Has Jack Bauer Ever Watched '24'?

"24" is getting harder to predict and more fun to watch.
More Jack, more fun!

Midway through last night's enjoyable episode of "24: Live Another Day," when Jack Bauer threw the terrorist Margot Al-Harazi out the window, I yelled at the screen -- I admit it -- "Hasn't he ever seen the show?"

Because, as I mentioned in my review of this season's premiere, in the "24" world, you can always count on the existence of another, more evil villain standing behind the villain Jack happens to be battling. Defenestrating the captive Margot (aka Obviously Insane Woman), quite apart from being illegal and immoral, had the side effect of denying the good guys the chance to interrogate her.

But more on her death in a moment.

Let me admit that, like Margot, I was snookered. I believed, or at least hoped, that the show's writers had actually let President James Heller die. Other bloggers expressed doubt that "24" would really allow the president to be blown to bits by Margot's hijacked drone, especially with Jack Bauer, who had smuggled him away from the Secret Service, standing helplessly by. Turns out the doubters were right. As Ian tells his mother just minutes into the "7 p.m. to 8 p.m." hour, Chloe O'Brian has deftly inserted an image into the drone's data stream to make them think the president was still standing in Wembley Stadium waiting to be killed when he was actually safe.

Upon discovering the deception, Margot denounces Heller as a liar, and she and Ian manage to save one of the drones. (The others have been blown up, in accordance with her promise to Heller.) When her son successfully tracks Heller's location, she tells Ian not to kill him. She wants the president alive to watch what happens next. She has targeted Waterloo Station, where panicked Londoners are mobbing the trains, trying to escape the coming attacks.

Fortunately, Jack -- aided by Chloe and her evil hacker mentor Adrian -- has tracked Margot's location. She is hiding in an office building in London. At this point, an idea that suggests itself is to inform, say, the British government, and let the prime minister decide how best to deal with the threat on his soil. Nope. Not our Jack. He tells his new CIA pals where he's headed, and station chief Steve Navarro (also a bad guy, remember) dispatches agents Kate and Eric, with a tactical team to follow.

The team arrives. Is it the right building? Of course it is! We know because no sooner does the black SUV pull up in front than Margot's henchmen pop out of hiding and begin firing. You might think she'd try to burrow in and avoid attention, or even follow son Ian's plan to flee -- but she pulls a gun on him and orders him to stay, because his stepfather would have. (Said stepfather, whose death in a drone strike explains Margot's vendetta against Heller, was a big-time terrorist. This suggests that his actual plan would have been to live and fight another day.)

Anyway, while the tactical team fights its way along the hallway, Jack comes in through the window, having first tossed Ian out. He shoots Margot, then makes her watch while he steers the drone into the water -- so much for Margot's command to her son to "lock in" the coordinates of Waterloo -- and then tosses her out the window, too.

Episode over? No, just the halfway point.

A police contact calls Agent Kate. They've found the body of Jordan Reed. (No, not the tight end for the Washington R*dsk*ns, the "com chief" for the CIA's London station.) Poor Jordan was sent to his death by Navarro, who was worried that the young man's investigation might turn up his role in -- well, that's not important just now. The point is that Reed, before dying, managed to kill the hit man sent after him. Navarro realizes that the hit man can be traced to him. He calls the chief baddie (evil hacker Adrian) and demands money and false papers. Adrian says he'll be happy to provide them, provided that Navarro steals Margot's override device and turns it over to him.

Jack brings the override device to the CIA. He watches it every minute, rebuffing Navarro's effort to get his hands on it. A Defense Department technician arrives and quickly concludes that the magical box can control all sorts of U.S. military technology, not just drones. Wow. Better guard it closely. Don't worry. Jack's on the case.

No. He isn't. He gets a phone call from Heller's daughter Audrey, his onetime paramour, thanking him for saving her father, then another call from a contact who is tracking down the hit man found dead with Jordan. While Jack is distracted, Navarro kills (or at least disables) the tech and makes off with the device. At that instant, Jack's contact tells him that the dead hit man was a trained assassin with close ties to Navarro.


Jack chases Navarro into the street but loses him.

A little while earlier, he also lost Chloe, who said goodbye and how nice it was to see him -- as opposed to, for example, "Thank you for rescuing me from enhanced interrogation back in the first episode" -- and then hurried off to join evil hacker boyfriend Adrian. Is Chloe one of the bad guys? Of course not! She snuck away briefly. How much do you want to bet she had second thoughts and called Jack?

And where are she and Adrian headed? To meet Navarro and pick up the override device. Poor Steve. He really thinks he's going to get false papers. One wants to yell out: "Navarro, you idiot. Don't you remember that a couple of hours ago you sent Jordan into the exact same trap?"

A final word on Margot. She was portrayed by the fine Northern Irish actress Michelle Fairley. I was sorry to see her go. Again. First she is taken by surprise and killed on "Game of Thrones," then she is taken by surprise and killed here. I look forward to her showing up next season on "The Following" or "The Americans" -- someplace else where she can act her heart out, only to be taken by surprised and killed.

Next week: Jack almost catches evil hacker Adrian, but drops everything when his mobile phone rings.

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    Stephen L Carter at

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