Oddly enough, the prior episode was quite a bit of boring. For whatever reason, the (pretty much) foregone conclusion of AF1 getting shot down did not have me on the edge of my seat, probably because the level of this disaster is relatively old hat for me (the high watermark in this category remains the season 2 episode where the nuclear bomb went off, and a lot of the reason was just how terribly beautiful the blast was).
On the other hand, this episode had my palms sweating like I was a comics nerd about to interview Neil Gaiman in a week. (Which, by the way, I'm not.) (Not sweating that is. All the rest of that sentence is true.) Much of it had to do with the Jason "Chum" Girard character. He seemed at first to be an unwashed hippy, but he became surprisingly sympathetic, I suspect because he followed Jack's directives so effectively. When he was getting "This season's favorite thing"ed (i.e. tortured), he wasn't about to say where the other half of the football was. Instead, whatever hate we might've had for him was sucked up by his stupid wife. (Seriously though, I'm finding that this opposition of characters to be especially effective in manipulating viewer sympathy in any genre.)
I also got a kick out of how much Vice President Pushover looked like Nixon. And while on the subject of the White House half of the show, the second I saw Mike Novick's bald head and smirking overbite, I actually heard a gear click into place in my head. Heller's been AWOL from the show for several episodes now, and he's in too important a position (both in the story (i.e. the narrative itself) and the discourse (i.e. the telling of the narrative) of the series) to be conveniently forgotten like Behrooz. Putting two and two together, the way I predict the remaining course of the season to play out: Mike, along with a cabal of shady government characters, is going to put the VP into position to get assassinated so that Heller becomes POTUS. (My presidential succession is a little hazy.) If this doesn't happen, I'll eat my hat. (It is made out of chocolate.)
And don't forget to add another guy to the CTU expenses account, AKA "Jack's Back-Up CTU Agents." (Cf. Ensign Redshirts.)
But most importantly, I learned from this episode that before I shoot anyone, I should casually say "Hey" to get his attention first. I bet I could catch some sweet Audrey tail then.
Indie rating: Spacemen 3 - "Hey Man"