Maybe it’s the terrorist plotline, maybe it’s that Jack is a operating as a lone wolf, maybe it’s that I have a visceral reaction to William Devane and Kim Raver, or that since they’re in London, Edgar and CTU can’t establish a Hard Perimeter, but I’m having a hard time mustering up the give-a-shit about Bauer and Co.
For weeks, I’ve watched my DVR accumulate episodes of 24: Live Another Day with dread, knowing that I’d have to endure one more hour of watching this show. Finally I bit the bullet (or rather, ran out of better stuff to watch) and watched the last four episodes leading up to Monday’s finale. Don’t get me wrong, when news first surfaced that Fox would be bringing Jack back for a shortened 12-episode run, I was apprehensive, but hopeful that a shortened season would alleviate the chore of watching the show for an entire 24 episodes, trying to keep track of all the convoluted subplots and shifting alliances. When it was announced the action would take place in London and this kick-ass teaser aired, I was fully on board and hotly anticipating joining Jack and Chloé for another day. I had high hopes of Jack and Chloé working with British Secret Intelligence in a James Bond-ish capacity. This was bolstered when the title was announced to be Live Another Day, a direct allusion to Die Another Day. Unfortunately, this has been, like that movie, a hugely disappointing letdown.
Unfortunately, the storyline has centered around Devane’s now-President Heller and daughter (and Jack’s former flame) Audrey, a London-based CIA operation lead by Benjamin Bratt and some terrorist named Al-Herrazi and her son who get their hands on six U.S. drones (24 is nothing if not current). Cholé is with some vaguely-defined freedom outfit that tolerates her semi-goth look. Dismal creative choices that have led to a lot of the same ground 24 has tread since season 5 or so, terrorists threatening to blow something up and Jack racing against the clock to stop them. There have been tense moments, grainy black and white footage, close scrapes, immunity agreements, Alzheimer’s diagnoses, Presidential pardons, Jack flying a helicopter and even the destruction of Wembley stadium. It feels like we’ve been here before, and indeed we have. Even though the action has shifted to across the pond, we still have the president (Devane is doing his best slow-burn, which got old ages ago) deferring to Bauer, showing signs of dementia, while his daughter Audrey thanks Jack for saving her father, again. International incidents, tears, convoluted alliances, Russian subplots… and more tears. All accompanied by the infamous 24 countdown clock.
It’s overly familiar territory and illustrates how much the world has moved on from the jingoistic, black-and-white hat world that Bauer operates in. Shows like Homeland and The Amerikans have made compelling television by showing the various shades of gray in the world we actually live in, yet 24 wants to exist in the same black/white world we left it in in 2008. One in which Jack is the rogue agent free to throw terrorists out windows, smash hands during interrogations and run roughshod over the CIA. The last few episodes have centered on the search for Chinese extremists (Cheng Zhi from previous seasons) and an override device, which not only controls drones, but also can command nuclear subs apparently.
It all shows a stunning lack of imagination on the part of the producers and writers to the point of not caring. By recycling much of the same cast, characters and plot devices of the previous eight seasons, Bauer and Co. haven’t brought anything new to the table. Indeed, they’ve only shown how outdated and simplistic the idea of 24 was in the first place.