This review of 24: Legacy contains spoilers.
24: Legacy Episode 2: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Thoughts Occur In Real Time
Back in July, Corey Hawkins was joking around at Comic-Con that he was praying for a close Super Bowl to help give 24: Legacy a big lead-in audience. He got both. An all-time classic Super Bowl helped bring in 17 million overnight viewers for the premiere episode of Fox’s spinoff, and those numbers will only rise in Live+7.
The late overtime finish likely kept Legacy from topping last year’s post-Super Bowl slot–The Late Show With Stephen Colbert had 20-plus million viewers after a Broncos blowout–however Fox’s decision could pay off if viewers were enticed enough to return for Monday’s second episode…
Super Obvious And Expected Post-Game Islamophobia
We’re still not done with the first episode.
The Legacy pilot was shot long before Fox announced the series would debut after the Super Bowl, meaning they knew the potential controversy of following up a confetti shower celebration with scary brown guys with guns murdering an innocent white family in cold blood just seconds into the opening scene.
They did it anyway because this is a Jack Bauer lovechild, and the producers swear their intention wasn’t to rile up fearmongering islamophobes or discourage people fed up with these stereotypes playing out as they always have in the 24 universe.
Co-showrunner Manny Coto gave the Monday Morning QB defense to The Hollywood Reporter:
“If we didn’t know the way the entire season went and how it came out the other side, we might be concerned,” Coto said. “But here’s the thing: the story of this season deliberately starts on an image that you might call jingoistic, expected and possibly inflammatory. We weren’t trying to be inflammatory, but it’s what the story itself called for. It’s about a group of individuals who have killed [an Osama bin Laden type of figure] and are now being taken out by people who want revenge.”
He’s right in that all the usual twists and turns in this franchise could (and likely will) lead us down a narrative path that subverts the tired brown guy-as-terrorist trope. They already take some really bad steps toward that in the pilot and in episode two with the Radical Chemistry Teacher Terrorist Love Triangle (more on that later).
Chalking it up as “classic 24” or “necessary to the plot” are lazy excuses for a franchise that sold the public and network on a rejuvenated and updated successor. Granted, no one could have guessed the episode would air just a week after the president issued an immigration BAN (his words, not mine!). To the cynic, it’s a move that the suits at the network and/or studio knew would capture the attention of a large portion of the viewing and voting audience that cannot separate trope from reality, alternate fact from fiction.
Instead of the intro being brushed off as same old 24, they followed up the most-watched television event in history–bigger than Trump’s inauguration (that’s a fact, forever)– by attracting a whirlwind of negative press (namely the failing New York Times) in a move that equally falls on the shoulders of Fox and the creative team. Seeing the slaughtered family in the opening intro played about 1000 times worse after Tom Brady hoisted the trophy than it did in the screeners I received. Fox will play this off as a win in the ratings department, but 24: Legacy surely turned off many viewers in a small window of time.
Alright, Snowflake. Can We Talk About Eric Carter Now?
Those opening moments are a big deal because 24: Legacy is tied to its narrative structure, meaning they’ll live or die with the premise they created for this season. If you’re still here at this point in your 24 fandom, you’ve accepted all past and future blemishes, and can forgive the producers for failure in colorblind terrorist casting.
As much as we wanted something fresh from 24, we come back because it, almost to a fault, fed on our emotions. It was fueled by Jack’s primal instincts, our fears alike. And we know better than to write off the series early on, especially with someone as promising as Corey Hawkins running the show.
In episode two, there are a few other issues in hand that make this a big step back after a fairly entertaining premiere.
Leaps Of Faith
The series won’t take a break from real time, so I present a running list of thoughts I had throughout the episode:
– Episode two serves to further set up a tangled web of side plots that take away from sleeper cells around the country that will be triggered by the codes in rogue Ben Grimes’ possession.
– When social commentary keeps it way too real: I know Eric is in a time crunch, but isn’t there a cooler way to get arrested than being a black man standing on a corner? Start a fire or some shit, Jesus.
– So you want to rob a police station? “You’re crazy.” “Yeah. I keep hearing that.”
– I’m endlessly bored of CTU at the moment, but all bets are on That Guy From Scandal to shake shit up!
– John Donovan’s campaign adviser is featured in a political attack that connects her to a radical mosque. This was during her sophomore year of college, which I’m making the assumption came before her aspiring political career. Best of all, there’s somehow photo evidence that looks like it came from a spy camera. WHAT CREEP WAS SPYING ON HER?!
– It was Donovan’s dad. It had to be. I mean listen to the way he said “She was young.” Creep.
1:33 to 1:36
– I wonder what happens in the three minutes between the commercial breaks. After that tense conversation, I bet John Donovan excused himself for a big dump.
– Out of the commercial break we have Well Dressed Oxford Grad Terrorist Son slowly breaking down stereotypes. Good. But how did he even get in this country in the first place? Is there anything Obama did RIGHT?
– “Only God will decide when I die,” he says, delivering a more sinister threat than all of the 24: Live Another Day baddies combined, and walking his forehead into the barrel of a gun like he’s Heath Ledger’s Joker.
– Terrorist Chemistry Teacher is actually Blackmailed Spineless Child Molester, and I already want to quit this show forever.
– I briefly paused to consider my other entertainment options before clicking play again and…
– OH MY GOD they’re taking us from the brink of statutory rape to teen murder, but not the way you’d think. I want to throw up for typing that sentence.
– Just let me be free of this.
– Maybe Eric Carter will break out of another prison next episode and make it all worth it.
– Or we just wait until April for the Prison Break revival.
See you next week.