A newscast reports the terrorist bomb attacks in ten U.S. cities. Evidence points to Islamic militants.
On a Los Angeles street, a Middle-Eastern man is refused entry to a bus because he looks suspicious. On that same bus is a young man listening to a music player. The player has an extra wire running to his bag. The man calmly presses a button, and the bus explodes.
Special Advisor to the President Thomas Lennox debates National Security Advisor Karen Hayes in the White House Oval Office over the creation of detention facilities for locking up Muslims. Lennox tries appealing to President Wayne Palmer that this has legal precedent, but Wayne will not be swayed.
Karen interrupts the discussion when she gets news on the attack in Los Angeles. CTU suspects that Hamri Al-Assad is behind the terrorism. Karen notes that her analysts believe his death will stop the organization from attacking again. Lennox has no faith in this plan, but Wayne ultimately declares that CTU must assassinate Assad.
At CTU, Milo Pressman asserts his seniority over the sarcastic analyst Morris O'Brian. Chloe tells Morris to make an attempt to fit in. He responds by grabbing her from behind. Chloe doesn't turn down the attention, but she doesn't want their relationship on display at work.
Chloe tells her superior Nadia Yassir that she got a weird military request from Homeland Security. Nadia confirms that this is the assault on Assad. They will find him by using Jack Bauer. Chloe is surprised when Nadia tells her that President Palmer negotiated the release of Jack from a Chinese prison. Nadia refuses to give Chloe any more information, but says that Buchanan is meeting Jack at an airfield.
A Hercules C-130 military transport lands at Ellis Airfield in the darkness of the early morning. Buchanan and Curtis approach the plane as Chinese soldiers escort a bearded and shackled Jack to the tarmac. Cheng Zhi, the head of security from the Chinese Consulate who kidnapped Jack eighteen months ago, hands Buchanan the papers for transfer.
As the handcuffs are removed, Curtis notices that Jack's hands have been badly burned. Curtis takes the silent Jack into the nearby hangar. Cheng tells Buchanan that Jack has not spoken in all the time he has been captive.
Buchanan explains to Jack why he has been released. Abu Fayed has agreed to give up his compatriot Assad in exchange for Jack. Fayed wants revenge for what something that happened in Beirut. Jack finally breaks his silence and asks about Audrey and Kim. Buchanan says that neither of them knows he is back."You keep it that way," Jack whispers.
Curtis allows Jack to clean up. Jack looks in the mirror for the first time and sees the scars on his body.
Buchanan calls Karen and tells her that Jack is much worse than he expected. They tenderly express how much they miss each other before hanging up.
Chloe confronts Nadia about Jack's whereabouts because she cannot reach Curtis or Buchanan. Chloe threatens to blackmail her, and Nadia finally admits the truth about why Jack is being turned over to Fayed for retribution. Fayed's brother bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1989. Jack captured him, and Fayed's brother died during interrogation. Once they turn over Jack, Fayed will have full access to CTU's surveillance so that they cannot track him. Chloe is incredulous that President Palmer would have authorized this.
Morris sees that Chloe is upset. She tells him what is happening.
Curtis and Buchanan drive the clean-shaven and newly dressed Jack to the drop point. Wayne calls Jack and cannot find the words to express his emotion. Jack stoically accepts the President's apology.
With Jack's fate hanging over his conscious, Wayne questions his own ability to run the country. He wonders whether sacrificing Jack is a mistake. Lennox strongly disagrees, and says that Wayne's brother David would have made the same decision.
Karen accosts Lennox of preparing detention centers for Muslims even though it goes against the President's order. Lennox wants to be ready with the centers because he is sure the President will change his mind.
Over the phone, Fayed instructs Buchanan to handcuff Jack at a river access tunnel. Jack explains to Buchanan that he is ready to give up his life if it is on his own terms.
Jillian and Ray Wallace watch the terrorist attack events unfold on television in their Los Angeles home. They argue over whether or not their son Scott should go to school. Scott comes in to tell them that the FBI is arresting their neighbor Yusuf.
The Wallaces look out the window as Yusuf's son Ahmed appeals to the police that his father is innocent. A neighbor named Stan chases Ahmed, who locks himself into his house with fear. Scott wants to help his friend, so Ray goes to Ahmed's house.
Stan breaks down Ahmed's door and enters the house. Ray intercedes and is forced to threaten Stan, who leaves. Ray offers Ahmed to stay at his house. Ahmed refuses, but Ray won't take no for an answer.
Buchanan calls Nadia at CTU and she lets him know the military is ready to take out Assad.
Morris secretly shows Chloe a satellite feed that's not on the government grid. They can look up the location where Buchanan dropped off Jack.
Fayed pulls up to Jack in the tunnel."I've been waiting for this for a long time," Fayed snarls. Fayed's men knock Jack out and put him in the truck.
Fayed receives a warning call from a computer tech named Sabir who has intercepted a private satellite from a government frequency scanning the tunnel. Fayed calls Nadia, and she denies any such satellite. Fayed warns her that there will be consequences. Milo checks the system and sees that the rogue satellite is coming from Chloe's station. Nadia orders Chloe her and Morris to quickly reposition it. Sabir confirms that it has been done.
Fayed threatens to not give CTU Assad's whereabouts because of the deception. Nadia speaks to him in Arabic to try to appeal to him but he hangs up.
Buchanan enters CTU and yells at Chloe. He would fire her but he cannot afford to lose the manpower."We may have sacrificed Jack for nothing," he sighs.
Karen calls Buchanan, and he is forced to tell her that Chloe's actions may have broken the deal with Fayed. Karen is furious with him, but then apologizes for lashing out.
Jack is dragged into Fayed's secret warehouse. Sabir gets word that Fayed's money has been transferred and that no other satellites have been following them.
Jack is brought into a torture room. He urges Fayed to call CTU, but Fayed punches him repeatedly. The men hook Jack up to a heart monitor. Fayed threatens to do to Jack what was done to his brother. Fayed pierces the bundle of nerves on Jack's shoulder with a knife. Jack takes the immense pain calmly. Then Fayed splashes the wound with a liquid that makes Jack scream in agony. His heartrate speeds up. Once again, Jack implores Fayed to give CTU Assad's location. Fayed says that Assad is a traitor who wants to compromise. He tells Jack that CTU is about to kill the wrong man. Assad isn't behind the terrorist threats. He came to America in order to prevent Fayed from performing the attacks.
Fayed stabs Jack in the back with something sharp, causing Jack to keel over."You will die for nothing," Fayed says. Fayed calls CTU and tells Buchanan that he put a transponder at Assad's location. As Fayed gives CTU the coordinates, Jack memorizes the numbers. Buchanan has the military on call to take out Assad.
Morris consoles Chloe by explaining that Jack knows what it takes to serve the greater good. Chloe cries on his shoulder.
Before Fayed can torture Jack even more, he is interrupted by an urgent phone call from someone. It's Ahmed, who says that the FBI took his father. Although Ahmed is conspiring with Fayed, his father is innocent. Consoling Ahmed, Fayed says that his father was meant to be sacrificed.
When the one man guarding him looks away, Jack rips off the heart monitor with his teeth. The beeps go monotone to signal his heart has stopped. The guard comes rushing over to fix the monitor and Jack lunges his head and bites the man hard in the neck. Jack spits out the flesh and the man passes out. Jack manages to take the man's key and free his hands.
Fayed instructs Ahmed over the phone to deliver the hidden package. Fayed returns to the torture room to find Jack missing. He sees an open door and has his men go look for him. Jack is actually hiding below the floor under a grate.