[This is a review of 24: Live Another Day episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]
Not long after Margot Al-Harazi delivers her ultimatum to the world and, more specifically, President Heller and the citizens of London, Heller reacts to the provocation the only way he can: By realizing he's caught between a rock and a hard place. As 24: Live Another Day has already established, Heller's been in London attempting to drudge up support for a drone base. So far, his day has seen him repeatedly cleaning the egg from his face, after the drone Derrick Yates hijacked wound up killing several soldiers - and now, he's dealing with Margot inciting moral outrage across the globe – at least with those who believe in the notion of an eye for an eye.
As Heller puts it, Margot can claim "a moral victory," which, if her plans continue unabated, puts him in the unenviable position of not only failing to prevent an attack on London, but being the cause of it as well. In that regard, '3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.' is yet another hour of bad news, as shortly after Margot's declaration goes viral, Navarro, Erik, and the rest of a task force - believing they've uncovered her location - wind up on the business end of a drone's missile strike. Not only does this demonstrate Al-Harazi's ability to control the drones, but it also proves her willingness to blow whatever she wants all to hell, just to prove a point.
And so, to a certain extent, the plot of another terrific, fast-paced episode is primarily split between Margot's demonstrations of power – which she displays by releasing her demands, blowing up the estate, and finally killing Navid, once he proves expendable – and Heller's rapidly diminishing options. Because of this, the episode is fairly light on Jack Bauer scenes, which actually works to the benefit of the other characters, as Tate Donovan and Benjamin Bratt wind up doing more than barking at people on the other end of a telephone. Sure, Navarro doesn't actually do anything, or cause any real change with is actions, but getting him out of the CIA blacksite is the first step in the right direction. Meanwhile, Mark Boudreau gets a chance to apologize to Audrey and the president for his anti-Bauer behavior, but with Jack locked just a few feet away, Mark might as well be talking to the wall.
The scene between Jack and Audrey, then, actually comes at the right time in the series. Live Another Day has largely been propelled by the lingering memory of Jack Bauer – both in terms of the narrative and the show's viewership – and allowing the characters with an actual history to acknowledge that helps to ground the series on a more potent emotional level - one that goes deeper than remembering the time Jack shot that one guy. There is a great deal left unspoken between the two, but Jack's acknowledgement of his past actions and the sentence they may yet see carried out against him, works to unify his arc with that of Heller and Al-Harazi's. The notion of sins of the past coming back not simply to haunt characters, but to influence their present day actions resonates rather loudly here - and even spreads into the threads of Kate Morgan and Chloe, to a certain degree.
So far, Heller has been unable to respond; he's only been afforded the opportunity to react to what's being handed out to him by the likes of Margot, the British Prime Minister, and now Jack – who wants to track down an arms dealer to get a beat on Margot and her children. It stands to reason that this is just the beginning of worse things to come for the president. On the other hand, when and if his neurological condition comes into play, his refusal to disclose that information and/or react to it by withdrawing from the presidency, may well paint him as yet another in a long line of horrible leaders of the free world - the one that 24 has had in its version of the Oval Office.
24: Live Another Day will continue next Monday with '4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.' @9pm on FOX.
Photos: Daniel Smith/FOX