Hold on. Let me catch my breath… Okay, I’m ready to digest the first four hours of my favorite tv thriller, 24, which returned with its seventh season this week. So far I am enthusiastically on board with where the writers are taking us. Let’s take a look at the three main story lines, which appear to be interconnected, and the new and returning characters.
The Story So Far
- Jack Bauer and his gang of merry men – Jack got a temporary escape from his uncomfortable senate hearing courtesy of the FBI, who wanted his help in locating Tony Almeda (he’s alive – no surprise since his face has been plastered all over the previews). Tony appears to be leading a group of domestic terrorists in a plot to use a device that threatens U.S. air traffic, water treatment facilities, etc. Despite repeated warnings that he must play by their rules, Jack soon has Agent Renee Walker lying to her boss and otherwise crossing the line into ethically questionable territory, all in the name of doing what it takes to find Tony. When they do find Tony, Jack interrogates him and manages to get Tony to whisper one phrase in his ear: Deep Sky. Enter our favorite former CTU director, Bill Buchanan, looking all rugged and handsome with his silver hair and street clothes.
Turns out that Tony is working deep undercover, with only Bill and Chloe as his compatriots. Once Bill fills Jack in on the basics via a cell phone conversation, Jack does what Jack does best: sneaks out of FBI headquarters with Tony. Fast forward a bit, and now Jack and Tony are working together with the bad guys (and Tony’s colleagues of three years – he’s only been “good” again for a brief time), doing what’s necessary to maintain their cover as they try to locate Colonel Dubaku. Supposedly, if they can get their hands on Dubaku, they can get the names of the high level U.S. officials who are involved in a mass conspiracy to… do something. I’m not really clear yet on what the conspiracy involves, other than causing a war in Sangala.
Bottom line: Bill, Chloe, Tony, and Jack are risking everything and working against the government all in the name of getting to the bottom of a government conspiracy. Is this the same conspiracy that President Logan was a puppet in? I hope so. There would have to be massive corruption to justify what our former CTU crew is doing. I’d think it’s very difficult to take on the U.S. government with one secret hideout and a few Macs. But then, Chloe is apparently a genius hacker, Jack borders on superhero, and Tony is a vigilante with nothing to live for. I guess Bill is the backbone of the operation, keeping Jack and Tony in check and reassuring Chloe with his fatherly wisdom.
- President Allison Taylor’s most difficult day – Welcome, new president. As a newcomer to the 24 landscape, she doesn’t know what she’s in for. Every season of 24 is the worst day of the president’s life. Today, President Taylor has three main catastrophes. The first is whether or not to take military action in Sangala to stop the genocide that’s happening. This is directly related to the second problem: Colonel Dabaku has in his possession a device that threatens the American people on a massive scale, and his one demand is that the president order all U.S. troops away from the Sangala border, meaning that the U.S. would take themselves out of the conflict and allow thousands more innocent Sangalans to be killed. The third problem is one she’s not even aware of yet: her husband, Henry Taylor, is investigating the death of their son, which makes some people think he’s unstable, but has others trying to decide how to take care of the problem.
- First Gentleman Taylor vs. the Government Conspirators – As mentioned above, Henry Taylor has been investigating the supposed suicide of his son, Roger. He finally hits pay dirt when, during a secretive meeting with Roger’s girlfriend Sam, she confesses to him that some men paid her to keep quiet about Roger’s murder. She explains that Roger was killed because he got too close to some financial information linking an unknown senior member of his wife’s administration to Sangala. She hands him a flash drive with all the information he needs to continue his investigation. So, at this point, Henry is in this best position to identify the high level people involved in the conspiracy. He needs to cross paths with Jack and his gang pronto! Too bad that Agent Gedge is a tattle tale. Since he saw Sam give Henry the flash drive, he will probably run and blab to Chief of Staff Kanin. It’s too soon to say whether Kanin genuinely believes Henry is crazy, or if he’s concerned about Henry’s activities because he himself was involved in Roger’s death and/or the conspiracy. (I need to come up with a name for this conspiracy so I can stop saying conspiracy.)
So, that’s it in a large nutshell. They’ve given us a lot of information in the first four hours. I was thrilled with the revelation that Tony was working undercover for the good guys. It will be fun to see him and Jack working in the field together. Too bad that they are having to do so many questionable deeds in the name of justice. Turning rogue hasn’t hurt Tony’s appearance. He was looking smooth with his shorter hair, leather jacket, and scowl. It makes sense that he would have gone over to the dark side after Michelle’s death, but it also makes sense that he would have a change of heart. After all, he’s Tony!
The New Faces – Most of the significant newbies are at FBI headquarters, which seems to have replaced CTU with the silly office politics time fillers.
- Agent in Charge Larry Moss – Agent Moss is played by Jeffrey Nordling, who I know best as Jake from Once & Again. He plays the same type of character here: smug, confident, driven, but deep down caring about those close to him. Or so it seems. You never know who to trust on this show. I’m wondering if he and Agent Walker are romantically involved, with all the furtive glances and concern that’s been going on. A bit of random trivia: it’s interesting to me that Ever Carradine played an uncredited role as an employee at FBI headquarters. She played Tiffany, Jake’s girlfriend, on Once & Again. I wonder if there’s a Once & Again connection on the 24 staff.
- Agent Renee Walker – She’s shaping up to be a Jack Bauer-ette. At first, she seemed like she’d be a by-the-books opposite to Jack, but it quickly became apparent that she’s not as mild-mannered as she looks. She single-handedly took out that huge bodyguard while she and Jack were interrogating a suspect. Then she agreed to tail a suspect with Jack, without telling anyone else where they were going. And, most disturbing, she basically threatened to kill Tony’s hospitalized colleague by blocking his oxygen tube, if he didn’t tell her where Tony was and what his plan was. It will be interesting to see how her character progresses this season.
- Agent Janis Gold – Played by Janeane Garofalo, Janis is obviously a Chloe clone. She’s socially awkward, a genius on computers and networks, and loyal to her superiors to the point of breaking the rules. It will be fun to see a face-off between her and Chloe at some point this season. They simply must meet, right?
- Agent Sean Hillinger – Played by Rhys Coiro, this is one smarmy guy. Is he just an annoying geek, or is there something more to his shifty exterior? I thought it was ridiculous for him to manipulate Air Traffic Control into bumping his wife’s flight to the front of the landing line.
- Chief of Staff Ethan Kanin – Played by Bob Gunton, long time guest star on various tv shows, he is one shifty guy. So far he has his hand all over the place and is trying to manipulate the president. She’s not having it. Good for her!
- Henry Taylor – I talked a good bit about Henry above, in terms of his investigation into his son’s death. I like him so far. He is gentle, while also resolute and discerning. I’ll be rooting for him to get to the bottom of his search, or at least to stay alive.
- President Allison Taylor – She’s no President Palmer, but she’s not nearly as annoying as President Logan. And I like her better than Powers Boothe as president. She brings some dignity to the 24 presidency that’s been lacking for awhile.
- There are also a handful of villains, but I’ll let the dust settle, the bullets fly, etc., before I spend time assessing them.
Returning Favorites – I’ve already sung their praises above, so I’ll just end by listing our ex-CTU quadruple threat.
What do you think of this season so far? My one complaint is the weakness of Bill et al’s reasoning for taking on the conspiracy, but I’m willing to see how things develop. But when has 24 been about reasonable, realistic plot points? It has been at the top of its game in terms of action, intrigue, and suspense. I’m looking forward to the next 20 hours!