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.
END OF THE HOUR.
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?
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.