“Where is she?” “Kennington. On the Northern Line. The next stop is Waterloo”.
That’s Chloe to Jack Bauer, as 24: Live Another Day continues to run around London. The shocking twist in Episode 3? That they got the Tube map right.
Yes, 24, one of the world’s least realistic TV shows is one of the few that remains faithful to London’s layout: an absurdity wrapped in a digital clock wrapped in a topographical truth.
That’s the most exciting thing that happens, as Jack and Chloe continue their vigilante campaign to bring down an attack on President Heller by chasing suspicious redhead Simone Al-Harazi out of a pub. That’s the second most exciting thing that happens: Jack Bauer saying the word “pub”.
The rest of the cogs continue to turn in the digital clock’s familiar mechanics: good guys are good, bad guys are bad and one person on each side could become moles at any minute.
There is fun to be had watching Yvonne Strahovski’s agent Kate “Bauer 2.0” Morgan literally shoot first and ask questions later following last week’s council estate firefight. She follows that with another dubious tactic, threatening to rendition Basher (Tamer Hassan) into a van and torture him for information – presumably why he on earth he’s called Basher. “I don’t know who you are, but you’re not the police, so piss off,” he growls at them in the manner of all cockney gangsters.
But the real rogue on the heroes’ side is Audrey’s husband, Mark (Tate Donovan). Attempting to manipulate the President into not addressing the Parliament – here represented by a large room – it looks like 24’s business as usual until Kim Raver unexpected puts him in his place; a rare (and welcome) glimpse of the old Audrey, back when she used to be a fully-fledged character.
For the villains, it’s Simone’s hubby Navid (a suitably twitchy Sacha Dhawan) who looks untrustworthy, clearly not comfortable with being given orders by Ned Stark’s wife (Michelle Fairley, still being scarily posh as evil terrorist Margot Al-Harazi).
So much time is spent establishing groundwork that Episode 3 of Live Another Day is actually quite a low-key affair. In a longer, 24-part adventure, these kind of lulls could be absorbed into the narrative. In this shorter season, you wonder whether the writers have just lost some vital screentime – or, worse still, turned this into something vaguely resembling normal life. Mary Lynn Rajskub gets a chance to develop Chloe’s character in a tender moment that, perhaps for the first time in the franchise, isn’t too hammy.
But as Mark continues his plan to sabotage Bauer, those digits keep moving forward, leading to a typically daft cliffhanger – one that, after the enjoyably accurate dash across the London Underground earlier, reminds us Live Another Day is still the same old show at heart. Here’s hoping it deviates from the programme’s Tube map at some point in the future. Not literally, though; Episode 3 teaches us that in the world of 24, a little realism can go a long way.
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