As the hour opens, Jack is trying once again to convince Hastings that Renee isn't fit for her undercover mission with the Russian mafia. But when Jack suggests arresting Laitanan and forcing him to talk (and we all know what that means), Hastings cuts him off: "If you're saying what I think you are, we don't do that any more."
We'll see how many more hours that no-torture order stands, but wouldn't it be novel if we made it through an entire 24 day without Jack putting the screws to anyone?
So Renee's operation continues, as she cuts Laitanan in on her plan to buy the weapons-grade uranium out from under Farhad Hassan. Unfortunately, the deal won't go down for 20 minutes, which gives the two old partners time to catch up.
Surprisingly, Laitanan offers an unprompted apology for attempting to rape Renee a few years back, blaming it on alcohol — but the neck massage he gives her indicates the real motive behind his contrite front. And following it up by calling her a bitch, then indirectly threatening to cut out her tongue doesn't exactly sell the apology either.
While Renee takes a shower, Laitanan sets his next plan in motion: to kill Renee's funding source and keep the money being wired to their account for himself. Renee taking off her clothes with this guy anywhere in a one-mile radius probably isn't the best idea, though, as Laitanan catches her stepping out of the shower, then threatens to call off the whole deal if she doesn't sleep with him.
Though Jack tries to convince her that they can find another way, Renee chillingly tells him, "I'm going dark," takes out her earpiece, and flushes it down the bathroom sink — leaving her completely alone with Laitanan.
On the rooftop of a nearby parking garage, Jack's part of the plan moves forward, as he poses as the money man for the uranium deal. Revealing another tool in Jack Bauer's seemingly bottomless bag of tricks, he converses fluently in German with one of Laitanan's men, while smoking an uncustomary cigarette (and reminding me of his quirky performance in the sci-fi/noir masterpiece Dark City).
As ordered, once the wire transfer is complete, Laitanan's men move to execute Jack — but thankfully he's got a man of his own: Agent Ortiz, an apparent sharpshooter, who drops three of the would-be assassins from his vantage point on an adjacent rooftop, leaving Jack to easily disarm the fourth.
Once he gets Laitanan on the phone, Jack says he'll still proceed with the deal, but also issues a warning: "If you try something like this again, we're going to war, and that's the last thing you want."
Meanwhile at CTU, Agent Walsh thinks she's found just the score her ex and his silent partner are looking for: $120,000 seized from a recent drug bust, housed in a supposedly deserted warehouse. After dodging some more requests (both computer memory and sexual harassment-related) from Arlo, Walsh manages to slip away.
Arlo senses something isn't right, though, and raises his concern to Chloe, who tells him what a lot of us have been thinking: "You're lucky someone hasn't reported you to human resources." When he accuses Chloe of just being jealous, she hilariously snaps, "Oh yeah, I'm jealous — won't you stare at my ass as I walk away?" Which, of course, he does.
Undeterred, Arlo decides to poke around on Walsh's computer, which conveniently displays a security camera feed showing Walsh meeting with Kevin to set up their operation. Wonder if this creep will turn her in, or use the dirt for his own form of blackmail?
In a slightly more interesting plot thread, Josef Bazhaev continues forcing a doctor at gunpoint to treat his brother Oleg's radiation poisoning. Regardless of Josef's threats, the test results don't look good — though there may be a way to save Oleg yet.
But just when the doc is providing Josef with some potentially life-saving medicine for his brother, Papa Bazhaev's men bust in, shoot the poor doctor, and drag the boys off, through a clinic now lined with the bodies or staff unlucky enough to be on duty this night.
When they get back to daddy, Josef gets slapped around for disobeying Sergei's orders — but Oleg gets a far worse punishment: execution at the hands of his own father, who seems to consider this a teaching moment for Josef, warning him, "Don't ever disobey me again."
On the political front, as the world balks at President Hassan's political purging in Kamistan, President Taylor worries that the Mid-East peace deal is on the verge of falling apart. And Hassan isn't helping matters with his increasing paranoia, which leads him to have a trusted member of his inner circle brought in for interrogation.
• I still don't understand why we're supposed to care so much about what happens to the Bazhaev brothers. Maybe this whole radiation-poisoning/family execution plot is just a way of demonstrating how ruthless Sergei is. But it still seems like a roundabout way of doing that — he could have put Oleg out of his mercy right off the bat, and saved everyone from traipsing back and forth to that clinic.
• A little too much of this episode was devoted to that family drama, but 24 has always done a good job of building up the character and motivations of their villains, so hopefully this will all pay off in a good showdown (or two) between the CTU crew and the Bazhaevs.
• Aside from the distraction of a couple less-than-thrilling subplots, I've found the whole situation with Renee and Laitanan pretty gripping, and it's nice to see Jack be the one who's more in control, and not constantly flying off the handle. Though there's still plenty of time for that later in the day...
As the hour opens, Jack is trying once again to convince Hastings that Renee isn't fit for her undercover mission with the Russian mafia. But when Jack suggests arresting Laitanan and forcing him to talk (and we all know what that means), Hastings cuts him off: "If you're saying what I think you are, we don't do that any more...