In the two-hour season premiere of “24,” suicide bombers have been terrorizing the U.S., and the president is struggling to figure out what to do. The president for the past two years has been Wayne Palmer, brother to former President David Palmer, who was assassinated in the shocking Season 5 opener. According to government research, a man named Hamir Al-Assad is responsible for the terrorist attacks, and this is where our hero Jack Bauer comes in.
Jack has been in a Chinese prison for 20 months, tortured and beaten. President Palmer negotiates for his release, because Jack is the only bargaining piece the government has to use in finding Assad’s whereabouts. Another known terrorist, Abu Fayed, has promised to disclose Assad’s location if the U.S. will hand over Jack Bauer. Apparently, Jack had tortured and killed Fayed’s brother years ago, and Fayed wants revenge. So basically, President Palmer negotiates Jack’s release from the Chinese prison so he can send Jack off to be tortured and killed by Fayed. In return, the President will find and kill Assad, thus ending the terrorism. But that's only the beginning, so
Jack returns to the U.S. looking haggard, twitchy, and shaken. In many ways, the arrangement is fine by him, as he points out, he didn’t want to “die for nothing” in the Chinese prison. Bill Buchanan and Curtis Manning drop Jack off at Fayed’s meeting point, and with a squeeze of Jack’s shoulder, Bill leaves Jack handcuffed to a building, awaiting his executioners. Fayed arrives with his cronies and tells Jack he’s waited a long time for this.
Meanwhile, back in President Palmer’s camp, there is a new presidential advisor in town, Tom Lennox (the great Peter MacNichol). In the nationwide search for Assad, Tom has called for the imprisonment of Muslim Americans in general, sending them off to what Karen (who is now Bill Buchanan’s wife?!) calls “concentration camps.” Tom, delivering the tag line for probably the entire season, insists “security has a price.”
Tom isn’t making any friends with his tactics. Sister to the late David Palmer and the current President, Sandra Palmer is a lawyer now working for the Islamic-American Alliance, and apparently romantically involved with the Alliance’s leader, Walid Al-Rezani. When the FBI arrives to search the IAA’s personnel files, Sandra calls her brother, the President, and then swiftly erases the files from the database, supposedly to protect the employees’ privacy. When complaining to her brother, Sandra acknowledges that the search warrant is Tom Lennox’s doing and claims Tom “treats the Constitution like a list of suggestions.” She reminds Wayne that while David was alive, he never liked or trusted Tom. Still, Sandra is arrested for having deleted the files, and her boyfriend Walid is taken in as well.
The CTU, in a move that seems stupid, even for TV government agencies, has given Fayed access to all of their radio and satellite surveillance, so Fayed can make sure the government is not planning any sneaky attacks during or after the Jack exchange. Yet Chloe’s obnoxious boyfriend Morris has access to a private satellite and manages to get a picture of Jack and Fayed’s location, though not before Fayed’s men detect the satellite activity. He says he’ll have to think about keeping up his end of the bargain with revealing Assad’s location, and thus Chloe and Morris may have “sacrificed Jack for nothing.”
Fayed, meanwhile, gets started on torturing Jack, and there emerges the great revelation: Assad has come to the U.S. to stop the terrorist attacks, which were not Assad’s doing but Fayed’s! This means that when Fayed gives CTU Assad’s location, the government will then go and strike an innocent man, and Fayed’s terrorist attacks will simply continue. Fayed tells Jack, “You will die for nothing.” This causes Jack’s old CTU mojo to kick in again. As Fayed leaves the room to make a phone call (convenient, that), Jack pretends to be dead so the guard will come over to investigate. When the man leans down, Jack disgustingly bites into his neck and rips off a chunk of his throat. Ewwwwww! He then uses the man’s keys to escape and drives to Assad’s house to save him. But first, the obligatory phone call with CTU and the President, in which he tells them to stop the air strike on Assad’s house, and, as usual, they disregard Jack’s advice, this time because he has been in a Chinese prison for nearly two years. So, it’s Jack’s responsibility to save Assad himself.
Elsewhere in this tangled web we are introduced to Ahmed, a young Arab-American who initially seems like an innocent victim of the FBI’s racial profiling when government agents arrest his father. His narrow-minded neighbor think this means Ahmed is a terrorist, and tries to beat him up, but his nice-guy neighbors, a dad and his teenage son, come to his rescue, and tell Ahmed to stay with them. Later, however, Ahmed is on the phone with Fayed, frantic because his father really is innocent and knows nothing of whatever plan Ahmed and Fayed have. Ahmed returns to his house, where the mean neighbor again comes by. After a scuffle, Ahmed takes out a gun and shoots the mean neighbor.
Jack busts into Assad’s house and explains everything, helping Assad to realize that one of his own men must have been helping Fayed and betraying him. Assad figures out which of his men is the mole, and the men flee the house just before the government bombs it. Finding an abandoned house, Assad and Jack interrogate the mole to find out Fayed’s plans. Jack tries torturing the man but stops. Assad, however, thinks there’s still some info left to squeeze out, continues to torture and then kill the mole. Jack, watching from the doorway, says, “I don’t know how to do this anymore.” Assad assures him, “You’ll remember.”
The two set out to find the next suicide bomber, according to the information given up by the mole. They identify the man with the bomb on a subway platform. Jack boards the subway with the bomber, ultimately shoving him out the back of the subway just as he detonates the bomb. The explosion recedes behind the subway and nobody is hurt. Having saved everyone for the moment, Jack flees the subway car. One of Fayed’s men calls to inform him that the bomb did not go off in the designated location, and Fayed says it’s okay since his other attacks went off without a hitch. The CTU, intercepting that cell phone call, now have evidence that Jack was right all along about Fayed being behind the attacks, and that they were wrong to have bombed Assad’s house. President Palmer has another moment of agonizing self-doubt, and says the statement most laughably obvious for “24”: “This is going to get much worse.”
Tune in tonight for the next two hours of “24”! Until then, check out the Kiefer Knows Jack group to discuss.