Jack Bauer Vs. The Boy In The Iron Lung

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?

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6 thoughts on “Jack Bauer Vs. The Boy In The Iron Lung

  1. Tom, I love your reference to actors’ past characters (earlier, Sark; now, Milton).

    I personally cannot stand the Dana storyline. I think it is an assault on my intelligence to believe that her subplot is in the least bit plausible. Let’s break it down, shall we?

    Kevin Wade contacts Dana out of the blue, threatens to expose her secret past. He ultimately gets her to use her position to get him and his stoner buddy access to a lot of cash. Now, I’m no lawyer, but I’d bet even Joe Halderman knows that this is extortion, and she’s a government official, no less. However, instead of officially having the guy picked up and thrown in the slammer, she goes to kill him because she thinks she has no option. Mr. Buffy shows up, though, and they try to “convince” the two thugs to leave town. Yeah, right, like that’s gonna work. The bad thug kills the “good” thug, then shoots at Dana and Fred, they shoot back, and the bad thug dies. They decide to cover up the scene for reasons unknown. Let’s revisit part of that last sentence: “[THE BAD THUG] SHOOTS AT DANA AND FRED”!!! Isn’t it a crime to shoot at a government agent? Don’t they have proof in the form of bullet holes that they acted in self-defense? WHY would they need to cover up? Meanwhile, they’ve been away from CTU for about two hours. How are there not APBs out on them for going AWOL? Oh right, they were following leads and fixing relay boxes. The engaged couple comes back with nothing but excuses (and changed clothes). Who here thinks they were off doin’ the nasty?

    Other problems I have:
    President Taylor plans to bomb the whole IRKian country because a few extremists are now in NYC. Apparently it takes a whole country to raise an extremist.

    CTU has an above ground, public entrance (that appears to be on Roosevelt Island), but Kim Bauer and family are given permission to drive up to the secret below ground, official use only batcave entrance.

    Thankfully, LOST doesn’t have this lack of good storylines. 🙂

  2. I was worried the whole Iron Lung stand-off was gong to be lame, but between Jack’s terror eyes and the kid actually blowing up (which had awesome blood splatter, btw), it wasn’t too bad.

    I was hoping that CTU Girl’s storyline would end after she and Chico Jr. put the bodies in the lake. I shouldn’t known better…here comes Milton to drag that storyline even further. It better have a nice pay off because I hate it.

    Lets just say I watched more 24 than wrestling last night, and that’s a good thing for 24.

  3. Ken- I find I have to reference actor’s past roles (or characteristics) because it’s the only way I’ll remember them, or at least give myself a chance to like them. Like with David Anders, after the first few episodes, I felt he was being wasted and reminded myself of his stint as Sark to give myself a reason to hope he would be worth it. Unfortunately, he wasn’t, and was utterly wasted.
    You’re also right about the Dana subplot- I wanted to give it a chance, but it devolved into stupidity. And I actually like Agent Freddy…but I think Hastings thinks they were off doin’ the nasty because he’s been pervy all season.
    I think 24 has become the new Lost season three.
    Morning Toast- I’m surprised about you ditching wrestling for 24. Must have been a really lackluster guest host!

  4. Jack might have said the best qoute in this season so far but your following words sums it all ..

    “But once Jack tells terror to look into his eyes, terror doesn’t have a chance.”


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