The writers are chugging along this season, delivering on the promise of a more cohesive season arc. With the complication phase of the season coming to a close within the next couple of episodes (if the usual pattern holds), then this first real battle with Starkwood forces is the prelude to something much more substantial. Jack's exposure to the bioweapon and his inability to stop them from regaining possession of it certainly set the stage for something nasty.
Jonas Hodges is still a bit obtuse as a villain, even if his goals are fairly clear. With national security demands going through the roof in the wake of the terrorist attacks earlier in the day, he's done a great deal to increase the military's dependence on organizations like Starkwood. And whatever else they have planned will only increase the apparent need. It would be nice if Jonas was a bit less obvious in his evil, of course; villains are always better when they act out of a sincere belief that what they're doing is right.
There's little chance that Jack will actually die from the effects of the bioweapon. It's more likely that is exposure, and the tests conducted as a result, will tell the CDC what they need to know to counter the biological terrorist attack. This plot twist also requires Jack to be in custody. As such, it's little wonder that Agent Moss begins to listen to Jack in this episode. Thankfully, his decision to start trusting Jack is based on clues at Senator Meyer's house and a short discussion with Agent Walker.
Because the story is forcing law enforcement to support Jack once again, based on the preponderance of evidence, another source of pressure must be applied. If there's one thing that has been abundantly clear, it's that Jack will not find restoration easily, even with his most vocal opponents out of the equation. The rest of the season will still be devoted to proving his true worth, and the worth of his brand of counter-terrorism.
Olivia's gambit with the press is precisely that kind of external pressure. Olivia will make it hard for Jack to be treated fairly, because the media will be portraying him as a terrorist. Add to that the minor fact that Ethan has resigned and Olivia has the President's ear, and Jack will have quite the uphill climb in getting back the Presidentâs trust.
Tony's capture will only add to the pressure Jack feels in terms of the timetable, since it's unlikely that Starkwood would keep Tony alive as much more than leverage. It's actually surprising that they kept him alive at all. I suppose it would make sense if Jonas wants to keep him as insurance against Jack, but otherwise, it's hard not to suspect that it merely serves the plot.