Remember way back in the beginning of season one when we were supposed to think that Soul Patch was the mole? We had no idea how badly he would suck at it. Everyone's seriously pissed off that Saunders slipped away, and they're looking to Soul Patch for explanations. But he's looking for ways to cover his tracks and bust Spawnders out of CTU custody before Saunders kills and/or maims Bitchelle. Lady Mac approaches Palmer's opponent for reasons that are too stupid and too complicated (and too stupid) to go into in a recaplet, but suffice it to say that this is the first job interview I've ever seen in which the candidate's primary qualification is a willingness to confess to a murder. Kiefer snatches up the hot potato that is command of CTU. Potato Face figures out what Soul Patch is up to and she tells Kiefer, but not before Soul Patch absconds with Spawnders.
Previously on 24: Brother Palmer told Palmer that CTU had snatched Spawnders, but had blown its cover in the process. Palmer refused to take orders from Saunders any more. Kiefer got Spawnders to call her dad, but he figured out that she was with Kiefer, and there was much threat-swapping. Kiefer and Special Agent Charlie Brown rode into position around Saunders's building while hanging out the side of an SUV, and I was the only person in the world who didn't think that looked cool. Kiefer used a bullhorn to tell Saunders he was out of time and out of options. Saunders called Soul Patch, threatening to have one of his guys maim or kill Bitchelle if Soul Patch didn't order the relocation of the agents covering one of Saunders's exits. Soul Patch ordered Agent Baker's team to the front of the building, and Saunders walked out onto a deserted street. The following takes place between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM.
Outside the front entrance of Saunders's building, Kiefer has run out of patience. He issues a final warning through his bullhorn, scowls at the empty building for fifteen seconds, and tells Special Agent Charlie Brown, "Smoke him out." Charlie Brown relays the order, and agents fire canisters of tear gas through the windows. Somehow every projectile fired at this multi-story building lands in Saunders's former office. Kiefer orders the teams into the building to bring Saunders out, and they move in, led by a gas-masked Special Agent Charlie Brown. At that moment, Agent Baker and his guys come tearing around the corner. Kiefer roars Baker's name and wants to know what the hell he's doing there. I want to know how far Saunders has been able to stroll in the time it took five trained agents to travel halfway around the building at a dead run. Baker tells Kiefer what he was told, and Kiefer fumbles for his walkie-talkie and hails Special Agent Charlie Brown, who is already in Saunders's room but reports that they have yet to locate the man in question. Kiefer demands of Baker where his order to move came from, and Baker tells him it was Soul Patch. Kiefer orders Baker's team back from whence they came, and Baker dashes off, looking rather jaunty for a guy running that fast. Kiefer's got his cell phone out, and he's calling Soul Patch to give him as good a reaming as he has time for right now. Soul Patch fumbles an excuse about working off the information he had, and how someone on his team made a mistake. Potato Face, who happens to be in earshot, does a double-take at this. Kiefer: "That is an unacceptable mistake…if you can't run CTU, you'd better replace yourself with someone who can." He hangs up without waiting for a comeback. Kiefer again gets Special Agent Charlie Brown on the walkie-talkie, and learns that he's been through the entire building and Saunders isn't in it. Of course, we're seeing Charlie Brown through that annoying room divider made of vertical glass bars that I'm glad I'll never have to look at again, so he appears not to have moved since entering the place. Kiefer's enraged "Dammit!" echoes off the surrounding buildings.
At CTU, Potato Face is giving Soul Patch the bad news about Saunders's absence, not realizing that it isn't news to Soul Patch. "What was that you said about someone in your group making a mistake?" she adds accusatorily. Soul Patch pretends to confirm with Adam the Woman Hater that Saunders was in the building, and Adam further offers to pull up the satellite images to find out what went wrong. Soul Patch isn't about to let that happen, so he says he'll take care of it and orders Adam to help Potato Face instead. He walks away looking like he's experiencing no small degree of intestinal urgency while Potato Face and Adam watch in confusion. It's 9:04:46.