This week’s episode prompted me to ask a lot of questions. Why are they taking so long to reveal an obvious ‘twist’? Why did Karen fold to a blackmail threat so easily (and tender her resignation well in advance of the hour she was alloted)? Did Jack’s brother turn on their father? Or is it just a ploy to fool Jack? In many instances, I’m not sure if these questions are a sign of a compelling and complex plot or sloppy writing.
Apparently someone thought it would be a good idea to continue dragging out this ‘Who will McCarthy force to help him?’ mystery. The answer to that question was obvious the moment it was asked last week, but it looks like we’ll have to wait one more week to confirm that it is, in fact, Morris’ name that was sent to McCarthy at the end of this week’s episode (for all I know, they may have even shown that in the previews for next week; Global has annoying habit of showing previews for different shows when they’re supposed to preview next week’s episode).
They haven’t established anyone or thing that could be used as leverage against Morris so presumably McCarthy will threaten just threaten to have Chloe killed (which is a bit of a hollow threat considering she’s probably relatively safe inside CTU). This will probably lead to a few moments of tension where we’re supposed to think that Morris will agree to help the terrorists, but he’ll actually end be going undercover for CTU. Whether it leads to his eventual death or not, it should play well into Chloe’s earlier comments/worry about how everyone in her life keeps dying.
Speaking of leverage, the whole situation with Karen Hughes being blackmailed didn’t sit right with me upon initial viewing. Karen’s already confronted Tom a couple times this season about actions he took which grossly exceeded his authority; these would be pretty useful for countering Tom’s blackmail so the case he’s drummed up against her (and Bill) must be pretty strong. But up until 9 AM, when it became apparent Fayed WASN’T a helpful informant, having let Fayed out of custody would have been seen as more of a good thing. So it seemed like we’re supposed to accept that in a little over 2 hours Tom was able to uncover a situation from over a year ago that could be distorted to his advantage and then, with the help of apparently one other guy, coerce a whole list of people into going along with your blackmail, all while dealing with minor distractions such as a nuclear bomb being detonated. I was ready to chalk the whole thing up as sloppy writing (and admittedly that’s still a strong possibility) but a couple other options occurred to me.
Presumably when they were deciding whether to pay Fayed and hand over Jack Bauer in exchange for Assad’s location, they did quite a bit of digging into his past. So it’s quite possible that Tom would have learned about that time Bill Buchanan had Fayed in custody and took note of it so he could use the situation to his advantage if Fayed’s deal went south. Given that he apparently had dirt on the people he was getting to testify against Karen, it would be pretty much in character for him to note the information for exactly that reason. But, even if he thought he might be able to use Fayed’s temporary detainment against Karen, the speed in which the blackmail was set up, especially considering that most of the people being coerced were probably rather busy with all the goings on of the day, is a bit tough to swallow though.
The third possibility is that Tom knew that Fayed was the real person behind the recent attacks. It could be that there’s a link between Tom and Fayed; Tom could be orchestrating the attacks in order to get security reforms passed or Tom could be working for Fayed in a rather heavy handed attempt to equate giving up civil liberties with the terrorists winning. I think the most interesting variation would be for Tom to have no link to Fayed. He may have found out through some source or another (Tom seems like the type to have sources which report directly to him) that Fayed was the real mastermind and was planning to launch a series of attacks in the near future. Rather than simply thwarting the attacks and, in his eyes, leaving America vulnerable to future, even more devastating attacks, he’s using these ones as leverage for his plan to drastically increase security measures. If that is his plan, it would also explain why he’s so desperate to get rid of Karen as soon as possible, while emotions are still running high.
And in another situation where I’m not sure where loyalties lie, we’ve got Gray apparently turning on both Jack and their father. The fact that they’ve been left alive makes me suspicious though. After loading Jack and his dad into the van, Gray asked his goons to call him ‘when it was done’. Presumably he has ordered them to take Jack and their father to some discreet location, kill them and then dump the bodies. But Gray had his men kill those two random CTU agents in the building’s parking lot; there’s no reason for them not to kill Jack immediately, if Gray really wants him dead. And, if Gray really knows his brother at all, he’s got to know that Jack’s going to escape sooner or later. Either this is another example of sloppy writing to give us our perilous situation to end the episode or Gray wants Jack to escape and team up with their father to track down the McCarthy. Granted Gray pretty much has to kill Jack in the end if he wants to stay out of prison but Jack’s brother and father could be using him to find McCarthy (and, when he’s no longer useful, then try and kill him).
I really wish I had seen this week’s preview as it may give some insight to one or all of these questions, but I guess I’ll find that out for myself next Monday night.
Sir Linksalot: 24