1. WHATCHA DOIN', MARK BOUDREAU?
Meandering, that's what! Look at that shit. It's like the director told Mark Boudreau's actor, "OK, I'm going to need you to do a lot of meandering," and he was like, "hold on, I need some time to prepare." So they delay the next season of 24 for four years at his insistence while he prepares for his role, perfecting the noble craft of the meander.
He walked around in grocery stores for hours, ambling halfway up aisles and then turning around when someone entered the aisle from the other direction. He'd pick up a jar of artichokes and deliberate over whether to purchase it for 45 minutes before leaving it with the Pop-Tarts.
He took up residency at an art school, rolling out industrial-size reams of paper to cover the floor and dipping his feet in paint and meandering around the room, and then he'd hang it up and study it: "where was I going? Was I going somewhere?" And if he wasn't, he ripped it down in a fit of rage and started anew.
He studied with monks to perfect his meandering, then was kicked out because he kept tripping over urns and saying "ummmm" and "oh" and shit.
And that is how we arrive at the wonderful one-man pageant of Meanderin' Mark Boudreau.
2. SEEMS LIKE YOU'RE UP TO A WHOLE BUNCH O'NOTHIN', MARK BOUDREAU!
As loathe as I am to do this, I feel I should take just a minute to summarize a plot element. I'll do this as quickly as I can.
Mark Boudreau is the President's Chief of Staff. He is also the husband of Audrey, who is Jack Bauer's ex-lover. Early in the season, upon learning Jack's whereabouts, Boudreau agreed to hand him over to the Russians, who have wanted him dead for years. Boudreau does this by forging the President's signature on a document agreeing to extradite Bauer to Russia.
Since then, Jack has saved London, and the President, and probably Boudreau himself. Boudreau, who is under the impression that Jack has shoved off for the day, gives the Russians Jack's coordinates. Actually, Jack is en route to recovering a device that could spark nuclear war, and thanks to Boudreau, the Russians slow him down and keep him from getting it back.
Mark is Fargo's Jerry Lundegaard character, minus everything that made him interesting, and plus an insufferable air of Ivy League privilege. He's the guy who drives to get his oil changed in a suit and tie, then gets out of the car to make sure they won't steal, I don't know, his timing belt. Mark Boudreau completely, absolutely fucking sucks, and is a hollow, morally vacuous, supremely ineffectual, dim-bulb excuse for a grown man.
3. WHATCHA THINKIN' ABOUT, MARK BOUDREAU?
It's not an accident that 24's writers made him this way. Many seasons ago, Jack had romantic competition for Audrey, and he looked exactly like Mr. Bean. He lost in every possible way: Jack viciously tortured Mr. Bean by ripping his shirt off and shocking him with a lamp cord. Later, for reasons I don't remember, Mr. Bean heroically takes a bullet for Jack. Jack had to choose whether to grant medical attention to him, or to an evil terrorist who had valuable intelligence. He chose the evil terrorist, and Paul was left to just lie there and die on the table. You could not have lost any worse than you lost, guy.
That happened to a character with actual depth and moral principles and whatnot. Mark Boudreau, meanwhile, forged the President's signature (a really stupid idea that he had zero chance of getting away with) to have his romantic competitor, Jack Bauer, killed (even though it's been established over and over that Jack is unkillable). He's a rotten guy, but he's somewhere shy of evil, because he's just too damn stupid to be evil.
Jack survived the Russian ambush, and it's very easy for him to deduce that Boudreau is behind it. So in this episode, we were treated to the delightful spectacle of Mark Boudreau just kind of shiftlessly waiting around until bad things happen to him.
4. LOOKS LIKE YOU GOT YOURSELF IN A REAL PICKLE, MARK BOUDREAU!
D'awww, that face! Mark Boudreau always looks like a man who walks into every room because he heard there would be cupcakes.
Even with Jack's gun to his face, he can't muster an emotion heavier than the mild displeasure of an untucked shirt. Boudreau finally explains to the President why he did what he did, and maintains that he was only doing his job.
This season, Mark Boudreau -- despite being the Chief of Staff -- has had virtually nothing to do apart from meandering around and thinking about his stupid plan. And even now, he still thinks it was a good plan. It takes Jack roughly four seconds to explain to him why it was the most monumentally dumb plan in the world.
Oh come on now, Mark. Surely you aren't just now realizing this. Surely there's some other element to--
MARK BOUDREAU. MARK ELIZABETH BOUDREAU. ARE YOU SHITTIN' ME
5. LOOKS LIKE YOU REALLY FOULED THIS ONE UP, MARK BOUDREAU!
Upon hearing this, the President threatens to have him arrested for treason, but Jack stops him. "No," he says, "I can still use him in the field." That, right there, is the kiss of death for any character in 24. If you're a civilian who goes on a field op with Jack Bauer, you personally are going to die at least 85 times. But somehow, Boudreau's personal mandate for fucking up is so strong, so unbreakable, that he isn't even allowed to die. He's just doomed to wander the Earth and keep screwing up, over and over and over.
So. Jack needs to apprehend the Russian operative. In order to do so, Jack needs Boudreau to gain access to the compound and point his hidden camera at a security system panel, so Jack can break in. Then, all Mark needs to do is buy a minute or two of time with an "I need to request asylum" story.
They just need to get this guy alive. Mark Boudreau needs to talk to him for 90 seconds without the guy dying. Easy enough, right?
Maybe it was a shard of glass, or maybe it really isn't possible for you to endure a moment of conversation with Mark Boudreau without blood spurting out of your neck like it's a dollar-store water pistol.
Jack's only real lead is now dead. There is only one episode remaining of this season of 24, and there has been no news of another season. This really might be all the 24 we ever get. And near the very end, minutes of screen time were wasted on the directionless amblings of Mark Boudreau.
Whatcha say, Mark?
You are the worst, Mark Boudreau.