8:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Last week, the 8:00 p.m. hour matched up with the actual time on my clock, so that was somewhat exciting for me. I'm easily pleased by small bits of galactic synergy, like when I get a parking spot right in front of a place I'm going into, or when the last slice of cheese is used with the last slice of bread in a loaf. Enjoy these moments, folks! The big stuff will invariably disappoint you, so lower your expectations to the trifles in life.
Speaking of low expectations, this hour meets them all head-on. Let's start with Steve, a CTU security officer with very below-average looks and a work ethic to match. Steve's INSECURITY may be a factor in his choosing to be a philanderer. It turns out that Jadallah's stay at CTU will not be long as the mysterious Naseri has taken Steve's not-wife, Jennifer, hostage while forcing Steve to help spring Jadallah bin-Khalid from CTU headquarters. Yes, HEADQUARTERS as in the most secure CTU installation of them all. Steve shows some honor by not taking the easy way out of an extra-marital affair ("Jenni-who? I'm sorry, you must have the wrong number" *click*) but Steve misplaces and mistakes chivalry here by following Naseri's instructions all too perfectly. But more on that in a bit...
Eric Carter, human Energizer bunny, has wiped off the soot and blood from the warehouse explosion in the last hour but gets directed to Steve's girlfriend's house when CTU starts putting together the fact that maybe Steve isn't on the level. When Carter and a CTU tac team arrive, a young woman is inside, she tells them that she's Jennifer and that she was worried her prize beagle, Porthos, was wandering the streets of the neighborho- OH NO THAT WOMAN ISN'T JENNIFER, SHE'S SHOOTING PEOPLE! Carter drops the imposter Jennifer and makes his way to the basement to find the real Jennifer bound to a chair (yeah, more chair prisons!) and strapped with an explosive vest.
Now, by explosive vest, I don't mean a vest that screams tacky, it's a remote-detonated vest loaded with the freshest, finest explosive material in all of the Mid-Atlantic. Carter gets Jennifer free enough to talk but instead of saying "Hey, I have a feeling my 'friend' Steve at CTU might be in trouble with terrorists trying to break into his office" she instead chooses to be a mute, hysterical non-human. Well, this is key because while Carter is trying to get Jennifer out of the vest, he could have really used the information inside Jennifer's non-functioning brain. The planets align perfectly in the tail end of this episode because a) Steve gets caught by Ingram as he's walking Naseri and Jadallah out the back door, just as b) Jimmy Smits shows up to hug Ingram and talk about saving their marriage and while c) Carter is finally done saving Jennifer from her "fashion emergency" taking place right by her oil burner. Does anything seem to go right in these three overlapping moments?
Steve gets whacked, Jennifer gets saved and starts talking immediately and omfg can't stop talking about terrorists and Jimmy Smits gets nabbed by the terrorists on their way out the door, like he was a free sample corn dog at a Sam's Club.
Like I said, have low expectations and you can enjoy a lot of
Alright, truth time- this was one of the weaker episodes of the season. We had more of the same silly stuff in the margins (Nicole/Isaac, for example) and Carter keeps ending up covered in soot and bloodied. Someone get this guy a lobster bib or something, he can't be left to his own devices! And the rest of the CTU gang made their own share of messes, obviously Steve being the biggest dunce, but no one can claim any degree of intelligence within this hour. It's wholly uninspiring to watch this level of government incompetence. I don't watch the news for a reason, people. I need to believe in a lie that gives me hope! Nope, not in this hour.
PS on 8 p.m.- I was right about Naseri's past with Carter. Naseri was a double-agent working for Pappa bin-Khalid who helped give up the U.S.'s only asset, a barber or something, who worked inside bin-Khalid's camp. That poor barber and his family met a gruesome end, which Carter himself discovered while in the Army Rangers.
PPS- Carter still hasn't found a new bag!
9:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Eric Carter is back at CTU where he, still covered in soot and blood, looks around and wonders "Why would I ever want to work with these losers?" But he's kind to Ingram, who is still reeling from her husband being abducted by terrorists in the parking area some 100 yards from where she's now standing. Carter hugs Ingram and we are reminded that they're loyal friends to each other.
Now, Jimmy Smits is in a world of trouble. As a U.S. Senator, he has valuable information about the country's national security. In addition, his wife was the former head of CTU so he's got to know something about the efforts taking place overall against bin-Khalid and other terror cells. This is going to be one nasty interrogation, right? Well, that doesn't seem to be the case! Jadallah and Naseri can barely take the time to even look at Jimmy Smits. Instead, they meet another parked van where out from which emerges the thought-to-be-dead Pappa bin-Khalid! Pappa looks like ground beef all over his face and hands. Still, with his one good eye, he emotes sincere love to Jadallah for being a good, little terrorist. Even Naseri, under 20 lbs of hair product, is able to express genuine admiration for the Junior Varsity terrorist's efforts to do bad things to America. Father and son hug, they watch some cat videos together and eat some Splenda-sweetened ice cream because they both want to live with no regrets moving forward.
They also want to trade Jimmy Smits back to the world in exchange for Ingram becoming their new hostage. Let's be clear, they could have nabbed Ingram back at CTU about 15 minutes ago, but have instead took Smits, who happened to be in the wrong parking spot at the wrong time. And why do the bin-Khalids want Ingram? So they can kill her on YouTube live. As they put it- nobody cares about Jimmy Smits dying (ouch guys!) but to kill a no-name government bureaucrat who's no longer running CTU, well that will be a huge deal! Guys! Did you catch a case of the stupids when you were in CTU? I can't even begin to describe my exasperation. Fine, do your swap... you happy?!
Ingram enlists the help of Carter to make her the new hostage in place of her husband. She also tells Carter "I want you there to take out Jadallah and Naseri. This ends TONIGHT!" So, off they go, Carter with a FRESH backpack filled with guns galore, and Ingram, wearing a parka and knee-high riding boots.
Let's fast-forward through the end of this one: Ingram convinces Jadallah to release her husband, who gets dumped out of the back of a moving van on a city street. Carter, from high up in the stands of an abandoned sports stadium, blows Jadallah's brains out. Pappa bin-Khalid and Naseri somehow manage to scoop up Ingram. Meanwhile, Jennifer, getting her share of free gauze and lollipops at CTU, mentions to Andy that the terrorists kept saying "East July." Andy runs that info through the supercomputer with a random CTU analyst dressed as a cocktail waitress. They find that the term is FORBIDDEN to all not named the Director of National Intelligence. Oh, so the terrorists go all the way to the top?!
Also of note: Major Dad gets into a fight with Uncle Luis, ending in Major Dad losing. Nicole confronts Carter earlier about his talks with Ingram about joining CTU prior to the day's events ("Eric, I know what you're doing and that you're in the middle of it, but can we talk about how our relationship is probably over?"), and Mullins is still not yelling at Carter for stealing CTU trucks and disobeying any semblance of orders/protocol. Mullins is the school teacher who insists his students call him by his first name- he commands little respect from his people.
This episode was a bump up from last week's but that's a low starting point. The writers lavish us with a ton of contrivances on the back-end of this episode. I don't mind a little suspension of disbelief, but I'm more prone to root for the bad guys now that I've seen their plans have somehow remained viable despite their big mistakes. CTU is throwing the game! At least Carter got a new bag, so this wasn't a total loss!
Also, Tony Almeida had more screentime, mostly a set-up to have him go all-out in next week's episode. I don't mind this sort of set-up at all. Someone has to finally take control of this cluster.