Not so much an episode of President Jack Bauer as an episode of Professor Julia Rombauer this week, as PJB’s old University boss suddenly appears (out of absolutely nowhere) to become the most important person in the show, and possibly in the entire country.
With PJB himself busy with badly-drafted gun control bills and giving Kimble Hookstraten the runaround on the VP post, he’s had to delegate a few things, so – no big – PJRB has apparently chosen the nine new Supreme Court justices, decided on the balance of the court for the foreseeable future and sorted out the constitutional direction of the Republic for decades to come. Or she’s tried to. The Democrats are on board, and PJB would happily have his old pal run the planet if he could but, as usual, the irritating-as-a-rash Senator Bowman decides to get in the way because, as we all know, nothing in life, politics, nor tv is that bloody easy. Of course, I say “as we all know” but “we” doesn’t seem to include Prof Rombauer, who is aghast and affronted at the man’s cheek. “I just can’t believe one man would exploit constitutional crisis for political advancement!” she exclaims. “Er…. can’t you?” replies the bemused viewer who isn’t remotely surprised by anyone exploiting anything for political advancement, but is astonished that for a world-renowned expert in constitutional law, Professor Rombauer doesn’t seem all that bright.
Once PJB mansplains the situation to her, though, she proves a quick study: “So when he claims he wants a balanced court, he just means he wants a court that agrees with him?” she wonders. Yes, Professor. And just in case you weren’t sure, there are twenty-four hours in a day and seven days in a week. Okay?
Anyway, after a quick show of throwing his weight around and getting nowhere, PJB and Emily decide the best way to deal with this is to appoint PJRB herself Chief Justice, on the basis that Senator Bowman can’t possibly object to the President’s bestie getting the job. This in turn prompts me to wonder if PJB and Emily are high, but we’re saved from this insanity by, of all things, PJRB’s Secret Pain, a plot twist (or more a plot slight bend, since we’ve never seen this woman before and have no actual reason to be surprised by her illness) which bizarrely ends up being more about PJB’s crushed feelings than hers. Huh. By way of consolation prize, however, at least PJRB sorts the constitutional crisis out for him before she goes, deciding the way forward is to fold rather than hold, and not appoint a Chief Justice at all. Which seems more weak than winning to me, but it delights everyone else, so whatevs. *shrugs*
While Team PJB is getting excited about appointing some Supremes, however, Team Kimble-and-Aaron are unsettled by a visit from Abe Leonard who’s all up in everybody’s business and all about exonerating Al-Sakar in the small matter of the Capitol bombing. Kimble refuses to comment, Aaron (still Team PJB in his heart, but possibly a bit less Team Aamily after her double-cross this week – FFS, Emily!) tries to reach Agent Q but ends up telling Reed Diamond instead, and even Seth gets drawn in; after his own special audience with Abe, he points out, entirely correctly, to a sceptical Emily that “the last time Leonard ran with a story (Seth) thought was crazy…. POTUS confirmed it.” Well-remembered, Seth. If PJB can’t have PJRB, at least he still has you.
And he would have Agent Q, I suppose, except that she and Jason Atwood seem to have taken up a semi-permanent move to downtown Conspiracy Town. What with the warehouse full of branded explosives – why would a secret terrorist group personalise their explosives? Is there a recommended font? – just lying there in the hands of the most dangerous people on the planet, poor Reed Diamond is desperate to send SWAT, Superman, anybody to round them up, but Q (taking a leaf out of PJRB’s book and running the whole show) is having none of it. She prefers a more get-up-close-and-make-yourself-as-conspicuous-as-possible method of “surveillance” that is both hilarious and stupid, and should have got her and Atwood killed a couple of times over, but hey ho. I don’t love this show for its commitment to realism. Not that I really loved this episode at all, truth be told. The White House stuff is basic and naive, the Conspiracy investigation has stalled a bit, and twist at the end is just silly, which means that while the ep is mildly entertaining, that’s about the best that can be said for it.