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24 Fodder

1 PM - 2 PM: Going Down That Road

Martha LoganAfter watching the 1 PM episode of day five, I came to a couple of conclusions about the show. One, the season always needs filler episodes. The show cannot be "realistic" if there are ridiculously crazy things happening every hour, and part of what makes the show good is the anticipation of the huge event that we know is going to happen, even if it's a couple of episodes down the line and we're just being built up to it. What I realized is that I have no issue with, and often enjoy, filler episodes. One would think that, hell, waiting a week in-between episodes is long enough, give me my extreme 24! But in the big picture, we need those filler episodes. Especially when watching it on DVD, it seems way too ridiculous if the craziness is constant.

The second thing I realized is that I've come to accept the now-regular "story-of-the-hour" episodes that we've been given since season 4 couldn't make up its mind on what to do. Whether it's two campers out in the middle of the desert, the girlfriend of a terrorist who happens to have gone to Cal Tech, or this week's creepy old man and his sex slave bride, we're going to be subject to plots/subplots that stupidly only take an hour to play out. Of course, there will still be the bigger picture, but to the means don't always justify the end. So although I don't care for the story-of-the-hour, it seems like we're stuck with it, so may as well live with it.

The reason I offer both of these tidbits is because, not surprisingly, this week's episode was both a filler and a story-of-the-hour.

It starts off at the prez's ranch, where Walt is divulging information about Nathanson, how they first met up and hatched the nerve gas plan, etc. Chloe tries to trace his phone number, but it's been disconnected, so that lead is dead. Jack thinks that Walt is telling the truth, and Logan, who can't come up with anything to do besides ask questions, wants to know ... what to do. Big surprise. Jack says that CTU can handle everything, but Logan wants him to stay onboard and serve him as he served David Palmer, even though they have a checkered past (that whole nightclub arrest incident last year, etc.). Logan says that they'll handle all the problems, presumably from the
impending pissed off Chinese government.

Erwich, a.k.a. tie-guy, gets a little testy when one of his cronies tells him that they can't activate the nerve gas canisters because of the arming thing, so maybe they shouldn't go and get all upset at the Americans, when they really want to hurt Moscow. That's what you get for trying to mess with a man's quickly conceived not-really-thought-out-so-well plot. This guy should get together with Evelyn as the supporting characters always doing something wrong.

Over at CTU, we get our real first dumb sub-plot of the day. Lynn's cell phone rings, and it's his drugged up sister, who looks like she could be a blonde version of Rick's girlfriend from day one. She wants some money from Lynn and says she's going to hurt herself, so he agrees to meet her in the parking lot across the street from CTU in 20 minutes. Now, isn't Lynn from Division? Would his sister necessarily know where CTU is? Or are we just assuming that she pulled up Mapquest (Google Maps is the best... true that, double true) on her BlackBerry and got directions? Whatever.

Tie-guy gets a phone call from a Sean Connery look-alike named Rossler who is going to help him re-program the devices on the canisters so they can be used. But they canisters have to be opened to get the digits inside, and that's not easy to do. But uh-oh, shouldn't have been on your phone, as CTU's got a recording of the conversation. They can't track Erwich because he's on a satellite phone, but they do identify Rossler's end of the call. Jack wants the schematics of the building, cuz he's going over there to kick some ass (and Curtis too).

Now this is the point that the writers could have said, "OK. Why don't we have Jack sit out this round, let Curtis go on this mission, and spend some time developing both of their characters?" One of the criticisms of the tail-end of last season was that Jack was out there doing everything all the time (because Secretary Heller wanted him to, or some dumb reason like that), and here we go again. Curtis could have taken some no-names with to Rossler's place, done all the dirty work, and we'd get some time to see both of them in action, separately, rather than the contrived "make sure Curtis comes" plot centering around Jack Bauer. Just a thought.

In order to get the schematics for Rossler's building, Chloe needs some help in the form of her boytoy. She asks Bill to have Spenser released to help because, apparently, with their powers combined, her and Edgar can't figure it out. So Bill lets Spenser out to help. Edgar thinks this is a bad idea. Big surprise, lover boy. Despite every fan of 24 sensing the sexual tension or inevitable hookup between Chloe and Edgar, this is actually the first episode where the characters sort of address it. And it made us all happy.

And now, the other inevitable has finally happened: Kim. It's really no surprise -- or spoiler -- that she'll be making an appearance in the show this year, with nearly every publication posting something about her returning to the show. But hold your horses. Jack wants Audrey to call up Kim and let her know that he's alive so that she doesn't find out about it some other way. Which makes me wonder: why not do it yourself? Or, why have Audrey do it? I don't think we really know if the two of them know each other -- this was never addressed in season 4 and today's chat doesn't seem to shed any light on the question, either. Nonetheless, Jack wants Kim brought into CTU, probably so that she will not get kidnapped/mauled by a cougar/held up in a convenience store/kidnapped again/pulled over for driving a car with a dead body/creepily leered at by the dad of the girl she babysits for. Which means that at least three of those things will happen by the time Kim gets to CTU and is re-united with Jack.

Since he knows that he's got to get the canisters open to get their digits, Erwich heads into an auto body shop, where apparently everyone is on lunch break except for the one poor chap that you just know is going to get canned as soon as he gets used. Back at CTU, after the break, Spenser's brought out for everyone to stare at and he tries to make nice with Chloe. She'll have none of it.

And another woman who won't have any of it is Marty Logan, who bitch slaps her husband into next week for the way he's treated her so far today. Definitely the best non-Jack torture all season, and dare I say it, all series-long. Mike walks in on the quarreling Logans in an awfully awkward moment to talk about how to handle the Walt situation. He motions for Martha to leave, but Logan says he wants her there. So the three of them talk about the problem. Mike recommends covering up the whole affair, but Marty's in favor of coming clean. The prez goes with his wife, lest he get bitch-slapped again. She's going to write up a speech for him ... the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Or something like that.

Rossler details the exact way to open up the canisters to Erwich, while Jack and Curtis meet up on a roof-top across the street from Rossler's building. They head downstairs and get told that they'll only have about 30 seconds in the lobby while the security cameras are out. Better make it quick! Erwich gives some spiel to the unfortunate auto worker who we know will be killed after he opens the canisters about ending tyranny and government oppression. Blah. After the break ... ooh ooh there's John McCain! He got a whole frame to himself walking and giving a folder to Audrey. I'm surprised they made it this obvious. Anyway, the autobody guy opens the first canister. The digits inside? 867-5309. I knew they looked familiar! Alright, maybe not.

Spenser knocks out the cameras in the lobby of Rossler's building, and Jack and Curtis blow away a security guard even though they shouted "federal agents." Hmm... methinks that they might not wanted to have killed him, especially if he's just doing his job, unknowingly helping a terrorist-helper (can't call him to apologize tomorrow). They manage to make it to the elevator before the camera comes back on, but there's more security on Rossler's penthouse floor, and these guys have big guns, Chloe says. This just seems a little silly -- security guards in an apartment building brandishing automatic weapons? I guess after everything that 24's LA has seen in the past four season of the show, everyone is brandishing BFG 9000s. The guards know something is going on, so they're ready to fire when Jack and Curtis come out of the elevator, and fire they do. Curtis gets killed! Well, he just gets hit in the vest. He'll be OK. The two guards get taken out, and Jack heads in to grab Rossler.

Jack shoots down Rossler and gets his gun, but there's somebody else in the room... behind the sofa... who could it be? NINA MYERS?!? The build-up for this week was "WHO IS BEHIND THE SOFA?" and it turns out to be the stupidest plot line this side of cougar-ville. A skinny girl comes up from behind the sofa, and although we don't know much besides her name -- Inessa -- and that Rossler was keeping her hostage, we can all infer the rest: some sort of mail-order sex slave bride. Alright, I don't really know much about this issue in the real world and how often it happens, but it seems like such a toss from left-field in the 24-verse. Jack immediately takes an interest in the girl -- not like that, you sicko -- and takes it out on Rossler. At first, Rossler doesn't want to talk to Jack, but our main man spews out the quote that helped name this recap: "You do not want to go down that road with me." Classic. Jack doesn't want to accept Rossler's demands for an immunity deal -- which include taking Inessa with him -- but Lynn, listening in over the phone, tells Jack that he has to give in. So now they've got to get papers signed by the attorney general, which will take a couple of minutes, but no more than that in the 24-verse.

Back from the break, it's time for Lynn to go meet his skeezy sister across the street from CTU. He tells her that he's not going to give her money, and instead a doctor's number. She says no way bro, and her skeezy boyfriend jumps out, knocks out Lynn and takes his wallet. If only he had the one rign to turn invisible right then and there. Too bad Frodo has it. I don't know if they just wanted his money, or if they also managed to take some CTU badge and they'll sell that to the terrorists later on in the day, but Lynn brushes himself off and heads back to work.

Inside CTU, Chloe officially cans Spenser. I guess that means no more dating, right? Edgar gets all his work, and as Spenser is being led out, Edgar smiles. One of those "awww" smiles because you know he's happy that Chloe is all his now. I wonder how anal their kids would be.

Rossler starts telling Jack about his relationship with Erwich and how he's waiting for a phone call with all of the digits to re-program the chip or whatever. I don't really understand this whole thing, but it looks like it probably won't really matter anyway. CTU's got some information on Inessa ... who is only 15. Damn, that's pretty illegal and nasty, you weirdo. Jack doesn't want to give her up in the deal, but Rossler won't make it without her. Inessa is this year's Paul Raines, I guess -- getting some Jack Bauer love -- but screwed in the end.

The Logans are just finishing up the speech when Mike calls over the phone ... something is going on. And you just know it isn't pretty. He wants them to come out into the hall, and as they get out there, they seen that Walt has hanged himself. Which isn't unpredictable, and it does solve a lot of problems. But let me ask you this: the office of the president has just found out that the chief of staff to the prez is a traitor, yet no one is watching him? Come on, that's just silly. At least make it seem like he tussled with a security guard, stole his gun and shot them both. It doesn't seem like hanging oneself is a task that takes too long to do, but it's not like no one would notice you doing it if there was a guard watching. They didn't really touch on this in the show or allude to it, but one has to wonder if Mike is involved. Hmm... Walt's death sure does solve a lot of political problems, and Mike was in favoring of covering up the whole. We'll see how this plays out.

Jack calls up Audrey asking if she talked to Kim. She hasn't, which makes me wonder if she really will be appearing in this episode. Apparently not -- I had heard she would be. Oh well, I'm sure she'll be there next week. Anyway, the other girl in Jack's life right now -- no, not Derek -- Inessa wants to know when she'll be able to go. Jack gives her the news that she has to go with Rossler, but that they'll be tailing him and will save her in a bit. She gets pissed off. Then she goes off into a room to change, and I'm totally expecting another suicide this hour.

The autobody guy gets the last canister open, then Erwich pops him right in the chest. Big surprise there. All the codes get entered into his BLACKBERRY, and he calls up Rossler to tell him he's sending the codes over. Jack makes Rossler answer the phone and he says he'll have the chip reprogrammed in ten minutes, and Erwich will call back with a location to meet in five. Which Rossler will never see... since Inessa, who actually hasn't killed herself (to my surprise) pulls out a gun she's hiding in her shirt jacket and pops Rossler in the chest. That's what you get, you ding-dong.

Apparently you haven't seen season 3, Inessa. Way to go Mrs. Gael and kill the only lead they've got. Now Jack's got five minutes until Erwich calls back about a place to meet. And we're out.

My general feelings about this hour can be summed up by the beginning of this post: It's a filler episode, which is fine and often good, and it's also a story-of-the-hour, which I've just come to accept. I'm sure that Inessa will make little or no appearance in next week's episode, and Rossler will only be mentioned in name (of course, he's dead now, so I guess it's tough for him to act). -- Jason Unger

Posted by Jason on February 10, 2006 9:05 AM
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