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Jack is back, bitches!
Four years since we last saw Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) in Season 8 of the most addictive action-adventure TV show in the history of addictive TV shows, ol Jack has been Kwai Chang Caining his way through Europe. As the first of “24: Live Another Day’s” two-hour premiere begins, Jack’s in London — just in time, too, because the President of the United States is also making an appearance for a get-together with the Brit Prime Minister (Stephen Fry, if you can believe it) to sign a deal or some such. POTUS this time around is one James Heller (William Devane, whose character is channeling Ronald Reagan, apparently), who is also the father of Audrey (Kim Raver), Jack Bauer’s erstwhile girlfriend, who apparently has overcome her catatonic state quite well, thank you very much.
Before you can say, “Whoa, what’s Jack doing in London?” our hero is captured by a team of CIA hardasses and taken to a local station run by Detective Rey Curtis himself, Benjamin Bratt. Also there is smarty pants agent Kate Morgan (“Chuck’s” Yvonne Strahovsky), who is set to retire against her will. It seems Kate’s husband sold some secrets to the Chinese and, well, being that she’s a CIA agent, that’s like, you know, a no-no. So Kate’s on her way out — just as Jack’s brought in. Being the local smarty pants, Kate quickly surmises that Jack’s capture was on purpose. And oh hey, look who else is being tortured by CIA goons under said CIA station. That would appear to be Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), Jack Bauer’s bestest buddy. What a coincidink!
Like Jack, Chloe has been on the run from Johnny Law since Season 8. Chloe isn’t her old self — she’s gone full “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and is hanging around shady computer hacker types led by Michael Wincott. It turns out Jack didn’t rescue Chloe because he missed her snarky comments — it’s so he could track her to her hacker hideout, where he’s after a rogue hacker who is going around commandeering U.S. military drones and firing missiles on unsuspecting soldiers in Afghanistan and whatnot. Chloe is understandably all, “Dude, really? Why you do me like that?” And Jack’s like all, “Dude, I have no friends.” And you totally hope the crazy kids make up and hug it out and shit. They sorta do, later, though it doesn’t involve a hug. But testing out their comm gear for an op is basically the same thing, right?
Jack, we learn, is on a personal mission to stop an impending attack on Heller during his London sojourn by that rogue hacker. Chloe wonders if Jack’s doing it so he can finally return home, but Jack says it’s cause he kinda likes Heller. And oh yeah, he was also really into Heller’s daughter, too. Unbeknownst to Jack, though, Audrey has since moved on and is now dating Heller’s Chief of Staff, douchey politico Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan). How Jack learns about the impending attack on Heller is a tad suspect, as is his walk-in-the-park attack on the CIA station. You’d think the CIA would be tougher to infiltrate, blow up, and then escape from, but then you don’t know jack. (See what I did there?)
Turns out, the rogue hacker is working for a shadowy British lady played by “Game of Thrones’” Michelle Fairley. The hacker’s also got a hot girlfriend who just wants to jump his bones, but he’s too busy killing soldiers and typing on his keyboard and doing hacker stuff. With the help of Chloe and Team Hacker, Jack’s able to track his target to a tenement building run by a drug lord. Action ensues — Jack shoots and stabs a whole bunch of dudes. And that’s when a recently re-instated Kate Morgan shows up with a posse of CIA goons, including more-muscles-than-brains Erik Ritter (Gbenga Akinnagbe), who is totally hot for Kate’s job. He’s also uber unlikeable, so chances of him being the mole are zero to none.
So, who is the mole? Oh, come on, you know there has to be one. Just as Jack Bauer has to utter the famous “Dammit!” you know there has to be at least one mole running around “Live Another Day.” There are, as far as I can tell, two suspects at the moment: totally helpful CIA keyboard monkey Jordan Reed (Giles Matthey) and Joseph Liebgott himself (Ross McCall), here playing the Chief of Staff’s phone monkey Ron Clark. I really, really hope it’s not Liebgott, cause I love seeing “Band of Brothers” actors moving on from the mini-series. Currahee!
All in all, days one and two of “24: Live Another Day” was a strong start despite a 4-year absence. The opening is way too contrived, of course, but watching Jack Bauer getting arrested, then interrogated (ha!), and then busting Chloe out of the CIA basement was just too cool for school. If you’ve been reading some casting notices for the show, you’ve probably already figured out the identity of Michelle Fairley’s character, but I won’t spoil it here in case you haven’t been partaking.
“24″ writers Manny Coto and Evan Katz clearly have basic cable, because “Live Another Day” touches on a bunch of now-topics like drones, hackers as celebrities, and the war in Afghanistan. I love the seemingly random “where are they now?” character tidbits, like the status of Jack’s daughter (congrats on the second kid, Kim!), the events of Season 8 that sent Jack on the run, and Jack’s self-proclaimed debt to Heller and Audrey. Things are getting mighty exciting, and with only 12 episodes to work with, “Live Another Day” will hopefully avoid the dreaded filler episodes that were rampant when “24″ was forced — thanks to its own gimmick — to produce 24 hours per season. So there will likely not be a Kim vs. cougar type scenario in “Live Another Day.”
One hopes, anyway.