First things first. In normal times I would just skate over a plot in which bad people are coming to the USA to do bad things; it’s 24, after all, and that’s what happens in 24. But these are very far from normal times, and it could be argued that in present circumstances such a storyline is, at the very least, #problematic. So for now I’m going to wait and see, and treat 24: Legacy on its merits; if watching every single episode of 24 ever has taught me anything (apart from “torture totally works”) it’s that things might not be as they seem.
So. The new Jack Bauer is Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins), former Army Ranger turned private security guy, married to Nicole (Anna Diop), a doctor (?), both wondering whether it’s time to start a family. Eric was part of a six-man Ranger squad which took down Ibrahim bin Khalid, a terrorist leader who definitely isn’t a proxy for Osama bin Laden. During the raid which killed bin Khalid, a strongbox-shaped McGuffin was taken by one of the Rangers, and a bin Khalid-affiliated hit squad is tracking the Rangers, one by one, trying to find it. Eric is alerted to this by former comrade Ben Grimes (Charlie Hofheimer), who is a paranoid addict, and at first isn’t taken particularly seriously. But Eric checks and discovers that four of the team – Stuart, Jackson, Geddes, and Colburn; someone in the writing room is a Belle and Sebastian fan, I think – have already been killed, leaving just he and Grimes.
In the manner of 24 he works this out a matter of seconds, rather than weeks, before bad men with guns turn up at his house, tie him to a chair, and start to smack him around. Fortunately Nicole steps up, showing such facility with a gun that I half-expected her to admit that she was an undercover SEAL or something. But no; having killed the first tranche of baddies they need to go on the run before the next ones arrive. Eric parks Nicole with his gangsta brother Isaac, who is also Nicole’e ex, which earns Nicole ample side-eye from Isaac’s new girlfriend.
Eric doesn’t have the strongbox, and since it hasn’t been found yet it’s a reasonable assumption that Ben has it, so Eric sets about finding Ben. Although Eric has already delivered a classic 24 line, “Right now I’m the only person I can trust”, there is, in fact, one other person who might be able to help, and it’s the retiring head of the CTU – yay! The CTU! – Rebecca Ingram (the magnificent Miranda Otto). Rebecca oversaw the operation to kill bin Khalid, but is giving up her CTU post in order to support her husband John Donovan (Jimmy Smits) in his run for the Presidency. But with Eric and Ben in danger, she feels obliged to help, particularly as hardly anyone knew about the whereabouts of the Ranger team, and she suspects that new CTU head Keith Mullins (Teddy Sears) might be this season’s CTU mole – yay! The CTU mole! So Rebecca enlists Andy (Dan Bucatinsky) to help. Andy, in turn, might well be this season’s Chloe, as he is certainly more than up to using a drone to “generate a 4D environment” in order to locate Ben. Schematics and heat maps coming soon, I’d expect.
This means that Rebecca has to leave Senator John on his own to go to a fundraiser. (From the way in which John’s aide Nilaa is eyeing him up I’d say that her interest in him is more than political, but we’ll see.) As Mullins is taking an unhelpful interest in what Rebecca’s up to, she has to taser him to keep him out of the way. Then using Andy’s 4D environment, she’s able to assist Eric to find Ben. The strongbox contains a USB drive which has a (slightly underwhelming, if I’m honest) list of names and codes which are linked to the activation of sleeper cells in the USA. Eric and Ben come under attack from the next wave of bin Khalidistas and fight them off, but Ben escapes with the USB drive and indicates to Eric that he might just sell it to the highest bidder, his country owes him for what he’s gone through, etc. Yes, there’s something big about to go down, and only Eric (and Rebecca and Andy) can save us.
There’s also an undernourished subplot at a school in which student and Chechnyan émigré Amira is grassed up to her teacher by fellow student Drew, because Drew – who probably fancies her – is suspicious of her and thinks she might be a terrorist. What Drew doesn’t know, and which will presumably make him even madder, is that Amira and teacher are in whatever the conspiracy is together and having an affair. I have no idea yet how – if – this links to the main plot, or the extent to which we should care about it.
In the main, though, I really enjoyed this. To start with I thought Corey Hawkins as Eric was perhaps a little lightweight, particularly given the combination of bone-deep weariness and suppressed fury Kiefer Sutherland was always able to bring to the role of Jack Bauer, but by the end he’d won me over. Miranda Otto and Dan Bucatinsky are just the job back at CTU, and I’m always happy to see Jimmy Smits running for office. I couldn’t argue that it was up there with the best episodes of its parent show, but as a resetting of the famous ticking 24 clock I thought this was very successful, and I expect to be in for the rest of the season.