You never know when your TV-watching habits are going to pay off, friends. Take “24,” for instance. At its heights a blockbuster action show worthy of extra-buttered popcorn; at it’s worst, well, full of redneck ex-boyfiends. But I never knew the show could teach me valuable life lessons as well. Just today, I found a half-foot of water in my basement and knew that I should calibrate my “DAMNIT” just slightly higher than when a suspect breaks a CTU perimeter and slightly lower than when a witness dies in Jack’s arms before (s)he can tell him the vital piece of intel that could end that day’s threat. 

So thank you, “24.” I underestimated you. Onto the recap! 

At CTU, Hastings debriefs the team on the new intel about Tarin Faroush. As he coordinates CTU and NYPD forces, Kayla tries to jam open the window of her 5th-story bathroom. Um, didn’t exactly think that one through, did ya? Jack talks to the NYPD contact, Sgt. Amos, as he and Cole head to the scene. Amos isn’t much for fancy things like “protocol” and “hierarchy,” and wants to send in his own team against Jack’s orders in order to nab himself his very own terrorist. 

As Tarin gets increasingly frustrated with Kayla’s super-long shower, he spies Amos’ team moving in across the street. Oh, it’s on now! As Jack frantically tries to get Amos to stand down, Tarin engages in a little cat-and-mouse with New York’s semi-finest in the hallways of the hotel. He manages to take out three officers, steal one of their walkies, and try to throw CTU off the sent by pretending to be an injured officer.  

Because Jack Bauer is Jack Bauer, he sees through the ruse almost instantly. He puts the remaining guards on alert, and two of them even manage to hold Tarin at gunpoint outside the hotel. However, Samir’s driver shows up in a cab, plugs both cops, and now we’re onto a car chase. Arlo’s drones cease to be useful once the cab goes beneath and underpass. By the time Jack and Cole catch up to the cab (with insanely tinted windows, I might add), they realize that not only is the cab missing, but they now have a kidnapping case on their hands. Jack heads to the U.N. to meet Hassan face-to-face. Whew. Pretty breathless start to the show, I must say. 

As Jack heads to CTU, Kevin’s parole agent shows up at CTU for his face-to-face with Dana. Oops. So much for “breathless pace.” Her plan actually isn’t that bad: she plays off her earlier lie by making up another one. She fibs about a recent drunken sexcapade with her ex, noting she wants to keep it quiet to protect her impending marriage. She thinks she’s managed to put the parole officer off her trail, but he notes that Nick’s prints showed up at the armored car robbery a few hours ago. Where Nick goes, he states, Eddie soon follows. Man, ain’t that the truth: they commit crime together, go to strib clubs together, sink to the bottom of an undefined body of water together....all sorts of stuff! The parole officer threatens to speak to Hastings unless he’s allowed to stick around while Dana goes and does that little “saving the city” thing. 

At the U.N., Dalia gives both Jack and Cole an earful for losing their daughter. However, she and Omar both give permission to allow CTU to monitor their phones in anticipation of a ransom call. Meanwhile, at what looks like an abandoned bank vault, Tarin leads a blindfolded Kayla into a chair. In back of her is an IRK flag. In front of her is a video camera. Behind the camera is a suddenly concerned Tarin. Shoulda thought of that before you kidnapped your boo, man. 

Samir calls Dalia’s cellphone and asks to speak to the “traitor” in the room. When President Hassan gets on the phone, Samir calls him “Omar.” Ouch. Now I feel bad about calling him by his first name in all these recaps. Seems kind of rude, even though he’s fictional. In any case, Samir asks President Hassan to hand over “File 33,” which pricks up ears in the room. However, it makes Hassan’s eyes go blank. 

Hassan at first denies knowledge of this file, but Samir has ways of prying the information from him. He supplies Hassan with an IP address, knowing full well that the U.S. government is listening to the conversation. Up on the monitor pops Kayla, frightened and alone. To make his need for File 33 even clearer, Samir puts a plastic bag over Kayla’s head, suffocating her. OK, now even I want to hand over File 33 to the terrorists, but the best I can do is a Smashing Pumpkins single off their “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” album. 

After the feed is cut, Hastings calls into the U.N. Looks like everyone’s curious about the mystery file that these terrorists want. With great hesitation, Hassan shows them what it contains: intelligence on most of the United States’ security protocols. Awkward. Awkward. Knowing these would show fatal flaws that Samit could exploit, Jack tells Hassan that there’s no way he’ll allow File 33 to be used as a bargaining chip. Luckily, Chloe and Arlo produce a possible lead on Kayla’s location, so Jack orders Hassan to stall and then leaves. 

In the Abandoned Bank of Infinite Sorrow, Tarin binds Kayla…but with love! Well, and twine. He can barely make eye contact with her at this point. Samir senses that Tarin’s feelings are stronger than his partner-in-nuclear-attack had previously let on, but Tarin insists that he’s emotionally prepared to do what’s right and in no way be the rogue element that saves her life at some point in the near future. OK, I might have embellished a bit, but that’s pretty much what he said. 

As Dana, Chloe, and Arlo plan the next move, the parole officer manages to wander right into the heart of the operation. Lord, CTU can’t even maintain a perimeter in its own office! Dana tries to shoo him away, but he’s learned quite a bit more from his NYPD contact. In fact, it’s probably a lot more than he should know about security feeds, backup tapes, metadata, and thumbdrives that have more storage than my actual laptop. Hmmmm. I can’t decide if he’s shady or the parole officer equivalent of Rain Man. Each time Dana tries to zig, he’s already two steps ahead of her. Broken, she leaves, determined to turn herself in. She calls Cole, who tries to dissuade her, but her mind’s made up. 

At the U.N., Hassan worries that the Fauz File 33 won’t pass muster, which will mean the end of his daughter. No need to fret, however, as Tarin has a last minute change of heart (told ya!) and gets her to street level. Noting that Hassan’s own men could be corrupt, he gives her a number for CTU….right before being shot by Samir. Kayla, for her part, manages to drive away from the scene. 

She calls CTU right away, which allows them to track her via her cell to guide her into their HQ. She describes her previous incarceration, and the description of the vault allows Jack and Cole to find the correct building. They survey the area, but Samir and Co. double back, hop into a van, and vacate. Arlo’s drones pick up one face in the foursome: Tarin’s. What the what? Everyone puts two and two together, and realize Kayla’s escape was rigged by the terrorists to dismantle CTU. How? EMP! Fantastic. Love being wrong like this. Nicely done, “24.” Sometimes these triple crosses seem manufactured for the sake of plot, but I like that Tarin’s emotional connection to Kayla wasn’t violated by this twist. What can I say? I’m a softie. 

CTU officials scramble to stop the EMP from going off, but Kayla arrived with mere seconds left on the bomb. The employees scramble, the bomb goes off, and all hell breaks loose as CTU snaps, crackles, pops, and then fades to black. Jack tells Cole, “You need to contact NSA. The terrorists just took out CTU.” Well, hot damn, the second great cliffhanger in two weeks. Sure, CTU’s been destroyed before, but that was a pretty twisty way to do it.

 

Are you onboard with the newly, lately improved “24”? Or are you protecting your “24” heart from being broken again? Is the parole officer simply the best of the best, or does he know just a little too much for a man of his profession? Leave your comments below!