It only took half a season. Source: FOX via Getty Images
It only took half a season. Source: FOX via Getty Images

Finally. Not until after 5 o'clock in the afternoon -- that is, more than half the season of “24: Live Another Day” -- did Jack Bauer have the chance to torture anybody.

But it’s OK. Jack doesn’t do it for very long, and he’s really sorry afterward. We know he’s sorry because he says he shouldn’t have done it. He shouldn’t have squeezed and twisted the stump of Simone Al-Harazi’s mutilated finger until she lost consciousness, because, as he explains to Kate Morgan (who already during the day has been suspended not once but twice by the Central Intelligence Agency), Simone was never going to tell them the location of Mommy’s hideout. (Moral lesson: Torture should be reserved for people on whom it might work.)

The mother in question is Margot Al-Harazi, aka Obviously Insane Woman, who has hijacked several American drones and intends to use them to attack London. Daughter Simone is in the hospital because after she killed her sister-in-law and chased her niece Yasmin into traffic, she was hit by a bus. She has internal injuries and is supposed to be sent off for tests, but Jack orders the anesthesiologist to wake her up and leave them alone, and the doctor does exactly this -- maybe because Jack says “please.”

We are told that Yasmin is downstairs, in shock and not talking, but when Kate smiles, out pours the entire story, including the fact that Yasmin’s Aunt Simone was warning her sister-in-law to get out of London. Simone, says Yasmin, “was trying to protect us from her mother.”

A scoop! Simone betrayed Mommy! Kate rushes to call Jack on her secure phone and tells him the whole story. Unfortunately, she makes the call from a crowded hallway, where anybody could overhear. And somebody does: Kareem, a henchman sent to the hospital by Obviously Insane Woman. Kareem reports to Margot, who tells him to find the room where Simone is being held, then orders son Ian to use one of their drones to fire a missile to kill his sister.

Ian has no problem with that.

Meanwhile, the British prime minister addresses the nation about the crisis, and U.S. President James Heller, who let Jack out of custody to run around London shooting things up and not finding Margot, tells his advisers (who consist entirely of his daughter and her husband, the chief of staff) that because of his Alzheimer’s, he will resign when the crisis is over.

Nobody tries to talk him out of it.

Back at the hospital, Simone wakes up, Jack does his torture thing, and she refuses to talk. “My mother loves me,” she says.

Outside, Mommy’s drone is moving within range. Will Simone die? Certainly not! The British police have done so terrible a job clearing the floor of unauthorized personnel that Kareem has been able to sneak in. Caught, he pulls a gun and flees, pursued by Jack and Kate. Will they capture him and give Jack the chance for more torture? Certainly not! The police kill Kareem. Is the henchman now a dead end? Certainly not! On his cell phone is a text message from Obviously Insane Woman, warning that he has eight minutes to get away.

Jack intuits that Mommy plans to blow Simone to bits, and the next thing anybody knows, sirens are going off, and staff and patients are frantically evacuating the hospital. Jack carries Simone, and Kate finds a hiding Yasmin, who has no police guards, even though she is the only witness to a murder that may hold the key to the pending terrorist attack.

Outside, Kate turns Yasmin over to the police, and she and Jack stuff Simone into a car and head for the CIA’s clinic. (Or what’s left of it, after Jack shot his way out a few hours ago.) Obviously Insane Woman, having blown up the hospital, spots the fleeing car and orders Ian to destroy it. The drone fires a missile. Oops, missed. The drone fires another missile. Missed again. At this point Mommy may be missing Naveed, her original drone pilot, whom two hours ago she shot in the head. Finally Ian gets a hit, but by that time the car is empty: who’d have thought that under attack they might switch cars? (True, they pulled the same trick about 90 seconds ago, but ...)

Jack and President Heller talk by telephone. Heller says he needs to see him. A few minutes later, the president calls Obviously Insane Woman, and tells her (as predicted in this space a few weeks ago) that he has decided to turn himself over to her, in return for her promise (her promise!) not to attack London. So next week should be fun, with Heller and Jack heading off to Margot-land.

Oh, and in the show’s second-most-boring subplot, CIA Station Chief Steve Navarro, outed last episode as a mole, is sending his tech guy, Jordan, to make a drop on a houseboat -- and Jordan, no field man, is so honored to be of service that he isn’t the least bit suspicious that this sudden request might be related to the deleted files he is trying to restore that Navarro last episode ordered him not to. (Nice tag line from Navarro: “You earned it.”) And we meet the baddie whose distorted voice was at the other end of Navarro’s phone last week. Could it be? It is! Chloe’s evil hacker mentor, Adrian! The one we all knew was -- well, an evil hacker mentor.

Anyway, Jordan gets shot, as planned, and falls off the boat. Is he dead? Certainly not! He might not be a field agent but he’s a trouper. Perhaps inspired by the ending of “The Bourne Ultimatum,” he manages, despite the bullet hole, to hold his breath for a really, really, really long time -- and escape.

Then there’s the most boring subplot. It seems that Marc Boudreau, the White House chief of staff, is still planning to turn Bauer over to the Russians. Let’s see how that works out.

Next episode: Margot breaks her promise, gets sued, is ordered by a judge not to attack London.

To contact the writer of this article: Stephen L. Carter at stephen.carter@yale.edu.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Michael Newman at mnewman43@bloomberg.net.