UK TV review: 24: Legacy Episode 4 and 5 (3pm to 5pm)
Ivan Radford | On 22, Mar 2017
Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 3. Catch up with our spoiler-free review of Episode 1 here.
“I’m losing my mind here!” cries Isaac in 24: Legacy. And after five episodes of the show’s new incarnation, we know the feeling. There are only so many daft moments, silly speeches and questionable characters that you can tolerate before your brain snaps – but every time your head’s about to melt, 24: Legacy just manages to pull it back from the brink.
The show’s biggest problem is Ben Grimes, aka. the idiot who has led to most of this chaos happening. But the problem is less his own irrational actions and more the fact that everyone else keeps going along with them. Carter believes him, when he says that he wants to make things right – and that he recognised the bullets used by Jadalla’s men as coming from one place: an arms dealer called Gabriel. And that giving Gabriel some military schematics will convince him to co-operate.
CTU head Mullins, who in any other show would come across as sensible, says no, because who the hell would trust Grimes? But Carter insists that Ben is sincere, which leads to Ingram helping him by getting Shalowitz to steal the military plans. There are some deft bits of writing going on here, as the show takes care to justify each little action. Carter looks in Ben’s eyes to judge his honesty, while Shalowitz complains to his colleague that he’s about to get fired, so he doesn’t mind breaking the rules anyway. But every now and then, the cumulative stupidity knocks down the tiny pieces of plausibility.
“I didn’t want the terrorists to get the list,” says Ben in a heated argument with Carter. “There was an easy to stop that,” retorts Eric. “Don’t steal it from me in the first place!”
Mullins, meanwhile, stops dead in his tracks and calls out his newfound colleague for their completely inappropriate behaviour. “Carter, you’re a desert ranger, not a CTU agent!” he snaps.
There’s no getting around it: these are terrible bits of dialogue, not because people wouldn’t say that in real life, but because they wouldn’t said it hours ago. For the characters to suddenly stop for an outburst of logic, then, is never less than jarring. Sure enough, the moment Mullins’ rant is over, the whole of CTU still goes along with Ben and Carter anyway.
That’s one of 24’s classic tactics: keep things moving so quickly that you can’t get bored, but also can’t think too much.
And so the political strand of our narrative races along, as Henry’s footage of Mizrani is almost immediately discovered as faked – that evil plan lasted all of one episode, one of the least effective villainous ploys the show’s ever seen. John turns on his dad, who says that Jadalla forced him to leak the information, because if not, he’d make a deal between Henry’s company and ISIS public.
Henry says he doesn’t want that, because it’d ruin John’s campaign – but if he were that concerned about his son’s career, he wouldn’t have done that deal in the first place. A president going into office knowing they’ve got some dirt from an evil foreign power hanging over them as leverage? Yeah, that’d never happen. There’s more to Henry still to uncover, though, and so CTU bring him in for questioning, setting Mizrani free. You can say this for the fictional intelligence service: they sure don’t hang about when it comes to arresting people.
Meanwhile, back in Stereotype Ville, Isaac survives the sabotaged deal with Royo, after Nicole warns him of Aisha’s betrayal, by pretending that he’s got the whole meeting spot rigged with snipers ready to shoot Royo, should he try any funny business. Ashley Thomas is convincingly intimidating enough for Royo to buy it. Indeed, there’s a lot to be said Thomas, who manages to keep things in this dubious subplot moving with some actual credibility – Aisha and her accomplice, Jerome may escape from Nicole, but when she gets arrested, Isaac simply bribes an officer to get her freed. When your stereotypical gangster subplot is the most realistic, convincing part of your story, you know that things have gotten a bit too silly.
Cue the entrance of Gabriel, a guy who we can tell is bad news because he has a Massive Evil Scar on his face. He’s not immune from dumb decisions – he orders Eric to kill Ben, but when he refuses, he decides that he likes Carter’s display of loyalty and doesn’t get angry. Instead, he shoots Ben and decides he and Carter can work together. Even though he could have just shot them all and taken the schematics anyway. Inevitably, Carter overpowers Gabriel, while Locke leads a CTU team into the warehouse and the good guys defeat all the bad guys. Gabriel, as a result, kills himself – but not before erasing his computer, leaving Carter frantically trying to stop the hard drive being formatted, losing crucial evidence. What a waste of an enjoyably cartoonish bad guy.
Speaking of strange villains, Jadalla is equally illogical in his plan to unleash the terrorist cells we’ve all been hearing so much about. With the access code to one cell, he opts instead to wait for all of them, so they can carry out the plan exactly as intended. After all, he’s a holy man, remember? With a sacred task of vengeance?
“I saw the man who killed my father today,” he tells his henchmen. “It’s a sign we’re on a righteous path.” The only way he could be more cliched is if he had a Massive Evil Scar on his face. (He doesn’t. Sadly.)
One of Jadalla’s men, luckily, does have the sense to use the access code they do have, which leads the activation of Khasan’s cell. Yes, folks, this is how the subplots all tie together: with the brother of Amira, everyone’s favourite high school student-turned-terrorist. And what’s Amira up to? Well, after following Phelps to hospital, she kills him by injecting air into his vein, under instruction from Khasan. But that’s only the start of the dramatic obstacles facing them, because they didn’t reckon with one thing: their father.
“You’re not a soldier, you’re not a man, you’re nothing but a coward!” Khasan’s dad yells at him, as they have a punch-up in the kitchen. It’s a showdown straight out of a domestic soap opera, and 24: Legacy plays it as such, until the point at which Amira and Khasan do what they never do on EastEnders: they tie him up and gag him.
That and the warehouse shootout are solid set pieces – another way in which 24 has always contrived to keep our attentions from wavering. But the body count is the real secret to 24: Legacy’s entertainment: in only five episodes, we’ve already seen a surprising number of deaths, which, on paper, gives things a real grounded sense of peril, but, in reality, means that the show is quick to remove the weakest members of its ensemble. Gone is Amira’s high school teacher. Gone is Ben Grimes. Gone, too, albeit less fortunately, is Gabriel.
The result may still be trashy, but we’d rather take Amira as a character with a family conflict rather than a pervy teacher. Corey Hawkins, meanwhile, impresses once again as the guy grounding the whole show – and it’s much easier to believe Carter’s influence at the CTU without Grimes on his shoulder. “I’m losing my mind here!” cries Isaac in Episode 5. The same may be true of everyone else, but thankfully, that number is shrinking – the longer 24: Legacy lasts, the fewer people there are to deliver the duff dialogue.
24: Legacy is available to buy and download as a box set on pay-per-view VOD.