[This is a review of 24: Live Another Day episode 7. There will be SPOILERS.]
At this point in 24: Live Another Day, the audience hasn't had much of an opportunity to see what President Heller's term in office has been like; they've only been given a firsthand account of what may well be his worst (and possibly last) day in office. Heller's decision to make a clandestine call to his sworn enemy Margot Al-Harazi has all the trappings of a suicide mission and appears to be Heller's last-ditch attempt at making things right after coming to the realization that remaining in one of the most powerful positions in the world following a diagnosis of a debilitating neurological condition like Alzheimer's is "arrogant, vain, and stupid." Apparently, then, making a secret call to negotiate with the terrorist currently threatening London with hijacked military drones is something else entirely?
But to be fair to the president, he doesn't actually tell Margot he's surrendering – the episode leaves the audience hanging on the silence at the end of their conversation, letting the implication of the interplay suggest Heller's about to do something drastic in an attempt to save more lives, when he could just as easily be planning on doing the opposite. Naturally, there is also a heavy implication that he plans on bringing Jack in on his solo effort to stop Margot, demonstrating he's a firm believer in the proactive American cowboy way of doing things – which also explains why he chastised the British Prime Minister for daring to interfere with an American operation on British soil.
In a way, it feels like '5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.' is the hour in Live Another Day where several characters begin to come to their senses – or at least begin to have something like second thoughts about their present course of action. So far, Heller's been presented as a stoic, centered individual, who has been shouldering the immense burden of a rather murky secret. And at times it felt like the show was interested in what that secret meant in terms of the morality of continuing to keep it that way. Unfortunately, all that's really been given is a reaction by Heller, his daughter, and even the British Prime Minister that's more in line with an athlete being told he's going to have to sit out the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Meanwhile, after Margot had her daughter's finger chopped off, murdered her husband, and then tried to full on murder her, it seems like Simone might be ready to turn on her mother and give the CIA some kind of information – or that could just be a result of the concussion and possible internal injuries she suffered when she was hit by a bus.
Elsewhere, it turns out Navarro's contact is none other than Adrian Cross, who tells Steve to have Jordan killed before he can uncover proof that Kate's husband Adam was set up all along. Navarro is briefly hesitant, but after Jordan's life against spending the rest of his in prison, quickly sends his agent out to be killed by the second worst hitman of the hour. And the audience is left with a parting shot of Jordan wet and wounded, but otherwise still breathing.
That brings the focus back to Jack and Kate, who don't have time to second guess themselves – not that Jack ever would anyway – since they're busy keeping Simone alive, first by intercepting an assassin, and then by outrunning a poorly piloted drone strike, because that's how 24 handles escalation. Inept hitman leads straight to hellfire missiles; it's a rule, you can look it up. And while the chase fulfilled the episode's action quotient, and the subsequent devastation provided some sort of justification for Simone's potential shifting allegiance and Heller's need to martyr himself, there's a good chance the action will produce more face palms than white knuckles on behalf of the audience.
Although things have slowed, you have to hand it to the show for continuing to build toward something, and for allowing time to develop the side characters and their threads. Heller's illness is leading him to make a dramatic decision that could have an enormous impact on how the narrative unfolds. Meanwhile, the Navarro/Cross angle seems ready to intersect with Kate's subplot any minute now. And for a show that literally counts the minutes, that could prove to be the shot in the arm Live Another Day needs right now.
24: Live Another Day continues next Monday with '6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.' @9pm on FOX.
Photos: Daniel Smith/FOX