Before we even start the review I want to tell you that there will be some spoilers in the Story/Plot section. Nothing major, but if you haven’t seen it yet and want to be completely in the dark or are wondering whether it’s worth your time: the answer is yes you should be watching this show. It was terrific and if you liked the previous seasons you will like this episode.
Now onto the review.
I have a confession to make – I have a really hard time watching TV shows on a consistent basis. I have an even harder time when I actually have to wait for a week to catch the next episode (right now I really only watch Elementary on a regular basis, and that’s on DVR). Lately it seems that on any given show, even ones that I should really enjoy (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D comes to mind) I watch a couple of episodes then I check out. Maybe I’m afraid of commitment or something, who knows.
What I am trying to say is, when I found out 24 was returning to TV, I was beyond excited. Over the last decade or so there has really been only one or two shows show that I’ve ever binge-watched – The Big Bang Theory and 24. In college, my wife and I watched the remaining 10 episodes in season 6 in one sitting because we couldn’t handle the cliffhangers. Unfortunately, this season we will actually have to wait for each episode like Peruvian street-urchins.
For the unfamiliar, 24 follows the exploits of Jack Bauer (played gruffly by Kiefer Sutherland) as he races against time to stop one doomsday scenario after another, usually involving WMD’s, presidential assassination attempts (I still haven’t forgiven them for David Palmer), and countless other terroristic shenanigans (side note to the NSA: please don’t put me on a watchlist – it’s hard to talk about a show like 24 without using those words).
Traditionally, the show has 24 hour long episodes that add up to one full day. This season will break the mold slightly by only lasting 12 episodes, but events will still occur “in real time,” although they will be skipping an hour or two every now and again.
Like most political thrillers, the plot is already a little convoluted, but that’s not a bad thing (really it kind of comes with the territory). 24: Live Another Day has Jack Bauer resurfacing in London after living on the run for the last four years (Jack became a fugitive at the end of Season 8 after a series of slight misunderstandings in which Bauer held a former President at gunpoint, murdered to Russian diplomats (i.e. bad guys) and almost assassinated the Russian president in revenge for the death of his lady friend). President Heller (formerly the Secretary of Defense) is in London to discuss the controversial Drone Program, when a plot to assassinate him is discovered. The CIA (CTU has been disbanded) does not know whether Bauer is a part of the conspiracy to assassinate Heller or if he plans to stop it, but send a team to bring him in none the less.
Agent Morgan, an on-her-way-out-because-her-husband-turned-out-to-be-a-traitor field agent, believes that Bauer allowed himself to get caught and goes about trying to figure out why (she even pulls a few moves that would make Bauer proud). The President’s Chief of Staff wants Bauer eliminated for personal reasons and has him transferred to Special Activities for enhanced interrogation. True to form, Jack wanted to be transferred to Special Activities so that he could rescue Chloe O’Brian, who is now a member of the hacktivist group “Free Information,” and is being tortured by the CIA in order to locate the rest of her group. Bauer doesn’t really like Chloe’s new career path, but he doesn’t take kindly to his only friend being tortured and quickly dispatches his security escort and the interrogator and breaks Chloe out of the CIA building. After being branded a fugitive following the events of 24 Season 8, Chloe has become an anti-government, hacker in line with Edward Snowden, but with a bit more awkward angst.
Jack didn’t just rescue Chloe because of his friendship with her, he rescued her so that she can help him track down Derrick Yates, a former member of Free Information, who plans to use the United States own drones to attack and kill the President of the United States (he tests his device on a military convoy in Kandahar and killed two American and Two British servicemembers). After Bauer storms Free Information’s secret location (thanks to tracking the phone he gave Chloe) Jack asks rather impolitely that the group help him find Yates and she complies helping him locate Yates who is staying in the British version of the projects run by a heroine dealer’s gang. Bauer wastes no time in assaulting the complex (which leads to an incredible one-liner), but Yates escapes with the device because the CIA shows up in an attempt to retake Bauer. The episode ends with Yates’ device falling into the hands of Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley), who appears to be the series main antagonist.
The acting, for the most part, was wizard. A majority of the cast returns to 24 making it feel like they are getting the band back together, but in a good way, not in the kind of way where the band is made up of has-beens making a money grab before surfing off into the sunset riding the wave of their disgruntled fan’s tears.
Let’s start with the main two characters that everyone cares about, Jack Bauer and Chloe O’Brien. Kiefer Sutherland does a great job returning to the roll of Jack Bauer and is as intense as ever, even with him not talking for the majority of the first hour (he just stares people down before and after beating the shit after them), and we even got to hear the classic line, “DAMMIT!?” at the end of the episode just like old times. Mary Lynn Rajskub also does a great job as Chloe, Jack’s long-time tech support and only friend. Chloe is a lot darker this go around, and Rajskub does a good job bringing a level of angsty rebellion without making Chloe feel like an angsty teenager rebelling against her parents. Other notable return characters include William Devane as President James Heller and his daughter Audrey, who is played by Kim Raver. Both Heller’s also fall right back in line with how they were in the previous season.
Benjamin Bratt is great as Steve Navarro, the CIA Head of Station in London. He is kind of caught in the middle between the President’s Chief of Staff (Tate Donovan) who wants Bauer eliminated, and trying to prevent Heller from being assassinated. As of right now it seems like he is a good guy trying to figure out what’s right, but if previous seasons of 24 are any indication there is a chance at least one or two members of his team are a mole (if you’ve watched the series you know that CTU, and now the CIA, has more holes than a than a thing that has an unnecessary amount of holes). His team includes Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) who is a CIA field agent who’s husband was caught selling secrets to the Chinese so she is supposed to be on her way out the door, but she’s also Navarro’s best chance at catching Bauer. Her soon to be replacement, Erik Ritter (Gbenga Akinnagbe)is the weakest member of the cast. He’s not that bad really, but he is the only character that failed to disappear into his/her role.
If the first episode is any indication of what to expect from the rest of the season, then we are in for a hell of a ride. The first episode did a great job balancing tense action and plot progression while introducing several new characters over the course of the two hours. If you have never seen an episode of 24 you would be able to jump in and not be terribly confused because they do a good job bringing up the relevant backstory. However, it would be good to watch the previous seasons, just because they are great.
All in all, this show is excellent and I highly recommend you watch it.
Let us know what you thought of Jack’s return to FOX, and make sure to check back here for next week’s review.