Tuned In

24's Atomic Ping-Pong

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The first two things to note about last night’s episode of 24: (1) It’s good to know that you can drive fast and unimpeded in L.A. half an hour after a nuclear bomb goes off; (2) Even I was surprised how quickly and easily Jack decided to tie up and torture his own brother for information on his dad, who may be linked to the bombing somehow. Damn! What did Jack do when they used to fight over the drumstick on Thanksgiving? (At least he chose the non-bloody, plastic-bag-over-the-head method–family still means something, I guess.)

Having written about the politics of 24 and spent some time since further arguing that the show is not the right-wing tool it’s painted to be, it was good to see that the show continues its game of political ping-pong. THWACK! Twelve thousand people died in the blast, scaring the bejesus out of suburban audiences everywhere! THWACK! But President Palmer shoots down an admiral who urges him to nuke the Middle East back to the Stone Age! THWACK! Scary Cabinet member Thomas Lennox (Peter MacNicol), who opened detention centers for Muslims, starts to be portrayed as a rational, sympathetic guy! THWACK! But in the previews for next week’s episode, he looks evil again! THWACK! Turns out there are real Muslim terrorists rounded up in those unconstitutional detention centers! THWACK! Then again, it looks like there’s a shadowy network of WASPs behind the whole thing, possibly including members of the Bauer family!

Whose serve is it? I lost track–too distracted by the sight of James Cromwell, in the preview reel, as Jack’s father. Let’s hope he’s locked up the cutlery. These Bauer family reunions, it appears, can get a little tense.