24: Live Another Day review: Holding all the cards

Jul 8, 2014 at 5:00 a.m. ET
Image: Fox

The good guys took more than a few beatings, thanks to Jack and Audrey's old enemy in 24: Live Another Day "9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m."

This series being my first foray into the world of Jack Bauer, I was unfamiliar with Cheng Zhi. When we met him in the last episode, I could tell he was a very bad man, but in this episode I learned that he was also a ruthless one as well. There was no quick solution for Jack because once Cheng came on board, things just kept going from bad to worse.

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It's hard to believe that Jack and the rest of his friends were once fighting a terrorist as lowly as Margot just a few episodes ago. At the time I thought Margot was about as terrible of a person as one could get, but Cheng has made her actions a distant memory. Once he brought nuclear weapons into play, aiming drones at a hospital or two seemed like child's play.

Another thing Cheng did was to bring a new kind of terror to at least one person in Jack's life: Audrey. Both Jack and Audrey suffered brutality at Cheng's hands, but while Jack didn't let it get to him (other than to perhaps allow Cheng's presence to up his anger a few notches), Audrey reacted differently. Her entire demeanor changed and I could see the panic in her eyes when she found out Cheng was alive.

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Jack and Audrey have had a number of quiet conversations over the course of this season and this episode added another one that may have just become my new favorite. The emotions I felt from both of them were nearly overwhelming when Jack said he didn't want Audrey to hate him and Audrey said she never could. It's moments like those that make me wonder if the two of them could possibly end up together when everything is over, though I know it's probably not likely.

I may be the only person on the planet who still likes Mark, but I truly believed him when he said he did everything he did because he thought he was protecting the president. Sure, there may have been a wee bit of jealousy in there, but who can blame the guy? His wife hasn't exactly been hiding the fact that she still has feelings for another man.

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In the end, Cheng came out on top, even after everything that happened. Jack wasn't able to get any information out of Stolnavich, but I thought for sure that Audrey's plan was going to work. That is, right up until Jiao was shot, all of the Secret Service agents were killed and Audrey was left sitting alone on a bench listening to a man that struck fear into her heart.

Will Jack be able to rescue Audrey? Will the president be able to convince the Chinese that the attack wasn't their fault before an all-out nuclear war ensues? Only one episode left until we all find out how it ends.

My favorite bits:

Realizing that Chloe hadn't tried to steal the phone. She just wanted to record Cheng's voice for Jack. Absolutely freaking brilliant.

Jack reassuring the president that he definitely knew the voice of the man who captured and tortured him for a year.

The entire phone conversation between Jack and Audrey.

Jack wasting no time in putting a gun to Mark's face. I've said it once and I'll say it again: Jack Bauer does not mess around.

Mark: "Sorry."
Heller: "Sorry? You're working for the Russians and you're telling me you're sorry?"

Jack calling Mark an idiot. That was classic.

Mark: "What happens when the bullets start to fly?"
Jack: "You're gonna wanna try and stay low."

Mark promising he was going to do anything he could to make things right.

Chloe wreaking havoc and finding a way out of the truck. Good girl!

Heller agreeing to go to Defcon 3. Whoa.

Mark doing a bang-up job at acting in order to get Stolnavich to open the gate.

The look on Audrey's face when she heard Cheng's voice on the other end of that phone.

What did you think of this episode? Got any theories on what will happen in next week's finale?