After last week’s episode ended with Palmer shocking everyone and launching a nuclear strike, I was quite anxious to see how things would unfold this week. I guess I should have known they would go for a cop-out result.
It turns out my offhand speculation about Palmer’s launch being a ruse was correct, to my surprise. Of course his decision to tell just about everyone except Karen and Tom made little sense. Yes, it did make for a more suspenseful end to last week’s show, and upped the tension at the start of this week, but that’s about it. Neither Tom or Karen had any contact with the ambassador or anyone else from Fayed’s country in the few minutes between the launch and its abortion, so it’s not like Wayne needed them to believe so they would do a good job of acting worried. So basically he just made his two must trusted advisor’s think he had gone batshit insane (and even provided them with phony excuses) for no good reason (or at least no reason other than to make it more dramatic for the viewer).
Even though Palmer’s gambit paid off, and it turned out that the still unnamed Mideast country wasn’t being quite as proactive as it could be (though was still able to carry out an arrest awfully damn quickly once they detected the missile launch), I’m not so sure that threatening a nuclear strike, even with a dummy missile, makes for sound diplomacy. Nothing like playing up your bully image to get your own way, I guess.
After Palmer’s nuclear bluff was revealed, the rest of the episode was unfolding pretty predictably. Thanks to the conversation with Bill that proceeded it, it was no surprise when Jack and Doyle were blindsided by the truck full of ‘terrorists’. It was even less surprising when it was revealed (as a ‘shocking twist’) that the attack was staged and Jack and Doyle hadn’t really been gunned down.
In hindsight I wonder if they were making things as cookie-cutter predictable as they could on purpose. Because Jack taking down Fayed came as a big shock. When Jack went into the warehouse without sparing 15 seconds to call CTU and give them the location, I assumed that the episode would end with the terrorists capturing Jack and Fayed saying something ominous about the nukes. Then at the start of next week’s show, CTU would still be trying to decipher the audio from Jack’s phone call and they’d use that to eventually track him down. I certainly was not expecting all the terrorists to end up dead. Of course, the immediate follow-up with phone call went right back in to predictability, so who knows (as soon as Doyle said there was someone on the phone for Jack, you knew it had to be her).
At this point (though there’s still plenty of time to learn otherwise) it seems like the last 7 episodes of the season are going to be almost completely disconnected from the first 17. I’ve never been a huge fan of her so I’m all that excited about (possibly) jettisoning the main arc of season 6 for a new arc centering around Audrey.
On the upside, if we really are moving in to a completely new storyline with Audrey and the Chinese, it will help to up suspense in future seasons. Up until now whenever the season’s main story appeared to be wrapping up and it wasn’t the 24th episode, you knew that something was going to go wrong. The bad guy would escape, or it would be revealed that he was just a pawn for the real bad guy or what have you. But if a season’s primary arc can end before the season does, those situations become a lot more suspenseful.
Fayed’s death, along with the recovery of the nukes also seems to leave the Wayne Palmer storyline with nowhere to go. Unless whatever the Chinese have planned for Jack somehow creates another national emergency, Palmer really should be spending the rest of the season focusing on not dying. It’s 2 AM there, he can just tell everyone he wants to go have a nap.
It’ll be interesting to see if they try to meld Audrey’s prisoner storyline to the now-defunct terrorist storyline or if they just start anew. Right now I’m thinking a fresh start is more likely, if only because I can’t think of an obvious way to meld the storylines together without delving in to the convoluted. Next week’s show should be an informative one.
Sir Linksalot: 24