Spoiler Warning for the first hour of “24: Legacy,” as well as all previous seasons of the original series.
THE FOLLOWING TAKES PLACE BETWEEN 12:00 P.M. and 1:00 P.M.
EVENTS OCCUR IN REAL TIME
The night of Feb. 6, 2017 will go down as an insane roller-coaster ride of emotions. Beginning with Super Bowl 51 going into overtime with the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots tied and ending with a chaotic hour of “24: Legacy’s” pilot episode, this will surely be a night to remember. However, football and fictional terrorists are two completely different ballparks. The prestigious post-Super Bowl time slot set the first hour of the new spinoff series into play, but did it live up to the hype? In short, yes. Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) as “the new hero of the new day” is a worthy successor to the original hero, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). With threats around every corner, a long day has just begun.
Set approximately three years after the events of “24: Live Another Day,” the pilot episode begins with a group of terrorists torturing an ex-Army Ranger in an attempt to locate something that is hidden. Meanwhile, just outside of Washington D.C., Eric greets his wife Nicole (Anna Diop), who is preparing to begin her day as a nurse. Eric and Nicole are currently in witness protection due to a tumultuous end to Eric’s career as an Army Ranger. Suddenly, Eric receives a call from a member of his Ranger squad, Ben Grimes (Charlie Hofheimer), who explains that a group of people are after him. Eric seems to believe him and sends out a message to the rest of the squad as a group of armed men arrive at the Carter household. Eric rushes Nicole into the attic and orders her not to come down for anything. The armed men enter the house and take Eric hostage, setting off a fast-paced action sequence that allows both Eric and Nicole to show off their fighting skills. After killing the intruders, they escape the house and drive off, realizing that their lives are about to change.
While Eric’s day of physical action begins, the political side of “24” presents itself in the form of Rebecca Ingram (Miranda Otto) and her husband Senator John Donovan (Jimmy Smits). Rebecca is the outgoing National Director of CTU and Senator Donovan is currently running for President. It’s worth noting that Rebecca was in charge of an operation by Eric’s squad to capture Ibrahim Bin-Khalid, the leader of the terrorist cell featured in the episode. Rebecca visits CTU Washington D.C. to check in on the transition of power; the ambitious Keith Mullins (Teddy Sears) has stepped into the hot seat as Director of CTU. He isn’t the only new CTU employee to be introduced. There’s also Andy Shalowitz (Dan Bucantinsky), who seems to be a Chloe O’Brian-type character, and Mariana Stiles (Coral Peña), who is revealed to be a cousin of the late CTU Los Angeles agent Edgar Stiles (Louis Lombardi). This is the first connection to the original series, so hopefully they will expand on Mariana’s relationship with her now deceased cousin. These characters don’t particularly stand out yet, but there is still plenty of time for them to develop. I just hope that these characters actually receive significant screentime and don’t become stagnant like some of the characters that were introduced in the later seasons of the original series.
Eric contacts Rebecca and alerts her to the fact that the entire squad is being pursued. This prompts Rebecca to jump back into the action with the help of Andy; together the two secretly use CTU’s technology to track the location of Ben, who is in possession of a strongbox that Rebecca believes may be used by the terrorists to carry out an attack. Rebecca and Andy must work without the knowledge of Keith or the rest of the agents, because you guessed it…there might be a mole in CTU. This was such a common occurrence in the original series that it essentially became a running joke by the time the series ended. Rebecca believes that Keith is the most likely suspect, but this is still “24” and not a single character can but trusted, especially since we still know very little about any of these people yet. Still, it’s exciting to see CTU again, although the Washington D.C. offices are not nearly as cool-looking as those of the Los Angeles and New York bureaus.
While the hectic day keeps the main characters busy, the narrative strangely shifts to a high school where a student seems to have uncovered some unlikely players in the terrorist plot. While it isn’t completely clear how this storyline will connect to the rest of the plot, it does provide an interesting look at the sub-stories that are taking place during the course of the day. Simultaneously, Eric and Nicole arrive in their old neighborhood to meet up with Eric’s estranged brother Isaac (Ashley Thomas). Eric pleads for Isaac to protect Nicole while he works to stop the terrorists, but there is immense tension present between the two brothers; this is furthered by the fact that Nicole and Isaac previously dated. There is also Isaac’s current girlfriend Aisha (Tiffany Hines), who doesn’t seem to be pleased with Nicole’s presence. This aspect of the story has the potential to be incredibly engaging if it doesn’t go down the cliché path and give us a love-triangle, or would it be called a love square?; I’m already suspicious of Aisha, who will likely betray everyone and get herself and others killed.
At CTU, Andy and Rebecca are able to track Ben to Union Station using a drone (Is this a callback to Day Eight when CTU drones were widely used to track suspects?). Unfortunately, Mariana has figured out that Rebecca is logged into the system and alerts Keith of the security breach. Keith questions Rebecca, but drastic actions must be taken to keep the operation going and Rebecca uses a taser to stop Keith from interfering; this is yet another callback to the original series when Jack Bauer was forced to subdue George Mason (Xander Berkeley) for similar reasons in the pilot episode. After arriving at Union Station and reuniting with Ben, Eric discovers that the strongbox contains a flash drive with names and activation codes of sleeper cells across the country; if this information finds its way into the wrong hands, countless innocent people could be killed. A group of terrorists arrive, prompting another high-octane action sequence to kick off. Eric yet again demonstrates his skills as a tactical fighter, using the environment around him to defeat his pursuers. While this sequence is incredibly over-the-top, it is definitely engrossing and entertaining to watch. Eric’s success is overshadowed, however, when he realizes that Ben snatched the flash drive and slipped away. The final split-screen appears (this is a regular occurrence at the end of each episode) to update the audience on what each of the characters are up to as the top of the hour nears; Ben quickly calls Eric and lets him know that he plans on selling the drive to make some quick cash while Rebecca and Andy find a place to hide an unconscious Keith.
The clock strikes 1:00 P.M.
The premiere episode of “24: Legacy” does a great job at flinging viewers back into the world of “24,” while establishing the various characters and storylines. While many of the problems that existed in the original series are present, it is comforting to be able to feel that this spinoff still exists within the same universe. Some of the scenarios are almost ripped from the original and it isn’t completely clear if this was done intentionally or not; I’d like to believe that the writers aren’t out of ideas and are simply paying homage to the original. Still it is exciting to be able to connect certain elements of the story, specifically the expansion of the Stiles family. I’m also glad that the original format remains in place; it just wouldn’t be the same without the beeping clock noise before and after commercial breaks. I am bothered by the lack of an in-your-face political storyline, specifically one with the sitting President, a role that is incredibly important to the series; we don’t even know who the current President in the series is at this point. The fast-paced action and strong character introductions are major highlights that give me hope that this series will be able to carry on without Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer. While the absence of Bauer and the other original characters is definitely felt, I have great confidence that this cast, specifically Corey Hawkins as Eric, will be able to carry the franchise into the new era. This is a series that has always managed to shock the audience with insane plot twists and devastating character deaths, so it will be interesting to see how things change over the course of the next eleven hours (I’m still holding on to the hope that FOX will order an additional twelve episodes to give the season a proper 24-hour run). The next episode will air on Monday Feb. 6 at 8 P.M on FOX. What will the 1 o’clock hour hold? Only time will tell.