Is it possible to earn forgiveness or something close to it by saving the world one last time from dangerous terrorists? What happens when no one seems to believe you and everyone wants to see you in prison? That’s part of the premise behind the new season of “24: Live Another Day,” which had the show’s resident anti-hero trying to save the day once again under slightly different circumstances. The results may be familiar, but the show’s execution and rapid fire pace makes it worth watching once again.
“24: Live Another Day” followed former CTU Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) who returned after a four year exile as public enemy number one for killing multiple Russian politicians in season eight. He fled the country and vowed never to return at great expense to his often fragile relationship with his daughter. Based on a tip, a group of CIA Agents stationed in London came across Bauer and arrested him. What they didn’t know was that he planned to get arrested in order to bust out his friend Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) who also once at CTU with him to help stop another terrorist attack. She was no longer a government employee and has aligned herself with the free information movement after her family was killed in a car accident. With Chloe and Jack on the run, CIA Agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) was on their trial, because she had something to prove. She lost her current assignment because her CIA Agent husband was caught selling secrets and killed himself when he got caught. Morgan was unaware of his duplicity, which made her unreliable to her soon-to-be former boss Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt). She also had to work with Erik Ritter (Gbenga Akinnagbe) to catch Bauer, even though he was even more eager to have her job. The CIA believed that Bauer’s visit to London was in connection to the arrival of President James Heller (William Devane) who was there to earn support for his military drone program. The agency was tasked by Heller’s Chief of Staff Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan) to catch Bauer without the President or his daughter Audrey (Kim Raver) from knowing since his presence could negatively impact the family again. Boudreau was also jealous of Bauer’s past connection with Audrey as well, which led him to doing some questionable things. Sadly, everyone was wrong about Jack’s actions when a hacker managed to get control of one of the drones to use as a test run to kill innocent soldiers. Once this was done, Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley) was able to start to carry out her plans to murder thousands with multiple drones under her control as revenge to those who murdered her husband. Will Jack be able to stop her in time and avoid prison time himself?
In terms of questions, the show posed a lot of different ones, but the biggest one involved whether viewers would be willing to go back after a four year absence from the airwaves. Luckily, that answer was a resounding yes because this season had a few welcome changes with the biggest being a shorter number of episodes to help rack up the tension that the original 24 episodes couldn’t always do. A prime example would be many of the previous storylines involved Jack’s daughter Kim and her penchant for being in occasionally ridiculous peril. It also helped that the show was to maintain the on-screen dynamic Sutherland’s Jack and Rajskub’s Chloe, which has been the show’s longest partnership during its original 8 season run. This season also made wise use of Fairley’s Margot who played the part of a lethal terrorist rather too well. She convincingly sold her character’s lethal malice as she even used her own children to rather her terrorist goals. The one that suffered the most was Emily Berrington’s Simone for multiple reasons. Her character had the misfortune to be the daughter of a terrorist who had committed some heinous acts to further her mother’s cause, but she also watched her husband get killed in front of her. Berrington played her character as someone equally devoted and scared of her mother. One terrifying scene had Fairley’s Margot use Simone as leverage to get her son-in-law to cooperate. Margot ended having one of Simone’s fingers cut off to prove a point. The scene was a brutal example of the character’s evil and will eventually lead to her undoing. Berrington convincingly played her character’s shock and horror of what her mother did, which will likely lead to either her on-screen demise or her mother’s if the show went in that direction. Hopefully, the show will give viewers the opportunity to see Fairley’s Margot and Sutherland’s Jack face off, because that would be one interesting confrontation that many viewers would love to see sooner rather than later.
As for breakout performances, Sutherland and Rajskub led the pack as their characters have taken very different paths, but they still managed to come together during a crisis. Sutherland’s Jack has evolved into a somewhat quietly angry anti-hero who can go to extremes even if it meant risking his own safety. He managed to ground Jack’s most extreme actions that could’ve been turned into far fetched soap opera material if he didn’t make viewers believe it and still want to root for him to succeed. Two perfect examples would be most of season six with the storyline involving his family background and his murderous revenge fueled story from season eight. Sutherland embodied into a character that wasn’t entirely a bad boy, but he wasn’t entirely good either. He allowed Jack to run through a wide array of emotions that often occurred in the same episode. In the most recent episode, Sutherland’s Jack went from anger, quiet resignation, and all the way to utter sadness when he crossed paths with Raver’s Audrey for the first time since season six. It was nice for viewers to get to see the softer side of Jack when he tried to see how she was doing and push her out the door at the same time. Raver and Sutherland had a comfortable rapport that was sometimes a welcome distraction from the usual stories, but their on-screen relationship was always destined to be doomed for various reasons. Donovan’s presence as Audrey’s husband could either be a distraction from the main story, or put of something greater. Let’s hope that it’s the latter option to keep things interesting. Rajskub, on the other hand, had the strongest transformation in the cast because she was literally made over into a Gothic looking hacker who gave up supporting the government after it betrayed her. She embodied with equal parts hostility and sadness as she tried to help Jack, while trying to move on with her life. Rajskub’s strongest scene came in one episode where she grew distracted with memories of her deceased loved ones as she tried to track a terrorist. Her fear was filled with enough fear and disappointment for viewers to sympathize with her character no matter what she did. Fingers crossed that type of viewer sentiment won’t change anytime soon.
"24: Live Another Day" premiered on May 5th and airs Mondays at 9:00 PM on Fox.
Verdict: Despite a slightly shaky start, the show has improved greatly and proved some very big surprises to keep viewers interested.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)