Tate Donovan and Kiefer Sutherland in 24: Live Another Day
When 24: Live Another Day was first announced, I was not pleased. I had still been royally ticked off with the entire last season, including the way they chose to end it. I didn’t want more of that garbage. But what I failed to do was think on the terrific six seasons that it had (6 + 8 were the bad ones). Just like a bad breakup, you think of the bad moments and not the good ones that had you involved in the first place. But then the Super Bowl teaser came out and it had me excited for 24 once again. It was strange. Just hearing Jack Bauer’s yell had me extremely excited for the new season. I just hoped it was done right.
The format was shaken up a liittle bit, as this season happened over 12 episodes, not 24. I was curious to see how they’d fit 24 hours in a 12 hour block, but the finale managed to do that with ease. With the first episode, I could feel it. Jack was back. The first two hours managed to set everything up in a terrific fashion, introducing us to new characters that would develop over the couse of the whole season.
If there was one weakness, it was the character of Kate Morgan, played by Chuck‘s Yvonne Strahovski. She wasn’t bad by any means. I just felt they were trying to make her another “Renee Walker” or in other words; another female Jack Bauer. I thought this because they set up her backstory and why she was on her way out of the CIA. It was a story you don’t really give a crap about untl more than half way through the season. But aside from her, you have great new characters being played by veteran actors. Tate Donovan (The O.C., Damages) was a standout all season. He is a great TV actor and he made such a douchey character likeable. Plus you have Gbenga Akinnagbe from The Wire and I think I only liked him because of The Wire. Not to mention Benjamin Bratt and Michael Wincott as well.
The story is pretty simple. President Heller (William Devane returns!) is in London trying to negotiate with the Prime Minister (Stephen Fry; another great actor) about drones. But there is a threat on the President’s life which brings Bauer to London. He has to prevent it and he knows something is going to go down. He has been on the run for years and he is caught almost instantly by the CIA. But you soon realize that is all part of his plan. Then it sets things in motion with a terrorist plot being set in motion by Margot Al-Harazi (Game of Thrones‘ Michelle Fairley) and things much much bigger.
There were so many terrific moments this season. Jack saving Chloe, Jack meeting and seeing Audrey (Kim Raver) again, plus numerous other things. I thought that it was going to run out of steam with a third of the season left, but then it proved me wrong once again. Leave it to 24 to set up one “bad guy” when there are several of them.
Giving Heller Alzheimers was a bold move. I thought it was just a plot device to get people to feel bad for him throughout the season, but again, I was wrong. It was served for the season finale, for that one scene which William Devane just kills it acting-wise. It made the entire thing worth it. The other season-long story element was Tate Donovan’s character Mark Boudreau and his marriage to Jack’s former lover, Audrey. That proved to have a lot of effective material, as seeing Mark squirm his way in and out of situations was very entertaining. He was instantly threatened by Jack and wanted to get rid of him. Tate Donovan steals almost every scene he was in and he was the best addition among the new cast. Besides him, it was Michael Wincott’s awesome voice and Yvonne Strahovski’s “not-Renee Walker” character that really stood out.
Now, let’s talk about that finale. With a season filled with great moments, they really saved the best for last. I had a feeling Audrey would die, and I was right. But I was shocked by how sad her death really was. I wasn’t a huge fan of her character when she first came on the show, but I started liking her more and more as this season went on. But it was the reactions to her death that were moving. Heller collapsed, Kate’s emotional breakdown, and Jack. Poor Jack Bauer. He was in the middle of a “guns-blazing” ambush when he got the news. This is what 24 does extremely well. They have high-octane action all scene, with loud noises and guns. But they know when to stop and take a minute and deal with tragedy. The silent timer is a reminder of that. That even when things are going on, they can still take a minute and deal with what just happened. And Kiefer Sutherland’s acting…damn. That guy can just flat-out act. The facial expressions and emotions he shows when he hears the news…heartbreaking. Even more so was him realizing that he had no one left and just for a moment, took out his gun to end it all. But then he hears the bad guys coming and goes all Jack Bauer on them.
Cheng Zhi’s (Tzi Ma) return was a shock to me, for sure. But it was his departure that was worth it. He was such a good villain. He definitely created a lot of destruction. His fight scene with Jack was well done. And the sword to the head was instantly gratifying; cheer-worthy. Aside from Heller’s fake-out death around midseason, this show didn’t skip a beat. And Devane had some great acting all year, but he waited until the finale to truly bring it out. His scene with the Prime Minister in the finale was great. It really raises a question. Which is worse? Knowing the last person you truly cared about is gone and having to live with that pain? Or forgetting every single moment you had with a person you loved, good and bad? Both suck, if you ask me.
Chloe definitely went through the ringer this season, but at the end of the day, she truly is Jack’s only friend and he would do anything for her. Their scene at the end in the middle of the trade-off where they clench hands and he tells her how much she means to him; that was perfect. For two people that hate talking about what they mean to each other, that scene was done perfectly. You could see the emotion on Kiefer’s face and on Mary Lynn Rajskub’s. And Jack’s smile before getting on that chopper says it all. He is in for some rough treatment. Like the Russian guy said: “I would like to tell you that you will enjoy Moscow, but you won’t.”
And the silent timer will have fans in a frenzy over Jack’s fate, at least until FOX or Kiefer Sutherland announces whether or not 24 will return. Why wouldn’t they? They returned with one of their best seasons to date, and have the fans hooked again as if it was premiering for the first time back in 2001. I, for one, want more 24 as long as it has the quality that this season had. Most of all, thank you for letting us forget that entire eighth season and giving us 24: Live Another Day. Bring on Moscow!
WHAT I LIKED:
+: 24: Live Another Day was high-octane in almost every episode, keeping the stakes high and the action scenes extremely thrilling.
+: Michelle Fairley as Margot Al-Harazi…and her exit.
+: Tate Donovan really stood out as a key player. He stole every scene he was in.
+: The finale. The ending.
+: Great acting all around. Standouts being Kiefer Sutherland, William Devane, Yvonne Strahovski, and Kim Raver.
+: Awesome moments throughout the entire season.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
-: The “fakeout” with Heller around mid-season.
-: Benjamin Bratt’s character still seemed pointless, even when they gave him a reason to stand out.