After seeing all the action-packed promos for this season of 24, I was more excited about the show’s return than I had been for a few years. And the two-night, four hour season opener didn’t disappoint. There were plenty of twists and turns, and perhaps more importantly, there were a lot of new but familiar faces.
- The Veterans – Superman Jack Bauer, the glue that holds the show together, is back, but is initially more subdued than normal. He’s too busy being a grandpa to Kim’s daughter Terri to burden himself with unraveling an assassination plot. Of course, being the noble hero that he is, he soon finds himself back at CTU, playing a crucial role in the investigation. Also returning is the lovably annoying Chloe O’Brien, who has managed to survive since she first joined CTU in season three. With as quickly as the bodies pile up on this show, it’s quite miraculous that she is still around. Jack and Chloe are the only two characters who have been around long enough to be considered veterans. (Well, there’s Kim, but it doesn’t seem like she will be very involved this season since she’s already on a plane back to L.A. with her family.) I’m holding out hope that Secret Service Agent Aaron Pierce will show up again. He’s the closest thing to an Energizer bunny (besides Jack, of course) that the show has. He’s constantly in harm’s way, but always manages to survive.
- The Sophomores – Returning for a second season are President Allison Taylor (fresh off a divorce initiated by her husband, who couldn’t forgive her for sending their daughter to prison for her involvement in a murder), and her loyal sidekick Ethan Kanin. Also back in the game is Agent Renee Walker, although she’s no longer working for the FBI. When we last saw her in season 7, she was about to go off the books in her interrogation of a suspect, and apparently she crossed a line that sent her to a very dark place. So far, Annie Wersching is doing a great job of portraying Walker’s new personality. She is void of emotion, her eyes look empty, and she doesn’t seem to care about anything. It’s crazy to say, but in her current state she’s like a crazier, female version of Jack!
- The New Players
- The Hassan Family – This season’s initial crisis involves a plot to assassinat President Omar Hassan, the leader of an unnamed Middle Eastern country. He is in the U.S. to meet with President Taylor about promoting peace, disarming nuclear weapons, etc., but someone wants him dead, which throws a few kinks in the peace summit. He is joined by his wife (although it appears they have a loveless marriage) and daughter (who seems very loyal to her father). We soon learn that his chief of staff and brother, Farhad, isn’t as loyal as Omar would like to believe.
- CTU: New York – The first six seasons were set in L.A., and last season was in D.C. Season 8 takes us to the streets of New York, and so we meet a new batch of CTU agents and analysts. (It sure is convenient that Chloe got transferred to this branch when Morris lost his job!) The head of CTU, Brian Hastings, seems to be as clueless as many of his predecessors, since junior analyst Chloe has a better handle on the situation than he does. And there’s the usual melodrama among the geek squad, with newbie Dana Walsh being terrorized by a former boyfriend who is threatening to expose her deep dark secret, and sneaky Arlo Glass, who spends most of his time either hitting on or spying on Dana. The one thing this CTU branch seems to have going for it is Agent Cole Ortiz, who is like a Jack-in-Training. He’s already pulled off a couple of Jack-worthy saves, so I have my fingers crossed that he will make it through this season.
- Odds and Ends
- Rob Weiss – He’s President Taylor’s new, young Chief of Staff. I’m not sure what to think of him yet.
- Meredith Reed – She is the reporter who Hastings was convinced was working against Hassan, but it turns out the only thing she had to hide was the affair she’s been having with Hassan. Oops! That information is sure to resurface, especially since Farhad knows about it. I have a feeling he may use it to try to blackmail his brother.
- The Villains – The first villain on the scene was President Hassan’s brother, Farhad, and as the plot thickened (by way of a series of tattoos on the assassin’s body), we were introduced to members of a Russian Crime Syndicate. The apparent leader goes by the name Bazhaev, and he has two sons, one who appears to be dying in a wine cellar, and the other, Josef, who is skeptical about getting involved with Farhad. One more thing about the tattoed assassin, Davros – I immediately recognized actor Doug Hutchinson as the man who played creepy Eugene Tooms on a couple episodes of The X-Files. Strangely, I didn’t remember until I read his filmography that he also played Horace Goodspeed on Lost. I guess it was the long haired hippie look that threw me off.
As I mentioned earlier, I was especially looking forward to this season because of some familiar actors who would be joining the cast:
- Katee Sackhoff – Little Miss Starbuck seems to be playing a more feminine, weaker character than the fearless, aggressive Kara Thrace. But I am intrigued by her mysterious back story. Her name was Jenny, she was apparently poor and ran with a bad crowd, yet somehow she found a new identity as Dana Walsh and landed a job at CTU?
- Freddie Prinze, Jr. – On today’s edition of “Whatever Happened To…,” we welcome back Mr. She’s All That, or if you prefer, Summer Catch. This former teen heart throb is hanging up his dancing shoes and picking up a gun. I must say, I like him as an intense, determined agent. He and Sarah Michelle Gellar have been married for almost 8 years now, and as a fan of Buffy, I kind of liked him more after they were together. All that to say, I’m glad to have him on the show.
- David Anders! – Yes, I felt that the exclamation point was necessary. Ever since he played Julian Sark on Alias, I have had a major tv crush on David Anders, and his knack for accents. While even he couldn’t save the recent remake of Children of the Corn, I am hoping to see good things from him as a Russian villain on 24. I am even holding out hope that he will eventually turn on his father and help Jack save the day. Probably just wishful thinking, but that’s a much better alternative than Jack putting him in a choke hold and killing him!
- Anil Kapoor – When I saw the 24 previews, I knew this was a familiar face, but I couldn’t place it. Then it hit me: “Who wants to be a… Mill-on-are!” President Hassan was the game show host on Slumdog Millionaire. So far he is doing an excellent job with this more serious role.
- Mykelti Williamson – He’ll always be Fearless from Boomtown to me. I loved him on that show, and while he’s not nearly as likable here, it’s still nice to see him. And there’s still time for him to exhibit some more redeemable qualities.
- Callum Keith Rennie – There must be a Battlestar Galactica connection on the casting staff, because joining Starbuck from that show is Leoben, one of the Cylons. He hasn’t made an appearance yet, except in photographs, but he will be one of the Russian villains.
Where Are We Going?
So, the initial storyline was introduced and somewhat resolved: the assassination attempt on President Hassan. With 20 hours still left, what can we expect?
- Jack and Renee go undercover – In another convenient backstory detail, it turns out that Agent Walker was the FBI’s top undercover agent with the Russian mob. With one phone call, she swoops into CTU and is ready to go back into the field. Her decision to violently remove her contact’s parole bracelet at the end of the fourth hour was truly shocking. What in the world?! She is dead serious about playing her part, I suppose. It will be interesting to see Jack play the level headed one next to her crazy out of control self. Their goal: um, not sure yet. I suppose they need to find out what weapons the Russians plan to sell to Farhad, and what he plans to do with them.
- The Russians and Farhad plot their evil deeds – There’s much to be discovered about this plot line, which has only just been introduced.
- Presidents Taylor and Hassan continue their peace negotiations – I am sure that CTU’s investigation will continue to put pressure on these peace talks, and will threaten to end them. Then there’s the looming threat of Hassan’s affair becoming public knowledge.
- Jack’s desire to get to L.A. – As Kiefer Sutherland said in a recent interview, Jack has a different mindset this season because he has something to fight for: a new, happy life with his daughter and granddaughter in L.A. So while he’ll still be fighting for truth and justice, he’ll also be trying to make it through the day in one piece.
- CTU shenanigans – What will become of Dana and Cole’s engagement? Will Dana be able to get rid of her old boyfriend, or will he expose the truth? Will Hastings shape up as director, or will he be replaced? (If only Bill were still alive…)
It looks like this season is shaping up to be a great one. The only thing I didn’t like was when Jack got tortured in the basement by that cop who thought he was a cop killer. I thought it was too early in the season for such over the top melodrama. All the action leading up to and during Agent Ortiz’s heroic car swerving maneuver, which saved President Hassan’s life, was truly thrilling, and the turn of events afterwards was just as intriguing. What have you thought about this season so far?