First of all: isn't it wild that we're already halfway through 24: Live Another Day? After the months we spent waiting excitedly for Jack to come back, how time flies.
We open in the immediate aftermath of last week's major explosion, finding out pretty quickly that Navarro and Erik are still alive, but that a bunch of other CIA agents are not so lucky. The ambush doesn't go over well with anybody on the political side of things, and Prime Minister Davies gets even more upset when his aide Caroline (hey, it's Miranda Raison!) tells him that President Heller has Alzheimer's.
Heller is meeting with Jack, suddenly more receptive to his plan. "You are to give Jack Bauer whatever he needs, plus silence," the President tells Navarro, adding that Kate is to be assigned to Jack, officially making her his new sidekick. Not even Kate seems to be thrilled about this idea.
Back at Terrorist House, Margot orders Simone to find her now dead husband's sister and "think of what we've sacrificed this far. What you have sacrificed. I trust you to do what needs to be done." Man, Michelle Fairley is sort of cornering the market on women in power that we don't want to spend any time with.
Speaking of people we don't want to spend any time with, here comes Mark, finding an excuse to talk to Jack about Audrey's recent conversation with him. Our hero does not give a damn about him being territorial. "If I live through today, which is highly unlikely, I'm going straight to prison," Jack tells him flatly, although he does throw the other guy the bone of Audrey having called him "a good man."
Mark then fields a call from Russia, where they've reviewed the rendition order and want to know when they'll be taking custody of Jack. Mark says the order has been rescinded, but the Russian diplomats don't want to believe that without word from the President, which they can't get since Mark forged Heller's signature on said order in the first place. You're screwed, dude.
While Caroline continues to needle away at the President's credibility, causing the Prime Minister to want to know what Jack is up to, our hero meets up with Kate. He reveals to her that for the last two years, he's been working for an arms dealer, in order to take out other Very Bad People that Carl the Arms Dealer has been doing business with. Now they're going to use this guy to get to Margot. The one thing Jack doesn't tell Kate until they get to their destination is that he plans to hand her over to Carl - unconscious - to make his sales pitch work. She reluctantly agrees to get tranquilized, and it's not hard to guess what happens next.
Back at the CIA, Jordan is concerned about files related to Kate's traitorous (and now deceased) husband that have gone missing. Navarro tells him to focus on the Margot operation and they'll get back to Adam Morgan "when we have more time." Of course, on this show, you never have more time.
The British are convinced that Jack is betraying the good guys because they've tracked him down, and they decide they're going to take matters into their own hands, because that always goes so well for people on this show. And Simone assures Margot that Navid's sister doesn't know anything - but that doesn't stop Margot from ordering the death of her and her daughter.
Elsewhere, Carl the Arms Dealer is not thrilled to have guests. He orders his henchmen to secure Kate and asks Jack where his money is. Carl needs to take a lesson from Breaking Bad's Jesse Pinkman on the appropriate way to say the "where's my money" line. But his next line is worth hearing: his people have drugs to counteract the tranquilizer, and he wants Kate brought around and interrogated. Every season of 24 has at least one interrogation slash torture scene, and Yvonne Strahovski, it's your turn. We're not going to describe what happens to Kate next, except to say that it hurts.
Running out of time to save his new partner, Jack goes to work on Carl, trying to convince him that his story is legitimate. The arms dealer finally logs onto the website that Chloe needs him to access, but doesn't get to hit the all-important enter key as the British screw up everything by showing up shooting. These are the worst MI5 agents ever, a fact made slightly more hilarious by the fact that one of the people responsible for them being there is played by an actress who previously starred as an MI5 agent in Spooks. The agents from Spooks would hate every single one of these people.
Long story short, Chloe just barely gets what she needs, Kate manages to free herself before she loses an eye, and Jack loses a little more of his hearing when Carl finds a grenade and detonates it.
Simone can't bring herself to kill her sister-in-law, and with the knife still in her hand, urges her to take her daughter and leave London. "You need to leave now before it's too late," she pleads, but of course the other woman asks too many questions, and Simone winds up accidentally stabbing her in front of her daughter. The terrified kid runs for her life, leading Simone into traffic, where she's hit by a bus. It's not as shocking as you might think; she just kind of bounces off of it. She's alive, which means somebody's going to have to recover her - or kill her off. (If you watched the preview for the next episode, you know which is more likely.)
Oh, and Steve Navarro is apparently this season's 24 mole. Yes, we're going there again.
The series is holding steady as we reach the halfway point of 24: Live Another Day. Just like the past few episodes, we have the action, whether it's CIA agents being pulled from the rubble or Kate being tortured. Speaking of the latter, having somebody get run through the wringer also seems to be a box always checked on the 24 list, and it's usually either Jack or his closest available ally, so that's par for the course. And everything is pretty entertaining, including giving Simone a moral choice to make that finally proves she's not just her mother's acolyte.
Then we get to the last ten minutes or so, and the tropes come out in full force. One of them is actually running through the episode, with the meddling government officials who think they know better and wind up making everything about a thousand times worse. We have them ordering in the nameless guys who seem to know nothing but to go in shooting. But we'd even overlook those if 24 didn't go to the mole plot yet again.
It was brilliant the first time the show pulled it off with Nina Myers more than a decade ago - then it just kept happening, and by series' end, it was just played out. The only plus of this is that maybe it'll give Benjamin Bratt something more to do than being another meddling government official, but that's a slim positive. This is probably the device the show has used more than any other, and it seems like an easy choice for a show that doesn't make easy choices. We wouldn't be surprised if Kate's husband winds up being alive, well, and evil. May as well go the whole nine yards at this point.
Oh, and FOX? Cutting a few minutes off the episode so that you can hype up Edge of Tomorrow a bit more? Not cool. Jack would not approve.
24: Live Another Day continues next Monday at 9 PM ET/PT on FOX.