24: Live Another Day, Season 1, Episode 1: “11:00 AM – 12:00 PM”
Written by Evan Katz & Manny Coto
Directed by Jon Cassar
24: Live Another Day, Season 1, Episode 2: “12:00 PM – 1:00 PM”
Written by Robert Cochran & David Fury
Directed by Jon Cassar
Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on FOX
Jack Bauer is further outside the system that made his name than he’s ever been, both literally and figuratively.
On the run for years after supposed terrorist acts that actually protected American citizens, he resurfaces in London, far away from the U.S. metropolises he saved so many times. It’s the first time 24 has left the confines of the States for an entire season, though the show previously took a several-episode detour to Mexico and placed Jack in Africa for the 24: Redemption TV movie.
With the refreshed setting, there are many differences to the show’s previous incarnation. It’s grittier, less polished, and Jack appears older and more world-weary in the time that’s passed since Day 8. Even more interesting is the use of a cold open to reintroduce Jack and his new surroundings.
The credits, too, point to a new order in terms of the show’s hierarchy. Yvonne Strahovski is second-billed, ahead of erstwhile female lead Mary Lynn Rajskub.
But the more things change, the more they remain static. There’s torture, a grimy tech-laden lair for government operatives, and a team on the ground tracking suspects. The order of power remains somewhat in stasis, with former defense secretary James Heller now president.
Yet Jack remains an enigma, at least at first. He doesn’t talk through the first two acts of the premiere episode, even though any viewer with half a brain could figure out exactly why he allowed himself to be caught.
The first time we see now hacktivist Chloe, she’s being interrogated by Special Activities, which, oddly enough, is Jack’s destination. It’s absurd that Special Activities (if not the CIA, because the former keeps prisoner identities classified) can’t draw the conclusion that Jack knows she’s there and wants to get her out, given the pair’s long history and friendship.
It’s only in the last scene of the pilot episode that we start to learn what the big picture narrative for the season is: someone’s taking over drones, and Heller is the target for an assassination attempt.
Jack, of course, has a little intel on who might be responsible for the Heller hit, and it’s Chloe’s anti-government organization that might hold the key to finding him. That’s what drew Jack out of the shadows and will undoubtedly reunite him with Audrey, despite her husband’s best efforts to erase Jack before she can learn about his re-emergence.
The new faces in the cast show promise, especially Strahovski. Armed with the knowledge that Kate is an adept field agent, she gets to bust out the action licks that made her such a success as Sarah Walker on Chuck. Kate (who, by the way, has a curious choice for a character name, given her remarkable resemblance to season 2’s Kate Warner) has the makings of a memorable Renee Walker-esque bad ass, albeit one who’s a little less stoic. She has something to prove to her bosses and herself after her husband was caught shipping secrets to the Chinese.
Tate Donovan is Heller’s chief of staff, Mark Boudreau, and Audrey’s husband. He’s trying to keep the president’s proposal for a drone base on U.K. soil together even after a hijacked U.S. drone just killed a couple of Brit soldiers. He also has to guide Heller through upcoming meetings, even as it becomes clear Heller isn’t quite in charge of all his faculties (this is thankfully not as obtuse a storyline as Teri Bauer’s amnesia — yet). Stephen Fry, meanwhile, is playing the prime minister, and that can never be a bad thing.
As ever, 24 is a show very much of the here and now (despite the time jumps between seasons). Wikileaks came to prominence in the months after the show’s original run ended, and Edward Snowden is still very much in the public mind. Drones are, of course, prominently in the zeitgeist.
What will be curious to follow is the season’s structure, especially considering there will be time jumps of up to several hours between some episodes. Many of 24‘s days revolved around one terrorist attack or threat which was resolved around the season’s midpoint, only to reveal a bigger bad guy through the back half. Michelle Fairley seems to be pulling all the strings in terms of the evil-doers, but if we’ve learned anything from 24, it’s that conspiracies usually extend much further than what we initially see.
If 24: Live Another Day doesn’t entirely reinvent the wheel for the show, it’s a reasonably strong return. Jack gets to do his action hero thing, Chloe gets to be moody, and everyone already has plenty of reasons to be suspicious of everyone else around them — there must be at least one mole, after all. The pieces (some new, many old) are in place for high-octane carnage, and we’re off to a solid start.