We’re in the final stretch for 24, and it seems like the producers are pulling out all the stops. No, they haven’t resurrected all my favorite characters from the dead (we can now add Dana Walsh to that list, le sigh), but in what seemed like an homage to its controversial past, the show provided us with what may have been the most graphic torture scene ever in the series’ run (not to mention in the history of network television). If you want to be spared the bloody details, chances are you should stop reading now.
Here’s how it went down. After having offed Dana Walsh at the end of last week’s intense show, Jack popped the much sought-after video file into his phone and watched the incriminating evidence, which proved that not only were the Russians behind Hassan’s assassination, but that Dana really did love Cole after all. Awww. Major fail on the lovebird front, Jack. Nevertheless, even though Jack had acted as the ultimate cockblock, he wasn’t about to let that slow him down. He returned to the mysterious cyber den of Michael Madsen and recruited him for more help. The mission was simple: Jack needed to somehow expose the Russians. What could he do? Well, call up that young, purdy blonde thang that President Hassan had been banging before this wretched day began. Let’s not forget that this hot piece of tail (known by her parents and colleagues as Meredith) was not just a good lay but also an esteemed journalist — the sort of journalist who could bring this scandal to light! Yes, all Jack had to do was meet up with her in a highly dangerous public location and hope and pray that the proof would make it to the page.
Or he could have uploaded the video to YouTube and been done with it.
Seriously, the whole get-the-video-to-the-reporter notion was all fine and John Grisham-y, but let’s be honest: these days, it takes a simple upload to the Internet to take care of these sort of things. Try as the bad guys may, once something’s in “the cloud,” it’s never going away. Just ask Erin Andrews.
Still, I was willing to overlook this glaringly obvious tactical option because what fun would it have been to watch Jack uploading a video for fifteen minutes? Not much fun at all, I tell you. And so the story progressed with Jack meeting Meredith at a department store. One problem: CTU intercepted the phone call. More specifically, our new CTU jackass Jason Pillar intercepted his phone call to her. For those who may have forgotten, Pillar is President Logan’s main lackey, and he’d been placed in CTU with the express purpose of finding Jack and “neutralizing” him — as if that was really gonna happen. And so when Jack made the call to Meredith, Pillar and his shifty sidekick immediately notified the Russians, who sent their usual goon squad to the department store in an effort to put an end to Bauer once and for all.
Did they really think it would be that simple though? Jack clearly knew the bad guys were listening in, and sure enough, just when it looked like the sniper (the same one who offed RenÃ©e) was about to blow Jack’s brains out, there was Jack’s new Michael Madsen sidekick, aiming a gun at the bad guy’s head. Surprise! Jack immediately whisked Meredith out of the store, but not before killing a pack of five undercover Russian agents in the process. All in all, the typical shopping experience for Jack.
Eventually, Jack, Meredith, Michael Madsen (a.k.a Jim), and the assassin found themselves in a warehouse across the street, which had me wondering just how many empty buildings does Manhattan have? I know times are tough, but have this many tenants had to clear out of prime midtown real estate? Nevertheless, while Jim showed Meredith the incriminating evidence in one room, Jack got down to business interrogating the sniper. And by interrogating, I mean brutally, brutally torturing.
Things started off on a rather demure note as Jack paced about with some pliers in his hand, opening and closing them with just the right amount of ominous bloodlust. You see, Jack was feeling particularly vicious towards this assassin. After having spied his rifle, Jack inferred that this man was the one and only man who had murdered RenÃ©e in cold blood, and even worse, he had shot the poor woman in such a way so that she’d suffer a long, slow death. As such, Jack wanted this guy to feel the same agony his fallen lovah had felt. That’s where the pliers came into play. If you were like me, you thought Jack was gonna pluck off this dude’s fingers one by one, but alas, that would be so… pedestrian. Instead, Jack just sort of gouged at the guy’s stomach, twisted, then pulled. I wasn’t exactly clear about what happened — and part of me thought he may have single-handedly removed the man’s bellybutton. One thing was for sure: it hurt.
The good news was that Jack certainly made the guy talk. The bad news was that he had nothing genteel to say. After his bloodcurdling screams had subsided, the assassin seethed some rather rude comment that was something along the lines of “Yeah, I killed your bitch.” Mr. Congeniality he was not. Jack did not take well to this sentiment and quickly unleashed a flurry of punches on the guy — more so than usual. Ah, but this was just the amuse bouche in our tasting menu of torture.
Next Jack whipped out some sort of liquid — acid, I presumed. He mercilessly squirted the stuff into the bad guy’s wound, causing even more cries of pain. Squirt, squirt, squirt; scream, scream, scream. Occasionally, Jack would mix things up by grabbing the dude’s neck and demanding a name or two, but this soldier was tough. He wasn’t gonna break. On to the next tactic: fire! Jack happily lit up a blow torch and plodded over to the assassin, causing me to curl up in apprehension. I’d seen a lot of torture sequences in this show’s history, but I couldn’t remember one so prolonged and graphic. And it was about to get worse. Jack applied the blow torch to the man’s wounds, causing yet more screams that echoed throughout the building. This sequence was simply out of control, and I had to imagine that this was the producer’s Grande Adieu to the series’ checkered history of torture. It was, of course, only appropriate that Michael Madsen was present just a room away. I wondered if perhaps Jack’s next plan of attack would be to slice off the assassin’s ear.
Well, when the blow torch failed to yield results, Jack all but gave up. But then, THEN he saw the guy’s phone on a table, and he realized that DUH, if he wanted to know who he’d been working for, all he had to do was check the Recent Calls. Between this oversight and the whole YouTube thing, I’m thinking that Jack might be a touch behind in consumer technology. Nevertheless, all Jack needed was the SIM card for the phone, and it seemed to have disappeared. Or had it? Suddenly Jack realized where it was. The assassin had swallowed it. And so came the exciting climax of our torture spree. Jack shoved a knife in the guy’s gut and tugged upwards, ripping apart his torso in the process. He then reached into his cavity (not unlike the human bomb scene in The Hurt Locker) and poked around until — ta da! — he found the SIM card somewhere in the man’s digestive tract. A few wipes with a cloth later, and Jack was ready to go. He dialed back the last incoming call, and wouldn’t you know it? Voicemail. But not just any voicemail: it was the voicemail of former President CHARLES LOGAN. Jack looked like he was about to shit himself. Heck, I was about to shit myself (but only because Logan somehow seemed to be the only person in America whose voicemail didn’t offer the totally unnecessary paging option. Seriously, who USES that?).
And so that’s where things were left. There was some other filler material throughout the episode too — President Taylor feeling conflicted, Chloe and Arlo joining forces to unseat the coverup (thanks to Sprint!), and most notably President Logan preparing himself for public accolades — but really, it all paled in comparison (Gregory Itzin, however, continues to be totally stupendous as Logan. He undoubtedly deserves some sort of award recognition). There are only three hours left. What do you think will happen?