After a hit or miss batch of episodes in the middle, 24 pulled together a strong finale. Though this episode may have been better paired with the previous one, it still sets up the final arc and what will come next year well. Mandy provides a sexy villain, much needed since the three best femme fatales are dead, but Tony, Michelle and Jack center the episode.
With Tony missing, Jack assumes that Mandy has captured him, but C.T.U. once again is understaffed. Jack requests more manpower. Curtis is taken away from what the writers concocted to keep him busy long enough for the hostage situation to occur and sent to work. Michelle panics, but has to calm down and realize that Mandy matters first. It doesn't make it easier for her.
Audrey reports to Novick that they haven't picked up any sign of the missile. Because the missile will detonate before the next radar sweep, Audrey's now assigned to create profiles of casualties and fall out for twenty of America's biggest cities. This helps to show us what is at stake with the missile's unknown target. Even if it hit the smallest city, the aftermath would be devastating.
Mandy does quick research and learns about Tony's actions in the end of the third season. Would Michelle be willing to risk national security for the life of someone she loves like Tony? Curious about the answer and desperate to escape, she calls her and asks Michelle to divert teams away from her exit, much like what Saunders did in season three.
Reiko Aylesworth gets to shine in this episode. Having a loved one kidnapped by a terrorist is scary enough, but she makes the fear of being blackmailed by them palpable to the audience. Michelle sits on this information for a few minutes, but unlike Tony, she tells Buchanan before she can compromise millions of lives. It's a tough personal choice, but it's the right one, considering what's at stake. 24 has always let us know that detachment is important to accomplish this work. Last episode we knew that she was willing to give up everything for a calm life with Tony. But she is still at CTU, where decisions have to be made for the greater good.
They figure that she should pretend Mandy still has control over Michelle and agents will reconvene elsewhere to apprehend her. It's the best way to do it. Mandy sealed her fate with that call. Though if she hadn't she would've been stuck waiting for them to find her door and barge in.
She tasers Tony unconscious to keep him dormant while she makes her next move. Then she slaps her leg on the table to get rid of the holster, causing men throughout the country to forget their names temporarily. For some reason they make a big deal of her applying lipstick. Some argue that this was to project a normal appearance to keep the neighbors unsuspicious. She walks down the hall to her neighbors'. When the neighbors let her in, she asks to see Joss. When Joss enters, she kills him. Now that just feels like she did it because she could. However, she likely did it to show the other two roommates that she was in charge and they should do what she tells them.
Logan's being squeezed by the Chinese regarding the raid. Palmer tries to assure him that the unmasked agent was removed from CTU before anyone could see him. Facing a disaster, President Logan does what he does best, panic like a little wuss. He has given up hope of finding the warhead in time. Palmer advises him to maintain composure for the sake of the nation. I, along with probably most viewers, hope Palmer pulls a Grover Cleveland and comes back as president.
Bern lands in San Diego, assured that everything would be secure for himself and that his family has been moved to a hotel. Unfortunately for him, Cheng has crashed his transport. The CTU men are bound and unconscious. Bern commences wetting his pants. He denies involvement at gunpoint, even though Cheng has evidence of his involvement and of his escape from C.T.U.
Tony's situation takes a toll on Michelle, who lashes out at Edgar. Even Chloe knows she's a wreck. Mandy calls C.T.U. again as Jack and Curtis watch two figures walk under an umbrella to a car. She warns Michelle again that Tony will die if she believes she was duped. When Buchanan sends the team in prematurely (as indicated by Jack's yell), Mandy calls Michelle a "bitch" and blows up the car. Michelle's scream is truly chilling, although I guessed that they weren't the ones who exploded.
Since they have no evidence that they weren't the ones in the car, Palmer decides to shift CTU's priorities to damage control. Palmer plans on enacting martial law. Logan ungratefully denounces Palmer, though had he not been around Logan would be cowering under a table by now.
Jack still doubts that the two people who exploded were Mandy and Tony. Mandy doesn't believe in the cause, she's a hired professional. She wouldn't kill herself. He continually replays the phone call and video looking for clues even when Buchanan orders him to stop. Jack noticed that the two left in an obvious fashion. We also never see them as she talks on the phone. The camera always showed them in a wide shot, nothing close enough for us to realize it wasn't them. Plus Jack realizes that Mandy's phone isn't picking up background noises like the rain (since this is a rare occasion to introduce weather to the storyline, it fits to have it as a plot device) or the car door opening and closing.
Mandy makes a break when she sees them return to the building. What she doesn't realize is that Tony found some broken glass on the floor and cut himself with it, leaving a trail of bloody spots. One of the agents sees this and alerts Jack, who follows the trail to the garage.
As Tony is lugged into the parking garage, he tries to disable her through a semi-humping motion. To be fair, he didn't have much choice. Mandy gets her advantage back and walks him further before Jack confronts them. She tells him that he will kill him, but Tony is willing to sacrifice himself. Jack's willing to accept this loss. When he looked over the footage of the explosion, he did it because he didn't believe she was dead. Mandy knows they need her alive because of what she knows, and this discussion gives Curtis time to sneak up and punch her in the face.
Through the season, rumors had persisted regarding Tony's death. Perhaps the producers leaked this phony spoiler so fans that read them would be anxious waiting for it to happen. It did add to my suspense. I was glad to see them spare Tony and it provided a great moment when he told Michelle, crying in her car, that he was OK. Luckily they found out before she killed herself, as indicated by false spoilers. Now that he's safe, they can say, "I love you". This episode serves to bookend the long rough spot between them. It started when one was taken hostage and now it ends with the other being released.
Jack's interrogation of Mandy is a little disappointing. Grabbing her by the throat, he offers to give her a full pardon for everything she's done. While it may have been more entertaining to see him mess with her, they don't have much time left and this pardon offers some dramatic repercussions in the next hour.
In a warehouse, Cheng interrogates Bern, taped to a chair. Bern stays loyal, but Cheng tells him about what he'll face when a Chinese barge arrives in San Diego. He'll board and after an 18-day ride, be sent several thousand miles to a work camp near Siberia. The strongest argument above all this is that CTU, the US government and his family won't know what happened to him, making escape or exchange impossible. However, Cheng offers him a deal. Since he was following orders, he just needs to mention whose orders he was following and he'll be released. He reluctantly tells them it was Jack.
It would've been nice to use Mandy to finish her past ties to the show, but since it is being lead open, she could play a vital role in the next season. I knew the Chinese storyline's break would still pan out and it did. The consequences are still growing as the final hour draws near. Tony and the reactions of those close to him regarding his situation also get to have a considerable role in the episode. It helps add more to the human element of the show. I do wish we saw more of Marwan, but judging by the next episode, there wasn't much to see.