24: Live Another Day, Season 1, Episode 11: “9:00 PM – 10:00PM”
Written by Robert Cochran & David Fury
Directed by Jon Cassar
Airs Mondays at 9pm (ET) on FOX
Call it the calm before the storm. After a couple of weeks in which the action has been fairly frequent, the focus is narrowing as this season nears a close. This is a streamlined, effective episode that hits all the beats it needs to without much fluff. There are a few loose ends to tie up, and the wham-bam is a touch thin, but they’re necessary movements.
Jack has a busy hour, first with squirming out of the Russian assault (thanks to some backup), before discovering that Cheng has resurfaced to snare the override, learning that Mark was involved with the attack, and forcing Mark to help them capture the Russian bad guy. Oh, and he has his long-awaited heart-to-heart with Audrey now that Mark has been outed as a dirty traitor, not a Jack-esque traitor who’s survived some terrible acts and come out smelling like slightly wilting roses.
Of course, the big news is the impending war with China, set in motion thanks to Cheng. It’s perhaps the most legitimate threat to the U.S. we’ve seen in many seasons, and with a third World War looming, the Russians are in pole position to assert themselves. It’s a compelling dynamic, especially with turncoat Cheng teaming with Russia, and the tension is ratcheted up exponentially throughout.
Since Audrey hasn’t been in relative personal danger so far this season, of course she has a Chinese contact who trusts her, and of course she goes to meet this lady in the hopes of persuading China to, you know, not drop nuclear bombs all over American soil. It is (in hindsight, admittedly) inevitable that Cheng is nearby and kills everyone but Audrey after learning Jack is hunting him. As if the override wasn’t enough leverage.
Speaking of Audrey, her husband is in the spotlight as Jack forces him to admit he forged Heller’s signature. It’s wrapped up quickly, thankfully, as the leadup to the ill-fated assault on Russian diplomat soil gets the bulk of the second half.
There are a couple of drawbacks to what is otherwise a strong showing: Kate doesn’t get much to do other than provide Jack with back up, and Chloe, beyond logic, manages to battle Cheng’s heavily armed gang and escape. The mercenaries give chase, but eventually just kinda give up. It’s a sad cop out, given how smartly executed the rest of the episode is.
All roads lead to the finale in this wildly enjoyable event series. If this is the end of the road for 24, we have our fingers crossed that Jack gets to go out with guns literally blazing.