We pick up where we left off – Jack’s on the run, narrowly avoiding the police cars that are now swarming the hospital. He quickly makes his way to a parking lot where he finds a car with a conveniently stashed laptop. Over at the FBI, Morris is demanding to see Chloe, and for some reason seems shocked to hear that she’s been arrested – like that’s never happened before. After sending him to wait in the conference room, Janis gets a phone call from Moss, who tells her that Burnett died while Jack was interrogating him. Moss is heading back to the office to coordinate the search operation. As Janis begins issuing orders, Walker asks what happened, and Janis gives her the headlines despite Walker’s suspension.
Jack breaks every safe-driving rule ever as he scans through frames of the hospitals security footage on the remarkably well-equipped computer with only a cursory glance at the road every few seconds. He zooms in on a shot of Quinn before calling Walker, who’s packing up her office. Begging her not to hang up, he tells her that he didn’t kill Burnett, and that the people Bill heard Juma talking to are trying to frame him. He asks her to ID the photo, telling her that while he knows she doesn’t agree with everything he’s done today, this man is their only lead. When Walker remains silent, Jack relents, saying he should never have called. Before he can hang up Walker says she’ll get back to him.
As she opens up the facial identification software, we see Quinn in a split screen, listening to LAPD chatter. Upon hearing that Jack escaped custody, he calls Hodges, and assures him that Jack won’t be able to avoid the FBI for long. Hanging up, Hodges asks if the shipment is on time – it will arrive within the hour. “Once the weapons are deployed,” he tells Seaton, “then it doesn’t matter what Mr. Bauer or anyone else knows.” Off Seaton’s uncomfortable look, Hodges vehemently claims that he gets no pleasure from the knowledge that they will be responsible for the loss of life, but that “in any war worth fighting, there will be collateral damage; and what we are doing is absolutely and fundamentally necessary.” He tells Seaton to gather their colleagues: “Tell them to pack their pajamas, and their toothbrushes. It’s gonna be a long night.”
Walker calls Jack: she’s identified Quinn, a Black Ops combat vet who now works for defense consultant Starkwood. Walker exposits that while Jack was out of the country, the Pentagon outsourced billions of dollars in contracts to them, to the point that Starkwood’s become the equivalent of a private army. They have no connection to Juma on record, but if anyone has more information, it’s Senator Mayer, who has been leading an investigation. Jack asks for her to send him Mayer’s location as soon as she has it.
Moss arrives back at the FBI and asks Janis if Walker is still around. He ignores her attempt to tell him that Morris is waiting to talk to him, and walks into Walker’s office just as she begins encrypting Mayer’s location. Moss asks if she heard what happened; Walker counters that after everything that’s happened today, he can’t actually believe Jack murdered Burnett. Moss doesn’t care – “He’s a federal fugitive and needs to be found.” Softening, he tells her to go home and get some rest. Walker agrees just as the file is sent. Moss enters the main floor, where Janis tries again to tell him about Morris; he says that Walker’s talked to Jack, and orders Janis to find out what she’s been doing.
CNB reports that Taylor will be making a statement about the attack on the White House. She’s working on that statement now. Olivia suggests that instead of focusing on reassurance, she should use this opportunity to claim victory and reiterate that her decision to send troops into Sangala was the right one. Taylor is hesitant to sound triumphant in light of all the lives that were lost, but Olivia says that addressing them as heroes gives their deaths meaning. Taylor agrees to work it in as Kanin enters, asking to speak with her privately; he’s told he can speak in front of Olivia. He confesses that Jack came to him with allegations that the threat wasn’t over, and he gave permission for Jack to interrogate Burnett. With Burnett now dead at what appears to be Jack’s hand, he admits that this allegation may have been false. Kanin takes responsibility, claiming that he was trying to provide Taylor with deniability, but Olivia asks whether or not it was because he was afraid Taylor would say no. Kanin apologizes, but Taylor doesn’t respond.
At FBI, Walker heads out. Janis reports this into her headset; Moss cuts Walker off in the hallway, demanding to know where Jack is. They traced two calls she made to a phone that was reported stolen and know that she sent someone’s address to that phone. She refuses to talk, saying that she doesn’t blame Jack for not trusting the FBI to help him after everything they’ve put him through today. Moss can’t believe she’s willing to throw everything away to help Jack; if she talks to him he’ll testify that she cooperated. She refuses, and is put in holding.
Mayer arrives at his house, where he finds the printer running, a picture of Quinn on his computer, and Jack Bauer behind a door. He refuses to sit down, saying that he knows what Jack did to Burnett and he won’t be butchered like that. Jack assures him that if he wanted him dead, he’d be dead already, and says he didn’t kill Burnett. Showing Mayer a picture of Quinn, he claims that Starkwood sent him to erase evidence of the conspiracy, and now he needs to figure out the connection between Juma and Starkwood. Mayer says that there isn’t one; he’s been investigating Starkwood for six months and would know about it. While he is determined to shut them down, he doesn’t believe they’d be involved in terrorist attacks against their own country. Jack demands to see all the files Mayer has on Starkwood.
Olivia wishes Taylor luck before she makes her statement. As she speaks, a reporter approaches Kanin and tells him that he’ll be reporting that Jack Bauer is the prime suspect in the murder of Ryan Burnett. Ethan escorts him out of the room, but when the reporter continues that he also has information about Kanin’s involvement, he turns around and leaves. Making his way over to Olivia, he accuses her of leaking the story; she denies it. Kanin lays out the political ramifications this will have for Taylor, but Olivia doesn’t want to hear it.
Janis approaches Moss and informs him that she can’t encrypt the file; while someone like Chloe might be able to she knows that Chloe’s too close to Jack to even consider it. Moss goes to talk to Morris, who’s on the phone with the babysitter. Morris demands to see Chloe, and to know what she’s being held for. Moss says that Morris can help Chloe if he helps them locate Jack, but last Morris heard, Jack was working for the FBI – “that’s you, if I’m not mistaken.” He doesn’t believe that Jack would murder Burnett. Janis explains what they need him to do, but Morris is hesitant; he finally relents when Moss tells him that Chloe is facing a minimum sentence of 15 years, and demands full immunity for Chloe. As he begins the decryption, he explains that there’s a backdoor code; as Moss becomes more and more frustrated with Morris’ snarky, one word answers as to how long this will take, Morris gives him the location about thirty seconds after starting the process.
Moss assembles a field team to go to Mayer’s. He tells them that it’s “impossible to overestimate Bauer.” As he leaves, Chloe is escorted to the conference room, where she yells at Morris for helping them catch Jack. He tells her that his child and his marriage come first, despite the fact that he owes Jack many times over. Chloe is nervous that Jack won’t be given a chance to prove himself.
While Jack goes through the files, Mayer asks him if he meant what he said about having no regrets. In one of his best scenes of the season, Jack tells him, “Of course I have regrets, Senator. I regret losing my family. My wife was murdered because I was responsible for protecting David Palmer during an assassination attempt. My daughter can’t even look at me. Every day I regret looking into the eyes of men, women, and children knowing that at any moment, their lives might be deemed expendable in an effort to protect the greater good. I regret every decision or mistake I might have made that resulted in the loss of a single innocent life. But you know what I regret the most? Is that this world even needs people like me.”
Mayer, in response, says that he finds the things Jack has gone through to be tragic, but that the country must, in order to be a leader to the rest of the world, live by the ideals it was founded on. He tells Jack that it might be simpler than what his experiences have led him to believe.
Jack finds a photo of Quinn at the site of a car accident that Mayer says killed a source inside of Starkwood. Jack says it wasn’t an accident; Mayer says that the source claimed that Starkwood was blackmailing Pentagon officials and was trying to obtain WMDs. Digging deeper into the files, they find an interview transcript that shows the WMD in question was a bioweapon; Jack exposits that while Juma was in power, it was rumored that he was developing one and tested it on a remote village that he wiped out with a pathogen before firing on it. Mayer has a hard time believing that this was never made public, but no one believed Juma had the expertise or the technology to develop such a weapon; Starkwood did, and Juma could offer them a safe haven and test victims. Jack tells Mayer that after all he’s done to try and take them down, Starkwood might have planned on fighting back.
They’re interrupted by a knock on the door – “Metro PD!” Mayer tells Jack that he’s on to something, and offers to help him if he turns himself in. He thinks that the FBI can help find the evidence Jack needs, and is willing to order them to help. “It’s time for you to start trusting the institutions you’ve sacrificed so much to protect.” Jack agrees. Mayer opens the door, and is promptly shot. Jack bursts through the glass doors in the back and takes off running, closely followed by Quinn.
Olivia enters the Oval Office to find her mother and Kanin waiting for her. She assumes it’s about the press leak; Taylor wants to know what she has to say. Kanin claims there’s nothing she can say – she was one of the only people who knew. Olivia tells him that she just got off the phone with the reporter, and that while she doesn’t know the source, she knows that it came from inside the Federal Marshal’s office. In addition, she was able to put a lid on the story in return for offering the reporter some exclusive face time with Taylor. Kanin uncomfortably apologizes to Olivia.
Jack scales a fence, followed by Quinn, who followed a trail of blood. Quinn slowly enters a trailer, and empties his gun shooting at a door. Suddenly, a rumbling is heard, and the trailer begins to shake – Jack Bauer is sitting in a fucking loader, determinedly shoving the trailer over. Quinn breaks through a window in what is now the roof, and is leapt upon by Jack. And thus begins one of the most badass hand-to-hand combat scenes in 24 history. Hodges was right when he said that Quinn was good – a worthy opponent indeed. Jack knocks Quinn off the trailer, and they go at it complete with roundhouse kicks, head butting, car smashing, and one somersault through the air. It finally ends when Jack throws a screwdriver through the air, directly into Quinn’s chest. As Quinn gurgles towards death, Jack asks him when the weapons are getting here. Just before dying, Quinn gasps out “They’re already here.” Jack finds his phone, which conveniently gives him the information he needs – a location for where the shipment is arriving.
Final splitscreen shows Jack fumbling with his phone, Walker sitting in a holding room, Olivia looking evil, and Moss bent over Mayer’s body talking to Janis. He informs her that Jack murdered Mayer and orders her to escalate the search: “At this point, orders are to shoot on sight.”
And finally – finally! – we cut to Tony, sitting alone in a restaurant. He answers his phone – it’s Jack. Tony says he’s been monitoring the situation at the FBI, and wants to know what the hell is going on. Jack tells him to meet him at the Port of Alexandria, and to bring weapons and a surveillance package – he’ll explain it all later. Pulling the screwdriver from Quinn’s chest, Jack uses it to start a car and takes off.
It’s been nearly three episodes since we’ve heard from Almeida, but he’s back, and not a moment too soon. As much as I would have loved for him to have more than just thirty seconds of screen time, I’m satisfied in knowing that he and Jack are going to be working together in the field, and confident that he won’t be sidelined like this again. Am I right, writers?
That said, I’d probably have been more annoyed if it weren’t for the great Jack action we got this episode. I’m the first to admit that Jack has been my least favorite character on this show for most of this season, but this episode went a long way towards rectifying that; Kasia’s already written up a beautiful post about his scene with Senator Mayer that expresses everything I thought much more eloquently, so I’ll just nod my head to that and direct you over there. Hearing him put his regrets in words, and ultimately coming to trust this man – and by extension the institutions he represents – who has been trying to make Jack answer for what he’s done was a beautiful thing to watch. I also really loved that Mayer was given more sustenance as someone who truly wants to do the right thing, and not a man who is only trying to use Jack as a scapegoat upon which to pour all of the rage and blame that people around the world feel towards the US in the hopes that it will make it all go away. That he recognized the ideal he was fighting for as just that, and his willingness to compromise and work with Jack when it became apparent that it was necessary, made me respect him more than I did (and I never disliked him, as some people have).
And now he’s dead. I honestly didn’t see that coming, although upon rewatch I probably should have from a mile away. A great twist, and it led to the amazing fight scene. Jack Bauer sitting in that bulldozer, or whatever it was, was one of the most awesome shots of the season. There are so many gun fights on this show that there’s something bizarrely great about such a vicious fistfight. Quinn is one of the better opponents Jack has had; I was almost sorry to see him die.
Hodges has been a great villain so far, but this episode gave him a little bit more flesh, which I appreciated. Now we know what he’s doing, but not why he considers it so fundamentally important – I’m interested in his motivations, because I believe him when he says any loss of life is tragic to him. So what’s worth it? They’ve certainly set up an interesting threat, even if it is very reminiscent of the virus from season three. I had trouble buying what Jack said about Juma wiping out a whole village without anyone noticing he had this weapon, and definitely thought his line about Starkwood trying to fight back against Mayer was way too dramatic – a WMD is one hell of a way to fight back. But even if the logistics are faulty, the payoff looks like it will be pretty great.
I’m waiting for Moss to come around – I don’t want him to turn into one of those guys at the top who refuses to consider that Jack could be innocent. He’s been a likable character so far, and I hope he starts to wrestle with what Jack and Renee have told him. It was good to see the FBI again. I’ve missed Janis! And Morris is wonderful. I can’t begrudge him what he did – he and Chloe know better than anyone that with Jack on the run, he’ll more than likely stay that way, and this way she has immunity, Prescott has his mother, and Jack has both of them out of the FBI and at his disposal should he need them.
Over at the White House, Olivia is really turning into one of those characters that you’ll either love to hate, or just flat out hate. I’m loving her. Don’t buy for an instant that she didn’t have something to do with the press leak, she came out looking too good, but she’s quite a little actress. Given the previews for next week, I’m thinking that Ethan’s pretty screwed.
This episode was in a lot of ways filler; it set the pieces in place for the next several episodes by introducing us to Starkwood and the bioweapon, establishing Jack as a fugitive and framing him for Mayer’s murder, hooking him up with Tony, taking Renee out of action and releasing Chloe back into it. Still, while watching it, I never felt like this was just a way to get things moving. It was a cohesive, solidly paced episode complete with fantastic character moments, twists that had me jumping in my seat, and the promise of Brotherhood action as well as an exciting new threat orchestrated by the one and only Jonas Hodges. Very satisfying.
There was only one, but after nearly three episodes without Almeida, it was good to see him at all! Jack always knows who he can call. Although, as johanley pointed out in the forum, this moment would have been made infinitely better had Tony been drinking out of Cubby at the restaurant. Maybe next week.