As this hour opens, everybody's playing catch-up, letting their colleagues and/or significant others know where they stand. A quick breakdown: The doctors tell First Gentleman Henry he's going to make a full recovery; Larry still thinks Jack killed Sen. Mayer; and, after being informed of that fact, Ethan is resigning.
As he tells President Taylor, "The truth is I failed you, and I should shoulder the blame for what's happened." That seems to be what he's doing — though a lot could happen between this conversation and Ethan putting his resignation in writing the next morning.
Soon after, we learn that Olivia is indeed the one leaking information about Ethan's purported screw-up with Jack to the press. Of course we all saw that coming — the real question is just how evil the First Daughter will turn out to be, and how far she'll take these power plays.
At Mayer's residence, Larry finally starts coming around to the idea that Jack didn't kill the Senator, thanks to some crime-scene evidence that doesn't add up — and a little convincing from a reluctant Renee. Still, he's not letting Jack's former "partner" out of that holding cell just yet, despite her spilling some Starkwood-related secrets.
Meanwhile, Jack and Tony reunite at a shipping yard and start doing what they do best — holding people at gunpoint (such as shipyard guard Carl, played by former Enterprise crewmate Connor Trinneer) and generally acting like the dangerous fugitives they are.
After confirming that Hodges' weapon of mass destruction is, in fact, waiting in a container on-site, Jack tries to call in the FBI — but, of course, the phone lines have been cut and cell signals are jammed. And the culprit is waiting at the gate for Carl to let him in: new baddie Stokes (Michael Rodrick) and his band of less-than-merry men.
Trekkies like myself will be happy to see Trinneer isn't playing an out-and-out terrorist — rather, as Carl tells Jack, he thought he was just helping smuggle in some Korean electronics. And — here comes the sympathy speech — he only needed the money to pay for fertility treatments so he and his wife could have a baby. Yeah, it's a cheap play to get us pulling for this guy, but darned if it doesn't work — even on Jack.
When Carl is forced to drive off with Stokes' crew, Jack actually looks worried for his safety. "Forget about it, Jack," Tony tells him. "He was dead the minute he stepped out that door. You and I both know that." Cold, Tony. Cold.
Thankfully for Carl, just as one of Stokes' men is about to put a bullet in him, Jack suddenly (against Tony's advice) develops a heart. Of course, for Jack, having a heart means shooting someone in the head.
And the firefight that act of mercy trips off is as much of a blast ever — well staged and kinetic, but never devolving into a jumble of quick-cuts meant to pass for energy. We all know it, but 24 is such a well-oiled machine at this point, sometimes it's just fun to sit back and watch it work so efficiently.
Following the shootout, Jack briefly gets away with the bio-weapon container, but Tony isn't so lucky; within minutes, he's been apprehended, bound and gagged by Stokes' men.
"Lucky" is all relative on 24 though. Just after Jack calls in Larry and the FBI for backup, he has to stop and investigate a leak in his cargo. Without hesitation (but holding his breath just the same), Jack climbs into the container and manages to close off the leak — and expose himself to whatever biological agent he's been driving around with.
Then it's out of the frying pan and into the fire as Stokes' men descend on him again. This time their firepower is too much, though, and as Jack dives for cover, a Starkwood helicopter swoops in and flies the bio-weapon away.
The hour closes with a haunting image: Jack sitting alone by the truck in the middle of a deserted roadway, wondering just what toxin he's been exposed to — and how long he may have to live.
- Before tendering his resignation, Ethan delivers quite the backhanded compliment to President Taylor and (by proxy) her husband: "Henry's a lot tougher than anyone thought." Ouch.
- I'm still not sold on Hodges — and I hate to say it, but I think Voight's performance is holding the character back. 24 has scored in the past with big-name actors (Dennis Hopper springs to mind), but the Midnight Cowboy is feeling a little stiff to me. Supposedly Stokes is pure evil, so maybe Hodges is just being set up as a more affable contrast.
- This really has been a great season so far, and next week looks like another thriller. Can't wait.
As this hour opens, everybody's playing catch-up, letting their colleagues and/or significant others know where they stand.