Mike Kueber's Blog

May 6, 2013

“24” – Season 7

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 6:44 pm
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When I watch a movie or TV show, I am hoping for something that connects with me emotionally.  Not necessarily a tear-jerker, but I want to be stirred.  That objective often narrows my focus to dramas, but clearly not all dramas are created equal.  Some dramas seem dry, and others don’t even have characters I care about.  You can’t say that about “24.”  To the contrary, I care about many of the characters in “24,” and the drama is stirring and often tear-inducing.     

I’ve watched all eight seasons of “24” several times, and the best is Season 7.  While watching Season 7, I often found myself being moved by the drama and thinking how memorable the dialogue was.  To help me memorialize Season 7 and it dialogue, I decided to put in my blog a recap of the Season 7 storyline and quote in boldface some of the best lines.  [I once did the same thing for “Lonesome Dove,” another TV mini-series loaded with a lot of drama and great dialogue.]  

Redemption – Seaon 7 prequel:

Season 7 was postponed because of a Writer’s Strike.  When the Strike eventually settled, there was only time for a single two-hour episode, called Redemption (prequel), which occurred in two hours real time. 

Redemption finds Jack wandering the world, currently in Sangala, Africa, on the day that Senator Taylor is being sworn in as president to replace President Noah Daniels.  Coincidentally, an evil Ike Dubaku, working for Benjamin Juma, is attempting to overthrow a pro-democracy Matobo government in Sangala.  Although incoming Taylor would defend the existing government, the outgoing Daniels is allowing the overthrow.  Jack eventually rescues 14 orphans, but only by submitting himself to the authority of federal officials who want to prosecute him for CTU’s torture.           

S-7, E-1:

Six-five days after Redemption, Jack begins Season 7 by testifying, without counsel, to mousy, effeminate Senator Blaine Mayer about brutality and torture of CTU.  CTU has been disbanded and America now relies on the FBI:

  • Senator – “Mr. Bauer, I don’t see your counsel present.  Was he or she not aware that we were about to start.”
  • Jack – “I’ve chosen not to retain counsel.”
  • Senator – “Mr. Bauer, I have to advise you that many of the questions we are about to pose to you are of a legal nature and might result in answers that could incriminate you.
  • Jack – I understand that Senator.”
  • Senator – “We can postpone your testimony until this afternoon if you’d like to bring in representation, something I’d strongly advise.”
  • Jack – “What is the first question?” 

Later, asking Jack about his practice for following procedures:

  • Senator – “Would you say that you broke procedure with this interrogation?”
  • Jack – “Probably.”
  • Senator – “Probably?  Well, that’s a very cavalier answer.  You don’t seem to care about the implications here.  [Pause.]  Well, Mr. Bauer?”
  • Jack – “Sorry, Senator, I didn’t hear a question.”

Senator Mayer subsequently asks Jack whether the ends justify the means and he is above the law:

  • In answer to your question, am I above the law?  No, sir.  I am more than willing to be judged by the people that you claim to represent.  I will let them decide what price I should pay.  So please do not sit there with that smug look on your face and expect me to regret the decisions that I have made because, sir, the truth is I don’t.

At that point, FBI agent Renee Walker interrupts the proceedings to subpoena Jack for an emergency involving national security.  Renee’s boss Larry Moss greets Jack at FBI:

  • Moss – “Mr. Bauer, I’m Agent Larry Moss.  I’m the head of this office.  You’re here because Agent Walker thinks you might be able to help with an investigation.  Now, personally, I have my doubts, but I’ll be happy to have you prove me wrong.”
  • Jack – “Well, lucky for me I’m not here to apply for a job, Agent Moss.  Personally I don’t care what makes you happy, so let’s just get this over with.”   

Renee reveals to Jack that Tony Almeida is one of the bad guys threatening national security by developing a CIP module that can crash America’s infrastructure firewall.  President Allison Taylor prepares to launch an invasion of Sangala, Africa, which was in the process of being taken over by a brutal dictator Benjamin Juma 65 days earlier in Redemption, the prequel.  Palmer wants to return the previous democratically elected leader to power Motumbo.  Taylor’s husband is preoccupied with proving this his son Roger, who was involved in Redemption, did not commit suicide a few weeks earlier, but rather was murdered.  Agent Walker relies heavily of analyst Janis Gold, who seems a lot like Chloe.   While Jack and Renee are interrogating an Almeida confederate Schechter, the guy is shot and shortly thereafter Tony calls Jack and tells him to stay away from this matter. 

Summary – awesome start to Season 7.  Agent Walker is my kind of girl, and Almeida is back in play.

S-7, E-2:   

Tony and his crew reveal to the White House the damage that they can do to air-traffic control with the CIP device.  Jack and Renee go rogue because they realize the FBI has been infiltrated.  They follow the Schechter shooter to Tony, whom they capture, but the device gets away.

Summary – exciting, even though the summary is so brief that one might think there wasn’t much action.  No tear-jerking moments or great dialogue, though.

S-7, E-3:

President Taylor learns that before Tony was captured, he handed off the CIT device to Sangala’s Ike Dubaku and that they are threatening to use the device unless the invasion is called off.  President Taylor to her staff:

  • Almeida is our only lead.  Make sure the FBI is aware of the demands.  We need to work Almeida from the Africa side.  And they need to know we don’t have a lot of time.”

This comment is ironic because President Taylor has shut down CTU because she doesn’t like its methods, but those methods are especially needed when “we don’t have a lot of time.”  While listening to Agent Renee Walker, her boss Larry Moss, and Jack discuss strategy, it is obvious that Jack and Renee are like chess grandmasters while her boss Moss is smart enough to realize he is overmatched.  Jack interrogates Tony, who says he is working for money, but secretly gives Jack a phone number that turns out to be Bill Buchanan’s.  Buchanan tells Jack that he and Tony are running a rogue operation that is attempting to expose a large number of high-ranking government officials who are trying to commit treason to help Ike Dubaku.  Bill is working with Chloe, whose first conversation with Jack goes as follows:

  • Bill – “We’re working outside the government.  That’s why we need to get Tony back under cover.”
  • Jack (ultra-sarcastically) – “He’s in FBI headquarters, Bill.”
  • Bill – “I never said it was going to be easy, but we have to try.  Chloe’s already into their system.”
  • Jack – “Chloe’s working on this?”
  • Chloe – “Hi, Jack, it’s good to hear your voice.  I saw the hearings on C-SPAN.  I can’t believe what the Senator said to you.  You looked good, though.”

Janis almost catches Sean as the FBI security leak, but he provides her with an acceptable explanation for his behavior. Agent Moss dismisses Jack from the investigation, but Jack breaks Tony out of FBI headquarters, with the on-line help of Chloe who matches wits with Janis in using the FBI system to assist in the escape.  When asked if it was possible to hack into the FBI system, Janis responded:

  • Janis – “Anything is possible if you know what you’re doing.”

After Janis disconnected Chloe from the system

  • Chloe – “Someone from the FBI is blocking my every move.  It’s really starting to piss me off.”

After Chloe gets back in:

  • Janis – “Hacker’s back in.  Whoever this is, they’re very good.”

Jack and Tony escape.

Summary – First Jack is invaluable in capturing Tony and then helps him escape.  No wonder the FBI personnel are confused, even though they seem to assume the worst about Jack.  Episodes 1, 2, and 3 in Season 7 are some of the best ever because Jack reunites with Bill, Tony, and Chloe.  Together they form a Dream Team of agents that can compete with the combined resources of the federal government, including the FBI.  And although the African bad guys are really bad guys, they are prevailing against a good-intentioned, earnest bunch of Americans – President Taylor and her main aide Ethan, plus Agent Renee Walker and her boss Larry Moss.  As usual, however, there is one lame storyline that I continually want to fast-forward past.  This time, that storyline involves the controversy over whether President Taylor’s son was murdered or committed suicide.  

S-7, E-4:

Jack and Tony arrive at CTU Underground.  Jack is de-briefed by Tony, Bill, and Chloe, and they decide how to proceed in exposing government corruption – i.e., Tony will try to take Jack undercover with him to Tony’s boss, Emerson.  Renee takes Janis to do an interrogation of Tony’s colleague Tanner, and she is scared shitless, just like Chloe was in an analogous situation.  Jack persuades Emerson to accept him as a team member.  Renee engages in some enhanced interrogation of Tanner as she attempts to find Jack and Tony.  At first Tanner says, “You can’t do this.  You’re FBI.  I have legal rights.”  She responds, “I suggest you use your last breath wisely.”  He says, “Go to hell,” and she cuts off his air supply from his ventilator.  This starts Renee down the slippery slope to understanding Jack Bauer.  Renee’s torture yields the necessary information – i.e., Almeida is going after former Sangala prime minister Matobo.  Renee warns Agent Moss, who gets Matobo into a safe room just before Jack and company arrive to take him.  By gassing the safe room, Jack eventually gets Matobo just as Renee arrives, so they take her hostage, too.    

Summary – very good, with Jack’s storyline going well, and Renee and Larry trying to catch up with them.  I’m ignoring the third storyline – the assassination/suicide of the president’s son.

S-7, E-5:

While taking Matobo, his wife, and Renee back, Emerson is instructed to kill Renee.   All the while, Renee is expressing her contempt for Jack.  The AG begins investigation of Renee for her tortured interrogation, even though Renee was a hostage.  Agent Moss thinks this is misplaced priorities.  Moss hears an intercepted call indicating that Renee is to be killed.  Jack is told by Emerson to shoot Renee.  The look on Renee’s face, knowing that Jack is going to kill her, is incredibly sad.  Just before Jack shoots Renee, he whispers in her ear:

  • You trust me, I will get you through this alive.” 

Jack shoots Renee barely on her neck, but then has to bury her alive.

Summary – one of the slowest episodes ever, except for the climactic shooting of Renee in the last couple of minutes.

S-7, E-6:

Just as Renee is about to die of asphyxiation, she is rescued by Bill and Chloe.  Tony and Jack take out Emerson and persuade Matobo and his wife to turn himself over to Dubaku’s people, so they will lead him back to Dubaku.  Even though the FBI continues floundering, President Taylor refuses to back down on the invasion, so Dubaku causes a mid-air collision just in vision of the White House; 270 dead.  Palmer calls the Cabinet, and doubles down on her decision to continue with the invasion.  No one agrees, and the Secretary of State resigns.  Jack reunites with Renee.  As Chloe puts a tracking device on Matobo, he asks if she is with the FBI.  She responds:

  • Chloe – “No, I’m a stay-at-home mom.”

As Jack and Renee prepare:

  • Renee tells Jack – “The four of you.  You really think you can stop this.”
  • Jack tells Renee – “We have to.  It’s as simple as that.

Tony hands over Matobo and his wife with tracking devices.  Jack squelches a possible ambush. 

Summary – good seeing Jack and Renee getting back together.

S-7, E-7:

Finally the FBI does something right – Janis follows a hunch, despite a distracted Agent Moss, and figures out that the next CIP target for Dubaku is Kidron, Ohio gas plant.  Jack tells Renee that she can help them assault the building with Dubaku and Matobo.  Janis works with the plant manager at Kidron to deal with its possible disaster from ruptured tanks.  After the salt-of-the-earth manager in a life-or-death situation calls Janis “honey,” she responds:

  • Janis – “Normally, I don’t allow people to call me ‘honey,’ but we can discuss that later.” 
  • Manager – “Well, sounds like you need to lighten up.” 

The manager ends up sacrificing himself to allow a few more workers to escape.  Simultaneously, Jack and his launch an attack on Dubaku, which causes him to abort the attack on the plant.  Dubaku gets away, but Jack retrieves the CIP device.  The FBI and the White House realize they have dodged a bullet, but have no idea that Jack and his team saved the day.  Simultaneously, Dubaku’s gang finds the president’s husband unattended and kidnaps him.  Jack persuades Bill and Tony to solicit the help of President Taylor in searching for Dubaku.  Jack, Renee, and Bill (and Matobo) go to the White House, while Tony stays back because of his previous misdeeds.

Summary – exciting, dramatic stuff by Jack’s team that saved the day for a plucky FBI (Janis) that performed well, but still would have failed.  Can’t wait for the next hour for Jack to explain everything to the president.

S-7, E-8:

Taylor announces that the terrorists have been stopped and the invasion of Sangala will proceed.  Jack’s gang enters the Oval Office.  Shortly after Jack describes the corruption in the administration, Taylor receives a call from Dubaku saying that he would kill her husband unless she turned over Matobo and calls off the invasion. 

President Taylor to Jack:

  • You resigned from government service and the Senate regards you as having been a renegade agent.  How am I supposed to know where your loyalties really lie?

Jack’s response to President Taylor: 

  • With all due respect Madame President, ask around.”

Jack and Renee decide to enlist Agent Moss to help them with their investigation:

  • Jack – “It would be faster if we can get somebody who already has clearance.”
  • Renee – “Larry Moss.”
  • Jack – “He doesn’t strike me as someone who is willing to work outside the system.”
  • Renee – “That’s true, but I think I can persuade him to do what we need.”
  • Jack – “Do you really trust him?”
  • Renee – “Yes, we know each other pretty well.”
  • Jack – “Fine.  Try it, we don’t have much time.”  [Jack’s features reveal total focus on the objective and not the slightest hint of jealousy, which is completely the opposite of Moss’s previous conduct.]

It’s magic when Renee calls Moss because he had thought she was dead.  Great acting.  Jack and Renee meet with Moss and discuss strategy.  Moss tells them about Secret Service agent Vossler.  When Jack says they need to get to Vossler by threatening his wife and child), Moss is aghast and Renee resists.  Jack pleads:

  • When are you people going to stop thinking everyone else is following your rules?  They’re not.  Dubaku is going to kill Henry Taylor within the next 45 minutes unless we find him.  You’ve got one of two choices – now you can phone the President and explain to her that your conscience wouldn’t allow you to do what is necessary to save him, or you can simply do what is necessary.  Pick one.”

After Renee walks away, Moss tells Jack:

  • Jack, the rules are what make us better.”

Jack’s response to Moss:

  • Not today.”

Agent Moss helps Jack find Vossler.  Based on information obtained from Vossler, Jack and Renee learn the location of Taylor’s husband, but in the process Jack kills Vossler in self-defense.  Renee is distraught because she got to know Vossler’s wife and small child, and she wonders if his death could have been avoided:

  • Jack – Listen to me.  We could not have gotten this far if it wasn’t for you.  OK.  Now no one would blame you if this was just too much for you to handle.  Maybe you should get out.”

Renee’s response to Jack:

  • Maybe I will.  Tomorrow.”  [Spine-tingling.]

In big firefight, Jack and Renee rescue Taylor’s husband, who get severely wounded.  Plus, Dubaku gets away for the second time.

Summary – Awesome episode.  Taylor’s president finally becomes relevant instead of an irrelevant side story.  A new storyline develops with Dubaku’s girlfriend Marika.  I think President Taylor should have held Bill and his team as culpable for giving the CIP device to Dubaku because the cost of lives was too great to justify the benefit of identifying some traitorous insiders.

S-7, E-9:

With Taylor’s husband saved, the focus shifts to finding Ike Dubaku to learn the identity of those in the government who were assisting him.  Bill Buchanan takes over the protection of President Taylor, which includes his reinstatement and Chloe’s.

  • Larry Moss to Renee – “You gonna tell me you and Bauer were in a firefight.”
  • Renee to Larry – “Yeah, we took down six of Dubaku’s men.”

Based on some PDAs on Dubaku’s men, Jack and Renee located an address, which leads them to Dubaku’s girlfriend, who Jack persuades to come to the assistance of America, despite the concerns of her disabled sister.  Arlo drops Chloe at FBI headquarters, where she is greeted with suspicion with her new co-workers, especially Janis Gold, her alter ego.  Agent Moss, however, is professional with her.  When Chloe questions him about her work station:

  • Agent Moss – “Besides, this is the only space available where you will have full access to our server.  Our network has to support ….” 
  • Chloe – “That’s inefficient.  Whoever set your network up that way didn’t know what they were doing.” 
  • Agent Moss – “I set up the network that way.”
  • Chloe – “Oh, OK.”

A little later, Moss asks Chloe about Jack’s history of getting his people killed:

  • Chloe – “Jack Bauer is the most trustworthy, honorable man I know.  And he’s my friend.  Maybe you should worry less about him and more about the mole in your office working for Dubaku.”  Touche. 

Secret Service agent Aaron Pierce, who is the only person other than Jack to appear in the first seven seasons, is pulled out of retirement by Bill Buchanan to bring in President Taylor’s estranged daughter.  Taylor’s husband is touch-and-go and begins a five-hour surgery, and it’s hard to imagine that he will reappear in the White House before the season is over.  Renee and Jack are following Dubaku’s girlfriend Marika to him when an FBI mole causes the D.C. PD to stop them.

Summary – excellent, with lots of action and Special Agent Moss beginning to realize how good Jack and Chloe are and how compromised the FBI is.

S-7, E-10:

FBI analyst Sean and his girlfriend are revealed to the audience as the moles within the FBI.  Dubaku’s girlfriend Marika meets up with Dubaku, and even though he tells her that he knows she was assisting the FBI, he persuades her to try to leave the country with him.  As they head to an airport, Jack and Renee intercept them after getting freed by the D.C. PD.  Following a car chase, just as Dubaku is getting away, Marika causes the vehicle to crash, and both she and Dubaku are mortally injured.  As Jack pulls Dubaku away from the burning car, Renee tries to do the same with Marika.  Because Jack is worried about an explosion, he pulls Renee away, but she turns on him with a gun and says:

  • I gave her my word, so back off or help me.

With Jack’s help, they pull Marika away just in time to avoid the explosion, but quickly realize she is dead.  Dubaku is barely alive, but dies before he can tell Jack where his list of conspirators is.  Then as EMT does electrical measures, they detect metal under his skin, which Jack has EMT cut out and finds a datafile that lists all of the government officials who have been helping him.  Jack sent the datafile by courier to FBI headquarters for analysis.  President Taylor is at the hospital waiting room when she her from Ethan how well the invasion of Sangala was going.  FBI moles Sean and his girlfriend plan to erase the datafile before the FBI is able to access it.  Sean’s plan almost succeeds, but Chloe pulls a miracle and saves the database, so Sean has to flee.  On his way out of the building, he is caught.  When Agent Moss confronts him and orders him to start talking, Sean responds as everyone does when interrogated by the FBI:

  • I’d like to speak with my attorney.”

In the hospital ER, Renee is accosted by Marika’s sister Rosa for breaking her promise to keep Marika safe.  Renee takes it really badly and is about ready to breakdown when Jack tells her about the successful recovery of the critical corruption datafile: 

  • Jack – “It’s over.”
  • Renee, snarling – “It’s not over for Rosa.”
  • Jack – “What happened to Marika was a tragedy.  But I’m not gonna stand here and tell you what we did was wrong because it wasn’t.  She made a choice, a brave one to get involved.  But she made it.
  • Renee – “Listen to yourself, Jack.  Don’t you feel anything.”
  • Jack – “We had a job to do.  To protects hundreds, if not thousands of innocent lives who would not have had a choice if we let a terrorist attack take place.  What we did wasn’t wrong.  It was necessary.
  • Renee, as Jack walks away – I read your file, when your wife was killed, did you feel that or did you just tell yourself that was necessary.
  • Jack – What do you want from me?  [Screaming] -What do you want from me?”
  • Renee – “I just want to know that you feel something.  I want to know that you feel the same kind of pain that I do.  [Slapping Jack] – Do you feel that?  [Slapping him again] – Do you feel that?  [Trying to slap him again, but he grabs her wrist.  She embraces him, crying.]
  • Jack – “I feel it.  If will take a while, but you will learn to live with it. 
  • Renee – What if I don’t want to learn to live with it?
  • Jack – Then quit.  [Jack walks away before turning back to Renee]  And by the way, that stunt you pulled by the car, you ever pull your weapon on me again, you better intend to use it.
  • Renee – I did.

Just as things look like the matter is wrapped up, Tony Almeida re-emerges to tell Jack that it isn’t over because General Juma of Sangala is working on a different project of terror against America with Ryan Burnett, aide to Senator Blaine Mayer.  Bill Buchanan asks President Taylor to help Jack against the Senate inquiry being led by Senator Mayer. 

Summary – can’t get any better than this; the emotion with Jack and Renee is palpable, there is a huge amount of action, and just as we think thinks are wrapped up, there is another somewhat plausible plan-b, which we are told all intelligent operatives have.   The planned attack is imminent, within the hour.

S-7, E-11:

Jack plans to interrogate Burnett, but he is at the White House.  Ethan and later President Taylor try unsuccessfully to get Mayer to back off from going after Jack.  Jack finds Burnett and begins the torture.  Burnett says he doesn’t know anything, but he will say anything Jack wants him to say.  Jack responds:

  • Don’t you even try and play that game with me.  Mr. Burnett, I’ve been doing this a long time, and I can tell the difference especially when a man is under duress if he’s got information I need or if I’m just wasting my time.  And I promise you, I am not wasting my time.”

Unfortunately, Janis Gold is able to learn of Jack’s activities and puts President Taylor on notice, and she stops the interrogation just as Burnett is going to break.  Senator Mayer sees his bloodied, albeit traitorous, aide and tells Jack:

  • Mayer – “You’re reprehensible, Bauer.” 
  • Jack – “And you, sir, are weak.  Unwilling and unable to look evil in the eye and deal with it.” 

Jack is arrested, even though Ethan and Taylor believe Jack’s warning that a terrorist attack is imminent.  As Jack is hauled away:

  • President – “You should have come to me.  You should have presented your case.”
  • Jack – “We didn’t have time.  And would it have really made a difference, ma’am?”

Taylor decides to interrogate Burnett personally.  When Mayer suggests that he can talk to Burnett because he knows him, Taylor curtly tells him, “Apparently you don’t.”  As Taylor prepares for the interrogation, she tells Ethan that she will have to offer Burnett immunity:

  • Ethan – “With coercive measures off the table, it’s our only option.”
  • Taylor – “Bauer going to prison and a traitor walks; what’s wrong with this picture?”

When Taylor harshly threatens Burnett with treason, he responds simply:

  • I demand my right to counsel.”

When immunity is offered, he responds:

  • Where’s my lawyer?”

Renee works an independent lead and finds Juma’s people leaving their staging area, and she notifies the FBI, but they don’t know where the attack’s destination.

Summary – intense episode; nonstop suspense.

S-7, E-12:

The White House prepares for the attack, but has no idea where it will occur.  As Jack is prepared to be hauled away from the White House, Bill Buchanan brings him up to speed, and Jack tells him their only option is for Bill to finish the interrogation of Burnett.  Bill says that he’s not trained in coercive techniques and that sort of thing is something he can’t bring himself to do.  Jack responds:

  • Dammit, Bill, that’s not good enough.  You were the one who told me that people who stand by might as well help them plant the bomb.”   

Bill refuses to do anything to Burnett, but just as he is sending Jack outside the White House, Juma strikes.  As everyone scrambles away from Juma’s people, Bill sends Jack and President Taylor into an impregnable safe room/lock-down.  Juma assembles hostages outside the safe room, including Senator Mayer and Bill Buchanan.  Although Renee and Agent Moss recommend an assault of Juma, the weak Vice-President refuses to take any risky action.  The stalemate is broken when Juma finds Taylor’s daughter Olivia (through intelligence provided by the head of a huge defense firm Hodges (Jon Voight) and threaten to kill her unless Taylor comes out of the lockdown.  Olivia acts like a frightened child when threatened.  When President Taylor tells Jack to open the door, he refuses:

  • Taylor – “Could you do what you’re asking me to do, just stand by and watch her butchered?”
  • Jack – “No ma’am, but I am not the President of the United States.”
  • Taylor – “Well, I am the President, and I am ordering you to open that door.”

Taylor comes and Juma tells her to prepare to give the last statement she will ever give.

Summary – action-packed and exciting; amazing to think that we are only at the half-way point in this season.

S-7, E-13:

Jack prepares a plan to sacrifice himself and create an explosion.  As President Taylor begins reading her statement, Bill takes Jack’s place and creates the explosion.  The VP refuses to order the assault, but Agent Moss courageously ignores the order and assaults.  Agent Moss and Renee lead the assault that saves the hostages and kills the hostiles.  Ironically, Jack kills a hostile who is about to kill Senator Mayer.  He also personally dispatches Juma.  Immediately afterwards, Jack sits by Bill and mourns his death.  Renee walks by and sees that Jack feels pain, too.  Ironically, she suggests to him that Bill’s death was worthwhile:

  • Renee – “The President’s safe, Jack.  She’s in the residence; she’s secure.  So sorry, Jack.  I know that he was your friend. 
  • Jack – “It was supposed to be me.  I was supposed to set off the explosion so that he could secure the President.”
  • Renee – “He died protecting his country.”
  • Jack – “Yeah.  This isn’t over yet.”

Jack tells Agent Moss that Bill saw Juma receiving intelligence from the outside, which means that there is someone who needs to be found.  Their only lead is to get intelligence from Ryan Burnett, but Moss refuses.  Renee goes to Ethan Canan, who overrules Moss and authorizes Jack to interrogate Burnett.  Ross reacts badly with Renee:

  • Renee – “Larry, I have seen Jack do some terrible things today; things that I still can’t justify.  But he has been right every time.  And you know what I can’t help think if maybe we just stayed out of his way, none of this would have happened.  Look, I am sorry that I went behind your back, but I promise you this play with Burnett will go down just the way Jack said.” 
  • Moss – “If you think you are going with Bauer, you are out of your mind.  You may have gotten a White House order, but I’m still running this operation.  I’ll take Bauer to see Burnett.  You’re going back to FBI.  I want you to clean out your office and hand in your badge.  I’m suspending you indefinitely.” 

Taylor decides to bring her daughter Olivia into her administration.  The head of the defense firm Hodges plans to use the chemical weapons that he obtained from Juma.  When he learns that Jack is going to interrogate Burnett, he sends his best hit man Quinn to kill Burnett and Jack.  While Jack is interrogating Burnett, Quinn crashes the scene and kills Burnett and frames Jack.  Instead of waiting around, Jack flees. 

Summary – fast-paced, exciting conclusion to the White House assault, and now onto our 3rd villain following the demise of Dubaku and Juma.  Now we have an American villain, Jonas Hodges.

S-7, E-14:

Jack is a fugitive, but knows he needs to find the guy (Quinn) in a hospital frame-grab, so he needs inside help to identify him.  Because Chloe is under arrest, Jack calls the suspended Renee.  Not surprisingly, she is not very eager to help:

  • Jack – “Renee, his man is the only connection I have to everyone who was involved in this thing today.  Please, I need your help.  Look, I know you don’t agree with some of the things I did today.  I’m telling you the truth.  Renee?  You know, forget it, I’m sorry I made a mistake.”  [Jack pushed Buchanan a lot harder than he pushed Renee.]
  • Renee – “I’ll call you back at this number.”

Quinn hears that Jack has escaped and he promptly notifies Hodges:

  • Quinn – “Bauer got away from the FBI.”
  • Hodges – “How?”
  • Quinn – “Well, Bauer’s an extremely impressive operator.”
  • Hodges – “You don’t have to tell me that.”
  • Quinn – “But the FBI had launched a major effort to apprehend him.  He won’t be able to avoid them for long.”
  • Hodges – “Well, we’ll see won’t we.” 

Renee tells Jack that Quinn is connected to Starkwood, which is Hodges’s defense-contracting firm.  Renee connects Starkwood to Senator Mayer.  Agent Ross realizes that Renee has been in touch with Bauer and decides that the best way to find Bauer is to follow Renee.  Olivia starts getting aggressive and confident in her advice to President Taylor, which reminds me of Charles Logan’s wife suddenly doing the same thing in an earlier season, and the 2nd president’s son doing the same thing on Air Force One shortly before his death.  Larry Ross get Chloe’s husband to help decrypt Renee’s conversation with Jack and this reveals that Jack’s target is Mayer.  Ross heads out toward Mayer’s residence and warns his team:

  • I told them [Metro PD] and I’m telling you it is impossible to overestimate Bauer.  He has more training and more experience than anybody in this room and that includes myself.”

Jack gets to Senator Mayer shortly before Quinn does, and together they examine Starwood’s connection to Juma.  And they do some bonding:

  • Mayer – “At the hearing this morning, you said you have no regrets about what you have done.  But what I saw was a man full of regret.”
  • Jack – “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 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?  It’s that this world even needs people like me.” 
  • Mayer – “So you think I’m naïve to believe we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard of conduct?” 
  • Jack – “It doesn’t matter what I think Senator.  You just need to understand that where I work things get a lot messier than where you work on the Hill.”
  • Mayer – “What you’ve lost, Mr. Bauer, is tragic.  What you have been compelled to do in the name of saving innocent lives is tragic.  But sometimes we need to incur the most horrible losses in order to uphold the ideals which this country was founded on.  How can we presume to lead the world unless we set an example?”
  • Jack – “You make it sound so simple.”
  • Mayer – “Maybe it’s simpler than you thing.  Maybe all the things you’ve seen and all the things you’ve done have clouded your vision.”

Just as Mayer and Jack are figuring out the Starkwood connection, Quinn surprises them and kills Mayer.  Quinn tries to hunt down a fleeing, unarmed Jack, but that is not a good idea.  Jack kills Quinn.  Quinn’s cell-phone reveals the location of the WMDs.  Jack calls Tony to meet him at the WMD site.  Not surprisingly, Agent Moss finally figures out what is going on, but a few minutes too late.  Chloe is upset with her hubby when she learns that he betrayed Jack despite Jack having saved his life earlier.

Summary – excellent, lots of action; Jack’s bonding with Mayer was satisfying, but Mayer lived only a few minutes after realizing what a great guy Jack is.

S-7, E-15:

When Agent Ross tells Ethan that Senator Mayer was killed by Jack, Ethan resigns and Taylor reluctantly accepts.  Tony and Jack rendezvous at the Port Authority and enlist the help of a security guard.  The security guard Carl is a family man and reluctant to get involved, but Jack succeeds in much the way he did with Dubaku’s girlfriend Marika:

  • Security – “I just open the gate and let them in?”
  • Jack – “That’s all you’ve got to do.”
  • Security – “And you guys got my back, right?”
  • Jack – “Yeah.”
  • Security – “Promise me.”
  • Jack (glancing at Tony) – “I promise you.”
  • Security – “OK.”

When the bad guys show up, they take the security guy Carl with them to find the WMDs.  Tony tells Jack:

  • Forget about him, Jack.  He was dead the minute he stepped out that door.  You and I both know that.

Later, as the bad guys prepare to execute Carl, Jack plans to intervene despite Tony’s pleas to not risk their mission and thousands of lives all because of one guy.  But Jack can’t break his promise to Carl, and he kills a bad guy just in the nick of time.  In the resulting fire fight against nine heavily armed hostiles, Tony is captured, but Jack hijacks the truck with the WMDs.  Jack calls the FBI to pick up the truck, but detects a chemical leak.  While fixing the leak, he is exposed.  The delay enables the bad guys to catch him and take back the WMDs.    

Summary – can’t get any better than this.

S-7, E-16:

Jack calls FBI and tells Moss that about being exposed.  Jack is checked over by the CDC people and then decontaminated.  When he strips, the CDC Masur doctor is shocked by his scars from the Chinese torturing.  Tony is tortured by Hodges’s people, but reveals nothing.  Moss informs President Taylor that Jack was framed for the murders of Burnett and Mayer, and Taylor responds, “I knew it.”  Moss also tells her that it appears Starkwood that was working with Juma.  Moss admits to Renee that he was wrong about Jack and that Jack was on his way into HQ because he was infected.  Renee’s reaction to this news reveals her great love for Jack although few words are spoken.  Tony is about to be executed when a Starkwood VP Greg Seton saves him in return for immunity.  Test results reveal Jack is infected with less than 24 hours to live, but not contagious.   Renee sees Jack and is devastated.  She sees Jack’s scarred upper body.  She says she saw the report from the Port Authority security guy who says Jack risked the mission to save the guy’s life.  Starkwood VP Greg Seton offers to tell the FBI where the WMD is located in return for immunity, and Taylor agrees.  Seton discloses the location.  As Moss prepares to raid the facility, Jack volunteers to go with, but Moss declines:

  • Moss – “Under any other circumstances I’d want you out there with us.  But you’re sick.  We have no idea when you’re going to start showing symptoms.  I cannot risk that happening out in the field.  I need my best men for this operation.  I hope you can understand that.”
  • Jack – “You’re right.  You’re right.  I always knew eventually we’d agree on something.”

Moss and the FBI invade Starkwood, but they find an empty warehouse.  Tony and Moss immediately realize that Seton played them to get the bad guys some extra time.  Jack realizes that the weapon is still at Starkwood, just in a different location.  As Moss begins a search, he is confronted by a Starkwood army insisting that his team leave the location.  Although Moss and Renee are inclined to fight, Jack warns that unless the FBI stands down, the FBI team will be killed. 

Summary – riveting, non-stop action.  

S-7, E-17:

Hodges shows up at the Starkwood confrontation and gives Moss five minutes to hightail it out of there.  Jack identifies another Starkwood insider who is willing to help – Douglas Knowles, chairman of the Starkwood board.   Jack devises a plan – Agent Moss vacates the scene but secretly leaves Tony behind.  After Ross leaves, Doug and Tony hook-up.  Jack has a hard time providing support to Tony because his illness is getting worse.  Olivia is blackmailed by the journalist Ken who helped her squeeze out Ethan.  He wants confirmation that there are WMDs on the loose.  Knowles gives himself up to give Tony some extra needed time.  Jack collapses.   Olivia tells reporter Ken everything that is going on.  He agrees to kill the story if she has sex with him.  Jack gets prescribed a drug to take every two hours to mask his symptoms.  Jack is told about an experimental treatment using a relative’s stem cells, but he refuses to ask his daughter Kim for help.  Renee argues with him, but he firmly tells her to mind her own business.   Tony locates the WMDs so that an airstrike can be called in.  Hodges kills Knowles in a fit of anger, much like President Logan murders his assistant in the last Episode #193.  After sex, Ken says he is going to run the story anyway, but she then shows him a recording of their sex and threatens to use it if he goes with the story.  As the military flies forward with its airstrike, Hodges calls President Taylor and threatens to send missiles with WMD unless she calls of the airstrike.  Hodges insists that Taylor take the call privately, and when she emerges from the call, she orders that the airstrike be aborted. 

Summary – good, with lots of action, but not as good as the previous episodes; not enough Jack.

S-7; E-18:

Palmer tells everyone that the airstrike was called off because the intelligence was too weak, and Tony figures out that the airstrike was called off because Starkwood has missiles that it could have launched.  Jack confronts President Taylor:

  • Jack – “Madam President, with all due respect, I don’t think you’re being truthful with us.”
  • Taylor – “Excuse me?”
  • Jack – “I think you called off the airstrike because Jonas Hodges is in possession of surface-to-surface missiles armed with a bio-weapon and he’s threatened to use them in case you take action against him….  Madam President, please, just tell us the truth.”
  • Taylor – “Jack, Hodges has 13 python missiles with bio-weapons that are currently aimed at American cities.  He demanded that I recall the planes or he would launch.”
  • Renee – “What does Hodges want?”
  • Taylor – “I don’t know.  He’s requested a face-to-face meeting in a few minutes.”
  • Jack – “Madam President.  The only reason he wants a face-to-face meeting is to lay out his demands, and whatever they are, you cannot negotiate with him.”
  • Taylor – “I’m not planning to negotiate with him, Jack.  Once he places his cards on the table, I am sure that I can make him realize the futility of what he’s trying to do.”
  • Jack – “Jonas Hodges is a traitor and a terrorist, and after everything that happened today are you really naïve enough to believe that you can simply talk to him and change his mind?”
  • Taylor – “I’m not new at this Jack, and right now I don’t have another option.”  [That is a predicament Taylor and others often find themselves in.  Fortunately, Jack can always find another option.]
  • Jack – “Madam President, you do.  Tony Almeida is still inside Starkwood….  Madam President, I know that there’s a risk, but I would not be asking you to do this if I didn’t think it would work.  Please, I am begging you.  Trust me.”  [I have heard Jack use those words many times.]

Renee enlists Agent Larry to help with Jack’s plan for Tony to destroy the missiles.  Hodges meets with Taylor at the White House and demands almost a co-presidency, which is not very plausible.  Tony is detected, so Hodges’s personnel begin the automatic launch sequence for the missiles, but at the last second Tony sets off a huge explosion, destroying the missiles.  Agent Moss moves in.  During meeting with Hodges, Taylor is called out and told that the missiles have been destroyed, so she returns to meeting to have Hodges arrested.  As he is arrested, Hodges warns Taylor that he is only a small cog in a big machine.  [First Dubaku, then Juma, and now Hodges, and still higher to go.  When will it end?]  Larry takes Tony in for his earlier crimes.  Kim shows up at FBI.  When Renee tells him, Jack explodes:

  • Renee – “About Kim.  She’s here, Jack.  I told her that you were sick and that she might be able to help with the treatment.” 
  • Jack – “You, you, come here.  Who the hell do you think you are?  Who the hell do you think you are?  You think this is easy?  You think you understand what I’m going through, because you don’t.  I am dying [inaudible.]  I can handle it.  And now you put in front of me the one thing, the one thing that makes this unbearable.
  • Renee – “Jack, listen to me.”
  • Jack – “No, you listen to me.  I specifically told you, do not drag my daughter into this.”
  • Renee [forcefully]: “No one dragged her into anything.  She’s been trying to see you all day. 
  • Jack – “What?”
  • Renee – “She was at the Senate hearing this morning.  She flew out from LA to be there, but we pulled you out before she could see you.  She’s been leaving messages at our office all day today.  They just didn’t get to me until now.  If you want I can tell her that you’re not here.  I can tell her that you can’t see her.”
  • Jack – “Can’t do that.  Where is she?”
  • Renee – “Down the hall.”
  • Jack – “Show me.”

What a dramatic fake-out!  The conversation started with Renee apparently sticking her nose in and ended with Jack learning that his daughter Kim has been looking for him all along.  Superb dialogue.  Jack reunites with Kim.  She tells him that she has been doing everything she could for months to track him down, including private investigators.  She’s all growed up and accepts responsibility for everything instead of blaming Jack.  Jack asks her to go because he is dying.  A Starkwood operative escapes the scene with one canister of the WMD, with Agent Moss in hot pursuit.  Moss catches the operative, but Tony helps the operative kill Moss. 

Summary – Outstanding, lots of action with a plot twist.

S-7, E-19:       

Kim tells Renee that she is returning to LA and not doing the experimental treatment.  Renee is told that Moss is dead, and she takes it hard.  Jack does comprehensive de-brief, but his mind is deserting him.  Jack learns that Agent Larry Moss is dead and that Renee is leading assault on the hostile.  Jack gets in chopper with Renee and attempts to help her deal with Moss’s death:

  • Jack – “I lost two partners in a row, early on.  I couldn’t handle it.  I guess that’s why over the last ten years I’ve pretty much worked alone.  It’s alright for you to be feeling what you feel.  If you can’t do this tonight, that’s alright, too.  Just trying to pretend like not feeling anything, that’s how you make a mistake.”
  • Renee – “Please, Jack, don’t tell me what to feel and don’t tell me how to feel.”

 Tony makes an amazing recovery, for being shot in the belly a few minutes earlier.  Jack is troubled by facts at the shooting scene and suspects an accomplice.  Kim calls her husband about Jack’s condition and says she is returning to LA.  She says she didn’t tell Jack about his having a granddaughter.  Renee launches assault of hostile, but Jack stays back because he doesn’t feel up to it.  Jonas is told by an operative to kill himself to save his family of any potential problems.  Jonas tries to kills himself with some pill.  Despite Jack’s deteriorating mental acuity, he qb’s the assault and makes some critical insights and decisions that save Renee from an ambush.  Tony smuggles out the WMD.  Jack realizes Tony has gone bad, but has a seizure just as he was going to arrest Tony.  

Summary – Outstanding, non-stop action.

S-7, E-20:

Jack tells Renee that Tony is rotten, and Jack accepts responsibility for vouching for Tony to Renee and the President.  Tony gets WMD from confederate.  Hodges was saved from the suicide.  Jack decides that he can get Hodges to talk by promising to pretend he is dead.  Taylor tells Olivia that Hodges will be offered a place under witness protection even though he was responsible for killing Taylor’s son/Olivia’s brother Roger.  Tony’s group plans to set off the WMD.  Jack needs to gather info from the old CTU servers, so he calls Chloe to come back in and she agrees.  Morris is dumfounded that Chloe is willing to help the FBI even though they recently arrested her and threatened her with a life in prison.  Janis points out the FBI is transforming into CTU-lite.  Jack tells Chloe about Tony and she assures Jack that she can treat Tony as an enemy combatant.  Tony and his female confederate develop a plan for the WMD to go off in a way that a Muslim group will be blamed for the attack.

Summary – unusually slow in shifting to new storylines.

S-8, E-21:

Tony and his team kidnap some Muslims to be framed for carrying out the dastardly deed.  Jack, Renee, and the FBI team do some racial profiling to find the Muslim sleeper cell that might be targeted.  Chloe learns that Jack is dying, and she takes it badly:

  • Jack – “Chloe, I can’t do this without you.  Please, I need you to go back to work.”

Chloe identifies the Muslim Jibron that Tony is working on.  Jack and Renee travel to Jibron’s mosque.  Olivia hires a hitman who previously dug up dirt on President Noah Daniels to now kill Jonas Hodges.  Jack and Renee talk to the iman who claims that Jack and Renee are chasing Jibron not because of a terrorist background but rather just because he is Muslim.  Jack and Renee get an address on Jibron, and Jack decides to take the iman with to prevent him from warning Jibron.  As part of the frame, Jibron tells his brother that he is a terrorist.  His brother is incredulous:

  • This is a bad day to be a Muslim.  And an even worse day to be your brother.”

Olivia authorizes the hit, but at the last second she decides against transferring the money to pay for the hit.  Chloe discovers that all of the evidence against Jibron was manufactured, so Jack releases the iman:

  • Iman – “Please know that I forgive you.”
  • Jack – “I’m not asking for your forgiveness.”
  • Iman – “Then I hope that you can at least forgive yourself.”
  • Jack – “I gave up on that a long time ago.”
  • Iman – “It’s never too late to turn toward God, Mr. Bauer.”

Henry Taylor returns to the White House and is doing remarkably well for a guy who just got out of five hours of surgery.  He suggests that Olivia give the President some latitude to deal with Jonas Hodges.  As Hodges gets in a car to leave the FBI, the car explodes and Hodges is killed.  Jack and Renee locate Jibron’s brother, who is being held hostage, and save him.

Summary – excellent, with a lot of action that is advancing the story quickly.

S-7, E-22:

Renee authorizes Jack to torture the guy who was holding Jibron’s brother as a hostage.  Chloe and Janis banter:

  • Chloe – “Why would you do that?”
  • Janis – “What?”
  • Chloe – “You know, connecting thru a DMA node would be a lot faster.”
  • Janis – “No, I don’t know that it is quicker using a DMA node or I would have done just that.  I had no idea that DMA nodes were up and running.”
  • Chloe – “Really?  They’ve been up and running for about two years.”
  • Janis – “It’s obvious I will never be able to do things as well as you did at CTU.  All I ask is that you not make me feel like an idiot while you’re pointing that out.”
  • Chloe – “Alright.”

Olivia talks to the guy Martin who arranged the hit on Hodges.  Tony’s female accomplice Cara leaves the WMD with Jibron.  Jack and Renee capture Tony.  Janis helps Chloe de-crypt a device that was found on Tony.  Jack beats Tony, but gets no info.  Janis determines where Jibron is taking the WMD, and Renee and Jack rush to retrieve the device.  Jack gets the device into a HazMat vehicle at the last second.  Just as things appear to be wrapped up, Kim is threatened at the airport by a couple working for Tony and Cara.  Based on this threat, Jack is told to free Tony.  More banter from Chloe and Janis:

  • Janis – “You have something you’d like to say to me?”
  • Chloe – “Like what?”
  • Janis – “Like you don’t know.”   
  • Chloe – “I don’t think I do.”
  • Janis – “How about good job, Janis.  Or just maybe I should have considered the possibility that you actually know what you’re doing.”
  • Chloe – “Well, you don’t know me, but if you did you would understand that this is the last place you should look for any type of validation.”
  • Janis – “How about just acknowledging you were wrong.”

Summary – Lots of action, but I hate it when Jack is forced to back off by threats that his partners aren’t aware of.  It’s even worse when he uses his skills to help the bad guys.  I wish the good guys wouldn’t do bad things just because their family is being held hostage.

S-7, E-23:

Jack frees Tony.  Tony takes Jack hostage because the bad guys can copy the WMD from Jack’s bodily organs.  Secret Service Aaron brings Ethan back to determine if there is evidence of Olivia’s complicity in the Jonas Hodges murder.  Renee warns Kim about Tony’s operatives, and she escapes.  Tony and Cara bring Jack back to the lab for some reverse-engineering of the WMD.  Kim is able to retrieve a laptop from her abductors that Chloe can trace back to where Jack is being held.  Ethan finds a recording of Olivia ordering the hit on Hodges.  Jack frees himself from Tony’s medical team, but Tony recaptures him. 

Summary – Kind of slow, with action that didn’t seem to advance the storyline, but rather just filled time.

S-7, E-24:

Ethan and Aaron confront Olivia and insist that she confess to President Taylor and let he decide what to do.  Tony explains to Jack that all of his activities have been intended to get to Hodges’s boss, Alan Wilson, who is responsible for killing President Palmer and his wife Michelle (and his unborn son) and working with President Logan.  Tony is planning to explode Jack when he gets next to Wilson, but at the last moment Renee and the FBI assault the location and save Jack.  In the turmoil, Tony kills Cara and captures Wilson.  Tony beats Wilson, but before he can kill him, Jack and Renee wound him.  The problem is that the evidence against Wilson isn’t very strong, and there is no evidence of who he is working with.  When Renee asks Wilson for information:

  • Anything else you need to say, you can say to my attorneys.”

That’s a standard response to FBI questioning.  Renee talks to Jack about her problem:

  • Jack – “What happened?
  • Renee – “He’s denying everything; claims we don’t have a case against him.”
  • Jack – “Is he right?”
  • Renee – “Maybe, which means he has absolutely no reason to tell us who else is involved in this.  But I can make him talk.  If we don’t find these people, one day they will launch another attack.  And I don’t see how I could live with myself knowing there was something I could have done to stop it.  I don’t know what to do.” 
  • Jack – “I can’t tell you what to do.  I been wrestling with this my whole life.  I see 15 people being held hostage on a bus, everything else goes out the window.  I will do whatever it takes to save them, and I mean whatever it takes.  Guess maybe I thought if I save them, I save myself.”
  • Renee – “Do you regret anything you did today?”
  • Jack – “No, then again I don’t work for the FBI.”
  • Renee – “I don’t understand.”
  • Jack – “You took an oath.  You made a promise to uphold the law.  You cross that line, it always starts off with a small step.  Before you know it, you’re running as fast as you can in the wrong direction just to justify why you started in the first place.  These rules were written by much smarter men than me.  And in the end, I know these laws have to be more important than the 15 people on the bus.  I know that’s right.  In my mind, I know that’s right.  I just don’t think my heart could ever have listened.  I guess the only advice I can give you is try and make choices that you can live with.”
  • Renee – “I don’t know what to say.”
  • Jack – “Don’t say anything at all.” 

Olivia confesses to her mom and dad.  Dad Henry is more defensive/protective and thinks about how to protect Olivia.  Janis and Chloe finished their banter:

  • Janis – “I’d like to thank you for all the help you gave me today.”
  • Chloe – “Yeah, interesting.  Given what you have to work with, you’re doing a pretty good job.”
  • Janis – “I’ll take that as a compliment; thank you.”
  • Chloe – “Good, that’s what it was meant to be.

As Jack is getting ready to be put into a final coma, he is visited by the iman (upon Jack’s request):

  • Jack – “I’ve made so many mistakes, and I always thought that I would have the time to correct them.”
  • Iman – “You have the time, right now.”
  • Jack – “You don’t know what I’ve done.”
  • Iman – “We live in complex times, Mr. Bauer.  Nothing is black and white.  But I do know this – I see before me a man with all his flaws and all his goodness.  Simply a man.  [Praying] Let us both forgive ourselves for all the wrongs we have done.” 
  • Jack – “Thank you.  It’s time.”

After thinking about Olivia’s situation for a few minutes, President Taylor decides to turn her into the law to be prosecuted.  Henry looks stunned.  The abandoned president commiserates with Ethan.  Renee prepares to interrogate Alan Wilson and tells Janis to leave the room.  Wilson is wearing a smug, wimpy look on his face as Renee enters the room.  Kim gets to Jack after he has passed into a coma:

  • Iman – “My name is Kohar.  I’m a friend. 
  • Kim – “A friend?”
  • Iman – “We spent the past few minutes talking and I can tell you he’s accepted what is happening.”
  • Kim – “Maybe he has, but I haven’t….  I understand the risks and I know my father didn’t want me to take that chance.  But it’s my choice now, and I’ve made up my mind.”

Last line in the Season:

  • Kim – “I’m sorry, Daddy, but I’m not ready to let you go.”


Summary – Awesome ending; awesome final episode.



April 21, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies #69 – Bullitt and Django Unchained

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 1:43 pm
Tags: , , ,

Bullitt (1968) is an obvious precursor to “24.”  The number of similarities is striking:

  1. Steve McQueen is an early version of Jack Bauer – i.e., a mid-level, mid-career law-enforcement operator who is well known within his agency as high-risk, high-reward.
  2. He has a beautiful, sensitive girlfriend (Jacqueline Bisset) who worries that his law-enforcement activities are causing him to be insensitive and callous.
  3. Some superiors try to restrain him to standard protocols while others trust his judgment. 
  4. Every time that a lead dead-ends, another one magically materializes.

 But there are also significant differences because the world in 1968 is vastly different than the world post 9/11:

  1. Bullitt is a hot-shot police lieutenant who is supposed to protect a mob target, so he plans to do it with only three men, each working an 8-hour shift.  Security today would be vast. 
  2. Professional hit men shoot their victim only one time in the shoulder and his cop protector only one time in the leg.  Professionals today would riddle the body with bullets and not leave behind any witnesses.  (The Boston-marathon murderers proved the unprofessional status by abducting a guy and later letting him go.)
  3. Twice Bullitt allows a slow-moving assailant to escape on foot.
  4. A criminal takes a gun on a commercial jet without any problem.

Frank Bullitt can’t hold a candle to Jack.  Same thing for the movie.  Rotten Tomatoes gives it 97% from the critics and 83% from the audience.  Boy, we’ve come a long way since 1968.  I give the movie three stars out of four. 

Django Unchained (2012) received a lot of buzz because of its graphic violence and its treatment of slavery.  I recall hearing that black director Spike Lee was upset, arguing that the subject of slavery could not be accurately handled by the film’s white director Quentin Tarantino.  Since watching the movie, however, I have read that Lee’s main criticism was that Tarantino treated slavery like a spaghetti western instead of like the Holocaust.  That seems like a valid criticism, but I don’t know if most blacks in America today have such horrid images of slavery that they feel any treatment of it has to be serious and grave. 

With respect to the film’s graphic violence, Tarantino has a history of it – Kill Bill, Inglourious Bastards, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, etc.  I lost count of the number of evil white people dispatched by protagonists Jamie Foxx and Christopher Waltz, but the victims seemed to be like balloons full of nothing but blood that explode when shot.  Rotten Tomato critics scored the movie at 89 and the audience liked it even more at 94.  That is too high for me because I like movies that make me think, or at least have a solid romance.  This movie was fun and entertaining, but there was nothing to think about and the romance was utterly superficial.  I give it three stars out of four.

April 13, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies #68 – Life of Pi and Flight

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 8:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I watched Flight (2012) shortly after finishing “24” for the second time, so it’s only natural that I would compare the protagonist in Flight – the estimable Denzel Washington – against Jack Bauer.  As Senator Lloyd Bentsen famously said, “Denzel, you are no Jack Bauer.” 

Actually, the comparison is unfair because Jack Bauer was designed to be a paragon of best American values, a modern-day John Wayne.  As Jack’s side-kick Chloe O’Brien said, “Jack is the most honorable person I know.”  By contrast, Denzel as an airline pilot in Flight is designed to personify American slacker values – i.e., flippant, undisciplined, spoiled.      

In addition to its exploration of Denzel’s slackerness, the movie raises an issue related to the old saying, “But for the grace of God, there go I.”  This happens when Denzel, while under the influence of drugs and alcohol while piloting a plane, crashes the plane.  Even though Denzel flew the plane miraculously well, the law provides that he was guilty of a felony.  That is not justice under my way of thinking.

The Rotten Tomato critics scored Flight at 79% and the audience at 76%.  I agree and give it three and a half stars out of four.

Life of Pi (2012) was an international box office sensation that was nominated for eleven Oscars, including Best Picture, and its director Ang Lee won an Oscar.  Although it is an American movie, it is based on an Indian boy and his family. Much of the movie is computer animated with a Bengal tiger sharing a lifeboat with a 16-year-old Indian boy.  Because I wasn’t in the mood for computer animation, I found the movie so boring that I was tempted to early-eject the DVD.  The ending, however, was deeper than I expected, and it made me wish I had paid more attention throughout.  The Rotten Tomato critics scored Pi at 88% and the audience gave it 87%.  I disagree and give it only two stars out of four. 






March 26, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies #67 – “24.”

Filed under: Movie reviews,Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 9:20 pm
Tags: , ,

OK, I understand that “24” is a TV drama, but after spending quite a few hours the past few weeks watching all 193 episodes, I decided to post a movie piece about “24” and Jack Bauer.

Jack Bauer, played by Keifer Sutherland, is the star of “24.  He is a field operator in America’s Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU).  His character is a modern-day John Wayne.  While President Reagan once said that he would sometimes ask himself, “What Would John Wayne Do?” I am now tempted to say, “What would Jack Bauer do?”  Bauer seems to act with the same sort of moral clarity possessed by the Duke even in situations that aren’t as black & white as those in the Duke’s movies.  (Incidentally, soon after coining the WWJBD expression, I learned that t-shirts with that expression have been sold on the internet for years.)    

Two common recurring issues in “24” are whether the end justifies the means and whether individuals can be sacrificed for the common/greater good.  In the end of each of the show’s dramatic situations, if you did what Bauer suggested, you were happy.  If you didn’t do what he suggested, you invariably regretted it.  And of course, if you ordered him to do the wrong thing, he almost always ignored your orders and did the right thing.

24” was televised on Fox for eight seasons (2001-2010), with a two-hour movie between seasons #6 and #7.  The movie, titled “Redemption” was prompted by a writers’ strike that resulted in no regular episodes in 2008. 

“24” was a prodigious winner of Emmys – 68 nominations and 20 wins.  The critics thought Season Five was the best, but I couldn’t stop watching Seasons Seven and Eight until they were over.  And the season finales, of which the first was generally considered to be the best, invariably prompted me to immediately start the next season.  I can’t imagine being forced to wait seven months for the next season, as the TV viewers had to do.

But the same thing can be said about each episode.  I would be watching late at night and planning to go to bed at the end of the episode, but the ending would be so riveting that I had to start the next episode immediately.  Several nights I watched past 2 a.m., and one night I went until 6 a.m. 

Jack Bauer appeared in all 193 episodes, and the next leading contributors were data analyst Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), who appeared in 125 episodes, field operator Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) in 115, President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) in 80, and daughter Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) in 79.  Other memorable characters included Bauer’s wife Teri (Leslie Hope) in 24 episodes and his six girlfriends – Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) in 36, Kate Warner (Sarah Winter) in 25, Claudia Hernandez (Vanessa Ferlito) in 11, Audrey Raines (Kim Raver) in 52, Marilyn Bauer (Rena Sofer) in 12, and Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) in 37 – plus Almeida’s girlfriend Michelle Dessler (Reiko Aylesworth) in 62, CTU director Bill Buchanan (James Morrison) in 64, and Presidents Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones is a Cathy Phillips look-a-like) in 43 and Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin is a Nixon look-a-like) in 44.   

There has been plenty planning for a new movie version of “24,” but just a couple weeks ago, things were put on hold because of budgetary issues and Sutherland’s scheduling problems.  My thoughts – Git-R-Done.

September 23, 2011

Gotcha questions

Filed under: Issues,Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 7:35 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The Urban Dictionary defines gotcha questions as “simple, straight-forward questions that cannot be answered by inept politicians.”  There’s a lot of truth to that tongue-in-cheek definition, and an example would be Sarah Palin’s assertion of “gotcha journalism” when Katie Couric asked her what newspapers and magazines she read to stay informed on world affairs.

A more conventional definition of gotcha journalism can be found in Wikipedia:

  • A term used to describe methods of interviewing which are designed to entrap interviewees into making statements which are damaging or discreditable to their cause, character, integrity, or reputation.  The aim is to make film or sound recordings of the interview which can be selectively edited, compiled, and broadcast or published to show the subject in an unfavorable light.”

The key to this definition is that it involves a journalist trying to make the subject look bad by using unfair questions or editing.  Palin never argued that Couric’s question was unfair, but she did claim that Couric edited out several substantive foreign-policy responses that Palin did well on, and retained the one where she stumbled.

I disagree with Palin on this – it would have been journalistic malpractice to edit out the failure of a stature-challenged vice-presidential to identify any magazine or newspaper that she read to keep up on world affairs.

A different form of gotcha question is one that comes out of “left field,” – i.e., one that you have never thought about.  During my congressional campaign, I fielded one of these questions during the taping of a public-TV interview in which I was given 90 seconds to respond to each question.  “What new programs would you support that enhance the ability of people who are currently living paycheck to paycheck to save for their retirement?”

I was dumbfounded.  The first part of the question focused on living paycheck to paycheck and the second part concerned saving for their retirement.  The question was further complicated because I was running as a fiscal conservative who wanted to reduce government spending, not create expensive new programs.  As you might expect, I stumbled badly, not wanting to be heartless, and mumbled something about improving the availability and effectiveness of the 401(k).

Last night Rick Perry fielded a question that came from even deeper right field.  He was asked what he would do if he was suddenly told about a rebellion in Pakistan that resulted in its nuclear weapons getting into the hands of terrorists.  Several pundits have acknowledged that this was a tough question (oh, really?), yet criticized Perry for stumbling with his response and mumbling something about the need to establish relations with all the key parties, including India.

Like the question to me, this question is probably something that Perry had never expected and hadn’t pre-formulated a response.  Worse, it was not conducive to an ad-libbed response.  If Perry were given a minute or two to think, or if he were afforded a lifeline (like on Who Wants to be a Millionaire), I’m sure he could have come up with something.

As I was on my bike ride today, twelve hours after the debate, the perfect answer came to me – I would immediately get on the phone
with Jack Bauer.

July 6, 2010

Due process for an erstwhile Facebook aficionado

In the past few weeks, I have become a Facebook aficionado.  I loved staying in touch with lifelong friends and growing a network of new friends.   

Then, just before the Fourth of July holiday, I received a shocking notice from Facebook saying my account had been “disabled.”  When I requested an explanation, I was sent the following email message:

Hi Mike,

Your account was disabled because your behavior on the site was identified as harassing or threatening to other people on Facebook. Prohibited behavior includes, but is not limited to:

• Sending friend requests to people you don’t know

• Regularly contacting strangers through unsolicited Inbox messages

• Soliciting others for dating or business purposes

After reviewing your situation, we have determined that your behavior violated Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. You will no longer be able to use Facebook. This decision is final and cannot be appealed.

Please note that for technical and security reasons, we will not provide you with any further details about this decision.



User Operations


Although the Facebook email said the decision was “final and cannot be appealed,” I couldn’t believe that a mainstream American institution would act so arbitrary and authoritarian.  The U.S. Constitution guarantees that we cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process, and the Facebook process for disabling members would clearly not satisfy due-process requirements.  Unfortunately, due process in the 5th Amendment applies only to the federal government, and due process in the 14th Amendment applies only to the state governments.  Neither of these amendments applies to actions taken by private businesses.  Fortunately, in capitalistic countries, most businesses act with some semblance of compliance with due process because the public insists on it.  Inexplicably, there has been no public outcry over Facebook’s clearly un-American process for disabling.   

After reading the Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, I wrote as follows to Jayden:


I am shocked that Facebook would consider its decision final without even hearing from me.  How else would it avoid glaring oversights?

Regarding the prohibited behavior, I have never contacted strangers through unsolicited inbox messages or solicited others for dating or business purposes.  Although I have sent friend requests to people I don’t know, these people were friends of friends of friends.  I was building a network of interesting people, and I had no idea that such contacts were prohibited.  If I had known that these contacts were not permitted, I would have immediately stopped.

Although you say this decision is final, please reconsider.  Facebook is very important to me, and I would appreciate being a part of your community.

Mike Kueber

While waiting for Jayden to respond, I dug a little deeper by to see what was happening to other people.  Not surprisingly, a lot of people describe being disabled in an abrupt, arbitrary manner, but the typical fix is a simple work-around – i.e., opening a new account.  Apparently, there is little that Facebook can do to prevent this because they can’t distinguish one Mike Kueber from another Mike Kueber (unless they have developed a JackBauer-esque, face-recognition application). 

Several websites listed some potential reasons for disablement, and Mari Smith’s was the most helpful for my situation:

  1. You send “too many” friend requests in one day/session.
  2. You make “too many” wall posts in one day/session – especially with verbatim content and with links.
  3. You copy and paste the same friend request message “too many” times.
  4. You send too many identical emails to individual friends and/or friend lists.
  5. You message your Group members “too many” times.
  6. You message your Event invitees “too many” times.

Mari’s Reason #1 is probably why I was disabled.  I remember that I sent out a large volume of friend requests shortly before being disabled.  In fact, I remember feeling good about increasing my number of friends from 500 to 600 in about a week.  Little did I know that, while growing my network, I had planted the seeds of destruction.  

Mari’s recommended action steps to avoid disablement are:

  1. Take your time to build up a strategic network of friends on Facebook. Focus on quality, not quantity.
  2. Send no more than approximately 20 new friend requests at any one time. Also, be sure to mix up the friend request messages.
  3. Use your own opt-in email system.
  4. Build out your Facebook Page.
  5. Include Facebook in your overall marketing strategy. Don’t put all your social networking “eggs” in one basket. Build up a following on Twitter, FriendFeed, Plaxo, LinkedIn, etc.
  6. Remember there was life before Facebook.

I don’t want to go back to life before Facebook.