Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 3. Catch up with our spoiler-free review of Episode 1 here.
24: Legacy dialled up the crazy a little too far in its second episode, but Episode 3 is proof that you should never give up on the real-time franchise – with or without Jack Bauer, there’s nothing a ticking clock can’t fix.
We last left Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins) in the middle of a police station, attempting to break into the evidence room and steal a couple of mill in cold, hard cash. But nothing lasts forever, no matter how ridiculous it is – and so, in almost comically brief time, the whole heist is wrapped up and forgotten about by everyone involved.
That’s partly thanks to Corey Hawkins, who is just earnest and charismatic enough to convince the cops he’s holed up with, winning over Bates (the non-racist one) to tell him which wall to blow up, so he can get out the back of the building. Shouldn’t he stop and explain it to the rest of the boys in blue? “I swear there’s no time for that,” says Eric, spelling out the show’s secret weapon for everyone in the back row.
It’s also partly thanks to Ingram and Andy back in CTU, who manage to convince Mullins that they’re above board and genuine – no mean feat, after tasering the dude. Mullins gets on the phone to tell the cops that Eric’s legit, so they send him packing with the cash and everything’s cool. No hard feelings, eh?
Hard feelings, though, are still there in CTU, as Ingram demands to be the one who brings in campaign manager Nilaa, who, you may recall, was the one tracked as being behind the leak last episode. “I keep having to remind you that you don’t work here anymore,” says Mullins – but then agrees to it anyway. And so she drops in on John Donovan’s meet-and-greet drinks to snap up Nilaa quietly. The interrogation that follows gives Sheila Vand a welcome chance to do more with her character than simply be suspicious – her reaction to a photo placing her in the area at the time is entirely believable. Why? Partly because of Vand’s performance, and partly because she’s telling the truth: that incriminating picture was a fake, Photoshopped up by Luis. Why did Luis do it? Because Henry Donovan was the guy behind the leak that caused Eric’s and Ben’s unit to be killed to begin with. Which only goes to prove one thing: 1. Never believe the first mole that 24 serves up, and 2. Never, ever trust Gerald McRaney. Especially when he’s the dad of a guy running for President.
Speaking of untrustworthy supporting characters, Aisha is still busy selling out Isaac, who’s left for the deal with the Dominicans. You know, the one where Aisha’s about to get him killed for reasons. But fortunately for us, CTU’s on hand to help Nicole by hacking into a random member of the public’s phone and intercept a phone call – the reassuring kind of surveillance that the government is all too happy to carry out for an impromptu operative’s wife at a moment’s notice without question. And so Aisha manages to find out what Nicole’s planning, but Aisha, being the nasty woman that she is (Donald Trump would approve), gets suspicious and takes Nicole’s phone before she can contact Isaac and warn him. The storyline may not be getting any better, but at least we get the fun of seeing Eric tell Nicole over the phone that everything will be back to normal soon. Has he ever seen 24?
The writers clearly have, because they take a page out of the classic 24 textbook to solve the problem of Amira and Mr. Harris, everyone’s least favourite terrorist-student-and-abusive-teacher subplot. After strangling Drew on the floor in the classroom, when he walked in on her giving Mr. Harris some intimate intention – yes, this really did happen and no, you didn’t imagine it – in walks another student hoping for some one-on-one tutelage. Sending her away in the least convincing and most suspicious way possible, Mr. Harris thinks he’s in the clear, only for Drew to not be dead, wake up, and escape out of the window.
Before you can sigh at how much more ridiculous this could get, though, Drew collapses by the football pitch, bringing a whole heap of students running to see if he’s ok. Cue Mr. Harris and Amira pretending that they know nothing, with an ambulance arriving – and Amira asking to go in the hospital with him to make sure he kicks the bucket. It’s laughably stupid, but it’s also a hugely welcome burst of momentum, because they can’t possibly stay undetected for much longer. Can they?
Momentum is the key word for this episode, as 24 climaxes with another exciting set piece, piling on the speed as Eric heads to the train station to meet Ben. Locke accompanies him, on the hush-hush, but Jadalla and his men still turn up, prompting a shoot-out at the station – one that sees the bad guys get hold of Ben’s flash drive and escape, Locke get shot and Eric get left chasing after Ben. It’s a nicely directed action sequence, which, like the first episode, doesn’t rely on ridiculous stunts to be thrilling – a back-to-basics approach that bodes well for the rest of this season. Indeed, Episode 3 is a reminder that pace remains 24’s greatest weapon, never giving us the chance to get too sick of the worst possible subplots. It also means we barely get a chance to clock that Locke used to be Andy’s boyfriend. CTU’s first gay couple? 24: Legacy may still surprise us yet.
24: Legacy is available to buy and download as a box set on pay-per-view VOD.