What 24 frickin’ needs is to get the focus back on Jack. Too much of this season has been burned up on Morris drinking, McCarthy talking on the phone with Fayed, and the President getting betrayed by a bunch of white dorks I can’t believe he ever hired in the first place. Even Jack’s time has been watered down with all his family drama and post-traumatic stress disorder from having his hand fried and lightly gingered by the Chinese for the last couple years. If you’re playing a drinking game involving Jack kicking ass or saying “Dammit!”, you probably walked into this episode alarmingly sober.

So, does 24 get back on the kickass track this week? Oh, yes, I would say so, my friend. Logan takes Jack to the Russian consulate and talks tough-ish to Markov, the same guy that was ready to hand Gondor over to the forces of evil in Lord of the Rings. Markov tells Logan he doesn’t know where Gredenko is, Logan doesn’t buy it, and Jack decides to bust in the joint and slap
a bitch. Luckily, the consulate has roughly the same security as my back yard, so Jack is able to get in (armed only with a very, very weak Russian accent . . . oh, and a gun) and cut Markov’s finger off with a cigar-snipper thing, causing everyone watching to immediately kill their drinks. Markov confesses and gives up Gredenko’s location as well as the fact that Gredenko is delivering the nukes for Fayed via remote control model airplanes, but Jack gets captured by the Russians before he can do anything else.

Back at democracy’s most pimped-out basement, President Palmer is knocked out, probably done for the day with shrapnel in his neck. Powers “I Got Shot By Wyatt Earp In Tombstone” Boothe, the VP, takes over and gets everyone back on the fascist track. About a quarter of the episode is people asking Chad God Damn Lowe where Lennox is, including the warden from Shawshank. The best part of the show, except of course for Jack disfingering Denethor, is Lennox playing it cool with Chad Lowe and the other white guy, convincing them that he’s game with the assassination, then turning sides almost immediately and having them arrested by the secret service. I guess late balls is better than no balls at all. Hopefully we’re done with Chad. Later on, Lennox is disbelieved by the SS and bullied by Boothe, who might as well have a fifth of Ketel on a chain around his neck at this point. Boothe fixes Hardigan’s bum ticker and announces to the country that the Constitution is fixing to be smoked by two-year-olds on the Today show and that American Muslims are about to get a whole lot of recta searched. The only lesson here is to not involve Chad Lowe in a conspiracy, even if the conspiracy is to drink beer, watch television, draw oxygen, broadcast a television show, whatever.

Karen Hayes is returning to Washington for some reason. Everyone who cares kills their drinks and flips over to “Murder She Wrote” on WGN.

At the consulate, Markov stupidly decides to have Jack guarded by a guy who knows Markov is involved with Gredenko. Jack tells the guard what’s up, and surprisingly the guard’s about to call CTU to give up Markov and Gredenko, but he fucks up and gets shot dead by another Russian guy. CTU apparently is ready to drop the hammer on the Russians, and Powers Boothe is probably down with it. He’s an asshole, sure, but he sure as shit isn’t taking any crap from the Russians. This consulate (is this like an embassy?) is going down.

Proposed Kimeo: At the 5:15 break, the screen splits into three shots, one of Jack, one of a gratuitously grimacing Markov, and a big one of Air Force One.
Why not split it into four shots, including one of Kim, drunk in sunglasses and a bikini top, noisily snarfing oysters at the Bellagio? No reason this shouldn’t be in there.

This week’s pressing question:
Would you still watch 24 if instead of Jack, it was Marisol Nichols cruising around in a little outfit stabbing suckas in the kneecap and shit to find out who they’re working for? Just curious. I’d watch the hell out of that. Any proposed outfits or torture methods to be worn/used by Nadia are welcome at craftinvegas@gmail.com!