The staff of CTU watches the mushroom cloud billow on a monitor, while the President sees the glow in the distance from Air Force One. From the deserted road, Kim is certain that her father died in the explosion. She cries to herself.
Safe from the blast in the desert, Jack lights flares to signal the chopper that will pick him up. Once inside, he asks the pilot to connect him to Tony at CTU so that he can contact his daughter. However, radio transmissions and cell phones are down because of the nuclear blast.
Tony tells his staff at CTU that George Mason thanked them in advance for their hard work. Tony encourages them to continue working even though it has been a hard day already. Yusuf Auda, the visiting Arab liaison, approaches Tony after the speech to question why he has yet to be allowed to participate in the investigation. Tony manages to brush him off. Since Michelle is still interrogating Syed Ali, Tony asks Carrie to handle the audio verification of Ali's tape that confirms three Middle Eastern countries hired him.
Michelle plays the tape for Ali, but he denies that the Cyprus conversations ever took place. He claims to have been in Berlin at the time, saying that he never met the men on the tape. The bomb was a Second Wave operation only.
Tony consults with the audio techs about the tape. Their findings indicate that the voices are real and have not been spliced together. The evidence shows that it is a genuine and accurate record of a conversation. Michelle enters the meeting and informs Tony of what Ali is claiming. She thinks that they should investigate further because there is some possibility that the tape has been doctored. Carrie interjects in disagreement, saying that physical evidence trumps the word of a terrorist. She then questions Michelle's limited abilities as an interrogator. Tony says he will present both sides to the President for his decision.
Novick debriefs Palmer on the detonation and its lack of casualties beyond the pilot. The President learns that Jack Bauer was not the one who manned the plane. Lynne informs them that CTU confirmed the Cyprus tape, providing proof that the three Arab countries' ministers gave Syed Ali support for the bomb. She tells them that, as expected, Ali denied the conversation ever took place. Given the evidence, Palmer has no other choice but to respond militarily. He gives an order to issue a statement about the nuclear blast. He then calls for an emergency session of Congress in which he will ask for a formal declaration of war.
Tony asks Michelle about the tension between her and Carrie. He agrees that Michelle does not have the proper training to handle Ali. Regardless, Michelle still believes that there is reasonable doubt warranting the pressing of Ali. Tony says that Ali will be further interrogated when he is shipped to Guantanamo, but Michelle thinks that will be too late.
Palmer meets with his Joint Chiefs of Staff via videophone from Air Force One. General Bowden, who is aboard the plane with the President, informs him that they can be ready to begin a rolling start with surgical strikes that same day. It will take eight to ten weeks to get the ground troops into the Middle East. Lynne interrupts to tell Palmer that Deputy Prime Minister Barghouti is calling for the second time since the bomb exploded. He does not know that the United States is planning to invade his country, and Lynne advises Palmer to speak with him or else the man may jump to his own conclusions. The President exits the briefing room to take the call. The Deputy Prime Minister pledges his country's full support against Second Wave because they have been trying to capture Syed Ali for years. He asks the President to not rush into a response against his country. Palmer says they are merely gathering evidence at this time.
A battered Syed Ali is carried out of CTU. Jack enters the facility, and Ali curses at him as he passes. Tony gives Jack the phone number of a San Jose sheriff who is waiting for Kim at her aunt's house. Michelle then approaches Jack to ask for his help. She believes that the President is planning a major military action based on what was found on Ali's recording. From what Ali told her, she is not sure whether he isn't telling the truth. Since Jack was effective at breaking him once before, she wants him to try interrogating Ali again. Jack has Michelle track down Kim with the San Jose number, and he goes off after Ali. Carrie witnesses this exchange from the other side of the room.
Jack catches up with the CTU agents taking Ali outside the complex. He admits to Ali that they staged the killing of his son, and Jack promises that he will be allowed to speak to his family when he arrives at Guantanamo. Jack then asks about the validity of the Cyprus recording. Ali says that what he told Michelle was true. Jack thanks him and walks away. Suddenly, a single shot rings out. Ali falls dead from a bullet wound to the head. Jack and the CTU agents scan the surrounding area to discern where the gunshot came from.
Tony and Jack discuss who would have known that Syed Ali was being transported. The leak could have come from anywhere because the whole intelligence community knew Ali was captured. Tony suggests that the shooter is from one of the three countries implicated on the recording, but Jack is convinced that this incident makes it even clearer that Ali was telling the truth about the audio being faked. They argue over this, and Tony thinks that Jack is implying that he is not fit to run CTU. He tells Jack to worry about Kim and let them handle the situation alone. Jack moves off, realizing he's going to have to get involved himself.
Kim walks up to a closed convenience store sees a payphone. She attempts to make a call but all the circuits are busy. When she hangs up, a man who works there comes up behind her. Frank Davies allows Kim to use the store's restroom. When she goes in, he locks the two of them inside.
Palmer resumes his meeting with the Joint Chiefs as Bowden briefs them on the possible scenarios. He predicts ten to thirty thousand American casualties. Palmer gets a call from Jack and takes it in the next room. Jack informs the President that Ali has been assassinated, which suggests that the Cyprus recording is not genuine. Palmer tells Jack that he needs hard proof immediately.
Jack calls Michelle, and she mentions that an intelligence officer is in the office from one of the target countries. He goes to look up Yusuf's background when Kate spots him as she is brought into CTU. She is surprised to see him alive, but is relieved because the bomb has been detonated safely.
Novick comes to Palmer to give him the good news that Bowden downgraded his casualty list. The President is not fazed. He has more pressing matters on his mind, and relays his fears to Novick that they may be acting too hastily in starting a war. Novick wants to side with the facts, but even he is unsure whether the proof is not a lie.
Jack enters the men's room where Yusuf is washing up and he introduces himself. Yusuf is resistant because he has been excluded from the investigation. Yet Jack asks whether it is possible that the tape found in Ali's house may have been compromised. Yusuf wants to learn what it is that Jack knows because it most likely incriminates his country. Jack is not at liberty to say anything, hoping that Yusuf will help without receiving information in return. Yusuf leaves in a huff. Jack's cell phone rings. An unknown man identifies himself as the one who planted the bogus tape and shot Ali. The man demands Kate Warner, and he instructs Jack to take her from CTU and bring her to a specific warehouse.
Kim is in the convenience store restroom when she hears someone banging on the door to be let in to buy supplies. Davies tells the man named Garcia that the store is already closed, and he calls the police when Garcia becomes threatening."It's starting," Kim says. Davies presses her to find out what that means, but before she can answer, the door shatters. Garcia smashes a shopping cart through the glass. He lunges at Davies and grabs his throat. Kim pulls out her gun and fires into the air. She orders Garcia to let go of Davies and leave. Yet when faced with having to actually shoot him, Kim relents. Garcia takes the gun away from her and fills the cart with food and supplies.
Jack calls Michelle from inside CTU. He thinks that there may be another way to prove that the Cyprus tape was faked, and he asks for her help.
Garcia offers to pay for the goods in the store. He is not a criminal, but wanted to fend for his pregnant wife waiting in the car outside. He tells Davies to turn on the news, and they see reports that a nuclear bomb has exploded. Davies asks Kim if she knew about this all along. Suddenly, the police arrive and draw their weapons on Garcia's wife in the car. Garcia calls to them, and Davies reaches for the gun in Garcia's hand. Garcia accidentally discharges Kim's gun and Davies falls down bleeding. The cops order Garcia to exit the store, but he grabs Kim as a hostage.
Michelle goes into a CTU holding room where Agent Baker is debriefing Kate. Michelle tells Baker that one of his files needs to be attended to, and she follows him out of the room. Jack slips into the holding room and tells Kate that he urgently needs her to come with him. Yusuf watches this occur. So does Carrie, who immediately picks up the phone to notify Tony.
Tony blocks Jack from leaving the building at gunpoint. Jack asks him to put the weapon down. When Tony doesn't comply, Jack takes it away forcefully and Tony is knocked out cold. Jack grabs Kate's arm and ushers her roughly through the exit door.