Surprise twists! Last minute saves! Let's catch up with this week's 24.
The fifth hour of 24: Live Another Day has just ended and in true 24 fashion, nothing is as expected and nothing will ever be the same. Just when they've wrapped up a few story key storylines, it's time to throw everything back into the blender. And, I might add, thankfully. The whole plot around no one believing Jack about the truth of these drones was becoming tedious and anxiety inducing. Luckily, everyone now knows the drones have been hijacked and can now get on with the actual hunt for Margot Al-Harazi.
She's not making that easy. Having just killed her son-in-law for betraying her, as well as subsequently ambushing a herd of CIA operatives, she only has a few moments to rest her tense muscles before she starts questioning the loyalties of her own children. Her son starts to express concern for his sister, Simone. This is when I realized something: Margot Al-Harazi is really just the Joan Crawford of terrorism. She's an aging diva and former beauty who thirsts for respect and power yet cannot find either from the two people from whom she most desperately desires it: her children. Being at the top is lonely, and it's even lonelier when killing your children needs to be a viable option for getting what you want. And in Margot Al-Harazi's case, she wants revenge.
This episode picked up a storyline that'd been dropped a few episodes ago, that of President Heller's deteriorating mental faculties. Thus far, he's been the only voice of reason and the only believer of Jack Bauer's in a pragmatic, get-something-done, fashion. I understand that no character can be completely one-sided, so schematically drawn, and therefore President Heller needs some sort of narrative conflict or he's just a Santa Claus for Jack Bauer. The onset of Alzheimer's is uncomfortable to watch, but that said, I like what they're doing with his character. He is a father figure to Jack Bauer, there for Jack when needed, listening to him, trusting him, and even, as we find out in this episode, giving him all the clandestine support and resources needed to locate Margot Al-Harazi. It's the fatherly relationship between President Heller and Jack that makes this so heartbreaking: since we're on Jack's side and Jack is the valiant core of the show, President Heller is our dad, and there's nothing worse than seeing your own father suffer.
As I mentioned, Jack is given carte blanche (since the raid on the manor didn't work) to find a bearded fellow named Rask, an arms dealer who works with Al-Harazi. Jack, as it turns out, has also been working for Rask for two years. Oh Jack, always toeing the line between good guy and bad guy. Jack is on his own side - the side of truth. And sometimes, to get to the truth, you need to do bad things, especially with all the red tape and brick walls Jack faces when trying to bring a matter of international importance to light. Besides, Jack's two-year involvement with Rask becomes the only lead the feds have. Gotta give it up to President Heller for recognizing that, even with his ineluctable memory loss.
This brings us to international relations. I'd been wondering when the "ally spy" story was going to rear its ugly but oh-so-present head. The Prime Minister, played still by the delightful Stephen Fry, receives word from his top aide (a young woman who looks shady as hell) that classified information on the health of President Heller is in their possession. This just adds to the paranoia at the center of the maze: you can't even trust your closest ally to mind his or her own business and President Heller is not observant enough to realize the Brits are spying on him. Now aware of the fragile sandbank of President Heller's mind, the Prime Minister decides to keep an eye on Jack Bauer's undercover operation.
Speaking of Jack's undercover operation, one of the reasons he wanted to work under the cloak of secrecy is that he has to drug Kate Morgan and hand her over as collateral to Rask. She's a diversion to buy time so Chloe can hack into Rask's bank account and see if there have been any recent transactions from Al-Harazi. Kate agrees to this and stabs herself in the neck with a syringe filled with Propofol, which you probably know as the drug that killed Michael Jackson. She's handed over to Rask who immediately instructs his men to wake her up and string her up by her handcuffed hands. Staying right in step with one of America's greatest film and television traditions, a beautiful, intelligent woman is tortured and threatened with her life by a bunch of angry, powerful men. Granted, everyone has it pretty bad in this show, but as I was watching I just said to myself, "Of course, she's the one who gets tortured." The scene is short, and not much torture is inflicted upon her, but watching her be strung up and stabbed is pretty disturbing. The only thing that saves the scene is Yvonne Strahovski's acting: From the moment she administers the Propofol to when she stabs her assailant, you're never once worried that she won't make it out of the situation alive. She's definitely got my vote come Emmy season.