“Tony’s been a bright spot in an otherwise dreary day.” -Fake Lawyer
“Aw, it’s been a pretty good season. Why are you setting that one up for AIG, Fake Lawyer?” -johanley
So I guess Tony became evil on last week’s 24. He killed Larry Moss and stole a bio-weapon. A few people were a little upset, you may have heard something about it.
This time, Tony is busy shooting himself through the gut in order to make it appear that he and Larry were attacked. Renee is devastated to learn about Larry’s death, but is forced to assume command of the FBI and personally head out into the field. Jack wants to go with her once he finds out about what happened, skipping out on the guy who was handling his debrief transcript. The imminent arrival of the FBI throws the plans of Galvez, Tony’s accomplice, into disarray; he’s still trapped on site with the bio weapon. Tony assures him that he’s got a plan to get them out.
Meanwhile, Jonas Hodges’ attorney gets ready to head over the White House, but in a bizarre twist, she’s gassed and switched out for a lookalike. The Fake Lawyer confronts Jonas in his cell, chastises him for nearly jeopardizing a much larger conspiracy, and leaves him with a choice: either he ingests a pill that will induce cardiac arrest, or something really bad will happen to his family.
Jack and Renee arrive at the site and meet up with Tony. Tony’s fake story about being shot doesn’t quite jive with reality, but Jack is too busy dying of the pathogen and Renee is too busy looking at Larry’s dead body to really notice the warning signs. What they don’t know is that Tony and Galvez have got a plan to lure as many FBI agents as possible into an abandoned building, then blow them all up. Galvez kills an agent and uses his comm. device to gather everyone into the building. Jack deduces it’s a trap and warns the FBI just seconds before the building explodes, barely giving Renee and the others time to escape.
Still meanwhile, Kim Bauer prepares to fly home to Los Angeles. Her boyfriend/husband telephones her and is incredulous that Jack is refusing treatment. Kim says she couldn’t talk her father into letting her help him, and couldn’t bring herself to tell him about his granddaughter Teri. Jonas is also on the move, on his way in an armored vehicle to the FBI for interrogation. He takes the pill and his heart attack is underway, so he gets redirected to the hospital. The Fake Lawyer confirms to her superior that Jonas has been taken care of, and expresses confidence that Tony will be able to deliver the bioweapon.
Jack manages to locate Renee in the blown up building, alive and well. Galvez bloodies himself up and pretends to be injured, giving Tony a pretext to help him out of the building and into an ambulance. That’s when Jack puts it all together… whoever blew up the building knew the FBI’s protocol. His suspicions are confirmed when he calls the FBI and learns that Vincent Cardiff, the man Tony allegedly tortured and killed, is alive and under arrest. Jack confronts Tony and holds his gun on him, but Tony spins a cover story and accuses Jack of becoming paranoid due to the effects of the pathogen. It doesn’t really matter, because Jack suffers a seizure at that moment, so Tony steals his medication and slips away. And Galvez hijacks the ambulance and takes off with the bioweapon…
Oh Almeida, why have you forsaken us?
I should probably start by reinterating where I stand on this whole Tony thing: I’m mostly ok with it. The season has been getting increasingly good from an acting and writing standpoint as it’s gone on, with the introduction of Jonas Hodges and Jack’s struggle with the pathogen being particular highlights. But as good as things have been, there’s still been something familiar about the whole season. I chalked it up to 24 having been on for seven years, there’s really only so many ways we can be surprised. It wasn’t until Tony turned on Larry Moss at the end of last week that I realized what’s been missing… balls. Now we’ve got something on the level of a deadly virus being released in a hotel or David Palmer being assassinated a few minutes into a season: Jack Bauer vs. Tony Almeida. The stage is set for a terrific final act, and Episode 19 kicks it off nicely.
One of the things that disappointed me early in the season was the far too abrupt resolution to the mystery of whether or not Tony was undercover. I thought that a lot more time could have been spent exploring the contrast between Jack and Tony, two men changed by the government in wholly different ways. Now, I’ve been granted that wish, and as long as Tony’s good nature wins out in the end, I’ll enjoy the hell out of this story in the meantime.
Something I find interesting is Carlos Bernard’s performance as “Dark Tony.” After Nina and Logan were revealed as traitors in the past, Sarah Clarke and Gregory Itzin, at least in the episodes immediately afterwards, suddenly played their characters as more sinister to compliment the twist. I was worried that Tony would suddenly be (metaphorically) twirling a handlebar mustache and stroking a fluffy white cat this week, but he’s still the same man as he was before. He still badly wants Jack to stay away, and I like to think that some of that is due to genuine concern for him. He’s still not a very good liar. (Rendering his traditional multi-episode injury totally unnecessary.) The fact that he’s still the same guy doing very bad things lends credit to the theory that he truly believes he’s working towards some greater good. Although blowing up a whole building full of FBI agents likely does kill any theory that he’s just undercover. You can’t really come back from that.
Also, Larry really is dead and Nostrilgate is dead in the water. Which means only two out of seven male series regulars haven’t been written out this year… the season is not looking like such a sausage party anymore, is it? But Larry’s death does allow Annie Wersching yet another awesome moment, as she assumes command of the FBI even as a tear roles down her cheek. She is most definitely not going to be able to forgive Tony for what he’s done, which could be interesting should both survive into Season 8. And we get some more dirt on what was going on between Larry and Renee. The strong implication is that there was an affair. It’s good to get some posthumous light shed on this, it further clarifies Larry’s hostility towards Jack early in the season.
It was, as is usual lately, the FBI storyline in the field that dominated the episode, and that storyline built up very well. Especially because plotwise, most of the episode amounted to a lot of waiting around for Tony’s accomplice to escape with the bioweapon (resulting in a relatively ho-hum cliffhanger). But there was some nice tension leading up the ambush, and I love that Tony’s mystery contact from earlier in the season was used as a means of tipping off Jack about Tony’s betrayal. Their confrontation at the end of the episode was the real climax, but I’ll get back to that a little later.
We last saw Jonas Hodges flatlining on his way to the hospital… why am I suddenly so afraid he’ll disappear and never be mentioned again? It was amusing to see him curled up in a jail cell after his spectacularly ill advised gambit last week failed, and I loved him trying to seek validation from the soldier in the van. But I won’t lie, I hope he survives his self induced cardiac arrest, escapes, and plays a prominent role in the story once more. It’s interesting that Hodges’ fate was a major cliffhanger this week. Clearly the writers were banking on the audience loving to hate this character, and becoming worried at the idea of losing him so soon.
The majority of screentime in the White House subplot goes to Jonas, Cherry Jones only shows up long enough to collect her paycheck this week. But I must admit, I’m reevaluating Olivia Taylor yet again. I liked her style at first, then felt totally betrayed when she used her powers for evil by getting rid of Ethan. Now, although I think her methods are underhanded, her contempt for Hodges and concern for her mother seems sincere. I at least understand where she’s coming from, and hopefully we’ll feel the same way about Tony at the end of the year.
As for Janis Gold… hmm, well, don’t talk to me about that right now. I’m still pretty annoyed at Janeane Garafolo for giving all of us liberals a bad name with her hideous generalizations on Keith Olbermann’s program last week, and am currently having a difficult time separating the actress from her character. I’ll get to work on overcoming that by next week.
I’ve always maintained that Kim Bauer’s function on the show is to provide someone for Jack to react to emotionally, which last week’s great scene proved. But even though Kiefer Sutherland and Elisha Cuthbert didn’t share any screentime this week, I loved her scenes. It’s great to learn that she’s all grown up, having ditched Barry the Rapist Therapist for a perfectly stable looking young man. And hearing that she named her baby Teri honestly warmed my heart in the middle of all this overwhelming despair. Clearly Kim’s role in the season is not yet over, I can only hope she’s not kept in the story through contrived means.
(I.O.U. one mandatory cougar reference. -johanley.)
Last and not least, there’s the bewigged Fake Lawyer. I said “That’s totally a rip-off of Alias” the minute she appeared onscreen. And I’ve never even seen Alias. No matter, her entrance does peel back another layer to this whole mess. Presumably, Jonas was a part of this massive conspiracy, but he was not acting in their interests, so Tony was sent to neutralize Starkwood. But what’s their aim? It would appear that it doesn’t extend to randomly killing innocent civilians for the sake of power, but they have no qualms about eliminating anyone who gets in their way, be they FBI or non-fake lawyers. I’m eager to discover who they are, since their agenda will give scope and context to Tony’s actions.
Without a doubt, the wonderful final confrontation between him and Jack. Tony’s lie this time made a lot of sense, but somehow, Jack knew he was being played. The line “I told you to stay out of this” was a great call-back to the season premiere, and that cold as ice moment where he took away Jack’s medication… man. I hope this is just a taste of the Brother vs. Brother action to come.
Runner up: that moment where Jack figured out that Renee and the FBI were walking into a trap. The mildly annoyed look on Tony’s face was absolutely priceless.
So now Jack Bauer is slowly dying of a bioweapon, and has to stay alive long enough to defeat his once most trusted ally, Tony Almeida. Dubaku and his pansy ass CIP device seem like such small potatoes now, don’t they? Whatever you may think of the increasingly dark turn this season is taking, there’s no denying that 24 is stepping back into bold, riveting territory. As always, I’m dying to see what happens next.