President Allison Taylor
First of all, my humble apologies for the tardiness of this summary. I know many of you who can’t stand my politics visit here exclusively for my 24 recaps and I am sorry if you were inconvenienced. About all I can say is that the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. A nasty headcold with a splitting sinus headache made the prospect of staring at the monitor for 14 hours in order to both do the work I am paid to do and write for my own pleasure impossible. All in all, a quite unproductive day.
This has happened only once or twice in 4 years so I hope you will let it slide and continue to join me for a look at some of the issues raised by the show as well as the silly fun we have with some of the characters. Evidently, some poor schmucks on the left have the sense of humor of a potato and believe I am a hypocrite because I am a fat old man who disses the personal appearance of some of the cast members. In fact, as regular readers know, my descriptions are so over the top that they become a parody of themselves - sort of like Larry Flynt describing the late Jerry Falwell but without the gross sexual and bathroom references (no doubt since I didn’t include any scatological humor, the brainless twits didn’t recognize it as parody.). Since it takes more than two brain cells working for the average three year old to figure this out on this site, the numbskulls who believe I have no business taking potshots at any character for their physical appearance can be forgiven their idiocy. Allow their brains to mature a bit before we judge them too harshly.
On a more interesting note, the drama of the President’s ordeal in being blackmailed with the life of her husband unless she called off the attack on Sangala opens the door to a fascinating real life counterfactual; should a president placed in that position invoke the 25th amendment and turn the presidency over to the vice president?
Here’s the relevant section of the 25th amendment:
Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
The scenario in the show is not as farfetched as you might think. Suppose in some alternate universe John McCain had been elected president (yeah, yeah…not the brightest universe in the bunch, I know). McCain’s son is serving in Iraq as you read this. Although we don’t know whether young Jimmy McCain would have been withdrawn from the fight (British royals have gone to war and been exposed to enemy fire) if the senator had been elected, a troubling scenario emerges where Jimmy is kidnapped by Sadrists who demand the US withdraw from Iraq.
What would a President McCain have done? One option would be to invoke the 25th amendment, turn the presidency over to Sarah Palin, and remove at least some of the kidnapper’s leverage. Knowing what we know of the Sadrist street thugs, it is doubtful we would see Jimmy alive again. But the point is that the US government would not be held hostage by the kidnappers if McCain stepped down temporarily.
The 25th amendment was ratified in 1967 and seeks to clarify some fuzzy constitutional language in Article II, Section 1 that never makes it clear whether the vice president, ascending to the presidency following a president’s death, is actually “President” or “Acting President.” In 1841, President Tyler set the precedent following William Henry Harrison’s long winded inauguration speech in a winter rain storm that caused Tippecanoe to catch a cold and die 41 days after taking the oath. There was a sizable segment of the country that believed Tyler was “Acting President” and that a special election should be held for Harrison’s replacement.
Tyler himself believed that not just the “duties and responsibilities” of the office devolved to him but also the title “President of the United States.” In the end, Tyler won the arguement when his enemies couldn’t muster the support to supplant him.
Prior to the 25th amendment, there were several cases where a “Jimmy McCain Scenario” might have proved too real. Abe Lincoln’s son Robert served as an aide to General Grant - fairly safe from being killed or captured in battle but still in danger from kidnappers. Then there were FDR’s 4 sons who served on the front lines in World War II, all of them distinguishing themselves in battle. One can imagine Hitler or Tojo wanting to get their hands on one of them. Finally, there was Eisenhower’s son John who served in Korea and who related a conversation years later with Ike where the president asked him to committ suicide if he was ever captured.
But what of President Taylor? The idea that she would be placed in such a position is dramatic but hardly realistic. Any president worth their salt would have stepped down temporarily and not allowed US policy to be held hostage along with her husband. That’s why the 25th amendment is there in the first place. Still, as a dramatic device (”I can’t ask the American people to sacrifice” what I would be unwilling to do) it works well. It certainly added some drama to the show and gave Jack and Renee something to do.
The bent Secret Service agent Vossler brings the First Gent to Dubaku’s basement hideout that reminds me of a clubhouse a bunch of us kids set up in the basement of an abandoned house. Except these guys had HD TV, real comfortable chairs and sofas and was spotlessly clean.
At the White House, Jack, Bill, Renee, and the Matobo’s are shown into the oval office. After assuring the Prime Minister that the attack is underway, Maboto excuses himself and we are left with perhaps the most interesting scene on the show to date.
Jack fills the president in on the plot against her and America, a tale made all the more unbelievable by Jack’s kidnapping then rescuing Maboto. Poor President Taylor isn’t sure what to do until Renee steps forward and assures her it’s all true. All this time, Ethan Kamin - suspected plotter - is lurking in the back of the oval office drinking in every word. Jack pours on the charm and sincerity and Taylor relents. Especially after she is told that the CIP module is destroyed.
But is it?
Who found the module on the floor after the firefight in Dubaku’s office nerve center? Who called out to the rest of the crew that it was destroyed? Did Jack, Bill, or Renee actuall see the destroyed module? Who is about to flip sides and rejoin the conspiracy?
Gentle reader, do not be shocked when Tony shows up with Dubaku carrying the undamaged CIP device.
Dubaku then calls the president and gives her the bad news; he’s got her husband and unless she withdraws US forces out of range of Sangala and hands over Prime Minister Maboto, the First Gentleman will get it. To reinforce his threat, Dubaku has one of his goons cut off a First Gentleman finger.
Jack offers to rescue Henry but the president appears dubious. When she asks how she can trust Jack given his apparently dizzying back and forth regarding which side he is on, Jack gets a look on his face that would melt Taylor’s iron corset. “With all due respect, Madame President, ask around,” is all he says. The problem, of course, is that anyone who could testify to Jack’s loyalty are either dead or suspect themselves. Maybe Talyor could give the Chinese a ring…
When Jack asks Renee to search Gedge’s phone records so they can get a lead on Henry’s whereabouts, she convinces Bauer that they must bring Larry into the Golden Circle. The look on Larry’s face when he hears from Renee is priceless - he is one whipped dog, no? However, he won’t do anything unless he can be sure she is not under duress so they agree to meet.
The White House decides to at least appear to be carrying out Dubaku’s instructions so they fake a pullback of the American invasion fleet and get some poor government flunkie to dress up like Maboto and go to the place where Dubaku ordered them to take the Prime Minister.
Back at FBI headquarters, Hillinger is getting too nosy for our own good. The very first hour of the show it appeared he was involved in the plot when Janis caught him fooling around with the server. His explanation seemed plausible and we have hardly given him a thought since then. But the revelation that he is playing around on his wife with Miss Anorexia and his curiosity about the CIP module not being a threat anymore has us thinking once again - is he or isn’t he? Janis is oblivious to the possibility of Sean being the mole but knows that he’s fooling around with Miss Eating Disorder. We’ll see how that plays out as Miss Binge and Purge may play a key role in exposing Hillinger if he is the main mole at the FBI.
The scene in Lafayette Park with the confrontation between Larry and Jack over torture is one of the reasons I love the show. The series has always made a genuine effort to present realistic arguements for and against Jack’s tactics. And Renee, in this case, can be an “everyperson” character who is torn between necessity and her own personal morals. It’s an old dramatic device going back to the Greeks but it still works when done well.
After handing over Gedge’s phone records, Larry is horrified to hear Jack ask about Vossler’s family. Bauer’s plan is to make Vossler think that they will hurt his family unless he tells them where Henry is. Jack makes it plain that he is disgusted with Larry for not seeing the truth - his truth - of the matter:
Jack: When are you people going to stop thinking that they are playing by your rules. They’re not!
He gives them a choice; either they can tell the president that their consciences wouldn’t allow them to rescue Henry or they will “do what is necessary” to get the job done. Reluctantly, Renee sees it Jack’s way but you can tell she is torn. She heads off to Vossler’s home where his wife and 11 month old child are about to receive a lesson in “asymetrical warfare” - Jack style.
As Larry heads back to the FBI office so that he can track Vossler, he calls out to Jack angrily:
Larry: Look at yourself. You have lost everyone and everything you’ve ever had by doing what you think is “necessary.”
Of course, Larry nails it. And his concern about Renee taking up after Jack is well founded. She has already done stuff she never dreamed of doing before she met Jack. His parting shot to Jack is trenchant as is Jack’s response:
Larry: (almost gently): Jack - The rules are what make us better.
Jack: Not today.
Okay. So the “ticking bomb” scenario is a load of crap. I agree. But is it any less likely than a film like Seven Days in May where a conservative general tries to overthrow the government or The Day After that showed a nuclear holocaust? Don’t get me started on the realism involved in left wing films - even recent ones like Syriana. Somehow, the arguement that “it could never happen” doesn’t make it into discussions of those scenarios, only the “lessons” that are to be learned.
After Dubaku calls his American girlfriend who is unaware he is a genocidal maniac, we meet the woman’s wheelchair bound sister who doesn’t like Samuel-Dubaku and wants her sister to break up with him.
At FBI headquarters, Larry is tracking Vossler while Renee takes his family hostage. We can see that Renee is having a hard time threatening a woman with a baby. Larry pinpoints Vossler’s position for Jack who heads the bent agent off by speeding the wrong way down a one way street. Arriving at the intersection at exactly the right time, Jack slams into Vossler’s car, drags the nearly unconcious agent from his damaged vehicle into the foyer of an apartment building, and starts to turn the screws.
He softens him up a bit before he calls Renee who is having no fun at all “doing what is necessary.” When Vossler won’t cooperate even after talking to his hysterical wife, Renee goes after the infant. It is shocking to see and she almost disolves into tears when she forces herself to start choking the baby (we think - not even Fox was brave enough to show exactly what she was doing). The piteous cries of his baby breaks Vossler and he reveals Dubaku’s hideout. Renee brings the baby to its mother, releived she didn’t have to apply any more pressure to Vossler’s family. When an innocent bystander distracts Jack, the former Special Forces member Vossler springs into action with a knife, knocking Jack’s gun away. They struggle briefly before Jack stabs him with his own knife, killing him.
Jack calls Renee with the location of Dubaku’s hideout, informing her that Vossler is dead. Renee is so shaken she almost abandons the entire project but in the end, agrees to continue. She calls Larry who goes ballistic when he hears Vossler is dead and agrees to keep the news of the dead agent quiet. Hillinger is getting even nosier and wants to know why Homeland Security is keeping them out of the loop. Do we detect a slight panic in his voice? If he is the mole, that would make sense in that he is not getting information to relay to the plotters.
Rosa, the sister of Dubaku’s American girlfriend Marika calls the thug and tells him that she knows he is not who he says he is, having received a letter from a source she has in immigration saying there is no record of him emigrating here. The poor woman doesn’t know that she just signed her death sentence. Dubaku leaves - presumably to attend to Rosa. Marika will probably be key to unlocking some mysteries surrounding the plot given her close association with Dubaku over the previous months.
The Maboto look alike and his Secret Service protector arrive at the exchange place but, per their plan, refuse to get out of the limo. When informed of this development, Dubaku orders the limo destroyed and then calls his hideout, telling them to dispatch Henry. The limo is hit by an RPG, killing both the look alike and the agent.
Jack and Renee arrive at Dubaku’s hideout. They force the Korean grocer to unlock the door to the terrorist’s basement clubhouse and, after Renee is discovered coming down the steps, the second good firefight in two weeks erupts with Jack accounting for 4 of the bullies while Renee knocks off the other two.
Unfortunately, the last terrorist standing makes it into the back room where Henry is being held and despite getting one in the back from Jack, is able to get off a round that hits Henry in the stomach. The episode closes with Jack administering aide to the stricken First Gent, screaming for an ambulance.
Jack the Knife takes out Vossler
The Maboto look alike and his guardian pay the price.
Six terrorists are history at the Clubhouse with Jack accounting for 4.