice." And then, in perhaps the best line of the season, Pierce says "Is there anything else, Charles?" Pierce practically spits out that last "Charles".

Logan is taken aback, and takes Pierce's answer as a no. All in all though, I don't understand why it was necessary to beat up Pierce. Were they trying to get information from him? What did he know? Just pure revenge? What sadistic Secret Service agent would be a part of that? Just Agent Thug?

Outside in some tunnel (where are they anyway?) Agent Thug says to Logan "Believe me, he's going to be a problem." Logan has a look that does not promise happiness and light for Agent Pierce.

Still in this whatever it is, Logan calls up Graham. In a spectacular, and rare, example of continuity, the writers remembered that the last Graham knew, Logan was going to splatter his DNA all over the walls of the retreat. So, Graham says "I didn't expect to hear from you."

Logan says all is well. The tape was taken care of, Wifey is being handled, and Pierce is being taken care of. Also, Logan says Bauer will be taken out. You just can't trust weak, easily manipulated presidents these days.

Novick comes trotting into this tunnel and sees Logan. Novick spills the news that Bierko has escaped. Logan seems genuinely surprised. He says "What?! How?!" I'd accept this as proof Logan wasn't a part of Bierko's escape, but Logan was genuinely worried about Bierko earlier in the season, though that was before the writers decided Logan was actually Evil. So, it's entirely possible the writers have no clue yet if Logan really knows about Bierko or not.

Back at CTU (our motto: We release every terrorist we catch back into the wild!), Karen asks Chloe if she's having any luck. Chloe says "only the bad kind." And darnnit, the satellites didn't happen to be watching the IED attack site. What are the odds. The satellites happened to catch the helicopter attacking the SecDef, and caught Henderson's meeting with the copilot, and the copilot's trip to the diplomatic flight. Too bad the plot called for no satellite coverage here.

LAPD said there were no witnesses to the IED attack. The curfew and all. Jack thinks Henderson can help find Bierko, but doesn't think he'll talk. Karen and Bill want to offer Buckaroo a deal, but Jack is less than supportive of the idea. Bill tries a guilt trip on Jack and asks "What would David Palmer do?" Great, now FOX is going to hawking WWDPD bracelets on their website.

Jack gives in and agrees that with the time constraints, Henderson should get a deal, but he wants to be the one to talk to Henderson. Henderson immediately sniffs out what is really going on. He taunts Jack. Jack appeals to Henderson's patriotism. Buckaroo huffs about the politics of survival. Buckaroo also knows about Jack and the Chinese.

He says of the people behind all this, "You can't touch them, but they can touch you." He agrees to help Jack, but only if he helps Henderson disappear and leave the country with his wife. (The wife with the shot up gams courtesy of Jack, I might add.)

Jack agrees. Clocks are at :29 to :27.

Henderson coughed up 14 names that CTU might try. 14? What else is he sitting on? Curtis will be in charge of the response team.

Audrey is up and about. And she's dressed. Apparently nearly bleeding to death isn't enough to keep her down. Jack says to Audrey "Karen gave Henderson a deal", conveniently leaving out his role in the deal.

CTU has a bead on one of the names. Joseph Malina, an arms dealer. A call was made at 4:03 from a pay phone in Van Nuys, not far from the ambush site. Uh-huh. Let's bring the logic train to a screeching halt again, shall we.

Bierko left only shortly before 4. He got all the way up to Van Nuys in five minutes? Worse, craziest of all, think about the plan Bierko hatched in the approximately 60 seconds that elapsed between the attack and the phone call to Malina. Bierko instantly put a plan together to use the one remaining gas cylinder. He instantly decided to call Malina, and as we'll see in a bit, Malina provided him with plans to a Russian sub.

Just how did that conversation go? Did Bierko ask Malina for ideas on how to use the gas? Did Bierko already know about the sub, and he just asked Malina for specs on it? Recall that Bierko's original plan was to ship these cylinders to Central Asia. Then, the amazing back up plan was to use the cylinders in the gas plant. Now, the amazing back up back up plan, thrown together in a minute, literally, is to gas a Russian sub. Mein Gott, what could Bierko accomplish if he spent a couple hours hatching an evil plot? I'm going to resume banging my head on the wall.

Henderson wants to talk to Malina. Apparently Malina is a true geek with all the latest tech, including a magic Phoenix Shield, which is resistant to all CTU attacks, and adds +3 to all destroy hard drive rolls.

Jack will go with Henderson, to make sure there is no hanky-panky.

Back at the retreat, Martha is out smoking when she sees a car pull up. The trunk pops open. Uh-oh. It's Agent Thug, and he's holding a pistol with a silencer attached. (Where did Agent Adams go? Why is he driving back to the retreat?)

Agent Thug reappears with Pierce. Martha rushes to the aid of her knight in shining, uh, suit and tie. She asks "What are you doing? Are you going to shoot me?" as Agent Thug points the gun at her. There is a struggle, fight fight, kick hit punch. The gun is free. Martha grabs it and shoots Agent Thug! Wow, people do so many crazy things when they're high on drugs. (If I'm rushing through this, it's because my head hurts from banging it on the wall.)

Clocks are at :40 to :36.

Curtis is schlepping Jack and Henderson around in an SUV. They arrive at Malina's place. Luckily he only lived a few minutes from CTU. Jack tells Curtis "Set up a perimeter." How he keeps saying that with a straight face I don't know.

Jack wants to wire Henderson, but Malina the Technomage will detect it. Say, don't Bierko and/or Malina know that Henderson has been captured? I suppose it's possible they don't, and I suppose Bierko didn't know Henderson was just down the hall at CTU, but you'd think Bierko at least would know Henderson was nabbed and escaped several times today.

Henderson goes in. Malina has a device that shows Henderson's body is filled with blue plasma. That would explain Henderson's super powers. He's an alien.

Jack is up on the roof, listening to the conversation below. Henderson tells Malina that CTU is outside. That fink! He tells Malina to crash his files.

Luckily CTU happened to bring a blow torch, and CTU comes in with guns blazing. Curtis is winged in the fight. Malina is hipped.

After the fight, Curtis is sent back to CTU Medical, for at least the third time in the past few hours. He must be getting tired of it. (Though, this time he is the patient, and the other times he was just the ambulance.)

Henderson is all mad, because his betrayal was really a ruse. He was trying to get Malina to put his files on a flash drive that CTU could use.

Now, I beg you, Gods of Logic and Reason, please explain why Henderson didn't bother sharing this plan with Jack? What reason could he have had for concealing it? Jack would've gone along with it in an instant. And by telling CTU, Henderson could avoid getting shot by mistake in any gunfight. Gaaaah!

Clocks are at :52 to :47.

Back at the stable, Martha is tenderly tenderizing Pierce. Martha knows Logan ordered Pierce killed. Pierce says to Martha "I'm sorry to tell you Charles was involved in much worse things than that."

Super Agent Martha and Pierce figure out their plan. Pierce will stay out of sight. Martha will find Mike and tell all, and then send him to Pierce.

CTU rummages through what is left of Malina's computer and finds plans for a Russian sub. A Natalia-K524 Delta IV class. There happens to be on in LA, undergoing a US Navy inspection. (Part of the deal brokered with Suvarov.) You'd think after the gas cylinder plot was uncovered, CTU and HS would be suspicious of a Russian sub docked in LA.

Henderson says the sub has 12 Scorpion land attack missiles that could do considerable damage to LA. So, off they go to try and stop Bierko from taking over the sub.

Jack says "Get in!" but the krazy kaptions say "Go!" I'll count that one.

Audrey already has the senior Navy officer on the sub on the phone. Jack tells him that terrorists are after the missiles. The sub goes on alert.

The LT goes topside, only to see Bierko and company there, just before the baddies shoot him.

The baddies don gas masks and drop the cylinder into the sub. The gas kills whoever is on the sub. (We see only four drop. I'm assuming there was more.)

(Did Bierko need schematics to drop in a cylinder? Bierko: "Uh, what do I do with this cylinder?" Flunky: "Just drop it in, sir." Bierko: "Where will it go?" Flunky: "Uh, down, sir." *pause* Bierko: "Ok, I'm not getting this.")

Bierko finds the control computer and puts in the code he got from Malina. A255TR99.

The missiles are loaded. I wish I were loaded. This plot hurts my head.

This steaming pile of episode comes to an end with the clocks at :60 to :55.

Well now it's time to say goodbye to Jack and all his kin
We would like to thank you folks for kindly droppin in
You're all invited back next week to this locality
To have one last heapin helpin of this insanity
Y'all come back now, ya hear?

And now, once again, here is guest critic Paul Foth. He caught his boss stealing from the office coffee fund, so his boss ordered a coworker to "take care" of Paul. But, the coworker tore a nail slamming the trunk, and Paul was able to escape and send this in.

I don't know what to make of this, but I'm actually going to be in Los Angeles the evening of the season finale. Should I bring a Kevlar umbrella?

My my my, Bierko's last gasp--er, final contingency plan--is a submarine. This coda feels like they had the season all finished and were shaking hands when the intern piped up and said, "Uh, guys? This only adds up to twenty-one hours." They beat the intern up and promptly hot-glued another three hours onto the raggedy edges of Jack kissing Audrey's knee in Medical. Business as usual, in other words.

Did you see how fast the Sentox MaxKill VX-1/6 UberDeathCloud worked this time?! It must've been no more than twenty seconds from the time Team Bierko closed the hatch to the time the crew was pushing up daisies. And it seemed like Mr. B and Co. were traipsing along getting the missiles ready to launch awfully quickly after the sub crew was taken care of. Don't they have the slightest qualm that just gas masks might not be enough protection against such a lethal gas? Or are they assuming that an air handling system that distributes the gas throughout the sub in twenty seconds also gets rid of it in another five? Well, whatever.

So Henderson doesn't want immunity; he wants to disappear. He wants Jack to use his skills (and Hood of Infinite Disguises) to make that happen, so that the Clip-on Phone Squad won't be able to find him. But, but, but.... The Clip-on Phone Squad knew Jack was alive. What makes Henderson think Jack's skills (and Hood of Protection Against Gas Attack) can hide him if they couldn't hide Jack? Granted, the CoPS didn't know exactly WHERE Jack was, but it certainly didn't take them long to flush him out once they put their plan in motion.

And at last Henderson acknowledges his wife again, although he doesn't mention that she's still tied up in her house with a fresh bullet wound, and might need to get that looked at before hightailing it to Anonymityville.

Where's Wayne?

While watching the previously-on-24's, the shot of Jack putting his gun to the co-pilot's head and telling him to land the plane reminded me of this sort of situation (i.e., someone who's the only person with an important skill being threatened with death if they don't perform said skill in order to save the person with the gun) arising in countless other TV shows and movies. What if the pilot refuses? Is Jack really going to shoot him? Who's going to land the plane then?

The same sort of reasoning applies when Agent Stoneface is telling Aaron to get into the trunk of the car. Why does he even think Aaron will do this? "If you don't, I'll kill you. If you do, I'll kill you...just not so soon." He must realize that Aaron's going to make it as difficult as possible for him, and refuse to get in the trunk. Then again, Stoneface is something of a junior agent. Maybe he hasn't been to the Efficient Killing of a Fellow Agent seminar yet.

Aaron is one of the best characters on this series. His standing up to Logan is just great. He knows he hasn't got a chance of surviving, and yet he spits right in the guy's eye. It's just too bad CTU doesn't have a single employee like him (and Lord help us if he ends up there next season, because they'll corrupt him like a small town freshman at Macalester).

Looks like the finale is going to be quite loud. My prediction is that the first hour will be devoted to taking care of Bierko and the second will deal with Logan. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the CoPS will get away and somehow provide a lead-in for next season.

Number of times Jack says "Now!": 33
Number of times Jack says "No!": 8
Number of times a "protocol" is mentioned: 42
Number of times someone says a variation of "Go!": 30
Number of moles: 5
Approximate Body Count: 100 (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, plus whoever else was on the Russian sub)

<-3:00 AM - 4:00 AM 5:00 AM - 7:00 AM ->


  • At Tue May 16, 06:36:00 PM, Robert said…

    Best line in five years of 24: "Is there anything else Charles?" Briliantly conceived, written and delivered. Way too go Aaron.

    And for 15 seconds all was right with the world. Sadly that was the only 15 seconds of the whole night that deserved praise. Ugh. What a colossal mess of an episode.

    Bierko sure had a lot of ideas stored up in his head for the use in America of nerve gas he "supposedly" planned to take back to Russia. If you want to hurt Russia, why not steal the sub a la Red October and sail it across the Pacific to launch the missiles at Moscow?

    How did Martha get outside? Wasn't she under room arrest (not to mentioned drugged and wined to the nines)? How many Secret Service agents would be willing to kill another agent in cold blood? Do they really expect us to believe this load of fertilizer?

    And Henderson...if he were really as smart as he seems (ignoring the whole blue plasma thing--love that one Jeff!) he would have asked for Jack's hooded sweatshirt and man purse rather than his help. That would be all he needed.

    It's hard to see how this can come to any sort of satsifying conclusion...given that the writers probably aren't going to be flayed alive during the finale.

  • At Tue May 16, 09:10:00 PM, Jeff said…

    It's hard to see how this can come to any sort of satsifying conclusion...given that the writers probably aren't going to be flayed alive during the finale.

    Oh, top drawer, old bean!

    And yes, a perfect idea to turn the finale in The Hunt for Red October. Suddenly revenge means more to Bierko than punishing Mother Russia, as he wanted to do in the first place?

  • At Tue May 16, 10:28:00 PM, Matt said…

    Malina has better computer security than the NSA, a full body scanner that TSA would die for, but has a skylight secured with a lock that came in a box of Cracker Jack.

    P.S. Forgot to mention last week that the Admiral at Point Mugu bore a striking resemblance to Greg Morris, the Mission Impossible technowiz from the old TV series back in the '60s. I guess it wasn't him though, unless he faked his own death in 1996.

  • At Thu May 18, 08:58:00 AM, Jeff said…

    Excellent point, Matt, about the skylight. No infrared-controlled death lasers up there or nuthin.


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