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Fire in the Hole

The evacuation party is underway and underground, briskly walking through the bowels of the U.N. Of course, some might say the U.N. is all bowel, but in this case it's the literal sub-basement tunnels. Hassan has changed out of his suit and into a casual jacket, like he's out on a day trip to look at autumn leaves or something. Up ahead, Kiefer is trying to call Ethan back, but getting no answer. So then he calls the CTU switchboard to have them patch him through. Wow, you do not call Kiefer unless you're really sure you want to talk to him, do you?

General Brucker is on the phone to the leader of his commando team, who says they can get to the tunnel access point in time, "If we haul ass." The ambush is set to happen at the vehicles. Brucker reminds him to get Hassan alive and wishes him luck. Meanwhile, under the U.N., Kiefer gets off the phone with the McGuire AFB switchboard and calls Walker up to the front of the group to warn her that something's up. "Keep your eyes open," he says. It's 5:36:47, and finally Walker can stop running blindly into things.

5:41:04. The evacuation party has reached a section of tunnel 200 meters long, cluttered with crates and pallets. There's barely enough room along one side to walk two abreast. Which I guess is why the SUVs are waiting at the mouth of the tunnel, with plainclothes agents standing next to them. Against his instincts, Kiefer starts leading everyone down the tunnel, trying once again to get Ethan on the phone. There certainly wasn't this much drama getting Taylor out of the U.N., as I recall. Either time. Brucker's commandos, lying in ambush, see them coming and pull down their ski masks. "Wait until the target's in the kill zone," the leader instructs. "Remember, we need to take Hassan alive." the leader says. It would probably be okay to shoot Hassan someplace in a large but non-vital part of his body, like the leg or the hair.

Inside Ethan's borrowed office, Brucker has apparently left the unconscious Ethan alone with Rob, after having helped lift him up onto the sofa so that his heart can continue to Rob takes Ethan's pulse while trying to ignore a knock on the door. When it doesn't go away, he throws on his suit jacket and answers it. The woman outside says Jack Bauer's insisting on talking to Ethan, and won't be put off. Rob says he'll take the call at 5:42:46. After some hesitation, he finally does. As a cursory nod to realism, Kiefer has to contend with some static while deep underground, but of course it's the least realistic-sounding static ever. Soon the call clears up so that Kiefer can tell Rob what's going on, and ask why Ethan tried to call him and now won't answer. Rob makes some lame excuses about Ethan being busy with the Joint Chiefs (which is going to be awkward when Kiefer finds a reason to be in a room with the Joint Chiefs himself at some point), and when Kiefer asks what Ethan wanted to talk to him about, Rob pretends not to have any idea. "It could have been anything," he says. Kiefer doesn't think so: "He knows we're conducting a sensitive evac. He called me during it. There's got to be some kind of connection." For a secret agent, Kiefer certainly thinks like a screenwriter sometimes. Rob promises to relay the message, and Kiefer snaps, "I don't think you understand. I need to talk to Secretary Kanin now!" The post of White House Chief of Staff is a thankless one. You get the blame for what goes wrong, you get no credit for what goes right, and sooner or later Jack Bauer is going to be yelling at or even threatening you about something. Rob yells at Kiefer to do his job, and hangs up on him. Realizing what happened, Kiefer tells Walker, "Son of a bitch just hung up on me." Of course he doesn't realize Rob just did him a favor; if Rob had a brain in his head, he would have kept Kiefer distracted with the phone call while he walked into Brucker's ambush. Amateur. Walker makes excuses about the stress everyone's under, which doesn't impress Kiefer. He orders a halt to the march, and decides they're heading back. Wait, does Kiefer not know about the bomb deadline? I can't believe he'd make this choice between a radiological attack and a losing game of phone tag.

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