The problem with a reputation (good or bad) is that it's dependent on the human short-term memory. Like, you could have saved my entire family from a fire five years ago, but if I saw you defecate on the hood of a Jetta last week, guess what I'll immediately think of every time I see you? Sure, because of you little Tommy is alive and well and getting straight-As at San Diego State University, but meanwhile I can't even look at soft-serve without thinking of you and frowning. That is your reputation now, sorry.
This insistence on overlooking past glory was at the root of this week's episode of 24, which found Jack Bauer having to repeatedly remind everybody—even his friends—that he'd prevented nuclear apocalypse more times than Simone has fingers. (Whoops, too soon?) Almost every conversation went liked this:
"I have important intel that will prevent a catastrophic event and you should trust me because preventing catastrophic events is basically my thing."
"But you were a hobo just a few hours ago."
"You were sleeping on a rusty cot and everything."
"But the President is in danger. Which I would know because I've been doing this for years."
"You smell like old milk and we found footage of you walking the streets yelling at your own shoes only yesterday."
"That is because my shoes are racist. Please trust me."
This kind of conversation happened A LOT in this episode of 24. But to Jack Bauer's credit, despite widespread skepticism of his abilities to avert catastrophe, at least two people had his back: The blonde lady from Chuck and also his ex-lover Audrey. Because finally, four hours in, Audrey and President Heller finally learned that Jack Bauer was back in action like Looney Tunes. Yes, Tate Donovan had been hiding this fact from them, but—and just putting on my critic's hat for a second (it's a Chevy's sombrero)—maybe don't have main characters that walk around unaware of the existence of the hero for the first four episodes? That is maybe bad storytelling? Just a thought.
The reason Jack Bauer finally "came out" as a world saver in this episode was that he'd found himself cornered in the embassy, struggling to upload the wrongfully accused soldier's flight info into some mainframe, I don't know, doesn't matter, just imagine staring at a painfully slow countdown timer for an hour. In general it is hard to stay low-profile after hijacking an embassy. Worse, Jack Bauer had taken hostages and to stall for time he'd occasionally shoot soldiers (but relax, he only shot them in their bulletproof vests because yeah, he's that good). I felt especially bad for the hostages because for one thing they worked in the world's tiniest, most claustrophobic server room, but also they had to watch while Jack Bauer overturned their desks and sent all their cat-a-day calendars to the floor. I'd be quietly weeping in the corner too.
Maybe you didn't know this, but the military and the CIA are not besties. Every time the blonde lady from Chuck wanted to safely extract Jack Bauer from the embassy, a military guy was like, "Scram, lady." Fortunately once the President learned that Jack was back, he called him up on speakerphone and Jack (surprisingly eloquently) explained exactly everything that had happened so far this season and what he was trying to prevent from happening for the rest of the season. The President either didn't believe him or pretended not to or maybe he's just a senile old man, but the blonde lady from Chuck eavesdropped and was SOLD. She even convinced her grouchy partner to climb on board, so she crawled through the air conditioner and told Jack Bauer that she believed him and he seemed cool with that, then she personally arrested him so that the military couldn't murder him. Also the upload was aborted after all that work, a rare narrative waste of time here on 24.
Meanwhile a lot went down at the world's coziest terrorism cottage, where Simone had just had makeup sex (sex to make up, not sex involving makeup) with her husband Navid, who I realized looks like a Middle Eastern version of Bobby Briggs from Twin Peaks. Anyway, he alerted her to the fact that he did not want to mass murder civilians and he wanted her to come with him and flee the scene. It was a classic ultimatum: Mass murder or a super chill trip to Sandals Resort. But then Simone immediately 'fessed up to her mother what he'd been planning and the next thing we knew, Catelyn Stark was putting Navid on the spot by asking him what was up. When he told her what was up, she ordered Simone's finger chopped off right in front of him! This ended up being an effective way to get him back on board as their drone operator, but in my opinion it was an ineffective way to maintain her daughter's total finger count. As if it weren't already clear, Catelyn Stark is NOT to be trifled with.
Chloe mostly just frowned at her computer all episode. There was a bit about how her grumpy co-worker had a change of heart about helping Jack Bauer. He was against it and then he was for it, probably because he had a mega crush on Chloe. Like, come on, guy, you can say you're protecting your hacker cell all you want, but you are horny and we all know it.
I'll have to double-check, but it seemed like only about an hour passed during this episode. That means the story was relatively simple and streamlined, so there's not a ton more to report, guys. The episode began with tons of distrust and ended with bouncing newborn baby trust, still wet from birth but healthy and cute. But if Jack Bauer does indeed save the world again this day, then he should consider getting t-shirts and keychains made to memorialize his victory and have them distributed to everybody so they don't forget this fact the next time he decides to Live Another Day. If Benjamin Bratt owned a t-shirt of Jack Bauer standing beside a defused warhead and winking at the camera knowingly, all this unpleasantness could have been avoided. You know?
[Image via Fox]
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