Well, unless the Cubans kidnap Jack’s dog or something in the next couple of hours, the rest of the day will be Jack vs. the Chinese. As we found out last week, the Chinese have Audrey, and they want to trade her straight up for a piece of circuitry from one of the suitcase nukes that would allow the Chinese to screw with Russia by having access to all their military systems (as everyone on the show notes, the Russians would be none too pleased about this). Chloe tries to help Jack, but gets busted by Morris and has to fess up to Buchanan, who foils Jack’s halfass plan to steal the thing. Jack plays the trump card of calling Palmer, who owes Jack his ass and gives Jack’s plan – which involves giving the Chinese the component, getting Audrey back, and then killing the Chinese and/or exploding himself along with Cheng Zhi and the thing – the go-ahead. I don’t care that Audrey has always looked a little like a young John Elway to me, the Chinese just went too far this time.
When Jack finally gives Cheng the hard goodbye, it’s going to make Fayed’s strangulation-by-chain-thing death look like a hug from Jennifer Love Hewitt on Christmas morning by comparison. And not some bullshit surfboard-leaning-against-the-wall hug either. I lost track of what I was talking about. Anyway, Doyle tries to give Jack crap about putting Audrey ahead of national security, but I think you can guess how far he got with that bullshit. Doyle and some other CTU guys take off with Jack to make the swap/kill the Chinese.

Back in Washington, we get yet another dose of presidential power struggle. Palmer puts the black back in blackmail, using Lennox’s tape of Powers and his assistant Lisa to force him to resign as Vice President. After another creepy exchange with Lisa, who apparently hasn’t changed facial expressions since she got controlled by the aliens in “Invasion”, Powers writes up his resignation and probably has a few shots off-camera.

Of course, before he can hand it over, Palmer holds a press conference to tell everyone to chill, but he fails to keep his pimp hand strong and collapses to the floor from a cerebral hemorrhage. Palmer is definitely done for the day this time, you don’t walk away from shit like that after a strong cup of coffee. So now it’s President Boothe, and his first act in office is to screw Jack. The rescue mission is off, get him back to CTU, etc. The funniest parts of the show are Buchanan telling his staff what’s up, them responding that Jack’s going to tell him to go to hell, and Buchanan saying, “I know.” It’s good stuff.

Truth be told, Buchanan is in a weird spot. He’s been around, so he knows that when you’re head of CTU, you'd better think hard about any decision to stand in Jack’s way. Fight Jack, give him a bunch of crap, be a dick, etc., and you might wind up getting your head blown off by a dumpster like Chapelle. Assist Jack and stay on his good side, like Tony Almeida did, and you might get some quality time with Michelle Dessler. (Ok, sure, Dessler's a bad example given her past with Bill, but you get it.) Think it through, Bill.

Bill walks the line here like a pro. Technically following orders by ordering Doyle to bring Jack back, the order to “disarm Jack before he knows what's up” was an absolute joke that would never work under any circumstances whatsoever. Doyle barely gets off the phone with Buchanan before Jack holds a gun to his face and abandons him by a fence off the side of the highway with no phone. Jack will be going through with the mission alone, which is probably a better idea anyway.

Nadia’s minute: Not much going on for Nadia this week, but it was pretty funny that when Doyle called in, Milo had to take the call and hand the phone over to Nadia. This is what you’ve been reduced to, Milo. You think you had an in with Nadia just because you loaned her your computer password? Nope, sorry, you’re just the office computer guy now. When she sees you, she sees Edgar Stiles with a shitty beard, get used to it.

Ethnic stereotype update:
Having Cheng Zhi take the reins as the main villain is bad news for Jack, primarily because he’s being played by Tzi Ma, who is pretty outspoken in his disapproval of prevailing Asian stereotypes in American television and film. So, if you’re expecting him to play some sort of dumbshit like Fayed (“Maybe I should have just nuked downtown LA in the first place…”) or Gredenko (“Here’s the plan – first, chop my arm off… I will then bleed to death…”), it ain’t happening. On the other hand, Tzi Ma’s efforts here are ironic, since his role as a complete asshole who will kidnap and torture people for whatever reason he feels like presents an even worse depiction of Asians than we had before. Nice going, Ma. Way to set back your people to the lowest point they’ve been at since Wo Fatt put Jack Lord in a sensory deprivation tank on Hawaii Five-O.