That thud you heard about halfway through last night’s show was the simultaneous sound of my jaw hitting the floor and the other shoe in this gargantuan plot dropping out of the clear blue sky. The stage is set for a thrilling final 4 hours as we now know that Jack’s ultimate target is not President Logan but rather a shadowy group of men whose power play for oil in Central Asia may or not be their ultimate goal.
And Logan? He’s no more in charge of this conspiracy than my pet cat Aramas. He’s a cutout, a cardboard stick figure being used by the cabal of…what are they? Commodities traders? Stock jobbers? They appear to be a group of GenX business school grads who have somehow convinced the upper echelons of the United States government to go along with their plot. Appearing much too soft to be ex-military or CIA, it could be that the creator of the show Joel Surnow has taken all this talk of “corporate fascism” to heart and is positing a scenario where these guys have wormed their way into government by using Henderson and his contacts at DoD in order to get the ball rolling. When and how Logan came into the plot (their leader Graham mentioned they had been working 18 months on the plan) could mean that even Marwan, last year’s baddie, may be partly their creation and the shootdown of Air Force I that brought Logan to power might be attributed to them.
Even Jack is beginning to suspect the truth when, after Heller falls on his sword, he confronts Henderson asking, “What happened to you?” Jack thinks it’s Henderson’s lust for power but is it?. Whatever it is, Jack thinks it much more than simple, misguided patriotism.
If this is indeed all about oil, I will be very disappointed. Although, by the time the last episode airs it may seem more important what with the cost of gas about to top $3 a gallon on the way up to God knows where. Maybe we’ll feel a little differently then.
As Jack attends to Audrey’s profusely bleeding arm, the Secretary of Defense calls and wants to know what happened. Jack, much too polite to say “I told you so” to his former boss and father of the love of his life, nevertheless makes it clear that he feels Heller “betrayed” him by locking him in a storeroom to rot. Heller tells Jack that he must get that tape back or all is lost, a sentiment for which Jack is once again too polite to say “duh.” In the end, Jack hangs up on the third most powerful man in government.
Jack then makes a call to Bill and is surprised and delighted to find that Chloe is with him. He tells her that he needs her to hack CTU’s satellite feeds so that they can track Buckaroo Banzai’s car.
After telling Jack that she’ll get right on it, a precious bit of by-play between Chloe and Bill reminds us why we love Chloe to death:
CHLOE: If we’re going to do extensive satellite tracking, I’m going to need more than my laptop. I’m going to have to network onto your computer even though it is kind of pathetic. And I need you to get that screen to work for me.
CHLOE: I hope you don’t mind me bossing you around but technically, I don’t work for you anymore.
BILL: (wearily) It’s alright Chloe.
When Chloe first showed up at Bill’s house, I started to think that maybe the easy-going Bill would be the perfect love match for the manic Chloe. However, after listening to that exchange, the truth began to dawn on me; the only possible love match for Chloe would be Darth Vader. And even old Darth would be left speechless at times.
After hacking into the satellite feed, Chloe finds Buckaroo’s car and tells Jack who has put Audrey into the stolen police car (that no one in the entire state of California seems very interested in finding) and gone in hot pursuit of his former colleague. Audrey worries that Banzai will destroy the tape. Not to worry says a knowing Jack. Henderson will need that tape for insurance.
Indeed he does as Buckaroo’s call to Logan demonstrates. Logan, all oily and smarmy, asks Banzai why he hasn’t destroyed the tape. When Henderson says he needs the tape for insurance, Logan gets all huffy but to no avail. Buckaroo Banzai is the smartest crook on the show and knows exactly what the score is. He realizes that once the op is over, he’s toast, a fact that’s confirmed later when Logan speaks to Mr. Big.
Thanks to Chloe’s superior geek skills, Jack catches up to Banzai and runs him off the road. Henderson takes cover in a barn and after a short firefight, Jack corners the bastard and takes him into custody. Unfortunately, Henderson has outfoxed Jack once again, handing off the tape to a confederate prior to his capture. What follows turns out to be one of the more brutal, wrenching scenes all year.
Henderson informs Jack that unless he’s allowed to leave, he’ll have his men who have been following Secretary Heller in a helicopter make Audrey an orphan. Calling Heller to confirm this, Jack makes it clear that he’s about to let Henderson go when the Secretary, proving our high opinion of his courage, tells Jack that he won’t be a pawn to be used by Logan and Henderson. We’re not quite sure what he means until he asks Jack to tell Audrey that he loves her. Then, not quite believing our eyes, Heller drives his car deliberately over a cliff and into a lake where, upside down, the car begins to sink.
The agony expressed in Audrey’s wailing “Oh no!” and Jack’s rage at Henderson explodes in one of the more dramatic confrontations of the year:
JACK: How could you do this? This isn’t about you doing what is best for the country. This is about your greed for power. You are responsible for killing ex-President David Palmer and the Secretary of Defense, two real patriots. DAMN YOU! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?
Almost everyone he loves and respects has been killed. Tony, Michelle, Palmer, Edgar, and now Secretary Heller, all victims of this insane plot. His outburst at Henderson had a flavor of desperation, as if he wouldn’t be able to take much more pain and suffering. His pistol whipping of Banzai was pure emotional release.
Logan calls Graham to update him. Mr. Big is a geeky looking fellow with weird glasses and horrible taste in clothes. The actor who plays him, Paul McCrane, also portrayed the playful astronaut Pete Conrad in HBO’s excellent series From the Earth to the Moon as well as Dr. Romano on ER. And while we really haven’t seen enough of him yet, he doesn’t strike me as much of a heavy (although Romano was a real SOB at times).
Mr. Big plays Logan like a harp. He congratulates him on handling the many crisis that popped up during the day including the news confirming earlier speculation that Walt Cummings did not commit suicide but was murdered. Logan grovels by thanking Mr. Big for recognizing his hard work. Meantime, Mr. Big tells Logan to shut Martha up because she’s getting close to the truth. Logan promises to take care of Martha just like he took care of Aaron Pierce who may have been written out of the show, dead or alive.
This is because we are told, when Martha asks, that Aaron has been “transferred.” Martha ain’t buying it and neither do we. That’s when the antithesis of the heroic Pierce, traitorous Agent Adams, leads Martha to where she thinks her husband is but turns out to be a prison. Adams locks the door, trapping poor Martha and deepening the mystery of Aaron’s disappearance.
Back at the barn, Jack finds out that Buckaroo doesn’t have the tape on him and asks Chloe to look into the possibility of a handoff between Henderson and a confederate. Sure enough, Chloe spots where it occurred and informs Jack that the car with the tape is headed back to Van Nuys, eventually going to the very same airport where Jack had just come from. After telling Chloe to call Curtis to come and take custody of Banzai, Audrey demands that Jack go after that tape else her father would have died in vain. Dubious but left with little choice, Jack once again gets into his invisible police car, leaving Audrey with Buckaroo Banzai and a gun.
At CTU, Miles, puffed up like the bureaucratic peacock that he is, informs Granny Hayes that the transfer of authority to DHS is complete…and it was done with 2 hours to spare! Holy Jesus let us hope that the real bureaucrats at DHS were not used as a model for Miles. Just as Miles is congratulating himself, the security dunces realize (after about 45 minutes) that Chloe has flown the coop. In reviewing the security tape, they discover that Sweet Sherry let Chloe go which results in Sherry being taken into custody. Hearing this, Miles realizes that Chloe will probably try and help Jack which sends him off to a computer to try and track back to where Chloe is obviously hacking into the system.
Granny’s confrontation with Sherry is painful. The obviously disturbed young sweety tells a curious Hayes about Chloe’s revelation that Logan is behind the day’s events. Seeing the wheels spinning in Granny’s head, we begin to root for the woman to put two and two together and come up with the truth.
At the ranch, Martha is starting to go nutzo again until Charles pays her a visit. It is unclear to me whether Logan really loves her or is just manipulating her feelings. Whatever the truth of the matter, Logan spills the whole sordid mess to Martha who recoils in anger and disgust. Once again, Logan trots out that last refuge of scoundrels; patriotism. He committed all these evil deeds “for the country.” Martha is sickened by his faux love for America telling him that she not only can’t forgive his treachery, but that she hates him to boot. Nevertheless, she will keep her mouth shut, a promise that somehow I don’t believe will last beyond the doorway. Watch for Martha and Mike to team up to battle the conspiracy from the inside with Granny Hayes and Chloe running the technical end of things and Jack as the sharp end of the stick.
After getting assurances from Logan that Martha is “taken care of,” Mr. Big gives us a tantalizing two minutes of background, telling us that the plot has been in the works for 18 months and that no “deal” he’s ever been involved in didn’t appear to be going south at the 11th hour. Does this make him an investment banker? A takeover specialist for Bear Stearns? We also find out that he’s doing all this for his kids which again points back to oil but at this point, could mean anything.
Back at the barn, Henderson tries a little psy-ops on Audrey which is not a good idea considering the fact that 1) she’s lost a lot of blood, 2) lost her father, and 3) is losing her mind. Not falling for Banzai’s Jedi mind tricks, Audrey bides her time – something she is running out of. For when Chloe calls Jack and tells him that Henderson’s 4th crew of baddies is on the way to the barn, Jack realizes that he won’t be there to take them out so he calls Audrey and tells her to scram. Watching the helicopter with Banzai’s men in it set down next to the barn, Audrey realizes she’s got to go; but not before she makes an effort to off Henderson herself. This is something she is incapable of doing being a civilized human being.
After being freed by his crew, Buckaroo orders his 3 men to search the barn and kill Audrey. Unable to get out the back door, Audrey starts looking for a hiding place when bless my soul if Curtis isn’t already in perfect position to ambush one more of Henderson’s endless supply of bad guys. The TAC team routinely takes out all three terrorists and takes Henderson into custody. Being informed of this, Jack has Curtis go back to CTU and get Audrey the medical attention she should have had an hour ago and also try and protect Henderson from Logan’s stooges who are certainly firmly embedded at CTU.
Jack tells Curtis this from his perch at the airport where he sees what turns out to be a diplomatic charter about to take off to an unknown destination. He knows the tape is on that plane just as he knows what he has to do to get it. Jack sneaks past the heavy security by hiding on top of a fuel truck. Once again, Jack calls on Chloe to work some geek magic as he desperately needs the passenger manifest in order to figure out who might have the tape. Chloe sounds dubious given that she has to get past a State Department firewall but starts to give it her best shot.
And then things start to go south. Miles has a Eureaka! moment when he finally figures out how Chloe has been accessing the system. He finds out that Chloe has been at Bill’s all this time and a TAC team is dispatched to pick her up.
But Granny Hayes is starting to put it all together and realizes that she can’t trust anyone at CTU which means she may very well need Chloe to help. She calls the surprised Bill and tells him to get Chloe out of there before the TAC team arrives. Chloe refuses realizing how important that passenger list is to Jack.
At the airport, Jack sees his opening and takes it. Pulling the hood of his sweatshirt over his head, he pretends he’s a baggage handler loading the plane. Grabbing two bags from a passing baggage cart (pity the poor owner of those bags who inadvertently is helping to save the American Republic) Jack meanders onto the plane and hides in the unpressurized baggage compartment. Jack will have to get out of there before the plane hits 10,000 feet or he’ll suffocate from lack of oxygen. But he’s not thinking about that now. The important thing is that he’s on the plane and his quarry is in sight.
3 more of Henderson’s men bite the dust. Jack was shut out. Is Heller really dead? We’ll give it a week.
Is Miles a good witch, or a bad witch? Is he more loyal to the bureaucracy or will he turn out to be loyal to Granny Hayes? Miles has been drawn so broadly as a bureaucratic caricature, I don’t think personal loyalty enters into his calculations. He may not be working directly for Logan, but once he sees Granny going off the reservation, he’ll call the President personally in order to get credit for turning Granny in.
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