Jack. Is. Back. I never thought I would say that years ago when they finally pulled the plug on the award-winning 24, and at the time it seemed like he should finally take a well-deserved rest. Jack Bauer’s had some astoundingly crappy days, but they were always a blast to watch, even if the originally unique formula had become a little familiar (and at times even stale). Eight seasons had taken their toll on the writers’ creativity, and honestly how many times can we stop the terrorists/Russians/Chinese/etc. from bombing cities or assassinating public figures? With the budget growing each season, FOX decided to announce in the middle of the eighth season that there would be no ninth. The last few episodes did kick up the action and developments in reaction to the news, but it still lacked the sendoff the trail-blazing series deserved. Years passed. The most fans hoped for was a feature-length film to tie up loose ends. Instead, the generous TV Fairies have given us a whole twelve hours of new story. But will it make fans happy or come across as a last desperate grab for ratings?
I’ll be reviewing episodes 1 and 2 since they were aired as one block. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) went a little too long on the crazy train in season 8, and is now a fugitive from pretty much everyone. We find out he’s in London, as is now-President (!) James Heller (William Devane) and his now-married daughter Audrey (Kim Raver). Also, everyone’s favorite sulky tech wizard Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is back as well (applause), but she’s a little more- I don’t know what to say, punk-ish in her looks? Anyway, more on her in a little. Rounding out the main characters is newcomer Kate (Yvonne Strahovski from Chuck), who is dealing with fallout from her husband selling secrets to China.
The story and writing in the opening hours were spot-on. 24 always tapped into current issues/fears, and this plot stays true to that strength. Some organization (we still don’t know who) has taken a piece of technology from a hacker, who discovered a way to take control of American unmanned drones. Obviously there will be twists and turns, but the best part so far has been the pacing and character development, which had been a bit lacking in the last season. Thus far, we’ve had no random frustrating side plots or anything remotely resembling filler. It’s a leaner and meaner style that takes advantage of the new 12 episode format (although it still occurs in “real-time”).
Finally, I like how the characters evolved during the break. They’ve undergone some radical changes, but it still feels true to who they were before. Chloe especially stands out. She apparently served time for her role in Jack’s escape, and is now actively working against the government that she used to protect. She and her Anonymous-style group illegally leaked thousands of US government secrets to the public, and initially she is mildly antagonistic to Jack. Of course, she can’t stay that way too long after he breaks her out of her cell, and it was hilarious seeing her put her CTU skills to work in the hacker headquarters. It’ll be interesting to see how she changes during the rest of the day. If anything, she hasn’t lost her scowl.
1. Jack kicked butt the whole first two hours. That’s a good thing.
2. Some favorite characters from other seasons have showed up. Also a good thing.
3. Writing? Much stronger, feels fresh again.
4. Best quote from Jack – “I may look like I’m at a disadvantage, but I can assure you that’s not the case.”
5. Welcome back, 24. Even if this is the last hurrah, it’s well worth it.
9/10 Bauer Points