It took awhile, about 18 hours to be exact, but on Monday night's episode ("11 p.m.-12 a.m.") Jack Bauer finally started to manifest the side effects of two years of torture in a Chinese prison. How else to explain his cockamamie scheme to free his girlfriend, Audrey Raines (Kim Raver), from the clutches of evil Chinese agent Cheng Zhi (Tzi Ma)? His idea, which he insisted on explaining to no one less than President Palmer (D.B. Woodside) himself, involved blowing up a vital piece of circuitry the Chinese were demanding in exchange for Audrey's freedom, killing himself and any Chinese agent standing too close.
Why he couldn't use a decoy circuit board or find some other, less suicidal way to save Audrey's life was never discussed. When even Palmer balked at Jack's half-baked scheme, Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) invoked the only thing that seems to carry more weight than a platoon of counter-terrorism soldiers: his word.
Earlier, Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) attempted to explain to former husband Morris why she'd hacked into his computer to extract top secret launch code algorithms. "Jack gave me his word," she said, as if that was all the explanation needed.
But was it just me or did Chloe roll her eyes ever so slightly when Jack called to explain that Audrey was still alive?
Is it possible that Audrey's miraculous return is simply the feverish longing of a sleep-deprived and unstable Jack, working out his grief through heroic fantasies? Has there been any confirmation Audrey's alive outside of voices on Jack's cellphone telling him what to do?
Turning Jack into a hallucinating mess seems a cruel twist that would alienate as many fans as it would inspire. It's unlikely, but then again, shows like "24" live for their shocking twists.
They're the only things we can count on. Besides Jack Bauer's word, of course.
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