The 24 franchise, in all its various incarnations, has never aimed for anything close to high art. Hell, 24 isn't even shooting for Prestige Television most of the time, despite the fact that it arguably helped usher in television's Golden Age with its fantastic first few seasons. Even when it was at its best, though, 24 succeeded because it never seemed like it was aspiring to much more than thrilling television. Don't get me wrong, it absolutely wound up sparking some great conversations about political ideology and utilitarianism along the way, as Jack Bauer was basically a walking, talking civil liberties lecture, but the show operated on its highest level when it was serving up exciting action beats within a tightly-plotted yet labyrinthine twenty-four-episode long season. If only just from a structural standpoint, 24 managed to do things that no TV show had done before, and its first handful of seasons (one through five, at least) are probably some of the best action television we've ever seen on network programming. Later seasons, and by extension later iterations of the franchise, would never be able to recapture the magic that was present in those early days of 24, and the same seems to be true of 24: Legacy. Nobody is asking for high art here; the only thing anybody expects out of 24 is a good action conspiracy thriller with a hardboiled who's got comparatively little to lose at its center, but Legacy can't even manage to deliver on these grounds.

From a plot standpoint, 24: Legacy isn't a total swing and a miss. The son of a now-dead terrorist leader named Bin Khalid has tracked down a list that will activate sleeper cells across the country, spurring a series of coordinated attacks. Eric Carter is one of two surviving members of the Army Ranger team who was sent in to kill Bin Khalid, and is now working with CTU to track down Baby Bin Khalid and the list along with him. In the meantime, it turns out that the woman who ran the Army Ranger operation to kill Bin Khalid Sr. is married to a Presidential hopeful whose father is the one who leaked the names of the Army Rangers to Baby Bin Khalid after being blackmailed. All in all it's fun conspiracy plotting, but the execution renders the plotting completely joyless in the way it unfolds. None of it is fun to watch play out onscreen for a variety of reasons, clunky dialogue and poorly-conceived character motivations chief among them. In 24: Legacy, characters just shout what they're thinking and feeling, leaving what should be a tight conspiracy thriller to play out in the most unconvincing way possible.

Now that we're far enough into the season and 24 has set up enough supporting characters with enough hanging plot threads, episodes now resemble Game of Thrones in that their structure allows just enough time for us to check in with each character before moving onto the next one. In this week's episode, the exception to this rule comes in the form of the most groanworthy thing 24 loves to do over and over again: give us a woman in peril. This instance is a little more forgivable, as Eric's wife Nicole moves to save his brother Isaac from being set up by Isaac's vengeful girlfriend. Nicole gets to display a bit of agency as she makes a break for it, and looks like a supreme badass wielding two guns in the process.

Back at CTU, Eric suggests that he and his drug-addled, probably-PTSD-ridden former Army Ranger homeless guy Ben go on a highly sensitive operation to locate a near legendary arms dealer who may or may not have helped Baby Bin Khalid and his men get into the country. When the CTU brass doesn't go for Eric's plan, Eric is furious that nobody takes his idea seriously, even though he doesn't seem to be the least bit qualified for what he's suggesting and appears to be way out of his depth. Fuck all that, though; Rebecca is going to steal some highly sensitive weapons schematics and entrust them to a volatile ex-soldier and his drug-addicted street person friends. At this point we've seen her straight up stun gun a superior and now she's breaking rank to outright steal classified materials and give them to a terrorist arms dealer. Given her willingness to do incredibly illegal shit it's a wonder Rebecca got to the position she holds in the government to begin with, and this is exemplary of the problems with 24: Legacy. It doesn't bother thinking about the important details, because it assumes that you aren't thinking about them, either.

 

Oh, and also...

• We now have three highly implausible applications of force against a full-grown human man in this series. Just in this episode we see Nicole somehow incapacitate a full sized dude by...flipping a coffee table into the backs of his calves? Towards the end of the episode, Eric lunges forward from a seated position and busts out the upper body strength required to grab another man by his lapels, yank him up from the seat in front of him, and throw him on a nearby table. This show does not think that its viewers understand physics, or know how much a human being weighs.

• Every time I see Amira's hands with the sleeves pulled up over her knuckles I heave a deep, defeated sigh.

• Speaking of how stupid Amira is, she just left that syringe in the dude's hospital room, presumably with her fingerprints just all over it?

 

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