Only two hours to go on Fox's action drama '24.' Will Jack Bauer save the day? Is the Pope Catholic?

We open with a helicopter over stormy waters. Of course, it’s the CTU helicopter with Mike Doyle and Josh Bauer, who’s being taken to his grandfather, since Phillip is now working with the Americans instead of the Chinese. Doyle, though, explains that Josh really isn’t going to be with his granddad: once the component’s handed over, Doyle and his CTU chums are taking Josh back. Just like Behrooz. Remember him? Yeah, I’m not sure I do, either. Doyle puts an implant in Josh’s arm, as they continue their flight.

Jack, meanwhile, is being put in temporary custody by other CTU agents so he doesn’t interfere with the operation, despite his pleadings. Jack makes a call to Chloe, wanting to know what’s going on. Chloe brings Jack up to speed, doing the best with the expository dialogue. Jack’s not thrilled with the idea and asks to be put through to Karen Hayes.

Karen is in the Oval Office with Tom Lennox and Vice President Daniels, who’s on the phone with Russian President Suvarov. What are they talking about? Oh, exposition and nothing much else. Daniels explains that the tradeoff is happening soon, and Suvarov threatens that he’ll be going through with putting his men into American territory if the component isn’t secured. Hayes gets that call from Jack, who believes that the Chinese will offer Phillip more for the component once they know the U.S. government is trying to work with him. Karen agrees that the plan’s shaky, and since Jack’s locked up and, for the first time, unwilling to break out, she’s going to have to spearhead some kind of turnaround.

Her attempt begins with doing an expository version of walking and talking with Tom Lennox. She manages to convince Tom that the plan’s not the best of them, and though he’s not cool with pulling one on the Vice President, he promises to look the other way if she does. Man, what morals!

One character who will not be going the way of Logan, Behrooz and presidential adviser Lynn (all of seasons past) is Bill Buchanan, who’s grimly watching federal agents search all over his house. He gets a call from Karen, who begs for his help, telling her husband about what’s going with Jack and Phillip, and the thought that Phillip will take his grandson and not give up the component. Karen asks Bill to do whatever it takes to stop the exchange. What that is, however, isn’t revealed.

We cut to the CTU helicopter, which touches down at the meeting point. Doyle leaves to check out the situation, since no baddies are present. He comes back and takes Josh with him to a picnic bench near the ocean, and then gets a call on his phone, which CTU is able to listen in on. Or not, since Phillip is smart enough to know that they’re watching and when they’re not watching. Morris and Nadia, listening in at CTU, are able to confirm that Phillip is inside their system, and knows what they’re doing. The CTU satellite is turned off, so now Phillip orders the helicopter to make like a tree, which it does. Phillip tells Doyle they’ll have to wait for some of his men to pick them up. After Doyle coaches Josh what not to do on the phone, granddad and grandson start talking. Josh does a real good job of not listening to anything Doyle told him, since he says he hates Phillip. Seriously, what a family. Phillip continues pulling his shtick about how he can give Josh what he needs and no one else can, and so on and so forth.

Doyle and Josh, after the break, are still waiting at the picnic bench. Doyle and Nadia are technobabbling with Chloe about what needs to be done about verifying the component. Doyle tells Nadia about his plan to save Josh after the tradeoff, but Nadia orders him not to; it’s unfortunate that the character is being so poorly acted. I doubt that Nadia’s supposed to come off as so snotty.

Before they can get into it, Nadia gets a call from Karen Hayes, who weasels her way into getting a security code that will get Karen into the schematics of where Jack Bauer’s being taken. Nadia’s suspicious, but doesn’t have the time to act on them, since she’s got to go check on Marilyn Bauer, who’s having a major freakout with security. Shockingly, Marilyn wants to see her son. Craziness, right? Mothers wanting to know their sons are safe. And Nadia escorts Marilyn into holding. Fantastic logic. Morris, who gets to order the extra guards, and Chloe start talking about whether or not this whole operation is necessary and/or smart. Nadia overhears the end of it, but maintains her battleax status.

Back at the picnic, Doyle sees a helicopter coming close, but according to Morris, it’s not a Phillip Bauer brand. Hmm.

Jack, meanwhile, is being driven back to CTU, when a car runs their SUV off the road. Once the head agent checks on the other vehicle, Jack takes the opportunity to get a gun and knock out the other agent. The other vehicle’s driver is Bill, of course. Despite getting some heat from the head agent, Bill convinces him not to do anything rash, in enough time that Jack’s gotten out of the SUV and knocks this agent out, too. Jack and Bill run to Bill’s car and they drive off. Inside, Jack thanks Bill for doing what he’s doing.

Back at CTU, a random dude comes in, but we’re obviously meant to be humbled by who he is, since Chloe hugs him and calls him Stewart. Too bad no one else but her knows who he is, including Nadia and Morris. It’s Milo’s brother, here to sign a release for the body and effects. Ouch, that must be uncomfortable.

Karen’s in her office on her computer, when her system’s shut down mysteriously. So she calls Bill, says she loves him, thanks him for what he did, and then hangs up to deal with the somber Secret Service agents who have come to detain her. Bill, smartly, has already figured that out, sadly enough.

Nadia goes in to chat with Stewart, who wants to know how Milo died and all. She says it was in the process of saving her life, and after some tender moments, Chloe calls Nadia and tells her about Jack and Bill running off, while also snotting about how stupid this plan is. When Nadia gets off the phone, Stewart’s left.

At the picnic bench, Josh begs Doyle to not go through with the tradeoff. Doyle promises to get Josh back after getting the component. He gives him his word. When has anyone’s word been any good on this show? Yeesh. Nadia calls Doyle, telling him about Jack and Bill heading towards the meeting point. Josh seems intrigued to hear that Jack’s on his way, but not in a good way.

Karen’s now in a holding room, and has to face down Vice President Daniels. She wastes no time in confessing to helping Bill out to get Jack out of detention. Daniels is disappointed that she went behind his back, but Hayes is disappointed that he hasn’t learned a very important lesson: don’t negotiate with a sociopath! Daniels is still fuming, and wonders if Tom was part of the whole sneak job, but she says he wasn’t part of it. Before leaving, Daniels says that if the exchange doesn’t go as planned, the Russians will go nuke crazy, and all blood spilled will be on her hands.

Doyle gets a call from Phillip, who orders him to take Josh to the edge of the water. After Nadia warns him to be careful, Doyle and Josh get close to the shore. Randomly, Morris wonders if Chloe’s OK, since she seems a little pale. Oh, dear, quick foreshadowing. Back at the shore, a speedboat arrives and a single man exits, holding a gun. He and Doyle face off. The henchman wants to see Josh, but Doyle makes him place the component down so it can be verified and all. Not the wisest move, since Doyle, upon opening up the box holding the component, gets an explosion instead. It knocks him back, and the henchman retrieves Josh and takes him to the speedboat. Jack and Bill arrive and are only able to take part in some gunplay instead of getting Josh. Meanwhile, on the speedboat, the henchman tells Phillip that he’s gotten Josh and then takes out the implant that was in Josh’s arm.

Jack calls CTU and reports the news about Doyle getting injured, mostly in the face, and that Josh was taken. Nadia tells him that it’ll take a few minutes to figure out where Josh is, and wonders how badly Doyle was hurt.

Daniels is mulling over things in the Oval Office when Tom Lennox enters to brief him on CTU’s progress and the botched tradeoff. He advises Daniels to hold off on calling Suvarov. Daniels is more focused on how he’s been wrong about pretty much everything that’s happened since he’s been on the show, and whether what he’s done as acting President has made things worse for the world. You know, I have to say that the writers managed to make Daniels a much less evil character over the last few episodes. Nice job. Tom tries to convince Daniels to not prosecute Karen and let her resign, not only for her own good, but for the good of the presidency. Daniels agrees to think that over, but he wants to know what’s up with CTU.

Speaking of, Jack tells Nadia that Doyle is likely going to be fully blinded, thanks to the explosion. Nadia admits that Jack was right, despite it being a little late for that. Jack is interested, though, in the oil platform far off in the ocean that he can see the lights of. He rightly believes it’s where Phillip is. He’s right, because we cut to Phillip ordering his henchman about where to dock. After this, he tells Cheng, who’s back (oh, good!), that once Josh is on board, he’ll get his component.

At CTU, Chloe is doing that oil platform search, but having a rough go of things, since her vision is blurry and she feels faint. She walks over to Morris’ station, to tell him what’s going on, but then faints in front of him. Chloe, for once, has nothing to say, and the first half of our finale ends with Morris screaming for help. And, again, for once, someone at CTU isn’t, you know, right there.

Our second hour begins with Phillip on the oil platform, watching as Josh is brought onboard from the speedboat. Josh is still sticking hard to the whole “I don’t want to go anywhere with you” bit, but Phillip grabs him and threatens him. Cheng tells Phillip that in 30 minutes, the Chinese will pick them up.

In the medical center at CTU, a doctor tells Morris that Chloe is fine, and probably collapsed because of not sleeping in 36 hours. So why don’t we get more collapsing on this show? Chloe tells Morris that the best way to please her now is for him to do his job. Morris leaves and Chloe, proving her work ethic, tries to get up but fails. Elsewhere, Nadia and Morris talk about an oil platform they think may be the one where Phillip and company are. Morris does a thermal scan, and figures out that this is the right oil platform. Nadia runs off to call Tom Lennox, and Morris calls the CTU doctor, persisting in knowing the results of her tests.

In Washington, Lennox tells Daniels about his call with Nadia. Daniels and some of his Cabinet members want to perform an aerial attack on the oil platform, and despite Lennox’s pleas about keeping Josh out of harm’s way, Daniels decides that all of those bad plans from an hour ago are suddenly good plans. He orders the aerial attack.

On the shore, Jack reassures Doyle that he’s going to be fine, as Doyle’s taken into an ambulance. Jack gets a call from Nadia, who brings him up to speed about the oil platform. She also lets him know about the aerial attack, and Jack gets understandably annoyed. Bill hears about this as well, and warns Jack not to go and try to save Josh due to the high risk involved. Jack sticks to his guns and Bill decides to help: he’ll fly the CTU helicopter and Jack will be the passenger. After they get the appropriate weaponry, the two men enter and kick out the original pilot, flying off towards the platform.

After the break, we see some of the F-18s making their journey to the oil platform, saying they’ll arrive in 22 minutes. Meanwhile, in the Situation Room, Warden Norton tells Daniels that the Russians have moved even closer to starting World War Three. Daniels calls Suvarov and informs him about the air strike to destroy the oil platform with the men who have the component. The news gets a little brighter, since Suvarov says that he’s gotten word of a Chinese submarine off the West Coast on its way to pick up the component, so he believes Daniels. Still, he warns the VP that the complete destruction of the component is all he’ll accept.

At CTU, Morris informs Nadia that Jack’s commandeered a helicopter and wants to be hooked into the satellite feed. Once she gets on the phone with Jack, Nadia says that she doesn’t want to help a suicide mission out. Bill convinces her to give them the satellite feed. Once they get the right pictures, Jack and Bill plan their own attack. The F-18s, meanwhile, have locked into the platform and are getting real close.

On the oil platform, Phillip says that they’ll be heading out in 15 minutes. Josh begs him to stop his evildoing, but Phillip says it’s not happening. Cheng, who’s also in the room, gets an urgent message on the walkie-talkie, and then tells Phillip that a helicopter is on its way and they must go and find out what’s going on. He gives Phillip the component and goes off to make his final stand, hopefully.

The CTU copter gets to the platform, and after Jack kills a few bad guys, Bill lands, and they get out and shoot some of the Chinese, including Cheng, who’s badly injured, but he’s still able to hiss that Jack’s too late, and he won’t be able to get Josh away from Phillip. Bill takes Cheng back to the helicopter, as Jack goes off to find if Cheng is right.

Once the commercials end, we see Phillip drag Josh through the platform. Josh fights back, but Phillip shoves him against a wall and tells him, Sphinx-like, to never let his emotions control him. I read that as, “I will so kick your ass, so watch it.” Could be me, though. Jack makes his way towards them, but Phillip and Josh have made it to the end of the line, to a boat that will take them to the sub. Josh takes matters into his own hands, whacking his grandpa with a wrench, and then holding a gun to him. Despite Phillip’s smooth lines about caring about him, Josh shoots his grandpa in what looks like the hand, as Jack arrives. Josh doesn’t want to let his gun go, and Jack tells him that it’s not the wisest move and manages to take the gun away from him. He tells Josh to go to the CTU copter, and after he does, he orders his father to get up so he can be accountable. Phillip deduces that he won’t have the time to carry him, so that gunshot must have been somewhere not in the hand region. He tells his son to get out while he can, and so Jack does.

Bill’s on the line with Nadia, who says that the platform’s going to go nuclear in 90 seconds and they have to go. Josh arrives and gets inside, as Bill pulls out the rope ladder on the copter, since he obviously knows that Jack’s going to have to start climbing real soon. Josh worries that they’re abandoning Jack, but that’s only because he’s a big whiner. Bill tells Jack that they’ll rendezvous at a certain corner. They do so, right as the F-18s set some missiles onto the platform. Of course, Jack jumps onto the rope ladder right before the explosion, which apparently took out Phillip. Everyone on the copter, including Cheng (because he couldn’t die?), are A-OK, heading back to CTU.

In the Situation Room, Warden Norton informs the VP that the platform is completely destroyed. Daniels makes sure, via the phone linkup, that Suvarov will have his men stand down. Suvarov agrees and apologizes for having pushed things so quickly to the brink. He wishes good health to President Palmer (but since he’s going to be on a new show next fall on CBS, I don’t think we’re seeing him again), and hangs up.

On the copter, Josh watches in shock as Jack, still on the ladder, jumps off into the water. Jack’s all right, though, walking onto the shore with nary a scratch. Only ‘cause he’s Jack Bauer, though. He signals to Bill and Josh that he’s fine, and that they should skedaddle, which they do. Josh, being the big whiner that he is, thinks they shouldn’t leave him, but Bill says that Jack’s not ready to go back just yet.

With 20 minutes left, we go to Washington, as Daniels goes back into the Oval Office with Tom Lennox and Warden Norton, who informs them that the Chinese submarine has backed off. Lennox reminds Daniels that the Chinese can’t exactly be let off for it, and then reminds him that Karen Hayes really shouldn’t be taken into FBI custody. He begs for Daniels to let Karen and Bill resign with their reputations still good, and this time, Daniels agrees. Lennox leaves, after dropping off that tape recording from earlier this season.

In the medical center, Morris visits with Chloe and tells her what happened that hour. He then says that the doctor won’t let him in on what’s going on with her. After some smooth-talking and admittances of love, Chloe says she’s pregnant. Well, she’ll be a fantastic mother. Yeesh, I wouldn’t want her to be in the PTA. Anyway, Chloe says that Morris should just go back to work and not ruin their nice moment.

Karen’s visited in her holding cell by Lennox, who tells her that she’s free to go, as is Bill. Karen’s thrilled, and after some charming banter, she leaves. Man, am I going to miss Peter MacNicol. Really enjoyed his acting on this show.

At CTU, Josh and Bill arrive. Josh hugs his mother, and Cheng is taken into custody, after he grumps that his country won’t abandon him. Please, God, make him wrong. Nadia congratulates Bill on the job well done, and Bill tells her that Jack’s gone off, and won’t be found if he doesn’t want to.

OK, well, CTU may not find him, but we did, I think, since we cut to James Heller on the phone in a very nice house. After he hangs up, he and we all hear a mysterious sound. Gee, I wonder who it could be. Jack walks in and orders Heller to put down the phone. Jack yells at Heller that he can’t tell him what to do anymore, and that he betrayed Jack’s trust. He also calls BS on Heller’s claim that Jack’s cursed. Moreover, Jack wonders why Heller didn’t try, nearly as hard as his daughter, to get Jack outta China. Jack also has figured out why Heller’s so pissed at him: when he forbade his daughter not to go to China, she did anyway, for Jack. They argue a bit, and Jack tells Heller what he wants: his life back, also known as Audrey. He warns Heller that he can disappear with the best of them, and if he has to kill people, he will. Heller, after name-dropping Teri Bauer (bastard!), tells Jack to think about what he’s doing, because he may put Audrey’s life in danger. Still, he takes Jack to Audrey’s room.

Audrey’s asleep when Jack comes in, walking over to her bed and stroking her hand. Though she doesn’t wake up, Jack tells her that he’s at a crossroads in his life, and that the only real way to go on with his life, he has to let her go. He hopes she can understand and forgive him, and tells her he loves her. Then he kisses her. And she’s still not awake. Maybe this is silly, but…she is alive, right? I know Kiefer Sutherland isn’t the loudest of talkers, but she must be on sleeping pills. Anyway, Jack walks out of the room, as Heller watches him go. Jack exits the house, gun in hand, and goes out to a patio overlooking the sea. The episode ends with Jack Bauer looking very, very unsure of himself. And, despite the lackluster tone of this season, the last ten minutes of this episode were pretty good. Hopefully, season 7 will be a little more kickass. See y’all in January 2008!

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