Plot: Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) old nemesis Ching Zhi (Tzi Ma) is in control of the device that can hack the U.S. defense system. This device has allowed Zhi to fake an order to a U.S. sub to sink a Chinese aircraft carrier. Now war between China and the U.S. seems imminent. Jack also has to contend with the Russians that have been clued into his position by Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan), oh and they just happen to be working with Ching Zhi too.
When we last wrote about 24: Live Another Day, Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley) had been thwarted by the heroic efforts of Jack Bauer. London, for the most part, was safe and sound. Series over, right? Nope, not even by a long shot. Now we have the Russians and a longtime series villain teaming up to create a nuclear war between the U.S. and China.
Do you hear that sound? No, that’s not the sound of Arthur Fonzarelli leaping over not one shark swimming in an enclosed tank; it’s actually The Fonz leaping through an F-5 class Sharknado. To quote ESPN Fantasy Sports guru Matthew Berry, 24: Live Another Day has gone a little “Woah, Crazy Crazy.”
Two weeks ago, When it was revealed that Margot Al-Harazi was not the official “big bad” of the series, we were okay with it. It was a nice little twist to keep the show going for a few more weeks. It was smartly complicated by involving supposed good guys Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) and Aiden Cross (Michael Wincott) — both of whom seemed tailor made for a solid season-ending big bad. Things looked promising in the world of 24: LAD.
But, instead things got crazy…crazy. Navarro and Cross were quickly shuffled out of the show and big shock, the series brought back, from the dead, Jack’s nemesis Ching Zhi.
Bringing back a character like Ching Zhi was supposed to be this jaw-dropping, “Oh Damn!” moment, but instead it plays like a completely deflated and disappointed “Oh…damn” reaction. Did the series really have to go back to this storyline and rehash a character that’s been season over and over again as the big bad? There was a lot of rich ground that could’ve been tilled from the Cross and Navarro combination, but no, we ham-fistedly go back to the well of familiarity for the sake of going back to the well of familiarity.
Then there’s the “world on the brink of war” angle. Seriously? Within 24 hours the U.S. loses control of its drones because of a terrorist organization, cleans up its mess, then only to be embroiled in a conflict that could spell the end of the world because of another terrorist/criminal organization? Okay, this is a big stretch. I know this is a series where everything happens in the matter of 24 hours, but even this is getting absurd.
It’s understandable that the series wants to tie up loose ends having Jack finally kill Ching Zhi, save the world one more time and re-enter the U.S. and possibly reunite with his daughter. (Yes, we’re hoping for an Elisha Cuthbert cameo). But this is just silly and over-the-top, even for 24.
Is this penultimate episode of 24: Live Another Day terrible? No. It has its moments of red-blooded fun, particularly the shoot-out at the home of a Russian official. But ultimately this was a very sloppy, cliched, made-for-video climax that contains little logic and little-to-no suspense to it. Let’s hope Jack Bauer can not only save the world, but this series next week.
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 of a baby girl this coming December. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom