Monday, March 13, 2017

REVIEW: '24: Legacy' - Carter and Andy Go on a Precarious Mission to Stop the Terrorists in '6:00 PM - 7:00 PM'

FOX's 24: Legacy - Episode 1.07 "6:00 PM - 7:00 PM"

Carter turns to Andy for help, in order to get crucial evidence back in their possession. Rebecca calls in someone from the outside when CTU's regular interrogation techniques lead them to a dead end.

It's horrifying and a bit problematic that it took the destruction of the George Washington bridge to bring some legitimate stakes and tension to 24: Legacy. "6:00 PM - 7:00 PM" is the most clean and precise episode of the season so far. It has no time for any kind of bad filler storylines. Everything is important and is coming together for a grander goal. There's no more having to put up with Amira issues as a terrorist or Nicole and Isaac struggling as drug dealers/former lovers. Everything is now about the terrorist action. That's good for the show because it gives the characters some action and purpose that is easy to understand. This is a franchise that is always better when it's about action and characters having to make life-or-death decisions in split seconds. That's where it's truly clear how far these characters are willing to go in order to protect their country. Of course, the severity of the situation also opens the show up to falling back into some familiar problems that work with some murky morality and legality. That stuff had a purpose on the previous show. But here, it's just a little too precise making it feel different but ultimately just the same.

Of course, 24: Legacy is also repeating itself again too. Carter has been a frustrating and inconsistent leading man. The show simply can't decide if he should be a rogue agent doing whatever it takes despite the consequences to stop these terrorists or if he should be a part of the team at CTU that needs to do things the right way but has fancy tools that make it easier. The episodes so far go back and forth not committing one way or another. It's thrilling both ways. When Carter is a rogue agent, that's when the narrative embellishes the over-the-top ridiculous moments. And yet, those episodes feel like Carter is the lead character at the center of this complicated story. When he's working as a team, it's much more efficient and grounded. It makes sense for him to bring backup into this situation and count on the other agents to bring down this intricate terrorist unit. This episode may finally be siding on the side of Carter being a rogue action hero. He doesn't let anyone at CTU know that he's essentially kidnapping Andy for a suicide mission to save his wife and brother as well as stop the terrorists once and for all. Carter and Andy end the hour being taken by the terrorists. So, it would be really difficult for the next hour to stick to the pattern of Carter being a part of an ensemble. He's isolated now and will need to use his own ingenuity to make it out of the situation alive.

Carter's story here is perhaps the tamest instance yet of him going after the terrorists by himself. He's not robbing a bank to get drug money or breaking his friend out of CTU to chase a lead that may go no where. This time the stakes are abundantly clear. Carter needs to do this in order to save his wife and brother. It's a clear emotional motivation that makes it easier to accept why he doesn't rely on CTU for support. It's a little murkier as to why Andy goes along with this mission knowing that he'll likely die because of it. It shows that he is capable of being a hero as well. He has the confidence to accept his fate - while still being open to better suggestions. Of course, Tom gets caught up in all of this as well. So, the former lovers are turned against each other. That's a romance that is important to be seen in a show like this. And yet, it has just been so bland and unimportant so far. There isn't a spark actually there which is really frustrating. A gay romance on 24 should be a big deal. Instead, it's just a way to complicate things with seemingly personal stakes while delaying the inevitable confrontation. Carter and Tom's fight is a big action moment in this hour. Plus, it's clear that Tom is no where near being able to help Carter and Andy in the field by the end of the episode.

The meeting between Carter and Jadalla actually happens in this hour as well. That's a little surprising. It shows that the series does want to move quickly with its plots when it wants to. It doesn't have to constantly be dragging its feet waiting for the inevitable moment to happen later on. The meeting happens now. Carter sees Nicole and Isaac for the first time since the first episode. That's a big reunion that does feel earned despite how annoying Nicole and Isaac's corner of the story has been so far. The big love triangle amongst the family still isn't great. Even as a prisoner, Isaac is all about telling his former girlfriend how much he messed up and is still in love with her. Maybe, that will become important later on once Carter miraculously finds a way out of this situation. That too seems inevitable. He and Andy go into this believing it's suicide. And yet, the show probably won't kill them off. They have been too important so far. Right now, I would say Carter, Rebecca and Andy can't be killed. Everyone else is disposable. So, the emotional stakes are clear and the situation looks dire for Carter and Andy in the end. However, it still seems certain that things will work out for them somehow - even if Andy's virus doesn't totally get the job done.

The destruction of the George Washington bridge forces many of the story threads together. This hour is largely about that meeting between Carter and Jadalla. It's centered around what they are up to in the moments beforehand. The only other story of importance is Rebecca using enhanced interrogation techniques on Henry. It's the story that builds a bridge to the original series as original cast member Carlos Bernard shows up as former CTU agent Tony Almeida. There haven't been many connections to the two shows. This move shows that they exist in the same universe - and Tony and Rebecca even dated for a brief time too! This story is largely just setup and introducing new conflict though. It's very political as well. Rebecca and Keith use what happened at the bridge to rationalize more extreme measures being taken. So, John's voice in all of this is going to be important. This has been a pretty apolitical season so far. Him voicing his concerns about the legality of this could come across as annoying. But done the right way it could be a provoking statement about the war on terrorism and the methods we use. Of course, it seems doubtful that will actually occur. In fact, it seems inevitable that all of this will go horribly awry for Rebecca - with Tony's new female associate complicating things somehow most likely.

Some more thoughts:
  • "6:00 PM - 7:00 PM" was written by Tony Basgallop and directed by Jon Cassar.
  • Andy wasn't being all that discreet about taking equipment from CTU to help Carter with the mission. In fact, he is basically looking directly at Tom (who is looking back at him) while he is doing so. That's what tips him off in the first place.
  • Nicole has to stitch Jadalla up after a bullet grazed his arm. That conversation had the potential to show just how ideologically different they are. And yet, Jadalla continues to be such a lame villain who basically just points at a TV showing the horror on the bridge and enjoy how destructive it is.
  • Nicole and Isaac drive off as soon as they are released. Them going to safety is what allows Carter and Andy to be captured by the terrorists. But predictably, Jadalla sends his men to find them immediately afterwards. That's to be expected. Hopefully, they make it back to CTU. That would give them new importance.
  • Apparently, Rebecca has been working on this plan with Tony for awhile now off camera. He's ready to go as soon as the bridge is destroyed and Rebecca gets the okay from Keith. So, it's clear Rebecca has no issues with enhanced interrogation.
  • Of course, John will soon be at the black site where his father now is. Rebecca lets him come to her. She knew it was going to be a hard conversation between the two of them. But just because it gets so much screen time, it seems pretty apparent that Henry knows something more than what he told John earlier in the day.
  • This is the hour of the season that makes the transition from day to night. Just like the former show, it happens very quickly too. It happens during a commercial break. Carter and Andy arrive for the meeting in day and Jadalla shows up at night a few minutes later.