Nina Myers is doing the walk of shame...
Freshly minted with some bullets by way of Jack Bauer, Nina wanders through the same area of L.A. where Captain Andrew Bogomil was abducted in the beginning of BEVERLY HILLS COP II. Which begs the question- why wasn't Ronny Cox ever on 24? The dude guest-starred on STAR TREK: TNG, which was a breeding-ground for 24's many other cast members over the years. Anyway, Nina is left to contemplate Jack sparing her life by giving her a flak jacket before shooting her.
Senator David Palmer stands on the balcony of his hotel suite one last time, offering himself up to any potential snipers. He thoughtfully puts himself up for any serious assassination attempts in broad daylight. Somewhere Ira Gaines is watching this crap and thinking "I paid Naked Mandy and all of these other boneheads millions of dollars to set up this elaborate plot and all I needed to do was just shoot the guy from a quarter-mile away as he stands on his balcony?" Sucks to be you, Ira!
It also sucks to be Keith Palmer, the son who jogs at inappropriate times and apparently is unaware of collar stays. The kid's collar is all limp and floppy, and it aggravates me to look at him. Oh, and he's also a whining, sassy pain in the ass too. The kid is actually pissed off that his father is going to tell the world the truth about him- there's no contrition at all for his murder/cover-up. Keith, just shut up, go to prison and learn to iron your dress shirts. Ass.
Ira Gaines' doppelganger assassin photographer arrives at the campaign event and has to pass through the staunch gaze of Aaron Pierce. There's no way this dude is getting by Agent Pierce-- Pierce has a sixth sense about these- oh, look, he just got past Pierce, crap!
Meanwhile, Gaines is still playing "Ira Says" with Jack, who's driving that Ford Taurus towards the Palmer campaign event. Gaines' henchmen being Teri to him and they have a fairly sane talk. Teri knows that Gaines will not suffer her hysterical drama-queen routine, so she plays it straight. See, that's who Teri needs to be with- a stone-cold killer who has her daughter hostage. Teri & Ira- a love born of terror!
Nina breaks into a rustic little office (by way of kicking it with her high heeled foot!) and calls CTU for help. She gets Tony on the phone, who at first ignored her phone call so he could finish ordering a case of cologne through Amazon.com. Tony finally answers her call and they chat rapidly about her predicament and they conclude that Jamie is somehow a lying, evil terrorist moley mole and cannot be trusted. Look, I realize that she helped Ira Gaines and she's covering up the fact that the new keycard is a fugazi, but let's not jump to conclusions! However, her haircut (with those cheesy long bangs) is a crime and she must be stopped at all costs.
Jack arrives at the Palmer event carrying a mysterious case that Gaines supplied to him. It is at this moment that we see Bauer and Pierce meet. This is like watching Neil Armstrong step off the ladder onto the lunar surface. Or even better, this is like witnessing jelly first hitting peanut butter on a sandwich. Whatever the scenario, this is a major turning point in my life. And what a tense situation too! You've got the assassin, Palmer, Pierce and Bauer all under one roof. How could they make this scene any more thrilling? Oh, what the heck is this? Some reporter chick recognizes Jack from high school? She smiles at him like they must have shared a few study sessions under the bleachers back in the day. Atta boy, Jack! take a fiver and catch up with this cheerleader, it's cool- Palmer will get assassinated without your help.
Palmer strides into the event to applause from the non-partisan press corp. Amidst the adulation, the presidential candidate locks eyes with Jack and like two lions on the prairie, they size one another up and internally conclude "That's one bad mutha" about one another. The Day of the Jack-al is on, people! Gaines has set up quite the scenario- he has Jack smuggle in essential components for a weapon which he has Jack hand off to the Euro-trash photog assassin. Jack can't even flirt with the cheerleader long enough to warn her that Palmer's life is in danger. Somewhere, I hear Avril Lavigne singing "Why you have to go and make things so complicated?"
Well, it gets even more so when Tony calls Aaron Pierce and warns the Super Secret Service Agent that Jack Bauer may have been compromised. Pierce cuts to the bone of the matter and asks plainly "Are you saying he's a threat?" It's as if a thunderous storm has suddenly gathered in the form of one human being. Pierce is ready to strangle any threat against the Senator, with his bare, meaty hands. I am sitting here trembling at the thought of Pierce being upset, let alone annoyed. Even Tony is hesitant to answer Pierce's direct question. Well, Pierce does the responsible thing and goes directly to Palmer with the news. Basically, Pierce says "Sir, someone here is going to kill you." Palmer, the balcony-strutter that he is, puts a hand on Pierce's shoulder and tells him "I'm sure your people will take care of this," and insists that the event will continue as originally slated. Uh, Senator, Pierce is trying to take care of this by getting you out of the kill zone. What's with this guy?!?
Back at CTU, Tony and Nina draw out Jamie as the mole. They get her into a room alone and slam their palms against server racks and raise their voices to medium-level in order to intimidate her into talking. It's almost painful to watch Tony and Nina try and act tough. I'd sooner believe the Partridge Family was capable of playing death metal rock than worry for my safety with these two yuppies. Jamie is distraught despite the lack of true tension taking place, mostly because the actress playing her actually read the script and she knows how to act. I will go along with this scene for her sake.
Palmer begins his speech and talks about jobs, energy and a new, fresh honesty in government. Well, I'll give the writers credit here- they sure know what an authentic line of political bullshit sounds like! As the photographer is about to shoot Palmer from the sidelines, Jack gets called out by a Secret Service Agent and a scuffle ensues, causing the security detail to haul Palmer out of the event before he can sell out his son on national television... oh yeah, and before he can get assassinated too!
Gaines' gloriously convoluted plot is foiled and man is he pissed. He orders his unclean henchmen to kill Teri and Kim right quick. But these two morons don't move that fast and it gives Jamie (under Tony's direction) time to contact Ira and tell him that Bauer was taken into custody because he's been breaking protocols all night. So, they let him past security 20 minutes ago but only now they decide that his earlier activities warrant his arrest. Gaines, you're a ton smarter than that, brother! You're gonna let a poorly-conceived lie ruin your opportunity to off Bauer's family? Go with your gut, you sociopath! But instead, Gaines rescinds his order to kill the girls and just stares blankly at his twenty TV sets, as they all show Palmer being ferried to safety.
Ira, this is me watching you, buddy- and I'm slightly disappointed in your lack of clarity here. I'm finding out a disturbing truth during this episode- that I'd make a better supervillain than this guy. I'm not proud of this realization, I just have to be honest with myself, and with you all by extension. But don't worry, Ira- I know what you're going through. You're confused, like how I get in the breakfast cereal aisle in the supermaket-- so many options, and none of them are truly exciting because in the end there's nothing here that comes close to the shrimp cocktail of accomplishment you were seeking. Victory does not taste like Frosted Mini-Wheats- don't let anyone tell you otherwise!