The much-ballyhooed reboot of Fox’s nearly-decade long hit-show 24 became a reality Monday with a two-hour premiere that figures to once again explore politically charged issues relevant to America today, while also digging deep into the tortured soul of Jack Bauer, the troubled protagonist.
The 12-episode “event,” as Foxies keep calling it, is set in London where President James Heller (formerly the Secretary of Defense in a previous season) is hoping to secure a deal with the British about America’s drone wars. He’s met there by hundreds of rowdy protesters who will surely be emboldened by (spoiler alert) a drone strike that kills four soldiers, two of them British. The deadly strike in Afghanistan was perpetrated by a savvy hacker who manipulated the system and took control of the drone, which appears to be part of a larger plot to disrupt the treaty negotiations and embarrass the United States. Those behind the renegade drone strike are also the same people seeking to assassinate Heller in London.
Cue Jack Bauer.
The former chief of CTU, responsible for saving thousands of lives, emerges from hiding only to get himself captured by the CIA in an incredibly thought-out plan reminiscent of Bauer’s glory days—though the chips—or whatever they were—implanted into his wrists were a new—and unexpected—touch, making him kind of a cyborg Bauer.
The plan: intentionally get captured; force the CIA to transfer him to a secret interrogation unit (which is apparently operated by one well-dressed agent), and break out Chloe O’Brian, his former partner-in-saving-the-world-from-near-oblivion-multiple-multiple-times. Several battered bodies, bruised egos and explosions later, Bauer and O’Brian are free, though we quickly learn Bauer didn’t risk permanent detention—or worse—just to save Chloe, probably the first big surprise of the night. Bauer wanted to infiltrate the WikiLeaks-like group O’Brian now aligns herself with after leaking 10,000 classified Defense Department documents so he could find, and probably brutally torture, another hacker who he believes is involved in the plot to assassinate the president.
That’s when the questions begin:
How exactly does a man who has been in hiding for four years who-knows-where intercept valuable intelligence that just so happens to reveal a plot to murder the Leader of the Free World? Additionally, how does the CIA—the agency mandated to covertly gather intelligence—not know about such a deadly plot? (We’re sure their close-knit relationship is in a file somewhere, or maybe they’re still trying to get to the bottom of Benghazi.)
And possibly the most head-scratching question that goes unanswered: How does the CIA not know that Chloe O’Brian is being held in the same black site where Bauer was taken for interrogation?
We’re hoping celebrated Executive Producer Howard Gordon—he also of Homeland fame—provides a logical answer to those burning questions.
Despite all that, the premiere had all the hallmarks of previous 24 seasons: an impending threat to the nation, Bauer battling his inner demons in the face of imminent doom, a president forced to make quick—and sometimes unpopular—decisions.
But as we quickly uncover, this won’t be a season of hug-filled reunions for Bauer. He admonishes O’Brian for leaking classified documents—insisting that she’s not that naive, and the “terrorist” label that he’s earned—wrongfully or not—appears to be eating away at him, making it incredibly difficult to envision a scenario in which Bauer returns to the States at the request of an appreciative government.