Air Force One has crashed, and two important things have survived: The first is President Keeler, but just barely, and now his reluctant Vice President has to be sworn in. It's hard to say what the Veep's more afraid of: his new responsibilities, or Poor Man's Hume Cronyn, who's back and stalking the corridors of power like he owns the place. The other surviving item? The "Football," a briefcase containing all of the codes and information needed to access America's nuclear arsenal. It landed in the desert miles away from the rest of Air Force One, but mere yards away from a couple of camping yuppies. Now it's a race for who can get to them first: Kiefer, or the terrorists? ImhoTerror wins, but Kiefer manages to save the lives of the yuppie campers and recover the Football. Except ImhoTerror got away and -- oops -- there are a few crucial pages missing from the briefcase. Which is the very first thing the new president hears after getting sworn in. As if the poor guy weren't nervous enough already.
Hey, welcome to my twenty-fourth recap of 24. It's like the equivalent of having recapped one full season, but with more unanswered questions and unresolved plots. Okay, maybe just one or two more.
Previously on 24: ImhoTerror leaned on NotMandy to prevent Kiefer from finding an incriminating hard drive, and NotMandy died trying. Kiefer figured out that Poor Man's Eric Stoltz had stolen a stealth bomber, and unsuccessfully tried to talk him out of shooting down the President. Someone said, "Air Force One has been fired on," but not so you could hear it during the actual episode. Potato Face reported that AF1 had taken an indirect hit. Kiefer seemed to take it pretty personally. The following takes place between 11:00 PM and 12:00 AM.
I hope you didn't have your heart set on seeing an actual plane crash this week, because you're not going to. Even that shot of a burning Air Force One from last week's preview is absent, probably because it a) showed the CGI fire on the wrong side of the plane, and b) was cheesy-looking as hell. Instead, the whole descent is "witnessed" via audio and radar from CTU. The worried voices of Air Force One's crew are being broadcast over the floor. I don't speak pilot, but I'm pretty sure they're saying they're fucked. Potato Face projects that the plane will hit the ground about 20 miles northwest of Indio. Bitchelle orders search and rescue teams from every agency she can think of prepared to head out to the likely crash site. Soul Patch even calls in the CTU troops from Vegas. While that's happening, they lose the voice transmission. Potato Face channel-surfs until she gets it back. The crew announces that they're going in at 160 knots with no landing gear. Ooh, that's gonna be bumpy. The 747's blip disappears from Potato Face's radar screen. "Air Force One is down," she reports. Everyone stands around listening to the radio chatter until DoDder, of all people, rushes in to report that the DoD is reporting ground flashes showing up on surveillance satellites. Yeah, that'll happen. Be sure and let us know if there's smoke, too, okay?
Kiefer trots in and approaches Buchanan, the one person there that he's never met, to ask after Air Force One. "It's down," Buchanan tells this random guy who just ran in off the street, as far as he knows. "Rough landing, radio's down, we don't know if there were any survivors." Kiefer asks if anyone has tried a technobabble channel that should allow them to directly reach any surviving Secret Service guys on the plane. No one has, so Kiefer takes care of it himself. With the help of a government operator, he's quickly on line with a Secret Service guy. "What is the status of the President?" Kiefer asks. "I don't know," says the Secret Service guy, in audible pain. "I can't move yet." Beyond raising his shirt cuff to his mouth, of course. Kiefer says help is on the way, and the agent says he thinks there are other survivors.
Washington, D.C. The Vice President is standing around in his office. I've been trying to figure out why the actor is so familiar, and his ginormous IMDb page doesn't help because I've seen almost nothing on it and remember less. Although I was interested to learn that he's played both John Ashcroft and Arlen Specter. And then I figured it out: he looks like an elongated Richard Nixon. He's wearing a '70s tie and everything. It took me a while because this character is pretty much the opposite of Tricky Dick. None of this is either here or there, of course, but it makes me feel better. So anyway, guess who walks in? Some random dude we've never seen before. I know! Oh, and Poor Man's Hume Cronyn is with him. Whom we haven't seen since the end of Season Two, when Palmer fired him for disloyalty. What's he doing here now? Besides bugging me with his ugly-ass glasses that sit too high and crooked on his face? Well, at the moment, he's notifying the Veep that Air Force One is down and they don't yet know the status of the President. The Veep just stands there daydreaming for a minute, until Poor Man's Hume Cronyn offers some advice, based on their fifteen-year acquaintance: since Keeler is unlikely to be in any shape to run the country, even if he survived, PMHC wants the Veep to prepare to be sworn in as soon as possible, with live media coverage. The Veep calmly says that he doesn't want to act prematurely. PHMC blinks and nods as if the Veep has just delivered some blunt insult about his mother. Awkward pause. PHMC says they're off to the White House for a security briefing. As PHMC and his wingman leave the office, the Veep stands there looking like he's just suffered some awful humiliation. Like PMHC fucked him up the ass with a toilet brush or something. What the hell is going on between these two? It's not even clear what PMHC's actual job is, whether he works for the Keeler or the Veep. I'm operating on the assumption that he's serving as the Veep's senior advisor, and I had to learn that by looking it up on a fan site. Besides which, why is Palmer's disgraced former Chief of Staff working for the administration of the guy who ran against Palmer in the last general election anyway? Maybe the 24-verse doesn't have political parties or something.