Monday, April 17, 2017

24: LEGACY 10:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. AND 11:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. Quick Review

And so the great experiment of gluten-free 24 comes to a close. Bauer may not have been included, but the writers went all-in for the Eric Carter experience. I'll very quickly go over the events of the last two hours of the season and then wrap up my overall thoughts on 24: LEGACY.

In the 10-11 pm hour, Carter loses Rebecca Ingram to the terrorists Naseri and Papa Bin-Khalid, who continue in their effort to execute Ingram on live TV. What was once a plot to bring America to its knees with a vast network of terrorist sleeper cells throughout the United States has gone to the most mundane climaxes in the history of this show. Papa Bin-Khalid was the person who establishes these sleeper cells who's contact info was placed on the thumb drive (which was lost/damaged, I don't even remember anymore). You'd think Bin-Khalid would have had a separate list on his person, since he spent so much time coming back from the dead to do his evil deeds. Or better yet, go online, post a video saying "Let the Hunger Games begin!" I think the sleeper cells would get the message. Nope, instead, it's about killing Ingram for her crimes against the terrorists, which even the terrorists are sort of unaware of at this point.

While this is happening, Andy figures out that the Director of National Intelligence, Simms, had something to do with a covert program that Naseri kept referencing in front of the CTU Steve's mistress. "East July" is not an Eagles album, it's something far worse. Simms helped organize an operation to kidnap Naseri's daughter as a way to keep Naseri cooperative with the counter-terrorism efforts against Bin-Khalid. Part of this was apparently to let Naseri think his daughter was dead, so... I don't get any of this to be honest. Why Naseri would know the US codename for the operation makes no sense but what's worse is why let Naseri think his daughter was killed? I may have dozed off when that was all explained, but in any event, Jimmy Smits and Carter go to Simms' office to get info on how to contact Naseri so they can get Ingram back. It's there that they learn of Naseri's daughter, who's living comfortably in a flop house in the area, under secret guard by Simms' people. Simms felt like the walls were closing in on him before Carter and Smits arrive, so he calls Tony Almeida up to go to the flop house and kill everyone.

Carter races to the house to save Naseri's daughter before Almeida shows up. Meanwhile, Mullins has to choke Simms' bureaucratic plant, Daniel Pang, before Pang can make administrative trouble for Andy, who's supporting Carter's operation in the field. That entire subplot deserves one sentence, trust me.

Carter arrives in time, subdues/kills whoever is holding Naseri's daughter but Almeida (with Sidra and a couple of random mercs) show up and tell Carter he's surrounded.


The final hour of 24: LEGACY picks up with the stand-off. Carter has a heat sensor satellite feeding him an overhead shot of everyone's location, which is very useful. Carter takes out a merc, shoots Sidra and then another merc, leaving it to Almeida to fight the boss-level video game moment with Carter. Carter beats Almeida by breaking the Soulpatch's arm. I tossed my hands up at this because why even have this fight?! Sure, Carter's younger by 20-something years, has a much higher-functioning liver than Tony, but Tony is powered by forces we cannot measure nor understand with today's science. Tony DIED at least 2 or more times already, his arms are made of steel, his heart is powered by the dark matter that ties together the universe.

Even so, Sidra shows up and puts her gun on Carter but Tony's cell phone rings (this is a theme) and it's Mullins, who explains that Carter is trying to save Almeida's ex-girlfriend, Ingram. Tony tells Sidra to let Carter and the girl go and then he half-heartedly says "I'd go with you to save Rebecca but you broke my arm." Old Tony would have gone with Carter.

And now we get to the last movement of this season- the big wrap-up! What crazy twists can we expect to see now that the final pieces are set on the board?

Well... (sigh)

Carter calls Naseri on his cell phone just before Bin-Khalid calls him in to behead Ingram. Naseri is amazed that his daughter is alive, and without much thinking on the matter, he stops the Ingram execution by killing the terrorists in the room and cuffing Bin-Khalid to a pipe (yet another theme in this season). Bin-Khalid tries talking Naseri down ("There's still time to do this!") but Naseri has made his decision, trade Ingram for his daughter and let the good guys win.

Carter and Mullins make arrangements to fly Naseri's daughter to the Jordanian Embassy and Carter goes to Naseri's location to get Ingram. Alright, not a lot of time is left in this episode, this twist better be good...

At the location, Carter talks to Naseri, sends him some cool video links to Naseri's phone, where Naseri gets a satellite feed, Angry Birds, the trailer to the new MUMMY movie with Tom Cruise poor Naseri, he should have had his character from the MUMMY make an appearance), oh and a live facetime link to his very charismatic daughter, who had been living under house arrest but seems a-ok! Naseri's daughter walks to the Jordanians, and Naseri lets Ingram go. Ingram walks painfully slowly to Carter, and this gives Bin-Khalid time to find a gun by his foot, which he picks up and uses to kill Naseri and then shoot Ingram. Ingram put herself in front of Carter so to protect him. Carter shoots Bin-Khalid but Ingram is hurt seriously.

Ingram says stuff to Carter about "follow your destiny" etc. and then she dies at the hospital, but she also gets to see Jimmy Smits, who left Simms all alone back at the Pentagon. Simms shoots himself instead of letting the Attorney General put him through a criminal case. Carter goes back to CTU and says hi to Nicole, who now supports him joinging CTU. Mullins and Andy shake hands and tell Edgar's cousin "Good work today!" I saw no live feed of the George Washington Bridge on the many screens from CTU but I wasn't really looking to be honest.

And there it goes, Carter is going to join CTU. Jimmy Smits will run for president (again) and the FBI has a lot of stuff they can dig up on Smits for another season should this show ever get renewed, which begs the question:

Should this show ever get renewed?

Yes. There were a lot of great moments mixed into this abridged season of twelve episodes, and Eric Carter is a well-cast and formulated lead character. However, I have two strong recommendations for any continuation of 24: LEGACY: 1) go back to the 24 hour format. This show needs its space and unless the writers have a better way of condensing the story into 12 brain-melting hours of non-stop entertainment (which they have yet to exhibit with LEGACY and LIVE ANOTHER DAY), go to the full season slate and get the groove back; 2) Bring back Jack Bauer. I had held out hope that we'd get some Bauer information in the last hour- something that would let us know that CTU still cares about his whereabouts (or even Almeida trying to locate Jack) but the writers were adamant with keeping this season the Eric Carter Show. That's fine, and now that Carter's established, we need to resolve the moronic, loose thread that LIVE ANOTHER DAY left us with re: Jack Bauer. Jack doesn't even need to be the hero (certainly don't utilize him the way LEGACY used Almeida, as a piece of furniture), but let's wrap up Bauer and Almeida's stories with something worthy of these two characters.

I would also hope that 24 gets new blood on the writing/production side of things. We've lived with the Gordon/Surnow/Coto regime for a long while now, and the age is showing on their thinking. This season had an interesting set-up but such an underwhelming execution. Corey Hawkins' performance as Eric Carter was a revelation, and he made an emotional impact. We need more of that sort of energy with the show- not the tired, old tropes of yesteryear. Let Hawkins' loose more, rely less on political strategy (the writers NEVER get this right), and do something other than your garden-variety terror plots in the next season.

I'm glad they made this season, but I will probably never think on it much now that it's done. In any case, here's hoping this is the start of something bigger and better for 24 in the future.

Monday, April 03, 2017

24: LEGACY 8:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. AND 9:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Quick Review

It's a double-header of quick reviews!

8:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Last week, the 8:00 p.m. hour matched up with the actual time on my clock, so that was somewhat exciting for me. I'm easily pleased by small bits of galactic synergy, like when I get a parking spot right in front of a place I'm going into, or when the last slice of cheese is used with the last slice of bread in a loaf. Enjoy these moments, folks! The big stuff will invariably disappoint you, so lower your expectations to the trifles in life.

Speaking of low expectations, this hour meets them all head-on. Let's start with Steve, a CTU security officer with very below-average looks and a work ethic to match. Steve's INSECURITY may be a factor in his choosing to be a philanderer. It turns out that Jadallah's stay at CTU will not be long as the mysterious Naseri has taken Steve's not-wife, Jennifer, hostage while forcing Steve to help spring Jadallah bin-Khalid from CTU headquarters. Yes, HEADQUARTERS as in the most secure CTU installation of them all. Steve shows some honor by not taking the easy way out of an extra-marital affair ("Jenni-who? I'm sorry, you must have the wrong number" *click*) but Steve misplaces and mistakes chivalry here by following Naseri's instructions all too perfectly. But more on that in a bit...

Eric Carter, human Energizer bunny, has wiped off the soot and blood from the warehouse explosion in the last hour but gets directed to Steve's girlfriend's house when CTU starts putting together the fact that maybe Steve isn't on the level. When Carter and a CTU tac team arrive, a young woman is inside, she tells them that she's Jennifer and that she was worried her prize beagle, Porthos, was wandering the streets of the neighborho- OH NO THAT WOMAN ISN'T JENNIFER, SHE'S SHOOTING PEOPLE! Carter drops the imposter Jennifer and makes his way to the basement to find the real Jennifer bound to a chair (yeah, more chair prisons!) and strapped with an explosive vest.

Now, by explosive vest, I don't mean a vest that screams tacky, it's a remote-detonated vest loaded with the freshest, finest explosive material in all of the Mid-Atlantic. Carter gets Jennifer free enough to talk but instead of saying "Hey, I have a feeling my 'friend' Steve at CTU might be in trouble with terrorists trying to break into his office" she instead chooses to be a mute, hysterical non-human. Well, this is key because while Carter is trying to get Jennifer out of the vest, he could have really used the information inside Jennifer's non-functioning brain. The planets align perfectly in the tail end of this episode because a) Steve gets caught by Ingram as he's walking Naseri and Jadallah out the back door, just as b) Jimmy Smits shows up to hug Ingram and talk about saving their marriage and while c) Carter is finally done saving Jennifer from her "fashion emergency" taking place right by her oil burner. Does anything seem to go right in these three overlapping moments?


Steve gets whacked, Jennifer gets saved and starts talking immediately and omfg can't stop talking about terrorists and Jimmy Smits gets nabbed by the terrorists on their way out the door, like he was a free sample corn dog at a Sam's Club.

Like I said, have low expectations and you can enjoy a lot of terrible things around you.

Alright, truth time- this was one of the weaker episodes of the season. We had more of the same silly stuff in the margins (Nicole/Isaac, for example) and Carter keeps ending up covered in soot and bloodied. Someone get this guy a lobster bib or something, he can't be left to his own devices! And the rest of the CTU gang made their own share of messes, obviously Steve being the biggest dunce, but no one can claim any degree of intelligence within this hour. It's wholly uninspiring to watch this level of government incompetence. I don't watch the news for a reason, people. I need to believe in a lie that gives me hope! Nope, not in this hour.

PS on 8 p.m.- I was right about Naseri's past with Carter. Naseri was a double-agent working for Pappa bin-Khalid who helped give up the U.S.'s only asset, a barber or something, who worked inside bin-Khalid's camp. That poor barber and his family met a gruesome end, which Carter himself discovered while in the Army Rangers.
PPS- Carter still hasn't found a new bag!

9:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Eric Carter is back at CTU where he, still covered in soot and blood, looks around and wonders "Why would I ever want to work with these losers?" But he's kind to Ingram, who is still reeling from her husband being abducted by terrorists in the parking area some 100 yards from where she's now standing. Carter hugs Ingram and we are reminded that they're loyal friends to each other.

Now, Jimmy Smits is in a world of trouble. As a U.S. Senator, he has valuable information about the country's national security. In addition, his wife was the former head of CTU so he's got to know something about the efforts taking place overall against bin-Khalid and other terror cells. This is going to be one nasty interrogation, right? Well, that doesn't seem to be the case! Jadallah and Naseri can barely take the time to even look at Jimmy Smits. Instead, they meet another parked van where out from which emerges the thought-to-be-dead Pappa bin-Khalid! Pappa looks like ground beef all over his face and hands. Still, with his one good eye, he emotes sincere love to Jadallah for being a good, little terrorist. Even Naseri, under 20 lbs of hair product, is able to express genuine admiration for the Junior Varsity terrorist's efforts to do bad things to America. Father and son hug, they watch some cat videos together and eat some Splenda-sweetened ice cream because they both want to live with no regrets moving forward.

They also want to trade Jimmy Smits back to the world in exchange for Ingram becoming their new hostage. Let's be clear, they could have nabbed Ingram back at CTU about 15 minutes ago, but have instead took Smits, who happened to be in the wrong parking spot at the wrong time. And why do the bin-Khalids want Ingram? So they can kill her on YouTube live. As they put it- nobody cares about Jimmy Smits dying (ouch guys!) but to kill a no-name government bureaucrat who's no longer running CTU, well that will be a huge deal! Guys! Did you catch a case of the stupids when you were in CTU? I can't even begin to describe my exasperation. Fine, do your swap... you happy?!

Ingram enlists the help of Carter to make her the new hostage in place of her husband. She also tells Carter "I want you there to take out Jadallah and Naseri. This ends TONIGHT!" So, off they go, Carter with a FRESH backpack filled with guns galore, and Ingram, wearing a parka and knee-high riding boots.

Let's fast-forward through the end of this one: Ingram convinces Jadallah to release her husband, who gets dumped out of the back of a moving van on a city street. Carter, from high up in the stands of an abandoned sports stadium, blows Jadallah's brains out. Pappa bin-Khalid and Naseri somehow manage to scoop up Ingram. Meanwhile, Jennifer, getting her share of free gauze and lollipops at CTU, mentions to Andy that the terrorists kept saying "East July." Andy runs that info through the supercomputer with a random CTU analyst dressed as a cocktail waitress. They find that the term is FORBIDDEN to all not named the Director of National Intelligence. Oh, so the terrorists go all the way to the top?!

Also of note: Major Dad gets into a fight with Uncle Luis, ending in Major Dad losing. Nicole confronts Carter earlier about his talks with Ingram about joining CTU  prior to the day's events ("Eric, I know what you're doing and that you're in the middle of it, but can we talk about how our relationship is probably over?"), and Mullins is still not yelling at Carter for stealing CTU trucks and disobeying any semblance of orders/protocol. Mullins is the school teacher who insists his students call him by his first name- he commands little respect from his people.

This episode was a bump up from last week's but that's a low starting point. The writers lavish us with a ton of contrivances on the back-end of this episode. I don't mind a little suspension of disbelief, but I'm more prone to root for the bad guys now that I've seen their plans have somehow remained viable despite their big mistakes. CTU is throwing the game! At least Carter got a new bag, so this wasn't a total loss!

Also, Tony Almeida had more screentime, mostly a set-up to have him go all-out in next week's episode. I don't mind this sort of set-up at all. Someone has to finally take control of this cluster.