Plot: In the third chapter of 24: Live Another Day’s twelve-episode run, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) discovers that the notorious hacker Yates has been murdered and his work is now in the hands of the terrorist Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley). Jack and Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) must figure out a way to warn the president of the upcoming assassination attempt on his life, however Chloe’s new partner Aidan Cross (Michael Wincott) has a severe disdain for Bauer. Meanwhile, CIA agents Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) and Erik Ritter (Gbenga Akinnagbe) must try and piece together why Bauer was after Yates in order to catch him. President Heller (William Devane) goes to speak before Congress despite objections from his Chief of Staff (Tate Donovan).
If there’s one thing 24 really knows how to do its creating really taunt and suspenseful action sequences. In the latest installment of the special series the action is the only thing preventing ‘1:00pm – 2:00pm’ from being a dreadful bore.
What’s ironic is everything that was so great about last week was what made this week so bad. Case in point, the President Heller/Alzheimer’s storyline. Last week I thought the series handled it very tastefully and William Devane gave this really fantastic performance. This week, it’s more of the same, nothing changing in the least. And frankly, within the context of the 24-hour concept of the show, it makes sense that they’d still be talking about the same thing (that the President’s disease is worsening and he shouldn’t go before Parliament), yet, if you pull back and reframe the episode within the context of a limited run series, they really need to get this plot point out of first gear. In fact, this part of the story really caused the episode to grind to an awkward halt.
Instead of focusing on something that we saw for an extended period last week, let’s give a little more screen time to developing some Michelle Fairley’s big bad. In her limited time onscreen Fairley was sensational — exuding this absolute, totalitarian and utterly hateful evil. Everything she did was charged with hate, with evil and with a cold, calculating reason behind it.
But luckily we had the action.
The opening and closing action sequences were suspenseful, brilliantly choreographed and executed. The first 15-20 minutes of the episode revolved around Bauer chasing Margot’s daughter from a pub to a tube station. The whole time this sequence is happening we’re completely locked in as an audience. The episode even manages to bring up some of Chloe’s traumatic past during this sequence with the pace never slowing down. It was an excellent cat-and-mouse opening that really got you amped for the rest of the episode.
Sadly, the rest of episode couldn’t follow up on that excellent introduction. But, it did end within a similar spike of adrenaline as Jack Bauer incites a riot (and shoots a couple of people) in front of Parliament in order to infiltrate the building. It’s a really chaotic scene that’s both clever and exciting and gets us excited for next week.
Ultimately, “1:00pm-2:00pm” was a step backwards from last week’s thrilling premiere. It was a solid episode because of a great opening and closing action sequence and a memorable performance by Fairley. The severe lull in the middle of the episode completely hurt the episode and hopefully with the injection of Jack Bauer back into the President’s life, things will change for the better with that weak spot of the series. It’s obvious we can’t expect the series to run at 100mph episode every week, but they need to do better than this.