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'24': Jack Bauer doesn't bluff

March 8, 2010 | 10:01 pm

When we last left Jack Bauer, he was trying to persuade terrorist Marcos to turn himself in rather than blow himself up. Marcos, who is half American, was tapped by his group to finish the job on Farhad Hassan, the turncoat brother of Kamistan President Omar Hassan who was mortally wounded trying to flee the very men he'd enlisted to orchestrate a coup on his brother.

Farhad was killed before he could help CTU identify his co-conspirators -- an organization known as the IRK, who now want to explode a dirty bomb in New York. CTU sets up a sting operation, using the media to report that Farhad survived the hit in desperate hope that the terrorists will send someone they can capture and use as an informant. 

MARCOS While CTU successfully disabled Marcos' bomb (where do they get all this technology?), the terrorist has locked himself in an oxygen chamber of sorts and is attempting to detonate the bomb manually to avoid capture. Desperate to keep Marcos alive, Bauer has Marcos' mother brought down to the hospital where Marcos is holed up. She was in the process of fleeing the city when CTU picked her up because Marcos had warned her to get out of town.

Marcos' mom tries to get her son to give himself up. Marcos sounds like he is on the verge of cracking but ultimately he is committed to the cause. Bauer hustles the mom out of the room outside the oxygen chamber so she doesn't see her son blow himself up and he makes one last pitch to get him to give up.

But Bauer's done with kinder and gentler. He tells Marcos he can blow himself up if he wants to, but if he does Bauer will kill his mother. Bauer tells a disbelieving Marcos that if he knew Bauer, "you would know I'm not bluffing." He even tells the terrorist that he'll "make your mother come in here and clean it up" should Marcos blow himself to bits.

Marcos cracks and exits the chamber to tell Bauer what little he knows. Of course, the terrorists who have employed Marcos have been monitoring the situation somehow and are now going to detonate his bomb from afar. Bauer manages to get what he needs from Marcos before shoving him back into the chamber, where he does explode. Too bad because the actor playing Marcos -- Rami Malek -- has a very compelling presence and can speak volumes with his eyes. 

Marcos didn't have much information to offer Bauer, but the one nugget he does have is a doozy. Helping the terrorists out is Omar Hassan's close aide Tarin! Yes, it turns out Hassan was right when he had Tarin arrested because he thought he had betrayed the administration. At the time, Hassan was being paranoid and had little proof. Tarin, in the meantime, managed to escape and has reconnected with Hassan's daughter Kayla, whom he's been seeing on the side. Tarin tells Kayla that they will seek asylum in the United States, then they have a quickie or two. Certainly these two characters are not part of the one hour of a day per episode approach of "24." Either that or Tarin has some issues that may make a long-term romance with him ultimately frustrating. 

Bauer tells Omar Hassan that Tarin is indeed a traitor. Knowing that his daughter doesn't trust her own father, Omar has managed to persuade his wife Dalia to come back and try to get their daughter home safe. Once again we suspend disbelief as Dalia makes it back from the airport to the United Nations in, oh, 20 minutes. Who knows, maybe she had a helicopter. Dalia manages to get ahold of Kayla and breaks the news that being quick in the sack is not Tarin's only liability.

Kayla believes her mom and tries to buy some time for the police and CTU to come to her rescue, but Tarin, who can sense something has changed, wants to hustle them out of the hotel. Kayla locks herself in the bathroom and we're left hanging as usual.

An episode of "24" wouldn't be complete without some new absurd plot involving Dana Walsh. Having disposed of her stalker ex-boyfriend Kevin and his running buddy Nick, she's now being harassed by Kevin's parole officer. As absurd as that sounds, even more ridiculous is Walsh telling the alleged parole officer that she works at CTU and is in the middle of a big crisis right now. Yeah, way to keep a low profile, Ms. Secret Agent. I fear that the whole Kevin and Nick subplot is just a warm-up for something that will further test my patience. Oh well, one can never have too many bathroom breaks.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Marcos (Rami Malek) is ready to explode. Credit: Fox Broadcasting.