Plot: President Heller (William Devane) has resolved to give himself up to Margot al Harazi (Michelle Fairley) despite protests from Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan) and Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). The two men, despite their opposition to the Heller’s decision, must help him carry out his final command as president, which will most likely result in his own death. Meanwhile, Kate (Yvonne Strahovski) pushes to find as much intel as possible from the dying Simone al Harazi (Emily Berrington). Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) tries to bury his own conspiracy further.
Once again, 24: Live Another Day proves to be a tale of two shows.
The first is the Jack Bauer Power Hour — nothing but intensity and excitement.
As we say every week, when the show focuses on Jack Bauer it is fantastic. This week’s installment ‘6pm-7pm’ wasn’t a run-and-gun like previous weeks, but it definitely showed the more dramatic and emotional side of good ol’ JB. It’s something the show needed: pure, genuine, heartfelt emotion, not over-the-top dramatics. Bauer and Heller’s interactions were electric and really drove the episode. The father/son, mentor/protege dynamic the two have is something that really gives you that lump in the throat feeling, especially since Jack is taking Heller to his death. The panic and frenzy etched in Bauer’s eyes throughout the episode, trying to pull a miracle out of air in order to save a man he truly cares for, is probably some of the best acting the series has seen. Given the show’s history of last second miracles, the audience feels as frenzied as Bauer — they can’t kill the president…can they?
Speaking of the president, William Devane turns in an emotional performance that really was a nice save for his character. For weeks the Heller character has been this “ho-hum” commander-in-chief operating like an impending drone strike on London is no biggie. This episode allows Devane get out of neutral and really show some grit and fire. Yet, it wasn’t all fire and fury, there were some tender scenes that really drove home the potential that we may never see this character again. In particular, the one where he reminisces with his daughter Audrey (Kim Raver). This was probably the best use of the Audrey character all series. Also, it’d be a crime not to mention Tate Donovan, who also turned in one of his better performances of the series. His Chief of Staff is a duplicitous character, but one who still has a moral compass and tonight it was pointed in the right direction.
We did say this was a tale of two shows though. If the Jack Bauer segments were the best part of the episode then you can safely assume (and you’d be correct) that everything else was just…there. The Navarro cover-up storyline is just weak. He sends an assassin to kill the analyst who uncovered it. Of course this just happens to be the worst assassin ever, he can’t shoot a guy at point blank range in the chest. Seriously, he barely grazes the guy’s shoulder. To make matters worse, the agent falls in the river and then somehow escapes without this “cleaner” even noticing. What happens afterwords is really just even more of a mind numbing waste. The show also continues the trends of sidelining Kate and Chloe and rendering them Jack’s lackeys. Also, the Margot storyline seems to be falling apart — now she’s not so much a terrorist as she is a woman hellbent on revenge? Meh.
We’re entering the home stretch for 24: Live Another Day and it’s coming time for Jack to “do what he does best” and that means kick a lot of ass and kill a lot of people. That part of the show sounds awesome. Resolving all the conspiracies and subplots that weigh the series down…not so much.
Bill Bodkin is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. He can be read weekly on Trailer Tuesday and Singles Party, weekly reviews on Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU and regular contributions throughout 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 and is beyond excited to be a Dad this coming December. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom