In season nine of 24, that reappeared after a long hiatus of four years, the world is changing. Unfortunately the nature of war(s) has gotten murkier and Jack Bauer has emerged from the shadows to live another day minus the usual clichés.
For eight years, Jack Bauer, played masterfully by Kiefer Sutherland, was an agent with the fictional Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). From wrecking domestic terrorist plots to saving the US president from assassination attempts at extreme personal costs such as torture at the hands of the Chinese, Bauer has done it all over the years. The terrorist roles have interchanged and from Arabs, Russians, Chinese and Pakistanis, none have been spared. Even the American government and spy agencies, fictional and otherwise, received disparaging treatment just the same. Government corruption also made its way into the later seasons as good government is only an illusion.
When we left Jack Bauer, he had participated in extrajudicial killings after a woman he loved was murdered. The man repeatedly saved America, but that didn’t matter as he was a wanted fugitive. His colleague and friend, Chloe O Brian (Mary Lynn), helps him escape and that’s how the show ends. The new season, 24: Live Another Day is made up of just 12 episodes, and because it is shorter, the episodes are explosive. Having seen the first five episodes, it is clear that this is 24’s finest season since its inception.
In the present day, however, in the absence of CTU, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is calling the shots and the location has shifted to London. The US leader is a controversial figure in world politics and is greeted with protests. Some old friends also make a comeback. James Heller (William Devane), the former Secretary of Defense, returns to the spotlight as President Heller with a secret illness. Tate Donovan, famous for his role in The Hostages, Damages, Deception and The OC, stars as Mark Boudreau, Heller’s chief of staff and son-in-law and Kim Raver makes a stunning return to form as Audrey Heller, the woman who fell for Jack and went to China to find him. Her storyline with Jack is the real heartbeat of the show. It is a complicated twist as emotions run high, personal and professional lines blur and the panic-inducing thriller quotient keeps one glued to the screen. New faces include Stephen Fry who stars as the British prime minister and Benjamin Bratt who lands the gig as the station chief of CIA in London.
At its core, 24, is as much about betrayal as it is about terrorism and patriotism. Jack is not a patriot anymore. He’s just a man returning a favour and everything else is a sideshow.
Maheen Sabeeh is a freelance writer who tweets @maheensbh
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, June 8th, 2014.
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