UK TV review: 24: Legacy Episode 2 (1pm to 2pm)
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James R | On 25, Feb 2017
Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 2. Catch up with our spoiler-free review of Episode 1 here.
After the first hour of the longest day of Eric Carter’s life, any worries that 24 fans had about the series’ ability to continue without Kiefer Sutherland were reassuringly put to rest. After the second hour, though, those worries start to creep back in again, as 24: Legacy grabs the Jack Bauer playbook and flicks straight to the Crazy section.
Now, crazy extremes have always been part of the bread and butter for 24, alongside villainous tropes, CTU moles and people not going to the toilet. So Eric’s (Corey Hawkins) decision approximately halfway between 1pm and 2pm to rob a police station to get his hands on the millions of dollars seized and stashed in the evidence room is, if anything, in keeping with the silliness that has made Fox’s real-time thriller so enjoyably ridiculous all these years. The clock, we pointed out in our review of Episode 1, is the real star of the show – and part of the fun is just seeing how daft things can get, without the show’s credibility going off the rails. When a hero robbing a police station is the most believable part of a TV series, though, it’s a little concerning.
The police station raid comes about thanks to Ben, who, after running away with the lockbox belonging to the terrorists and discovering it contains the codes to sleeper cells across the US, decides to hold CTU to ransom, demanding $2 million for the flash drive housing the information. Eric does exactly what anyone would do: go and visit his vaguely stereotypical brother, Isaac, to ask for a big favour. You know. after that other favour of looking after his wife last episode. Isaac doesn’t have the money, but he does just so happen to mention the drug bust made by the local cops – a convenient mention that screams out This Is Where The Plot is Going Next.
And yet that’s the subtlest thing in the whole episode, judging by the other subplots on offer.
CTU has already booted up Whack-a-Mole 2017, as Rebecca’s (Miranda Otto) covert op within the organisation she’s no longer a part of is inevitably discovered by Keith Mullins (Teddy Sears), her replacement. She does the natural thing and tasers him in the neck and ties him up, before explaining what’s going on – and begging him for his override code that will let friendly neighbour tech man Andy (Dan Bucatinsky) trace the mole who leaked the flash drive data. Because nothing wins a man over to your side like tasering him in the neck and tying him up. Miranda Otto’s a smart bit of casting for 24, her previous work on Homeland Season 5 giving her a welcome ambiguous air, while her charisma still encourages us to trust her. After all, it’s either her or a guy called Keith Mullins. And no one with the name “Keith Mullins” can be trustworthy.
Rebecca finds out, of course, that the leak came from her user login – specifically, from a computer at the campaign HQ of her husband, Senator John Donovan (Jimmy Smits). Before you can accuse her of being a mole, though, wait a second: let’s return to Donovan’s campaign manager, Nilaa Mizrani (Sheila Vand), who, we learn from John’s dad (House of Cards’ Gerald McRaney, so you know he’s going to be bad news), is about to be subject to a political ad from John’s rivals about the time she once attended a radicalised mosque. Yes, 24: Legacy is once again dipping its toes into Islamophobic waters. At least this time, it’s a conscious move, rather than the lazy reliance upon the franchise’s well-worn bad guy tropes – although you hope that the show does more to develop Nilaa’s character beyond that defining quality, and that she doesn’t turn out to be the mole, which would be all too simple.
Given we’re only two hours in, though, there is more than enough chance for that subplot to spin into something more interesting – after all, a lot can happen in a single episode. A crazy amount, to be exact.
Which brings us back to our bad guys, whom we finally get to identify. Their leader? Jadalla, the son of the killed Bin-Khalid, who has the educated university student schtick to go with the vengeful offspring cliche. So far, so standard – just like Aisha’s decision to betray Isaac to his friendly local rival gang, because what that subplot needed was more drama and more crime.
The weakest strand, though, is Mr. Harris, everyone’s favourite chemistry-teacher-turned-child-abuser-turned-terror-conspirator. He’s sleeping with Amira Dubayev (Kathryn Prescott), an affair that’s discovered by innocent student Drew Phelps, when he walks in on an intimate encounter in the supply cupboard – and is strangled to death by Mr. Harris on the classroom floor. It’s not only dubious morally, but dubious on every other level; at no point do we buy this situation and with any luck, 24: Legacy will drop this subplot as soon as possible.
And in the middle of all this illogical absurdity, Eric’s breaking into a police station to steal their money.
How does he get in? As a Black man, he argues, it’ll be easy to get arrested – a smart little bit of writing, which only makes you lament the daftness on display elsewhere. The central sequence, though, is gripping enough, partly thanks to the show’s constant ability to use any excuse for a cliffhanger, whether it’s Eric strapping a bomb to a cop’s chest or a police chief demanding that the officer (Paul, in case you’re wondering) stops what he’s doing to take part in an Internal Affair investigation into a charge of excessive force. And, of course, Eric gets discovered just in time for the hour to run out, leaving him trapped in a police station.
But throughout, Corey Hawkins’ is just charming enough to keep us buying into the dumb scheme. “You’re crazy,” says one cop to him. “Yeah. I keep hearing that,” Eric replies, adding later: “I got no other options, man.” If any other actor apart from him or Kiefer Sutherland were doing this, it’s hard to say whether the set piece would work or not. What’s certain is that this is the best thing in the whole episode. Unlike Eric, 24: Legacy has got lots of options for the rest of its storylines. The question is whether it takes them. Yes, the reboot’s got the Crazy bit of the franchise down cold, but even as it maintains its entertaining pace, there are plenty of other minutes to fill.
24: Legacy is available to buy and download as a box set on pay-per-view VOD.