The first part of this episode was like another selection of 24’s Greatest Hits – Jack running around the embassy, Chloe quarterbacking with the help of “schematics”; the chokehold, this time with a few extra grunts and twists; entry cards; an agonisingly slow download with an on-screen percentage bar so that we know just how slow it is. It’s all there, and it’s great.
With Chloe’s help Jack manages to find Tanner and his flight key, and it’s the contents of this which are being downloaded to Chloe at Faux-sange’s HQ, because it’ll prove in some way that the drones were indeed hijacked. But the Marines are after Jack, and corner him in the Embassy’s comms room. Presidential authority is needed for Operation Kill Bauer, but before President Alzheimer – unscathed after his speech to Britain’s parliamentarians, a story arc from last week which, after about twenty unseen minutes in 24-world, comes to more or less nothing – agrees to the plan, he wants to talk to Jack himself.
Which means, of course, that as predicted a couple of weeks ago Audrey does indeed get to hear the name “Jack Bauer” again. She takes Jack’s side; the increasingly unlikeable Mark takes the side of the Marines. You’d think that a check through the archives would save them the bother of wondering whether to believe Jack or not – he’s always disbelieved, and he’s always right. And, in any event, this is clearly a proxy argument about whether Mark or Jack is better in bed, like we need to guess, eh? But President Alzheimer decides to follow Mark’s advice, and the Marines get ready to blast Jack out.
Agent Kate, though, has heard most of what’s been going on, and she thinks Jack might have a point. (We hear again how she called her husband totally wrong, which, as CJ suggested a couple of weeks ago, makes it increasingly likely that we’ll be revisiting the story of Mr Kate shortly.) So Kate sneaks into the comms room, convinces Jack that she’s on his side, and more or less flings her body onto his – not for the last time this season, I’ll wager – to stop the Marines from riddling him with bullets.
Now, I was going to say that the episode flags a little when we’re chez Al-Harazi: yes, Naveed is the wimpy weak link in Margot’s plan to give London an overdose of drone bombs, and Simone dobs him in to her mother, of course. Predictable, and delivered with glacial speed by the standards of 24. But just when the narrative looks like slowing to a crawl… Hammer. Chisel. Ouch. This episode was the real deal.