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'24': Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

February 1, 2010 | 10:01 pm

Goodbye, Jack Bauer. Hello, Ernst Meier.

With Renee Walker back undercover with the Russian mob, it's time for Phase II of CTU's plan to stop Farhad Hassan -- the traitor brother of peace-seeking Kamistan President Omar Hassan -- from getting his hands on weapons-grade uranium and blowing up any hope the U.S. has for peace in the Middle East.

This requires Jack Bauer, perhaps the world's most infamous government agent, to go undercover as Ernst Meier, a German arms dealer looking to score some uranium for himself. Donning a pair of thick black glasses, smoking a cigarette (tsk, tsk) and displaying a fluency in German (albeit with an American accent), Bauer meets with the henchmen of the evil Vladimir, the Russian gangster who, when he's not torturing Renee, is trying to bed her.

Not fully trusting Renee yet, Vladimir agrees to do business with Bauer's Meier, but only after he gets a $5- million advance. Vladimir stays behind with Renee and sends his henchmen to bump off Bauer as soon as he gets the money. But Bauer is one step ahead of Vladimir and has CTU agents, including hotshot Cole Ortiz watching his back from a distant rooftop. Just when the Russians are getting ready to take out Bauer, Cole shoots three of them while Bauer disarms the fourth. A deeply shaken Vladimir then agrees to meet with Bauer in person, setting the stage for next week's episode.

Vladimir isn't the only crazy Russian roaming around New York. Sergei Bazhaev, who is the one working with Farhad Hassan (frankly, we're still not sure what the relationship is between Sergei and Vladimir but one can't spend too much time figuring out plot points on "24" or else you'll go mad), actually kills his son Josef. He does this because Josef was exposed to the uranium and his brother Oleg goes against his father's wishes and takes him to a doctor. Why not kill Oleg too? Well, Josef was probably going to die anyway, and hopefully Oleg will get the message that it's not a good idea to go against Daddy. Unfortunately, the doctor who was helping Josef, a nurse and a security guard are also killed by Sergei and his gang. In fact, this episode has a pretty high body count.

Back at CTU, Dana Walsh is still trying to help her ex-partner-in-crime-turned-stalker Kevin. She finds a police warehouse with $100,000 in drug money in it and is helping Kevin break in and get the loot, hoping that if she does this he'll leave her alone. Yeah, that's really going to happen. Her erratic behavior is being noticed by Arlo, another CTU analyst who spends his spare time making lewd remarks to Dana. How Dana manages to walk out of CTU and meet with two sleaze balls sitting in a a van that Ted Bundy would be reluctant to be seen in without arousing a lot of suspicion doesn't make much sense, but then this whole plot line is, as I've noted already, slowing down the action. We don't care about Dana, so why should we care about whether she's being pressured to help her ex-boyfriend commit crimes?

What this hour needed was more of the Hassans. Farhad was nowhere to be seen -- apparently he's still busy with the two girls with whom Sergei provided him last episode -- and Omar only had a few moments on screen. He's still cracking down on anyone he thinks might have aided his brother and getting just a little paranoid. The transition of Omar from visionary to hard-liner is a good plot twist that hopefully the writers won't let slip away.

Bauer had a few good lines in this episode. Worried that Renee -- who is half Courtney Love and half Emma Peel -- isn't ready for this undercover assignment, he tells CTU boss Brian Hastings that she's "like a bomb ready to go off." When his suggestion that he can get whatever information they need out of Vladimir is rebuffed by a torture-wary Hastings, Bauer says, "You people do what you do well, offer him immunity or something."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Jack Bauer undercover as Ernst Meier. Credit: Fox