Monday, April 17, 2017

REVIEW: '24: Legacy' - Carter Gets Into a Rough Confrontation with Tony in '11:00 PM - 12:00 PM'

FOX's 24: Legacy - Episode 1.12 "11:00 PM - 12:00 PM"

Rebecca's deal to save John doesn't go as planned. CTU must rely on Carter to go out into the field and facilitate an important exchange.

At the conclusion of this episode, I can safely say that I've seen every episode of 24. And yet, there's no grand reason for that to be something to be commended. There's absolutely no reason why anyone should have watched this reboot of the show with completely new characters. It was the show simply going through the motions for no reason whatsoever. It was simply a bad season of 24 where the only original thought that the creative team had was to replace Kiefer Sutherland with Corey Hawkins. It's a move that didn't ultimately mean anything. The season was never about the identity of the characters. It was simply about the formulaic action beats and surprising twists to elongate the terrorist plot for as long as possible. It was about weird turns that allowed the real-time format to be a complicated thing for the characters. And yet, none of it worked. The best seasons of 24 were inherently about something. The show had a philosophy about terror and torture that added to the conversation. It wasn't nihilism just for the sake of being nihilistic. Legacy had no purpose for existing whatsoever. It was simply a generic story that featured copying twists known to fans of 24. There was simply nothing existing or interesting to watch for 12 episodes.

And yet, I watched every episode of this mess. It happened solely out of habit. At times, I can be a completist. It's difficult for me to quit shows. I've gotten better at it as time has gone along and my responsibilities as a critic have increased. And yet, I still somehow had the time to watch all 12 episodes of this show despite March and April 2017 being some of the craziest months with insanely great shows to watch. This year has been incredible for television so far. 24: Legacy stands out as one of the worst shows of the year. It continues to prove that FOX's trend of rebooting familiar properties isn't that great. It worked out when 24 did Live Another Day with Kiefer Sutherland and a couple other returning characters. But the followups of The X-Files, Prison Break and 24: Legacy have all been incredibly disappointing. It shows just how boring and uninspiring TV development is capable of being at the moment. Just because something worked in the past doesn't mean it will continue to work in 2017.

A problem of these reboots may be the old creative teams coming back to produce the same show even though the television environment has changed a lot since these series went off the air. The people in charge of 24 simply wanted to do the same kind of story that the old show did. There were many moments in this season that played similarly to things that happened in the first season of the original show. An impending terrorist attack disrupts a skilled agent's family. Relatives are kidnapped by the terrorists. A presidential campaign is affected by an uncertain future for the candidate. CTU is compromised. Moles are revealed that complicate this process. It's all building to the shocking death of a prominent female character. All of these things became formulaic over the years on the original show. They simply feel too familiar and repetitive in this show. Again, it's the show going through the motions and not adding anything new to the discussion. Eric Carter never openly tortured someone in the same way that Jack Bauer did. But the cost of these characters' actions were incredibly empty as well.

This entire season is building to the reveal that Rebecca and Simms committed a war crime in order to defeat a terrorist organization. They kidnapped a young girl in order to infiltrate Bin Khalid's organization and take him out. It's a mission that didn't even work in the end. Rebecca and the army rangers were celebrated for their victory. And then, it's revealed Bin Khalid is still alive. It was an absolutely ludicrous twist that really pushed the limits of believability. The exposure of this information is the focal point of this finale. At least, that's what the show wants it to be. Instead, it's still largely an action adventure that is more concerned with a hostage situation than examining the effects the actions of the past have on the present. It's the show only going surface deep in addressing this complicated issue. How far are the people in charge willing to go to combat terrorism around the world? That's a fascinating and timely subject matter. But there are simply no stakes to it. It's played as a black-and-white issue that is able to go away so easily. It's not dealt with an interesting or important way. It's all about the show cramming as much story as possible into the final minutes of the season without focusing on what all of it means.

So, Bin Khalid and Naseri are each killed during the hostage exchange. Naseri's daughter is able to return home to at least a mother who is still alive. These actions should expose Rebecca and Simms. The show should force them to deal with the consequences of their actions. And yet, they are quickly killed off. The show simply has no interest in telling that story which just undercuts the message in a critical way. It's suppose to mean something that Rebecca is killed taking a bullet for Carter. That dynamic was probably the most interesting one on the entire show. But it's completely lame and ridiculous that the show kills Rebecca. She is an imperfect character who would probably be going to jail if she stays alive. That's a fascinating and complicated end for her. It shows that the actions of this day will reverberate throughout this universe moving forward. Instead, the show puts a decisive end to this story. Justice will not be found because Rebecca is killed and Simms commits suicide. It's no longer anything that any other character will need to worry about ever again. That just seems like a simplification of the situation in a very manipulative way. It's not earned at all. Of course, there probably wasn't a character death in this finale that would have gotten me to care. But this one just feels false.

Plus, it's lame that the show instead wants to end on the hopeful message of Carter and Nicole trying to work things out in their marriage even though he's going to work at CTU permanently. It has been a major focus of the season. And yet, Nicole simply hasn't been an interesting character. She's had agency a few times this season. Largely when it came to her using her own skills to try and get away from the terrorists. But she has been an afterthought for so much of the series run. Instead, her appearance was just to prop up a meaningless love triangle between her, Carter and Isaac. That was a weird melodramatic story that had no place in this narrative at all. It was weird because it was unclear just how committed the show actually was to it. And thus, it was difficult to be invested in whatever the outcome may be for these characters. The show wants to end the season saying that the people who do this work aren't monsters. The people with good intentions who can actually change the world the right way are in the appropriate positions to do so. It's just a message that hasn't been earned and doesn't land well at all.

Some more thoughts:
  • "11:00 PM - 12:00 PM" was written by Manny Coto & Howard Gordon and directed by Stephen Hopkins.
  • For the most part, the show largely got the action beats right. The fight between Tony and Carter at the top of the hour was completely unnecessary and happened to keep things as dramatic as possible. But it did a solid job in showing just how badass Carter and Tony can be when it comes to fighting.
  • Of course, the big moment where Naseri lets Rebecca go free is weirdly staged. Once things start going awry with Bin Khalid, it's hard to keep track of what has exactly happened because it's so dark. It's chaotic and confusing but not in a good or surprising way. It just shows that there is one last complication in this main story.
  • The season ends with the story jumping ahead 12 hours so that it can once again comprise 24 hours. That's the core premise of a show called 24. And yet, Legacy plays things linearly just like Live Another Day did. The ending was simply a coda that gave the characters some time to reflect on everything that happened. It's just the latest evidence of the show just copying something from the original series and not doing it as well.
  • John running for President was never really all that important in the grand scheme of things. It certainly defined Henry's actions. He'll ultimately deal with the consequences moving forward. But largely, John was a Senator who was clueless about the line of work Rebecca was in. He had no idea what horrifying decisions she made on a daily basis.
  • It seems unlikely that FOX will renew 24: Legacy for a second season. It started off so promising with a launch after the Super Bowl. It quickly nosedived in the ratings and the actual story was terrible. And yet, the potential is still there for FOX to do more. The executives could just be big fans of this format and want it to work despite all of the problems. Or perhaps the network has a weak development season and simply needs the content for the schedule.