Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Return of the Jack Bauer Power Hour: This Time It's Personal

I've been humming "Guess Who's Back" all week to myself in anticipation of 24: Live Another Day. And I don't even like Eminem or listen to him very much (pop culture by osmosis, you see). But, boy am I excited for a revisitation of this show. I'm even a bit nostalgic for it - I used to do recaps and reaction posts immediately after the show aired (back when I had TV and could do the whole SQUEE POST after the last countdown clock ticked over). Nowadays, I'm attached to Hulu Plus and I have to wait until the next day (or 3:00 am when insomnia hits big time and I end up staying up to watch a two-hour premiere and don't get up the next morning until 9:30 and am consequently late for work. To which I say: Worth It!).

There are a few differences with Live Another Day - it's basically a mini-series event for FOX - instead of the traditional 24 episodes to deal with the terrorist threat, Jack only has 12. Though the creators have said that the threat will last for 24 hours - they'll just skip a few hours here and there to make it work (which means Jack might actually get a nap or a sandwich inbetween getting shot at. Also - this story takes place in London, which is a drastic departure, but no less entertaining (hey, if it means getting Stephen Fry playing the British Prime Minister, I'm all for it!)

(Let me just repeat that for those not paying attention - STEPHEN FRY is playing the British Prime Minister in 24. Oh, and Michelle "Catelyn Stark" Fairley is in this too).

Let me sound the SPOILER WARNING from here on out - the following takes place between "JACK! CHLOE! YAY!" and "OH NO THEY'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!" and "Huh... did not see that one coming..." (events occur in real time)

I don't remember the original series ever doing a cold open and it took me a minute to get back into the swing of things (to be fair, I'd spent a good amount of the last day fangirling over the events of the most recent Once Upon a Time - that blog post is coming, never fear). These were all new people and new surroundings and, hell, I'd been out of the 24 game since 2010 (unlike Jack, my doings and interests from that time period have been well-chronicled). But there he was - Jack Bauer. Found out by the Feds and... oddly being captured and being brought in for questioning. Wait... Jack doesn't get caught. Not on this side of a season finale, at least. There's somethin' screwy goin' on here...

Enter Kate Morgan (played by Yvonne Strahovski of Chuck fame). Kate is a super-awesome CIA field agent who is the best at what she does - as implied by the head of the CIA in London Steve Navarro (played by Benjamin Bratt - he's definitely got a Tony Almeida feel to him. Which, given how great Tony was and that I still miss both him and Michelle, dammit! - we needed this). Sadly, Kate's husband was caught selling American secrets to the Chinese, which given her position in the CIA, casts suspicion on her immediately - so much so that she is being transferred... somewhere else (I forgot to catch that bit of info). But it's definitely not where someone of her talents would be put to the best use. It's obvious that Kate had nothing to do with what her husband did (well, at this juncture anyway. We used to trust Nina Myers implicitly, remember?) and she is desperate to prove that she belongs where she is. Except she's got this one jealous agent named Erik Ritter who has been promised her job, but he comes off as petty as beauty pageant runner-up who keeps reminding everyone that the girl who actually won made a porn tape or something (seriously - this guy just gets on my last nerve).

From the word "Go" - Kate rocks. She is everything that you want as an ally for Jack inside the government agencies that he inevitably turns to for help (granted, she isn't an ally yet, but all signs point to her being so by the end of Live Another Day). She's reasonable, she listens to her instincts (which are very, very, very good), and while she may hold to Conventional Wisdom that Jack is indeed a criminal and a terrorist and an enemy of the United States - she is willing to think that... you know maaaaaaybe someone ought to wonder why Jack didn't escape when he's obviously very good at it (he's been off the radar for four years - and in this age of Person of Interest (arguably the spiritual successor to 24, that's a feat in and of itself). I've got myself a new girl-crush on 24 and her name is Kate Morgan.

(I'm just gonna hazard a guess that Kate is the reason that Random Jack Bauer Fact #896 is going to work in this half-season-mini-series-special-event-thing of 24).

It turns out that Jack's main objective in getting captured is to save his friend and colleague and my other girl-crush in 24, Chloe O'Brian. Chloe, bless her, is into the whole Wikileaks-Edward-Snowden intelligence information hacking thing and she is all punked-up and tough-stuff. Still, it's the same Chloe that we all know and love - same snark, same heart, same super-genius, same friend to Jack that she was all the way up to the end of Season 8. There wasn't much from Chloe of note in this premiere - there are other things to introduce, with 24 having been gone for so long - but it's still the same Chloe. I'm certain we'll get more from her as time goes on, but for now, I'm just basking in the fact that my dear Chloe is back.

The other side of any 24 season is the political side and Live Another Day has oodles of it! First off all - it was genius to get William Devane to reprise his role as James Heller - even more genius in making him the president. The audience already has a connection to him and we know his background and history with Jack. - Jack was one of his bodyguards when Heller was Secretary of Defense back in Season 4. Which dovetails into my other source of glee (and yet another girl-crush) - his daughter Audrey Heller, who Jack came thisclose to marrying in Season 4 and they were ridiculously adorable all through 4 and 5 and there was Massive Heartbreak at the end of 6 and we never quite recovered from it.

(I just want Jack and Audrey to be happy, guys).

Unfortunately, Audrey is married to Mark Boudreau, who is also President Heller's Chief of Staff. Okay, maybe I shouldn't say "unfortunately" because Mark actually was good for Audrey (the last time we saw Audrey, she was catatonic and unresponsive due to a prolonged exposure to Chinese interrogation techniques). So, he deserves a little credit for that. And... I gotta give him credit for keeping things together for President Heller because, even though Heller gave Jack hell for what happened to Audrey and I was screaming at him for it - I still can't fault him. Even more heartbreaking is that Heller is showing early signs of either dementia or Alzheimer's - the narrative isn't quite clear which. But it is causing him to forget key points of information... which does not bode well when hackers start using U.S. drones to target our own military and allies and frames the government for it.

Oh, did I mention that President Heller is in London to negotiate for British support for furthering the drone program? And that there are Protests Up The Wazoo against it? And that British politicians are assholes? (okay, maybe that's just Mark trying to prepare Heller for the onslaught of speaking before Parliament. But jeez-all-Friday - What The Hell???)

Meanwhile, back in the projects (or as the Brits call them, council estates - which I never made that connection before. I should have, I guess, but who can keep track of social justice wankery when there is a compelling story to be told, interesting characters to follow, and explosions to be had?), there's another hacker group that Chloe's people know about, but they're more about selling secrets and making money off it, rather than simply disseminating information (at least, that's how Chloe's friends frame it. I'm reserving judgement until we see how this all shakes out). Turns out, they're putting stuff together for Michelle Fairley's character, Margot Al-Harazi, to do whatever-the-heck-shady-shit-she's-up-to. And Margot's sent in her daughter to be the hacker's Russian prostitute girlfriend chick (seriously - when you leave the SOOPER SEKRIT hard drive full of state secrets on the sink in the loo, you deserve to get popped). The plot continues to thicken as we march inevitably onward through Jack Bauer's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Really Bad Day.

Other Things I Noticed -

- I could be mistaken, but I think they got Jack shirtless before he even said his first line.

- This whole premiere was one big "Spot the 24 Trope" - Chloe recovering super-fast from her torture, nobody believing Jack, assuming that the one drone guy killed his commanding officer just for revoking his weekend pass (ARE YOU KIDDING ME??)

- It's a little odd to see iPhones on 24. Don't ask me why - they're perfectly normal on Person of Interest and Castle and Agents of SHIELD. Probably because most of 24 was made before smartphones.

- Mark looking at Jack's "List of Kills" like he's perusing his Achievements Unlocked on XBox.

- Jack facing down 10+ terrorists: "You might think I'm at a disadvantage, but I'm not."

- This too:
    Kate: You're not gonna find him [Jack].
    Erik the Beauty Pageant Bitch: Thanks for the confidence...
    Me: Well... when Kate was 120% right about what Jack was doing and all you wanted to do was to haul her off for being better than you at this job. Whatever you're getting, you deserve it.

- Jack: Where'd you get the car?
   Chloe: I hot-wired it.
   Jack: Good job.
   Me: [has to pause and laugh at that one]

- Look, I've watched a LOT of TV shows on Hulu and I just take the commercial breaks as a given. But Hulu's Middle-of-the-Night ham-fisted message-fic ads about getting lawyers for trees is a little bit much. I never thought I'd say that I'd rather see that intelligence-insulting "Tris-cwee" ad for Triscuit - but after watching a bunch of hippie-dippy-losers preach about dolphins and forests inbetween terrorists shooting each other... thank goodness for the mute button!

- 24 is back, y'all!

Like I said - I'm excited for all this. 24 is how I got started in blogging TV shows and waxing lyrical about all my favorite parts and characters - back in my LiveJournal days, it was more about SQUEE posts and humor (and there is still a fair amount of it), but I have gotten better at analysis and such (at least, I'd like to think so). So, buckle up, enjoy the ride because it's gonna be on hell of a summer!

(and with the wait I'm going to have for Doctor Who and Once Upon a Time and everything else after Finale Season, this comes at just the right time to help tide me over).

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