[This is a review of 24: Live Another Day episode 6. There will be SPOILERS.]
Now that 24: Live Another Day has made it to the halfway mark, it's time to let Jack get back out to do things that he does so well. In this case, '4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.' has Bauer being given near autonomy by President Heller to get close to an arms dealer named Karl Rask (played by Norwegian actor Aksel Hennie, who co-starred with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in the darkly funny Headhunters, which is definitely worth a look). That essentially means that the president of the United States is letting a wanted fugitive wander the streets of a foreign country with a disgraced CIA agent in tow, after a terrorist with a vendetta threatens to blow up a good chunk of London with drones she hijacked from the U.S. military. With all that going on, it's no wonder the British prime minister calls in MI5 to track down Bauer and potentially ruin the one chance he has at locating Margot Al-Harazi.
If anything, '4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.' is a sometimes-frustrating hour of 24 that definitely works in terms of keeping the show's narrative running, but it does so by going back to a storytelling well that had begun to feel quite stale in the last few years of the show's original run. The sheer amount of narrative twists, reveals, and ill-advised actions that take place give the episode a rather disjointed and disorderly feel, like it's just perfunctorily getting the story to the next stage. In the long run, that may not necessarily be a bad thing, though. Live Another Day is dealing with a truncated timeline (in terms of the number of episodes a season of 24 typically consists of), so having an overstuffed episode like this might be worth it, as long as the rest of the season is afforded greater consistency thanks to the plot-arranging sacrifice of this hour.
That means that much of what happened was expected to happen sooner or later, without much of a sense of consequence being developed. And for now that's fine, because the revelation that Navarro is the CIA mole – or a mole of some sort, having to do with Kate's disgraced husband – Benjamin Bratt's role won't seem like such an obvious nod to his character's duplicity. The same goes for Mark Boudreau's ill-advised forgery of the president's signature that now has him in hot water with the Russians, as well as Simone's failed and somewhat morally conflicted attempt to dispose of her sister-in-law and niece. These are potentially interesting developments that help round out fairly flat characters, by giving them something more dynamic to deal with.
It remains uncertain if Heller's early Alzheimer's will do the same for him, however, as it has been used primarily as a plot device. That leaves a rather large dangling thread, one that has a sitting president with onset dementia coordinating anti-terrorist campaigns in a foreign country while he and his closest advisers are aware his diminished capacity. With any luck, the series will find time to address that notion in a significant fashion before too long. Thankfully, making the prime minister aware of it seems like a step in the right direction.
Another good move the series makes here is getting Jack and Kate together on an op, granting the episode its strongest and most entertaining component. There's some nice interplay between the two that relies primarily on Yvonne Strahovski reacting to Jack's crazy dialogue that's mostly comprised of necessary exposition. Naturally, Jack's willingness to go to any length to get the job done tests Kate by putting her through a rather nasty torture sequence that winds up feeling cinematically familiar but ultimately works by giving Jack a competent partner to work with for (hopefully) the remainder of the season.
Overall, this was something of a middling episode. There was probably too much going on (and too much typical 24 stuff) in one hour to keep the hour consistently compelling or free of eye-rolling, but at least it pushed through the halfway mark so things can get down to the business at hand next week.
24: Live Another Day will continue next Monday with '5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.' @9pm on FOX. Check out a preview below:
Photos: Daniel Smith