This review contains spoilers.
I learned a lot about London from watching the third episode of 24: Live Another Day. I’m not a Londoner, although end up visiting the place fairly regularly, and there are some elements of London life I’ve clearly overlooked.
Firstly, I learned when entering a seemingly empty pub, a cockney geezer of a landlord will instantly greet me and tell me that “I’ll be with you in a minute, mate”. I half expected the camera to pan round and zoom in on Chas and Dave enjoying a shandy.
Perhaps of more use is what 24: Live Another Day teaches us about the London transportation system. Foolishly, I’d assumed that the quickest way to get from one underground station to another was on an underground train. Turns out it’s not. Instead, the more logical thing to do is to jump in a car with Chloe With The Dragon Tattoo, who can traverse the London traffic by car in less time that it takes an underground train to get from station to station.
Now granted, noting that 24 fights against the restraints of plausibility misses the point of the fun. But even so: the moment at the start where a captive – out in the open in London remember – says “I don’t know who you are, but I know you’re not the police, so piss off” to a bunch of Americans with guns suggests a mix up of priorities. The man in question would surely be safer if it were the police. If he’d watched a few episodes of Chuck, he’d also of course know that trouble and destruction tends to follow Yvonne Strahovski around. That noted, it would be fair to say that, at this stage, Strahovski’s character has yet to be established as a vital component of this show.
Anyway, this Live Another Day – or 24LAD, as Fox likes to call it, which makes me feel that the title should be voiced by Peter Sallis – picks up furiously from the last episode, with Jack Bauer chasing Simone Al-Harazi across the city. To escape angry Bauer, she rips her tights and smears blood on her face. That shouldn’t be enough to evade the watching Chloe With The Dragon Tattoo, but then Chloe has a family flashback moment that distracts her for the necessary 30 seconds Simone needs. She evades capture, and goes back to that scary Stark woman.
This is all suitably entertaining in truth, and Bauer outdoors tends to be more fun than him growling around a posh office. But, once again, the machinations surrounding President Heller are far more interesting. By the end of the episode, Heller is addressing the British Parliament, which seems to have abandoned Westminster for the occasion and instead assembled in a big room. There, British manners go out of the window, as the US President is heckled before he can offer more than a word or two. We’re left to find out how that will develop next week.
We also see that Mark Boudreau, harbouring fairly understandable rage against Bauer, has thrown Jack under a bus. His forging of an order that hands Bauer over to the Russians serves a political and revenge purpose, although faking the US president’s signature on a document is a thread that’s likely to come back too. That’s not likely to be too clever for his marriage either, which we get solid hints about the stability of anyway. Tate Donovan is doing fine, fine work with the character of Mark, we should note.
That said, he’s not the only one who’s trying to get Bauer out of the way either. Jack clearly didn’t check up on the back catalogue of Michael Wincott as we advised, so true to form, it’s said actor’s hacker who kickstarts the antics at the end of the episode. Again, with Chloe With The Dragon Tattoo failing to notice – she’s not at her best at the minute – fake ID details are uploaded to the US embassy’s computer, and Jack finds himself in trouble at the gate. He does the only logical thing in the CIA handbook at this stage, by shooting two innocent people in the leg and causing a mini stampede through the gates. As you do.
Further threads: Simone’s husband is clearly going to be turned later in the series, and John Boyega’s innocent Chris Tanner has the clock ticking on him too. After all, President Heller is handing him over to the British, and we’ll no doubt give him a nice cup of tea, congratulate him on his Star Wars role, then lynch him via the medium of the tabloid press. That, or he’ll just be killed.
It’s the usual 24 juggling act then, in truth. And whilst this special exclusive season event spectacular, or whatever they’re calling it this week, isn’t close to vintage 24, it’s comfortable entertainment. At some point, long term, a legitimate variation of the formula is still on the wish list to keep 24 feeling in any way fresh. But for now, this is daft, occasionally exciting, and really not bad.
And the current cougar count? Zero.
Read Simon’s review of episodes one and two, here.
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