This contains spoilers.
“She’s also missing her little finger. That’s not from the bus, but it looks like a recent wound.”
That’s the paramedic taking Simone to hospital after she got hit by a bus at the end of last week’s episode – and survived. We don’t hear the paramedic’s name. Let’s call him Brian. You wonder whether Brian comprehends exactly what’s going on. Partly because no one ever thinks of the hospital staff in 24, the public service worker who have to clean up after Jack Bauer’s (usually violent) mess. And partly because you wonder if anyone understands what’s going on at all.
Yes, Episode 7 of Live Another Day’s 12-parter sees 24 back at its worst/best, as things become so enjoyably stupid they make Kimberly Bauer running away from a cougar look like Samuel Beckett.
Brian’s afternoon takes a turn for the ridiculous with the arrival of Simone in his ambulance at 5pm. Looking at her finger, he must instantly guess that it’s been cut off by the girl’s terrorist mother in a piece of blackmail designed to ensure the loyalty of her husband, who is now dead anyway. He surely examines those bus injuries and deduces that the young girl also taken to the hospital is the fingerless female’s niece – and that said crazy mother is inevitably going to try and kill them both by whatever means necessary.
“What a day,” he must say to himself, as he tries to save Simone, only for Jack Baeur to barge into the building with his American colleague and demand that everyone stops saving her so he can interrogate the poor girl. Not the niece, thankfully: Jack’s interviewing techniques, which Brian knows all too well from the TV, are kept well away from children. Kate chats to her instead.
In between trying to heal the sick, Brian no doubt takes a breather, grabbing a can of ginger beer from the vending machine. Brian likes ginger beer. While he’s sipping at his soda can, though, he probably spots a strange man – Kareem, sent by Catelyn Stark to finish the job – who somehow managed to stroll into the hospital with a weapon and don a pair of scrubs without anyone asking questions. Brian would pause and reflect on the man’s unusual behaviour, eavesdropping on Kate and Simone’s niece, as she reveals that Simone was trying to save them from Catelyn Stark before the bus hit her. Then he would shrug and resume his honourable duties, being sure to say hi to Susanne on reception. Brian likes Susanne – even more than he likes ginger beer.
Jack, meanwhile, still upsetting the day-to-day routine of the hospital, spots the outsider immediately. “Who’s that?” he asks the security team, as Kareem immediately reaches for his pistol. “He’s got a gun!” shouts Jack.
What a silly thing to say, laughs Brian, pausing for a second to consider how silly everything everyone is saying today sounds. “You couldn’t pay someone to write it,” he chuckles to himself, thinking that maybe he would make a nice addition to the 24 cast in a more prominent role where his humour and wit could be appreciated. Or that maybe Susanne would find his jokes funny.
Then, Brian stops chuckling and look serious as he hears that Simone’s evil mother – that woman again! – is ordering a drone strike on the hospital. It’s a bit of an overreaction, he concludes. Surely there would be some kind of security infrastructure in place to stop someone just flying a drone into the UK capital and blowing up a hospital? Then again, Brian isn’t an international terrorist with six hours of screentime to pad out, so maybe he just doesn’t understand these things. Maybe they’re not idiotic; maybe they’re too clever for his expert medically-trained brain. Maybe.
Brian wastes no time in helping to evacuate the whole building, though. He’s nice like that, Brian. A real good guy. An unsung hero of London. Jack, on the other hand, grabs Simone from intensive care and drags her into the back of a car – hardly the kind of treatment a patient should receive.
So shocked is Brian by that brazen display of inconsiderate manliness that he doesn’t even notice Kate rescue the niece and join Jack in the car – a vehicle that is nicely loaded with perilous secondary characters, making it a prime target for Catelyn Stark. Then, her drone finally arrives and shoots up the place, just as everyone runs out of the door. It’s convenient timing, almost cliched. But the explosion is so big that Brian doesn’t have time to reflect upon such matters. Brian is so busy running around the car park checking people’s burnt limbs that he doesn’t have the time to realise how silly the whole thing is. He doesn’t have the time to process the absurdity of Catelyn’s drone then chasing Jack’s car through the streets of East London. He doesn’t have the time to praise Jon Cassar’s direction of the car chase, no matter how dumb events get.
Brian isn’t even aware of the fact Kate’s boss, Navarro, is a mole and working with hacker Adrian Cross. He is blind to Audrey’s husband, Mark, continuing his slimy attempts to ship Jack out of the country, oblivious to the pointless face-to-face meeting Mark has with his Russian contact in which nothing is agreed other than to wait until a future episode. He is uninformed of CIA tech guy Jordan being sent to Camden by Navarro and getting shot in a canal. He is deaf to Stephen Fry’s blustering performance as British Prime Minister Davies, who gets an increasing amount of screentime to splutter and tut at US President Heller, despite Davies’ own mistake of sending in MI5 to interfere and ruin Bauer’s whole operation.
“I give you my word,” Davies eventually kowtows, “Bauer will have everything he needs.” Brian is in no way conscious of the PM’s promise, unable to appreciate that the more pathetically awkward Fry seems in the role, the more believably incompetent his politician becomes. Brian is not on any level enlightened about President Heller’s secret phone call to Catelyn Stark in which he tells her he will surrender to her demands, despite the fact that she just shot up a hospital and has lost any public clout she once had. Brian is too busy bandaging ankles and stitching the wounds of the poor people of London who have seen their corner of the city blown to smithereens by 24’s sheer stupidity.
As Jordan clambers back out of the canal and Jack escapes the drone’s deluge of bullets, Brian’s beeper goes off: he’s going to have to pull a double-shift to clean all this mess up.
No, poor Brian doesn’t have a clue what’s going on – but judging by what he’s seen of events so far, no one else involved does either.
Brian sighs and wipes the sweat from his face. This, he reasons, is the longest day of his life. He looks at his watch: thank goodness there’s only another five hours of this silliness to go.
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