Plot: After the failed CIA attempt to capture Margot al-Harazi, President Heller (William Devane) decides to put all his faith in the unpredictable hands of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). Jack buries the hatchet with Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan), who just happens to have forged an executive order handing Jack over to the Russians who want Jack dead. The British Prime Minister (Stephen Fry) catches wind of President Heller’s Alzheimer’s and decides to undermine Jack’s mission. Meanwhile, Margot (Michelle Fairley) dispatches her daughter Simone (Emily Berrington) to deal with her snooping sister-in-law. Jack takes Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) undercover with him to get info on Margot’s location from an arms dealer he “worked” for.
24: Live Another Day’s latest chapter was a tale of two episodes — a thrilling, high octane, action-packed thriller that had us on the edge of our seat and a muddled, messy and ham-fisted amalgam of poor developed side stories. The end result was a rather mediocre episode that you’re moving past in order to get to next’s drone-filled shoot ’em up.
Anytime Kiefer Sutherland was onscreen, things sailed smoothly in this week’s episode titled ‘4:00pm-5:00pm.’ During his segments the show moved with a sense of urgency, dialogue was short, but impactful and to the point. The action was top flight, choreographed intensely and at a breakneck pace. The tension was palpable. And, as it’s been for the majority of the season, the noted Jack Bauer penchant for the overdramatic was nowhere to be found.
In short, when the show focuses on Jack Bauer, it’s extremely enjoyable.
However, once the show takes its eyes off the prize it suffers. And for a show that’s supposed to be about the world’s most volatile man, they sure do spend a lot of time focusing on everyone but Jack Bauer.
William Devane’s President Heller is probably one of the most annoying characters in the series. He’s so blasé, he has literally no sense of urgency at all. Everything’s done at a grandfatherly pace of “it’ll get done when it gets done, so let’s stop and smell the roses.” He constantly speaks in “everyone relax, this’ll work out” tone and I get why this is being done, but think about real life for a second, when someone acts like this it is extremely annoying. Heller’s Alzheimer’s also “flares up” in the episode and it does so in quite possibly the most subtle and unrecognizable way that the character actually has to tell you it’s coming back. Ridiculous.
The Alzheimer’s situation seemed like the most guarded secret in the world but now it’s revealed that basically everyone knows the dirty little secret. And when we do find out that everyone knows, there’s no build, no tension it’s just stated quite off handedly. Can someone in this series not named Jack Bauer show some emotion here?
The Margot al-Harazi situation went a bit bonkers this week. She’s been such a strong villain all season, but tonight we may have begun the process of jumping the shark. When her son questions the current emotional strength of Simone (she literally just watched her husband get executed) Margot loses her shit and says any questioning of her daughter is the same as questioning her (Margot) own conviction, strength and sanity. Uhh…that’s a bit much. When her son-in-law’s sister leaves a worried voice mail, she dispatches Simone to execute her and her daughter. Even when Simone verifies they know nothing, Margot demands the murder of both the mother and tween daughter. When this situation breaks down it’s done in such an awkwardly obvious way and then ends with a nearly laughable way.
The problem with Margot al-Harazi is that her motives are still pretty unclear. Her husband was killed in an American drone attack. Margot is devoted to his cause. She’ll stop at nothing to make everyone pay for what they did and will murder everyone she can to make “America pay for their crime.” Sorry, not buying this level of bat shit crazy with such little background. If they gave Margot a scene or two of exposition where she talked about her beliefs or her love of her husband that could make us understand her more. Instead we’re given such a vague description that the lengths she’s going to just seem a little too extreme. And maybe that’s the point. It’s not a good point, but it’s a point nonetheless.
Then we had the absolute clunker of a storyline where Kate Morgan’s husband might not actually be a traitor. Really? We need this right now? And when we get the reveal of who’s involved (and the implications of who is) the results are just so groan inducing.
24: Live Another Day needs to make everything from here on in about Jack Bauer. The show works best when the focus is on good old Jack. When it goes elsewhere it’s an absolute mess.
Bill Bodkin is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. He can be read weekly on Trailer Tuesday and Singles Party columns and contributes regularly through out the week with reviews and interviews. His goal is to write 500 stories this year. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English and currently works in the world of political polling. He’s the reason there’s so much wrestling on the site. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom