24: Day 8 8:00pm – 10:00pm

In a series of developments you probably don’t care a great deal about, the delivery of my new laptop has been delayed by a whole week, leading to me generally being in a bit of a huff. Far more exciting things happened in the latest double episode of 24, shown last Sunday evening on Sky1 HD, which I’m only getting around to writing about now that I’ve found some spare time in between whining about my laptop not arriving, and stomping around with a morose look on my face. Time for two power Bauer hours to sort things out…

The episode begins in the Islamic Republic of Kamistan. Oh, how I love the way 24 always makes up countries in a token effort to be slightly politically correct. People who were planning the uprising against President Hassan that was going to happen after his assassination are being rounded up. This isn’t going down well with the Taylor administration and with Hassan refusing to back down, those peace talks are in trouble.

It turns out that Agent Walker, who seemed to flip out at the end of last week’s episode and cut off Aleksandr Orlov’s hand, only cut off his thumb. Phew! He takes her to Vladimir, and on the way mentions that she has a past with him. While I’m enjoying this story, it is slightly jarring that Renee went through this dangerous undercover mission several years before, when last season she was portrayed very much as an innocent, untouched by the kinds of ordeals Jack has had to go through.

Jack sits outside waiting for his cover profile, which Dana is working on back at CTU. She gets a call from Kevin, the guy from her past who is in her apartment, who tells her to go there and meet him, or he’ll tell her fiance Cole that she was once in jail for accessory to murder. When she gets there he hits her and tells her to use her CTU access to get him at least $100,000 and then he’ll be out of her life. She decides to do this by helping him break into police impound warehouse where he’ll find a haul of drug money. In the meantime, Arlo completes Jack’s profile and comes up with yet another sarcastic comment about how Dana should be sleeping with him. The first few times it seemed to be an amusing bit of comic relief, but it was starting to seem a little like sexual harrasment, something Chloe then pointed out to him. Arlo was also getting suspicious of  Dana after noticing her handing over card keys to Kevin in the CTU car park on CCTV, something that’s bound to come to a head in the next week or two.

Vladamir asks Renee lots of questions, with Jack and Chloe feeding her answers through her earpiece, but he’s not convinced and has her and the guy who sounds like the “Compare the Meercat” Meercat bundled away in the boot of a car. Jack follows the car, but as he hears over the radio that it’s stopping he realises the car he’s following is a decoy. Vlad gets out, shoots the Meercat guy and asks Reene to tell the truth. Using her pain and the fact that she really did try to kill herself in the recent past, she asks him to shoot and he finally believes her.  Jack wants to pull her out and end the mission, worried that she no longer cares about her own safety, but Hastings disagrees, so instead Jack asks if he can take her place and continue the mission. 

Back at the United Nations, the Hassan story is starting to get interesting. Video of the security crackdown is spreading throughout the world, and the British government and many others around the world are on the verge of pulling out of the peace deal, something that President Taylor is trying to prevent. Following the assassination attempt, Hassan is getting more and more paranoid, and when he notices that the cousin of a respected and loyal member of his delegation was one of those arrested back home, he orders him to be taken away and detained in the embassy. To make matters worse, he’s “arrested” in the middle of explaining to one of the British delegates that Hassan is perfectly fine and not to worry about the crackdown.

Vladamir threatens Renee, wanting to get her in bed. Jack tells her they could send in the tactical team and get her out but she says she needs to stay undercover and goes dark, flushing her comm link down the sink. Jack, who is wearing some glasses to show that he’s undercover as Renee’s buyer, meets Vlads men on rooftop. Unknown to him, out of jealousy Vlad has ordered them to shoot him, but Cole snipes them from another building just in time. Jack maintains his cover, saying he bought backup for his meeting.

Meanwhile, the son of Sergei, the Russian Mafia boss we saw last week, is dying of radiation poisioning. His brother takes him to a doctor. 24 has it’s many familiar plot points each season, and one of them is the innocent member of the public with a family who gets mixed up in the terrorist plot, and here he is. The doc explains that there’s genuinely not much he can do, so brother puts a gun to his head because obviously that’ll help. In the end th doctor prepares a course of drugs and then is, of course, shot dead, not by the brother, but by men sent by the father. Back at their home, despite the brother’s pleas that he could be saved, the mob boss shoots his son, showing us that we’re dealing with a tough baddie this year.

Although much of these two hours were 24-by-numbers, with more of the same things we’ve seen before, some of the scenes with Agent Renee Walker were some of the darkest ever seen in the show, and President Hassan’s unravelling paranoia will be interesting to watch. After three weeks, we’re already a quarter of the way through Day 8, and so far it’s shown all the signs of potentally being another good season.

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