By Chaz Lipp

It’s a funny thing, thinking about which TV shows get dubbed “hip” and which get dismissed as passé. Take, for instance, HBO’s recent True Detective. Beyond a pair of knockout performances (by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey), it turned out to be nothing more than pulp. Yet it became nearly universally recognized as the toast of television. Why? It’s pretentious pulp and that impresses a lot of people. On the other hand, 24 has been kicking ass and taking names for the past ten weeks and all I see is people claiming its return was unnecessary to bring it back. “Its best days are in the past.” “Time has marched on.” 24: Live Another Day may be pulp, but it never pretends to be anything else. It does what it does extremely well and, after a four-year absence, it is once again among the most entertaining programs on TV. Let’s get into episode ten (spoilers follow).

Photo: Chris Raphael/FOX

Tons of plot turns are packed into the “8:00PM-9:00PM” hour, but it could’ve been even better had we not already known that Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt) had framed Kate’s (Yvonne Strahovski) husband. This is the ONE thing that Live Another Day has really botched so far – they gave up Steve’s “bad guy” status and exactly what he DID way before we needed to know. Last week we could’ve been hit cold with the revelation that Steve was working with Adrian Cross (Michael Wincott) on what we now know is a WMD: the override device (initially used to control the deceased Margot Al-Harazi’s drones, but now known as being able to access international defense systems). This week we could’ve been hit cold with the revelation that Steve was responsible for Kate’s husband’s wrongful conviction. But we already knew that from several episodes ago, so none of this stuff had the dramatic impact it could’ve.

Photo: Daniel Smith/FOX

That aside, hour ten brought the 24 A-game and then some. Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) finally got some substantial screen time as she and boyfriend Adrian Cross receive the override device. Chloe is blinded by love (she has weird taste in dudes), unaware of the full intent of Adrian. In fact, what was up with her freak-out in front of a garbage truck as she attempted to boost the override device? She’s smarter than that, so it was a questionable move on the writers’ part (in this case, Adam DaSilva) to have her pull such an obvious “damsel in distress” move. At any rate, she learns real quick what’s up when all the Open Cell cronies are found dead at the hands of Cheng Zhi (Tzi Ma), former security head at the L.A. Chinese Consulate. Zhi recognizes Chloe straightaway, a huge surprise to Adrian.

Photo: Chris Raphael/FOX

So there’s some clunky exposition, but that’s what happens when you bring back an old villain from seasons past. It’s handled pretty well, as is Adrian’s demise and Chloe’s reaction to it (Rajskub has a fine line to walk, having to react to her lover’s death even though he just told her he knew all along that Maurice and Prescott’s death was, in fact, an accident that had nothing to do with her involvement to Jack). Meanwhile, Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) and Kate make a great team while pulling the wool over Steve’s eyes – it did really look, for a minute, like Kate was going to get shot by Jack as she threatened to put a bullet in Steve’s head. They get a tracking number for the override device, but not before Zhi taps into communications to have a U.S. sub successfully torpedo a Chinese aircraft carrier. Quite a cliffhanger to tie us over until next week.
Chaz Lipp

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