The first thing we see in tonight's episode is this random dude running. Hard. He keeps looking back so as to suggest he's being chased, then he finds a room, closes the door, pulls back a rug, and grabs one of those briefcase computers from a trap door under a wooden floorboard. As someone who lives in an apartment filled with rugs that cover floorboard trap doors, I get it as a reasonable storage spot — but I can't stand by the briefcase computer. There's no way you're in the business of positivity if you own one of those.
To make matters worse, the guy then breaks out one of those XXL Nextel Chirp cell phones and just starts typing in what I assume to be terror into his computer. In a turn of events, the people chasing him break into the room, but not before he sends out a message: "Nassar Location Confirmed." So it looks like he was working for the Americans, getting the location of the man accused of bombing the Capitol.
He proceeds to get tased and his ass beat.
At the White House, Kiefer first meets with Lady Hookstraten, then finds out that the Michigan governor who enjoys hate-criming Muslims is back at it, and finally is told by General Nuke God that they found Nassar.
At the FBI, Maggie Q takes Malik Yoba aside to reveal her theory about the Wonder Boy Congressman they miraculously found in the rubble, the one she now thinks is up to no good. Yoba is not here for this theory.
Yoba has changed. New York Undercover Yoba would have been all "Guess what, Designated Survivor's Maggie Q? I was thinking the same goddamn thing."
But this is New Yoba. Yoba 2.0. Safe Yoba. Nervous Yoba.
In the super-secret conference war room, General Nuke God is giddy because he finally gets to bomb brown people, the sole activity that brings him peace in this world. The only wrinkle: An American undercover agent (the fast-running, briefcase-laptop-toting Nextel guy) is still in the compound. The general is all c'mon, baby, lemme bomb 'em, it's just one American. But ultimately, Kiefer is like nah.
Look at the general's face. You would have thought someone had just told him Santa wasn't real and/or that he couldn't bomb the North Pole.
Also, hello there, 24-alum Mykelti Williamson, a.k.a. Bubba from Forrest Gump, a.k.a. co-star of 2006's most important piece of inner-city roller skating art, ATL.
Great to see you, Mykelti.
The next scene is legitimately absurd. Emily, now the special adviser to the president, has taken a plane to Michigan to deal with the governor. When it lands, their plane is surrounded by what appears to be a Michigan army. The governor greets Emily and is basically like, Get out of my Michigan. In a very Harbaughian way, he is no longer treating Michigan like a part of the United States of America. He is convinced he is king and answers to no one, especially a default president.
We go back to Maggie, who is now in full Bauer mode. She gets told to drop her hunch and then doubles down on that hunch by going to the congressman's house. She doesn't even dance around the issue. Maggie just wants some clarification about this:
The picture on right, as we learned last episode, was taken seconds before the blast.
His wife then tells a story about how she sent her husband a bunch of texts because she couldn't find their kid or something. So the explanation must be that he saw all the texts and stepped out to call her.
So basically, we now know the wife is in on it too. She tells a pretty good lie, though. When Maggie walks out, you can tell she knows something's up. You know why she knows?
Because she's Jack Bauer.
[Ed. note: Until further notice, Maggie Q will be referred to as Maggie Bauer, President Tom Kirkman as Jack Bauer, and of course, the drug dealing son as Lil' Val Kilmer.]
Following this, a scene happened with the new press secretary, but I was heating up some pasta, so let's just skip it. Following that, more news from Michigan: The governor is basically acting like a professional wrestler, so Jack is like, let's wrassle. Jack's play? He federalizes the National Guard.
What does that mean? I'm not exactly sure on the details because I'm not as sharp on my constitutional law as I once was, but what really matters is that Jack can proceed to slap around the governor of the newly formed nation of Michigan by taking his National Guard right out of his hands.
From there, some snake-tactic Hookstraten stuff happens, but it's skippable because ROMANCE IS IN THE AIR.
Oh, yeah, rivals become lovers. It's going down, basement as they say.
Why that smile on Aaron? Because that's the smile of someone who is extremely pleased with a flirty text he's about to send.
The sexting gets interrupted when the Michigan National Guard rolls up to kick ass.
Emily gets off the plane to greet the leader of the guard, thanks him, and puts him on the phone with the president.
I cannot wait to see the governor's face when he finds out what's about to happen to him. The officer, to the president: "Mr. Kirkman, as the commanding officer of the Michigan National Guard, it is my duty to inform you that we refuse the order to federalize."
He's not done.
"The Michigan State Guard stands behind its true commander-in-chief, Governor James Royce."
This is a bit much, even for a state that purposefully poisoned its citizens. The disrespect thrown toward the president is unreal, down to calling him "Mr. Kirkman." I feel like this is what Obama had to deal with in the beginning, dealing with old racists who would rather be dead than answer to him. Who knew that this show would star Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer as Tom Kirkman as Barack Obama? Didn't see that coming, but here we are.
Oh, and this all plays out live on television. So, that certainly helps.
Emily has a plan to deal with everything: Cause an even bigger scene by triggering a standoff between protestors and the National Guard. When it happens, she finds the governor and offers him an ultimatum: She'll get the protestors to leave if he gets on her plane back to D.C. to meet with Jack Bauer and have a talk. Reluctantly, he says yes.
On the Kal Penn front, after watching the current press secretary bomb for a second time, he takes the stage and handles business.
Later, Aaron asks him to take the job full-time, on the grounds of "we need someone like you." Kal Penn, being a full-time non-white, knows what that means (translation: a likeable, safe minority). And especially in this moment, during heightened fears of Muslims, Aaron thinks it would be good, optically. Penn isn't having it, however, and kicks Aaron out his office.
None of this is as important as what Jack Bauer does to the general, though. When he gets word that the general authorized something without going through the chain of command, Jack is pissed. The general tells some old country man story about a snake and a kitchen and a knife and a head and maybe grits are involved. Anyway, Jack is like, thanks for telling that story, it gave me a great idea, you're fired.
HE FIRES HIM. IN FRONT OF HIS BOYS.
The scene, after the firing:
How does the episode end? CRAY AS USUAL.
Aaron and Emily start getting drunk and making eyes at each other. Jack reoffers the job to Kal Penn, who takes it, and then leads a press briefing later that night. They already like him, mainly because he made fun of the former guy, whom we all hate.
Oh, and when the governor gets off the plane? Jack meets him and then puts him under arrest for treason. Owned. It is awesome.
As for our hero Maggie Bauer: She spends the evening asking Yoba to transfer her because she barked up the wrong tree and Macleish was clearly not connected to the plot. As she falls asleep later that night, looking at pictures of her and her old bae who died in the bombing, she gets a call from an unknown number. Having finally paid all of her student loans, there was no real reason to screen it, so she answered.
On the other end: "FIND ROOM 105. FIND ROOM 105 AND YOU'LL UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT PETER MACLEISH."
In the episode's final scene, Jack wanders into the military war room. He greets his new commanding general:
And then tells him, "Prepare us for war."