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M. Giant: C+ | Grade It Now!
Kiefer's Ex vs. World War III
In a hurry? Read the recaplet for a nutshell description!

Fayed's former safe house is now crawling with CTU agents, complete with a helicopter hovering overhead. Kiefer is being attended to by yet another CTU medic, who under the circumstances is just giving him a shot for the pain instead of making him go to the hospital. Even though as far as the medic knows, Kiefer didn't just get a call from a Chinese guy who’s holding Audrey hostage and thus the "circumstances" are over. Doyle comes over and says that now that CTU has found the bombs, the Marines are going to take things from here, securing the bombs for transport to a NEST facility. As part of my commitment to you, I even looked up "NEST" and found out that it stands for Nuclear Emergency Support Team. Once I found out what they do, I started to wonder where the hell they've been all day, but the internet is no help there, I'm afraid. Lingering suspiciously next to the evidence table, Kiefer sneaks a cell phone into his pocket and is surprised when he turns to find that Doyle is still standing there. Fortunately, all Doyle wants is to tell Kiefer how awesome he is. Kiefer graciously (for him) accepts the compliment and wanders off to be alone. Once he's in a relatively private alley, he crouches down with his purloined cell phone and starts dialing. I'd wonder how he memorized the number Cheng gave him, but considering how many times it's already been used this season, I've practically memorized it myself.

At the empty office building where Audrey's being held by the Chinese, she sits on the floor huddled in a blanket, which, combined with the lamentable state of her hair, makes her look like she was just fished out of some harbor. Cheng's cell phone rings. Kiefer wants to talk to Audrey, but Cheng would rather explain how Audrey ended up in this situation in the first place. He exposits that she came to Beijing to find Kiefer, and that since Kiefer was so "uncooperative," Cheng figured they could use Audrey as leverage someday. "And that day is here," Cheng says brightly. Okay, how long ago did the Chinese know that? Did they fly Audrey in from Beijing as soon as they found out about the nukes? Has she been in the U.S. ever since the Chinese agreed to return Kiefer? Or did they in fact get transported back in the same plane, separated by the same kind of impenetrable curtain that used to separate First Class and Coach? None of these answers are forthcoming for now.

Kiefer's only too happy to offer to return to Chinese custody if they'll release Audrey, but Cheng's been there and done that. What he really wants is a piece of one of those Russian suitcase nukes. Apparently, there's a part of the triggering mechanism that contains an algorithm that would give the Chinese full access to all Russian defense technology. Really? I don't understand the first thing about algorithms, and even if I did, we don't have much choice but to go along with Cheng's assertion. Everybody else will, and in any case we don't have an episode otherwise (not that that would be an entirely bad thing). At least they're not trying to make a case for some kind of highly classified multiplication table. Long story short: Audrey for the component, or else Cheng will kill her. Kiefer puts up a few weak objections -- it's too hard, it's too dangerous, it'll start World War III, woe is me -- but Cheng isn't budging. Kiefer wants to talk to Audrey before agreeing, and this time Cheng consents. He offers Audrey the phone and tells her to talk to Kiefer. Kim Raver does this brilliant thing where she reaches for the phone, then draws her hand back to make sure Cheng isn't going to bite it off before finally taking the handset. It goes by in a flash, and it shows once again how completely overqualified she is for this gig. Although Audrey claims to Kiefer that they haven't hurt her, she clearly is deathly afraid of Cheng. You can tell by the way she flinches away from him as he leans way down into her grill. She mutters an apology to Cheng without even knowing what for. Kiefer misinterprets her words and tells her not to be sorry. He promises to get her out of there. Cheng grabs the phone back, and Audrey reacts like she's been struck. She is clearly broken in some way. Cheng tells Kiefer that he's got an hour to get ready for the exchange. Kiefer says that's not enough time, but of course Cheng has already hung up. At 11:06:02, Kiefer sneaks a peek around the corner onto the loading dock, where a whole platoon of armed Marines is just arriving. He thinks, Dammit, I just shot my way into there fifteen minutes ago, and now I have to do it again?

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