written by Sang Kyu Kim & Patrick Somerville | directed by Omar Madha
A good litmus test for 24 is how the show fares when Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) only has limited screen time during an episode, and 24: Live Another Day pulled off its best episode so far, despite Jack literally sitting this hour out. It makes sense Jack's not going to be "active" every week, and it was great to see the rest of 24LAD's cast take up the slack so confidently.
It's about now that I begin to question the value of episodic reviews of 24, as I've said everything I want to say about the ccore ingredients of this unlikely revival. It's interesting that Margot's (Michelle Fairley) dastardly plan to hijack military drones and attack London is vengeance for Heller's (William Devane) administration killing her husband in a bombing that also claimed the lives of innocent children, because that's broadly the reason Homeland's Brody decided to help terrorists assassinate the VP. Naturally, 24 doesn't really have much time for the kind of character-based issues and complexities of Homeland, so here things are treated more like a video game with massive explosions.
I'm also enjoying the fact Devane seems to be playing the President like an affable grandad with the fate of thousands in his hands. It was also nice to see Chief of Staff Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan) eat humble pie when Jack's crackpot drone theory was proved correct thanks to Agent Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) decrypting Tanner's Flight Key and finding evidence of an override code with the help of Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub). I wasn't particularly struck by the long awaited reunion of Audrey (Kim Raver) and Jack, however—perhaps because, well, it's been so many years since they were a couple I've lost all feeling for their relationship. Raver and Sutherland's scene together was also a little weird, with their faces pressed close and Jack doing that breathy voice he uses for every emotional beat.
This week's action was easily the best we've seen from 24LAD so far, in the sequence when a CIA tactical team headed by Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) were lured to a country mansion and annihilated by one of Margot's drones. It's hard to shock a seasoned 24 viewer like myself, so I can't say that Navarro's exit came as a big shock. It's just part of the show's formula these days.
And five episodes isn't enough time for me to care deeply about Navarro, although his demise did help Margot feel like a more dangerous threat. The fact she also shot son-in-law Navid (Sacha Dhawan) only underlined her ruthlessness and focus on her cause. So what will Margot's hijacked drones target next? Can she be stopped before a few British landmarks are obliterated? It seems unlikely, even if Heller bows to Jack's demand to let him loose to find Margot through a trusted acquaintance.
Overall, I'm enjoying what 24LAD is serving up every week, even if almost everything reminds me of something the show's done before. 24's been around for so long it's almost impossible to avoid deja vu; but the swifter plotting, lack of padding, and fun change of location are helping it feel less tedious than it might do otherwise. I just hope the writers can orchestrate some unexpected shocks that work emotionally, as that was always the most enjoyable thing about 24 in its prime.