Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

24: "4:00 pm - 5:00 pm"

Illustration for article titled 24: "4:00 pm - 5:00 pm"
Illustration for article titled 24: "4:00 pm - 5:00 pm"

So last week, some commenters were joking that Jack was going to hold a coup this season; being the most competent man in the world, it's only fair, right? Joke or no, there's something a little discomfiting about the smooth way Jack, Bill, and their team have insinuated themselves into the White House, especially considering the number of deaths they're directly or indirectly responsible for. Sure, they say they're doing it for the Greater Good, but that's a pretty goddamn slippery slope. Previous seasons of 24 have gotten a lot of mileage out of the way beauracracy can get in the way of people doing their jobs, but at least there was a sense of the system that the heroes were trying preserve. Day 7 is pure wish fulfillment for anybody who wishes they could shoot first and ask questions never. There may be consequences tomorrow, but as far as this show is concerned, tomorrow is something that happens to other super-agents.

Henry Taylor is down, with a bullet to the chest, and Dubaku is working on getting out of the country; after the paramedics take the First Gentleman to the hospital, Jack and Renee do a sweep of the hideout, looking for anything that will lead them to the escaped Sangalan psychopath. President Taylor decides she has to go see her husband in the hospital, and Bill offers to run her security personally. He also gets Chloe into the FBI; since there's no telling how the bureau's been compromised, Renee, Jack, and Larry need somebody to do all that magical tech stuff we know and love. We get a brief glimpse of Chloe's home life—Morris and son, Prescott—which is probably the happiest family unit we've seen all season. Who knows if it'll be plot relevant, but it gave me a warm fuzzy all the same. Also fun: Chloe's general irritation at the clumsiness of the FBI set-up. Janis catches an eyeful of what's going on, and it looks like we finally have our mole—Sean! (Yeah, the fake out kind of got me. Strange that they'd pick the most obvious person in the office; must be a conspiracy of frat boys.)

Less fun: Dubaku and his freakin' girlfriend, Marika. He visits her at work and tells her that they have to leave the country. She initially goes along with this, even after being hectored by her wheelchair bound sister, but thankfully Renee and Jack arrive just in time to show her the error of her ways. This week's plotlines all had a faint whiff of deja vu, and the stench is strongest coming off what happens next: after showing her just what a bastard her boyfriend really is, Jack convinces Marika to go undercover so they can locate Dubaku. This kind of "civilian in danger" plotline is old-hat—hell, this is already the second time we've seen it this season, if you count the Matobos as "civilians." Jack's utter one-mindedness is getting less and less believable as well; now that the immediate threat has passed, surely we could all stop and breathe a bit?

Of course we can't. Breathing is a big old no-no here. Henry may be taking that maxim a little too seriously—as he's prepped for surgery, the doctor tells a distraught President Taylor that her husband's chances aren't very good, and that he'll be out for at least five hours. (Which means we won't be seeing Colm for a month at least, alas.) The Prez decides this is as good a time as any to get in touch with her estranged daughter, Olivia, and while I'm sure this will lead to a lot of pointless bickering down the road, it does mean the return of Aaron Pierce, perhaps the only character on the show to rival Jack Bauer for levels of awesome.  (Bill sent Aaron to fetch Olivia, and despite having retired from active duty, Aaron still handles the First Daughter with his usual unflappable calm.)

At the end of the hour, Sean has managed to get Jack and Renee arrested, to keep them from following Marika to Dubaku. We've got a new level to the conspiracy, a white-collar dude that's helping Dubaku get out of the country as well as working with Sean to keep an eye on things. And we've got some bad news for next week, with Dubaku finding out his lady love has turned on him. This one was pretty dull, all things considered, and I could've done with less of Rosa's endless whining (the 24 writers have a knack for creating some of the shrillest characters on televsion) but it does set up a few more dominoes. Plus, more Chloe action, and we can never get enough of that.

Grade: B

Stray Observations:

  • More build-up to Renee having a breakdown; we even got a horrified-by-my-own-reflection shot.
  • David Fury, writer of the episode, had a cameo as Olivia's potential employer. I liked him better on Dr. Horrible.
  • Hope everything's going well in Sangala…