Photo Credit: Guy D’Alema/FOX

“7:00 PM – 8:00 PM” Plot Summary:

Eric (Corey Hawkins) and Andy (Dan Bucatinsky) enact their plan to betray Jadalla (Raphael Acloque) while their friends try to find them.

Legacy is forcing my hand. I didn’t want to talk about the show’s politics, but it feels unavoidable at this point. This review is going to get weightier than the others. I’ll be expressing my opinions on more than just 24.

OK? Here we go.

As we all know, 2016 was a crazy year. As it went on, the presidential election became more inescapable. And then any hope of the madness dying down in 2017 disappeared when Trump won. Politics, that thing we’re only supposed to be really, really focused on once every four years, has become a noticeable part of our daily lives. That’s not to say we shouldn’t pay attention to Washington the other three years, but at least we had the option.

You can’t just skip the news. You’ve got the trending sections on Facebook and Twitter buzzing about it, friends posting about it, and coworkers discussing it. Even entertainment, normally a safe haven, is becoming more heavily focused on it these days. It’s almost expected that your movie/show/game/book must be socially or politically conscious. Look at Batman v Superman, Civil War, etc. And casting a movie these days is intensely political. Even a series like Star Wars is trying to reflect the real world by making Stormtroopers more multi-dimensional and showing that the Rebels aren’t all good.

I’m not saying you can’t put politics into entertainment. Politics are integral to our thoughts and actions every day, whether we’re aware of it or not. I’m simply saying that I’m burnt out, and I can’t be the only one. Good stories don’t have to be heavily political. We just need characters that we can feel for. It can be as simple as murder mystery, a parent trying to find a missing child, or people trying to survive a disaster. Viewers can and will attach some political meaning if they want. That’s up to them.

Now, let’s get on to the part that has to do with 24.

Clearly politics factor into counterterrorism, and I acknowledge there’s cultural importance in a show like 24. 24 has never been perfect escapism, since it reminds us of real world dangers. Occasionally it has addressed politics, sometimes to its benefit and other times to its detriment. But at the end of the day, we just need that character connection I talked about. That’s what makes the explosions exciting. As it was conceived in the beginning, 24 was and is a thriller. The original first season was just about Jack Bauer protecting his family and it’s one of the best.

I bring all of this up because Legacy has decided to drudge up the series’ obsession with torture. The producers and writers often handle torture in a way that is flat-out lazy, so I have to criticize them. We almost dodged the bullet with Henry (Gerald McRaney) keeping his mouth shut, but Isaac (Ashley Thomas) tortures Jadalla’s location out of a terrorist sent to kill Nicole (Anna Diop) and him. I find it hard to believe that this terrorist would break at all/so much quicker than Henry, a blackmailed civilian. While we still don’t know how Henry has contacted Jadalla, Tony (Carlos Bernard) would have had an easier time finding out if Henry were lying.

It’s unfortunate too, because the gang fighting the terrorists is otherwise one of the highlights of the episode. The situation beforehand is notably tense as well, with the twist that Jadalla and his men suspected Andy and Eric’s double cross.

What’s exactly in store for Tony next is hard to tell, though he’ll likely team up with CTU. Meanwhile, it looks like that wedge will come down between husband and wife. I’m a bit torn if I can accept Donovan (Jimmy Smits) signing off on his father’s torture. I suppose Rebecca’s (Miranda Otto) persuasion is plausible enough. I’m curious to see where their relationship goes from here.

Given all the action this week, it might seem that harping on a brief moment in the episode and letting it affect my overall perception of it is overkill. But 24 is a franchise that I love, and sometimes love hurts. My diatribe is in its best interest.

Oh, and as the article’s title suggests, there’s a new bad guy, Naseri (Oded Fehr). It was only a matter of time. Here’s hoping this guy lives up to the hype.

RATING: 6.5 OUT OF 10 (AVERAGE)

Aaron Sarnecky is The Pop Break’s Television Editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., 24: Legacy, and Designated Survivor, among other things. He is a TV/Film grad of Rowan University and the fraternal twin of staff writer Josh Sarnecky. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed.