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4/18/2006
HARDBALL
CATEGORY: "24"

Oil.

Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it. And with levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rising with still uncertain effects (if any) on our future climate, oil as a modern culprit for most of the evils in the world makes trying to secure reliable access to it almost an apologetic exercise.

In the interest of oil, we kowtow to some pretty nasty governments and nasty people who ordinarily we would be looking to isolate and condemn. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela are perfect examples of governments run by kleptocratic despots who we dare not offend by pointing out too many of their shortcomings lest the spigots be dialed back a bit and the price of petroleum skyrocket.

For it isn’t only access to the commodity that’s important, it’s how much it costs us to buy. Oil is not only the lifeblood of industrialized civilization, cheap oil is the difference in capitalist democracies between good economies and bad economies. This singular fact has caused governments over the years (including our own) to seek influence and even control over the governments that are blessed by luck and geography in having the stuff. Bad economies are not healthy for a leader’s political career. Just ask Jimmy Carter.

But is that all oil is? A commodity for which nations fight for control in an endless game of move and countermove? Obviously no. Cheap, plentiful oil is the difference between life and death for millions. Not enough oil to harvest the crops and get them to market? Not enough oil or ruinously expensive fuel for heat in winter?

These are not made-up scenarios. The tiny disruption in supply in 1979 due to the Iranian revolution which resulted in a 3% shortfall and economic chaos ensued. Panic caused gas lines with people topping off their tanks because no one was sure there would be oil tomorrow. Tens of thousands of Americans were laid off when companies that depended on oil to stay open were forced to close their doors.

Now imagine a crisis with a 15% shortfall in supply. Far fetched? In Iran, a madman has his fingers wrapped around the jugular of the west because President Ahmadinejad controls the Straits of Hormuz through which a significant portion of the world’s oil sails every day. All this holocaust denier need do is close his fingers and the economic calamity would be upon us in a matter of weeks.

The ultimate question then as it relates to last night’s thrilling episode: Are Logan’s actions justifiable under any circumstances? Logan has taken pre-emptive action to secure America’s supply of oil for the foreseeable future in spite of the fact that there is no present crisis in the supply or availability of oil. Logan sold nerve gas to terrorists, acquiesced in the killing of a former President, caused the deaths of numerous other innocents just so that he could invoke the military terms of a treaty that would allow American troops (and we assume American oil companies) access to the largely undeveloped oil fields of central Asia.

If Logan or any President committed such heinous acts under those circumstances, they would be impeached. But suppose there was a crisis of supply or access? Would we see Logan’s actions in a different light? I daresay a President who was faced with such a catastrophe and did nothing to address the needs of the American people might also find himself on trial.

In the midst of the oil crisis of ‘79, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, figuring correctly that America and the west were distracted. One of President Carter’s sanctions for the Soviet’s misbehavior was preventing the sale of wheat to Russia. Our domestic left (and American farmers) went ballistic. How dare we deny food to hungry people! But couldn’t a similar question be asked of oil producing nations? In the end, is oil just a commodity like gold or silver? Or is it something more? Is it ever worth going to war over? Destabilizing governments for? Killing for?

Moral questions with no easy answers…

SUMMARY

We find Jack and Wayne Palmer in a parking lot as a car pulls up. It’s Bill whose character hasn’t been getting much face time lately which is probably why the writers stuck him in there without warning. For a show that’s supposed to be in “real time,” not seeing Jack call Bill and ask him to meet was a little burp in the continuity universe. Not too jarring, but still, an annoyance.

After dropping off Wayne (and we assume the dead bank manager Carl bleeding all over the backseat of Jack’s car) Audrey calls to inform Jack that Secretary Heller has landed and to please hurry. Greeting her mystified father, Audrey wonders if the Secretary’s bodyguards can be trusted. Given the way the show is going, I don’t trust anyone who isn’t signed through next year.

Jack pulls up and, after getting Heller away from his bodyguards, plays the incriminating tape. Realizing immediately the significance of Jack’s evidence, the Secretary wants to confront Logan. Leaving the hangar where he, Jack, and Audrey were discussing the tape, Heller re-enters with his bodyguards, walks up to Jack, and in the best tradition of his office, chops Jack in the throat sending the surprised agent to the ground where he is immediately restrained by Heller’s bodyguards. It turns out that our man Heller has determined that revelations regarding the President’s dealings with terrorists and murderers would be too much for the American people to bear not to mention the “damage” to the office of President.

Not mentioned by Heller is that the American people are a helluva lot tougher than elitists like the Defense Secretary think and that the unanswered question regarding Logan would be “How much more damage can be done to the office that hasn’t been done already?” Besides, if the office can survive a Nixon or a Clinton, it can certainly survive a Logan. That said, I’m sure there are some of you who might even agree with Heller’s actions in restraining both Jack and Audrey while trying to get Logan to do the right thing and resign. But Jack is right. Logan cannot be trusted and Heller was only going to make himself a target.

Any bets on when Heller goes to that great big Pentagon in the sky? I say as soon as next week when Logan will start tying up loose ends.

At the ranch, Logan and Buckaroo Banzai discuss the turn of events that has resulted in Jack escaping from the bank with the tape. Logan assures Buckaroo that once CTU finds out where Jack is, he’ll pass along the info so that the incriminating tape can be recovered.

Back at CTU, Miles hatches a plan to trap Chloe using Sweet Sherry to pass false information to her about the hunt for Jack. When Chloe tries to get in touch with Audrey, Miles traces the call to the airport where Jack and his love are now being held. This guy Heller isn’t much of a father. Last year, he gave CTU the go ahead to shoot truth serum into his son and this year, he has his bullyboys manacle poor Audrey to a pole in a storage room.

No Father’s Day presents this year, I guess.

Granny Hayes tells Logan that CTU has pinpointed Jack’s location at which point the President orders CTU to stand down, that he will send in the military. Confused, Granny calls Mike Novak which destroys about half the current conspiracy theories on the web. Novak, he tells us, was busy doing “other things” which is why we haven’t seen him for 3 episodes. When Granny tells Mike about being pulled off the Jack Op, Novak calls the man in charge of martial law in Los Angeles, General Warren. When queried about the Jack Op, Warren confesses his ignorance. Mike doesn’t stop there. He sees the Veep who tries to reassure him of Logan’s intentions. Now completely in the dark, Mike takes his questions directly to the President.

The tissue of lies told by Logan to Mike, to his wife later, to the Veep, to Granny at CTU, and to everyone else is a house of cards. All it will take for the whole rotten edifice to come tumbling down will be exposing one of those lies. Mike suspects he’s having smoke blown his direction but does nothing, not believing for an instant Logan’s resurrection of the Chinese gambit as a reason for using “covert ops” to capture Jack. And Logan does his usual brush-off of “I am the President. Don’t second guess me” which perplexes Mike even more.

Logan eagerly calls Henderson and tells him where Jack and the tape can be found. Buckaroo boards a helicopter (black of course) with another half dozen men, found via his endless supply of traitors, mercs, killers, and thugs. Jack has been methodically working his way through Henderson’s private army the last few episodes and one wonders if Banzai will ever run out of accomplices.

Back at CTU, Chloe realizes too late that she’s been trapped. She’s apprehended by clueless CTU security who seem to have dropped the ridiculous red shirts they were wearing in favor of more traditional white. Then again, it is spring…

In the holding room, Miles gloats over Chloe who can’t bring herself to tell the truth about what’s going on. However, proving herself every bit the field agent, she uses her geek charms (and some sleight of hand) to relieve Miles of his key card that she uses immediately to try and make her getaway. Confronted in the hallway by Sweet Sherry who is about to turn her in, Chloe begs for understanding. Failing that, she tries a little blackmail, telling Sherry that if she’s caught and it turns out Jack is innocent, she will recommend a psyche test for her. Probably administered by Dr. Feelgood, I would hesitate too if someone told me I was going to be up for a psyche test at CTU. The blackmail works and Chloe makes her escape.

Heller calls Logan and acts like the cat who swallowed the canary. Logan feigns ignorance even after the Secretary says “I think you know exactly what this is about.” Realizing he’s about to be exposed, Logan calls Buckaroo and orders him to get the tape otherwise he’s toast. Thus, one of the more interesting meetings of the entire series is about to take place.

Seeing Heller arrive, Nutzo Martha’s political antennae is fully extended. Something is wrong, she asks Aaron? And here, we get the slightest hint that Martha and Aaron may have played a little slap and tickle in the past when, asking Aaron to tell her what’s going on, she sidles up very close to the Secret Service agent and says in a low, throaty voice, “You can trust me. You know that.” Aaron promises to meet her out at the stables shortly. We are not surprised that when she gets out there, Aaron is nowhere to be seen, a victim of knowing too much.

Meanwhile, the confrontation between Logan and Heller, superbly staged and acted, gets underway with Heller accusing and Logan denying. Finally realizing that Heller has the goods, Logan tries to justify his crimes:

LOGAN: How dare you sit there and judge me. Until you sit in my chair, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

HELLER: Your chair is not a throne, Charles.

LOGAN: I am protecting the interests of our country.

HELLER: You mean oil…

LOGAN: (Shouting) Yes! YES! This country needs energy more than you or anyone in this gridlocked government cares to admit. We’ll see how you judge me when the cost of oil goes up to $100 a barrel and the people who put me in office can’t afford to heat their homes or run their cars.

HELLER: And you think that justifies the blood on your hands?

No answer from the former Jellyfish now a simply pathetic excuse for an American President.

Heller demands Logan’s resignation by morning. He has no choice but to agree. And as an extra measure of security, Heller demands that Vice President Gardener be present when the document is signed.

Chloe, after waltzing out of the top-secret, highly secured CTU headquarters and driving away in her own car, shows up at Bill’s front door like a lost little girl. Bill welcomes the waif into what appears to be a home worth a cool quarter mil, not bad for government work. The two get busy trying to get back up to speed on the rapidly developing chain of events.

What with Henderson and his goons on their way and Jack realizing that Logan couldn’t be trusted any further than he could throw him, Bauer figures out a way to use the steam pipe to melt the plastic restraints off of his hands. Freeing himself with a series of painful grunts (which means you or I would be screaming at the top of our lungs as our wrists were seared), Jack cold cocks one guard and surprises the other (from whom he retakes possession of the precious tape). Jack is about ready to escape when the dreaded black helicopter makes its ominous appearance and opens up on the Secretary’s bodyguard and Bauer.

A terrific firefight ensues with Jack taking down two thugs even before they can disembark from the copter. The bodyguard proves his metal by taking down two thugs himself before meeting the fate of all those who try to help Jack in gunfights. As a denouement to the battle, Jack takes careful aim and blows up a gas truck taking out the last of Henderson’s 3rd crew. Henderson himself has snuck into the hangar where poor Audrey has been stuck waiting for Jack.

Another excellently done confrontation this time between Jack and his nemeses Henderson. Buckaroo has Audrey under the gun and Jack tries appealing to the better angels of his nature:

JACK: Let her go, Christopher!

HENDERSON: After I have the recording.

JACK: Why are you doing this? Why are you protecting Logan?

HENDERSON: I’m protecting something far more important than Charles Logan.

JACK: What?

HENDERSON: The integrity of our government.

JACK: Our government has no integrity. Not when someone like Charles Logan occupies the Presidency.

Do we have another clue here? “I’m protecting something far more important than Charles Logan.”

COULD HENDERSON ACTUALLY BE WORKING FOR AN AGENCY TRYING TO “STING” THE PRESIDENT? Or was it simply Henderson’s way of saying that he’s a patriot?

Anything is possible.

Jack eventually relents in giving the tape to Henderson but not before Buckeroo slashes poor Audrey in an artery in her arm thus putting her on the death watch. Jack has 15 minutes or its back to being an oil driller and having to put up with 15 year old Derek and his stacked but clueless mom. To forestall that horrible prospect, Jack applies a tourniquet to Audrey’s profusely bleeding arm.

Henderson calls Logan with the good news about the tape just as the President was about to sign his resignation. Then, in front of the Vice President, Logan fires Heller. But Heller isn’t done. He spills the plot while a fascinated and thoroughly perplexed Vice President Gardener looks on. Does he believe Heller? Let’s hope he’s not as dumb as most Vice Presidents.

Heller is escorted out of the Presidential compound but one gets the distinct feeling he will be back and that he will thoroughly enjoy his second visit.

BODY COUNT

Six thugs are done in. One good guy bites the dust. Jack had a fun night as he got to blow up a gas truck and kill 4 bad guys.

JACK: 30

SHOW: 181

SPECULATION

Aaron’s disappearance is troubling. Only Martha knew he was going to be out there. Is Martha part of the plot or does she have her own ax to grind?

Why is martial law still in effect? This, plus a few other nagging questions leads me to believe that one more shoe is going to drop on this plot before the season is over.

UPDATE

Don’t forget to visit Blogs4Bauer for the best 24 commentary around.

By: Rick Moran at 8:31 am
20 Responses to “HARDBALL”
  1. 1
    Diffus Said:
    8:53 am 

    If the whole point of martial law is to prevent the terrorists from running around unobstructed through the city, how does Henderson manage to keep doing so?

    Perhaps the biggest unanswered question so far is who among the bad guys knew that Jack was still alive so the murder of Palmer could be pinned on him. Refresh my memory as to who the four people who knew Jack was still alive were.

  2. 2
    Geoff Said:
    8:54 am 

    Sorry to have this comment not related to last nights episode. I had to tape it and won’t be able to watch it till tonight(tuesday).
    I saw this news item,Terrorists Recruiting ‘White Muslims’, and thought about the discussions on how all the terrorists are not muslim arabs but white guys. Maybe 24 is just ahead of the curve.
    Link to news article is,
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060417/ap_on_re_eu/terror_recruiting_white_muslims_lh1

  3. 3
    Midwest Prognosticator » 24 Focuses On The Cover-up Pinged With:
    9:32 am 

    [...] The Right Wing Nut House has a complete summary and analysis here. [...]

  4. 4
    Brian Jones Said:
    10:06 am 

    Great summary, but you omitted the best part of Chloe’s blackmail: she figured out that Miles is some kind of touch-o-phobe and would never have harrassed that hot (albeit in need of a sandwich) Sherry.

  5. 5
    brent j. Said:
    10:20 am 

    i’m not willing to believe that aaron is dead until i actually see the body.

  6. 6
    Michael Said:
    11:15 am 

    Has anyone noticed that Chloe now has her own James (Jane?) Bond-ish theme music whenever she’s on?

  7. 7
    Tony Lafauce Said:
    11:17 am 

    Rick: A very attractive peroration even though it reeks of the end justifying the means. The “Oil for the Lamps of China” scenario I think is a bit overworked. Is oil ever worth going to war over? Consider this; The U.S. (abiding by the left’s wishes to abandon Iraq) pulls its troops. Iran then overruns Iraq and armed with WMD threatens not only Israel but Saudi Arabia as well. What then would be the world’s alternative, with a rogue Jihadist state controlling 3/4 of the worlds energy? Paraphrasing Kenneth Pollack, in “Threatening Storm” If Iran (or any Islamic state) would control that much of the world’s oil, we would have a nuclear winter the likes of which the world has never seen. Governments would crumble and industrialized nations would decay yielding to the demands of maniacs, with little or no value for human life. The question now is not whether or not to go to war, but when.
    As for President Logan seeing this far into the future to orchestrate this elaborate scheme is far fetched. My take is that his meglomanical lust for power is more the motivation for all this deceit, his spineless trait make him a pawn in an ever expanding plot to take down the government. In plain terms Pres. Logan doesn’t have the cajones or the political acumen to go to war over anything. Although I believe someone else in the government does. I don’t believe the entire cast of bad guys has yet to be revealed. (The other shoe?)

  8. 8
    golfer1 Said:
    12:26 pm 

    Two points…I sort of hoped that Jack pulled the old switcheroo and slid either a different mp3 player or his car remote to Henderson. I guess that’s not the case bacause he’s going after Henderson in the next week’s highlights (unless Jack just wants to off Henderson for his own amusement).

    Second, Needlenose certainly seems to heal quickly, as the upcoming week’s preview shows her pointing a gun at Henderson’s head…

  9. 9
    Bat One Said:
    12:58 pm 

    Far be it from me to try and “one up” Rick’s commentary here, but it seems increasingly clear that President Logan’s demise will ultimately be at the hands of his wife… with an appropriate cover story for public consumption.
    At the other end of the scale, we are still no closer to knowing who ratted out Jack in the first place, and to whom. Looking at the remaining players, it looks very much like there are still a few too many “good guys” around, and not nearly enough “bad guys” left. Something ain’t right.

  10. 10
    walt Said:
    1:02 pm 

    “what appears to be a home worth a cool quarter mil”

    A quarter mil gets you very little in LA.

  11. 11
    Vicky Said:
    3:01 pm 

    The first lady is being “taken care of” because she has Aaron’s cell phone which has a down-loaded copy of the tape from Jack. I was right about the prez being the baddie when everyone else thought it was the vice-prez. I bet I’m right about this too.

  12. 12
    m&m's Said:
    5:00 pm 

    #9 “President Logan’s demise will ultimately be at the hands of his wife”….Martha has already laid groundwork for an insanity defense (you go girl!).

    Yes,IMO, Henderson is answering to someone above Logan. (Logan just thinks that he’s calling the shots [shots??? you know Jack's close by]). And, I also think that the VP’s assistant/right-hand man is not one of the good guys(remember that he was aware of Wayne Palmer’s driving to the left-coast WH [don't mean Waffle]) prior to the ambush).

  13. 13
    JC Said:
    7:50 pm 

    With 6 episodes left it isn’t clear that the writers have decided where the plot is going. If it hasn’t all been filmed yet they may still be making it up as they go along. Maybe the authors are surfing 24 blogs for their next plot twists.

  14. 14
    Peanut Said:
    9:16 pm 

    Oil is our most important strategic resource. You’d better damned well believe we’d go to war over it. Why do you think we have so many forces focused on the Middle East and south Asia and not sub-Saharan Africa? In the 40’s we would have gone to war to keep our supply of Uranium from Africa, but once we developed our own, we dropped Africa like a cheap date. And if we had some leadership in this country (now and for the past 3 decades) with strategic vision that would end our dependence on mid east oil, we could drop that unfaithful Burka bitch too. Right now we are spending our troop’s lives and our money to ensure Japan, Europe, China and us get a stable flow of oil. Our military is protecting the World economy so it runs smoothly and efficiently, on cheap oil from the asshole of the planet. There’s a reason the Persian Gulf looks like a cross-sectioned rectum in profile. Imagine what those freeloading, good for nothing countries would have to do if we pulled out and said, “You defend your own f’ing supply of oil.” What would China do when Saudi finally collapses and the jihadists take over and the USA isn’t there to keep the tap open? China, Russia and the Europeans are using us like a stupid punk. We defend the oil. We do all the work. We take all the blame, and they get their cheap oil and laugh at us. This country needs to open it’s eyes, get the oil monkey off our back and let the rest of the world worry about their own oil supply for a change.

  15. 15
    Peanut Said:
    9:18 pm 

    Oh yeah, and I gave up on 24 1/2 way through season two. I bet people think this show is actually realistic.

  16. 16
    kender Said:
    10:09 am 

    Walt is right. A quarter mil. in LA gets you an 800 square foot, two bed/one bath fixer upper in a bad neighborhood.

  17. 17
    wooga Said:
    1:02 pm 

    Yeah, I’d love to be able to buy Bill’s home for a quarter mil, and sell it for half a mil…

    The only way it’s worth just a quarter mil is if they dug up an indian burial ground to put in the swimming pool…

  18. 18
    diamond Said:
    5:01 pm 

    Oil, we damn better protect our ability to keep the oil flowing. As for Pres.Logan I don’t admire what he has done for the oil, if that is the true reason. And yes we should keep any and all who stand in our way and disallow oil being purchased by us. As long as it is available we will pay the price. When there is NO price and they won’t sell, then nuke’em. This would then become a national survial effort, all bets off.

    What a show. Don’t believe that Martha and Aaron have played “splap and tickle” but I do believe that their is an attraction that they both recognize and have been careful not to act on. Of course this will not last and Aaron will play a part in saving Martha, again. For heavens’s sake, don’t kill off Aaron, he is a sweetie.

    You know that this “real time” can be carried too far, have we ever seen Jack at a urnial? hhhhhuuuummmmmm and would we want to?
    Don’t know if you all put bank mgr. wife in the dead column but she is at home tied up in hubbies ties. Make it look like a murder- -sucide and the government won’t have to pay off for the screw up.

    Can’t be kind to Heller, he deserves to lose his daughter for his grandstanding. Hope they run him out of town on a rail acccompanied by his son that would whimper at the sight of a gun! Just desserts! Is it possible that Heller seeks the Oval Office for himself acting like he uncovered the plot and forced the resignation of the prez would put him in the spot light for the next election.
    Vicky’s post, I like that idea, let’s hope the the switch-a-roo has happened.

    This show makes me have to think too much, my hair hurts!

  19. 19
    golfer1 Said:
    7:24 pm 

    JC #13 - The final episodes were filmed about two weeks ago. I heard a couple of folks from “24″ on Rush’s show, and they confirmed the final episodes were nearly completed…

  20. 20
    “BAD DAD” SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JAMES HELLER It’s … at Blogs4Bauer Pinged With:
    9:20 am 

    [...] Another carelessly thrown together summary here… [...]

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