By Chaz Lipp

While I tend to strenuously avoid fanboy-oriented geeking out as much as humanly possible, so far I am just loving the return of Jack Bauer in 24: Live Another Day. If this new season (or “limited event series,” technically) was on the level of, say, the disastrous season six, then I would forgo the cheerleading. But it’s not. This is prime 24 and the only nagging concern I have is that there’s only 12 episodes. Exposition has felt just a little more forced and there’s less quieter, character-driven moments as a result. But the upshot is that they’ve so far maintained a breathless pace. Episode four, “2:00PM-3:00PM,” was no exception. If you missed it, get over to the Fox website and get caught up.

Spoilers follow, so proceed with caution. As much as I’d prefer to see Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) wipe off all that ridiculous makeup, I’m glad to see her so firmly back on Jack’s side again. Adrian (Michael Wincott, continuing to winningly underplay) is not to be trusted and Chloe knows it. Once Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) has Tanner’s (John Boyega) flight key, Chloe gives her word that she’ll follow through with Jack’s plan regardless of what happens to him. In a nice moment, Jack insists on a direct promise from her – suggesting that he still is a tiny bit unsure of her motives, given her alignment with Open Cell (a thinly-veiled WikiLeaks stand-in).

Photo: Daniel Smith/FOX

One great exchange after another maintained the excitement throughout episode four. If it seemed Tanner believed Jack’s claims a little too easily, keep in mind that he is facing the worst penalty imaginable for his role in the errant drone attack. He recognizes Jack as his last, best hope for vindication. Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) is, so far, the closest we’ve had to a female version of Jack in 24 history; she operates on instinct and has a personal history (her traitorous husband) that drives her to think outside the box at any cost. At this point, she’s clearly Jack’s ally – especially when he’s locked in a room, with hostages, trying to upload the info from Tanner’s flight key.

Probably the most monumental moment of the episode (if not the season) occurred when President Heller (William Devane) and Jack finally had direct contact (if only over speakerphone). Audrey (Kim Raver) not only knows that Jack is back, but that her husband (and her father’s Chief of Staff) Mark (Tate Donovan) has kept that information from her. It’s almost disappointing that Audrey seems so normal and well-adjusted given that she was a shell-shocked basket case the last time we saw her. But it seems she is comfortable hearing about Jack again. Despite her and Heller’s past, they still believe in Jack. Or at least Audrey does. Heller, reeling from his debilitating dementia, is convinced by Mark that Jack needs to be apprehended.

Photo: Chris Raphael/FOX

When Kate breaks into Jack’s locked room via an air duct, I am still not quite sure A) how she knew exactly how to find his room from the panel she opened up, and B) why the Marines didn’t do the exact same thing instead of waiting to blow the door. But that’s really a fairly minor nitpick. As for Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley), terrorist mastermind behind the central plot to assassinate Heller, with limited screen time we see just how committed she is to her mission. When her daughter Simone’s (Emily Berrington) husband starts getting cold feet about piloting the drones intended to deliver their planned attack, Margot borrows a move straight out of the The Piano (unlike Holly Hunter’s Ada McGrath, at least Simone doesn’t play an instrument).

Photo: Daniel Smith/FOX

24 fans – get your friends caught up ASAP! If you think Live Another Day is kicking ass and taking names, encourage everyone to get on board. The ratings keep slipping (though episode four was only off a little from last week). Hopefully they stabilize because I’d hate for this “limited event series” to be limited to just a one-time thing. Even if it turns out to be, so far it’s a great gift to fans of the series.
Chaz Lipp

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