The hotly anticipated first episode of “24: Live Another Day” opens quickly, on some sort of open-air market. There is a split screen, the first of 13,234 (give or take 13,000) of the first episode. There are men in leather jackets milling about shoppers, looking suspicious. Of course they look suspicious! Put away the leather jackets, yo.
We cut to Steve Harris (Benjamin Bratt) at the London CIA headquarters. We know that because the screen tells us so. Everything looks really hi-tech and windowless. (What is it with the no windows? Is it like a CIA casino?) Someone named Kate (Yvonne Strahovski) is packing up. A co-worker comes in to remind her to hand in her security badges before she leaves. She grimaces and sighs. There is some hubbub in the office, and Kate wonders aloud why people seem to be concerned. Is it the lack of windows? No. It’s not. She then guesses correctly that it is “connected to the president being here.” That is the speculation, confirms her co-worker. Kate sighs. The first of many sighs.
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We cut back to the leather jacket men in the market. They all congregate around the door of a rundown building, looking even more suspicious than before. An undercover homeless man throws a weird robot-thingy into the building with a video camera attached to it. The video feed runs to the windowless CIA headquarters. The robot identifies the target, a mysterious man in a hoodie. Then the leather clad men charge into what seems to be a squatters camp. “Target’s on the run!” they yell. “Go, go, go!”
One of the leather jacket men then gets beaten up by the mysterious hooded figure.
Wait a minute. Who is that mysterious hooded figure? Is that Bauer? “It’s him!” says Harris, who just happens to be the head of CIA operations, in a split screen. “Jack Bauer.” Dun dun dun!
Our hero returns! And there is no stopping him. He just beats everyone up. Boom, boom, shaka laka, boom!
He finally takes his hood off so we can see his face. Hooray! More shootings! So much shooting. He’s running; meatheads are in pursuit.
Back at CIA Casino, they are watching this on computers as all of the leather jacket men seem to be wearing cameras as well as leather. Kate tries to say something. Harris dismisses her. “Kate, please,” he says. Men!
Back to Bauer: He’s out in the market! Crap is everywhere! If there were an old-timey fruit cart, it would be knocked to the ground by now.
He seemingly jumps into a sand pit (don’t ask) and quickly becomes surrounded with guns trained on him. One of the leather jacket men gets him (we learn later that his name is Eric, and he's not co-worker of the year), makes him gets on his knees a trains a gun to his head. “We got him!” says Eric, obviously.
A digital “24” flashes on the screen. Dun dun dun!
We see the president in a fancy-looking office space. There is some talk between the president and other white men about drones and assassinations.
“I’m thinking they don’t blame them. I’m uncomfortable with the drones also,” says President James Heller (William Devane). The president talks about FDR’s "goodwill tour," when he paraded boats around the world. “But it was just a show of force,” he says.Heller is a smart, wise, old man. Wait. Maybe not so smart. White House Chief of Staff Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan) pulls the Prez aside. “It was Teddy Roosevelt, not FDR,” he corrects him. “When you retire as my chief of staff, you are going to have a real place on 'Jeopardy,' " the president says good-naturedly. But you can tell he is concerned. Uh-oh. Does the president have Alzheimer's? (Answer: maybe.)
Cut back to Boudreau, who is chatting with Harris about Bauer. We learn that Bauer has a “multiagency alert against him.” Sounds serious. Boudreau does not like Bauer and calls him a “traitor and psychopath.” Also, he apparently came “close to assassinating our president.” And: “We have to consider the possibility that he will be doing the president harm.” Again, sounds serious.
Boudreau says everyone has to keep the news about Bauer secret — even ol’ forgetful president can’t learn about it.
Kate questions Bauer being caught so easily by jumping into the sand pit and not going up on the roof. “Bauer stayed off the grid for the past four years, he didn’t do that by being careless. He’s up to something!” she says. For once, Harris doesn’t hush her.
We cut to a military base. Two soldiers are flying a drone. “Good luck with Shepard,” one soldier says to another.
It then cuts to Afghanistan. The one soldier and Shepard, who is inAfghanistan, get into it over something — it’s not very clear. Shepard says the soldier won’t have weekend privileges. “Bastard!” says the soldier under his breath.
Back to CIA: Kate is at the copier. She sees Bauer perp-walked in; the clock reads 11:18:15. Bauer is grim-faced. Stoney.
“Good grab, Eric!” say Kate, a little too cheerily, the meathead who grabbed Bauer outside of the market. It seems like she wants something! Yes, she does — to look at the intercept forms about Bauer. Eric is not having it. Kate is suspicious. She sighs. Kate looks at a screen of Bauer being placed in an interrogation room.
11:19: 29: Eric tells the boss man (Harris) that Kate was asking about the intercept forms. Eric is a workplace snitch! But luckily, we get some backstory. Harris tells Eric not to be a snitch; that he’s still on track to get Kate's job. “Instead of shoving her out the door, you should learn from her. She is a good field agent,” says Harris, like the seemingly good boss he is. “How can that be?" Eric questions. "Her own husband was caught selling secrets to the Chinese!" Oh boy. Backstory! If this isn’t a Jack Bauer love interest, I don’t know what is.
Kate goes back to packing up her stuff and sees a picture of her husband. “Kate, I love you. xoxo” it reads on the back of her photograph. How her husband ever found time to sell secrets to the Chinese and get physical copies of photographs made is beyond me.
“You deserve to be here,” says a sympathetic co-worker to Kate. He hands her the intercept forms. She sighs again.
Suddenly, Kate figures it out! “Look at the message from Prague police!” she yells. "The timestamp is out of sequence." This means the tip was planted. But by whom?
Bauer is about to be transferred to "special activities," which is where the bad shit happens. They hook up electrodes to him and see that his pulse is totally static. Robot Bauer! Ain't nothing going to phase him.
“Let's see if we can shake him up,” says Harris.
Harris threatens him with “enhanced interrogation.” “You know what they are going to do to you down there,” he says.
Not going to sway Bauer! He is still stoney faced.
We cut to Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), who is strapped to a table in some kind of medical office, which we later learn is where the“enhanced interrogation” happens. “Where’s the rest of your group, O'Brian?” says a mean person, who we later learn is named Dean. He injects her with something. She starts screaming. It’s bad. Very bad.
Boudreau and his wife are getting ready. “Wow,” he says looking at her. Oh boy! It is the president's daughter and Bauer's former love interest, Audrey (Kim Raver). That’s effed up, Boudreau.
“The doctors said he wouldn’t be symptomatic for a year,” he tells Audrey about her dad. Uh-oh. “I don’t want you to worry, OK?” he says. But, oh! She will!
Boudreau’s co-worker Ron tells him that Bauer’s transfer order has been processed and that he imagines Bauer will go to trial. “That might not be the best thing for this country,” says Boudreau. Uh-oh. “I want you to explore the possibility of handing him off to the Russians,” he says. “The president should be made aware!” protests Ron. Boudreau dismisses him, telling him the Prez has enough to worry about.
Boudreau then reveals that he can’t trust Bauer — he stood by Audrey for three years after she was hurt by him. “I held her hand, I loved her, I brought her back. As long as she lives, she will never hear the name Jack Bauer.” Just going to say here that’s kind of iffy, B.
Back to CIA headquarters and the interrogation room. “Your options are running out,” says Harris to Robot Bauer. “The transfer is going through.” Harris then starts dropping bombs on poor JB, telling him that his daughter Kim had another baby. This time a boy. Low blow, Harris.
Kate barges in and grabs Harris, telling him that the intercept was planted. She then somehow gets Bauer alone. “You arranged to be caught!” she tells him, forcefully. The machine he is hooked up to finally moves.
Harris gets back into the interrogation room. He dismisses Kate yet again, telling her this time she needs to clear out for good.
11:40. Security guards take Bauer for his transfer while Kate is being escorted out of the building. She suddenly tases the security guard. Kate has gone rogue! She drags the limp security guard into a security room, where, yet again, there are no windows.
Back to Bauer. He is being escorted by Eric to see “Dean,” the man who earlier injected something bad into Chloe. “You were really something,” Eric says to Bauer. “Back in the day.”
Bad move, Eric! Suddenly, Bauer hits a transmitter embedded in his skin. The lights go out, thanks to some outside help.
Dean comes to the door, expecting Eric, but finds Bauer instead. “Take me to her, now,” commands Bauer. He trains the gun on Dean, who has a terrible haircut and soulless eyes.
Bauer then sees a lifeless Chloe strapped onto a table. “Did you do this to her?” he screams to Dean. Dean makes a wisecrack and JB knocks him out cold. He then sticks what appears to be anEpipen into her heart. But it’s probably really adrenaline. She comes to. Heroic music plays.
Kate figures out just what Bauer is up to and commands that HQ be put on lockdown. Her co-worker puts it on lockdown. Harris questions why they are on lockdown. Her co-worker tells him that Kate figured it all out. Stop underestimating Kate, yo!
Kate almost gets Bauer, but he causes an explosion and then hits his wrist again. His outside helps blows a hole into the ground using some sort of crazy gun. Finally! A skylight!
Bauer and Chloe escape with a ladder that Bauer's outside help provides.
11:48: We see the president and his daughter riding in a limo. They are discussing his health. “It’s progressing a lot quicker than the doctors anticipated,” he says. Audrey is sad-faced. “It’s terrifying," says the president. “The thought of slowly losing yourself. Not just the memories but all of it.”
When asked what she should do, the president just says he wants to lock up the treaty with the British. “Don’t say anything to Mark,” he says. “I’ll say something.”
So many secrets between those two! So many secrets everywhere!
Follow Dorothy Robinson on Twitter, @dorothyatmetro.