As the N.E.S.T. techs work on diffusing the bomb, Mason arrives at Norton Airfield alone. Although Jack tells him that it is not necessary for him to be there, Mason had promised himself that he would see this case to the end. The techs alert Jack that they can not dismantle the bomb because the trigger has been rendered tamperproof. There is 55 minutes left until detonation. Jack orders Agent Goodrich to find a fast plane so that the bomb can be flown somewhere else, and he calls the O.C. to notify the President.
Kim walks along a deserted road, and flags down an oncoming car. The male driver who pulls up just happens to be heading toward San Jose. Kim becomes suspicious, and refuses the ride. When the driver gets out of the car to persuade her to get in, Kim draws her gun on him. He doubts her ability to use the weapon, causing Kim to fire at his car as a warning. The guy drives off, and Kim continues walking down the highway.
Jack and Palmer discuss two different locations to take the bomb -- the ocean and the desert. The President tells Jack that they need to analyze both options, and he will get back to him as soon as possible.
Novick outlines for the O.C. war room staff the disaster impact of releasing the nuclear detonation in the Pacific Ocean, and Lynne does the same for the Mojave Desert. Although the facts point to less risk with the desert, there is one problem: the bomb would have to be deposited in a precise location. Since the aircraft transporting the nuclear device is not a military plane, there would be no method to deliver the payload accurately. The pilot would be forced to go down with the plane. Palmer calls Jack with the news. Jack says that CTU analysts had come to the same conclusion about the suicide mission. He tells the President that several men have already volunteered to pilot the plane. Palmer pledges the nation's gratitude for that man's service, and he vows to take care of whatever family the man will leave behind. Palmer asks Jack to call when the plane is in the air.
Mason, who overheard the conversation with the President, approaches Jack. He knows that there are no volunteers for the mission because Jack wants to do it alone. Mason offers up himself for the flight. Not only is he an instrument rated pilot, but he is already going to die by the end of the day. Jack refuses to let him take over because Mason may black out short of his destination.
Two CTU agents bring a suitcase full of Syed Ali's personal effects from the safe house to Tony. Among the items was a hard drive that has been encrypted. The agents also have with them Yusuf Auda, a visiting intelligence liaison from the Arab country suspected of harboring the Second Wave terrorists. Yusuf is eager to participate in the analysis on Ali's belongings, but Tony is evasive and not willing to trust this man. Tony asks Michelle to assign someone to make sure that Yusuf doesn't see anything of importance related to the case. When Michelle informs Carrie that she will handle Yusuf herself, Carrie questions whether Michelle has problems with her working there.
As the N.E.S.T. techs load the nuclear bomb onto a Cessna, Jack calls CTU to ask Tony about Kim's whereabouts. Jack says that since he is flying the suicide mission, he needs to speak to his daughter immediately. He also tells Tony that there is safe in his apartment with his will and a letter to her.
Kim is still hitchhiking along the road when another car pulls up. This time the driver is a woman named Anna. Kim tells Anna that she fled a date who had gotten out of hand, and Anna invites her for the ride. Anna lets Kim use her cell phone to call her father.
Kate inquires about how the bomb will be transported and is horrified to learn that Jack is the one manning the plane. She calls out to Jack as he boards the Cessna equipped with a clock synchronized to the bomb's timer. He turns to her, but there are no words for what is happening. Jack closes the cockpit door, and she watches as he starts the plane down the runway for takeoff.
Novick gets word that the plane is in the air. Palmer requests that Air Force One be prepared to take him to Los Angeles. Novick and Lynne try to talk him out of the trip, but Palmer wants to be there to reassure citizens that he is in control of the situation. The President is then shocked to hear that Jack is the one flying the plane.
Tony patches through to Jack on the plane. He has Kim on the line, and connects the two. Jack is relieved, but tells Kim that he has to fly a nuclear bomb to the desert and will not make it out alive. Kim becomes upset and starts to cry. She apologizes for the way she has treated him, and Jack pledges his love for her. They say their teary good-byes to each other.
Anna pulls over the car and tries to comfort Kim, but she gets out of the car because she wants to be alone. She no longer cares about leaving Los Angeles, and she runs off into the night.
Michelle brings Tony a transcript of a recording pulled from Syed Ali's decrypted hard drive. The audio is of a conversation that took place months ago in Cypress between Ali and high-ranking officials of three Middle Eastern governments. It confirms that these countries supplied Ali with the bomb. Michelle requests that they run a voiceprint authentication on the tape.
Tony phones Air Force One and tells the President what he has found in the recording. Palmer is concerned that CTU's Division headquarters will have already notified the Pentagon and other agencies, causing alarm to spread. Palmer questions why Ali would have taped his conversation, and Tony assumes that Ali would want proof in case one of these countries were to turn against him. Palmer isn't thoroughly convinced, but thanks Tony for his work. Palmer then tells Novick that they could soon be at war. It would not only be with those three Middle Eastern countries, but with others. When that bomb goes off, the President's options will quickly narrow.
As Jack is flying, he senses movement behind him. He instinctively draws his gun and swings around to find Mason behind him. Mason, who snuck on the plane, hands Jack a parachute. He says that the hardest part of the flight is over and he can take over the suicide flight. Mason questions whether Jack has wanted to die since Teri was killed. Mason says it would be more heroic for Jack to put his life back together, reconnect with Kim and continue to serve his country. Jack considers this seriously. He asks Mason whether he is absolutely sure he is able to man the plane. Mason concurs, and Jack gives him instructions on where to crash land. Jack thanks Mason solemnly.
Jack gets ready to make his escape, but will wait to jump four minutes before impact so that he can stay with Mason for as long as possible. He phones Tony about the change of plan. Tony then orders Michelle to send a helicopter to pick up Jack in the desert. Yusuf notices the commotion at CTU and inquires about what evidence has been found. Tony won't give him any information, and Yusuf becomes annoyed because his country has shown good faith in leading the Americans to Syed Ali's safe house.
Aboard Air Force One, General Bowden from the Joint Chiefs comes in to see the President to discuss retaliation plans. The military already knows about Ali's tape that points the finger to three Middle Eastern countries who funded the Second Wave terrorist group with the nuclear bomb. Plans for war are already underway even though it is not yet confirmed whether the tape is valid or that those three countries are actually involved. Palmer gives the General approval to activate the plan, but warns him that the military can not implement the plan without direct authorization from him. After the General leaves, Palmer quietly says to Lynne that they may be facing World War III.
As Jack loads his parachute to prepare to jump, he inquires if there is anything he can do for Mason. Mason says that he got to see his son earlier, but asks Jack to look in on the boy after he's gone. Jack places his hand on Mason's shoulder, and Mason takes Jack's hand in return. They let go, and Jack leaps from the plane to safety.
Novick gingerly informs the President that they will be able to witness the explosion from Air Force One. Palmer grimly goes to the window facing east.
While Mason pilots the Cessna determinedly toward Ground Zero, Jack drifts down to the ground and releases his parachute. He shelters behind a rock, and the explosion roars in the distance. Meanwhile, Kim looks up into the sky to see a faint glow in the northeast. Palmer can also see the light of the bomb from his plane.
A mushroom cloud grows over the desert.