Nrgh, effort, Nagle! Remember that?
As was discussed upthread, the cover this time is a reference to 90s action movies, particularly Armageddon. Though the issue will riff on some other movies instead.
In order: the Planetary Field team sneaking in through the bathroom is Goldeneye (IIRC Bond snuck into the dam base at the start via a toilet stall), the blitz attack on the room with the children hooked up to the computers is The Matrix, and the airplane rescue in the city is about 50/50 Matrix and True Lies.
This is of course contrasted with Snow and Stone meeting in the middle of a high-tech car chase, which is of course pure 70s and 80s Bond (even though the gadget-strewn car would be a feature of some 90s - modern Bond movies)
There’s not a lot of background for this issue, it’s really about the Drummer, even more than issue 17 was about Jakita. This is signalled from the get-go by the first three panels being from the Drummer’s perspective, with all the data that he picks out of the world presented to him. And if he’s getting passive information like the temperature of a cup of coffee, then the phone that he turns off is probably loud as a result of actively pinging the network.
The plot with Jakita being suspicious of Elijah continues here, and while Drums is mollifying her, I don’t really buy his arguments - especially his allegation that trapping Jacob Greene on the Rama analogue saved Greene - I get where he’s coming from, but we saw that there were primitive humanoids living in that ship too, and Greene was killing them. Are their lives worth Greene’s, or is it a convenient way to rationalise the decision?
The section where Drums is rescued by Planetary has some interesting symbolism. The guards seem like throwbacks to a prior age - notably in their hairstyles, and not being able to grasp the idea of a computer network. Later in the issue Drums says he’s known Snow half his life. Assuming he was 15 when he was rescued - which is probably the oldest he could have been, then that rescue took place in 1985 or so. And these guys look like greasers and can’t grasp the idea of a computer network? The idea of using computers to communicate was all over pop culture by that time. So I see them as a slight visual nod to the Americana of 60s and 70s US TV giving way to the paranoid cyberthrillers of the 80s and 90s.
Also, one of them notes Dowling’s smell, which may tie into something we learn in issue 25.
And after that, the issue’s pretty straightforward. There’s a couple of amusing moments - Snow saying this won’t be the first time he’s rescued kids - to two adults he rescued as children, one of the Drummer’s complaints being rough toilet paper, and the easy banter between Snow and Chase. The last point is especially nice to see at it gives more weight to Snow’s reaction when Jakita tells him Ambrose is dead.
What’s interesting at the end is the contrast between Drums as a child and as an adult. As a kid he’s clearly struggling to understand why there’s all this data flying around him and moreso what to do with it. So he blurts things out. As an adult, he’s synthesising and interpreting, and waits until the right moment to tell Jakita his theory.