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Helmet Head wants to be Helmet Head of State!

By Cindy Davis | TV | January 29, 2010 |

By Cindy Davis | TV | January 29, 2010 |

After the laughable return of “tough” Renee last week, parts of this week’s episode felt very serious. But no worries, there are still plenty of moments to be mocked. First up is Renee. So, I get that she’s supposed to be all bad-ass (in a 13 year old, black clothes wearing, listening to Avril I-have-no-clue-what-punk-rock-is Lavigne, kind of way). Honestly, Renee looks like she’s about to burst into tears at any moment, having just discovered menstrual blood in her underwear for the first time. The only Russian she might be able to win a staring contest against is a Russian waiter at Epcot. Let’s remember what Renee was like in Season 7, all by the book and buttoned-up priss-ery. And let’s also remember that Renee’s time undercover with the Russian mob would have been before Season 7 occurred. Knowing last season’s Renee, I’m having a really difficult time believing she was previously hanging with the Russian mobsters and going through the events described in this episode. Renee is about as bad-ass as Smiley Cyrus . But, my biggest issue so far is Jack’s behavior. Who is this man? I mean, he’s yelling “Dammit” on a regular basis now, and he looks like Jack, but otherwise, this man bears no resemblance to the Jack Bauer we know. He’s letting everyone else dictate the way things are run, he keeps making demands and then backing down, and strangest of all — he’s turned into an intermittent background character. Instead of running in to save the day, he keeps running in to protest for a moment, changing his mind and then running out again. What the hell is going on here? We want our Jack back.

Back in the IRK (Islamic Republic of Kamistan), an incredibly quick “real time” response (has it been 30 minutes since the assassination attempt?) has begun. Television news reports that forces loyal to President Hassan are arresting “traitors” attempting to overthrow the government. President Hassan’s brother, Helmet Head, calls a General back in the homeland — the General says he thought Helmet Head was dead or captured. Helmet Head says he’s with Bazhaev; the General exclaims, “to hell with Bazhaev, that everything they have worked for is over because of him!” Helmet Head says it’s not over. The General says President Hassan’s forces are all over the city. Helmet Head says President Hassan will be accused of human rights violations and the treaty will be stopped. Helmet Head wants to be Helmet Head of State. He tells the General that once they have the uranium, President Hassan will become irrelevant. Helmet Head says he needs payment wired to Bazhaev’s account.

Bazhaev’s younger son Oleg (Gene Farber) is very sick from radiation exposure. Older son Josef tells their father, Bazhaev, that there is a clinic and he can find a doctor to treat Oleg - Josef will make sure the doctor keeps his mouth shut. Bazhaev says Josef cannot guarantee no one will make the connection and find them. (We know this is exactly what will happen.) Josef says Oleg will die if they don’t get him help, Bazhaev says, “Then, Oleg must die.” Josef can’t believe Bazhaev would let Oleg die alone in a cold room behind a kitchen? Josef pleads, “He’s my brother and your son Papa!” Papa tells Josef he can take Oleg to the country house, that their sister will take care of Oleg. This is why everyone should keep a country house — in case you ever need a nice place to go die. Helmet Head walks in the room and tells Bazhaev the money will soon be transferred, Helmet Head wants to know when will he have the fuel rods? Bazhaev replies, “As soon as I receive the money.” Helmet Head tells Bazhaev it will be five hours. Papa Bazhaev has a secondary career as a pimp and says “I’ll help you pass the time”; he calls in two chicks. Bazhaev asks if Helmet Head has a preference? “No? Then take both.” So Papa has no worries about his dying son, but he wants to make sure Helmet Head isn’t bored?

Renee and Jack try to cauterize the wound and stop Ziya from bleeding out. Jack is visibly angry and gets out his phone — Renee asks who he’s calling. Jack replies “Hastings.” Renee asks “Why?” (Yeah, the stimulating dialogue is not why we watch, is it?) Jack says he’s telling Hastings the operation needs to be shut down — that Renee shouldn’t be in the field and this (nods toward Ziya) proves it. Renee says this was the only play and that Jack would have done the same thing. (After at least trying some lesser methods, perhaps? One even?) Jack says the play was to get Ziya to cooperate, and Renee says he will. She tells Jack the only thing Ziya likes better than 13-year-old girls is money and that he’d have butchered himself for a score like this. (None of this makes any sense of course. Ziya was already cooperating with Renee when she decided to give him a thumbectomy.) Renee says this is the only way — Jack says Renee is unstable. I agree with Jack. Jack says he doesn’t blame Renee, but that she isn’t fit for this mission. Renee tells Jack that she went through a rough patch but she came out the other side. Jack says he doesn’t think so. Renee says the bottom line is that she’s the best hope they have. Ziya is waking up, Renee asks Jack for a decision. Jack says “You see what you can get out of him, but don’t forget I’m listening.” Way to take charge Jack! As Jack leaves (he’ll stay in communication by earpiece), Ziya wakes and starts screaming. Renee tells him to shut up and quit whining like a baby. Badass! Renee tells him she got the bracelet off, she did him a favor. She tells him he’ll get money off the top of the deal if he helps. When he hesitates Renee pretends to leave, and Ziya cries and says he knows where Vladimir might be. Ziya claims he has to take her there himself. Chloe calls Jack (back in his car) and says something about Ziya’s parole officer and bracelet. Jack says it’s been taken care of, trust him.

Back at CTU Chloe is now getting updates from Jenny Dana Starbuck instead of vice versa. What have the writers done to Katie Sackhoff? She gets a few minutes to appear the sharp and confident new analyst, and within two episodes, she’s turned into a quivering mess. The 24 women thus far have been all over the place, must be the moon’s got their cycles aligned and they’ve all got PMS. Right boys? Now what’s Jack’s excuse? While talking with Chloe, Jenny Starbuck gets another call from Kevin. Chloe wants to know if Starbuck is going to answer, so Starbuck reluctantly takes the call. After asking Chloe to excuse her, Jenny Starbuck tells Kevin she’d told him not to phone, and that her shift is over in the morning — she’ll be home then. Kevin doesn’t want to wait and says she has 15, no, 30 minutes to get home. He threatens to tell Jenny Scott’s (her real name) fiance that she’s an ex-con and an accessory to murder. Jenny hangs up and asks Arlo to cover for her for a while. So, in the middle of a near assassination and a plot to acquire nuclear weapons, Jenny Starbuck decides to go home so an ex can abuse her. Brilliant.

President Taylor is speaking with Heads of State who are concerned but planning to attend the signing ceremony tomorrow. Rob Weiss tells her about Helmet Head’s plan to acquire weapons grade uranium and that the nuclear materials are already in country. President Taylor is alarmed and surprised, and seems to participate only on the sidelines this season. Whether on purpose or not, the writers have our first female President appearing weak as compared with Presidents Palmer and Logan. Ethan asks if President Hassan is aware of the situation, and Rob tells Ethan he is. Rob says there is already a CTU investigation underway. Ethan says he spoke with the U. S. Ambassador in the IRK and that Hassan’s forces have basically implemented martial law back home. Ethan and President Taylor are concerned that President Hassan may be violating human rights and that if he continues, it may delegitimize the peace accord. Taylor wants to speak to Hassan alone.

In the car, Ziya is drinking — Renee driving. Renee tells him he’s had enough, Ziya replies that she’s supposed to get him real pain killers. Ziya says he’s surprised Renee would deal with Vladimir after what Vlad did to her. Renee says she doesn’t know what Ziya’s talking about. Ziya says he understands why she wouldn’t want to talk about Vladimir — what can anyone say about him? Vlad isn’t a good man. Chloe calls Jack and tells him Arlo is sending the cover profile, and Jack asks Chloe to find out what happened between Renee and Vladimir.

President Taylor tells President Hassan she’s sorry about the attack again. Hassan sees through the b.s. and tells Taylor if this is about his security forces, they are necessary and he can’t stop doing what is going on back in his country. He says what is happening is basically a coup, and that the same people are trying to restart his country’s nuclear program. President Hassan tells President Taylor the only real law in his country is power, and that he has to remain strong and continue on so he doesn’t appear weak to his enemies. Hassan says the enemies must be “purged.” This particular scene marks a complete turnaround in Hassan’s thus far peaceful approach. It is unclear if President Hassan is just now revealing his true nature, or if the assassination attempt turned him on the offensive. Taylor says she can’t vouch for him as a reformer if he reneges on human rights obligations. She says the world is trusting President Hassan because of her. Hassan argues that she’s asking him to show mercy to enemies trying to destroy him. President Taylor wants him to find a middle ground so they can see peace in the region. Hassan effectively dismisses President Taylor by saying he wants to see his family.

Josef is driving Oleg to their sister’s house but Josef tells Oleg he wants to take little brother to a doctor. The younger son says through coughs and gasps that Papa is right, and that they shouldn’t expose themselves. In an unmotivated dramatic moment, Josef swerves across the main road to turn onto a side road. Josef inexplicably drops any accent he may have had and exclaims that he doesn’t care, he’s going to find his brother a doctor!

Stoic mother Dalia Hassan (Necar Zadegan) and daughter Kayla are talking while mother packs. Kayla says she will stay, mother seems to be leaving. Dalia says that Kayla thinks her father is one way but he is really another. They bicker over Dalia’s passive-aggressive behavior toward her husband. President Hassan walks in and says he needs to speak to Mother alone. Cue the soap-opera interlude music. Dalia is jealous and asks Hassan if he loves Blondie (the reporter). Hassan says it’s over, that he broke it off. But Dalia must know, and asks, “Do you love her?” Hassan says maybe he did, but what does it matter now? Dalia wants him to say it out loud instead of being a liar. Hassan tells his wife he was just happy to feel something, and that wants his wife to stay. They quietly argue over whose fault it is that their marriage fell apart. She says “Don’t worry, I won’t make a scene.” Dalia, you are a scene. Hassan exclaims that his brother is a traitor, his highest officers are conspiring against him and that peace talks are falling apart…he needs her to stay and advise him. She holds his face in her hands tenderly and says it’s nice he likes her advice, but it’s too late. Dalia is sorry and she walks out.

Renee and Ziya arrive at a warehouse-type building. Renee asks Ziya to whet Vladimir’s appetite since Vlad doesn’t like surprises. When Ziya leaves the truck, Jack speaks to Renee over earpiece and asks what happened between Vladimir and Renee — that he heard what Ziya said. Renee says Ziya is a drunk. Jack says “Dammit!” He yells at Renee that he is responsible for her, and that she has to give him a straight answer. Renee says she can handle Vladimir. Her only worry is that they know their cover, so she and Jack go over the elements. Meanwhile, a thug opens the warehouse door and ask Ziya what he’s doing there — Ziya says he has business with Vladimir. Vladimir (Callum Keith Rennie) asks how dare Ziya come here where Vladimir has been hiding for five years — especially when Ziya is on probation? I’m wondering how after five years, Ziya so easily found this silly hideout. Vladimir holds a gun on Ziya while Ziya tells Vladimir that Renee got off his bracelet (ain’t she swell!) and that she has a deal for Vladimir. They discuss that Renee is supposed to have been in Mexico City all this time. Vlad talks over with his goon whether they think Renee sold them out. Vladimir asks where Renee is now, Ziya replies that she’s outside. Vladimir tells Ziya to clean up and bring Renee to him.

Back at CTU, Ortiz asks Arlo where Dana/Jenny Starbuck is. Arlo tells him she went home; I’m not sure which boy looks more puzzled. Jenny Starbuck knocks on her own door. Kevin answers and tells her it’s nice she could drop by. Kevin has a buddy staying there too. Jenny Starbuck says the buddy can’t stay and that Kevin should tell him to leave - Kevin says it would be impolite. He’s a regular Emily Post, this guy. Starbuck tries to give Kevin five hundred dollars cash and says she’ll get another five hundred in the morning. Kevin asks if she thinks she’s smart and the rest of the world is stupid? He grabs her by the throat and tells her he wants her to stop treating him like a “dumbass 19 year-old stick-up artist with a fast car.” (Interesting, very specific description that obviously relates to their shared crime.) Kevin says Jenny’s not the only one who has grown up. Kevin tells Jenny Starbuck he’s been waiting for and dreaming about this moment. Jenny Starbuck says if Kevin thinks she testified against him, she didn’t. He angrily tells her not to lie to him. Starbuck, quivering, relays that she only got out of jail before Kevin because she was a minor. Kevin says he knows what Starbuck’s job is, and that she has access to bank codes, port authority manifests, the stock exchange … Jenny Starbuck says she can’t do anything - she has restricted access. Kevin tells Jenny she’ll figure something out and that whatever it is, the payoff has to be at least six figures. She says “Please, Kevin.” and cries. Kevin says if she does this one thing for her he’s gone and won’t bother her again. Starbuck says “I can’t.” She cries more, lips trembling. Kevin holds Jenny Starbuck’s face in his hands and says she can, and will. Jesopus, this plot line is dumb. There are so many reasons Starbuck could never have sneaked past the CTU employment process, not the least of which are her stupidity, and complete and utter mental imbalance.

Jack and Renee are still going over their cover story via earpiece. He’s going to monitor Renee and feed her all the information she needs. Ziya comes out to get Renee. Chloe calls Jack, and tells him that Vladimir was obsessed with Renee and beat her several times. Jack asks if there was a rape and Chloe says not according to the files, but it looks like Vlad may have tried a couple of times. Chloe wants to know what this is all about. Jack says the FBI covered it up as much of what happened to Renee as they could, but that Renee isn’t dealing with it well. Chloe wants to know if Renee is purposely putting herself in harm’s way. Jack isn’t sure but he doesn’t think Renee cares what happens to her. Nor do I. The gaping holes in the timeline of Renee’s breakdown having something to do with what happened with Vlad, before the entirety of Season 7 make my head hurt, but march on we shall.

Renee comes in and is patted down before she can see Vladimir. She says his face has changed. I say hers has. Vlad says a doctor in Caracas helped him out. Renee says she should get the doctor’s name (Vlad says he’s no longer in business). I say Renee you’ve done enough, back away from the plastic surgeon! They discuss that Renee has been working in Mexico City. Vlad says he has contacts in Mexico himself and wants to hear names of those who did business with Renee. Tension builds as Jack feeds Renee names, one by one, to answer Vladimir’s questions. Vlad says Renee looks different too — her eyes and skin - she doesn’t look like herself. (Right?) Was she sick? He asks another question and we all have to wait for Chloe to get the answer. After a couple of minutes staring each other down, Renee finally gets fed the name and tells Vlad. Vladimir is still suspicious though and orders Renee and Ziya put into the trunk of a car. (Personal irk: You’d think after all this time, suspicious mobsters would learn to look for earpieces, but no- - even though Vlad is so close he’s practically kissing Renee, he never thinks to check.) Jack loses communication with Renee because the trunk is armored, but he can follow the car. Jack says to Chloe he thinks the operation just blew up. He tells Chloe to have Hastings get together a team because he assumes they’re taking Renee somewhere to kill her. Guess who yells “Dammit!”?

Josef holds a gun on a doctor at a clinic and tells him there are men waiting outside the doctor’s family home. The doctor doesn’t believe Josef until Josef rattles off the doc’s address and says the light in his daughter’s room just went out. Josef tells the doctor his brother (Oleg) has radiation sickness. The doc says the brother’s symptoms seem quite advanced and asks to what, specifically, the brother was exposed? Josef tells him it was weapons grade uranium 235. Cue alarmed doctor face.

Director Hastings is patched through to Jack. He alerts Jack that there is a team three minutes out, on the way and that they’ll wait for Jack’s word. Hastings wants to know if the team should engage — and says that if they do the operation is over. Jack says the operation already is over because Vladimir didn’t believe Renee’s story. Hastings authorizes engagement. The car with Renee and Ziya in the trunk stops and Vlad orders the trunk opened. Ziya begs for his life. Renee tells Ziya to shut up. Communications between Jack and Renee return, and Jack hears Renee. Jack realizes he is following the wrong car (since he is still following, while Renee is stopped and out of the car) and he tells Chloe. Jack goes nuts when Chloe tells him there was a second car that came out after Jack followed the first car. Chloe gets a GPS lock on Renee; Hastings says the team is 10 minutes out from the new location. Another “Dammit!” Jack tells Renee he knows she can hear him and to try to stall.  Vladimir orders Renee and Ziya on their knees and tells Renee he’s giving her one more chance to tell him what’s going on. Ziya starts babbling and Vladimir shoots him dead. Jack hears the shots and screams Renee’s name, wondering if she’s been shot. Vladimir is amazed that when he shot Ziya, Renee didn’t even blink. Yeah, and her forehead doesn’t move either. He holds the gun on Renee and she tells him to “just do it”, but he doesn’t seem to be wearing Nikes. Vladimir wants the truth. Renee says fine, Vladimir is right - she is sick. She gives him the Zack Mayo speech: she’s sick of living like this, she has no where to go and no one to go to. She says, “If there isn’t any deal, I don’t have anything to live for.” Jack says through his earpiece, “Renee, please don’t do this, please!” She screams at Vladimir to “Do it! Pull the trigger!” Vladimir pauses, then puts away the gun and says, “You understand right? I had to be sure.” Renee says she understands. Vladimir says “Gud, gud.” Jack is visibly relieved and the assault team is told to stand down. Jack says to Hastings that Renee is in and that the Russians bought her cover.

Whew! I’m glad someone is buying Renee’s shtick.

This week’s recap has been brought to you with fewer Battlestar Galactica references by Todd.

For your Enhanced Recap Experience (ERE), please open this link in a new tab and listen to the music while reading the final paragraph.

Will Jack ever return to form, get to be a major character again and will he get to save this day? Will there be a breathy, melodramatic soap opera interlude every single hour? Will Renee get the name of Vlad’s doctor? Will Helmet Head be fully occupied for five hours? Will the women of 24 band together against the writers? Will Katee Sackhoff ever work in this town again? For these answers and more, please stay tuned to Pajiba until the next recap of As Jack’s World Turns.

Cindy is holed up in a bunker in the northeast sector of the country, and that’s all you need to know. You can reach Cindy here

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