Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. It’s been that kind of season on 24. After last week’s embarrassing soap opera of an episode made nearly every character on the show look and sound like an emotionally crippled simpleton, Monday (April 30) night’s 24 went a long way to redeeming several key players in this season’s drama.

[Mumble mumble spoilers coming mumble mumble]

Among those receiving redemption:

Mike Doyle.
I still insist that Doyle had no reason to feel guilty for blundering Jack’s plan to blow everything up last week, but he made up for it standing up to Nadia on Jack’s behalf and then freeing Jack from his holding cell by turning his back on Jack and whispering "Make it look good." True to his word, Jack put Doyle in the kind of sleeper hold he used to reserve for folks like Tony and Curtis. It was a sweet, nearly romantic moment.

Nadia. I still don’t see how Nadia got to be acting head of CTU, but however she did it, it helped her grow a backbone. Look at her standing up Karen about the need to get Bill back. And, even back, check out her utter evisceration of Morris and his intended transfer, spitting out, "You’re asking me to indulge your personal melodrama when we’re in the middle of an International crisis." That’s exactly what Bill should have said last week.

V.P. Daniels. This week’s Veep had little resemblance to the character we’ve met in previous weeks, as if the folks in the writers’ room realized they had to back the character down. So we had Daniels sympathizing with Karen about having to fire Bill and then we saw Daniels crumple at the realization that his mistress was cuckolding him. Of course, Daniels’ best moment was just being evil, but since he was tearing Slutty Secretary Lisa to shreds, it was suddenly much more fun to watch.

It was an episode with very little action, but it was so busy that it was impossible to get bored. There were introductions to a slew of new characters including Lisa’s lobbyist boyfriend Bishop, Bishop’s currently unnamed Russian intelligence connection, Cheng’s unnamed Chinese operative and handy government shrink Dr. Bradley, possibly played by the worst and most wooden actor in the long history of wooden 24 actors. I’d try to figure out who played Dr. Bradley, but the actor in question would probably prefer I leave him anonymous.

Perhaps best of all, the episode featured the triumphant return of former Secretary of Defense Heller, who was off-camera when he returned from the dead last season. The reunion of ABC refugees William Devane (What About Brian) and Kim Raver (The Nine) was good to see. And the reunion between Heller and Jack? Dynamite. These guys used to be buddies, co-workers, but Heller holds Jack responsible for Audrey’s addled mental state (that and the more-than-100 drug injections the Chinese gave her). Usually 24 ends with a thrilling cliffhanger, but Heller’s like to Jack — "You’re cursed, Jack. Everything you touch, one way or another, ends up dead." — was like a little bomb going off.

Other thoughts on this week’s episode:

Wait. So where did Chloe go after Morris told her they were through? And with everybody getting redemption this week, how is Morris still such a whiny tool?

Some fine acting from Kiefer this week. I guess we just have to make peace with the fact that Jack is just one character in an ensemble at this point. At least Kiefer still gets more screentime than Eric Balfour. We are, however, running out of time for Milo to be exposed as the mole or else just unexpectedly shot.

The sex between Lisa and her lobbyist boyfriend lasted six or seven minutes in show time. Talk about a quickie.

No Daddy Bauer. No mention of President Logan’s condition. No mention of President Palmer’s condition.
Also no Marilyn Bauer, though it looks like she’ll be back to offering Jack sexual favors next week. Ugh.

Thoughts on this week’s episode? Better? Worse?

Posted by:Daniel Fienberg