Wednesday, 21 May 2014

24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY, episode 4 – '2:00PM – 3:00PM'

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

written by Patrick Harbinson | directed by Adam Kane

24: Live Another Day (hereafter 24LAD) swapped the inner-city for indoors this week, as another of 24's famous stand-offs came into play. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) spent the hour evading capture inside a US Embassy swarming with trespassing British protesters, while trying to upload US pilot Tanner's (John Boyega) Flight Key to prove his story about terrorists plotting to hijack drones to assassinate President Heller (William Devane) and assault London.

24 always does a "budget-saving" episode well, even if a feeling of deja vu keeps bubbling up during 24LAD. The writers may have decided they had an interesting new story to tell, which was the impetus behind reviving 24 (it's claimed), but you wouldn't guess in terms of what's actually happening on-screen or the types of new characters they've introduced.

It's becoming increasingly apparent that Agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) is just 'Renee Walker redux', while her partner Erik Ritter (Gbenga Akkinagbe) is merely 'a gruffer Curtis Manning'. CIA boss Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) is identical to dozens of square-toed agents who refuse to believe anything Jack tells them, while Chief of Staff Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan) is yet another of those White House toe-rags undermining the show's hero because of a personal vendetta. Why can they never see the bigger picture?
"Trying to back out is a stain on your honour, Naveed. Tell me you'll rectify that." -- Margot
Fortunately, 24LAD is overcoming the fact it's clogged with variations on antiquated ideas, but only really because audiences have had a four-year break from its ways. I wonder what the reception would be if this was the ninth season, airing in the autumn of 2011. Chances are we'd be applauding the production's bold move to London (for reasons of verisimilitude), handshaking the Fox execs for halving the number of episodes, but opining the fact 24 still deals with stock characters and repetitive set-ups.

In episode 4, I was struck by how two-dimensional Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley) appears to be as the villain; here securing her son-in-law Naveed's (Sacha Dhawan) services as a drone pilot by chopping one of his wife's fingers off with a chisel and hammer. Her beloved daughter! It was a gruesome moment to make you squirm in your seat and suck your teeth in empathy, but I'm not convinced Margot's a truly memorable 24 villain just yet. Fairley's a fine actress, but Margot's material is a little thin right now. She's just a very bad mother who's been radicalised by her late husband, so I'd like to get inside Margot's head and see what makes her tick.

Faring better is baritone hacktivist Adrian Cross (Michael Wincott); who doesn't like Jack or anything he stands for, but finds himself dragged into fighting the good fight by Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub). And he's not entirely convinced by anything that's going on, as his own brand of heroism operates entirely as a provider of leaked information to the public, not as someone whose hacks lead to preventing tangible atrocities. Chloe may have a background dealing with this stuff, but disgruntled Adrian carries the air of someone massively inconvenienced by his Open Cell team suddenly becoming an ex-government agent's eyes and ears.
"Whatever differences we had, I never lied to you and I always told you the truth." -- Jack to Heller
However, one person signing up to Jack's fan club was Kate Morgan, who finally realises Jack's behaviour isn't that of a wanted fugitive trying to assassinate a President. I actually find it quite annoying how characters on 24 are so keen to see Jack as a traitorous villain, based purely on the circumstances of him becoming a fugitive, without mentioning all the times he's saved the world, or been wrongly suspected of evildoing before.

'Trust in Jack' should be everyone's mantra, as it would make things a lot easier. Still, at least we have Morgan aiding and abetting Jack's efforts now he's been arrested, having taken the Flight Key as the military burst into the secure comms room Jack was using to decrypt and upload it as evidence. How long until the CIA change their opinion on Jack and President Heller gives him a pardon?

Finally, Heller's rich history with Jack wasn't enough for him to believe Bauer's credible story over Mark's counter-argument? Oh well. There isn't much drama in a story where Jack's a national hero everyone trusts implicitly. That would make Jack's days pass much too easily, which isn't the done thing.

19 May 2014 | Fox