Monday, February 20, 2017

REVIEW: '24: Legacy' - Carter and Rebecca Meet at CTU to Plot a New Strategy in '3:00 PM - 4:00 PM'

FOX's 24: Legacy - Episode 1.04 "3:00 PM - 4:00 PM"

Grimes comes to Carter with information that might lead them to the terrorists. Meanwhile, at the Donovan compound, Nilaa is sequestered and questioned by Rebecca.

One of the hallmarks of 24 was the dynamics between the characters changing on an hourly basis. Jack Bauer could be knocking out the director of CTU in one episode, teaming up with him in the next, and then breaking out of the organization later on once he deemed the threat too important to sit idly by. That's the same mentality that 24: Legacy seems to be employing. It's just frustrating because it's so erratic and crazy. That kind of high tension and unpredictability has always been good for this kind of story. It needs things to be as suspenseful as possible. And yet, the whiplash from the constant narrative shifts can be so jarring and take the audience out of the narrative. Eric Carter started this series as a man working outside of law enforcement in order to stop a devastating terrorist attack. That then took a number of ridiculous and crazy turns with him robbing a bank in order to seize drug money. He was working without the full support of CTU. He could only count on Rebecca and Andy. But then, things became less crazy last week when the full staff of CTU knew what was going on and could assist Carter in an official capacity. Things were still just as intense because Ben was selling the flash drive with all of the information. But it also felt more grounded because it felt like an official operation with clear boundaries and rules. And now, all of that is being thrown out of the window just so Carter can return to being the one, crazed man trying to save the world all by himself. The justification for that is just so annoying though.

Keith Mullins really hasn't been a compelling or interesting character so far. That's because Rebecca has largely served as the head of CTU in relation to the main story. She's the character of importance running the show there. Keith has largely just been on the sidelines. He really doesn't have much authority - at least in comparison to Rebecca. And yet, he's still the head of CTU. He's the one who has to make the calls of what actions to take to stop these terrorists. That is no longer Rebecca's job. She left to help with John's presidential campaign. She has found herself drawn back into this world because of this case. She's been such a vital resource too. Keith recognizes that and makes sure she is kept up to speed with everything that is happening. However, Keith is being painted as the annoying guy who simply wants to follow the rules while not embracing the situation for as dire as it is. It's a character trope the franchise has done before. The guy who wants to follow the procedure and not chase some fantastical lead that may not be anything. That guy often stands in the way of what the protagonist wants to do. And thus, the audience should cheer when Carter does what he wants anyway because he knows how serious this impending attack is.

And yet, it's so easy to side with Keith on this debate. The flash drive has been lost to the terrorists. They now have the names and activation codes for their sleeper cells. Jadalla can now finish what his father started. Keith and Rebecca brief the national security team on what this actually means and how devastating it could ultimately become. So, the stakes are adequately established. This is a big deal to have lost this device. However, Keith has the appropriate reaction to learning that Carter and Ben have a plan to track down the terrorists. It is absolutely crazy to give them top-secret information and go in by themselves to a known weapons dealer. This guy, Gabriel, may have gotten Jadalla and his people into the country. But there is just no way to prove that. Keith needs to act on solid intel. And right now, Ben is not a credible resource at all. He's guilty because terrorists could ultimately kill thousands of people in the next few hours. That's his motivation for talking to Carter and why Carter ultimately wants to believe his story. And yet, it is just too ridiculous to take seriously. It's the show thinking of ways to keep Carter at the center of the action even though it makes no sense. This lead will more than likely prove out to be correct. 24 rarely pursues any false leads. So, that means Carter and Rebecca will ultimately be proven right for escaping from CTU and pursuing this lead. And yet, the predictability of it all just sucks the tension and intrigue out. It's the show following the same exact playbook as the original series without any awareness of just how ridiculous it is seeing it happen for the millionth time.

Of course, there are a few other stories happening that are better in this episode than the previous ones. The stuff happening between John and Henry works largely because of the gravitas Jimmy Smits and Gerald McRaney bring to the roles. Things aren't kept a secret for very long about Henry's involvement with the terrorists. John learns the truth largely because he doesn't believe Nilaa could have done what she's accused of doing. Right now, him being an optimist is really the only major quality about him. But it does ultimately get him what he wants. It's just frustrating that it takes him so long to tell Rebecca about the conversation he has with his father. Of course, that ultimately won't amount to much considering Henry is now being advised not to say anything about his role in all of this. That makes Uncle Luis seem a little bit more suspicious. Why does he want Henry to keep quiet? Is it just because it would ruin his career and possibly John's presidential campaign? It seems more likely that something else is going on with these characters. Henry claims he was blackmailed into delivering the rangers' names to the terrorists. His company had illegal dealings with ISIL in the Middle East. It could destroy everything he has worked so hard for. And yet, he seems incredibly naive if he thought the rangers would be the only ones killed by leaking this information. He's been positioned as this calculating and intimidating character but that just seems weird.

Elsewhere, things with Nicole, Isaac and Aisha come to a head. That's good because it has just been a ton of boring buildup so far. All of this basically had to happen now because a time limit was already established as to when Isaac would show up to his drug deal. It was just a mystery whether or not Nicole would warn him of it being a trap in time. This episode once again proves that Nicole is resourceful. She can break out of impossible situations to save her life. She also knows her way around a gun. And yet, she still has a moral code that some of the other characters don't. She refuses to shoot Aisha in the back as she runs away. That's a decision that could ultimately come back to hurt her. She could flee and regroup with enough resources to storm Isaac's place. But right now, it's just important that she doesn't pull the trigger while her husband is across town hunting down terrorists. And yet, this story continues to have this weird element to it as well with some romantic pining between Nicole and Isaac. It was established that they used to date before she ran away with Carter for a better life. But how is a serious drug dealer better than an army ranger with psychological trauma. Both of them have their issues. It's just odd that there's a weird moment between Nicole and Isaac that feels incredibly forced and to amp up the soapy elements of the series.

Some more thoughts:
  • "3:00 PM - 4:00 PM" was written by Nikki Toscano & Nelson Greaves and directed by Nelson McCormick.
  • Again, the travel times are an absolute mess. It was previously established that it would take at least 30 minutes for Isaac and his crew to get to the drug deal. It took longer than that. And yet, he is able to quickly make it back to Nicole to save her from the police. And then, Rebecca has to bring Nilaa into CTU for questioning. The travel time between CTU and Henry's house is just getting shorter and shorter.
  • Rebecca returning to CTU also means Miranda Otto and Corey Hawkins share the screen for the very first time this season. They have been so important to each other in the events so far. But they've largely communicated over the phone. So, it's nice to see that hug between them as things only continue to get worse.
  • Keith is also made out to be a bad guy because he wants to fire Andy. Andy is being lifted up as this amazing analyst who can do anything. He's almost too good. His only flaw is helping Rebecca no matter what she asks. At least Mariana tells him what's going on though.
  • Amira's story continues to be so frustrating. Why should the audience care about her struggle to actually kill Drew? She's a part of a sleeper cell planning on killing thousands of people today. She's committed to the cause. And yet, it's a big deal that she kills Drew here. She can't go through with it until he puts up a fight. Then, it's easier for her which doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
  • On top of breaking out of CTU, it's just going to be a bad decision for Carter to continue to trust Ben. Yes, they are surrogate brothers because of their time as rangers. But Ben has just made too many mistakes for him to still be trusted. He needs to be put away and never mentioned again.
  • Also why isn't Locke in the med bay at CTU? Did he actually go to a hospital? If so, it's odd that he went there and Ben didn't. Of course, that final breakout would be more difficult if Locke was there to stop Carter.