[This is a review for 24: Live Another Day episode 9. There will be SPOILERS.]

For a guy who has to cram more into an hour than most people do in single day, Jack Bauer turns the 60 minutes between ‘7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.’ into a veritable clinic on how to take care of business. And with that, it becomes even more evident how this truncated season will effect 24: Live Another Day, in terms of the way its storytelling is laid out, and, more to the point, how it handles the various ups and downs of one thread reaching its climax, while another is waiting to swiftly take its place.

And with that ‘7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.’ becomes one of the busiest, action-packed episodes of 24, and certainly earns its place as the most eventful and entertaining episodes to have been produced this season.

After the apparent but structurally unlikely death of President Heller last week, Live Another Day found itself at a crossroads in terms of the kind of story it wanted to tell. Actually martyring Heller so that Margot Al-Harazi might scuttle her plans to unleash a deadly strike against London would have been an interesting move for the series that might have taken things in an unexpected direction. But for a show based entirely on the usual rightness of its protagonist, and his now-unified battle against a common foe, losing Heller at this point in the game may have come across as too drastic a sacrifice – even for a program in which bystander’s legs are shot (okay, grazed) so the hero has a better chance of accomplishing his mission.

So, ‘7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.’ becomes a swift hour that sees Chloe coming through with a last-second plan to save Heller through some technological chicanery, fooling Margot and her son long enough she follows through with her end of the bargain. One of many surprises that come in the hour, then, is that Margot actually follows through with her agreement to drop the hijacked drones into the ocean, and she almost goes completely through with it before her son – having just watched Speed, apparently – notices a looping glitch on the Heller footage that’s similar to the ruse the LAPD tried to use to convince Dennis Hopper he was still in control of the bus. And with their fleet of stolen drones down to one, Margot and her son launch a final, last ditch effort to bomb Waterloo station.

But Jack, Chloe, and Kate manage to find them first, leading to an exciting action sequence that ends with Jack scaling down the side of a building and throwing the Al-Harazis out the same window he came in through. It is a rousing moment when Jack literally hurls Margot out the window – despite having already subdued her – that is equal parts everything good and bad about 24. And had the episode ended on that note, the response may have been decidedly different, but ‘7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.’ sees the series’ primary antagonist go splat at around the 30-minute mark.

At that point, the episode pivots to transition Benjamin Bratt and Michael Wincott into the new villains of the piece. Cross wants the device used to hijack the drones, while Navarro is in full-on panic mode after Jordan and his assassin are found dead. Knowing it’s only a matter of time before Kate and Jack link the hired gun back to him, the episode ends with Steve making a break for it with the device, only to find Jack is in hot pursuit.

In the end, it turns out to be an incredibly entertaining episode that packs as big a wallop as a Jack Bauer Thunder Punch (that poor unsuspecting guard), but the hour also showed how nimble the series could still be by turning on a dime and raising the stakes in a matter of minutes. And with only three episodes to go, that willingness to shift into a higher gear reads like Live Another Day wants to give the audience more than they imagined, making this effort to bring Jack back feel all the more worthwhile.

24: Live Another Day continues next Monday with ‘8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.’ on FOX. Check out a preview below:

Photos: Chris Raphael/FOX