Day 2: 11:00 PM – 12:00 AM

Episode Report Card
Gustave: B | Grade It Now!

In times like these, we all need a hero. Yeah, sing it, Pearl Jam...I mean, Creed. 24 has returned. An all-new episode starts now. Electric blue Kiefer. Electric blue Spawn. Electric blue Palmer. Nice of them to acknowledge the other cast members one more time. I guess Fox is getting cocky about the new ratings and assumes that we're all on board, because there's no Kiefer intro speech this week about this being the longest day of his life, despite our three-week hiatus.

Previouslys. The B-O-M-B must be flown and detonated over the Mojave Desert. Kiefer volunteers to fly the plane for what is essentially a suicide mission. Palmer takes Air Force One to Los Angeles. A Fauxraqistani intelligence liaison shows up at CTU and immediately starts clashing with Soul Patch. A recording is found in Syed Ali's apartment that links the B-O-M-B to "three Middle Eastern countries." Spawn finally gets a hold of Kiefer by phone, only to find out that her father is going to die. Mason sneaks aboard Flight 86 and relieves us of a Kiefer-free show. Holy shiitake! It's a mushroom cloud!

Mojave Desert. The mushroom cloud is still abloom. I've always thought that mushroom clouds were really pretty -- despite the fact that they're caused by the mega-deadly explosion of a nuclear warhead -- and this one is no exception. It's all saturated red and gold like a Maxfield Parrish landscape or an old Rheingold beer ad. At CTU, the agents watch the explosion on a variety of video screens. Soul Patch is dumbfounded. Lesbo-Carrie is dreaming of all the sweet pussy she's going to get from all the terrified women of Los Angeles. Meanwhile, on Air Force One, Palmer sits with PoorMan'sHumeCronyn and watches the explosion from the air in his private cabin. Through his window, it just looks like a sunrise. He's fascinated and yet terrified by the sight of it. A grief-stricken Rolaide enters his cabin and studies his reaction. From the highway, Spawn cries over what she thinks is the death of her father as she watches the mushroom cloud that took him looming over the mountains. A sad piano theme plays as she turns away and sits down on the curb. "Daddy!" she cries, running her fingers through her hair and giving us a nice long look at her immaculate manicure. An electrically generated boy's choir sings in the background.

A flare is lit. And then another. And another. It's Kiefer on the ground, signaling for a CTU chopper to bring him back to CTU. Trumpets announce the arrival of a chopper that lands amidst the smoky blue and orange flames streaming from the burning flares. Kiefer climbs aboard and asks the handsome black agent to get in touch with Soul Patch and tell him that he made it. He needs Soul Patch to relay the news to Spawn that he's still alive. But alas, radio transmissions are a "no go" due to the blast, according to this week's handsome black agent who's not dead yet. Jeez, I could have told Kiefer that. Didn't he see The Day After on ABC?

Back at CTU, Soul Patch gathers the agents around him for yet another heartwarming speech to pay respect to Mason and pass along Mason's posthumous thanks for all their hard work that "day." And, like the speech he gave to the staff a little over an "hour" ago, he winds up by urging everyone to get back to work. Jeez, I mean, the B-O-M-B is no longer an urgent issue. Can't they all just sit down and order in some Chinese for fifteen friggin' minutes now that L.A. isn't going to blow up? Soul Patch wants everyone to turn their attention to the recording made in Cyprus that confirms that Fauxraqistan, Akalakistan, and Tofurkey (tm Jjayelle) hired Syed Ali to plant the B-O-M-B. According to Soul Patch, the verification of the tape is a big priority, since Palmer wants to consider a military response right then and there. Okay, this is my primary beef with this season. The whole artistic point of 24 -- at least as I see it -- has been to show that a lot can happen in a twenty-four-hour period: families can fall apart, people's perspectives can change on their entire lives, and conflicts can emerge that destroy lives, et cetera. Now, I realize that "reality" -- whatever that is -- may have to be jimmied with a little in order to bring such a "day" to life. However, this season, as opposed to last season, feels like they've just taken a bunch of events that would normally occur over a series of weeks or even months and crammed them all together in order to fit into a fictional twenty-four-hour period. So instead of zeroing in on a day and the amount of drama that can unfold therein, the writers are just overstuffing a normal day full of unlikely activity. It would be like if I decided I wanted the thirty-two-inch waist I had in college, and instead of dieting and exercising or even purging and liposuction, I just took a pair of jeans that I normally wear and wrote in "32" on the label, or bought a pair of real 32" jeans and fastened them with a belt at my knees and hopped around all day. It's not like I'm fooling anyone. There's just no way -- even in the hyperbolic 24-verse -- that the U.S., led by a Democratic president, would go to war within hours of a terrorist attack...a failed terrorist attack at that.

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