Episode 2.23, "6 AM to 7 AM"
Written by: Gil Grant & Evan Katz
Directed by: Jon Cassar
Alex Hewitt, the hacker who created the false recording that is about to plunge America into war, is running away from Jack Bauer after sticking a shiv into Sherry Palmer. Jack gives chase, since Hewitt is the only realistic hope that he has of stopping this war. The two play cat and mouse for a bit until Jack traps him on the roof. When Hewitt draws a gun on Jack, Bauer is forced to fire back. He catches Hewitt in the leg, knowing that he can't kill this man. In shock and reeling from the pain, Hewitt backs up and falls off the ledge of the roof, landing about ten feet below on a broader section of roof. This wouldn't normally be a problem, but evidently Hewitt's head broke the fall since the back of his skull is split open. He's massively hemorrhaging and Jack can do very little but watch as his hope for preventing the death of thousands of innocents dies before his eyes.
He gets on the phone with Tony and Michelle demanding to know where his helicopter is. The chopper is en route, but Tony and Michelle have their own problems. They had to take out Ryan Chappelle to procure Jack's helicopter, and Carrie White is getting suspicious at Chappelle's absence. Tony knows that it's only a matter of time before he gets caught in this action, and he's wagering everything on the belief that Jack is right. To safeguard that belief, he sends Michelle out of the building to open up a remote access station to help Jack out should Tony be caught.
And once Brad Hammond, the director of CTU Division, calls Tony and demands to speak to Chappelle right away; Tony knows he's screwed. He tells Brad that he doesn't know where Chappelle is, but he'll try and locate him. Not stupid by any stretch of the imagination, Hammond doesn't believe a word that Tony says.
At the Palmer camp, David Palmer's lawyer Brian Jacobs finally arrives. Palmer wants to know how quickly he can appeal his removal as president, but finds out that it wouldn't be in enough time to prevent the unjust assault against the Middle East. His only option now is to go after the name that Jack gave him about the man who has orchestrated all the events of this day. He asks Jacobs to find out what he can about Peter Kingsley, hoping that there might be something useful to be gleamed from the man's files.
Brian approaches Mike at Palmer's request, and manages to lay down a big enough guilt trip on Mike to obtain limited access to the information network at CTU Division. Which is just what Jacob will need. Of course, Mike Novick might have an alternative reason for agreeing to help Palmer. It seems that the approaching bombers have been spotted by Turkish forces, and the president of Turkey demands to speak with Palmer before he grants permission for a fly over. Obviously he can't be told that Prescott has replaced Palmer as president of the United States. As a result, Mike has to beg for Palmer's help in gaining permission from the Turks. At first Palmer has no intention of providing anything, but Mike points out that this attack will go forth whether or not they have Turkey's permission. All that Palmer's refusal would accomplish is the endangerment of the Americans actually piloting the bombers. So reluctantly Palmer complies with Mike's wishes, gaining the permission of the Turkish President via a videophone.
I don't know if I would have done this if I was Palmer though. It seems to me that if the bombers were forced to detour around Turkey, then it would take them longer to reach their destination. And while it might place the fighter pilots in greater danger, it would also buy Palmer and Bauer more time to prove that the Middle Eastern countries had no responsibility in the nuclear assault upon America. Which still has to be Palmer's ultimate goal.
Back at CTU, Hammond has arrived, tipped off by Carrie that something has happened to Chappelle. After searching the complex they find a recovering Chappelle in a locked witness room. Tony is arrested and Carrie offers to track down Michelle by tracing her cybernetic trail. Have I mentioned that I really hate Carrie White? The character has reached Sherry Palmer and Nina Meyers levels of evil. I just want something really really bad to happen to her. Which is the sign of a good show and a good actress since I'm actually generating negative feelings over a fictional character. And not that the character is stupidly annoying in that Jar Jar Binks kind of way. Hammond also calls off the helicopter that was sent to retrieve Jack.
And it just so happens that the helicopter has already reached Jack Bauer. Mere feet away from the pickup, the helicopter is halted and a stunned and enraged Jack watches it fly back off. He races back to Hewitt, only to find that the hacker has passed away due to his head trauma.
Thinking quickly, Jack feels that he has one option left to explore. He returns to the apartment to find Sherry Palmer still alive. Her knife wound was superficial. That lady has the luck of the devil, which makes sense since she probably is the devil. But it's the devil that Jack needs help from now. He wants Sherry Palmer to call Kingsley in an attempt to flush him out into the open. Sherry is supposed to call Kingsley and propose a trade, Alex Hewitt for the incriminating evidence that Kingsley has on her.
In order to pull this off though, Jack is going to have to crack Hewitt's computer program that allows voice imitation. Or more appropriately, Michelle is going to have to since she's the one he calls for help. Since Hewitt had already set up the program, she has no problem figuring out the system. Michelle has no time, since Carrie has successfully tracked her down. CTU agents come and grab just as she helps Jack figure out how to work the program.
The program now in place, Sherry calls up Kingsley and offers to trade Hewitt for the evidence that incriminates her. He balks initially, even after hearing Hewitt's artificial voice over the computer. Jack forces Sherry to play hardball however and eventually Kingsley does fold and agrees to a meeting on neutral ground. He has no choice, since Hewitt is the one loose end that he hasn't tied up yet. If Hewitt turns over, then it doesn't matter if the bombers start the war or not, Kingsley and all his comrades will lose everything.
We are also introduced to Kingsley's new henchman of choice, a pretty little brunette by the name of Eve. She and Kingsley appear to have a close relationship, and she's been busy trying to clean up any trace of Kingsley's involvement in the day. The last scene shows the two hugging and Kingsley reaching for a letter opener, presumably to stab her in the back. My response to this is a big fat so what? I mean this is the first episode we've seen her in, and besides the fact that Eve has spectacular breasts, we don't know anything about her. Her death does nothing to advance a story, and it's not like Kingsley had to prove that he was a cold blooded bastard. The fact that he was willing to detonate a nuclear bomb in LA to start a war against innocent countries just to increase the amount of money he could make on oil shares is a pretty damn good indication of that.
Sitting out on the sidelines for the most part this episode, the two super victims meet and amazingly nothing bad happens to them. Kate tries to calm down a severely stressed out Kim, who is waving a gun, and offers to drive her to the CTU. Kim finally relents, but also wonders why her father would have had Kate come pick her up. She begins to wonder if there might not be something going on between Kate and her father. Which, of course, there is. I'm curious to see what they're going to do with Kate and Kim in the next season. Obviously the writers have heard all the flak from the misuse of Kim this season, so I can only imagine that they'll be logically integrated into the story somehow. Or maybe I'm just delusional and holding out false hope.
Jack grabs Sherry and takes her with him to the meeting point. Yet more and more, Jack is grabbing and clutching his chest in pain. It appears that he's not quite Iron Man after all, as his bout of torture has left him with a damaged heart that's degenerating as time goes on. Or maybe he is Iron Man, since Tony Stark actually did have a bad heart and that's why he wore the armor. Then again Keifer's name has been tossed around as being attached to Ghost Rider or Namor so . . . Hmmm, why don't I stop this rant on comic book lore while I still maintain some level of dignity.
As Jack is driving towards the meeting, he has what appears to be a heart attack and careens off the road and into a nearby ditch with Sherry grabbing at the wheel. A neat twist, but lacking the power of last year's penultimate episode, which ended with the revelation of Nina as a traitor.
Overall it was a good episode, but lacked the spark of tension that has propelled the best moments of this show. The stakes are certainly high enough, but somehow they don't feel personal enough. Not to mention this episode was very light on action, but that should be rectified next week I suppose.
After all, next week is the season finale. Although there just appears to be far too many plot threads to wrap up. This might be on purpose. Unlike last year, the writers already know that they have been picked up for next season. Therefore, they might end this season with a bit of a cliffhanger in order to draw the viewer into next season. Which makes sense, since not everything can be wrapped up in one day. Should be good though.
Before that though, I'll be covering the Saturn Awards this Sunday with Ultra Magnus (you know, the guy who used to write Farscape Reviews), and will hopefully be able to meet some of the 24 writers and actors. Might even be able to nab an interview or two. You don't think Elisha Cuthbert would be upset with my constant Kim bashing do you?
Episode Rating: 7 out of 10