Day Seven: 8:00 AM — 9:00 AM

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M. Giant: A | Grade It Now!
Two Can Play at That Game

Meanwhile, at the Capitol, a power-suited brunette climbs out of a silver government SUV and walks toward the building, clearly meaning business. She looks kind of like a younger, more freckled version of Connie Nielsen. Inside the building, a hearing is beginning. Mind you, it's not inside the actual Senate Chamber like the one we see on C-SPAN, but in another large room, a rather airy venue lined with large windows that let in lots of golden sunlight despite the fact that it's another blue-grey day in D.C. The hearing is being presided over by a U.S. Senator named Blaine Mayer, played by Kurtwood Smith. Now, normally, the man who played Red Forman can be pretty intimidating, but he's failed to take one important fact into account: he was also in Robocop, and we already know from Peter Weller and Paul McCrane that things don't tend to end well for Robocop alumni on this show. Plus his name is Blaine Mayer, which I'm sure is supposed to telegraph "liberal wussy" but only makes me think of John Cusack's similarly named character in Better Off Dead. But so anyway.

Parliamentary procedure proves to be a handy exposition tool as we hear Mayer announce, "Let the record show that this is the third day of the Senate hearing investigating human rights violations by the recently disbanded Counter Terrorist Unit." Gosh, 24 without CTU? Without Los Angeles? Would we ever be able to adjust to all this if we hadn't had a year and a half to get used to the idea? Senator Mayer further exposits that they left off yesterday discussing brutality and torture. Which brings us to the hero of the piece: "Will the witness please state his name?" Mayer asks. Pan over to a suited Kiefer, sitting all alone at the witness table, who clearly answers, "Jack Bauer." Or, as he might also say, "Exhibits A though Z-Omega-Infinity." The Senator asks Kiefer where his lawyer is, and of course Kiefer says he's not using one. Lawyers are for liberal wussies. Mayer really wants Kiefer to have a lawyer, but Kiefer just grits, "What is the first question, sir?" Mayer sits back with a "Fine, be that way" look on his face and asks, "Who is Ibrahim Haddad?" After putting on such a show of being a defiant bad-ass, Kiefer at least has the grace to look a little embarrassed at having to dodge the question on the grounds that it's classified. Mayer assures him that as representatives of the people of the United States, they have declassified it, and repeats the question. Kiefer answers that Haddad was a member of a terrorist sleeper cell CTU was watching in 2002. Of course actual years mean almost nothing in the timeline of the show, but Mayer presses on, asking if Kiefer "detained Mr. Haddad without due process" and "used extreme interrogation methods." "Yes, sir," Kiefer agrees. Mayer asks if he broke procedure, and Kiefer responds, "Probably." Mayer's not impressed with that answer. "You don't seem to care about the implications here." Kiefer doesn't respond, until Mayer prods him and he snots, "I'm sorry, Senator, I didn't hear a question." So Mayer gives him one: "Did you torture Mr. Haddad?" Kiefer responds, "According to the definitions set forth by the Geneva Convention, yes, I did." It's not often that Kiefer admits that directly to doing the T-word, but presumably the Geneva Conventions are also for liberal wussies. Into the shocked silence, Kiefer makes a little speech: "It's obvious that your agenda is to discredit CTU and generate a series of indictments." He even contradicts Mayer to his face when he says his only agenda is the truth, and plows on: "Ibrahim Haddad had targeted a bus carrying 45 people, ten of which were children. The truth, Senator, is that I stopped that attack from happening." "By torturing Mr. Haddad!" Mayer barks indignantly. Kiefer corrects, "By doing what I deemed necessary to protect innocent lives." What I love is that this Ibrahim Haddad isn't even one of the guys Kiefer's tortured on the show. Which is either so we can understand that Kiefer does this all the time, or so we don't have to think back and remember, "Oh, yeah, that guy whose fingers Kiefer broke," or "Right, that guy Kiefer doused with water and then electrocuted with a lamp," or "Wasn't he the dude who got his kneecap shot out?" or "Oh, sure, the White House Chief of Staff he nearly blinded." This way we don't actually have to think about what Kiefer did specifically to Ibrahim Haddad. Not in this quiet, civilized hearing chamber, so far from the tense, fraught places where Kiefer works his magic and tells himself he's doing it for us. Mayer accuses Kiefer of saying the ends justify the means and that he's above the law. Kiefer unspools a doozy of a rationalization: "When I am activated, when I am brought into a situation, there is a reason. And that reason is to complete the objectives of my mission at all costs." So, in other words, yes. Kiefer's not responsible for his own actions; anything he does is on the people who put him to work in the first place. He goes on to say that a combat soldier needs to adapt to the enemy. "The people that I deal with, they don't care about your rules." Yes, Senator Blaine Mayer's rules. Damn you, Senator Blaine Mayer, and your rules. Kiefer continues, "All they care about is a result. My job is to stop them from accomplishing their objectives. I simply adapted." Oh, fucking puke. I liked him better when he was being defiant. Now he just sounds like a weasel. But he denies considering himself above the law. "I am more than willing to be judged by the people you claim to represent. I will let them decide what price I should pay." Which is why he's been an international fugitive for the past four years. "But please, do not sit there with that smug look on your face and expect me to regret the decisions that I have made. Because, sir, the truth is, I don't." Huh. Funny. He used to.

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