Fox drama 24 returns in new 12-hour miniseries

After four years, Jack Bauer is back, and it’s mostly business as usual. 24: Live Another Day, the ninth season of the popular Fox TV show, has only two main differences from the original 24 formula. First, the season is now only 12 hours long but will still cover all 24 hours in the day, meaning some hours will not be shown this season. The show used to be 24 hours, one hour per episode. Secondly, it is set in London instead of the United States. Although these two differences seem radical and a four-year hiatus is difficult to come back from, the show still transitioned seamlessly from the eighth season.


The first episode of the show, a two-hour special, opens with a group of CIA agents assaulting a warehouse in London’s East End where Jack is hiding out. Bauer, who is still on the run after the events of season eight, attempts to escape, but is quickly caught by the operatives and taken to the CIA headquarters in London. Predictably, this is all part of Jack’s plan, as he soon breaks free and rescues a former colleague held by the CIA, Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub).


Jack does not free Chloe only for old-times sake, however. Jack reveals the main plot of the show as he asks Chloe’s help in tracking down Derek Yates (Joseph Millson), a terrorist with a device capable of taking over U.S. military drones. The target of the drone attack is President James Heller (William Devane) who is also in London, negotiating a treaty with the British. As Chloe attempts to find Yates using her computer skills, Yates tests his device on a drone in the Middle East, killing four U.S. soldiers and two British soldiers with the drone in the process.


The scapegoat for the drone attack is Chris Tanner (John Boyega), who is handed to British intelligence agents by the President in order to appease the members of parliament. The president also decides to speak to parliament, a sub plot that is carried on into the second episode. The president’s address will be further complicated by early onset Alzheimer’s, which has already caused Heller to mess up minor details and will probably cause much bigger problems before the show is over.


Meanwhile, as the President prepares for his meeting with parliament, Jack and Chloe track Yates down to an apartment complex where he and his girlfriend (Emily Berrington) are preparing to sell the device. Jack bursts into the apartment injuring several guards, while surprisingly killing none. Yates and his girlfriend, however, escape through a window before Jack can get to them. Jack is unable to chase them as CIA agents, led by Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) and Erik Ritter (Gbenda Akinnagbe), show up and force Jack to run away instead. The episode finishes with a rather unsurprising reveal.


The second episode, the third hour of the show, picks up right where the last one left off. Jack and Chloe are still attempting to track down the device, and Kate and Erik are still searching for Jack. After the first few minutes of the show, neither of the two chases feel particularly exciting, but the episode does a good job of introducing the main villain of the show, Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley), and her motives. The third hour also introduces a possible dissenter in Al-Harazi’s camp, and it is likely he will have a larger role in later episodes.


This hour also sees President Heller addressing parliament. His speech immediately turns south as the members of parliament begin shouting and heckling him, just as Heller’s chief of staff warned. Heller appears confused, overwhelmed and unsure of himself. We only see the first minute or two of his speech this episode, so my prediction is that he will do fine, since it’s too foreseeable for him to fail in the second episode.


Although most of the episode was not that exciting, the last few minutes make up for the slow pace. Jack breaks into yet another embassy in order to get a lead on where the terrorists are hiding. As he does this, the two CIA agents arrive at the embassy as well. Jack’s break-in was unique and high-energy, setting it apart from the rest of the show and setting up a hopefully exciting third episode.
Overall, the first three hours of Live Another Day greatly exceeded my expectations. And despite the new format, it felt just like an episode of 24 back when it was still running. The new characters (there are many) were introduced well, and Kiefer Sutherland’s performance as Bauer is excellent. While a few of the twists were a little predictable, the episodes were entertaining and action-packed, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the miniseries continues from here.