Jack and Chloe are after the chick with the wig (Simone, as we will find out later on) who ran off at the end of last week with the thingy that lets you control drones. Simone goes onto the Underground, and although Jack has eyes on her for quite a while she manages to give him the slip, partly because Chloe is distracted by thoughts of (we learn) her dead husband and son, and partly because Jack himself seemed at that point in the episode to be a beat or two behind: I can’t help but think that the Bauer of a few seasons ago would have grabbed her with one hand, while using the other hand to pick his teeth with that knife of hers. He redeems himself at the end, but we’ll get to that.
Simone’s mother, Margot, is for now the head terrorist – although this being 24 there may yet be several layers of management unaccounted for. The plan seems to be to take control of a drone or four and crash them into targets in London, all run from Margot’s country house where she and Simone live with Simone’s brother and her wimpy husband, Naveed, who with his objections to the use of drones on London has already identified himself as the weak link in Team Margot. He won’t last the season.
Meantime Kate and Erik have started interrogating some witnesses on the streets of London – a situation correctly identified by CIA office head Steve as, perhaps, potentially provocative a matter of minutes after an American drone killed British soldiers. This last incident is something President Alzheimer remains keen to explain to British parliamentarians, so he attends Parliament (except it isn’t, or not the House of Commons at any rate) and gets shouted at by MPs (except that wouldn’t happen either: the problem here, and I’m speculating, is that Prime Minister’s Question Time, with its heckling and tumult, is seen abroad as the rule rather than the exception). And while he’s fretting about that, Chief of Staff Mark Boudreau is, in true 24 style, trying to take over as de facto President, starting with the forgery of the Presidential signature on a document authorising the surrender of Jack to the Russians on capture.
For most of this episode I was left with a feeling that the season hadn’t quite got going yet. The final scene, though, is top-notch: Jack is trying to get into the American embassy, and is given a cover identity by Faux-sange and Chloe (BTW, has “copy” now officially taken over from “copy that”?). But Faux-sange screws Jack over, meaning that his fake identity doesn’t stand up to scrutiny during a security check. Chloe screams at Jack to get away, but there’s no time to waste, and, hell, he’s Jack Bauer, so he comes up with an ingenious way of getting inside the embassy, along with what looks like several dozen protesters. It’s an excellent finish to a tolerable episode, but I think the pace needs to be picked up a bit next week.