Heading into tonight’s two hour season premiere of 24, loyal viewers had many questions: was last year’s uneven season an indicator of things to come? Would the cast overhaul debilitate the show? Would Sherri Palmer rise from the dead to orchestrate another devious plot? Okay, maybe that last question wasn’t high on everyone’s list of priorities (although I certainly would not discourage such a twist).
The truth is that 24′s season opener was nothing short of excellent. Not only was it filled with menace, suspense, action, disturbing torture, and star crossed lovers, but the show had a tight focus and a central conflict. Oh, and lots and lots of violence — 24 style. This season’s gonna rock.After the first twenty four minutes of the show left Jack with the ole CTU itch, our favorite rogue agent decided to remind himself what’s important in his life these days: Audrey. Yes, Jack took a breather from the hectic world of CTU visiting to call Audrey and profess his growing love for her. It was a sweet gesture, but by now Jack should know that any sign of Bauer love will lead to an abduction, murder, or cougar stalking. Nevertheless, Jack and Audrey stuttered, whispered and paused their way through the moment, which I personally expected to end with an “Every Kiss Begins with Kay” jingle. Alas, no cheesy jeweler stepped up, and instead we shifted our focus to Secretary of Defense Heller – aka the irascible and occasionally shiny William Devane.
Turns out Heller was busy arguing with his protester son Richard, who at first glance, appeared to be picketing against the use of shampoo. The two snapped back and forth at each other for a little bit, with Heller ultimately accusing his son of engaging in “sixth grade Michael Moore logic.” So does Michael Moore make anti-Presidential documentaries in the world of 24 also?
Elsewhere in Los Angeles, Andrew (Lukas Haas) took a leisurely stroll back to his internet cafÃ© with a smug look on his face that seemed to say “That was some good informing.” Unfortunately, nary a game of Snood or Everquest were in action as Andrew quickly discovered all his co-workers had been killed. Well, almost all his co-workers. There was still that plucky Asian girl. Oh wait. Hold on. Yep, she’s dead now.
With nothing left to do except be panicked, Andrew scurried out of the cafÃ© and hopped on a bike – the ultimate foil to terrorist henchmen. Meanwhile, at CTU, a few agents hauled in that terrorist from the drycleaners. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it? Jack knew him! Jack lobbied to have Driscoll reinstate him on a provisional basis, but unfortunately, the best he could do was land a small desk in the corner. “Chloe opened up a socket for you,” Driscoll said in her sexy bureaucrat voice. Question: when is Chloe NOT opening up sockets? Every episode she seems to open two or three.
Nevertheless, Jack seemed quite unhappy with his socket offering, and as soon as Driscoll had ambled into another room, he jumped on Chloe’s computer and started his usual shenanigans. You know – type type type, Chloe what’s your password, type type type, Chloe please!, type type type, there’s a terrorist threat at 8 am?, type type type, Chloe you have to trust me!, type type type, 8 am – that’s in ten minutes! COMMERCIAL. For the record, it was only 42 minutes into the episode when CTU reached 8:50. Worst real time EVER!
When we came back from the commercial break, Jack rang up Audrey to tell her that some terrorist act was gonna go down at 8 am. “It’s almost 8 now,” she responded incredulously, as if Jack had violated some five minute courtesy system. Audrey finally got off her ass and fetched her dad, but with time ticking away, Jack needed some answers. With only four minutes until 8 AM, Jack rose to his feet as music swelled on the soundtrack. Hmmm… That’s not just any music. That there is Barge In music. Methinks that terrorist interrogation might take a turn…
Cut to said interrogation as Ronnie (the new Jack) tried to break the terrorist. “Why did you let it happen?” he asked as if he wanted a refund for a movie ticket. Honestly, if all the government’s secret agents were as lame as this dude, we’d never be able to get the bad guys. Luckily, it’s patently clear he’ll be dead soon enough.
Fortunately for CTU, badass Jack’s Hulk-like rage had gotten the best of him and with little effort, he burst into the interrogation room and demanded answers. Well, first he flipped a table – the international symbol of “I will treat you the way I treat this Ikea furniture. With reckless abandon! Rah!!!” But when table flipping proved to be just a tad insufficient in the intimidation department, Jack upped the stakes a little bit by shooting the guy in the leg and then burying his gun tip in the wound. Ouch.
Well, surprise surprise. The terrorist sang like bird. A bird that’s been shot in the leg. Turns out the target was Secretary of Defense Heller. Uh oh spaghetti-o. Props to J-Unit for accurately predicting the twist. Well, with little time to do anything, Jack called Audrey who… was not answering her phone. Dammit! Get the phone, bitch!!! After about five torturous rings later, Jack told her to get out, GET OUT. Audrey honed a little Kate Warner by doing a patented “Huh? I don’t understand” bit. No sooner had she relayed the information to her dad than all hell broke loose. Rockets descended on the limo, Middle Eastern gunmen burst out of vans, Secret Service agents forgot their training, and Jack yelled into his cell phone “Audrey! Audrey!” Jack – normally when you hear explosions and gunfire, it’s safe to assume the conversation is over.
Sure enough, the terrorist nabbed Heller and Audrey (although they inconspicuously left annoying Richard to cower by the refrigerator). As the hour came to a close, I started to wonder – “How the hell am I going to get through this season. I’m sweating buckets.”
Things eventually calmed down a bit in the second hour. President Keeler, still flying around somewhere over a cloudy CGI skyline, put in a token appearance to up the alert level to “elevated.” Granted, if you asked Andrew, the alert level would be closer to “HOLY MOTHERF*@#KING SHIT!!!” Still trembling from the Internet CafÃ© massacre that he sort of, you know, precipitated, Andrew called his mom to say “Get out of the house!” As 24 day players are wont to do, Mom simply asked questions like “What sort of trouble are you in, Andrew?” Dammit woman! Listen to your son! Well, Mom finally got the picture and decided to hurry on out… as soon as she put the laundry away. Hey, the last thing you want to do after escaping terrorists is to come home to clean laundry out in the open.
Back at CTU, Driscoll was kind of seriously mad at Jack for, you know, torturing a witness. Not very, how do you say, legal? She immediately had Jack detained, a JV setback if I’ve ever seen one. Later, Chloe snuck into Jack’s dark holding room to deliver information about Andrew, the code he found, and how Driscoll had diverted that investigation to the FBI. The two got on the phone with Andrew and yada yada yada Jack was going to pick him up from Union Station in thirty minutes. But wait, would Andrew be safe? Uh, not likely considering we cut to a terrorist in Andrew’s house somehow listening in on this entire conversation by way of some high tech ham radio device. Oh – and there’s Andrew’s mom on the floor with a slit neck. Her last words: “Must… fold… linens…”
Anyway, as the terrorist listened in, Andrew gave his exact location and physical description to Jack. Great. Question: can computer programmers on this show ever NOT be in danger?
Later, the good people of CTU sat down to have a brainstorming session. We knew this would lead to nothing though as there was a noticeable lack of an easel and a frilly woman with a big marker. Sure enough, a minute into the session, Jack walked in and asked to have a moment with Driscoll. So much for the detainment. In a nifty bit of bargaining, broken record Jack demanded to be reinstated, otherwise he wouldn’t reveal the location of Andrew. Driscoll finally gave in, saying that he would be under Ronnie’s watch. At least until Ronnie dies. Heh. With Jack back on the force, Chloe was sure to let him feel more than welcomed: “Bad luck about Audrey being there when her dad got kidnapped.” THANKS.
Meanwhile, William Devane dazzled us with his capacity to reflect light off his sweaty face. I guess this was the unexpected perk of having his character abducted at rocket-launcher-point. Heller and Audrey arrived at a mysterious compound where captors forced them on their knees, and after a tense moment when Audrey almost bit it (somewhere Kim’s rolling her eyes and saying “They never kill you the first time”), the two were shoved into a holding cell. There, Heller tried his spin on “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative” by insisting that his daughter say “We will be rescued.” Yeah. It about 24 hours… Unfortunately, this upbeat outlook was somewhat tempered when the terrorists demanded that Audrey and Heller take off their clothes. William Devane naked? That could be a more lethal image than that video in “The Ring.”
Elsewhere, that menacing terrorist family was preparing to entrust the most important part of the plan to its teenage son, Behrooz. One problem though. It appears as though Kim has been reincarnated in the form of Debbie, Behrooz’s meddlesome chicky on the side. Much like Jack’s departed daughter, we get a sense that wherever Debbie goes, she leaves a trail of blundering destruction. Sure enough, just as Behrooz was about to head off with the mysterious suitcase, little Debbie called up to do the patented “Why haven’t you called me?” act. Yeah, not the best timing. Behrooz blew her off, saying “Hey, I’ll call you after I hatch this terrorist attack on the United States– I mean, after I get some ice cream.” Actually, he was simply vague and curt as the watchful eye of his mother Dina (Shohreh Aghdashlo) monitored his every move. Later she scolded him in her sexy, sexy voice, although to be honest, all I could really hear was a bunch of “zhh” sounds. I really hope Dina and Driscoll have a scene together. It would sound so silky smooth. Maybe Jessica Rabbit can work for CTU too. Or at least, you know, Kathleen Turner.
Nevertheless, Behrooz made his way up to the mystery compound with the mystery suitcase and handed it over to the mystery guard. Oh Behrooz. That was clutch! Nothing’s gonna go wrong… Nothing at all. Oh wait. What’s that just behind the trees? Uh oh. Debbie. Yes, proving that a woman spurned will stalk freely, Debbie, it turned out, had followed Behrooz to the compound. Why, is this the first loose end in a steadily unraveling plan? Methinks it is!
After a little kissy kissy, Behrooz sped home (and I mean SPED. He was there the next scene) where his father promptly pimp slapped him. Turns out a scruffy guard had caught the teens necking outside the terrorist complex (so romantic). Teenage girls – always the bane of a terrorist’s existence! (paging Jane Saunders, Kim Bauer)
As the second hour reached its climax, Jack and Ronnie set out to fetch Andrew, although not before Ronnie set some ground rules: “You listen to me,” he ordered. Whatever. If he’s not dead by the end of this episode, I’ll be shocked.
Of course, Jack and Ronnie were about thirty seconds too late as terrorist henchman #1 snagged Andrew and threw him in the back of his Lexus. Great. Someone else abducted. At this rate, we’ll have about thirty six abductees by the end of the season. Nevertheless, an argument over tactics between Jack and Ronnie escalated to fisticuffs, with our hero getting cuffed to a handrail. Moments later, however, the henchman gunned down Ronnie (who would have thought?), and we watched as the dying field agent slowly, ever so slowly, handed Jack the keys to the handcuffs. Good god. Just give him the keys! Must they make every single thing so exciting? I’m dying here!
Alas, as the show hit its final minute, Jack drove off in the middle of LA traffic to find the blue Lexus while Heller received the terrorist version of a Paris Hilton sex tape: an online beheading (maybe). Well, no heads were rolling just yet. According to a live webcast, Heller will be tried for his war crimes in three hours and will be executed “If he can be proven guilty.” IF? I wonder if the hooded terrorists with machine guns will be able to possibly convict him! Who knows, maybe this will turn into a modern day version of “The Devil and Daniel Webster.”
What do you think? How did the season premiere stack up? Is 24 back?