24: Legacy s1 ep 9

So, who is this Naseri dude? Well, while Carter and his team were looking for Ibrahim bin Khalid, Naseri pretended to be an interpreter, used that as cover to get access to an intelligence asset, and killed him. Oh, and beheaded his children. No-one seems inclined to draw a line under that incident and move on, so Operation Find Naseri is launched, and a phone call he made shortly before the air strike at the end of the last episode is traced to a nearby house.

Naseri’s call was to a CTU security operative, Stephen Grant, from his girlfriend Jennifer’s home, showing her tied up and wearing a bomb vest. The idea is that Grant will co-operate with Naseri’s plan to spring Jihadi, Jr., and Grant, of course, goes along with it. Which means that CTU is, once again, infiltrated by terrorists. It’s been a while. Meantime Carter makes his way to Jennifer’s place, and defuses the bomb in the usual way – cut the short wire, look for the trigger (or whatever, I wasn’t taking notes) – but by the time that news is passed onto Grant, it’s too late: Naseri has Jr.

And – bonus ball – Naseri has someone else as well. Because at the same time as this is all going on, Senator John has also dropped into the CTU building, in order to try and put his marriage back together after the whole your-former-boyfriend-tortured-my-daddy business. But he gets caught up in the crossfire and abducted by Naseri. I’d guess that the Senator will now be used as leverage to get Rebecca to do something she shouldn’t. And if that, in turn, is used as a device to keep Tony Almeida involved then I’m all in favour, because post-torture he’s left the scene, and a fair amount of the show’s excitement has walked out of the door along with him; leaving a gap that Nicole’s continuing but inexplicable attraction to bad-boy-drug-dealing ex Isaac just isn’t going to fill.

24: Legacy s1 ep 8

After a few weeks of pretending that this show might be some sort of realignment of 24, this week’s episode returns the show to its roots with torture torture torture all the way. It’s hardly ideologically sound, of course, but I don’t come to 24 for that. Top of the bill once again is Tony Almeida, who at least holds off on filling Donovan père’s veins with pain juice until Senator John arrives to discuss it with Rebecca, his wife. It’s an argument that Almeida watches with just the faintest hint of a sneer; a sneer which unmistakably says “Yeah, dude, Imma torture your father and I banged your wife”. John eventually concedes the point, though, and the fun begins.

Meantime, Carter and Andy are with Jihadi, Jr. and his team. Andy is given the USB drive and, trying not to look too smug, connects it to his laptop, uploading the virus to the drive. But then Jr. reveals that the drive was a decoy, and that Andy had better do it properly this time. Andy says he won’t, but a knife in the thigh changes his mind.

While that’s going on, though, Isaac and Nicole are attacked by the other half of Jr.’s men. They survive, take one of the terrorists alive, and Isaac tortures him into giving up the location of his boss. But rather than call in CTU, Isaac summons his crew to, as he puts it, “lay some jihad on they asses”, something which they decline to do – it’s the government’s problem – until Isaac offers them money to persuade them to participate in his unilateral outsourcing of US domestic security. I’m sure there’s someone better qualified than me to write a #hottake on this show’s portrayal of African-Americans. But CTU has also managed to trace the whereabouts of the jihadis, and the Department of Defence orders a surgical strike on their compound, notwithstanding that Carter and Andy are still onsite.

Isaac and his crew get there first, though, and the jihadis discover that they’re no match for a good old American gang of drug dealers, which means that by the time the compound is bombed Carter and Andy have been rescued; Andy has managed to recover the USB drive; Isaac has taken a bullet; and Jr. has been captured; the last of which means that Rebecca calls off the torture of her father-in-law. I’m not sure any marriage could survive that little episode, to be honest, so I do hope Rebecca has someone in close proximity who could offer a shoulder to cry on.

A happy ending all round, then? Well, no: because Carter recognises one of the surviving jihadis as someone named Naseri, who gets away, much to his horror. “You know who he is and what he’s capable of!” he tells CTU, which is more than we do. The good news, though, is that Naseri is played by Oded Fehr, an actor I’m always happy to see around. A brutally exciting episode.

24: Legacy s1 ep 7

I was hopeful that the end of last week’s episode might finally have lit the blue touchpaper on this show. I wasn’t wrong; this was comfortably the best episode since the first of the season. Henry Donovan is still claiming that he knows nothing about any leak of the whereabouts of the Rangers, so Rebecca concludes that it’s time to use “enhanced interrogation” on him. But she knows her husband won’t approve, so someone on Mullins’s staff will need to keep the Senator distracted while Henry is “released”, then snatched by Rebecca’s torturer of choice and taken to a black site.

Mullins signs off on the plan, but then makes the mistake of asking Rebecca who she has engaged for the job. And the really good news is that she’s contracted an old friend of the show, and very, very special guest star, the one and only Tony Almeida. “Almeida?!” splutters Mullins. “He’s a criminal! A lot of people are dead because of Tony Almeida!” Yeah they are, bitch, because the Almeida is the biggest, baddest mutha you and your pretend CTU have ever had to deal with. He even performs the extraction in a menacing obsidian-black van with tinted windows. And his current partner-in-torture – some popsy about half his age – correctly guesses that he used to be in a relationship with Rebecca, thus continuing Almeida’s impressive record of hitting it with just about every woman in every iteration of 24.

Can you tell I’m excited?

Almeida and Rebecca meet at the interrogation site, where he finds out that her husband doesn’t know what she’s signed her father-in-law up for. “That’s going to be an awkward conversation”, murmurs Almeida. And he’s right, and it is: the Senator finally works out that he’s being deliberately kept distracted and demands to know what the hell’s going on. “Your father… wasn’t responding to conventional interrogation”, he’s told, while Tony and his partner are futzing around with blood samples and counselling Henry on what’s about to happen to him: it’ll feel as if his skin is being burnt off, and that’s just the beginning.

Meantime, the other half of the show, now freed from the underperforming subplot with the teacher and the two murders of Drew, is finally able to hit escape velocity as well. Carter’s wife and brother have been kidnapped by Jihadi, Jr., who’ll trade their lives for someone who can repair the USB drive which holds the details of the terrorist sleeper cells. Unfortunately for Andy, who has of course already lost his job, he’s also the best tech guy available, so Carter grabs him and proposes that they head over to see the terrorists, secure the release of Isaac and Nicole, then make it look as if they’re fixing the USB drive while in fact erasing it. Of course, that’s a certain suicide mission. “There’s gotta be another way?” pleads Andy, who’s obviously never seen this show before. No, dude, you’re going to die. Think of the thousands of lives you’ll be saving…?

So Andy says her farewell to Tom, who discerns that there’s something going on, and catches up with Carter and Andy on the road, but is handcuffed before he can interfere. They get to the terrorist hideout and persuade Jihadi, Jr. to release Isaac and Nicole. “Take care of her, man”, says Carter to Isaac, who has already made his declaration of undying love to Nicole, so I think we can be reasonably sure that he will, uh, “take care” of her should she be widowed. Isaac and Nicole drive off, but Jr. then orders one of his henchmen to follow them and kill them. Tsk. Can’t you trust anyone these days?

24: Legacy s1 ep 6

Most of this episode proceeds in the same way as its predecessors: interesting, mildly diverting, but inessential. Amira and Khasan, now activated as Terror Cell #1 and planning a suicide bombing, are visited by Mr Harris, Amira’s teacher, who decides to make a gallant gesture by taking Amira away from all this terrorism: he shoots Khasan, but unfortunately Amira isn’t as hot for teacher as he thought, and stabs him. Before he dies Khasan extracts a promise from Amira to complete the mission, although their father has other ideas. Senator Donovan, meantime, has daddy issues of his own: Henry – wearing, it should be said, some interesting but unfathomable hi-tech handcuffs; how do these things work? – is still denying having anything to do with the leak. The Senator decides that he’ll need to withdraw from the Presidential race.

Meantime the CTU manages to extract enough information from Gabriel’s laptop to provide a location for Jihadi, Jr and his team. So – with Carter now riding shotgun – they head off. However, news of the shootout chez Gabriel has made it onto TV, so Jr. and his team fly the nest before the CTU can get there.

But then, 24: Legacy finally comes up with the sort of climax the show’s been needing. Amira’s father alerts the CTU, and her van is spotted on the George Washington Bridge. So the cop on site, clearly counting down the days until retirement, is contacted by Mulllins at CTU HQ and told to stop her. He fires some bullets into the van, and is asked to assess the situation. “I think she’s dead”, he replies, looking at the unmoving figure of Amira, and at that moment we know he’s doomed; that particular statement just isn’t worth anything in the world of 24. Sure enough, Amira has enough life left to detonate the bomb and blow up the bridge, killing around 100 people.

And, meantime, Jihadi, Jr. proves that he’s got some terrorist game: Carter had asked the CTU to pick Nicole up, but Jr.’s men intervene, shoot the CTU guys, and snatch Nicole and Isaac, which means that he can now use them as leverage to get Carter to provide details of the other terrorist cells on the USB drive, thus finally providing Carter with the motivation he needs to colour outside the lines. Almost worth waiting for.

24: Legacy s1 ep 5

Carter and Grimes are on the move to their meeting with evil arms dealer Gabriel, armed with the schematics to the McGuffin missile system. Grimes shows off his battlefield grooming skills along the way by shaving off a full beard with a pair of nail scissors, and generally tidying himself up – Gabriel, he confides to Carter, likes it high and tight. This whole escapade is deeply troubling to Mullins, who correctly concludes that Andy was a crucial part of stealing the schematics, and suspends him. Rebecca tells Andy that he did the right thing, which is easy for her to say as she hasn’t been suspended. She will for the next few minutes be interrogating Henry Donovan; the Henry Donovan who’s the father of Senator Donovan, her husband. Her father-in-law. I know we keep asking this, but does literally no-one in the TV crime-fighting world have any conception of conflict of interest? Anyway, Henry denies the confession he made to the Senator about how he was responsible for the leak of the list of sleeper cells.

Ah yes, the sleeper cells. The USB drive is proving to be a tough nut to crack, but one name is extracted out of a total of 15. Jihadi, Jr. would prefer to wait until they have all 15 – that’s what his father wanted – but some redshirt in his team goes ahead anyway, alerting the sleeper for whom they have details, and finds himself on the wrong end of a bullet from Jr. The sleeper agent is Khasan, Amira’s brother, who is busy fighting with his father, who’s turned up out of the blue to get in the way and provide a couple of minutes of plot filler.

On the way to the Gabriel meet Carter has to field a phone call from Nicole, his wife, who’s just about had enough of life chez Isaac: his reaction to being sold out by Aisha is a paranoid investigation of everyone in his team, and when Nicole intervenes he pushes her away with such force that she ends up on the floor. But he apologises, so that’s… OK? It’s yet another subplot which just doesn’t work. Admittedly Gabriel turns out to be good for something when he visits a richly-merited death on Grimes before cutting his own throat to prevent being interrogated by CTU, but it isn’t enough to save the episode. And although I’ve been moderately critical of this show until now, I feel as if I’ve actually been cutting it a bit more slack than I should, because I retain a considerable amount of residual fondness for the franchise. Thus far, though, 24: Legacy hasn’t been anywhere near good enough. By coincidence, after watching this episode I moved onto Designated Survivor, which reminded me of one of the things we’ve lost: Corey Hawkins is a decent actor, and good in the action scenes, but Carter is a very different kind of lead character, and doesn’t have Kiefer Sutherland’s compelling intensity, weariness, and desperation. On the bright side, though, the ringtone is back.

24: Legacy s1 ep 4

A busy morning at the CTU reception desk. First in is Nilaa, the better to be interrogated for a crime she didn’t commit. Someone calls for a “full biometric package”, which doesn’t sound nice, although in fairness it’s probably more pleasant than the Bauer treatment. The Senator still believes she’s innocent, and when some tech dude he knows manages to pull apart the incriminating footage of Nilaa in like twenty minutes, his father folds and admits that he was behind the leak, having been blackmailed by Jihadi, Jr., using the information that his company bought oil from ISIS.

Next through the CTU door is Grimes, bound for the CTU infirmary (?), although if you ask me he’s lucky to be alive. “I never wanted the terrorists to get the list!” he whines at Carter, who resists the temptation to PUNCH his STUPID FACE IN. Because, Grimes, if you don’t want terrorists to get things you shouldn’t offer to sell those things to terrorists.

And then it’s Carter’s turn. He looks impressed with the facilities. As was I, in fairness, although I’d like the return of the old CTU ringtone. Anyway, as Grimes was being taken away in an ambulance, stupid face sadly not punched in, he kept shouting “I can fix this!” to Carter, who has a lingering curiosity about how that might be accomplished. Here’s the dealio: Gabriel, an arms dealer, was supplying the terrorists, and could be used to track them. But to get Gabriel interested in a meeting you’d need bait, so how about the schematics of a new all-singing-all-dancing missile system? Understandably Mullins says no to the idea of Grimes, who he knows to be willing to sell incredibly sensitive information to terrorists, being sent out into the field with another piece of incredibly sensitive information. Carter, though, knows better, and he has Rebecca on his side. So Rebecca gets Andy to procure the schematics, Carter busts Grimes out, and off they go. It’s all OK, but still nowhere near exciting enough.

Which makes it all the more pertinent that the other storylines still aren’t pulling their weight. Poor Drew is in hospital, with Amira hovering around waiting to kill him again. She asks a contact how she might do it. Well, duh, Amira, have you never watched TV? Even I know that you connect the syringe thing up to the tube thing and squeeze some air in. Amira can’t bring herself to do it, though, until Drew wakes up and struggles with her, whereupon she puts her reservations aside. So Drew’s dead, again. Or is he? And Nicole escapes just in time to warn Isaac that he’s going to be killed by the other drug cartel, then she’s arrested, then Isaac bribes the cops to let her go, so they can stand with their faces about six inches apart and not make out. Not yet anyway. Oh, and in the meantime, in what should be the main plot, the terrorists have discovered that the USB drive is damaged and that the list can’t be accessed, although there’s someone working on it. Kind of… dull?

24: Legacy s1 ep 3

Carter is trapped in the evidence locker, but improvises a way out: he’d strapped a bomb, which I must admit I’d thought would turn out to be fake, to one of his hostages, so he detaches it from its human host and uses it to blast through a wall and escape. Classic 24. Good times. But then he’s cornered again. Fortunately, at that precise moment Rebecca and Andy pass a hi-tech lie detector at CTU, and Rebecca is able to tell the police to stand down… not so classic 24, really.

And that sets the pattern for this curiously inert episode. With everyone at CTU now on the same team Carter is left in the field to arrange a cash-for-McGuffin swap with Grimes, shadowed by Agent Locke, who turns out to be Andy’s ex. However, Carter’s whereabouts is also being monitored by Jihadi Jr., and his gang of thugs turn up when the exchange is taking place. As the bullets fly, Jr. makes off with the McGuffin, so presumably sleeper cells will be waking up all over America, or whatever the eff the point of the USB drive is.

It isn’t great, but it’s OK. And the other OK storyline this week belongs to Nilaa, now very much in the frame as the source of the leak. She denies it, of course, but there’s no evidence to back up her story that she was out for a run at the time her terminal was accessed; and, in fact, a photo exists which suggests that she’s lying about her whereabouts. But we discover that the CCTV system which provided the photo was hacked by someone working for kindly old Gerald McRaney, Senator Donovan’s daddy. So is he the baddie? Or is he working for someone? (The latter, of course.)

The Hot For Terrorist Teacher plot continues to be an irritation, but in fairness it provided this week’s only genuinely unexpected moment, when Drew – battered to death last week – comes back to life and staggers out of the classroom, just about managing to draw attention to himself before keeling over again and being taken to hospital. So Amira’s now going to have to kill him again, which is an obvious challenge. And, to be honest, I’m on the verge of just fast-forwarding through Aisha, Nicole, and their dumb subplot about who’s going to run Isaac’s drug business.

The ratings in America are on the slide, which isn’t a huge surprise: this wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anywhere near good enough. I’d say that 24: Legacy needs a standout episode pretty soon.