Two hours into the new return season of ’24’ and there’s been an explosion, a rogue missile fired, a president’s life threatened and a whole lot of people got shot. Boy, did we miss you Jack Bauer…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Jack is back.
At this point whether you were a fan of the original ’24’ or you just happened to be on Twitter at all in the past three months, it’s a slogan and hash tag that has become the calling card for the return of Kiefer Sutherland as the life cowboy himself Jack Bauer. For eight seasons up through 2010, Bauer was the ultimate bad ass who tore through terrorists like a machete through tissue paper. The concept of the show alone was a premise never before done on television and certainly not the easiest series to produce for eight solid years. 24 episodes, all running in real time (despite the fact that no one ever slept or peed apparently), following the exploits of Bauer as he ran counter terrorism units, stopped political assassinations, saved the world from nuclear fallout and pretty much did everything John McClane wanted to do but amped up to 11 and overdosing on steroids and testosterone.
Straight up man shit.
But eventually Bauer’s act along with 24 got old. The plots, once intricately woven and laced with treasonous double agents, became predictable. Even worse were the scenarios which Bauer found himself trapped in, because bigger is not always better and what was once a taut drama with suspense around every corner almost became more Mission: Impossible and a lot less Die Hard. Still the show ticked all the necessary boxes when it came to action and thrilling political intrigue, but as the internet exploded with television critics who all decided to become the moral compass of the nation, Bauer stopped being an over the top exaggeration of the atypical macho operative and instead was a torturing, racist throwback who should have evaporated around the same time as Joe McCarthy.
Now I’m not saying television can’t serve to teach us something about our own morality, but ’24’ had the inauspicious timing to come along around the George Bush era of politics when torture, water boarding and real war crimes were taking place and Bauer seemed like a perpetuation of those very actions, splashed across our TV screens each week while he was taking down some anonymous Muslim threat with brown skin and a package full of explosives. Eventually, certain groups of people grew tired of Bauer’s antics and ’24’ shuffled off our screens. He was replaced by zombies, science teachers turned meth dealers, serial killers, vampires and outlaw motorcycle gangs. There was even a show that rivaled ’24’ in terms of story telling except in this version the Bauer-esque character was a bad guy played by Damian Lewis in the critically acclaimed ‘Homeland’.
As time passed, however, maybe we got desensitized to the violence or we just accepted the fact that ’24’ is a TV show and not meant to teach us any great lesson on politics or world relations. If ’24’ was helping you understand international business or the machinations of war then we have much bigger problems than I can get to in this single article. So ’24’ was resurrected into a new series titled ’24: Live Another Day’ set four years into the future after Bauer was sent on the run as a fugitive and criminal for both U.S. and Russian forces after the events closed in season eight.
The first two episodes debuted on Monday night documenting the hours between 11am and 1pm. Now this new series is set as 12 episodes, which means right away, not all of the events will technically happen in real time because there aren’t 24 episodes and this show is meant to cover the gambit of an entire day. That said, the gaps in time will move the story along and each episode will happen during that 60 minute period.
The first six minutes of the show captured a wild chase through the streets of London as a local CIA office (just as woefully stupid as any incarnation of past Counter Terrorism Units whenever Bauer isn’t around) tracks our hero to a location and flushes him out as the hunt starts to bear fruit. Bauer is slick in his escape tactics, but gets capture on video confirming his identity and later decides to run out near the harbor instead of the alternate route by way of the roof, which would have assured him slipping away from the authorities. It’s as if he almost wanted to get caught…
Only one agent is smart enough to know that, but she’s currently being shipped back to the United States. Kate (played by Chuck and Dexter star Yvonne Strahovski) was a top field agent for this CIA outfit, but as smart as she was inside the walls as a master of espionage, she missed the fact that her husband was secretly selling government secrets to the Chinese. Kate believes Jack allowed himself to get caught, but why?
While she’s deducing those facts we learn that her boss Steve Navarro (played by Benjamin Bratt) thinks Bauer is in town because the President of the United States is also there and it just happens to be someone he’s been well acquainted with over the years. Former Secretary of Defense James Heller is now the President, and his daughter Audrey, once left in a catatonic state following a long and tumultuous relationship with Jack, is now married to his chief of staff, Mark Boudreau (played by Tate Donavan).
Now right away we learn a few things about this cabinet — first the President is afflicted with some kind of illness that’s rapidly tearing through his mind, making him forget things, and we assume will one day kill him, but today is not that day. Mark is a weasel, who keeps things from his boss while dating his daughter. He also finds out about Bauer’s capture, and refuses to tell the President or Audrey, and instead ships him to an area called ‘special activities’ where they get answers out of prisoners by any means necessary. The Chief of Staff has to be extra sly because the President is pre-occupied with signing an extension of a base currently on British soil where drones take off and land daily, and the program has been met with such vitriol that this may be the last safe haven for the American weapons of war to find a home.
Back at ‘special activities’ we learn why Jack got captured (Kate was right) — turns out they are torturing a Wikileaks type hacker who just happens to be named Chloe O’Brian. Sure enough, Jack escapes and does some Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme type shit to get Chloe free and out of the building before the rest of the CIA (minus Kate) knows anything of what’s going on.
In the van as they drive off in great haste, Jack reveals to Chloe that her rescue wasn’t predicated on their past friendship, but instead he needs something from his former CTU colleague. It seems he uncovered a plot that’s currently being put together to assassinate the President while he’s in London and she used to work with the hacker that’s somehow involved with the plan. He needs Chloe and her group to track him down so Jack can go all Jack on this guy and save the President’s life.
Now let me point out one thing on ’24’ — the Presidents on this show have a worse shelf life than Starks at wedding. They just aren’t long for this world. Given this fact along with President Heller’s deteriorating health, and something tells me he’s not going to make it this year. Just a hunch, but I’m calling it now.
Later we learn that this hacker is actually working for Catelyn Stark (funny enough), who has him whipping up a program that allows him to access the military mainframe and control a drone remotely. He demonstrates this by hijacking a drone in Afghanistan and firing a missile down at a convoy, killing four people including two British officers. The poor soldier back at base (played by John Boyega, who you will soon see as one of the new leads in Star Wars: Episode VII) has been arrested and accused of blowing up the convoy because the lead officer took away his weekend pass to see his wife and kid. In reality, he’s being framed and while the military, the President, and the British government are ready to throw this kid to the wolves, they are missing the fox running into the hen house.
The hacker program has now given him control over 10 drones, and this is where Bauer believes the strike against the President will come from when it happens. All we know for now is the President has no clue there is a threat this big sitting right in his backyard, much less that Bauer is trying to save his life in the process. And there pulling the strings all the while is Catelyn Stark (with no neck wounds so big win for Michelle Fairley) as she is officially introduced as the big bad this season (at least for now as there are always a few twists and turns involving villains in 24).
Jackest Thing of the Whole Two Hours
There’s a moment when Jack has to go after the hacker in the projects where a drug dealer and his empire of thugs is helping to protect him while he finishes building his device to allow Catelyn Stark to control drone strikes all over the world. After he forces his way into the main room, Jack takes a hostage while the kingpin and two of his minions aim down at him as if they have the upper hand. Jack spits in Liam Neeson’s face and then drops this beauty on them:
“Look I can tell you consider yourself a pretty intimidating group. You probably think I’m at a disadvantage. I promise you I’m not. Give me Derek Yates and I give you the opportunity of walking out of here without getting harmed. I suggest you take it.”
There can be no doubt now. Jack—fucking—Bauer is back ladies and gentlemen.