With all the dashed hopes, reprimands, and recriminations, this episode felt sort of like going home for Thanksgiving — and not just because Marcos’s mom was disappointed in his career path. Hastings really expected more from Dana. Dalia thinks her husband’s lost his way. And Jack’s threatening to make Marcos’s mom clean up the mess if her son sets off his suicide vest. Forget the uranium fuel rods, the weapon of the hour was guilt. By the end of it, we were left with two new kinks in the CTU’s plan to save our fair city from a dirty bomb. Only thirteen hours left to find out if we survive! Absurd-o-Meter, do that thing you do.
A parole officer’s job is never done. Those entitled coastal elites at CTU’s Roosevelt Island headquarters can barely focus on the task at hand. Not so for Little Rock parole officer Bill Prady (played by the always amusing Stephen Root). He’s been on the hunt for Dana’s ex-boyfriend Whitey McTrasherson for days, and an early morning flight back home isn’t going to stop him from following up on a possible lead. Only if Prady had been sitting on the motel phone records from three days ago that showed Kevin’s calls to Dana’s cell phone. Why did he wait until 2 a.m. to ask her what’s up? It’s almost as though he already knew Dana would be awake and primed for threatening.
Absurdity Factor: 1
Ignore Jamie Kennedy at your own peril. Jack Bauer was still five years away from his prime-time debut when Kennedy, as B-movie enthusiast Randy Meeks, outlined the rules of how not to get killed in a horror movie. Rule one: “You can never have sex.” Too bad President Hassan’s daughter paid so little heed to the lessons of her elders. (We maintain that any show with weapons-grade uranium being driven around Queens in the back of a van can be considered horrifying.) But no, Kayla just wanted a Westernized roll in the sheets with Tarin the Kamistani Ken doll — now with washboard abs! After the deed is done, she gets a call from her mom telling her that Tarin, her boyfriend for the last year, is also in bed with the IRK terrorists. For a minute last week, we thought maybe the show’s producers were going to let a young woman have premarital sex without setting her up to be an accessory to radiation poisoning. But, yeah, this is cool, too.
Absurdity Factor: 2
It’s 2 a.m. Do you know where your agents are? CTU practically begged Renee Walker to throw off her straight jacket and go back undercover to help track down the fuel rods. Still, when she knifed a bad guy, which hardly even jeopardized CTU’s lead, Walker had to give a formal statement about her thought process during each of the “fourteen” stabs and was threatened with jail time. However, Dana and Cole, from what we can tell the ranking CTU officers in each of their divisions, left for two hours in the middle of a nuclear threat (from the agency that deals with nuclear threats), and Hastings lectured them like they’d skipped practice or got a bad grade. Hastings doesn’t ask where they’ve been or why they thought they could come back now, he’s more concerned with letting Dana know she’s squandering her leadership potential. Never mind how the two crazy-eyed kids managed to get from the swamplands of Jersey City to Roosevelt Island in less than ten minutes, with time for a change of clothes.
Absurdity Factor: 4
Fallacy of the Conscientious Killer. 24 has whipped out the Fallacy of the Talking Killer before. So has everyone else. And we get it again when Marcos Al-Zacar, who last week smashed the intercom in the oxygen chamber so he couldn’t be manipulated, decides to stop reconfiguring the circuits in his suicide vest long enough to give Bauer a rousing speech about American arrogance and Kamistan’s right to defend itself with nuclear weapons. But when CTU brings in Marcos’s mom as a bargaining chip to guilt her son out of the chamber (it seems like it never takes longer than ten minutes to get anywhere in New York, does it? Even from East Harlem), and she apologizes for not recognizing how his grief over his father’s unfair imprisonment and subsequent suicide have radicalized his politics, he responds with, “No, don’t put this on yourself. You couldn’t have done anymore, or been a better mother.” Aw, whatta sweet kid to let her know that before he blows himself up! Later, it morphs into the Fallacy of the Crybaby Killer when he makes Jack pa-uh-rrrromise he won’t hurt her if he comes out of the chamber.
Absurdity Factor: 6
Miniature secret cameras. Hyperbaric chambers are typically used to treat divers with the bends or poor souls with the misfortune of having gas bubbles in their bloodstream. Treatments are often given once or twice a day for 45 minutes to five hours, so it makes sense to have some kind of communications system to check on the patient inside. The chamber at St. Julian’s must be an Über-deluxe model, though, because in addition to the intercom Marcos disabled, the interior has enough zoom-able cameras to capture the terrorist from every possible angle as he tries to re-arm his suicide vest. Seriously, those pornographic houses outfitted with web cams don’t get this much coverage of their subjects’ every move. In fact, Marcos’s chamber is so advanced, it also came equipped with a dry-erase marker so he could map out the plans for how to reconfigure the circuits in his vest on the chamber’s wall for easy reference. Handy!
Absurdity Factor: 8