Well, it looks like I owe Ethan Kanin an apology; despite all evidence to the contrary, he’s not one of the corrupted members of President Taylor’s cabinet. If he was, he wouldn’t have been so pissy on the phone when he called looking for First Man Henry—he would’ve known Henry was a bit busy at the moment watching his dead son’s girlfriend get stabbed to death. As fake-outs go, Kanin’s wasn’t a huge shocker, but I did appreciate how the reveal wasn’t presented as a reveal at all; and it does raise the interesting question of who the real mole is. The only other suspect we have available is Special Agent Tim, who’s been advising the president through the crisis and tonight decided to start pushing for capitulation to Dubaku’s demands. (So did Secretary Joe Stevens, but since he quit, he's no longer in the running.)
I thought “1:00 pm – 2:00 pm” was a definite improvement over last week. It has its share of stalling, but we get bookending action sequences, with Jack and Tony doing their fair share of owning, as well as a mid-air disaster, and First Man Henry taking out the duplicitous Agent Brian. Some of the President’s discussions were hold-overs from last week, and as other’s have pointed out, her refusal to temporarily withdraw the troops seems less like patriotism and more like stupidity if you think about it for more than five minutes. But at least this episode had characters making strong, and occasionally even smart, choices.
In case anyone was worried, Renee Walker lives to grimace another hour. After Emerson and the boys leave the construction site, Bill and Chloe drive in to bring our buried beauty some air and shot of much needed adrenaline. While Renee is initially skeptical, there’s no real surprise when she ultimately goes along with Bill’s plans; she’s one of the good guys, and in the world of 24, good guys know righteousness when they see it.
Meanwhile in Emerson’s van, we get some more retroactive continuity about Tony’s death on Day Five. It turns out that Chris Henderson (Peter Weller), the man who supposedly killed Tony actually left him alive on purpose, as part of a plan with Emerson to use him as needed for leverage on Jack. Much as I appreciate that they’re trying to justify themselves, I hope the writers move on at this point. 24 is an inherently ridiculous show, and it works best when it doesn’t draw attention to that ridiculousness by trying to explain everything. It’s good to have Tony back, we’ve given a nod to his “death,” and that should be that.
I was disappointed last week when Emerson immediately bought in to Jack being “turned,” but while he doesn’t entirely make up for his gullibility this week, it is nice that he’s still a little suspicious. He grabs Jack once they’ve arrived at the rendezvous point, convinced that Tony is going to make a play for the diamonds; Tony’s unable to convince him otherwise without shooting him in the neck. Unlike Renee, this neck shot is ultimately fatal, although Emerson does manage to guilt-trip Tony one last time before he expires.
Emerson’s death puts Jack in an interesting position; instead of just handing Matobo and his wife over to Dubaku blind, he has an opportunity to explain to the Prime Minister and his wife the situation, and maybe even give them a shot at getting out alive. (Given how much President Taylor and her cabinet stress that Matobo’s presence is crucial to the success of the Sangala mission, I’m betting he’s got a good chance of getting out okay.) This conversation, and the arrival of Bill, Chloe, and Renee, shakes off the uncomfortable, “Are they going too far?” vibe the last episode had been working. It’s solid drama when someone chooses to put themselves willingly in the line of fire, but when our heroes are kidnapping innocents to be tortured and killed for the sake of an ill-defined “greater good,” the show loses a lot of what makes it so much fun. Matobo’s wife gets a chance to redeem herself here after letting her and her husband get captured earlier, and we even have a cute little chat between Chloe and Matobo as she wires him up. (Him: Do you work for the FBI? Her: No, I’m a stay at home mom.)
There’s some stuff with President Taylor staying strong in her convictions, even after Dubaku crashes a couple of planes mid-flight, killing over 270 people. This leads to Sec. Stevens' resignation, and Ethan and Tim deciding to have a team-up, but apart from that, we didn’t get much in the way of serious developments at the White House. Jack and Tony make the hand-off to Dubaku’s men, with Jack lurking in the rafters with an utterly badass sniper rifle; the bad guys try and kill, and Jack puts a stop to that right quick. So the Matobos ride off the in hands of the enemy, with Jack and his home-grown CTU coming up hard behind; it makes you wonder if we’ll be switching up to our next threat level soon.
The climax of the episode plays out in Samantha’s living room. She comes home to find Henry Taylor sitting frozen on her couch, unable to warn her before Brian literally stabs her in the back. Very creepy scene, and while it’s not a huge surprise when Henry manages to shake off the paralytic enough to defend himself against Brian, it was still really satisfying. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops; hopefully we won’t have a replay of President Logan’s wife from Day Five, with everyone thinking Henry is crazy just because it pads the story out. I'm feeling pretty optimistic, though. Right now, while I prefer some plot lines over others, there doesn’t seem to be a real dud in the bunch.
--Why Tony is awesome: “Let’s put that behind us.”
--Poor, poor Kidron, Ohio. What’d they ever do to Dubaku?