The Emerson-Henderson Connection — What Gives?

January 27, 2009 7:43 PM
Analysis 0 Comments

Already the nitpicking and naysaying is ramping up with regard to some of the plot points and backstory revelations from last night’s episode. While all of the Brotherhood/DEEPSKY character scenes were fantastic, with Carlos Bernard’s performance continuing to up the ante, the episode did bring up some stuff that seems at the very least somewhat nebulous and at the very worst totally inexplicable.

I’ve been saying since we first learned of the circumstances surrounding how Tony was extracted from CTU and revived that we couldn’t entirely rule out the possibility of a pre-existing connection between Emerson and Henderson, so I’ll get this out of the way now — I fucking KNEW IT!!!!! Emerson and Henderson were both ex-intelligence operatives who became independent mercenaries working out of Los Angeles. In all likelihood they ran in similar circles and probably shared many of the same contacts and resources. Coupled with the probability that Emerson was particularly interested in Henderson because of his history (busted taking bribes and forced to leave CTU in disgrace), it isn’t much of a stretch to believe that they crossed paths, and possibly even worked together on occasions when it suited both of their interests. Does this mean that that the conspiracy between Logan, Graem Bauer and Christopher Henderson in Day 5 is connected to David Emerson or the conspiracy in Season 7? Maybe, maybe not, but I don’t think it had to be for Henderson and Emerson to have had dealings with each other in the past, or for Henderson and Emerson to have symbiotically used each other’s resources to pull off the Almeida resurrection in Day 5.

Here is an explanation for how it could have gone down, based on what we already know from Day 5 and what we now know from this episode:

Henderson’s group assassinates Palmer and Michelle, and attempts to assassinate Tony and Chloe in order to flush Jack out of hiding and frame him, covering up the real reason Palmer was killed (he knew about the Sentox). Once it becomes clear that the frame job didn’t work, and that Jack Bauer is now hot on their tail, Henderson starts thinking about any leverage he can use against Jack to get the upper hand. He already knows that Tony wasn’t killed by the car bomb and that he is being treated in the CTU medical clinic. He also knows there is a possibility sooner or later he could be captured by CTU. So he contacts his old pal Emerson for help. He asks him to use his resources in CTU to keep an eye on things. He knows if CTU does capture him, they will most certainly use medical interrogation techniques on him, putting him in the clinic near Tony. He pitches a contigency plan to Emerson:

“If I do get captured by CTU, I will likely have access to something I know you want — Tony Almeida. I already took care of his wife for you, so you’ll have plenty of leverage over him once you get your hands on him. There is no doubt that if Almeida gets a chance, he will try to take revenge on me, so I’ll turn it around on him if I can by using the interrogation drugs on him and making it look like I killed him. If I am able to escape, I’ll contact you and you can activate the people you have in place to get your hands on Tony. Once you have him, we will work together to use him against Bauer, then you can do whatever you want with him after that. Even if the plan doesn’t work and Tony actually dies or you can’t get him out or I can’t escape, we still have nothing to lose by trying.”

Of course, I imagine that their actual conversation would have been far more dastardly.

I think this theory, though admittedly extremely convoluted and difficult to follow, is still within the realm of possibility. It’s certainly not the most logical plan in the world though, which begs the question as to why the writers have introduced it at all. Until now, they have presented us with a theory of the situation which answered the question how Tony is alive and how he ended up where he is now fairly believably (within the context of the 24 Universe and the necessary base suspension of disbelief). I think most fans have been willing to swallow it. I said before in a previous post that the more details the writers give us with regard to the circumstances surrounding the resurrection, the more ammunition they are giving us to discredit their explanations, which I think will inevitably be the case here. They are giving us a whole new level to nitpick now, so unless they are willing to elaborate on what they’ve opened the door to here and explain it more satisfactorily and completely (which may or may not happen), it may have been a mistake and undermined the writers’ own credibility. I also have to wonder why they would bring it up in the first place at all unless they *are* planning to create some kind of link between the events of Day 5 and the conspiracy in Day 7. Not related to Emerson specifically, but in general. I’m not saying I write off the entire Emerson-Henderson connection altogether, because I think there is a way to fit it into the reality of both Days 5 and 7 and still remain credible to a point, but if it’s gonna fly, it definitely needs to be better explained and fleshed out.

There are, however, logistic problems with the actual execution of the event itself in light of this new information. I think one of our Open Channel posters addresses it best when she writes:

[…] they’re asking us to believe that in the seconds between waking up from a coma and stabbing Tony with a needle, he was able to consider the circumstances and deliberately miss Tony’s artery, aiming so precisely that his heart merely slowed down instead of stopped. Bull.

I’m not certain Henderson was EVER actually in a coma, but nevertheless, in the heat of a struggle, it *is* hard to believe that Henderson was able to deliberately hit Tony close enough to the artery to look real (and knock him into a state of near-death unconsciousness) but not close enough to actually kill him. It would be hard enough to get that much precision if Tony was laying there still. In the middle of a vigourous struggle it would be pretty much impossible. I guess Henderson has mad skillz. It’s just so many things had to go exactly right for this theoretical plan to work. Tony and Henderson had to be held in close proximity, not guaranteed. There had to be a situation where Tony would be alone with Henderson so the opportunity for Tony to initiative a revenge killing would be there. Tony had to use the syringe as a weapon as opposed to a stolen gun or something else he found laying around. The syringe had to be filled with just the right amount and type of drugs (which was originally filled by the torture doctor and neither Tony nor Henderson). Henderson had to be given just the right amount of drugs that would allow him to fake a coma but still be lucid and strong enough to overpower Tony. And finally, the issue already mentioned about how difficult it would have been for Henderson to stab Tony with the precision required to make him appear dead but not actually kill him. There are a lot of what ifs and unknown variable that had to go exactly perfectly in order for Henderson to execute this contingency plan effectively. Not the most plausible.

I guess all I can say is that the writers aren’t really counting on us to deconstruct the situation this heavily, hoping instead that we will just go with it in the interests of the overriding dramatic synchronicity of it. In conclusion, I can buy that Henderson and Emerson had a relationship that pre-dated Day 5 and that Henderson could have worked with Emerson on a contingency plan to fake Tony Almeida’s death and use him as leverage against Jack Bauer, all without being involved in the main day 5 conspiracy (which would make little to no sense). I just find the actual logistical execution of it to be problematic and asking for a lot of leeway from the audience, without the promise of much more in depth of an explanation in return.