The main arc in tonight’s episode of 24 took place in a hospital, where Jack Bauer tried to lure a teenage suicide bomber out of an iron lung.
For most of the episode, Jack tried sweet-talking the kid (who looks like a dullard but somehow, in a manner of minutes, managed to sketch out the bomb wiring on the inside wall of his chamber) out of the iron lung, before bringing in the big guns: the kid’s mother.
At last, I thought, something to break the monotony of this episode. I thought Jack would pull a gun on the mother, aim it at her head and tell the kid he was going to watch his mother die. But no. Jack let the kid and his mother have a few moments to discuss things. Sure, Jack even busted out the “I give you my word” card for (what felt like) the first time this season, but nothing happened. I was convinced this episode was another waste of what could have been perfectly good TV, but then Jack ordered the mother pulled out of the room. And then Jack really went to work…
Jack: I’m going to personally escort her to the blast site so she’s exposed to the radiation.
The boy: I don’t believe you…you wouldn’t do that. You’re a federal agent.
Jack: Truth is, I’m not really. Well, not anymore. I’m more of a specialist that they brought in for the day. If you knew who I was, the things I’ve done before in my life, you would know that I’m not bluffing. Go ahead. Blow yourself up into a million little pieces. First thing I’m gonna do is I’m gonna make your mother come in here and clean it up. Then I’m gonna take her to the blast site. Do you know how long it takes for the human body to absorb a lethal dose of cesium 137? Five seconds. Followed by 12 days of pain that is so agonizing morphine can’t even touch it. You’ve got a decision to make. Make it carefully.
The boy: You’re not gonna hurt my mother.
Jack: I’m not playing with you. You look into my eyes. LOOK INTO MY EYES! You think I’m joking? What happens to your mother is because of you. Only you.
That is probably the best dialogue this season. Sure, it doesn’t have the visual pizzaz of Jack ordering Saunders’ daughter into a virus-filled hotel, or shooting Robocop’s wife in the knee. But once Jack tells terror to look into his eyes, terror doesn’t have a chance.
Of course, the boy capitulated, but his vest was still armed and he blew up. But not before giving up a name to Jack. And not before Jack pushed him back into the iron lung. We never found out if Jack made the mother clean up her son’s mess. But we did learn that the newest bad guy (for a few hours, at least) is Tarin, head of the IRKian President’s security force, who is also in hiding and making time with the president’s daughter.
The only other story elements taking place this episode were back at CTU, where Agent Freddy and Dana got back from their trip to the park. They’re both in trouble with Hunchback Hastings, for the whole leaving their posts while under danger of an immediate terrorist attack thing. The Hunchback of CTU told Dana he hired her because of her technical prowess, leadership skills and ability to adapt. Unfortunately, Hunchback grossly overrated those adaptation skills of Dana’s, because as soon as she got out of that conversation, she got a phone call from a man who was last seen threatening to poison a resort’s guacamole because of the size of the salt on his martini glass:
Somehow, Agent Dana couldn’t lie to Milton, and is in even more trouble now than she was when she just had two stoned rubes after her money. Oh well, this may be another loser 24 sub-plot, but at least it has a great actor (which the versatile Stephen Root is) to carry it.
Some other thoughts:
-Hunchback Hastings said something about the terrorist attack taking place “here in Manhattan.” I thought earlier this season, the exterior of CTU was across the river from Manhattan Isle. Which would make it anyplace but “here in Manhattan.”
-I miss awkward, snippy Chloe.
-In what world is Arlo a trade up?
What did you think?