24 season 7: what happens in the first 17 minutes

We've just got back from a screening of the first 17 minutes of 24 season 7. And Jack Bauer isn't messing about...

Jack Bauer in 24

At a special screening in West London earlier this evening, we were treated not only to the extended version of 24: Redemption – which is out in the shops on Monday – but also the first 17 minutes of 24’s seventh season, which will also be included on the DVD.

And here’s what you’ve got to look forward to.It kicks off in the back of a car driving through Washington, between 8am and 9am. A father and daughter are exchanging words over why one of them is allowed to use a phone and one isn’t. Seconds later, a big van smashes into said car. Cue a forlorn look between the two, and the arrival of another van to smash into the other side. It’s fair to say that 24 has returned.

Out pop some gunmen, who drag the man away and drive off with him, leaving the daughter behind. Turns out his name is Michael Latham (played by Star Trek Enterprise’s John Billingsley), and his kidnappers need him “to fix something”.

Then it’s over to a senate hearing about the antics of CTU. This, of course, has been long overdue, and when we discovered it was Kurtwood Smith in the role of the questioning Senator, we also whooped with glee. Clarence Boddicker vs Jack Bauer? Now that’s a fight we’d pay to see. Turns out that CTU has been accused of brutality and torture, and today’s witness? Mr Jack Bauer, and he already looks pissed off.

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Waiving his right to counsel, he’s questioned about his interrogation of Ibrahim Haddad, and he concedes that he “probably” broke procedure. Admitting to torture, under the definition set out by the Geneva Convention, Bauer turns on the Senator, arguing that he stopped an attack, and in effect, the end justify the means. As Jack says, he adapted to his enemy. “Don’t sit there with that smug look and expect me to regret it”, he snarls. Kurtwood doesn’t look scared, to be fair.

In then walks Agent Renee Walker, with a subpoena for Bauer, who is needed immediately. Kurtwood isn’t happy, but turns out he has no choice. And thus, in a matter of minutes, Jack is back on his way to a new office, without the two or three episodes of wrapping up where he was left last time that we usually get. Kurtwood calls his next witness, warning Jack he’s not through with him. But as he says that he’ll continue tomorrow, we may have seen the last of the hearing for a year at least.

Then we cut to the office of what we suspect is Homeland Security, and the to desk of Janeane Garofalo’s Agent Gold (and it’s great to see her in 24, too), who seemed to have a little touch of the Chloes about her. She gets clearance for Bauer, who’s on his way to the building.

It’s clear that this isn’t CTU, and that CTU is very much a thing of the past. There seems to be some quick closure going on here. Then we cut to a briefing being given by FBI Special Agent Larry Moss, where the plot starts to cut in. They’ve been tracking a series of technology thefts for eight weeks, seemingly carried out by the same crew. The significance of Latham, who the gang also has, is that he can get through the CIP firewall (mentioned several times), which basically shields all the important systems in the US. They’ve clearly been watching Die Hard 4.

So we cut to the villains in the usual dingy room. But they got a different film out of the box set, and clearly having watched Die Hard 2, they’re sat observing air traffic control screens, and listening to tower chatter. They seem particularly interested in one plane, GSA 117.

Back to Washington, and Larry Moss greets Bauer, explaining that he’s not keen on him, but that Agent Walker has recommended they call him. Is there a romance on the cards between Renee Walker and Bauer? Don’t bet against it. Walker then briefs Bauer, explaining that it’s a national security matter gone critical. Bauer doesn’t seem to give two hoots. Meanwhile, Larry discusses and confirms that Bauer is set to be indicted.

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And then we get to the Dallas moment, which in the words of my colleague was “double bagged” to leave no doubt whatsoever. Bauer is shown a photo by Walker of one of the men behind the threat. And up pops a picture of Mr Tony Almeida, before you can even say the words “Bobby Ewing”.

There’s no stalling or messing around here, either. Bauer claims he was dead. Walker says you never saw the body. Bauer claims he’d know if Tony was alive. Walker pulls out a time stamped image. Bauer doesn’t believe her still, arguing images can be manipulated. Walker casually throws in that she had Tony’s grave exhumed, and that the DNA testing proves it wasn’t him in it. She offers him said evidence.

So back to the crooks, as the show seems keen not to dwell on the audience all crying “WTF? Even if Bauer didn’t, we saw Tony die”.

In then walks Tony, wanting to know if they’re in the system yet. But as the plane takes off, the CIP module that they’ve had Latham working on for, er, about 10 minutes by this point, stops working. Tony takes it Latham, demands that he fixes it, threatening “you’ll want to move faster than that, or I won’t need you anymore”.

And then the clock kicks in.

It feels like a bit of a sorting out business opening, that quickly deals with things we’d love to see explored more (namely the CTU trial, and where the hell Tony came from). But with season seven supposedly a reboot, it almost feels like 17 minutes of clearing out, so they can get down to action quickly. We’ve effectively met Bauer’s new colleagues and his new office, and it’s down to business.

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To find out more, we’ll just have to wait until January, when season seven starts proper. And if you missed it, you can find our review of Redemption right here