This episode serves to tie up one nagging loose end from the first few episodes of this season. They also reintroduce one of the few Femme Fatales still alive to maybe do something significant with her than a shock for the sake of shock. It’s a great treat for fans to see her, and hopefully they have a story more compelling than the tease at the end of the second season
These terrorists continue, in the chilling 9/11 fashion, to use our weaponry against us. Marwan has implemented the override, the internet, a nuclear power plant, a stealth fighter, the nuclear Football and now a warhead with stealth technology to kill thousands and possibly millions of people. He got all of it from the US.
Feeling that Marwan can’t be broken due to his devotion to the cause, Jack tries to find out what Marwan wants. These attacks were to punish America for intervening with other countries and Marwan believes he has accomplished that. Marwan also thinks that the president only sees him as evil. Jack’s rebuttal, “as you see us”, demonstrates the hypocritical philosophy the terrorists have. It’s an interesting look at Marwan’s psyche without exaggerating his point of view to stereotypes.
While scanning Marwan’s cell phone (which, surprisingly, has stayed with him through this whole ordeal), Edgar finds the name of Heller’s son, Richard, among Marwan’s contacts. One of the bigger disappointments of the first half was that they had made a big deal about Richard’s involvement with the terrorists only to come out with “He had nothing, let’s let him go.” Someone had to have tipped the terrorists to this meeting, but there wasn’t much follow up. This episode must’ve been an attempt for them to tie up some loose ends as the season concludes.
How the various characters word the discovery of this information is interesting. Curtis says Richard called Marwan, but Tony initially said that Richard’s cell phone was used to contact Marwan. While it looks bad, it isn’t incriminating as a recorded call. Tony is more open to admit that it was someone else. Of course this hint early in the show is meant to plant the idea that it wasn’t necessarily Richard on the phone.
This lead happens to come before a group of terrorists retrieve Marwan from C.T.U. custody. Marwan has now escaped C.T.U. five times in eleven hours! How can C.T.U. be so careless to let the mastermind of these attacks get away so many times? Whenever they send someone to find him, there’s only a small team of guys. The action was cool, but I hope that there is more to this break out than just a plot device.
With the warhead in play, Logan calls his cabinet to the bunker in case the target is Washington. The speaker of the house, Don Ashton, questions Logan’s decision to sit on the information and not to notify the cities to start evacuation. Don is also suspicious that Palmer is there. He talks to Novick about how he should take command if Logan feels he isn’t prepared to run. What Don fails to see is the ramifications if that happens. There would be three presidents within six hours. That would give the image of an unstable Washington, which would be devastating to the nation’s morale.
Tony uses Jack and Audrey’s situation once again to bring up his relationship with Michelle. Knowing how she feels towards him, he asks that they quit “their” jobs so they can have a normal life together. Anyone in fiction who says that they should give up a dangerous job for a peaceful life usually ends up dying before they can. They’ve been setting Tony’s redemption all season and with this it could be a possible culmination.
Richard is brought in, and Audrey begs Jack to let her talk to him first. While she tries to get the information out of him, Heller finally returns. Thankfully this comeback is relevant to his character. Frustrated by Audrey’s lack of progress, he barges in and asks Audrey to leave. Audrey, witnessing from behind the glass, saw what many of us saw early in the season. She fell in love with a man just like her dad. Looking at their dialogue, Jack and Heller’s lines are almost interchangeable.
Early in the season, they suspected that Richard was hiding something. Somehow terrorists knew about his secret meeting with his father. Heller finds out that his son got high with a couple. The girl used his phone while he was with the guy. Now it was clear that Richard, as the left wing activist, had a lot of friction with his father, a Republican. Do we really need this? A few weeks ago I argued that Paul’s death may be overkill, but now I feel the need to retract that. This is far more unnecessary. They could’ve had a three way and it would’ve still worked as a contrast to Heller’s more “traditional” values. Heller’s true opinion on his son’s sexuality is unknown, but what his son takes as disgust for it is actually directed at his unwillingness to divulge important information.
Back in the bunker, Palmer and Logan act out a scenario in front of the cabinet to make Don think that Palmer’s influence isn’t what it is. Though it works, the payoff of this hinted plan doesn’t quite satisfy. They needed to address the presidential chain of command, but it could’ve been better handled. Since Sherry’s long gone, the political scheming isn’t quite what it could be, but maybe I’m expecting too much.
Richard’s information is vague (they took a cab, he doesn’t know who they are), but it does result in a match. They also discover a tap was placed on Richard’s phone, which made Marwan able to find out when Heller would be in town. The sketch artist works on drawing the suspects’ faces as the tactical team prepares to deploy.
For some reason, Curtis can’t go into the field. Why is conveniently not said. Buchanan could’ve said, “He needs to collate these TPS reports” or something. It feels lazy for the writers to put a little effort in creating a reason to keep Curtis in C.T.U. They did it to throw Tony into the field and to wrap up his story as the season ends. When he leaves, Michelle says that she will go and they kiss again. The only thing protecting Tony now is that they didn’t say, “I love you.”
Audrey is further confused about the current situation. She has seen Jack do horrible things for the greater good. Jack calls her and tries to explain that he hid this dark side because it has driven away the people he has cared about. It probably isn’t in Jack’s best interest to stay this emotionally involved going into a field operation. They could’ve inserted this during another one of the personal conversations they’ve had. Or they could’ve just said he wanted to talk about it when the crisis ended. However, Jack could be heading to a Chinese jail for his actions when it’s over.
Richard stays to identify the couple based on satellite video feed. Now this is where the episode takes an interesting turn. After a 46-episode absence, Mandy, the terrorist responsible for blowing up the plane in season one and poisoning Palmer in two, returns. I had assumed that when Richard talked about this guy and girl that the girl had to be Mandy. Unfortunately I had heard she would be back, but it’s still fun to see her.
She just finished having sex with Patsy, I mean Gary, when she brings up that they can still get to Marwan. Why do they have to meet Marwan? It feels reminiscent of Sherry’s return at the end of the second season and the subsequent sting operation in the finale. Since it is almost 5 AM, I would think C.T.U. would’ve practiced more discreet measures in getting there. It isn’t downtown LA, so the helicopter is quite loud, which tips off Mandy. She kills Patsy so he can be planted there while she escapes.
Tony and Agent Castle, this season’s recurring red shirt, are assigned to the roof while Jack and Agent McCallan look in the apartment. Unfortunately, Jack is unaware as Mandy kills Castle, just before she can take Tony hostage. Couldn’t Tony have tried to shoot her in the arm? I think had Jack been in Tony’s position, he wouldn’t have dropped his gun so willingly.
Now Jack is hunting for Mandy, in what will probably be one of the most anticipated moments in 24 history. Jack has met nearly every recurring character from all four seasons, but not Mandy. Mandy has been a cult figure among 24 fans since her sudden disappearance in the season one plot and her cameo in the season two finale. Fans thought they would be starting something to follow up in season two’s finale, but unfortunately it was a bust. Even if she dies in the next episode, they have a great opportunity to give this idolized character a worthy story line.
It’s disappointing that 24 had so many filler episodes this season the way all these new situations have been piling up. It could’ve been better paced and they wouldn’t have to worry about resolving as much. Certainly fans are waiting to see what will come from Mandy’s reemergence, which should make the two-hour finale extra fun. Next week they should emphasize the importance of the bomb. They should at least mention where it’s heading early in the first hour. Some complained about the lack of continuity with the Chinese story line, but it seems OK for them to take an hour to look through Jack’s lengthy profile. All of these complications should make for a great finale.