It’s a mark of just how far this series has fallen from the glory days that I’d quite forgotten in was on this week and that, when I did recall, I had to think hard as to whether I’d seen an episode last week or if I had two to catch up on. Having watched episode 8, I couldn’t help but wonder how far back in time the previous dollop seemed to be.
After managing to inspire some sort of life in the last couple of episodes, 24: Live Another Day was back to zombie sleepwalk time, with the majority of the hour dedicated to President Heller’s decision to sacrifice himself to Mama Terrorist Margot. To begin with, Jack got an order to get Heller to the nominated place – the centre spot at Wembley, 7.00pm – which he refused to accept until Heller told him about the Alzheimers, which forced Jack’s hand in an entirely non-sentimental way.
In order to get Heller out of the American Embassy without no-one on its highly-trained staff, and especially the President’s Security Detail, knowing, was of course impossible without an insider’s help (let’s face it, it’s impossible, full stop, but we’ve been in la-la-land for several hours by now and this episode has plans to cement that fact that we’ve not yet got to, so go with the ridiculous flow). Needless to say, the only insider Heller trusts as implicitly as he does Whispering Jack (my stars, when will that man ever raise his voice to a conversational tone?) is Creepy Chief of Staff Mark. Between the two, Heller, disguised by a baseball cap, is spirited onto the streets of London.
In the meantime, Jack is bullying Barbie Doll Kate into being his complete surrogate by getting her to march into the CIA surgery where, at gun point, she forces the Doctor to inject the Poorly Ill Baby Terrorist Simone out of the induced coma they’ve created to keep her from expiring on the spot, so that Simone can cough up an address for Mama Margot. Our decidedly battered Pre-Raphaelite does so, complete with the advice that Margot will be long gone by then, but does find time before convulsing in death-spasms to clue them in on the poor, departed Navid’s disc drive of Queen’s Evidence under the floorboards.
Surprisingly, our delicate blossom is still alive by episode end.
As soon as Barbie has the uploaded drive, she’s winging it on to Underused Gothic Chloe, trying to save the City from a laptop in a London pub, despite drunks trying to flirt with her, Jack’s usual insistence on the impossible being done far quicker than the merely feasible, and Untrustworthy Adrian’s seductive monotone pleading Chloe Come Home to our latest temporary industrial warehouse technopad.
But Barbie Doll Kate has finally noticed that Puppy Dog Jordan is missing, departed to places unknown, and without authority if you believe Mole Boss Navarro. Navarro’s got the killer combing the banks of the canal for the wounded Jordan, who rings in to demand to be rescued, unaware he’s giving away his location to the bad guy. However, when the killer with a dodgy moustache finally tracks Puppy down, Jordan has worked out, from no clues whatsoever, that Navarro has turned on him, brains Moustache with a metal pipe and steals both his guns.
Unfortunately, the innocent Mr Reed falls for the oldest trick in the book. Do you know how to use that highly lethal silenced gun, Moustache asks. Is the safety on or off? For once, please just once in my life let the guy answer that you came in here with this gun in your hand, ready to kill me the moment you saw me: of course the safety’s off. But no: Puppy blinks, Moustache jumps in, forces a serrated knife into Puppy’s chest but has his guts blown out by Puppy with the second, unsilenced gun. Puppy lies there blinking, until his eyes gradually close: Requiescat im Pace, Puppy.
Nah, I don’t believe that either.
But back to Jack and the Runaway President. It’s not all bad news: Heller’s resigning the Presidency, effective 7.00pm, so he’s going to his death as a private citizen, but before doing so he’s issued a Presidential Pardon for everything Jack did four years ago, plus anything he does tonight, hell, as far back as the Kennedy Assassination if necessary. Jack gruffly disclaims doing this for a Pardon, but Heller’s done it. Jack can Go Home now. Wonder if Kim’s seen any cougars recently?
Then Heller walks out in a dignified way to the centre of Wembley, yes, the real New Wembley, complete with arch. Thankfully, there wasn’t a match tonight so Jack can easily park the helicopter in the car park (did he pack a Krooklok? You know what these thieving London toerags are like). It does mean that the pitch isn’t marked, but Heller seems to make a fairly good guess as to where the centre spot is, and stands there comfortably, sans cap, until Mama Margot overrules Geeky Son Ian and fires the fatal drone missile herself. Bang goes Heller, Britain’s reputation as a place where foreign dignities can attend in safety, and about 50% of the Wembley turf: hell of a job for the groundsman tomorrow.
Is that the end of it? Well, with four episodes left, far from it. Mama Margot has sworn on the soul of her dearly departed Daddy Terrorist that she will dump the remaining drones in the sea off Dover once Heller is dead, but already the eyes of Geeky Ian, who’s got himself the kind of video game that’s truly addictive, are lighting up with the fanaticism of one who really wants to blow things apart, so we’re looking at Power Struggle Time pretty soon.
So, that’s your lot for the two-thirds mark, except for our regular little check-up on 24‘s trips into fantasy land. For one, there’s Jack and Heller, slipping out of the American Embassy directly onto the street through an unguarded basement access that isn’t gated off from the general public. Now that’s at 6.25pm, in daylight, evening maybe but still full daylight. By 6.30pm, Jack’s taking the helicopter up into the night sky, above a London with all the lights on. What the hell country is this in where night drops in five minutes?
Then there’s the traditional helicopter flight over London, along the River Thames towards Tower Bridge. Spectacular to look at, and no doubt fulfilling the American audience’s expectations of Merrie Old England. That Tower Bridge is at the eastern end of Central London, that the American Embassy is north of the river and that Wembley is not only also north of the river but in North West London, and that Jack says the helicopter flight from the Thames will take ten minutes when the train from Manchester into Euston, slowing down, does that leg of the journey in ten minutes, suggests to me that someone doesn’t know shit.
It’s like that glorious sequence in Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves when Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman come ashore at the white cliffs of Dover in the morning, set off to walk to Nottingham, and camp overnight at Hadrian’s Wall.
Such is the state of things. Not much more of this crap to put up with now, though.