Eighteen months later.
8:00 A.M. PST
In Seoul, a Korean man named Jason Park is tortured into revealing something to his captors. One of the captors runs to a room where American military officers are waiting. He tells them that Park had said the word "Today." An officer immediately calls Eric Rayburn at the National Security Agency.
President Palmer and his son Keith peacefully fish in a boat on Lake Oswego in Oregon when the Secret Service agent at their side alerts Palmer to a situation.
Nine year old Megan Matheson runs into Kim's bedroom in the Matheson house and playfully hides under the covers from her father, Gary. Although Kim is the nanny for his daughter, Gary stares seductively at Kim in her sleepwear.
As a group of advisors whisks him from the dock to a car, Palmer apologizes to his son for cutting short their time together. Keith understands that it's not Palmer's fault.
At CTU, new programmer Paula Schaeffer apprises Tony and Mason of her software upgrades. Staffer Michelle Dessler interrupts with a request for Mason from Eric Rayburn. NSA wants the inactive Jack Bauer to be brought in.
Palmer is shuttled to the Northwest Regional Operations Complex and met by NSA staffer Eric Rayburn. Rayburn briefs the President and chief aide, Lynne Kresge, about a terrorist controlled nuclear device in Los Angeles that is set to go off today. While the government was tracking a suspect named Jason Park, they noticed in a surveillance photo that Park was standing next to a suicide bomber named Mamud Rashed Faheen. It was thought that Faheen had been killed in a West Bank bombing. After torturing Park, the NSA learned about the nuclear bomb. Faheen is controlled by a splinter group called Second Wave. Although no Middle Eastern state officially recognizes Second Wave, one is unofficially affiliated with them. Palmer asks to speak to that country's Prime Minister on the phone.
Megan Matheson, Carla's mother, carefully prepares breakfast for her husband Gary. He hugs his wife, and as he watches Kim, gropes Carla for her benefit. Kim uncomfortably looks away. Gary makes a comment about Kim's body and asks her if she works out.
The Prime Minister disavows any relationship with Second Wave to Palmer. President Palmer tells the Prime Minister that he knows his country supports Second Wave and that the group is planning an attack against the United States. Palmer threatens that America will retaliate if any bomb goes off on U.S. soil. The Prime Minister is insulted, and tells Palmer to proceed carefully or else America will have one billion Muslim enemies.
As Kim plays with Megan outside the Matheson home, Jack watches from his car parked outside. He is unshaven and unkempt. Jack's cell phone rings with a call from Mason's office. Jack tells the caller that he no longer works for CTU and quickly hangs up. He then gets out of his car and approaches Kim. She is uneasy around him. Jack says that he only wanted to see her because he misses her. "Every time I see you I think of Mom," she says. Kim explains that she is still not ready to let him back into her life.
At O.C., Rayburn recommends to the President that they get the Pentagon involved for any possible proactive measures. Palmer insists that it is too early to discuss a response, and he dismisses Rayburn.
A man of Middle Eastern decent named Reza Naiyeer drives up to the Warner estate in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. He is speaking Arabic on his cell phone. Reza goes to the backyard and greets his fiancÃ�Â©e, Marie Warner, with a kiss. She is frantically making last minute preparations for her wedding later that day in the garden. Marie's sister, Kate, and her father, Bob, are also in wedding planning mode. Kate questions why Reza sent the company car to pick up his family at the airport, but Bob brushes her mistrust of Reza aside.
Mason calls Rayburn to tell him that he has not been able to bring Jack in. Mason offers a solution to help sway Jack.
Jack returns to his unlived-in townhouse, and his answering machine is filled with messages from CTU. Jack ignores the machine, and instead looks sadly at a photo of his family from happier times. He is in the picture with Kim and his murdered wife, Teri. Jack lies down on the couch, clutching the photo. The phone rings again, and Jack hears the incoming message on the machine from the White House. He picks up the line and is connected to President Palmer. Although Palmer understands Jack's emotional state, he asks for his help with a grave dilemma. Jack tells the President that he is no longer an agent, but Palmer urges Jack to go to CTU and listen to the situation before making any decision.
Kim finds that Carla has returned home to wrap a gift for Gary's assistant. When Kim offers to do the task, Carla nervously tells her that she must do it herself because Gary likes things done in a very specific way.
Michelle points out to Tony that the CIA has issued an Information Flow Advisory, but they are unsure of what's actually going on. Paula asks Michelle about the situation and tries to offer help. Michelle tells her to stick to her job.
Mason summons the CTU staff and informs them about the nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. He orders them not to make contact with anyone outside of the secure zone, including family members. Tony and Mason conclude that Jack was asked to come in because of a possible connection to this case.
Rayburn makes a presentation to the President and other aides in the O.C. war room about potential casualties in the face of such threat in Los Angeles. The number is over 2 million. However, they don't know if it is a dirty bomb or something bigger. Rayburn again suggests to the President that they bring in the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss military action, but Palmer shoots Rayburn down. They are to proceed as if it is a terrorist attack and not a military operation.
A man named Marko arrives at an unmarked building in an industrial park. He speaks to a man at the door in Arabic. Inside, armed guards are protecting a metal enclosed work area that has radiation symbols on it. People working with gloved hands tremble as they pour a colored powder into a container. Marko asks the man when the bomb will be ready. "Soon," the man replies.
Paula admits to Tony that, as a new employee at CTU, she may not be able to work under such stressful conditions. Tony urges her to focus on her task. Suddenly, Jack is ushered into CTU, and everyone in the room takes notice. Tony greets him, and brings Jack to the conference room where Mason is waiting. Mason tells Jack about the rogue nuclear bomb in the city. He was brought in to help identify a prime suspect. Jack abruptly walks out of the room, and Tony follows him. Jack runs for a phone and calls Kim on her cell. He warns his daughter to get out of Los Angeles. Frustrated that he won't obey her wishes to be separated, she hangs up on him. Jack redials and leaves a message on her voice mail, telling her to drive north to her Aunt Carol's house. Jack leaves, and Tony tries to convince him that they can get to Kim quickly. He will be more effective finding the bomb to save everyone. Jack says that when he trusted CTU before, his wife was killed. He runs out of the building and phones Carol to tell her about Kim's arrival. When he gets to his car, Jack has second thoughts and returns to CTU. He demands from Mason that two specific agents pick up Kim and keep him apprised of her status at all times. Mason agrees, and briefs Jack on the terrorist situation. A man named Joseph Wald has been connected to Second Wave, and Jack had previously worked undercover on Wald and made the arrest. Wald is out of jail on trial, but the government can not find him. Jack orders them to bring in Marshall Goren, the key witness against Wald in the trial, so that Jack can re-establish his cover with Wald. Although he is dubious of Jack's plan, Mason relents and calls the FBI for Wald.
At the Warner house, Marie is organizing wedding details when Kate gets a phone call. It is Ralph Burton, the private investigator she hired to do a background check on Reza's finances. Although Reza has checked out financially, Burton has uncovered news that Reza has had dealings with an international terrorist named Syed Ali. Although the business may be legitimate, Burton needs Kate's help to find out for sure.
Lynne asks the President if he arranged a conference call with the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding military response. He tells her that he didn't, and orders her to cancel it. When Palmer accosts Rayburn about this call, Rayburn says that he set it up in case the President changed his mind. Palmer tells Rayburn not to second guess his decisions. "Sir, I would never work against you," Rayburn replies.
Michelle creates a fake criminal background record for Jack's cover. Mason arranges for the FBI to have Goren sent to CTU for questioning, but he can't get Jack to reveal his ultimate plan. Mason questions Jack's state of mind. Goren is brought in, but refuses to give any information because he is already promised a deal by the FBI. In a deliberate motion, Jack pulls out a gun and shoots Goren in the chest. Mason freaks out, but Jack tells him this is what it will take to get results. He then asks Mason for a hacksaw.
Kim is in her room with Megan, when Gary pulls up to the house. They hear Gary yelling at Carla in the other room. Her cries echo from each sound of abuse by Gary. "I don't like when he gets like this," Megan says fearfully. Kim locks the door when Gary comes knocking, and she pretends that they were in the shower. He asks if they had heard anything, explaining that Carla had an accident. Gary sends Kim to help Carla, but when Kim notices that Megan is afraid she goes to her. Gary pushes Kim away and she falls. He threatens her that he will hurt her. Megan starts crying and runs to Kim. Gary pulls at Megan, causing her to hit her head. Suddenly, Gary's cell phone rings and he answers it to deal with business.
At CTU, Jack shaves off his beard and washes up. He is ready to get back to work.